20 May 2021, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Palestinian youth from Gaza join to clean the streets of their city after the Israeli bombardment.
Mahmoud Khattab/Quds Net News/Zuma

The Bishop for International Affiairs, Declan Lang, has echoed the call of Churches in the Holy Land “for an end to the occupation, discrimination and human-rights violations that propagate violent attacks on civilians, standing in the way of a stable and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis”. He reaffirmed the bishops’ commitment “to the internationally recognised status of Jerusalem, the status quo of its holy sites, and the equal rights of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the city”.

The Church in England and Wales has welcomed Pope Francis’ formal recognition of the ministry of catechist. Bishop David Evans, chair of the Committee for Catechesis, said that the conference would find ways to incorporate the ministry into the life of the Church and support catechists in their vocation.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has condemned the “vile anti-Catholic prejudice” expressed by Rangers fans who rioted in Glasgow city centre following the team’s first league title win for 10 years. Fans gathered outside the club’s Ibrox Stadium to celebrate, then marched to George Square, where fighting broke out.

Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin has described proposals to leave religious education out of the school curriculum in Ireland as “a backward step”. The archbishop told the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association’s annual conference that the place of religious education in Catholic schools is “central”, and the curriculum should facilitate it “generously and with ease, not simply as a possible add-on”. Proposals to separate or drop RE from the curriculum form part of the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework.

The leader of the Irish Church has paid tribute to the “courage and commitment” of journalists who often risk their lives to enable people to learn about the “reality of life around the world”. In a video message to mark World Communications Day, Archbishop Eamon Martin, chair of the Irish bishops’ Council for Communications, said journalists “beam on to our mobile devices and into our living rooms the hardships facing countless people around the world, like persecution, oppression, poverty, war and injustice”.

Bishop Donal McKeown has criticised contemporary art, music and literature for its lack of beauty and failure to elevate. In his homily for Ascension Sunday, the Bishop of Derry said: “Great art and literature of the world portray journeys of discovery and growth. There are few inspiring tales of healing by bling and retail therapy!” As churches reopened south of the border, Bishop McKeown stressed that gathering for Mass was not a duty that limits freedom. “It is an act of rebellion against all that would trap us in the belief that – to quote Henry Ford – life is just one damned thing after another.”

The Network of Christian Peace Organisations has hosted a series of webinars in May on key issues facing Christian peacemakers, and prayed with “Thy Kingdom Come”, the international ecumenical initiative which has been running between Ascension and Pentecost. Christian groups marked International Conscientious Objectors’ Day on 15 May with services in London and Leicester.

The family of a priest killed along with nine other people by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment in West Belfast in August 1971 expressed relief at last week’s inquest verdict, which found that all were innocent of any wrongdoing and that the army’s use of force was disproportionate. The coroner, Justice Siobhan Keegan, who oversaw the inquest, said that she was “quite convinced” that 38-year-old Fr Hugh Mullan “was a peacemaker” who was waving a white object when he was shot in the back.

Westminster Cathedral has appointed Simon Johnson (pictured), organist and assistant director of music at St Paul’s Cathedral, as its new master of music. Mr Johnson, who played at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, will take up the role on

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