Pope praises humanitarian corridors bringing refugees safely to Europe
Pope Francis met thousands of Italian refugees and charity groups at the weekend, re-iterating his support for safe and legal migration routes to Europe, instead of criminal smuggling operations that he said have turned the Mediterranean sea into a cemetery. Humanitarian corridors have been in operation since 2016 with one church charity bringing 6,000 people to Europe. On arrival, church groups provide housing, education and work opportunities. The Pope said this rescues people from danger and endless waiting and contributes towards integration. Associated Press story here
Archbishop pays tribute to Pope Francis as both mark tenth anniversary
The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the Pope’s humility, humour, warmth and welcome in a warm tribute to him, as both men commemorate their 10th anniversary as church leaders. Pope Francis was enthroned two days before Justin Welby as archbishop, and they met a few months later, striking a deep friendship. In his tribute, the Archbishop said Pope Francis “makes the life of Christ visible in our turbulent world”, referencing his appeal for peace in South Sudan, his call to care for the planet and his practical efforts to serve “the dispossessed, the rejected, the forgotten”. Pope Francis was enthroned on 19 March 2013 and the Archbishop on the 21 March. View the RMC briefing on the Pope’s tenth anniversary here>>
Cliff College lecturer sacked for ‘homosexuality invading church’ tweet
Dr Aaron Edwards, a lecturer at Cliff College, a theological training college of Methodist heritage in Derbyshire, has been sacked after tweeting that homosexuality is invading the church. In a tweet posted on 19 February, he said: “This is a “Gospel issue”, by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour”, adding that proudly gay Christians who redefine sin are an exceptionally recent phenomenon. The college said he had brought it into disrepute: “As a Methodist institution, Cliff College is committed to being a safe and hospitable place where those with differing convictions are welcomed and encouraged to live and learn together as faithful disciples of Christ.” Dr Edwards, who has five children, has now started a crowd funding campaign, explaining that a week after he was sacked, his family was served with an eviction notice from their rented accommodation. He is seeking funding to support his quest for a new theological institution which is “shamelessly biblical”. He says his story is an issue of free speech and he is appealing against the decision.
Ramadan lights over London’s West End
For the first time, West End streets in central London have been decorated with lights to welcome the holy month of Ramadan. Lanterns, stars and moons are suspended above Oxford Street and Regent Street in an initiative driven by Aisha Desai and sponsored by the Aziz Foundation. Ramadan starts on Thursday 23 March at the sighting of the crescent moon. It is a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, prayers, charitable giving and community bonding. Ramadan factsheet here
Former Jewish Press editor arrested in connection with Capitol Hill riots
A former editor of The Jewish Press, a leading orthodox Jewish newspaper in the United States, has been arrested in connection with the 6 January insurrection in Washington. Elliot Resnick, 39, faces charges of obstructing, impeding, or interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder; assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers; disorderly and disruptive conduct and parading, picketing, or demonstrating in Capitol buildings. The Department of Justice says court documents show Resnick was among a mob illegally massed on the East Plaza of the US Capitol, rushed up the Central East Steps when the police line fell, repeatedly gestured for others to come up the stairs and was one of the first to push their way inside the Capitol through the East Rotunda Doors.
Campaigners demand release of jailed Nicaraguan Catholic bishop
Campaigners continue to intervene over the imprisonment of Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, who was jailed last month for more than 26 years on charges of treason, undermining national integrity and spreading false news. He was jailed after refusing the option of being extradited along with 222 detained opponents of President Manuel Ortega. His case was raised at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington and the human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger demanded proof that he is still alive and that he is released.
The vicar in charge of the school bus in north Yorkshire
A vicar in north Yorkshire has found a new vocation — driving the school bus between Middleham and Spennithorne Church of England primary schools in Leyburn. The schools are three miles apart and merged to remain viable, but there were no applicants to drive the bus so the Rev Jeff Payne volunteered. He told The Telegraph: “The church paid for my bus driver training and that was the church and the community working together. In rural areas, people know things are fragile, so they do like to work together.”