Religious news February 28, 2022

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Putin puts Russian nuclear forces on special alert; Germany allows arms to be sent to Ukraine; EU orders no-fly zone for Russian flights; street fighting in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv; a burning oil depot in Vasylkiv south of Kiev; the population of Kiev lives in hiding and observes a curfew; tens of thousands of refugees from Poland cross adjacent borders and are welcomed by the help of volunteers; Boris Johnson visited the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London promising to allow relatives of Ukrainians to come to the UK.

Prayers everywhere for Ukraine

English cathedrals lit up in blue and yellow in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, attacked by a Russian invasion. Cathedrals in Peterborough, Lincoln and Ely shone the colors of the Ukrainian flag, with prayer stations set up, spaces for reflection and opportunities to light candles. Cathedrals will join the Anglican Communion’s call to prayer on Tuesday at 6 p.m., as part of an initiative by the Diocese of Europe, which includes a small Anglican presence in Kyiv.

All Church of England churches prayed for peace in Ukraine yesterday as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York declared the attack an evil act and called for a ceasefire -fire.

Methodist Church of Britain President and Vice President Reverend Sonia Hicks and Barbara Easton say they are horrified and heartbroken by the violent assault on Ukraine, saying Christians are called to seek peace .

During the Sunday Angelus in Rome, the pope said those who make war “lean on the diabolical and perverse logic of arms which is furthest from the will of God.” He called for a worldwide day of prayer on Ash Wednesday.

Pope Francis visits Moscow’s Ambassador to the Vatican

Reuters reports that Pope Francis visited the Russian Embassy in the Vatican on Friday, spending 40 minutes telling the Moscow ambassador about his concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is said to be an unprecedented departure from diplomatic protocol.

Patriarch Kirill says opponents in Ukraine are ‘forces of evil’

According to reports on AFPBarrons, Interfax and SEE news, Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Cyril of Moscow called out Russia’s opponents in Ukraine “the forces of evil”. AFP quotes him saying, in an address to parishioners: “God forbid that the current political situation in fraternal Ukraine is aimed at making prevail the forces of evil which have always fought against the unity of Russia and Russian Church”.

Four days ago he issued a statement saying he was saddened by the suffering of the Ukrainian people and called on all parties to do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties, adding: “The Russian and Ukrainian people have a centuries-old shared history dating back to the baptism of Rus’ by Prince St. Vladimir (in 988 AD). I believe this God-given affinity will help overcome the divisions and disagreements that have arisen that have led to the current conflict.”

Archbishop: strengthen Ukrainian forces

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said it wouldn’t be the right thing to do to declare war on Russia, but there were still things that could be done to isolate and hurt Russia, even if the sanctions would affect us all. He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday program that people should stand with Ukraine to offer humanitarian aid, find safe routes for refugees, build up Ukrainian forces, encourage the media to say the truth and pray for an end to the war. He warned it would be a long road, but he thought Putin would not win.

CofE divests from Russia

The Times reports that the Church of England has sold all £20m investments in Russian companies and banned further investment. This represents 0.16% of the total £13bn portfolio managed by the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board. In a statement to The Times, the church said the money was invested in companies not held by Russian sovereign debt.

Other news:
Law and Religion UK, which monitors court decisions relating to the church, has published a review of 18 recent decisions on the relocation of the baptismal font. Requests for removal are made partly for health and safety reasons (people tripping over them) or for aesthetic reasons when reorganizing a church. One option, apparently often considered, is to remove them and bury them in the church grounds, but storage is usually recommended instead.

Death has been announced of Henry Lincoln, 92, co-author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, who outraged people with the suggestion that Jesus Christ survived the Crucifixion, married prostitute Mary Magdalene and fathered children – a plot reflected in The “Da Vinci Code. Telegraph obituary here

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