The hopes and ambitions of new BBC religious editor Aleem Maqbool
The BBC’s new religious editor expressed his hopes for the role, saying he was “pushing an open door” when it came to presenting faith-based reporting. Aleem Maqbool, who took over in April, told the Religion Media Festival that he was confident faith-based stories would remain on the network’s agenda. He had found no signs that some editors were nervous about religion and faith stories, only an acknowledgment that “we need to report on these areas.” He said there were compelling stories and it was up to him to tell them. Full report here
Cathedrals “at the forefront of the green revolution”
England’s ancient cathedrals could be at the forefront of the technological development needed for the green revolution, just as they were when they were built. The Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, who leads environmental affairs, told the National Conference of Cathedrals that a roadmap to achieve net zero by 2030 must be approved by General Synod in July. Innovative projects to date include photovoltaic panels (converting thermal energy into electricity) at Gloucester Cathedral, solar panels, new light fittings, exclusion measures projects and the promotion of biodiversity in green spaces .
Leaked report ‘indicates Prevent program should crack down on Islamist extremism’
The Guardian says it has seen leaked excerpts from the Shawcross review in the government’s Prevent program, suggesting the counter-terrorism program has been too focused on right-wing extremism and should now be cracking down on Islamist extremism. The Guardian quotes Sir Peter Fahy, the former chief constable of Prevent, as saying the report was an attempt to politicize counter-terrorism policing, which was a dangerous move. The Interior Ministry confirmed that the report was being finalized before publication.
Thousands expected to attend Mount Meron Jewish festival tonight, one year after tragedy
Thousands of people are expected to celebrate Lag Baomer in the northern Israeli town of Meron tonight (Wednesday), exactly one year after 45 people were killed in a stampede. The festival is observed by Charedi Jews near the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd-century CE man of wisdom who wrote a sacred text on Jewish mysticism. Last year people were run over as they walked through a narrow passage. This year, the police are limiting staff and there have been significant changes to the site, including the widening of existing crossings.
Exorcism course held in Rome – considered a world first
A course on exorcism, considered the first in the world, is being held this week, organized by the Sacerdos Institute and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome. It follows research indicating that many exorcists feel isolated. Father Luis Ramirez, organizer of the course, said that until 30 years ago the exorcist usually worked almost alone, or else with only two or three people. Now it is accepted that an exorcist must have a team and support.
Thieves return stolen Hindu statues after having nightmares
AFP reports that a gang of thieves returned 14 stolen idols from an ancient Hindu temple in India, saying they had been haunted by nightmares since the crime. The statues were taken from a 300-year-old temple to Lord Balaji – an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu – in Uttar Pradesh. Most were sent home to the high priest of the temple, along with a letter of confession asking for forgiveness.
The Pope’s answer to pain – a shot of tequila
The Associated Press reports that Pope revealed his pain therapy is a shot of tequila. Pope Francis, 85, suffers from knee pain and used a wheelchair recently. At the end of a recent audience, while riding in a popemobile in St. Peter’s Square, he stopped near a group of Mexican seminarians who asked how his knee was doing. “Do you know what I need for my knee?” Francis asked them. “A little tequila.” The seminarians laughed and promised to deliver a bottle to the Hotel Santa Marta where Francis lives. A video of the meeting went viral