Churches criticise two-child benefit cap
THE Church of England has criticised government plans to impose a two-child limit on benefit payments as “fundamentally anti-family”. In a joint report, Churches and religious groups said that the Welfare and Reform Bill — under which families with two or more children could lose up to £2780 a year per child — could cause instability, and drive up abortion rates. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said that working families will be unable to provide the “essential needs” for their children.
Catholic group defends ‘absolute’ seal of confession
ANGLICAN CATHOLIC FUTURE (ACF) has called on the Church of England’s General Synod to discuss the seal of confession — the duty of priests not to disclose information learned during confession — with “renewed appreciation”, at the November group of sessions (News, 30 October). In a statement issued on Saturday, the ACF said that the “absolute confidentiality” of the seal was essential to enabling the encounter between priest and penitent to take place and the grace of absolution to be given and received. http://anglicancatholicfuture.org/
Bishop of Portsmouth opens ministerial training centre
THE Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, has opened a new training centre for clergy and lay ministers, at a service in St Luke’s, Southsea, where the centre is based. The initiative Portsmouth Pathway, set up jointly with Ripon College, Cuddesdon, will have 15 people training for ordination, and 20 training to be Readers.
Spurgeons criticises closure of city prisons
THE children’s charity Spurgeons has warned that government plans to build nine new prisons in the UK, announced on Monday, will “make life harder” for children who have a parent in prison. It said that new prisons would replace those in sought-after city locations, which would mean that children would be further from their parents. The charity provides welcoming facilities for more than 36,000 prison visits by children each year, at the eight HM Prison Service London prisons; 15 per cent of the visits follow a journey of two hours or more.
Send a Christmas card to sufferers abroad, says charity
THE charity Action by Christians against Torture UK is calling on Christians to show victims of torture, human-rights groups, and persecuted individuals who are in prison abroad that they are not forgotten, by sending a Christmas card. Guidance on what to write, and how, can be found at www.acatuk.org.uk/christmas.php.
MS research team awarded for pioneering programme
THE Multiple Sclerosis Aquatic research team (MSART) of the University of Brighton has been given the QuDos Award 2015, for providing exceptional care to people with MS. The MSART programme offers eight sessions of physiotherapy both in and out of the hydrotherapy pool. Research gathered from the sessions suggests that fatigue and quality of life “significantly improved” after a course of treatment.
Correction. The report “Buglers get ready for busy time” last week stated that the nation was remembering the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War (News, 6 November). It should, of course, have said the 70th.