THE GUARDIAN, at least, was pleased with the decision
of the Church Commissioners to disinvest from some fossil fuels.
The paper is serious about the subject because the outgoing editor,
Alan Rusbridger, believes it is important and interesting. So there
has been a great deal of coverage and agitation about what is meant
to turn into a global movement in time for the Paris summit.
Damian Carrington's report played up that aspect: "Earlier in
the week, the Vatican called for a moral awakening on climate
change, ahead of an encyclical from the Pope, which is expected to
be one of the most influential interventions in a year that ends
with a crunch UN climate summit in Paris. With Methodists, Quakers,
United Reformed, Presbyterians and many other denominations across
the UK and the world taking action on climate change by selling off
their investments in coal, oil and gas, the question is how great
an impact will the moral authority conferred by religious groups
I couldn't find any mention of the story in the right-wing
press, which suggests that it hasn't got far enough yet. Either
that or there has been something else going on to distract the
attention of the propaganda machine. I'm sure there was some other
domestic political story this week but am hoping to have forgotten
it by the time you read this.
The Independent had a deliciously phoney environment
story: "A third of Catholics would go green if Pope Francis makes
statement on climate change." This turned out to be a survey
commissioned by CAFOD, which found that three-quarters of Roman
Catholics felt a moral obligation to help the world's poorest. I do
wonder about the other quarter - but also what the corresponding
figure for Anglicans would be.
The third who were prepared to "go green" would make an effort
to drive less, or to recycle more. Even granted the success of
these efforts, there will be quite a lot more required of us in all
sorts of areas that have no obvious connection with the
SOME coverage of the very disturbing reports from Birmingham of
intimidation in the wake of the Trojan Horse schools scandal. Both
the Mail and The Guardian reported Sarah
Hewitt-Clarkson, head of Anderton Park Primary School in
Birmingham, telling a conference in Liverpool: "Trojan Horse has
not gone away. Those of us who were involved, we knew it was the
tip of the iceberg.
"We still have dead animals hung on the gates of schools,
dismembered cats in playgrounds. We have petitions outside schools,
objecting to teachers teaching against homophobia."
According to The Guardian, she said that a death threat
had been made against her on Facebook saying: "Any headteacher who
teaches my children it's all right to be gay will be at the end of
THE TIMES reported a campaign in Pendle to get Muslims to
vote Labour by a WhatsApp chain message purportedly from a Sufi
Sheikh (who denies the story). This comes in the wake of the
decision overturning the election of Lutfur Rahman on Tower Hamlets
Council, partly on the grounds that he arranged for 101 local imams
to endorse him in a Bangladeshi paper. This violated a 19th-century
law against "Spiritual Influence", used then against Roman
Catholics in Ireland.
BUT standards are slipping there. The Guardian reported
the case of Fr Francis Kelleher, a hospital chaplain in Cork, who
has just been jailed for four years for trying to put - I almost
wrote "the fear of God" into his nephew, by whom he was being
But Fr Kelleher eschewed spiritual influence. Instead, he hired
three men from the Continuity IRA, he kept up a campaign of
threats, among them death threats, for six months against his
nephew. According to The Irish Times,the man who put him
in touch with the thugs and negotiated the fee of €4000 was someone
in the habit of visiting the hospital with a "religious relic".
Neither the IRA men nor the mysterious intermediary with the
relic seem to have appeared in court.
AND in southern Sweden, Dr Jan Johannesson has resigned as head of
orthopaedic surgery in Kalmar Hospital after announcing on Facebook
that from now on he was refusing to treat Christians.
He had earlier posted that he was "an anti-theist" who would
"put himself in the front line with a baseball bat to fight against
any conscience clause", and that he believed "Christians have an
inner demon which can damage and insult me." This Dawkinsian
puerility was meant as satire.
It casts light on the status of Christianity in Sweden both that
he thought he could get away with it and that, in the event, he
couldn't. He's still working as a doctor. He is still, presumably,
treating Christians as well.