Civil partnerships to be available for all
OPPOSITE-SEX couples will be eligible to enter into civil partnerships, like same-sex couples, as an alternative to marriage, if legislation announced by the Government is carried. After a Supreme Court ruling in June (News, 29 June), the Prime Minister was under pressure to amend the law. The planned change will apply in England, Scotland, and Wales, where same-sex marriage is legally recognised (so not Northern Ireland). The Supreme Court appellants, Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld (above), said that the move was a “major step”, but that they would celebrate only once the law had changed. “For us, a civil partnership best reflects who we are, how we see our relationship and our role as parents — a partnership of equals.” A spokesman for the group CARE (Christian Action Research and Education), James Mildred said: “Coming off the back of the Government’s rush to implement no-fault divorce, coupled with today’s announcement, it’s a double whammy. There is a real narrative developing that this is a Government unwilling to back marriage.”
New Chaplain General of Prisons announced
THE Revd James Ridge, who has lately been Managing Chaplain of HM Prison Wayland, in Norfolk, and was previously prison chaplain in Chelmsford, is the new Chaplain General to HM Prison Service. He succeeds the Ven. Mike Kavanagh, who was appointed in 2014.
Abbeyfield award for retired bishop
THE Rt Revd Dr Christopher Herbert, formerly Bishop of St Albans, was awarded an Abbeyfield Royal Patrons Award last week, in recognition of his work to improve the lives of older people in the UK. The award, endorsed by the Prince of Wales, was presented at a ceremony in London. Dr Herbert first became involved with the Abbeyfield Society, a charity that provides housing and care to older people, in 1995, and became a trustee in 2009. He said: “It was a huge privilege to have received a Royal Patron’s award and I am most grateful for all the work that went on behind the scenes to make that possible. Thank you to all who were involved.”
Holy Land Friends confer
MORE than 100 supporters of the Friends of the Holy Land have met in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, for their largest national gathering so far. The keynote speaker, Sami El-Yousef, from one of Jerusalem’s oldest Christian families, told them that Christians in Bethlehem had decreased significantly in number over the past 50 years, and now accounted for only 18 per cent of the population. The Bishop of Warwick, the Rt Revd John Stroyan, also addressed the gathering. The group is expressly apolitical and has the support of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops. It describes its activity as small-scale sustainable relief work. friendsoftheholyland.org.uk