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UK news in brief

16 April 2021

On their bikes: Shaun Cutler (far right) and fellow cyclists outside Newcastle Cathedral, the start of a new Cathedrals Cycle Route, linking 42 English cathedrals. It was created by Mr Cutler in partnership with Sustrans, Cycling UK, the British Pilgrimage Trust, and the Association of English Cathedrals, and will be launched on 30 May with a relay event starting from Newcastle Cathedral. Over 42 days, cyclists will relay a specially commissioned baton from cathedral to cathedral. The initiative is to promote greener travel, mental and physical well-being, and fund-raising

On their bikes: Shaun Cutler (far right) and fellow cyclists outside Newcastle Cathedral, the start of a new Cathedrals Cycle Route, linking 42 Englis...


Johnson: We’ll end conversion therapy, not appropriate care

WHILE the Government is committed to ending “the scourge of gay conversion therapy” and proposals do this are being prepared, it “will continue to allow adults to receive appropriate pastoral support in churches and other religious settings, in the exploration of sexual orientation or gender”, the Prime Minister has written in a letter to the Evangelical Alliance, which was published on Twitter. He was responding to concerns raised by its UK director, Peter Lynas, who said that to ban all forms of conversion therapy for LGBT people could “restrict individual freedom” and “criminalise Christians and common church activities” (News, 19 March). Mr Johnson replied: “I take freedom of speech and religion very seriously. . . I do not want to see clergy members criminalised for normal non-coercive activity.”


New Provost for St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee

THE next Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee (Scottish Episcopal Church) is to be Canon Elizabeth Thomson, it has been announced by the Bishop of Brechin, the Rt Revd Andrew Swift. Canon Thompson is currently Sub-Dean and Canon Missioner of Derby Cathedral, a post that she has held since 2014. Her doctorate is in philosophy. She was a teacher before training for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. She was ordained in 2003 and served her curacy in Somerset, before becoming a Team Ticar of St Mary’s, Witney, in Oxfordshire.


Former Bishop of Lincoln dies

THE Rt Revd Robert Hardy, who was Bishop of Lincoln from 1987 to 2001, died last Friday, aged 84. He was appointed CBE in 2001 for his services to the Church of England, which included being Bishop for HM Prisons. In retirement, he served as an honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Carlisle. The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, said that Bishop Hardy was affectionately known across Greater Lincolnshire and greatly admired for his dedication to the diocese. Obituary to follow


Chancellor rules against terms of endearment

THE words “Pap” or “Pappy” — while recognised terms of endearment for a grandfather — are inappropriate for use on a gravestone that is a public record of the deceased, the Diocesan Chancellor of Peterborough, the Worshipful David Pittaway QC, has ruled. Relatives of Arthur James Goodridge, who died, aged 85, in April 2019, applied to use the term on the inscription of his memorial at St Michael and All Angels, Bugbrooke. The application was announced publicly and there were no objections. In his signpost ruling, however, Judge Pittaway said that, while churchyard regulations “discourage” rather than “outlaw” the use of such terms, they were “not, in my view, generally appropriate for use as a public record of a person’s death”. He continued: “It is more appropriate to use the more formal names of husband, wife, father, grandfather, grandmother as a permanent record of the relationships attributed to that person.” Dismissing the petition, he said that gravestones should not be used as “an opportunity to be overly sentimental about the person who has died”. A spokesperson for the diocese said on Thursday, however: “There is no final decision in this case, following further representations, the Chancellor has agreed to meet the Petitioners at the Churchyard in late May after further pandemic restrictions have been eased.”


Letter questions morality of ‘vaccine passports’

ANGLICAN priests are among the 934 signatories of an open letter to the Prime Minister warning him not to introduce “divisive, discriminatory, and destructive” Covid-status certificates or “vaccine passports” for individual entry into public activities or venues, including churches. The idea, which has been mooted by government ministers since the first vaccines were administered, made “no logical sense”, they wrote, because a vaccinated person could still carry Covid. Also, “vaccine passports would constitute an unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent,” including some Christians who were opposed to vaccine manufacturing processes. This risked “creating a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people who decline vaccination are excluded from significant areas of public life”.

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