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UK news in brief

19 March 2021


Physicist-theologian dies: the Revd Dr John Polkinghorne (left), who died last week, aged 90 (obituary to follow), receives the Templeton Prize from the Duke of Edinburgh in 2002. The Duke returned to Windsor Castle on Tuesday after 28 days in hospital. Angela Tilby

Physicist-theologian dies: the Revd Dr John Polkinghorne (left), who died last week, aged 90 (obituary to follow), receives the Templeton Prize from the Duke of Edinburgh in 2002. The Duke returned to Windsor Castle on Tuesday after 28 days in hospital. Angela Tilby


Church leaders lament part in Irish divisions

THE centenary of the partition of Ireland this year is an opportunity for the Church to “face its own failings” in peace and reconciliation, the leaders of the main denominations in Ireland have said in a St Patrick’s Day message. The statement on Wednesday was signed by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell; the RC Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Eamon Martin; the President of the Irish Council of Churches, the Very Revd Dr Ivan Patterson; the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Rt Revd Dr David Bruce; and the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Revd Dr Thomas McKnight. The message, also recorded in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, says: “We have an opportunity, in marking these events from our past, to be intentional in creating the spaces for encounter with those who are different from us, and those who may feel marginalised in the narratives that have shaped our community identity. This will require us to face difficult truths about failings in our own leadership in the work of peace and reconciliation. As Christian churches we acknowledge and lament the times that we failed to bring to a fearful and divided society that message of the deeper connection that binds us.”

Bishop of Bath & Wells to retire early

THE Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, is to take early retirement on medical grounds as he continues his recovery from treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia, it was announced last week. He was diagnosed last July and stepped back from his duties in August (News, 14 August 2020) before beginning hospital treatment (News, 4 December 2020). The Suffragan Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, is covering his duties. Bishop Hancock, who is 65, has been the diocesan bishop since 2014, and the lead bishop for safeguarding for four of those years. In a letter to his diocese, he said that he had hoped to return to work, but his consultant has said that he would need to spend several months recovering and would initially be unable to lead public services, use public transport, or go into indoor public spaces. He said: “So, after much prayer and reflection, I believe this means that I need to take early retirement on medical grounds.” The Archbishop of Canterbury thanked Bishop Hancock for his “40 years of dedicated ministry”.

Bishop of Willesden to stand down in September

THE Area Bishop of Willesden, in London diocese, since 2001, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, has “volunteered to stand down a year before his normal retirement date” — on 30 September, it was announced this week. A diocesan statement said that the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, was “exploring with him another role, which would see him facilitating some of the transition and implementation work” of its 2030 Vision. “This will enable the potential appointment of a new Bishop of Willesden and provide an opportunity for the Diocese’s senior team in London to become more diverse.” Before his consecration, Bishop Broadbent was the Archdeacon of Northolt. His previous appointments include an incumbency in Harrow and a college chaplaincy in Islington.

C of E Pensions Board part of Net Zero initiative

THE Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), made up of 21 asset-owners worth $1.2 trillion, including the Church of England Pensions Board, has created the “Net Zero Investment Framework”, which makes a commitment to achieving net-zero alignment on carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. The Framework is described as enabling investors to decarbonise investment portfolios and increase investment in climate solutions in a way consistent with and contributing to a 1.5°C net-zero emissions future. Investors do this by developing a “net-zero investment strategy” built around five core components of the Framework: objectives and targets; strategic asset allocation and asset class alignment; policy advocacy; investor engagement activity; and governance. The Director of Ethics and Engagement for the Pensions Board, Adam Matthews, said: “We have jointly chaired this process to pool the expertise and wisdom of the asset-owner and fund-manager community to create a framework that is both practical and credible and gets you to net zero. This is a vital part of the investment architecture that was missing.”


Penn Club offered facilities at St Katharine’s

THE Royal Foundation of St Katharine in Limehouse, London, has offered to provide a new home for the Penn Club, which announced its closure last month owing to “seriously challenged financial reserves” in the wake of the pandemic (News, 5 February). The not-for-profit 43-room residential club in London, which was founded by Quakers in 1920, recently completed a significant refurbishment programme. Plans to celebrate its centenary last October had been put on hold. The 12th-century Foundation plans to introduce a Penn Club table in its dining room and has agreed to house some artwork and the Quaker section of the library.

Ampleforth pupils say ‘We feel safe here’

PUPILS at Ampleforth College have written to the Prime Minister urging him to lift the restriction order on admitting new pupils, which was placed on the Roman Catholic public school by the Education Secretary in November, owing to safeguarding concerns (News, 4 December 2020). “A restriction order isn’t helping the school and it means my friends can’t have their younger brothers and sisters join us here,” it says. The head girl, Ida Bridgeman, who wrote and organised the letter, said: “The last year has been a difficult one for pupils because of Covid, and this additional uncertainty means further worry and apprehension. I think the Prime Minister and his team should listen to the children who are at the school now. We feel safe here.”

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