UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from FaithWorld:

Church of England to wash some Bible imagery from baptism rite

baptism 1

(Sistine Chapel fresco The Baptism of Christ c. 1482 by Pietro Perugino)

The Church of England has voted to use more accessible language during baptisms to help it connect better with congregations, especially non church-goers.  Members attending the Church's General Synod, or parliament, in London, agreed that the Liturgical Commission should provide supplementary material to help prevent the eyes of  worshippers "glazing over" during important parts of the service.

The Reverend Tim Stratford, from Liverpool, said on Wednesday his motion was "not a request for christenings without Christianity." Quite the opposite.  "I am not asking for the language of Steven Gerrard," he said, referring to the Liverpool and England  soccer star. "Just references that could be understood by the majority."

Parts of the service were difficult to use "without seeming inappropriately schoolmaster-like", he said.  Stratford said he did not disagree with the words currently being used, such as "I turn to Christ, I repent of my sins, and I renounce evil."

"But it sounds to many as if the church wants an entirely religious response -- removed from our behaviour, actions and conversations". Instead, he wanted words that showed Christ's neighbourly love. "Not inquisitorial, but aspirational."

Is Clegg right to offer flexible parental leave?

- Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants to give parents the right to share and swap their statutory leave for looking after newborn babies and children. That’s good news for parents, although the new arrangements have to be knocked into shape after consultation with employers and won’t come into force until 2015. Clegg said in a speech on Monday to the Demos think tank that increasing flexibility over parental leave was a priority for him and for the Prime Minister David Cameron. Both have young families and like most fathers these days have taken time out from work following their new arrivals. At present mothers get up to a year’s statutory leave, while fathers only qualify for two weeks. Clegg wants to change that so that parents can divide up this time off as it suits them, even taking the leave at the same time if that is what they want. Unions say the proposals are long overdue, but employers are less keen. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said Clegg’s plan might be politically popular but it “fundamentally ignores the needs of business.” “How is an employer expected to plan and arrange cover with this fully-flexible system,” asked BCC director general David Frost. Have employers got a valid point? Or is it time for business to do more to ensure children see the most of both their parents in their earliest months. Tell us what you think.

BRITAIN/Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants to give parents the right to share and swap their statutory leave for looking after newborn babies.

That’s good news for parents, although the new arrangements have to be knocked into shape after consultation with employers and won’t come into force until 2015.

from FaithWorld:

Pope apologizes for “unspeakable crimes” of sexual abuse

papal flag (Photo: Girl waves papal flag before a Mass with Pope Benedict in London September 18, 2010/Kevin Coombs)

Pope Benedict apologized to victims of sexual abuse on Saturday, saying pedophile priests had brought "shame and humiliation" on him and the entire Roman Catholic Church. It was the 83-year-old pontiff's latest attempt to come to grips with the scandal that has rocked the 1.1 billion-member Church, particularly in Europe and the United States.

"I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes ...," he said in his sermon in  Westminster Cathedral, the mother church for Roman Catholics in England and Wales and a symbol of the struggle of Catholics here in the late 19th century to assert their rights after the Reformation.

from FaithWorld:

Excerpts from Pope Benedict’s speech to Catholic pupils in London

pope pupils (Photo: Pope Benedict meets school children in London September 17, 2010/Steve Parsons)

Pope Benedict urged Catholic schoolchildren in London on Friday to strive to become saints and to aim for more than just just money or fame.

Here are excerpts from his speech:

"...I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. … Let me explain what I mean. When we are young, we can usually think of people that we look up to, people we admire, people we want to be like. It could be someone we meet in our daily lives that we hold in great esteem. Or it could be someone famous. We live in a celebrity culture, and young people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport or entertainment. My question for you is this: what are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves? What kind of person would you really like to be?

from FaithWorld:

London protesters accuse pope of hypocrisy over sex abuse – report and photos

protest 2 (Photo: Protest as Pope Benedict XVI arrives by car at St Mary's University College in London September 17, 2010/Peter Macdiarmid)

Pope Benedict reminded his Church on Friday that its first priority was to provide a safe environment for children as the pontiff was met by the first substantial protest of his delicate visit to Britain.  Several hundred people whistled and shouted "Pope must resign" and "shame" as the papal motorcade entered a Catholic school complex in Twickenham, southwest London.

They held placards reading "Hypocrisy and lies" and "Catholic paedophile cover up."

from FaithWorld:

Excerpts from pope’s London speech to Catholic teachers

twickenham 2 (Photo: Nuns waiting for Pope Benedict at a Catholic school in London, 17 Sept 2010/Kevin Coombs)

Visiting a Catholic school in London on Friday, Pope Benedict said teachers should give their pupils not only marketable skills but also wisdom, which he said was inseparable from knowledge of God. Catholic schools and Catholic religious teachers play an important part in transmitting this wisdom, he said. He also stressed the need to protect pupils from sexual predators.

Following are excerpts from his address to the teachers:

"I am pleased to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution made by religious men and women in this land to the noble task of education... As you know, the task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training in skills intended to deliver some economic benefit to society; education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full – in short it is about imparting wisdom. And true wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of the Creator, for "both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts".

Are children really becoming “animals?”


The charity Barnardo’s has released a poll showing over half the country thinks children are beginning to behave like animals.

Forty-nine percent of 2,021 people surveyed thought children now pose more of a danger to their peers and to adults with 43 percent saying something has to be done to protect them from youngsters.

Should parents be allowed to smack?


mumtoddler0401kierandoherty.jpgShould parents be allowed to smack their children, or should smacking be treated the same as an assault?

A group of MPs is again pushing for a change in the law for an outright ban on smacking.

End of the road for violent games?


grand-theft-auto-iv.jpg“We make games for the people that play them. We don’t make them for the Daily Mail.”

So says Dan Houser, the producer who co-created the Grand Theft Auto computer game series, one of the most successful of all time.

Are children safe on the Internet?


facebook.jpgOfcom says millions of children who use social networking sites are exposing themselves to potential danger by leaving their privacy settings on “open,” thereby allowing all and sundry to peruse their personal details.

Its figures show a no less than a quarter of all children aged 8 to 11 in Britain, are registered with a social networking site.