Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali has criticised a proposed alternative baptism service. This is being piloted in a number of churches before the Church of England decides whether to let it be used more widely. While the church should try to make worship widely accessible, changes that make getting baptised seem less meaningful should be avoided.
A Church of England working party report on sexuality suggests that clergy be allowed to hold public services to mark same-sex partnerships. Some critics have complained that allowing too much flexibility might seem to affirm what the church still officially regards as wrong.
Putting off pensions for sick and disabled older people
Pension age will keep rising, UK chancellor George Osborne announced in his autumn statement today (5 December 2013). Young people now finishing their education will probably have to wait until they are in their 70s. This will have a devastating effect on some areas and sections of society.
Dehydration and malnutrition – is neglect always involved?
Over the past decade in England and Wales, over two thousand people have died in care homes or hospitals while dehydrated or malnourished. Charities and politicians have expressed outrage. Some of these deaths are due to neglect, which should end – but unjustly blaming staff or managers when patients die for other reasons should also be avoided.
Ireland's first - or perhaps second - woman bishop
On 30 November 2013, at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Pat Storey was ordained as the Anglican bishop of Meath and Kildare. She had been the rector of St Augustine’s in Derry and is a standing committee member of the Church of Ireland’s general synod.
The current economic system is “unjust at the root”, Pope Francis declared. In a major new document, he urged Roman Catholics to work with fellow Christians and others towards a more humane and peaceful world.
The Church of England’s decision to move a step closer towards allowing women to be bishops is a welcome move. By 378 votes to eight, General Synod backed a package of proposals to take forward legislation which may be approved in 2014.
Abusing human rights: playing the ‘anti-colonial’ card
As the UK Prime Minister and other leaders prepare to attend a Commonwealth gathering in Sri Lanka, its government has criticised his pledge to flag up concerns about human rights. It is estimated that tens of thousands of civilians were killed by the regime and Tiger rebels at the end of a brutal civil war.
The UK government’s cuts to spending on public services are for ideological reasons, not just because of the deficit. In a speech at the lord mayor’s banquet in the Guildhall, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to build “a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.”