Bishop Paul Mason, the lead bishop for safeguarding in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has defended the seal of the confessional even when a priest may hear disclosures of abuse. He said this after the biannual plenary meeting of bishops where a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended that failure to report a disclosure of child sexual abuse should be a criminal offence, including disclosures made in the confessional. Bishop Mason said that it’s an extremely sensitive and difficult area, and IICSA noted that they didn’t come across priests who have described having had a paedophile in the Confessional. Bishop Paul said if we do have contact with these people, we have an opportunity to turn their lives around and report themselves to the authorities.
From Passion for the Nation: ‘“Lift up your eyes and look at the fields; they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). We thank You, Father God, for every promise given to us for revival and awakening, and for those who have already come to know You. We thank You, Lord, for anointing us to preach good tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1). We pray for a new season of evangelism, and for your people to see what You see. Raise up those who will speak to individuals and the crowds, and strategic evangelistic programmes. In this Christmas season, we pray God’s word will be spoken with boldness and clarity, sensitivity and wisdom, and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard. We speak the revelation of Jesus into the lives of individuals, families, communities and cultures.’
After a coroner ruled the death of toddler Awaab Ishak was caused by exposure to mould at his home, housing secretary Michael Gove said that tens of thousands of homes are ‘not in the state they should be in’. The government has now stripped the housing association involved, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), of £1m in expected funding. Mr Gove said, ‘We are not giving money to organisations that are operating incompetently.’ Two-year-old Awaab died from a respiratory condition caused by the social housing he was living in. His family repeatedly raised concerns about mould with RBH, but no action was taken. Mr Gove said the Government ‘should have moved faster’ to improve things for social housing tenants in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire. Legislation in 2023 would give additional powers to housing authorities and ensure the voices of tenants were ‘heard more clearly’.
Scotland's first national school strike since the 1980s has taken place, with a one-day walkout over pay by teaching staff at primary and secondary schools, and also at many council nurseries. A revised pay offer was rejected. Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said that the employers’ offer was fair, with rises up to 6.85% for the lowest-paid. Finding the money to give unions a 10% pay rise would mean some very hard choices for councils and the Scottish government. Teachers said they are asking for 10% to keep salaries in line with inflation - currently 11%. They are feeling the squeeze from this cost-of-living crisis. They think that they are working way beyond their 35-hour week, and the long holiday comes nowhere near making up for the amount of working hours put into the job. Many work during the holidays preparing for the next term. They find their job stressful, and feel the pay isn't fit for purpose.
Polish video game company PlayWay SA has announced it will launch the first instalment of the world’s first game that allows players to simulate the life of Jesus, including performing miracles and battling Satan. The prologue, I Am Jesus Christ, is a stand-alone game which serves as an introduction; it will be available from 1 December. The full version, which will be published in the second quarter of next year, will allow players to walk in the footsteps of Jesus ‘from birth to resurrection’, recreating key events from his life, such as the Last Supper. Players will be able to perform miracles and carry out quests, including a fight with Satan in the desert. Along the way, players discover Jesus’s story from his perspective and will be able to cure the sick, help the needy and interact with over sixty characters, including Christ’s disciples.
In under two weeks, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine became a full-fledged humanitarian crisis. The turmoil is affecting gospel workers in Ukraine and throughout the region in significant ways. The Slavic Gospel Association (SGA) reports a sense of excitement. Kherson, a very important city to Ukrainians, is now accessible. Battlefields are constantly changing, with villages and cities burned to the ground. People are hiding in their basements: drones, missiles, and rockets are attacking their infrastructure, and they are bracing for a terrible winter. A new SGA initiative, Heat and Hope, will provide heating, blankets, and food to Ukrainians. They work through over 240 local churches across the embattled regions. They will not only be centres of warmth when all else has been destroyed, but centres of hope. In the middle of a bitter cold winter, these churches are proclaiming the hope and love of Jesus.
Luke-warm applause met a historic moment when a ‘loss and damage fund’ was agreed in the early hours of 20 November 20 after a confusing and often chaotic 48 hours left delegates exhausted. This fund will see developed nations paying poorer countries for damage and economic losses caused by climate change, ending almost thirty years of waiting by poorer nations experiencing huge climate impacts. But there was disappointment over the lack of progress on cutting fossil fuels. ‘A clear commitment to phase-out all fossil fuels? Not in this text,’ said the UK's president of the Glasgow COP26 summit. The final overarching deal did not include commitments to ‘phase down’ or reduce use of fossil fuels. It also included ambiguous new languages about ‘low emissions energy’ - which experts say could open the door to some fossil fuels being considered part of a green energy future.
A magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit Indonesia, killing 271 with hundreds still missing 3 days later. Around 22,000 houses were damaged. 169,000 people were affected, 1,000+ injured, and 58,000 scattered to evacuee points. One village was buried under a landslide. Landslides and rough terrain blocked roads and damaged bridges, preventing rescuers for 24 hours from reaching survivors with excavators and equipment to move concrete and dig them out. Pray for patients needing immediate treatment or surgery; for the health ministry implementing emergency triage procedures; for frame tents, folding beds for carrying patients, operational kits, medicines, masks for adults and children, and body bags. See Six-year-old Azka Maulana Malik was rescued from the rubble of his family home three days after the earthquake destroyed the area. There are still 151 people missing. Pray that more people, not bodies, will be found in the debris, as monsoon rain hinders rescuers.