Bishop of Coventry on peacebuilding and need to protect minority communities in Syria

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On 9th February 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Crossbench Peer Baroness Cox “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of recent developments in Syria.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, spoke in the debate:

Coventry Moses RoomThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for securing this debate. My main reason for speaking is to draw your Lordships’ attention and, especially, Her Majesty’s Government, to a recent report by the World Council of Churches, The Protection Needs of Minorities in Syria and Iraq. It is a serious piece of field study that has gathered the first-hand views of some 4,000 people, over 2,000 of them Syrians from minority communities: Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Turkmen and many others. I was in Baghdad and Irbil last month as part of a World Council of Churches delegation to test the findings of the report with community leaders and members, as well as with UNAMI and locally based NGOs, and confirm the soundness of its recommendations. I have every reason to believe that the report’s analysis of the Syrian situation is as credible as we found its Iraqi analysis to be. Therefore I ask the Minister that the Government engage with this robust report. Continue reading

Bishop of Derby speaks on importance of employment opportunities for women and girls in developing countries

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On 26th January 2017 Lord Loomba led a short debate in the Lords, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report published by Oxfam on wealth disparity, what steps they are taking to ensure that women and girls in the developing world are equipped with the right employment skills.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

derby-19117The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Loomba, and congratulate him on the splendid work that his foundation does in targeting widows, who are some of the most vulnerable people. I also congratulate Oxfam on producing such a helpful report. Many noble Lords have spoken about the issues. I want to stress the fact that this is not just about inequality and discrimination; the report shows that they are both growing. That growth is the context in which we look at this debate. Continue reading

Bishop of Durham asks about UK representative in Burundi

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durham-230117On the 24th January 2017, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, received answers to written questions about UK representation in Burundi.


Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for a permanent representative in Burundi.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office operates a permanent British Embassy Office in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. The non-resident British Ambassador to Burundi is based in Kigali, Rwanda.


(via Parliament.uk)

Bishop of Durham raises cases of imprisoned Sudanese pastors

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durham-230117On 23rd January 2017, Baroness Cox asked the Government “what assessment they have made of recent developments in Sudan.” The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question:


Bishop of Durham: My Lords, while recognising that improvements between the Anglican Church of Sudan and the Sudanese Government have occurred, it remains the case that, after over a year, there are two Sudanese pastors, one Czech aid worker and a Sudanese civil rights activist still in al-Huda prison in Omdurman under the death penalty. Human rights activists say that there is no case at all. What contact have Ministers with the Government of Sudan regarding these prisoners and the treatment of Christians more generally? Continue reading

Bishop of Leeds – liberal international order not a natural given or inevitable right

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On 19th January 2017 Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Bruce of Bennachie led a debate “that this House takes note of challenges to the liberal international order posed by the development of populism and nationalism around the world.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

leeds-20117-bThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to have a debate like this, which allows us to identify some of the more philosophical dynamics at play in contemporary political developments. The excellent Library note for this debate makes it clear that language matters, and that definition of terms is not incidental. Populism is clearly more than a movement of people who listen only to the facts that support the prejudices that they have already nurtured, but it can exploit assertive language in such a way as to obscure truth. This is what I wish to focus on here. Whereas others will discuss the importance of a rules-based international order, I want to say something about language in a post-truth or post-factual world, and pose a couple of questions about the assumptions we make regarding history. Continue reading

Bishop of Derby – populist politics is best understood as a mood, not a movement

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On 19th January 2017 Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Bruce of Bennachie led a debate “that this House takes note of challenges to the liberal international order posed by the development of populism and nationalism around the world.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

derby-19117The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, for introducing this very important debate. I am not a professional politician, but I invite the House to look at the challenge and at the issues behind the case framed, very articulately, by the noble Lord.

First, I want to argue that populism is not a movement but a moment. One of the writers in the briefing for today talked about a thin ideology. It is not a detailed movement, as the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, said; it is a moment. Nietzsche, in the aptly named The Birth of Tragedy, talked about psychological bonding creating a headless movement—it is an expression of feeling, concern or anger, but it is headless. It is like a mood in the background and is really difficult to deal with. Just like President-elect Trump’s tweeting, it is technological chatter, but very difficult to deal with. It is a mood and not a movement. Those of us charged with a political task therefore have quite a challenge to know what we are getting hold of and how to react. Continue reading

Church Commissioner questions: Israel/Palestine, human trafficking, prisons, social media, low carbon economy, tourism, lead theft

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On 19th January 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions in the House of Commons from MPs on Israel/Palestine, human trafficking, prisons, social media, low carbon economy, tourism and lead theft. The transcript is below:

spelman-190117b Continue reading