Religion news 6 October

Image credit: Alexey Gotovskyi CNA

Call for investigation into allegations that bribes influenced the trial of Cardinal George Pell

Italian newspapers have carried reports that bribes were paid to influence the sexual assault case brought against Cardinal George Pell, the Australian Roman Catholic leader who was jailed and subsequently cleared on all charges. Pell’s barrister,  Robert Richter QC, is calling on the Australian authorities to investigate and follow the money trail. Cardinal Pell was in charge of overhauling Vatican finances and had discovered hundreds of millions of euros off the balance sheets when he was called back to Australia to face the charges. His rival, Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, who resigned a week ago after corruption claims, has categorically denied interfering in any way in the trial.

Outrage at Rihanna’s raunchy use of the Islamic Hadith

The global fashion and pop icon Rihanna has provoked outrage from Muslims for using a remix of the sacred Islamic Hadith, as the backing for a raunchy dance routine launching her latest lingerie range. Her Savage X Fenty show was recorded for Amazon Prime and broadcast on Friday.  It features dancers modelling the lingerie range to the song “Doom” by Coucou Chloe, who picked the rhythm of an Imam reading a passage from the Hadith and set it to a dance beat. The Hadith is a revered collection of sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, a source of religious law and moral guidance, which provides daily counsel for Muslims, alongside the Koran.  Outrage at its use in this film, spilled over social media.

Dean of Sheffield resigns after choir row

The Church Times reports that the Dean of Sheffield, Peter Bradley, has resigned. He was at the centre of a storm after the Cathedral disbanded the choir and music department in order to reflect the diverse city. This caused uproar with a petition in protest and an alternative choir set up locally. He had been Dean for 17 years and said his departure following tremendous pressure in recent weeks. The Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox, said he was not surprised by the decision, which he supported. The Dean’s last day is 31 December 2020.

Zoroastrianism rekindled in Kurdistan

15,000 people have converted to Zoroastrianism in Kurdistan since the Islamic State imposed strict rule in northern Iraq from 2014. The religion began with the teachings of the spiritual leader Zoroaster and it was the state religion of the Iranian empire for 1,000 years, declining with the rise of Islam in the 7th century CE. Beliefs include a deity of wisdom, judgment after death, heaven and hell, free will and good thoughts, words and deeds. Reuters reports that the Yasna Association, which promotes the religion in the area, says people are labelled infidels and ostracised because of their faith.

Goddess Temple opens in Redditch

A “Goddess Temple” has been opened in Redditch in the West Midlands, only the second of its kind in the UK – the other is in Glastonbury. The Redditch Standard reports that it is a place for pagans and wiccans to gather and worship without fear. It will open during the day for meditation, lighting candles or small rituals.