Britain

Sayeeda Warsi, First Muslim in British Cabinet, Resigns Over 'Indefensible' Gaza Policy

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim member of a British Cabinet. Photo by Kaveh Sardari/Council on Foreign Relations.

The first Muslim to serve in a British Cabinet resigned Tuesday over her government’s “morally indefensible” policies in Gaza and its role in the Middle East peace process.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who served as senior Foreign Office minister for faith and communities, announced her decision on Twitter, saying: “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.”

In her resignation letter, Warsi wrote: “I believe our approach in relation to the current conflict is neither consistent with our values, specifically our commitment to the rule of law and our long history of support for International Justice.”

Labour leaders and human rights groups have criticized Britain’s Conservative government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, in recent weeks for not unequivocally condemning Israel’s handling of the Gaza crisis.

Conservative leaders expressed disappointment over Warsi’s “unnecessary” resignation on Tuesday, while Labour opposition leader Ed Miliband said Warsi had acted with “principle and integrity” in deciding to step down.

Wales Admits Women Bishops, Church of England Lags Behind

Canterbury Cathedral. Photo by RNS/Trevor Grundy

The decision by the Church in Wales to consecrate women bishops means the Church of England — the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion — will be the last in Britain to admit women as bishops.

Cheers erupted in a hall at Lampeter, Ceredigion in Wales, when the 144-member governing body of the Welsh church announced the result of the vote on Thursday. A similar bill failed narrowly in 2008.

DRONE WATCH: Take Their Citizenship First

While the U.S. continues to debate whether the president has legal authority to order the drone killing of American citizens, it seems the British have found their answer to the question. According to The Independent:

“The Government has secretly ramped up a controversial programme that strips people of their British citizenship on national security grounds – with two of the men subsequently killed by American drone attacks.

“An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for The Independent has established that since 2010, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revoked the passports of 16 individuals, many of whom are alleged to have had links to militant or terrorist groups.”

Vatican Backtracks On Support for Gay Couples

Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images

Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia attends 'Che Tempo Che Fa' Italian Tv Show in 2010. Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images

VATICAN CITY — A top Vatican official blamed the media for “derailing” his recent remarks on possible legal protections for unmarried couples, while reaffirming his support for British and French bishops who have been vocal opponents of same-sex marriage.

Speaking at a Vatican press conference on Monday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, had acknowledged that nations could find “private law solutions” to protect the rights of unmarried couples — including, potentially, gay and lesbian couples.

Paglia also said the church should support the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality in various countries.

His remarks were widely repeated, with some interpreting it as a softening of the Vatican’s stance just as bishops in France and Britain are furiously opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Christianity in Britain Losing Ground to Islam, Secularism

Photo: Mark William Penny / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Rowan Williams, Mark William Penny / Shutterstock.com

CANTERBURY, England — New figures from the 2011 Census show that the number of people who identify as Christians in England and Wales has fallen by 4 million over the last 10 years.

The data shows that numbers fell from 37.3 million in 2001 to 33 million last year.

The statistics came as the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, claimed that English cathedral congregations are growing dramatically, challenging the claim made by secularists that the Church of England is fading in Britain.

Is the British Monarch the ‘Defender of the Faith’ or ‘Faiths’?

RNS photo courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons

Queen Elizabeth II greets NASA employees on her walk in Maryland. RNS photo courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons

 

LONDON — As Britain awaits the appointment of the next archbishop of Canterbury to lead both the Church of England and the far-flung Anglican Communion, there's renewed attention on the woman who officially gets the final say: Queen Elizabeth II, the "Defender of the Faith."

The current archbishop, Rowan Williams, ends his 10-year tenure in December. A Church of England committee is sifting through candidates — two of whom will be submitted to Prime Minister David Cameron, whose top choice will be submitted to the queen for final approval.

When he announced his retirement last March, Williams, 62, famously said his successor will need "the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros.”

Politicians and religious leaders say the next archbishop will need those qualities and more to handle deep divisions in the British church over female bishops and North/South divisions among his 77 million-member global flock over sexuality.

But he'll also need something else: the ability to envision life when Elizabeth — who turns 87 next year  is no longer on the throne, and when Britain is no longer a Christian-majority country.

UK Watchdog Group Bans Christian Ads, Says Divine Healing=False Advertising

 LONDON — Britain's powerful media advertising watchdog has banned a Christian group from claiming on its website and brochures that God's cure-all powers can heal a string of medical ailments.

The Advertising Standards Authority, the independent regulator of advertising in all British media, ruled that the ads generated by the group Healing on the Streets are irresponsible and misleading.

The ASA, whose tight rules are considered among the world's most stringent, cites a leaflet produced by the group from its center in the spa town of Bath, England, claiming that God "can heal you from any sickness."

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