Sunday 8 September 2013

The Exorcist, polygamy in the UK, chancel repair liability and Syria

So what happened on this morning's Sunday

7.10 Introduction, by William Crawley

7.11 Catholic child abuse. A Scottish priest, Fr Patrick Lawson, has apparently been sacked for speaking to the Observer about his own abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest. He says, "The Church is a big Mafia". Catherine Deveney of the Observer talked to William and put Fr Lawson's case against the Church. The programme wanted to speak to the Scottish church, but no one would speak to the programme.

7.17 The Arms Trade. William interviewed an Anglican priest, Rev Keith Hebden, who is going to perform an exorcism at the London Arms Trade Fair as a protest against the arms trade. He calls it a "social and political" rather than a "pastoral" act. William asked him to defend this "publicity stunt", which the Church authorities have refused to back - though Rev Hebden's bishop has not condemned it. Rev Hebden duly made that case, and many Radio 4 listeners heard it, thanks to Sunday

7.23 Church of Wales vote on women bishops. Williams talked to Archbishop Barry Morgan, who is in favour of women bishops, about this week's vote. The archbishop put the case - with a little help from William, who intervened to add that the Church would be seen as "sexist" if the vote didn't go through.

7.28 Chancel repair liability. Parochial church councils are being urged to find out whether their neighbours are personally liable for church repairs under an ancient law. The government has given them five weeks. The BBC's Bob Walker reported, talking to two councillors in Rutland who were horrified about the harm to individual people and the Church that could result from this. Charities are also worried. Ian Robertson of the Charity Commission is sympathetic to their concerns. Lawyer Matthew Chinery, however, says that PCCs have a duty to investigate this. He's gone after some large corporate landowners over the issue. A rector in Peterborough did a search but found no individuals responsible and says he won't be going after anyone and that they can still sleep soundly in their beds. 

7.35 Muslim polygamy on the rise in the UK. "It is widely understood that the number of second wives in Britain's Muslim community is on the rise. We hear from Khola Hassan from the Islamic Sharia Council and Tahmina Saleem from Inspire." Polygamy is, of course, illegal in the UK. Tahmina fears coercion of women. Khola (as is her way whenever she appears on Sunday - as she does quite often) disagrees and thinks women are voluntarily getting married polygamously. They debated what the Koran says about the issue.

7.42 Syria. "Matt Wells reports from the USA on the reaction from faith groups to military action." We heard from a "Christian conservative" lawmaker who's against intervention and an archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church who's also against intervention (saying that a "genocide against Christians" is going on there, thanks to the jihadis). We also heard from some Syrian-American Muslims at a Sunni mosque who are on the rebels' side and want intervention, before hearing from an episcopal priest in New Jersey, "an African-American progressive" who usually backs Obama but won't be supporting him over a strike on Syria. That's a strong majority against intervention in Matt Wells's report (perhaps accurately reflecting the mood in the U.S.)

7.49 Syria (following anti-war tweets yesterday from Pope Francis). "The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nicholls [sic] talked to William about Syria and the need for a peaceful resolution." Archbishop Nichols is strongly opposed to the strikes and made the case against intervention. William put some of John Kerry's counter-arguments to him.

How does this all square with what I call the programme's standard fare - "the usual diet of breaking news from the Arab world, Christian-related abuse stories, bad news about the Catholic Church, something about human rights, the usual airing of Muslim grievances, a call for something or other by a left-wing campaign group, an Anglican row over something, that sort of thing"?

Well, almost completely. 

There was the "breaking news from the Arab World" story (sort-of), given Syria's dominance of the last segment of the programme. There was the "Christian-related abuse story" at the very beginning of the programme. "The usual airing of Muslim grievances" came with the polygamy story. "A call for something or other by a left-wing campaign group" pretty much covers the anti-arms trade protester. Finally, the "an Anglican row over something" covers the women bishops vote (even though it's in Wales!).

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