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  • 19/03/2023
    Pope Francis is cracking down on an old Latin form of the Catholic mass. The Tridentine Rite has become an unexpected battleground in a Catholic culture war over the future direction of the church. Now bishops must seek permission directly from the Vatican before it can be celebrated, those who love the old mass fear it could soon disappear from church life altogether. Reporter Orla O’Brien talks to both sides in this bitter 'liturgy war'. It's 20 years since coalition forces began airstrikes in Iraq. The hostilities damaged many religious and historic sites sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and saw artefacts stolen from the country. Dr Rozhen Kamal Mohammed heads up a team that works alongside religious groups to recover and restore this vital heritage, and she updates us on the work that’s been done and the problems they are encountering. New academic research has uncovered the spiritual lives of some sex workers. Although many spiritual texts represent sex work in a negative way, 11 workers of different religions, interviewed by an academic from Nottingham Trent University, believe their faith is compatible with their spirituality and use their religion in different ways in their work. This month marks three years since the first Covid lockdown. Young people especially found it hard to deal with their mental health during lockdown. Now a documentary called "Young in Covid: Routes to Recovery", explores how a group of young people in Bradford used faith as a means to cope with the effects of the pandemic. Jassa Singh and Marium Zumeer speak to us about handling sickness, bereavement and finding an anchor in their Sikh and Muslim faiths. Presented by William Crawley. Produced by Bara'atu Ibrahim and Julia Paul. Studio managers: Sue Stonestreet and Simon Highfield Production co-ordinator David Baguely Edited by Helen Grady.
  • Live from Rome on a decade of Pope Francis
    Edward Stourton is live in Rome reflecting on ten years of Pope Francis. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in extraordinary circumstances and his first actions a decade ago marked him out as someone with a different style and priorities to many of his predecessors. It was expected to be a period of great change but how much has he actually achieved? Hear from two men who’ve been training for the priesthood at the Venerable English college in Rome, an institution that has been educating seminarians for hundreds of years. Find out how much Francis influenced their decision to take holy orders, and why they regard him as a great example as a parish priest. The Synod on Synodality has been called ‘the biggest consultation in human history’. It’s Pope Francis’s attenpt to listen to ordinary Catholics across the world and find out what they think of their Church and how it interacts with the world. We follow the process of the Synod starting with Janet Obeney-Williams, who gathered the thoughts of her parish, to the writer Austen Ivereigh who synthesised feedback at a national and global level and finally to Sister Nathalie Becquart, the Undersecretary of the Synod and the only woman who gets to vote on it. And Edward is joined by Vatican experts Sylvia Poggioli, Loup Besmond de Senneville and Gerard O’Connell to look at the road ahead for the church PRESENTER: Edward Stourton EDITOR: Helen Grady PRODUCERS: Catherine Murray, Katy Booth, Louise Rowbotham-Clarke STUDIO MANAGERS: Phil Booth, Jonathan Esp and Simon Highfield PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR: David Baguley
  • Windsor Deal; Slave Trade and the Church of England; Oscar Contender
    Earlier this week British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, unveiled the Windsor Framework, a deal with the EU to fix post-Brexit trade problems in Northern Ireland. The Democratic Unionist Party, whose support is crucial to restoring the power-sharing government in the Province have yet to deliver their verdict on it. William Crawley assesses what this all means for the future preservation and strengthening of the Good Friday Agreement, twenty-five years after it's creation, with guests Dr. John Kirkpatrick, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; and Donal McKeown, the Roman Catholic bishop of Derry and Apostolic administrator of Down and Connor. One month on from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, we revisit Islamic Relief's deputy director in Turkey, Salah Aboulgasem, for an update. An exhibition at Lambeth Palace reveals how the Church of England profited from investments connected with slavery. Reporter Vishva Samani visits 'Enslavement: Voices from the Archives' and speaks to those who feel it fails to show the full extent of the Church's involvement. William talks to author and senior fellow at Theos, Nicholas Spencer, about his new book Magisteria, in which he suggests that the troubled relationship between science and religion has definitively shaped human history. Stranger at the Gate is the Oscar nominated true story about a former US marine intent on attacking a Mosque, but who ended up converting to Islam. William speaks to Bibi Bahrami, founder of the Islamic Centre of Muncie, about that episode and her subsequent friendship with Richard McKinney. Producers: Jill Collins and Bara'atu Ibrahim Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editors: Tim Pemberton and Helen Grady Photo credit: Chris Vaughan / Church Commissioners for England
  • Attacks on refugees; Orthodoxy in Ukraine; school singing project
    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been rejected as the ceremonial head of the Anglican communion by a group of conservative primates, over plans to offer blessings to same-sex couples. Archbishops representing 10 of the 42 provinces in the Anglican Communion, part of a group called the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, have signed a statement supporting the move. It's also been supported by the Church of England Evangelical Council. We hear what impact this may have, from religious affairs reporter Harry Farley. What is prompting former Christians to turn their back on the church and convert to traditional African faiths such as ifa? BBC journalist Peter Macjob – himself an ex-Roman Catholic – tells us about his journey. Thousands of school children from all backgrounds will soon have access to the expertise of cathedral choir leaders, thanks to the national Schools Singing Programme. The Programme, which is funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, was set up two years ago, working with Catholic schools. But now it's expanded to include six Anglican cathedrals, which will allow it to reach more than 20,000 children every week. And an exhibition of textile art works, raising awareness about the threats to our natural world, has gone on display at Westminster. The Loving Earth Project was started by the Quaker Arts Network, and features more than 400 textile panels made by people all over the world. Presented by Emily Buchanan. Produced by Julia Paul and Dan Tierney.
  • Ukraine's Religious Freedom Watchdog; Black Jesus; Champing
    A year on from Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, William speaks to Viktor Yelensky, the new Lead of Ukraine’s Religious Freedom Watchdog, about what the future may now hold for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, given its ties to the Moscow Patriarchate. The 'Champing' or 'camping in a Church' season begins again soon. Created by the Churches Conservation Trust, it helps raise funds towards maintaining both active and redundant Churches within their portfolio. We send our reporter Mark Hutchings to 'Champ' at St. Bartholomew's, Lower Failand, Bristol. As the staggering death toll continues to rise following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, we hear from Franciscan Priest, Father Fadi Azar in Latakia, Syria and Ravi Singh, CEO and Founder of Khalsa Aid, on his return from Turkey, about the impact of this catastrophe both on the community and the supply of aid. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales recently unveiled new artworks depicting Mary and Jesus with different ethnicities. Chine McDonald, Director of Theos and Author of 'God Is Not A White Man' explains why it's important to have such representation in religious iconography. Leanna Hosea reports on the Native Americans forcibly removed from their homes as children and placed in residential schools, stripped of their spiritual beliefs and subjected to emotional and sexual abuse. Leanna's report covers themes that some listeners could find disturbing. Details of organisations - in the UK - offering information and support with child sexual abuse are available at And the full story is on Heart and Soul: Stripped of my Spirituality, BBC World Service, available now on BBC Sounds. Producers: Jill Collins and Katy Booth Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editor: Helen Grady

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