Archive for the ‘Roman Catholic’ category

Georgia passes new freedom of religion legislation

July 9, 2011

On the 5th July 2011 the Georgian Parliament passed into law new legislation that ensures the religious freedoms of ‘religious groups recognized as religious organizations in member States of the Council of Europe or having close historic ties with Georgia.’

Initial drafts limited the freedoms to just five groups, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Evangelical Baptist church of Georgia, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Jewish and Muslim communities of Georgia, in addition to the special status still accorded the Orthodox Church of Georgia. The Baptist Archbishop in Georgia, Malkhaz Songulashvili, reports that following the release of the first draft, Bishop Rusudan Gotziridze (Baptist), lobbied the parliament and requested that the legislation should be extended to all religious groups in Georgia. The draft was subsequently amended to meet this request. A press release from the Embassy of Georgia in London specifically refers to Evangelicals being granted the same freedoms.

According to the Embassy’s press release, lawmaker, Nugzar Tsiklauri, said ‘Georgia is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country and every citizen of this country, regardless of what religion he belongs to, must have equal rights.’

Previously it has only been possible for the majority of religious organisations to register as a non-profit association. The new legislation now allows for registration as a religious association although the lawmakers have been careful to allow religious organisations to decide whether they want to continue as a non-profit association or register as a religious association. The legislation is designed to ensure maximum flexibility for such organisations.

A copy of the press release can be downloaded here.

The British public on Benedict’s social teaching

September 10, 2010

Theos reports today on the findings of a ComRes poll of 2,003 British adults in connection with the visit of the Pope.

Strikingly, despite popular disapproval about paying for his visit, a majority of the British public was in favour of eleven out of twelve of his ethical statements from the encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Theos notes that “a majority of the public even agree with some Catholic teaching about sexuality, with 63% agreeing that ‘It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure’.“

The full Theos news item can be viewed by clicking here and the data tables are accessible from that page.

Cross and Lotus – Buddhism in the UK

September 9, 2010

There may be as many as 46,000 ‘converts’ to Buddhism from Roman Catholic and Anglican backgrounds in the UK. This estimate is based on figures obtained from the British Religion in Numbers website, managed by David Voas and other members of the British Religion and Society project.

However, it is estimated that 82% of Buddhists in the UK were brought up by Buddhist parents, suggesting that the strongest indicator of Buddhist identity and affiliation is ethnicity.

In the 2001 Census, 144,453 people in England and Wales, 6,830 people in Scotland, and 533 in Northern Ireland ticked the Buddhist box. Most of these were born in the UK (66,522) with 56,040 describing themselves as ‘white’, 34,304 as ‘Chinese’, 13,919 as ‘Asian’, 1,507 ‘Black’, plus 38,683 ‘mixed’ or ‘other’.

Buddhism is the fifth-largest religion in the UK behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. The first English translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead was published in 1927 whilst the 1935 reprint contained a commentary from Carl Jung. The Buddhist Society was founded in London in 1924.

Peter Brierley estimated in 2007, based on the 2001 Census figures, that half of those who self-described as ‘Buddhist’ can be considered active members of the Buddhist community. His projections for 2010, based on this assumption, estimate the active Buddhist community as 87,600. This would imply that the total number of those likely to self-describe as Buddhist in 2010 would be 175,200.

David Voas and others suggest, on the British Religion in Numbers Website ( that between 0.3-0.4% of the British population is Buddhist. The UK population was estimated by ONS at 61,972,000 in mid 2009 and this suggests an estimated figure of between 186,000 and 245,000, with 93,000 to 122,500 considered as ‘active’.

Other Buddhist data gleaned from the BRIN data:

  • 59% of Buddhists in the UK do not attend a place of worship.
  • 33% of Buddhists in the UK see Buddhist writings as myth and not literal history.
  • 18.8% of Buddhists in the UK can be described as ‘religious’ (but mainly due to the fact that one indicator of religious is ‘belief in God’. He describes the remainder of UK Buddhists as ‘fuzzily faithful’.
  • Buddhists in the UK are most likely to be aged between 35-44.

On the 16th October, the Faith to Faith Forum of Global Connections is hosting a day exploring Christian witness to Buddhists, including input from a former Buddhist nun who is now a Christian. You can visit their website for further details – just click here.

A Lithuanian missionary in the UK

July 30, 2010

It’s a great thrill to be able to report on the work that a former student of ours will commence later this year. Rita is a Lithuanian national who has been in the UK for six years and during that time has completed our BA and is about to finish her MA in Mission Studies. She and her husband Vidas, have been sensing a call to work in the UK among Polish migrants. This is a tough assignment for them as their home churches in Lithuania are not wealthy and therefore not able to offer much in the way of financial support. Secondly, there are real sensitivities surrounding the fact that many Polish migrants have a Roman Catholic background and although they may be less likely to attend Mass after moving to the UK, their background cannot be ignored. Rita will be learning Polish and spending a lot of time trying to understand how best to engage in mission with non-practising Roman Catholic Poles living in the UK.

Rita is a great example of a non-Western missionary working in Western Europe among non-Western nationals! That is the reality of European mission in the 21st century and she will be breaking new ground. She has just set up a new blog for those of you who are interested in following her work. We will also report on it from time to time. See her blog at

Render to Caesar… but Peter’s successor would like a slice please.

July 23, 2010

The staff of the Nova office are currently enjoying the rather more relaxed environment of a college empty of students. In the absence of ‘hard’ research-led European mission stories today, here’s a ‘summer holiday’ story which made us smile.

The Vatican has been issuing its own Euro coins since 2002, reports EUObserver, and has recently begun minting €2.3 million annually. At least 51% of those coins must be circulated at face value.

This follows the previous practice of only selling the Vatican’s Euro coins as collectors’ sets – and sold at a sum higher than the face value of the coins themselves. Earlier issues of the coins had been restricted in numbers and this has tended to force up the street price that can be charged. There may be an investment opportunity here for those quick to spot a bargain and it would, presumably, count as an ethical investment?

You can read more on the story at