Prison for Sussex priest convicted of abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, May 19, 2013 p 6. May 22, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Wilkie Denford
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A retired Sussex clergyman has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by the Hove Crown Court for sexually abusing two teenage boys.
The Rev. Keith Wilkie Denford (78) will also undergo two years supervision and he added added to the registry of sex offenders. His co-defendant church organist Michael Mytton (69) was given a suspended nine-month jail term by Judge Paul Tain for indecently assaulting a third boy.
“There can be no greater breach of trust than a man playing the role of a man of God, and as the spiritual adviser to the family concerned, to take advantage of that position to abuse small children,” Judge Tain told Mr. Denford at his sentencing.
In a 9 May 2013 statement released after the sentence was handed down the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said the “sentencing is an indication of the seriousness of their crimes and the importance of bringing their actions to light and to justice.”
“We would like to place on record our thanks to the police for the way in which they conducted this investigation and supported survivors and their families in the pursuit of truth.
He noted the crimes “were not reported to the Diocese of Chichester prior to 2011. Notification of the serious allegations against these two men we had formerly trusted was the result of our working relationship with Sussex Police and the local authority.”
The Bishop added that he hoped ” today will mark a milestone for the survivors who have had to live through this trial. To them we offer an unreserved apology and an assurance that we have heard and we believe the terrible story they have had to tell.”
Police seize bishop’s home/cars in corruption crackdown: The Church of England Newspaper, May 19, 2013 p 7. May 22, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Corruption.
Tags: Ethiopian Episcopal Church, Order of Ethiopia, Samuel Banzana
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Anti-corruption authorities in South Africa have seized the assets of Bishop Samuel Banzana, charging the leader of Umzi Wase Topiya (the Ethiopian Episcopal Church) with taking kick-backs from a construction company in return for awarding building contracts.
On 8 May 2013 agents of the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions seized the bishop’s home, three automobiles and bank accounts as part of an investigation into corruption and money laundering. Tsepo Ndwalaza, the National Prosecuting Authority’s regional spokesman, told the SABC “this will show communities that the government and law enforcement agencies of this country are working hard to root out corruption”.
An African Independent Church, the Ethiopian Episcopal Church was part of the Anglican church of southern Africa for most of the 20th century. Formed by ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1900 the group entered into communion with the Anglican church of southern Africa and was known as the Ibandla laseTiyopia (Order of Ethiopia). Its polity and doctrine were based upon traditional Anglican formularies, but it placed special emphasis on the African experience – seeing in Psalm 68:31: “Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth its hands unto God” a mandate to evangelize Africa by Africans.
In July 1999 the South African Provincial Synod rescinded Canon 48, severing relations with the Order. On 27 August 1999 the bishop and clergy reformed the Order as the Ethiopian Episcopal Church.
Catho-style: Get Religion, May 21, 2013 May 21, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Marriage, Politics, Youth/Children.
Tags: Catho-style, Cathos 2.0, France, Le Nouvel Observateur
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Let me draw your attention to this fascinating article in the Parisian weekly news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur about the new generation of Catholics arising in France.
The article « Plongée dans la galaxie “catho-réac-décomplexée” » in Le Nouvel Obs(with a circulation of over 500,000 it is France’s most widely read general information weekly) asks the question who is leading the charge against the Socialist government’s gay marriage agenda — and finds that it is the “cathos 2.0″ generation. The 20-25 year old:
Enfants de Jean-Paul II et de Benoît XVI, … une nouvelle génération catho à la tête haute, grisée par la découverte de la militance, est née, très éloignée de la pudique discrétion de ses aînés.
Children of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, … a new generation of Catholic has arisen, intoxicated by their discovery of militancy that is far different from the modest discretion of their elders.
Deconstructing this article has proven to be a hard task. On the surface the story of the Cathos 2.0 generation is so strong that it cannot be killed by a skeptical or hostile presentation. It is a French man bites dog story — student revolutionaries in Paris as ultramontane Catholics.
On the surface Le Nouvel Obs seems to have framed the story against the interest of the subject. While it allows the young Catholics to tell their own story, the analysis and commentary is drawn from the left — academics and liberal Catholics who bemoan the conservative political and doctrinal views of Cathos 2.0. Nor do we hear from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in France. This packaging should have made the issues unattractive and painted the subjects in an unsympathetic light. But by the end of the story these young people come off well. You like them.
The article starts off in a critical yet cinematographic mode – – were this a film the opening paragraph would be accompanied by an accordion and perhaps Edith Piaf.
Trois garçons arrivent à Vespa. Un jeune couple veste treillis-capuche-fourrure traverse la place depuis le Café de Flore, situé juste en face. Une grappe de caqueteuses s’approche joyeusement de l’entrée tout en échangeant bises et potins. Une retardataire en talons hauts et breloques diamantées aux oreilles les rejoint en trottinant. Un concert ou un spectacle ? Pas du tout. Comme tous les dimanches soir, la jeunesse chic et branchée de la rive gauche a rendez-vous avec… Jésus ! Le clocher bat le rappel, c’est l’heure de la messe à Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Dans une église bondée, les jeunes gens, moyenne d’âge 20-25 ans, s’agenouillent devant le saint sacrement comme les bigotes d’autrefois. L’encens brouille la vue, et le choeur entonne un chant latin repris par une assemblée sagement recueillie. Non, nous ne sommes pas chez les traditionalistes de la Fraternité Saint-Pie-X, mais à l’une des cérémonies dominicales destinées à la jeunesse francilienne.
Three boys arrive on a Vespa. A young couple wearing hooded fur jackets crosses the square from the Café de Flore, located just opposite. A cluster of prattling girls happily approaching the entrance while exchanging kisses and gossip. A latecomer in high heels and diamond earrings hurries in. A concert or a show? No. Every Sunday night the chic and trendy youth of the left bank have an appointment with … Jesus! The bell sounds. It is time for Mass at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
In a crowded church, young people, 20-25 years of age, kneel before the Blessed Sacrament like the bigots of the past. Incense blurs vision and the choir sings a Latin chant taken up by a by the congregation.No, we are not in the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, but one of the Sunday ceremonies for Catholic youth.
The article continues with this skeptical, near derogatory tone. Traditional Catholic readers are likely to feel the bile rising in their throats as the read the story. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and act of « les bigotes d’autrefois »?
On les croyait effacés, et de fait ils nous étaient devenus invisibles. Depuis six mois, on les découvre par centaines de milliers battant le pavé sans relâche contre le mariage gay, veillant à la lumière des bougies sur les Invalides, créant happening sur happening grâce à la force de leurs réseaux, formant le gros des troupes de ces défenseurs acharnés de la famille dite traditionnelle.
Were not these people erased from French life? Had they not become invisible? But for six monthshundreds of thousands of them have pounded the pavement tirelessly protesting against gay marriage, lighting candles on the Invalides, creating event after event in the streets on the strength of their social networks, forming the vanguard of defenders of the so-called traditional family.
The presentation and the structure the first three quarters the story follows the conventional secular thinking of the French elites. Yet by the end of the piece you’re hooked by these kids – – their enthusiasm, their excitement, their faith. I cannot tell whether this was an accident or was calculated move to bring the reader on board. Perhaps what we are seeing here is a conscious bait and switch.
How do you get a middle-aged left-liberal secular audience to read a story about a youth movement that detests the values and agenda of the ’68 generation now in power? You do it by couching the story in tropes and phrases that are comfortable to the audience — and then you slip them a story about young attractive — chic — students at France’s elite universities whose faith is changing France and shaking up the French church.
Am I reading too much into this article? What say you GR Readers? For those whose French has faded away since High School, Worldcrunch has a shorter version of this article in English. Beware! The Worldcrunch version is not a translation but a re-write in English and has been de-Francofied for an American audience.
First published in Get Religion.
Anglican Unscripted Episode 72, May 18, 2013 May 18, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Nigeria, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Boko Haram, gay marriage, Jacob Chimeledya, Valentino Mokiwa, Wallace Benn
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Episode 72 of Anglican Unscripted brings even more news about the Anglican Church (Communion) around the world. Kevin and George talk about stories from Tanzania and Nigeria, who are dealing with internal conflict and Muslim-on-Christian violence.
It is also time to give an update on the Temporary Same Sex Liturgies the Episcopal Church passed at General Convention last year and who is using them and who is not.
AS Haley updates all the major legal cases around the country and discusses the late breaking news from The Falls Church.
Peter Ould talks about the growing conflict and investigation in Jersey. It is hard to tell if the biggest issue is jurisdiction or lack of trasparency.
Finally, in the blooper real at the end of the episode (after the credits) one of our contributors reveals a hidden talent. #AU72 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com
Tags: clergy abuse scandal, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Der Spiegel, Der Taggespiegel, Green Party, Guardian, paedophilia, pedophilia, Stern
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Absent a priestly predator is paedophilia a religion news story? In comments posted in response to my 24 April 2013 story “Paedophilia and the Radical Left of ’68″, Ira Rifkin questioned whether politics and paedophilia were properly within the ambit of GetReligion. Was I pushing too hard? Confusing the moral and ethical issues in the story I cited in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) — protests over public honors to a prominent politician who 30 years ago as one of the stars of the radical left wrote of his sexual encounters with children, which he now claims are fiction –with religion news?
Whatever his crimes and immoralities, Cohn-Bendit’s actions are in no way comparable to those of the Roman Catholic Church. The 60s are long over; history has moved on. The media’s faults, blind spots and assorted deficiencies are not always at their root worthy of GR’s attention. Agreed: ain’t no ghost here worth the commentary.
… The Cohn-Bendit story contains little if any grist for GR. As for Cohn-Bendit and the RC Church, it seems clear that the magnitude of the crimes Church leaders committed are far greater quantitatively, as well as qualitatively because of the Church’s unique position as a global religious/moral authority. Cohn-Bendit has far less reach. Whatever his personal responsibility, it cannot be compared to that of the Church. Bash the 60s if you like, even it’s values. But molestation – real or imagined – was not one of its identifiable hallmarks.
Some took issue with Mr. Rifkin’s comments, seeing religious ghosts in the story exhumed by GetReligion. Others noted that Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a prominent politician – – a public figure whose stock in trade has been lecturing Europe on how it should adopt his moral worldview on the environment, economics, immigration, foreign affairs, and social issues such as gay marriage. My observations focused on the different treatment accorded Mr. Cohn-Bendit and the Catholic Church by the media on the issue of paedophilia. I argued:
The opprobrium held by right thinking people against paedophilia in Europe does not apply, however to revolutionaries and left wing politicians. A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on the fracas over the award of a prize to Daniel Cohn-Bendit suggests a double standard is being applied to paedophiles in Europe. Those who molest children out of lust are criminals and beyond the pale — those who molest children out of revolutionary fervor to bring down the capitalist regime really aren’t so bad.
The paedophilia and the left story has now moved back into the public eye in Europe with articles in Stern, Deutsche Wella, Der Tagesspiegel and other news outlets on protestations by Green Party leaders that their movement had not provided political respectability for pedophile activists.
Der Spiegel reported:
He is a boy, roughly 10 years old, with a pretty face, full lips, a straight nose and shoulder-length hair. The wings of an angel protrude from his narrow back, and a penis is drawn with thin lines on the front of his body. The 1986 image was printed in the newsletter of the Green Party’s national working group on “Gays, Pederasts and Transsexuals,” abbreviated as “BAG SchwuP.” It wasn’t just sent to a few scattered party members, but was addressed to Green Party members of the German parliament, as well as the party’s headquarters in Bonn.
Documents like this have become a problem for the Greens today. Some 33 years after the party was founded, it is now being haunted by a chapter in its history that many would have preferred to forget. No political group in Germany promoted the interests of men with pedophile tendencies as staunchly as the environmental party. For a period of time in the mid-1980s, it practically served as the parliamentary arm of the pedophile movement. A look at its archives reveals numerous traces of the pedophiles’ flirtation with the Green Party. They appear in motions, party resolutions, memos and even reports by the party treasurer. That is because at times the party not only supported its now forgotten fellow campaigners politically, but also more tangibly, in the form of financial support.
The protests over Cohn-Bendit have led to an internal party investigation. the Guardian reported:
Germany’s Green party is to launch an investigation into its active promotion in the 80s of paedophile groups who lobbied for the legalisation of sex with children. The party’s leadership has said it will commission an independent researcher to investigate “for how long and to what extent” such groups had an influence. The party’s chief whip, Jürgen Trittin, said the initiative aimed to take a close look at the “totally unacceptable demand” in the 80s that sex with children should be made legal. He admitted that the party had made wrong decisions about paedophilia.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, the Guardian wrote Mr. Cohn-Bendit conceded his confessions were lies, prompted by a desire to shock.
“It was a type of manifesto against the bourgeois society,” he said. … He said he had written the descriptions of his time in the kindergarten in an attempt to “appear to be more dangerous than I was”, and admitted they had been “irresponsible”.
Germany’s tabloids and conservative political parties are not likely to let this story die. But is Ira Rifkin correct in saying this is the a political story, not a religion story.
Like Lord Copper, he is right up to a point. All social interaction, all life is based upon choices. Making a choice implies using moral judgment. It could be argued that the political pedophile scandal is a story about the moral failings of Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the Green party.
Here I agree with Mr. Rifkin. This is a political story that has moral and ethical overtones. But what makes this a Get Religion story is a comparison to the reporting by the Guardian, Der Spiegel and other European newspapers on the Catholic clergy abuse scandal. The perspective these newspapers have brought to the Catholic scandal is that the institution is tarnished by the actions of pedophiles within the clergy ranks. The perspective in these articles is that the institution is to be applauded for examining its historical support for pedophiles within the party’s ranks.
What makes this a Get Religion story is the context of the European press environment. I am not defending or excusing the Catholic Church. I am however pointing out inconsistencies and double standards in media coverage.
First printed in Get Religion.
Canterbury calls for peace in Korea: The Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 2013 p 7. May 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Korea, Archbishop of Canterbury, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
Tags: John Holbrook, Second Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has added its voice to the call for peace in Korea. In a message read to the Second Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference held in Okinawa from 16 – 22 April 2013 Archbishop Welby lauded the work of the Korean and Japanese churches to foster peace in Northeast Asia.
“Your gathering has come at the most needful time,” Archbishop Welby wrote, in a statement read by his representative to the conference Bishop John Holbrook of Brixworth in the diocese of Peterborough.
“We stand with you in solidarity with the people of Korea at this time of heightened tension. I applaud the commitment of the Anglican Communion to work with the Anglican Church of Korea in its dedicated mission towards peace in Korea. May the initiatives you pursue contribute to the breaking down of enmities and to the establishment of a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. Recent developments have shown how urgent this remains. I pray that the Lord may grant you the courage to keep faithful to this calling.”
Approximately 80 delegates attended the conference convened jointly by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai and the Anglican church committee. In his opening address Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu of Japan said peace will come to the region by a call for relinquishing “our own rights … And trying to protect the rights of others, or those who lack even basic rights.”
In the closing communiqué the delegates said East Asia was “hounded by the alarming threat of military escalation, the proliferation of destructive nuclear weapons, and the deadly effects of nuclear power generation.”
“We noted the danger signs are governments moving toward a war footing, they said, adding they feared the “possible revision of Japan’s skis Constitution would undermine stability in the region.”
The conference declared its “unequivocal opposition to war as a means of resolving disputes” and pledged “never again to war!”
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The Second Global Anglican Future Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 21-26 October 2013, the General Secretary of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr. Peter Jensen the Archbishop of Sydney announced last week.
“God is establishing new churches creating new believers and transforming lives. Our hope for the future is in him. Our aim is to move forward confidently, to plan and experience in fellowship a future for Anglicans in which his Word is honoured and our witness is clear,” Dr. Jensen said
“We are looking forward with great expectation to seeing God at work as we meet in Nairobi. The focus will be on our shared Anglican future, as we engage with the missionary theme, ‘Making Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ’,” he added.
Lay, clergy and episcopal delegates will be invited to attend the gathering at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi to “proclaim and defend the apostolic gospel within and beyond the Anglican Communion and to recognise and share fellowship with orthodox Anglicans globally, especially those who have been disaffiliated by false teaching and behaviour.”
The conference organizers said the Christian world faces the “triple challenge of sceptical secularism, militant religion and compromised Christianity. GAFCON 2013 has been summoned so that GFCA can help both plan for and experience the future of the Communion of which we, with many others, are part.”
Fake resume lands diocesan official in court: The Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 2013 p 7. May 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Crime.
Tags: Diocese of Lincoln, Max Manin
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The former chief executive officer of the Diocese of Lincoln has appeared in court to answer charges that he falsified his resume to secure the top administrative post in the diocese.
Maximilian Manin (54) is accused of making the false claim that he held a first class honours degree in English Literature and Art History from the University of Sheffield when he was appointed to the £45,000 a year job. Lincoln magistrates heard the first class degree was an essential requirement for the post.
Mr. Manin has also been charged with fraud over the improper use of a car loan. In May 2012 he left the position after a diocesan review committee recommended his post be eliminated. On 14 June 2012, the Bishop Christopher Lawson of Lincoln released a statement saying that after Mr. Manin’s resignation “new information has come to light which today has been handed to the Police.
“This information was acted on as soon as it came to light after consultation with the Chair of the Lincoln Diocesan Trust and Board of Finance and our auditors,” the bishop said, adding that “I am determined that this process should be dealt with fairly and in the correct manner, and therefore it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage.”
Tags: Anglican Samizdat, David Jenkins, Diocese of Niagara, Michael Bird
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The Bishop of the Diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada has filed a lawsuit against conservative blogger claiming “defamation of character”.
On 19 Feb 2013 David Jenkins, author of the Anglican Samizdat blog received notice that Bishop Bird had asked a court to shut down his blog, ban him from making further comments about him and to pay him $400,000 in damages.
Mr Jenkins stated that he had been surprised by the lawsuit. “Contrary to what one might expect in such circumstances, I did not receive a cease and desist letter in advance of the suit.”
The Statement of Claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court Justice alleged Mr. Jenkins maliciously and falsely stated Bishop Bird was a “ weak and ineffectual leader and that his actions were motivated by avarice or financial gain”. That the bishop was a “thief” and had a “sexual fetish”, and that he was an “atheist and heretic bent upon the destruction of Christianity.”he will
Among the examples of malicious and defamatory utterances alleged to have been made by the defendant were a photo of the bishop altered so that he appeared to be wearing a mitre made of underpants, that the bishop’s call to engage in “prophetic social justice” ministries meant “closing churches” and that the clergy of the diocese were not “authentic Christians”.
The 31 posts cited in the complaint were subsequently removed from his website. At the bishop’s request other posts were also taking down, Mr. Jenkins noted, “as a gesture of good faith.”
“I have made offers to settle and meet/talk, but they have been rejected,” he added.
IRS targeting Jews too?: Get Religion, May 13, 2013 May 13, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Israel, Judaism, Politics, Press criticism.
Tags: Breitbart, Daily Caller, George Will, Internal Revenue Service, The Jewish News, Z STREET
Fear not religion news reporters, you too can jump into one of the hottest news stories on the wires. Buried deep within an article reporting on the Internal Revenue Services’ harassment of conservative advocacy groups lurks a religious liberty news story. That may not sound too exciting but you could rephrase it this way for your editor: the IRS has created a religious test defining what it means to be a loyal Jew.
On Friday a second-tier IRS official told a gathering of tax lawyers the IRS had engaged in discriminatory audits against conservative groups. The initial story from the AP wire reported that the IRS admitted its mistake, but the mistake was an innocent one:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday. Organizations were singled out because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
“That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review,” Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association. “The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added. Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice.
The story expanded exponentially over the weekend as further details emerged. By Sunday morning it had reached the level of Watergate allusions. The Daily Callerreported that on Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” commentator George Will raised the specter of impeachment.
Now the question is, how stupid do they think we are? Just imagine, Donna Brazile, if the George W. Bush administration had an IRS underling, he’s out in Cincinnati, of course, saying we’re going to target groups with the word ‘progressive’ in their title. We’d have all hell breaking loose.”
Will noted that one of the items in the 1973 impeachment articles of then-President Richard Nixon, which ultimately led to his resignation, described the Nixon administration’s use of the power of income tax audits in a “discriminatory matter.”
“This is the 40th anniversary of the Watergate summer here in Washington,” Will said. “’He has, through his subordinated and agents, endeavored…to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner,’ — Section 1, Article 2, the impeachment articles of Richard Nixon.
Other outlets developed collateral stories on the IRS enemies list. The Jewish Press reported that along with the tea party pro-Israel lobbying groups had been subjected to enhanced IRS scrutiny.
… There is evidence the IRS also targeted pro-Israel groups whose positions were potentially inconsistent with the administration’s. For example, in 2010, the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny. …
Breitbart developed this story, adding historical context and suggesting there was a “common thread: opposition to Obama, and instigation or support of these IRS inquiries by left-wing groups and mainstream media institutions devoted to defending the administration.”
What has not been developed yet is this paragraph in The Jewish Press story:
And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel. Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
The implications of this paragraph are profound. Is the state seeking to control religious doctrine for political ends through the coercive power of its tax authority? There are some red flags in The Jewish Press story. Though it is characterized as a news story, the article is a one-sided advocacy piece written by an individual closely associated with one of the organizations under IRS scrutiny. No names, dates or details are given though a powerful quote is supplied. Absent a name, it is difficult to judge its veracity.
But … Here is an opportunity for religion reporters to add their expertise to the IRS audit scandal. Let it not be said that religion reporting is a cul-de-sac – – the hints inThe Jewish Press story open the door for an energetic reporter to explore allegations of political malfeasance and corruption, separation of church and state issues, foreign policy, and perhaps a dose of good old-fashioned anti-Semitism. This is going to be fun.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
First printed in Get Religion.
Tags: Anthony Musaala, clerical celibacy, Los Angeles Times, Uganda Martyrs
Bishop: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones”
Curate: “Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!”
There is much to praise in the Los Angeles Times article “Uganda priest ostracized for publicizing sexual abuse”. The May 4 article addresses the question of sexual misconduct by Roman Catholic clergy in Africa – – child abuse and violations of the vow of celibacy. And it does so through the voice of Fr Anthony Musaala, an Ugandan priest suspended in March by his Archbishop for having brought the church into disrepute for exposing these problems.
I also like the article because it “gets Africa”. It understands the culture of shame that often manifests itself as cover up and denial, and makes reporting about the African scene so difficult. But there is also curate’s egg quality to the piece. Parts of it are quite good yet there is a bit that is off.
It is a mistake to conflate the sexual abuse of children scandal with the question of clerical celibacy. In this case while the African church is loathe to talk about child abuse it is not correct to say that they are silent on the question of celibacy. The article would also have been helped by addressing the question “why” — Why the homosexual abuse of young boys prompts such a visceral reaction by the church in Uganda.
The article begins:
He is a celebrity across eastern and central Africa, a gospel music star known to many as the “Dancing Priest.” But for years he also was a keeper of painful secrets — his own and many others’. In going public, Anthony Musaala has forced the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda to confront a problem it had insisted didn’t exist. And he may stir a debate far beyond Africa’s most Catholic of countries.
The Ugandan priest has been suspended indefinitely by the archbishop of Kampala for exposing what he calls an open secret: Sex abuse in the Catholic Church is a problem in Africa as well as in Western Europe and North America. The African Catholic Church is fast-growing, pious and traditional. As the church elsewhere forks out billions of dollars to compensate the child sex abuse victims of priests, few African Catholics have questioned the assumption, voiced recently by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson that the African church is purer than its counterpart in the West, which is regarded as secular and permissive.
It’s not more pure, says Musaala. He says he has the evidence to prove it. “The Vatican turns a blind eye because it doesn’t want to be embarrassed about this blooming church. But I think it’s time we had the truth,” Musaala says.
The article reports that in March Fr Musaala wrote Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga “about priests who fathered children, kept secret wives or abused girls or boys, and called for a debate on marriage for priests” and stated that as a young boy he too had been abused. It said:
The letter was leaked to the news media. And in response, Lwanga suspended Musaala, saying his statements stirred up contempt for the Catholic Church and damaged the morale of believers. Later in the month, Lwanga acknowledged that abuses had taken place, apologized to victims and set up an internal inquiry. But he did not backtrack on Musaala’s unpaid suspension.
This account conflicts with other press reports. All agree that Fr Musaala was suspended, but the Ugandan press reported this was an open letter given to them and to the Archbishop. It would also have helped this story if the LA Times had unpacked the religious context. The Catholic and Anglican churches in Uganda, who account for 80% of the population, celebrate the feast of the Martyrs of Uganda. As an aside if you should ever want evidence as to why you should not trust Wikipedia compare the politically correct and false version on Wikipedia with the story told on the website of the shrine to the martyrs.
The first martyr to die was King’s major domo and leader of all Christians, Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, on 15th November 1885. He was killed because he had pleaded to King Mwanga to abandon the vice of homosexuality and not to kill Bishop Hannington, an Anglican missionary who had entered Buganda from Busoga (the backdoor of Buganda kingdom). From that time he became angry with all Christians as they all refused to give in to his sinful demands and were persuading all other pages to do the same. On 25th May, 1886, King Mwanga ordered for a number of Christians to be brought before him and he passed on them the death penalty. 20 of the 22 martyrs were killed between 26th May 1886 and 3rd June 1886.
The Ugandan martyrs died because they refused to countenance the king’s homosexual advances because their Christian faith taught them that sodomy was a sin. Omitting this historical context — one of the defining sagas of the Catholic Church in Uganda leave the story untold.
Would the story have been helped by mention of the Ugandan Martyrs? Or by mention of Fr Musaala’s on-going fight with the archbishop in the press? Does it make a difference to the denouement of the piece if the letter was leaked to the press or given to the press by Fr Musaala?
The linkage between abuse and clerical celibacy was also unfortunate, as the Church has been far from silent on this point. The 2009 Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of Africa convened by Pope Benedict discussed the question and problems of priestly celibacy for the African church. In the neighboring Central African Republic an archbishop was suspended for having families, while a number of clergy in Kenya have quit the church over mandatory celibacy. Silence over celibacy and its challenges for the clergy is not a problem — silence over abuse is.
First printed in Get Religion.
Tags: David Moxon
The third session of the third round of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) meets this week in Rio de Janeiro to continue its work on the relationship between local and universal Church and common ethics and morals between the two churches.
In an interview with Vatican radio, the Catholic co-secretary of ARCIC III, Msgr. Mark Langham of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said this meeting would be “reflective”.
We will not be “diving into the particular problems” that divide the churches but will look at “our common origins and the common tradition we share.”
Established in 1966 in response to the Second Vatican Council and as a result of the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in Rome, the original ecumenical imperative behind ARCIC has faded, with the two churches increasingly diverging on questions of ethics, order and morals.
Tensions over the ordination of women and homosexuals and the inability of the Anglican team to honour the accords reached by past meetings along with the establishment by Benedict in 2009 of the Anglican Ordinariate have strained relations.
Conservative and Global South Anglicans have viewed the ARCIC process with suspicion. The appointment of members of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada to the team by the secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council violated assurances made by Dr. Rowan Williams to the communion. Positions put forward by some members of the Anglican team as “Anglican” beliefs have also been disavowed.
Speaking to the press after the 2012 ARCIC meeting in Hong Kong, the Anglican co-chair Archbishop David Moxon stated homosexuality was an ethical area where Anglicans and Roman Catholics diverged. He told ENI that it is easier for the two churches to have a common understanding on social ethics, but not sexual ethics and homosexuality.
But the archbishop stressed that the study of some “first principles” from the two churches, like the study of the Bible, may help find common ground. Drawing upon Scripture, tradition and reason, ARCIC III will also “elucidate how our two Communions approach moral decision making, and how areas of tension for Anglicans and Roman Catholics might be resolved by learning from the other.”
Church construction banned in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, May 5, 2013 p 7. May 7, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Persecution.
Tags: Al-Fatih Taj al-Sir, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Sudan’s Minister of Guidance and Endowments, Al-Fatih Taj al-Sir, has told the country’s Parliament the government will not permit the construction of new Christian churches in the country, but said that freedom of religion would be protected under the country’s Islamic Constitution.
On 17 April 2013 the government minister said that no new churches had been built since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011 due to lack of worshipers and the growing number of abandoned churches..
In a briefing published this month, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) stated that since December 2012, there had been “an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians and of those suspected of having links to them, particularly in Khartoum and Omodorum, Sudan’s largest cities. There has also been a systematic targeting of members of African ethnic groups, particularly the Nuba, lending apparent credence to the notion of the resurgence of an official agenda of Islamisation and Arabisation.”
“The campaign of repression [has] continued into 2013, with foreign Christians being arrested and deported at short notice, and those from Sudan facing arrest, detention and questioning by the security services,” the report said.
CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “The recent spike in religious repression in Sudan is deeply worrying. The Minister’s claims of guaranteeing freedom to worship are at odds with regular reports of Christians being harassed arrested and in some cases expelled from the country at short notice. We urge the Sudanese government to end its campaign of harassment against the Christian community and respect the right of all of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief.”
Tags: Diocese of Newcastle, Kay Goldsworthy
The Assistant Bishop of Perth’s bid to become the first woman elected to the episcopate in the Anglican Church of Australia has fallen short as the Diocese of Newcastle failed to elect a new bishop at its 12-14 April 2013 meeting of synod.
The Rt. Rev. Kay Goldsworthy was among five nominees that included two local clergy and the Assistant Bishop of Canberra & Goulburn Dr Stephen Pickard and Dr Peter Stuart Assistant Bishop of Newcastle to succeed Bishop Brian Farran. Four women priests have been appointed assistant bishops in Australia—Perth, Melbourne, Canberra & Goulburn and Brisbane – but none have been elected.
In a note to the diocese after the election, Dr. Stuart said: “sometimes the Synod elects quickly and sometimes the process takes time. Synod elected Bishops Farran (2005) and Holland (1977) in one sitting. Synod elected Bishop Herft (1992) over two Synod sessions and refereed the decision to elect a bishop in 1972 to the Diocesan Council which elected Bishop Shevill.”
The Synod “resolved to begin the process afresh” he said, though the candidates may place their names in nomination a second time.
Tags: Assemblies of God, Planetshakers City Church, The Australian
Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;
Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te.
I do not love you, Sabidius, and I cannot say why;
All I can say is this, that I do not love you.
The Australian, Australia’s largest circulation broadsheet, published a story this week about an Assemblies of God church that has taken a leap across the Pacific and planted a campus in the United States. The article entitled “Eyeing off God’s bounty” does not say that the Rev. Russell Evans is a fraud and a crook and that those who attend worship at Planetshakers City Church are ignorant rubes. However, you may well think so after reading this story.
The article opens on a self-consciously hip note.
“JESUS is in the house!” roared pastor Neil Smith above the crash-boom of drums and the wail of electric guitars. You would have thought the Son of God was sitting right there in the packed auditorium, such was the excitement among the youthful crowd at the Rock Church in San Diego, California, in January.
This was a big moment in the history of Planetshakers City Church, once a small local church in Melbourne, now fast becoming an international Christian brand. As if Jesus wasn’t enough, Smith promised to “take it to a whole new level” as he introduced senior pastor Russell Evans, whom he called “the founder and visionary leader”.
Stylistically, this is grating and somewhat ugly in its diction, and derisive in tone. “[A]n international Christian brand”? It gets worse. After recounting Evans’ belief that some in the congregation should come forward for healing, the article states he appears to do quite well out of the business.
Soon Evans was calling out “healings” from the stage to his prospective followers. He announced that God wanted to heal people in the audience. “Wait a sec, wait a sec, God wants to heal some people in this room,” said Evans, as if the deity was whispering in his ear. “Someone’s back is being healed to my left, right there. There is someone here who has a knee injury and God is healing you right now; there is someone here with incredible sinus problems — you’re over in that section over there — God is healing you,” he crooned.
In any other forum, such a claim might spark derision, but in Evans’s world this is called carrying out his “pastoral duties.” His Planetshakers City Church and many of its staff receive generous tax concessions for these duties.
And at this point the article pivots and insinuates bad faith, stating:
Until now, the government has shown only occasional interest in the activities of churches that receive tax exemptions. But from July 1 the newly formed Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission will bring unprecedented scrutiny. ACNC advisory board member David Crosbie has said the changes would not restrict the activities of legitimate churches, but would help to weed out “fringe religions” that act more like cults. While Planetshakers is regarded as a mainstream church, it too will be subject to the ACNC’s scrutiny. There is no requirement under law that churches comply with specific Christian doctrine, but the ACNC is nominally interested in the form and content of worship, insiders say.
Setting aside the suggestion the government should decide the content of religious faith — what is this, the Church of England? — the snide and derisive comments continue – interspersed with the odd fact here and there.
And Evans, one of the new breed of “pastorpreneurs”, is spreading the word in the US market, where the church could make millions of dollars in tax-free revenue. … As the Evans brothers build their international ministries, they crisscross the world on their church credit cards. … He recently tweeted his “fav eating places in the world: 1. Shangri-la (Singapore) 2: (Five star hotel) Langham (Melbourne) 3. Little pasta place in Rome 4. Angelinas Paris 5: mi cocina Dallas (Texas).” … Under present rules, pastors such as the Evans brothers get to keep all the frequent-flyer points they earn on their corporate credit cards, tax-free. And with almost all church expenses paid on credit cards, that could run to hundreds of thousands of points each year. … Insiders say Russell and his wife are paid a cash salary of approximately $100,000 each, but that the true value of their total package is closer to $500,000 once all fringe benefits are included. Planetshakers denies this, but declines to provide accurate figures, citing confidentiality.
Which is followed by this gratuitous observation:
Churches have enjoyed a presumption that they are charities by right, courtesy of the Statute of Elizabeth, enacted in 1601. The estimated overall cost of this exemption to the economy was estimated by Treasury to be $85m in 2011-12.
But, heaven forfend if the article has given the wrong impression:
The Australian is not suggesting that Planetshakers or Influencers is under investigation.
It will be interesting to see how churches such as Planetshakers and their congregations respond to the kind of scrutiny the ACNC may bring. In the past, disgruntled followers simply found another church to go to; now they can seek change in their own church via a confidential complaints process provided by the ACNC.
This article is just mean. It treats Pentecostal Christianity as if it were some exotic species of religious belief, best observed by the anthropologist peering through the bushes at the natives caught up in their ecstatic frenzies while the witch doctor pockets the offerings (and frequent flier points).
The article is one-sided, incurious and dismissive. It also suffers from an overabundance of irony — “Can you believe these people?” – and seeks not to inform its readers about one of the fastest-growing religious movements in the world but to reinforce anti-Christian prejudices. Now I enjoy being savagely unkind as the next reporter but this is a hit piece.
It does not live up to the code of decent reporting. However, aside from libel laws there is little agreement on what constitutes the “code”.
During the 2008 Lambeth Conference I took a house with a number of other reporters on the outskirts of Canterbury to save on hotel costs and to avoid having to stay in the rather dreary Soviet-style concrete student dormitories provided for the bishops, staff and press attending the 10-day gathering at the University of Kent. Over the course of the conference – a pan-Anglican jamboree for bishops held every 10 years — I renewed friendships and formed new relationships with members of the British press corps.
And they came to know me. At the end of the meeting one of my housemates, Ruth Gledhill of the Times, the doyenne of British religion writers, gave me a paperback copy of one of the “Just William” books by Richmal Crompton. Evidently my manner of dress, diet, intellectual interests, attainments and conversation reminded her of the perpetual schoolboy — a naïf. As did the suppositions I brought to the craft of reporting.
Setting aside the class and political overtones implied by the book – – think cold showers, push-ups, evangelical Christianity, conservative politics, and sport — I guess she was not that far off the mark. I was a happy teenager, fortunate in my parents and my schooling. Latin was taught to me (it would be not quite true to say I studied the classics as that would imply effort on my part) but some of it did sink in. But what I did learn, and still believe, is in fair play. This article is unfair.
Hearing how a church grew from a few hundred to almost ten thousand over a decade in the hostile climate of Melbourne is a story worth telling — as is the move to Southern California. There is so much in this story waiting to be told, that it is a disappointment that suggestions of financial misconduct that appear to be based on nothing more than envy, dominate this story. If there is a Jim and Tammy Faye story here, tell it — don’t hint there might be one without some evidence.
The Seventeenth century satirist Thomas Brown updated Martial’s epigram, substituting his tutor at Oxford for Sabidius.
I do not love thee, Dr Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not love thee, Dr Fell.
Pentecostal Christians are bad and we should not love them, The Australian tells us – though it never quite gets round to saying why.
First printed in Get Religion.
Melbourne archbishop testifies before Parliamentary commission on abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2013, p 6. May 2, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Melbourne, Philip Freier
A culture of denial had hindered the Church’s handling of child sex abuse cases, the Archbishop of Melbourne told a parliamentary committee last week. On 22 April Dr Philip Freier said that “as you look backwards you can see broadly as a culture we’ve not readily listened to children when they’ve made complaints.
“There have been opportunities for people who wanted to breach the trust of children to do that, and often for children’s accounts of that trust being broken, being disbelieved,” he said adding that some victims were “even punished for having raised a question about the conduct of an adult.”
The diocese had received 46 complaints of child sex abuse since the 1950s, the Archbishop said, and had paid out $268,000 in compensation to 10 victims since 2003, but only reported 12 of the 46 complaints to police.
Dr Freier told the committee of the reforms instituted by the Church since the implementation of a professional standards practices regime in 1994. In his concluding remarks he spoke of the church’s abhorrence for abuse and its zero-tolerance about the issue. The archbishop apologized for the pain and misery that such abuse has caused both victims and the broader community and welcomed the Inquiry as a way in which that confidence might begin to be restored in the church.
Portsmouth pays £200,000 to compensate abuse victim: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2013 May 2, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Portsmouth, Maxwell Halahan
The Diocese of Portsmouth has agreed to pay compensation of £200,000 to cover the cost of psychological treatment and loss of earnings to the victim of clergy sexual abuse.
The victim, now in his 40s, was abused by the Rev. Maxwell Halahan, vicar of at St Faith’s Church in Cowes, Isle of Wight, in the 1970s. After joining the choir at the age of eight the victim, who was granted anonymity by the courts, was abused by Mr. Halahan for five years. In 2011 Mr. Halahan, then aged 81, was jailed for three years by the Portsmouth Crown Court after being found guilty of four counts of indecent assault.
In a statement released on behalf of the victim by Irwin Mitchell, the victim recounted the emotional, psychological and spiritual toll the abuse had taken on his life. “In 2010 I plucked up the courage to go to the police because I realised he could still be out there putting other children through the same horrendous ordeal,” he said adding that “although nothing can make up for the horror of what that vile man put me through and the effects it has had on my life, the settlement does finally give me some closure and I can concentrate on getting the best possible psychological support to try and rebuild my life.”
Stephanie Pelling from Irwin Mitchell solicitors said: “The settlement agreed will provide the necessary therapies which we hope will help [the victim] to come to terms with what happened and allow him to move forward with his life.”
Tags: Anglican Samizdat, David Jenkins, Diocese of Niagara, Michael Bird
A new front has opened in the Anglican Communion’s legal wars as a liberal Canadian bishop has filed a suit for libel against a conservative blogger claiming “defamation of character”.
On 15 February 2013 – – five years to the day after he initiated litigation against the congregation of St. Hilda’s Anglican Church in Oakville, Ontario after it quit the diocese — Bishop Michael Bird filed suit against David Jenkins, author of the Anglican Samizdat blog claiming 31 posts made between January 2011 and November 2012 had libeled him.
The Statement of Claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court Justice alleged Mr. Jenkins maliciously and falsely stated Bishop Bird was a “ weak and ineffectual leader and that his actions were motivated by avarice or financial gain”. That the bishop was a “thief” and had a “sexual fetish”, and that he was an “atheist and heretic bent upon the destruction of Christianity.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink
Tags: Boston Marathon bmbing
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to a congregation of over 2000 last week at Boston’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross to commemorate those killed and wounded in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Boston “will run again” the president said on 18 April 2013. “If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us … It should be pretty clear right now that they picked the wrong city … .”
On 15 April – celebrated as Patriots’ Day in Boston — two explosions ripped through a crowd near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing three and injuring more than 170. “We may be momentarily knocked off our feet,” the president said. “But we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race.”
President Obama called the then as yet unidentified terrorists “small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build, and think somehow that makes them important.”
“Yes, we will find you. And, yes, you will face justice. We will find you. We will hold you accountable,” the president said.
That evening one of the suspected bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, (26) was killed in a shootout with police in Watertown a western suburb of Boston. Earlier that night Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (19) shot and killed a policeman. During the firefight that later ensued a second policeman was shot and gravely wounded.
Dzhokhar fled the scene of the shootout and Gov. Deval Patrick ordered a curfew for Watertown as police began a house to house search. Dzhokhar was captured the next day after a man found the fugitive hiding in a boat parked on the trailer behind his home.
The two bombers have been identified as Chechen immigrants to the United States and initial reports indicate that they had become radicalized Islamists in the past few years. The Tsarnaev brothers attended prayer services at the Islamic Society of Boston Cambridge Masjid, a small mosque near their apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
“In their visits, they never exhibited any violent sentiments or behavior,” said a statement from the masjid. “Otherwise they would have been immediately reported to the FBI. After we learned of their identities, we encouraged anyone who knew them in our congregation to immediately report to law enforcement, which has taken place.”
Trinity Church Copley Square, an Episcopal Church 300 yards from the Boston Marathon’s finish line, had been closed for the race and remains closed as police investigate the crime scene. The church’s rector, the Rev. Patrick Ward, told Episcopal News Service he was “hugely relieved” to learn the church’s team of runners was safe.
The Archdiocese of Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley sent a message from Israel following the attacks saying he would be returning to join the city’s faith community “to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing.” The Vatican sent a telegram to the archdiocese, saying Pope Francis “prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good.”
Following the blast the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori offered a prayer for those killed and injured as did the Anglican Church in North America. “As we pray for those affected by the bombings in Boston, MA, it seems appropriate to pray for the reign of Christ in this situation. May the Lord pour out His Spirit of peace during this time of chaos and violence.”
Anglican Unscripted Episode 70 April 28, 2013 April 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of the West Indies, GAFCON, Property Litigation, South Carolina, Virginia.
Tags: Boston Marathon Bombing, New Wineskins
In Episode 70, your hosts talk about their experiences from the New Wineskins Global Conference held in Ridgecrest, NC. Kevin and George also discuss (in depth) the Boston Bombing and the new hobby terrorist. In our legal segment Allan Haley tries to redeem his years of Unscripted Legal Commentary by demanding that judges follow the D**n law. Oh… and much more including Gafcon news. #AU70 AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com
Interview, Issues, Etc.: April 25, 2013 April 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Issues Etc, Press criticism.
Tags: Kermit Gosnell
Here is an to an interview I gave to the Issues, Etc. show of Lutheran Public Radio broadcast on 25 April 2013
Crossroads 4 25 13.mp3
GetReligion contributor George Conger discusses international media coverage of a Philadelphia abortionist charged with multiple counts of murder.
Tags: gay marriage
The Anglican bishops of the West Indies have urged their governments to hold fast and resist pressure from Britain and the United States to legalize gay rights and gay marriage.
In a statement released on 25 April 2013 following the House of Bishops meeting in Barbados, bishops of the Church the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) reiterated their belief in marriage “defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman.”
“The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds,” the bishops said. The CPWI consists of eight dioceses: the Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Tags: Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, paedophilia
“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come”
– Matt: 12:31-32
Is there an unforgivable sin in politics?
American voters, and not just those of Louisiana, have returned to office politicians of dubious moral and legal character. Wilbur Mills, Alcee Hastings, Buddy Cianci and Marion Barry were not punished at the polls (and I won’t open the door to discussing Bill Clinton). We will soon see if South Carolina’s First Congressional District has it in its heart to forgive Mark Sanford.
Bribery, adultery, perjury, corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence have not barred a return to office for some politicians or for some church leaders and prominent pastors. My own denomination (The Episcopal Church) has even ordained a convicted murderer to the priesthood. But the unpardonable sin — in churches, politics and in just about every walk of life — has been paedophilia.
The Catholic Church has suffered its handling of the scandal, but is not alone in having experienced incidents of abuse by clergy and church workers committed against children. On Monday the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne told a Parliamentary committee that his church at one time had a culture of denial and cover-up concerning allegations of abuse. The Catholic Church in Europe has been particularly hard hit and has been excoriated by the press and rights activists for its handling of the scandal.
The opprobrium held by right thinking people against paedophilia in Europe does not apply, however to revolutionaries and left wing politicians. A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on the fracas over the award of a prize to Daniel Cohn-Bendit suggests a double standard is being applied to paedophiles in Europe. Those who molest children out of lust are criminals and beyond the pale — those who molest children out of revolutionary fervor to bring down the capitalist regime really aren’t so bad.
But first, who is Daniel Cohn-Bendit? A leader of the ’68 student uprising in Paris, Dany le Rouge has been a prominent left-wing politician and cultural warrior in France and Germany for the past forty years and presently leads the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. The Turtle Bay and Beyond blog notes:
Cohn-Bendit has for many years aspired to a role similar to that played by Maximilien de Robespierre during the French Revolution, holding everyone accountable for everything – including Czech President Vaclav Klaus for his Euroscepticism, or Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for having given to his country a new Constitution that protects the family, defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and (the worst of all imaginable actions against “European values”) mentions God!
The FAZ reports that the 68-year old Cohn-Bendit was given a award this week by the Theodor-Heuss-Foundation for his political achievements. However the awards ceremony was picketed by protesters and boycotted by the President of the German Constitutional Court Andreas Vosskuhle who declined to add his voice to those honoring the Green Party leader.
The report from Stuttgart from the FAZ opened with some local color.
Es spielen sich ziemlich unschöne Szenen auf dem Stuttgarter Schlossplatz ab, der guten Stube der baden-württembergischen Landeshauptstadt. Die Theodor-Heuss-Stiftung hat ins Neue Schloss geladen. Daniel Cohn-Bendit soll im Weißen Saal mit dem nach dem ersten Bundespräsidenten benannten Preis ausgezeichnet werden. Als er aus dem Taxi steigt, rufen einige der etwa siebzig Demonstranten: „Schämt euch!“ Die Junge Union und Missbrauchsorganisationen haben zu dieser Demonstration aufgerufen.
Roughly translated as:
An ugly scene unfolded on the Schlossplatz in Stuttgart, the Baden-Württemberg state capital, when Daniel Cohn-Bendit arrived at the Neue Schloss. The Theodor Heuss Foundation had invited him to receive an award in the White Hall named for the former German president. As he got out of the taxi he was greeted by approximately 70 demonstrators from the Youth Union and anti-abuse organizations. “Shame on you!”
The reason for the outcry? According to the FAZ it was Cohn-Bendit’s accounts of his adventures in paedophilia while working in a pre-school.
In his 1975 book “Le Grand Bazar,” Cohn-Bendit justified pedophilia as a form of sexual liberation. “It’s happened to me several times that some children have opened my fly [Hosenlatz] and started to caress me.”
According to the FAZ, in a 1978 magazine article Cohn-Bendit stated:
„Letztes Jahr hat mich ein 6jähriges Genossenmädchen verführt. Es war eines der schönsten und sprachlosesten Erlebnisse, die ich je hatte. Vielleicht war es so schön, weil es so sprachlos war. Es war das einzige Mal, wo es mir nicht zu früh kam. Aber das war nicht wichtig in dem Moment, und es ist auch jetzt nicht wichtig, ein Traktat über das Für und Wider von Päderastie zu schreiben“, heißt es in der Zeitschrift.
“Last year I seduced a willing 6-year girl. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had and left me speechless. Maybe it was so wonderful because it was so speechless. … But that was not important at the moment, and it’s not important right now to write a treatise on the pros and cons of pederasty.”
The FAZ reports that Cohn-Bendit has since claimed these confessions were fictional and asks that he be judged not on what he said but what he did. The article states that in 2001 the Green Party cleared Cohn-Bendit of misconduct after a parent wrote a letter clearing the radical leader. However, the FAZ reported that its investigation found the parent exculpating Cohn-Bendit who wrote the letter did so out of political solidarity with “poor Dany” and did not have a child in his class.
The judge said he would not attend the ceremony saying that he did not want to create the impression that the Constitutional Court approved of Mr. Cohn-Bendit’s utterances regarding paedophilia. However other political and cultural leaders who honored Cohn-Bendit sad they would not judge him.
Kretschmann, de Weck und Heuss begründen, warum sie Cohn-Bendit trotz allem für preiswürdig halten. Der Ministerpräsident sagt, es habe während der Achtundsechziger-Zeit Tabubrüche gegeben, die richtig gewesen seien. „Früher war Homosexualität strafbar“, heute seien bekennende Schwule Bundesminister und Ministerpräsidenten. Doch: „Bei Sex mit Kindern hört der Tabubruch auf.“ Es sei ein „elementarer Unterschied“, ob Cohn-Bendits Irrtümer verbaler Natur seien oder tatsächlich stattgefunden hätten.
In spite of everything, Kretschmann, de Weck and Heuss continue to justify their support for the award to Cohn-Bendit. The Prime Minister said that in 1968 many taboos were being challenged. “In the past, homosexuality was punishable,” but today there were gay political leaders. But: “sex with children, that taboo has not changed.” But there was, he said. a “fundamental difference” between Cohn-Bendit”s committing the acts and his writing about them.
Is there a distinction between bragging about having molested children and not having done so — and actually having done the deed? Is breaking the taboos of bourgeois society an excuse for molesting a child? Given the torrent of invective heaped on the church by the press and political leaders over its child abuse crimes — does not the tolerance, nay the celebration of Daniel Cohn-Bendit speak to a bigotry and hypocrisy among the European elite?
This is simply extraordinary. Yet, the rules of civil society do not seem to apply to the 68ers and their moral and political enablers. Hypocrisy — the war on terror — is rife in America too. Kathy Boudin can take part in a act of terrorism where a bank guard is killed and today teaches at Columbia. How is Cohn-Bendit’s conduct worse?
First printed in GetReligion.
Master of my Domain: Get Religion, April 23, 2013 April 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: abortion, Gazeta Wyborcza, masturbation, Poland, Religion Dispatches
… (T)he best persuaded of himself, so cramm’d, as he thinks, with excellencies that it is his grounds of faith that all that look on him love him.
Twelfth Night, 2.3.150-152 (1623)
The counterrevolution has begun.
The press is pushing back against its critics over the Kermit Gosnell affair. Stung by the criticisms and the hypocrisies detailed by Mollie Hemingway on this website, Kirsten Powers at USA Today and other outlets, some have begun reporting on the murder trial of the Philadelphia abortionist. Other outlets in their op-ed sections havedefended their non-coverage or sought to deflect criticisms – – the New York Times‘ Tiller editorial is classic sleight-of-hand, substituting one story for another. “Nothing here to see folks. Move along.”
A few have embarked upon the high road. Writing in Religion Dispatches Diane Winston argues in “The Myth of News Media as Secularist Conspiracy” there has never been a golden era when reporters
provided smart, in-depth, contextualized coverage of religious leaders, issues, ideas, and communities.
In support of this contention, the article offers historical examples purporting to show the press has always done a poor job — missing stories, printing pablum in place of news or voicing prejudice such as H.L. Menken’s critique of Fundamentalism in his account of the Scope’s “monkey” trial or the “anti-Hindu coverage that ran through Western newspapers in the 1910s and 1920s.” The crux of her argument is that the problem is not a lack of:
trained religion reporters, but rather Americans’ widespread ignorance about religion. Religion is absent from many high school curricula and university classrooms, and many of us barely know the religious history of our own country much less the role of religion worldwide.
But her argument then pivots, stating:
Yet, I’m not convinced that improving the American educational system is really at the heart of Cannon’s plaint about religion coverage and his subsequent post on Kermit Gosnell.
Making more Americans aware of religion and historical incidents like an anti-Hindu press — a history of which I was not aware — would not have mattered in the Gosnell story as:
The Gosnell story is not a religion story, it’s a crime story. People with religious convictions may read their passions into it, but Gosnell did not seem to be motivated one way or the other by a faith commitment. Yet cultural religionists imply that the absence of religious commitment in the nation’s newsrooms—and consequent acceptance of baby-killing, oops abortion, is among the reasons that the Gosnell story was overlooked.
The notion that the news media is a secularist cabal ignoring stories that challenge its shibboleths is wrongheaded.
I do not agree. There is just a hint of Coriolanus going before the plebs here. That large sections of the media believe an abortionist charged with multiple counts of murder is a crime story without significant religious or moral overtones speaks to the failings and biases of the press, not readers. (One need only look to the loss of market share and trust the mainstream media have experienced to know that all is not well — or the studies and monographs on the triumph of ideology over reporting in major American newspapers.)Nor does she show a logical connection between her observations about ignorance of the audience and the silence about Gosnell.
Criticisms voiced by GetReligion have nothing to do with the private conscience of reporters who write about religion but about their ignorance of the topics they are covering coupled with a self-satisfied, complacent, high opinion of their own importance and disdain for views that conflict with their own. Large sections of the American press are like Mr. Podsnap who “stood very high in Mr. Podsnap’s opinion,” — they see religion reporting through the lens of anthropology and institutions, not through the culture and belief of people.
And it is this failure of intelligence, relevance and imagination that lies behind the Gosnell fracas. The personal views of reporters are irrelevant — it is their professional competence at issue.
Let me offer an example of good religion journalism to illustrate my argument of ideology free competent reporting. In a front page story Warsaw’s Gazeta Wyborczalast week reported on a paper released by the Polish Bishops’ Conference (Konferencja Episkopatu Polski) objecting to in vitro fertilization, abortion, euthanasia, and contraception, arguing they were a threat to humanity.
begins with masturbation… All doubts in the field of human existence should be resolved in favor of life. We must also stand firmly against all kinds of action that are a threat to humans. Even the loftiest purpose does not justify actions that put human life in danger,” reads the document written by the Bishops’ Bioethics Expert Team.
“A Christian must care about the truth. This is why he or she should uncover lies, one of which is the particularly harmful suggestion that in vitro fertilization is a treatment for infertility. It does not treat anything. Infertile people stay infertile. They entrust the production of children to strangers,” the bishops write.
According to the authors of the document, in vitro is the poorly-fulfilled desire of infertile couples, who wish to be parents. The church authorities believe that it gives permission “to sacrifice a few human beings” in order to have a child. This refers to the embryos that are destroyed during in vitro trials. “The sperm is obtained from a father through masturbation, the mother’s body is repeatedly manipulated, meaning that the child becomes a product,” the document reads.
These quotes are a gift. When reporters dream, unlike other men (and women), they dream dreams of bishops condemning masturbation. The possibilities for displaying smutty lowbrow humor are endless. Yet given this set up, the Gazeta Wyborcza plays it straight giving the bishops space to explain their views — to paraphrase my colleague TMatt, they allow people not just paper to speak.
Archbishop [Henryk] Hoser is the main author of the paper. Trained as a physician, he is one of the Episcopal Commission on Bioethics’ experts. Yesterday he said: “The prenatal human is viewed more as a thing, not as a human being [by those who support IVF]. Many lives are lost in a procedure intended to produce a sole survivor. …
[The Church] opposes the creation of extra embryos produced to be frozen and considers this tantamount to killing them. “Most frozen and thawed embryos die in the process or are otherwise unable to continue healthy growth. Yet the embryo is a person and each embryo turns out to be a helpless member of the human family,whose dignity and rights are ruthlessly trampled.”
Against these comments Gazeta Wyborcza sets contradictory medical opinion.
“Not true. Medicine is moving forward. Maybe 20-25 years ago you could propound this thesis, but not today. … [If properly stored the rate of success of frozen embryos] in implantation in the uterus is the same, or even greater than in the case of embryos transferred without freezing,” argues Prof. Waldemar Kuczynski, Chairman of the Section of Fertility and Infertility of the Polish Gynecological Society and consultant to the government program … The bishops’ arguments are “biased and unfair”.
The article also points to what it believes to be an inconsistency in the bishops’ argument.
The hierarchy also criticized contraception and abortion … “Claiming the right to abortion is an expression of a highly unworthy conduct …”. Anti-abortion rhetoric is heard more often in the church, but in the 90s the bishops approved the so-called Compromise Law that allowed abortion in three cases: rape, danger to life or health of the mother, and severe irreversible damage to the fetus.
Why is this a good article? It is a straight forward summary of the report with comments from critics. First off, the article pulled quotes from the report that would excite its readers, while also providing quotes that placed the controversial statements in context. Both sides can hear their points of view expressed clearly, the article provides the key quotes from the report, places them in context and allows the church to explain why it said what it said. It also wrote this story with its audience — not against it. There is no mockery (that I could see) as it takes its audience’s faith seriously — it understands these are moral questions not merely “health news”.
But this is not a pro-church puff piece. The criticisms are given a full airing and the newspaper’s skepticism of the absolutist position on abortion is made clear by reference to the church’s tolerance for some abortions.
Ask yourself if you believe the New York Times would have printed this story? Which takes me back to the defense of the non-reporting on the Gosnell trial. Perhaps it is old news, a local crime story that would upset readers with the testimony of savagery and barbarity worthy of Auschwitz? Or then again could there be a “secularist cabal ignoring stories that challenge its shibboleths”?
Whatever you may decide, what the press has done (returning once more to Maria’s description of Malvolio in Twelfth Night) is that it has shown itself to be an “affection’d ass”.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
First printed in GetReligion.
£25 million raised for church youth work: Church of England Newspaper, April 21, 2013 p 7. April 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Youth/Children.
Tags: Arthur Eze, fundraising, philanthropy
A fund-raising dinner in Nigeria last month has raised over £25 million (Nairas 6 billion) for the St. Stephen’s Anglican Deanery and Youth Development Centre in Otuoke, in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta region. Leading the list of donors was philanthropist and oilman Arthur Eze, who donated £7.8 million (1.8 billion Nairas) to fund the construction of the Anglican training institute, Forbes magazine reported.
Nigerian Pres. Goodluck Jonathan, whose hometown is Otuoke, told those attending the dinner that he was grateful for the gifts given by wealthy Nigerians to support the development of impoverished communities in their own country. Private philanthropy strengthened the nation and empower individuals. This will create an “opportunity for the younger ones to grow. Even if we die in the next 100 years, people will remember that those before them have something for them,” the president said.
Tags: Barry Morgan, gay marriage
The coalition government’s push to introduce same-sex marriage in England and Wales necessitates a review of the Church in Wales thinking on marriage, the Archbishop of Wales Dr. Barry Morgan said last week.
In his presidential address to the 10 – 11 April 2013 meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in Lampeter, Dr. Morgan said the church needed to consider the issue of same-sex relationships. “There has been a growth in understanding of same sex relationships in wider society in recent years and a more comprehensive understanding of human sexuality in general,” he said.
“Within the Church in Wales, as the bishops have pointed out, there are a variety of views about the ethics of same sex relationships. There is a new appreciation of the value of any faithful committed life-long relationship. The new Archbishop of Canterbury observed recently that, ‘It would be completely absurd to suggest that the love expressed in gay relationships was less than the love that there is between straight couples’. The bishops have, therefore, asked the Doctrinal Commission to examine the whole issue of same sex relationships, and once it has produced its report, we will need to have a general discussion, perhaps in groups in the first instance, in this Governing Body to map out the way ahead for us as a Church.”
The doctrinal commission will also examine the Church in Wales’ relationship to the state. The coalition government had not consulted the Church in Wales when it said it would be banned in law from offering same sex marriages. The church in Wales should make up its own mind on this issue he declared, and it must decide whether it would keep its quasi-established position under Welsh law words clergy had a duty to solemnise marriages.
“If marriage were ever to become a devolved issue, I cannot see a devolved Welsh government allowing a disestablished church to hang on to this vestige of establishment,” he added, but “in any case, we ourselves might want to change the present arrangements.”
Dr. Morgan also discussed revisiting the issue of women bishops which was turned back by the governing body in 2008 by 3 votes after the bishops refused to give assurances or protections to those opposed to the innovation. In 2012 the Bishop’s bench released a discussion paper stating their unanimous support the ordination of women bishops.
The Archbishop also spoke to the challenges of the paper presented by Lord Harries last year on reorganizing structures of the church. “Churches with ordained clergy have been tempted to assume that all ministry is vested in an omnicompetent, all-singing, all-dancing professional minister and that the task of ministry belongs to him or her and then when he/she is a bit hard pressed, he or she may delegate some of the tasks to other people but really essentially it is her/her ministry. That is to start in the wrong place,” he argued.
The church must use “all the resources that we have been given, and the gifts that all of us have, more creatively and imaginatively. It means laity and clergy together, having a shared vision of the work of the Church,” Dr. Morgan said.
Sussex clergyman found guilty of child abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, April 21, 2013 p 6. April 22, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Wilkie Denford
A Sussex clergyman has been found guilty of sexually abusing two boys. On 5 April 2013 the Rev. Keith Wilkie Denford, (78) and his codefendant, church organist Michael Mytton (69), were found guilty following a three-week trial at Hove Crown Court of molesting boys under the age of 16.
While serving as vicar of St John the Evangelist Church in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, Mr. Denford committed and indecent assaults on two boys between June 1987 and January 1990. He was found not guilty of a third charge of indecent assault against the first boy. Mr. Mytton was convicted of three counts of indecently assaulting a boy under 16 in the Newick area between 1990 and 1994. He was found not guilty of one count of aiding and abetting Mr. Denford.
After the verdict was handed the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, stated: “I note the verdict reached by the Court today and we will now move swiftly to implement our own disciplinary procedures following this verdict in the case of Mr Denford.
“The Diocese fully acknowledges the suffering caused both to survivors of abuse and their families. We deeply regret the betrayal of trust in the context of public pastoral ministry and we extend our prayers and support to those caught up in the events highlighted by this case.
“The Diocese has learned many lessons from past cases and continues to do so. Our safeguarding procedures have been revised and updated and I am committed to ensuring that every person is safe in our church communities.”
The case has been adjourned for sentencing to 2 May 2013 and the defendants remain on bail meanwhile.
Tags: Noah Njegovan
A Canadian archdeacon appeared before a Manitoba court last week to answer charges that he had embezzled approximately $190,000 from diocesan coffers. The Ven. Noah Njegovan (30) is alleged to have used a diocesan credit card to embezzle funds sent by congregations to the diocese last year while serving as executive archdeacon of the diocese and assistant to his father, Bishop James Njegovan of Brandon. Mr. Njegovan was released on bail and is set to return to court on 9 May 2013 to answer charges.
The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) has deposed five São Paulo clergy following the secession of their congregations from the province last month to revert to their pre-1975 status as overseas chaplaincies of the Church of England.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Bishop’s plea for peace in Sri Lanka: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013 p 6. April 19, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper, Persecution.
Tags: Dhiloraj Canagasabey, Diocese of Colombo
The Bishop of Colombo has called upon India to protect its Sinhalese visitors following a series of high profile assaults on Buddhist monks.
While the April 1 letter of Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey is addressed to the Indian government and leads with the condemnation of last month’s attack on two Buddhist monks in Tamil Nadu, sources in the Church of Ceylon tell the Church of England Newspaper the true audience is the government of Sri Lankan Pres. Mahinda Rajapaksa and its subject the sharp increase in sectarian violence targeting Ceylon’s Christians and Muslims
Bishop Canagasabey wrote “several incidents of intimidation and violence against Sri Lankans have been reported recently from within and outside the Sri Lanka,” adding the “most serious” had been the attack on Buddhists monks in Tamil Nadu state.
“In the first incident in Tamil Nadu, a group of post graduate archaeology students had been attacked during a study tour to a temple site in Thanjavoor. In the second a group of Buddhist pilgrims who had arrived in Chennai from a visit to sacred sites in North India had been attacked at the Chennai Railway Station. In both instances the monks had been singled out for abuse and physical violence, possibly due to their distinctive dress. Several extremists Tamil groups have been identified as perpetrators of these attacks in India. I appeal to the Central Government of India, and the State Government of Tamil Nadu to stop this act of violence immediately,” the bishop said.
The Bishop added that “within Sri Lanka, attacks in the form of intimidation and violence especially on Christians and Muslims have been too many to list out.”
The Church “views with grave concern and denounces this growing and very dangerous trend of sectarian violence. These incidents are yet another manifestation of the fast spreading intolerance and fundamentalist extremism which is engulfing many societies today,” the bishops said.
It was a “reflection of the refusal to listen to people who think believe and act differently from us and to accept their freedom and right to do so. From here it is but a short step to blind and mindless violence against the group or groups we choose to demonize,” he said.
He stated that “while we very rightly condemn such acts by others, we also need to turn the spotlight inwards and reflect on and examine our own failings in this regard. It may be that unconsciously in the practice of our own beliefs and religion we have caused avoidable irritation and offence to those of sister faiths,” he said, adding “we can hardly demonstrate against and condemn such acts by others against us, if we ourselves condone or participate in similar behaviour against those who are different from us.”
It was the duty of state to guarantee the protection “of all groups in society,” the bishop said, warning the Buddhist nationalist government “during the past decades we have witnessed in this country the tragedy, huge damage and destruction brought about by the negligence of this primary duty. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Crime concerns dominate Jamaican synod: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013, p 7. April 16, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Corruption, Crime, Gambling.
Tags: Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Howard Gregory
The Bishop of Jamaica has denounced his government’s slow response to a lottery scam that has defrauded thousands of elderly Americans, saying it was symptomatic of the breakdown of law and order in the West Indies.
In his presidential address to the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands at the 143rd annual meeting of Synod held at St Ann’s Bay parish church, Bishop Howard Gregory said the “system of justice needs to become a primary focus of attention.”
“As a nation we are being called to repentance with a consequent change of action in relation to the blood of our young men and our women and children which is being shed daily in our country by criminal elements, but just as significant in the resolution of domestic disputes.”
The Bishop condemned the government for permitting the sale of lottery tickets on Sunday. He noted that the legislation passed during holy week led him to ask “whether this is an expression of gross insensitivity or a statement concerning the way forward for the relationship between church and society”.
He also took the government to task for not moving to stop the “Jamaican lottery scam” until the U.S. Senate began hearings on the crimes.
A report by CBS reported that in 2012 over 29,000 lottery scam complaints were filed with American police agencies. Posing as representatives of Publishers Clearinghouse and other lottery and sweepstakes firms, the scammers would tell elderly Americans that they had won a cash prize but first needed to make a tax payment before the money would be released. The Jamaican-based fraud had taken in tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors have alleged.
“After seven years of public awareness of the lottery scam, our Government has only managed to table anti-scamming legislation and talk tough at the very moment when the United States Senate was holding a [Senate] hearing on the scam in Jamaica,” Bishop Gregory said.
The government’s failure to act did nothing to combat Jamaica’s reputation as a den of crime and corruption. “The way we are presenting ourselves to the world in terms of our moral values as a nation calls for serious repentance on the part of citizens and political leaders as a whole,” he said.
The willingness also of ordinary Jamaicans to countenance the lottery scam told the world “we have some very skewed moral values.”
Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy freed: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013 p 7. April 16, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Persecution.
Tags: Blasphemy Laws, Release International, Younis Masih
Seven years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy a Pakistani Christian has been set free.
On 3 April 2013 Lahore High Court justices Khaja Amtiaz Ahmed and Khalid Mehmood Khan overturned the conviction of Younis Masih and ordered his immediate release from prison.
On 10 September 2005 Masih was arrested after he had asked a party of Muslim men the night before if they would lower the volume of their singing. The men responded by attacking Masih and beat him unconscious. Islamic leaders then incited a mob to burn Christians’ homes, saying Masih had committed blasphemy. More than 100 Christian families were forced to flee.
His lawyers alleged that to placate the mob the police arrested Masih. A Lahore Court sentenced him to death on 30 May 2007. In overturning his conviction the appeals court held there was no proof of blasphemy.
In a statement released last week Release International, which had been working with lawyers from the Legal Aid for Destitute and Settlement society in Pakistan, welcomed the news.
Release chief executive Paul Robinson said: “We are celebrating with Younis, his family and our partners who have supported them for all these years. We hope this sets a precedent for other victims of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws who should now be released.”
Release commended the “bravery of High Court judges” who released Masih, “despite intense pressure from Muslim hardliners who filled earlier court hearings, apparently trying to intimidate the judges.”
Release partners were now making arrangements for the “safe transfer of Younis from jail to an unspecified location,” it reported.
Tags: Jewish identity, Washington Post, Western Wall
You couldn’t, he thought, find three Jews in the world who would agree on what it meant to be Jewish, yet there were apparently fifty million of these people who knew exactly what it meant to be German, though many of those on deck have never set foot in Germany.
Alan Furst, Dark Star, (1991), p. 380.
Who is a Jew? What is a Jew? Who decides who is a Jew? These questions lie beneath the surface of a Washington Post story that reports on the controversy of women worshiping at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The article entitled “Women challenge Orthodox practice at Israel’s Western Wall” links the political dynamics of the pressure being brought by American Jews upon the Israeli government to accommodate non-Orthodox Jewish worship at what the Post calls “Judaism’s holiest shrine” with an Israeli local news item. Yet the story could have fleshed out the religion ghosts — telling a non-Jewish, non-Israeli audience why this is the something more than a turf battle over worship space.
Because this article is written from an American secular Jewish perspective — the Post states its support of the protesters in its lede — only half the story is told. The presuppositions of the author — call them biases or perspectives or relative truths — prevents a reader from understanding the political and religious calculus here. It begins:
JERUSALEM — A long-running battle over worship at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest shrine, was rejoined Thursday as Israeli police arrested five Jewish women who wore prayer shawls at a morning service, contrary to Orthodox practice enforced at the site. The arrests came two days after disclosure of a potentially groundbreaking plan that could allow for non-Orthodox services to be held in the area on an equal footing with those conducted according to Orthodox tradition.
Note the verb being used in second clause of the lede sentence: “enforced”. The Post is characterizing the dispute as one of power — he who has power can enforce his will. What trajectory would the story have taken it different verb were used stating that Orthodox practice is not merely enforced but required by law? The story then moves to quotes from the women activists and an “ultra-Orthodox heckler”, before moving to the political, summarizing the history of the dispute, taking it up to recent discussions in the cabinet:
[Prime Minister] Netanyahu asked Natan Sharansky, chairman of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, to come up with a plan for worship at the Western Wall that would accommodate the non-Orthodox branches of Judaism that are dominant overseas. The move signaled an increasing awareness in the Israeli government that the confrontations over ritual at the Western Wall are driving a wedge between Israel and Jewish communities abroad.<
Sharansky’s solution presented to American Jewish leaders was to build a platform “south of the main prayer plaza; men and women could pray together there, and women could lead services.”
The article closes with a quote from the Western Wall Orthodox rabbi who said he was in favor of the separate facilities and an Israeli reform rabbi who is given free reign to sound off on his views on the Orthodox hegemony of Judaism in Israel.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform movement in Israel, said that Women of the Wall had succeeded in making religious pluralism at the shrine a major issue of Jewish concern. “The Wall has become an ultra-Orthodox synagogue,” Kariv said, adding that Thursday’s arrests sent a signal that undermined Sharansky’s proposal. “You can’t make a serious attempt to reach a compromise while maintaining a situation where the rights of one side are seriously breached,” he said.
Still, Kariv predicted that if the proposal is implemented, the area set aside for non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall “will become the main platform for the vast majority of Israelis and Jews.”
I am not a Jew and have no dog in the fight between the traditional and progressive strands of Judaism. I am concerned with good journalism, though, and find this story unbalanced and incomplete.
Unbalanced because there is no explanation as to why the Orthodox object to bare-headed women leading prayers (as the accompanying photo from the Post shows) next to a gathering of Haredi men praying. While supporters of change have their say in this story supporters of tradition do not. I should say that I know the Talmud rejects the practice — but I do not know if other non-Jews know this. Without an explanation of the religious issues a casual reader might well assume that this is an issue of power.
It was an issue of power in 1928. On the Day of Atonement that year, 28 September 1928, a riot erupted when British police torn down wooden barriers separating male and female worshipers at the Wall. Protests from Jewish communities around the world greeted this action which in turn were followed by protests from Arabs in Palestine against Jews worshiping at the Wall. The British ban on sex segregation barriers became a ban on Jews at the Wall from 1948 1967 when it was under the control of Jordan.
When Israel took control of the Temple Mount area the Wall came under the authority of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. In the 1980s American and English emigrants to Israel began the Women at the Wall movement which sparked a riot by Haredi men at the wall in 1989. In 2003 Israel’s Supreme Court disallowed women from reading publicly from the Torah or wearing traditional prayer shawls at the plaza built by the Ministry in front of the Wall. However, it held the government must build a second area for women and mixed sex groups — as well as non-Orthodox Jews — on the site of Robinson’s Arch. Sharansky’s solution is to expand this site — which is not under the control of the Ministry.
Without explaining the religious elements — the objections of the Orthodox or the determination of Jewish women to worship at the wall rather than near — the story is incomplete. Without touching upon the history behind this section, it’s context, a casual reader might well suppose this is just about power.
What does the wall symbolize for the religious Jew or the secular Israeli? Is this a continuing chapter in the saga of who is a Jew, what does it mean to be a Jew, and who gets to say who is a Jew? Written for an American or Diaspora audience — the story is incomplete.
First published in Get Religion.
Hong Kong push for gay civil rights: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013 p 7. April 13, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Civil Rights, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage.
Tags: Hong Kong, Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance, York Chow Yat-ngok
Church leaders in Hong Kong have welcomed the proposal for public consultations on a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance (SODO) that would protect the civil rights of the homosexual community. While declining to speak to the merits of any particular bill, Roman Catholic and Anglican leaders have voiced their general approval of civil rights legislation.
On 1 April 2013 Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, a leading Anglican layman and the former secretary for food and health, took office as chairman of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunity Commission.
Last month gay activists attacked the appointment of Dr. Chow arguing that his religious principle would prejudice the debate. However Dr. Chow told the South China Morning Post he was a “liberal-minded” Christian and not prejudiced against gay people.
The issue should be handled discreetly. “In the process of legislation, there should be more discussion. Because not everyone would be courageous enough or would choose to disclose their own sexual orientation,” Dr. Chow told Radio Television Hong Kong.
“My religious background is relatively conservative, but even the Anglican Church in England is discussing this issue now,” he said adding that “regardless of what my religious background is or my personal view… these people should not be discriminated against.”
In November 2012 a proposal was put forward in the Legislative Council to launch a public consultation to gauge potential support for SODO. After vigorous debate the motion was defeated and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying dismissed calls for a consultation in a policy address in January.
Evangelical leaders had voiced concern that SODO would lead to gay marriage. Choi Chi-sum, secretary-general of the Society for Truth and Light, said they were “disappointed” that Dr. Chow had now offered his public support for the ordinance before consulting groups who opposed the legislation.
Created in 1996 the equal opportunities commission has a mandate to work towards the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy, disability, family status and race. This brief should be extended to sexual orientation Dr. Chow said.
Tags: Stanley Ntagali
The Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) has called for the rejection of the Domestic Relations Bill before Parliament arguing that proposals to turn common-law marriages into legally recognized marriages was bad social policy and jeopardized the rights of women.
In a speech delivered on 27 March 2013, the chairman of UJCC, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali — the primate of the church of Uganda – said: “Marriage for us in the Church is not a union of convenience but it is a lifelong partnership that can only be extinguished by the death of the partners.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Marriage is of God, not the state Church of England declares: Anglican Ink, April 9, 2013 April 10, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Marriage.
Tags: gay marriage
The Church of England has reaffirmed its rejection of gay marriage stating the public blessing of marriage can only take place within the context of a lifelong, monogamous, male-female relationship. Marriage is a gift from God, not a right granted by the state nor cultural construct a paper released today by the church’s Faith and Order Commission entitled “Men and Women in Marriage”
“In calling it a gift of God, we mean that it is not simply a cultural development (though it has undergone much cultural development) nor simply a political or economic institution (though often embedded in political and economic arrangements). It is an expression of the human nature which God has willed for us and which we share. And although marriage may fall short of God’s purposes in many ways and be the scene of many human weaknesses, it receives the blessing of God and is included in his judgment that creation is ‘very good’ (Genesis 1.31). In calling it a gift of God in creation, we view marriage within its wider life-context: as an aspect of human society and as a structure of life that helps us shape our journey from birth to death.”
The report recognizes the existence of same-sex relationships as “forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form God has given us.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Prayer Book reform slated for South Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p. 4 April 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
Tags: Book of common prayer
Prayer Book reform, theological education, corruption and crime were the focus of last month’s meeting of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
While the church has seen rapid growth in northern Mozambique — leading to a call for the creation of a new episcopal area Diocese of Niassa — as well as Africa’s first Anglican women bishops, Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland and Margaret Vertue of False Bay, the statement released a close of the 5 – 8 March 2013 meeting in Modderpoort in the Diocese of the Free State acknowledged that “our hearts are deeply troubled as we gather.”
“We have noted with sadness the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Many of our people are trapped in the ever deepening spiral of abject poverty. We note the evidence for a close correlation between corruption and poverty. We, as a church, strongly condemn all forms of corruption, whether it is in the church or in civil society or in government or in business.”
“We call upon all of us to strive for a corruption free society and to challenge the governments and businesses in our region to do the same.”
The bishops also said an “area of particular concern is the escalating violence in South African society.” Citing a series of high-profile rapes and murders the bishops said they “condemn any form of violence, whether it is civil or state violence, domestic or public violence. We call upon all our people to strive for a violence-free society and, by so doing, to allow the light of Christ to permeate our society.”
Within the church the Bishop noted that 2013 would be a year dedicated to theological education and would also see the beginnings of liturgical reform.
There was an “inseparable link between the reform of liturgy and spiritual renewal,” the bishops said, adding: “There is a great sense of excitement as we embark on this process, as the Province, of revising the Anglican Prayer Book 1989. We realise that this will not be a hasty process, especially since we want to ensure that it will be a dynamic tool for mission and ministry, which will give expression to our distinctive identity and spirituality.”
“Through our sharing and praying” the bishops said they had become “deeply aware of the hard realities” of South Africa and had heard “the cries of God’s people”.
“We pray that we as the Church will listen intelligently to what God is saying to us at this time; observe diligently the signs of God’s restorative grace that is breaking through in places where our people are struggling; teach faithfully what God commands us to do; and continue to be God’s Good-news people wherever we live and work,” the statement said.
Tags: Diocese of Brandon, James Njegovan, Noah Njegovan
The former Executive Archdeacon of Brandon appeared before a Manitoba court yesterday to answer charges that he had embezzled approximately $190,000 from diocesan coffers.
The Ven. Noah James Bernard Njegovan, 30, was arraigned on charges of having committed a fraud of over $5,000 while serving as executive archdeacon of the diocese and assistant to his father, Bishop James Njegovan of Brandon.
Mr. Njegovan was released on bail and is set to return to court on 9 May 2013.
Read it all the Anglican Ink.
Indian bishop jailed for forgery: The Church of England Newspaper, March 31 2013, p 7. April 3, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of South India, Corruption, Crime.
Tags: Devaraj Bangera, Manickam Dorai
A retired Bishop of the Church of South India (CSI) has been sentenced to three years imprisonment and fined Rs 15,000 for forgery and fraud. The conviction of the Rt. Rev Devaraj Bangera, the former Bishop in the Karnataka Southern Diocese last week follows news that the Indian tax authorities have seized the assets of the former Bishop in Coimbatore, Manickam Dorai– who last year was defrocked by the CSI for fraud and theft.
On 20 March 2013 a judge in Mangalore sentenced Bishop Bangera after the trial court found he had forged his birth certificate in order to avoid mandatory retirement at age 65. Elected Bishop in 2005 the bishop declined to step down from office on his 65th birthday on 29 June 2009. He presented a birth certificate showing he had been born in 1945 and brought suit to block his retirement.
However the newly appointed treasurer of the diocese, while investigating allegations of theft made against Bishop Bangera, uncovered a birth certificate dated 1944. An inquiry with the municipality that had allegedly issued in 1945 birth certificate found it was a forgery and bishop’s true birth year was 1944. Bishop Bangera currently is on bail pending appeal.
Last month the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of the Indian tax authority attached properties registered in the name of the life and brother of the former Bishop in Coimbatore Manickam Dorai under the rules governing the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The levies came after the Tamil Nadu state police registered a case against Bishop Dorai and his brother for “misappropriation of Diocese funds, a public charitable trust, to the tune of Rs 7.93 crore” (£865,000).
In 2012 Bishop Dorai was defrocked by the CSI after he was found guilty of fraud and theft of church funds.
Canada postpones vote on Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, March 31 2013, p 6. April 3, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
The Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod (CoGS) has voted to delay action upon the Anglican covenant until 2016 meeting of General Synod.
In a statement released last week CoGS, the church’s governing body between meetings of the General Synod every three years, said the July 2013 meeting of General Synod will not be asked to make an up or down vote on the covenant. Delegates will be asked instead to support a resolution that calls for three more years of dialogue and conversation.
CoGS agreed to recommend that General Synod ask the Anglican Communion Working Group (ACWG) to “monitor continued developments” around the proposed Covenant. It requests that the ACWG render a report to the spring 2016 meeting of CoGS, and directs CoGS “to bring a recommendation regarding the adoption of the Covenant” to the next General Synod in 2016.
Anglican Unscripted Episode 69, March 29, 2013 April 3, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Hymnody/Liturgy, Marriage, Popular Culture, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: gay marriage, stations of the cross
In this week’s Anglican Unscripted your hosts discuss what Marriage is… and what Marriage isn’t — and with a combined total of 50 years Marriage experience — you are in safe hands. This is also Holy Week and this gives Kevin and George a chance to look around the Communion to discover how clergy are celebrating.
Some around the Anglican Communion have been told that the Episcopal Church doesn’t sue anybody… well the Episcopal church made it very clear this Easter season that is just wrong; and Kevin and AS Haley discuss the latest barrage from 815 and how it effects every vestry member in the Diocese of South Carolina. Kevin, George, Allan, and Peter pray that this Easter brings you into a closer walk with the Man who left the tomb empty. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com Tweet: AU69
An Australian bishop’s veto of a gaming industry proposal to donate funds to a church social service agency to hire additional gambling addiction counselors has been met with incredulity by the Sunday Telegraph.
In a story entitled “Unholy fight over gaming as Bishop refuses money from clubs” the Sydney-based newspaper’s editorial voice spoils an otherwise interesting story. It does not appear to comprehend that the Anglican Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers is taking a moral stand that the gaming industry cannot buy redemption.
This is not a bad article in that there is an attempt to present both sides of the story. We do hear from the bishop and the casinos — but the context is missing and the story framed so as to paint the bishop as a prig. The article begins:
A BISHOP has refused thousands of dollars from clubs to pay for more counsellors to help problem gamblers.
Clubs around Tamworth and Armidale, in the state’s north, want the local Anglicare counselling service to put on extra staff as demand grows across the region. After nearly two years of talks, the clubs have agreed to give a percentage of their takings – up to $30,000 a year – in return for access to additional counsellors. However, the talks unravelled last week after the Anglican Bishop of Armidale, Rick Lewers, canned the idea as he felt it would compromise his ability to speak out about gambling.
Instead, Bishop Lewers wants gamblers to consider joining their local church to socialise instead of spending hours “pouring pension money” into poker machines.
The construction of the lede determines the trajectory of the article. Proposition A holds that clubs, private gaming establishments, have created a need for gambling addiction counseling services. Proposition B is that these counseling services are provided by Anglicare– a church-run social services agency.
Fact A is the news that the casinos and Anglicare have been in talks about providing addiction counseling services and that the casinos would donate “up to $30,000 a year”. Fact B is the bishop’s refusal to take the funds. Fact C is the explanation that the Bishop believes he would be compromised by taking casino money.
Assertion A by the Telegraph is that the bishop does not want to help gamblers and B he wants to steer them away from casinos so that they may join “their local church to socialize”.
Standing in back all of this are the assumptions that the casino industry can atone for its sins by giving money to the church — Australian Anglican indulgences — and that the church should be a good sport and take the cash. The implications of the construction of the lede are that the bishop is opposed to a good deed because of petty concerns about pumping up church attendance — perhaps pulling in the punters to the church hall for bingo rather than have them use the slot machine at the casino.
The Telegraph does give the bishop three paragraphs to explain his position — that gambling is a social evil; the church’s social service agency will help anyone with a gambling addiction problem; the church would welcome the opportunity to minister to those with gambling problems on casino grounds; taking money from the casinos — who facilitate the addiction — in order for the church to help them break the gambling addiction is morally compromising. Well and good.
The article then moves to comments from the casino industry criticizing the bishop’s moral qualms. It then closes with a jab from a casino executive that seeks to puncture when he believes to be the bishop’s moral pomposity.
ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said: “The real losers here are the people who have a problem with gambling or alcohol who would have really benefited from the range of initiatives .”
By crafting the article in this fashion — premise, assertion, side a, side b — the Telegraph is telegraphing its agreement with side b’s closing statement from the casino executive.
A church complaining about an unfriendly article that treats its leaders as moral humbugs for standing on an unfashionable principle (gambling is socially harmful and, oh yes, a sin) is neither new nor extraordinary. What is exceptional about this story is the unsubstantiated assertion that the Bishop wants people to go to church not casinos to socialize. Nor does the Telegraph seem to comprehend that it is reporting on an issue present in literature, the movies and in newspapers across the globe. American readers may remember the New York Times report last year about Mexican churches and the drug cartels.
There was an opportunity to tell a great story here — but lack of knowledge and prejudice prevented that from happening.
First printed at Get Religion
Ex-priest claims abuse whistleblowers shunned by Australian church: The Church of England Newspaper, March 24, 2013, p 7. March 26, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Alan Sapsford, Paul Walliker
A former Anglican priest testified last week before a Victorian parliamentary inquiry that he had been ostracized by the church after reporting incidents of clergy sexual child abuse.
Fr. Paul Walliker, who now serves as a priest of the Antiochian Orthodox archdiocese of Australia, said whistle blowers were shunned by the Anglican church. “The support we received from the diocese was zip, zero, zilch,” he told the committee taking evidence at the Bendigo town hall.
On 13 March 2013 Fr. Walliker said he had helped five women press charges against the Rev. Alan Sapsford, however the abuse claims were not believed by many members of the congregation.
“I received death threats. My family was harassed. People abused me in the street,” he told the parliamentary inquiry. “I lost money, I had to sell my house and had to move. I had to pay for counselling for my daughters.”
While the “support we received from the diocese was nothing.”
In 2003 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s 7:30 Report claimed Mr. Sapsford, who was a parish rector in Seymour from 1966 to 1996 and archdeacon of the diocese of Wangaratta, had sexually abused over 30 boys and a number of women while serving at the parish.
After one of his victims, who later became an Anglican priest informed the church of the abuse, Mr. Sapsford confessed his guilt in a letter to Bishop Paul Richardson of the Diocese of Wangaratta.
Fr Walliker said Bishop Richardson withdrew Mr. Sapsford’s licence and allowed him to retire due to ill-health. Archbishop Keith Rayner subsequently gave him a limited licence to officiate in Melbourne. In September 2002, Mr. Sapsford was arrested and charged with child abuse. He died in March 2003 before his case went to trial.
The committee is investigating the response of religious and other non-government groups to the criminal abuse of children. It has received over 300 submissions and heard testimony from more than 90 witnesses. Its report is due in September 2013.
African boycott expected at this week’s Primates Meeting: The Church of England Newspaper, March 24, 2013 p 7. March 26, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby, Primates Meeting 2013
Leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican archbishops will not attend a special primates meeting to be held after the 21 March 2013 installation of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury.
While African and Asian church leaders will attend the services at Canterbury Cathedral, they will not attend a private meeting scheduled to take place after the ceremony.
“Nothing has changed since Dublin,” one leader told The Church of England Newspaper.
Only 23 of the Communion’s 38 provinces were represented at the 24–30 January 2011 “rump” primates meeting in Dublin. In a 21 January 2011 statement published on the Global South Anglican website, a spokesman said the decision to stay home was “not a sudden or knee-jerk reaction.”
In the course of several conversations and in a group meeting at the All Africa Bishops Conference in 2010, the Global South Primates “indicated that it would be extremely difficult – and in fact, quite pointless – for them to be present at the planned Primates’ Meeting 2011.”
They told Dr. Rowan Williams unless the American Church was prepared to honour its past undertakings and the decisions of the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings, they believed it was a waste of time and resources to attend. In 2011 the Primates also voiced frustration with the lack of communications coming from London.
“What is most disturbing and difficult is that given the intractable miry situation the Communion is already in and being further driven into, there was hardly any timely and intentional prior consultation and collegial engagement of all concerned, or at least as many as reasonably possible, in preparing for the Meeting to ensure certain degree of significant and principally legitimate outcome to hold and move the Communion together.
“As it stands, the Meeting is almost pre-determined to end up as just another gathering that again cannot bring about effective ecclesial actions, despite the precious time, energy and monetary resources that Primates and Provinces have invested in attending the Meeting,” the GS Primates concluded.
“With the disappointing lack of serious transparent planning and leadership beforehand to prepare the Primates for a genuine meeting of minds and hearts to face the very real and obvious issues before us, it will be strenuous to expect any significant, meaningful, credible and constructive outcome of the Dublin Meeting,” they argued.
The presence of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the Episcopal Church of the USA at this week’s meeting was one of a number of reasons the Global South primates decided not to attend the special meeting, CEN was told. Nor has the situation that helped by the December decision by the Church of England plans to allow gay clergy in civil partnerships to become bishops.
Until the structures are reformed the communion remains broken, one leader said.
Anglican Ordinariate secure, leaders say: The Church of England Newspaper, March 24, 2013 March 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Anglicanorum Coetibus, Greg Venables, Jeffrey Steenson, Pope Francis
Leaders of the Anglican Ordinariate urged patience and restraint in light of statements by the Bishop of Argentina that Pope Francis did not favor the creation of a home for Anglicans in the Catholic Church.
In a note released after the election of Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, the Bishop of Argentina and former primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, said Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was, in his experience, “consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man” who had been a friend to Anglicans in Argentina.
Bishop Venables said Cardinal Bergoglio “called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans.”
He later clarified his statement noting the cardinal’s comments were more an affirmation of Anglicanism than criticism of the Ordinariate.
The report from Bishop Venables sparked controversy in the British press and speculation Francis might adopt the different tone than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. A spokesman for the English Ordinariate denied any change was in the offing telling the Telegraph the comments were Bishop Venables’ not the Pope’s.
Following the resignation of Pope Benedict last month, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Chair of St. Peter, said: “We members of the Ordinariate are in a particular way the spiritual children of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Throughout his years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and especially as Pope, the reconciliation of Anglicans to the Catholic Church has been one of his principal tasks.”
He noted that “when Pope Benedict issued the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in November 2009, he laid a permanent foundation for the Ordinariate, to be the means to reconcile Anglican groups to the Catholic Church and that this Anglican patrimony might be shared with the Catholic Church. While the Ordinariate has been a special intention of Pope Benedict, it is now firmly established in the Catholic Church and will continue to serve as an instrument for Christian unity.”
Msgr. Steenson said the transition between Popes “should not greatly impact the work of the Ordinariate. We should probably expect that the ordinations of our candidates could be delayed slightly, as the Pope must approve these petitions.”
Following the publication of Bishop Venables’ remarks Msgr. Steenson said he had received a number of inquiries from those “who are concerned about what our new Pope’s attitude may be toward the Ordinariates, occasioned by an anecdotal report from an Anglican bishop in Argentina.”
He reaffirmed the “real permanence and stability” of the Ordinariate within the Catholic Church, and added “but it is even more important to remember what it means to be Catholic, to have the full assurance that faith brings. Christ the Good Shepherd entrusted the governance of the Church to St. Peter and his successors. To be in communion with Peter brings a confidence we never knew as Anglicans. Pope Francis understands the pilgrim character of our communities and will be a wise and caring pastor to us,” Msgr. Steenson said.
Christians under fire in Zanzibar: The Church of England Newspaper, March 17, 2013, p 6. March 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Persecution.
Tags: Bill Atwood, Jakaya Kikwete, Michael Hafidh, Valentino Mokiwa
The Bishop of Dar es Salaam’s home has come under assault, church leaders report.
Bishop Bill Atwood writes: “On 2:45 on Sunday morning, an armed gang attacked Archbishop Valentino [Mokiwa]’s home. Most bishops in that part of the world have watchmen either from the Massai or Hehe tribes who serve as guards. That was the case at Archbishop Valentino’s home as well. His Hehe watchman was captured by armed men who cut through the wire fence. The watchman valiantly fought back crying out. The men with guns cut him severely with machetes (called pandas there), but fled. Archbishop Valentino and his wife and children were inside the house. It is clear that great evil was intended.”
The 10 March 2013 attack follows last month’s murder of Catholic priest Evarist Mushi, who was shot and killed by two gunmen on the steps of his church. A second Catholic priest, Fr. Ambrose Mkenda suffered gunshot wounds in an attempt on his life on Christmas Day while moderate Muslim cleric Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Soraga was attacked with acid in November. Several churches have been burned over the past few weeks and on the mainland a Pentecostal minister was beheaded by Muslim extremists.
President Jakaya Kikwete’s move to invite foreign investigators to help local police thoroughly investigate the killings has been applauded by Zanzibar’s chief mufti, who has called on the government to actively investigate the targeting of religious leaders in Zanzibar, Tanzania’s Guardian newspaper reported on 4 March. (March 4th).
Sheikh Thabit Noman Jongo said the terror attacks, believed to have been carried out by al Qaeda-linked groups, violate Islamic principles. “According to the Holy Koran, it is not allowed to take life of another person without any reason … experts should dig more to find the source of these acts,” he said.
Tanzania’s Daily News reported that leaflets calling for Christians to fight back were being distributed over the weekend. “We Christians of Zanzibar and people from the mainland living in the islands have decided to organise ourselves to retaliate,” the leaflet said, according to the Daily News. “It is high time we hit back.”
Bishop Michael Hafidh and Catholic Bishop Augustine Shao condemned the leaflets and their content, and urged Christians not to return evil for evil.
Note: This article has been corrected following its first publication to state the attack was on the home of Archbishop Mokiwa, not Bishop Hafidh.
NZ gay marriage commission formed: The Church of England Newspaper, March 3, 2013 p 7. March 23, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Marriage.
Tags: gay marriage, Ma Whae Commission, Michael Hughes
The Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has chartered a theological commission to study gay marriage.
Last week the committee directed the church’s provincial secretary the Rev. Michael Hughes to write to the secretaries of the three branches of the church asking them “to consider and report” on the question “what is a theological rationale for a Christian approach to the blessing and marriage of people in permanent, faithful same gender relationships given the implications thereof on the ordination of people in same gender relationships.”
The three branches: Maori, Pacific Islander and Europeans/Asians, were asked to name three scholars to the commission who were asked to report back to the Standing Committee by year’s end.
The theological commission’s work will also be used to inform the Commission on the Ordination and Blessing of People in Same Sex Relationships (Ma Whea Commission) formed in November 2011 that was asked to provide a “summary of the biblical and theological work done by our Church on the issues surrounding Christian ethics, human sexuality and the blessing and ordination of people in same sex relationships, including missiological, doctrinal, canonical, cultural and pastoral issues.”
The Ma Whae Commission was also charged with finding a way to overcome the veto power to changes in church doctrine granted to each of the three branches and examine “the principles of Anglican ecclesiology and, in light of our diversity, the ecclesial possibilities for ways forward for our Three Tikanga Church”, the implications of the adoption of same-sex blessings to the church’s relations to the wider Anglican Communion, and to address the issue of “what care and protection there would be for those who could be marginalized” by the changes.
The Ma Whae Commission has been asked to report its findings to the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui by 2014.
Horse Meat scandal prompts church calls to buy British: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2013 p 6. March 23, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Farming.
Tags: horse meat, John Davies
The Church in Wales has urged consumers to purchase meat from local farms – to support British agriculture and to protect themselves from the false labeling.
Revelations that Romanian horse and donkey meat had been repackaged as beef and sold in prepared food products in 13 EU countries, including Britain and Ireland, has prompted the Welsh church’s Rural Life Advisors to urge consumers take more responsibility for what they buy.
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt. Rev. John Davies on 15 Feb 2013 said “The recent publicity about the discovery of horse-meat in processed food has raised a lot of questions about our food: quality, affordability, traceability, food miles, and the availability of produce that shoppers can buy with confidence.”
Europol, the EU’s police agency, reports that DNA tests have revealed that beef mixed with horse meat has been sold across Europe. Some products, including hamburgers, were found to contain as much as 30 per cent horse meat. Other products found to contain horse meet labeled as beef include frozen lasagna, tortellini, and Bolognese sauce. Three men were arrested last week in England and Wales in connection with the scandal and have been charged with fraud.
“Welsh farmers enjoy high levels of confidence and support from their local communities and have close links with local butchers and other shops,” said Bishop Davies – the Church in Wales spokesman on rural affairs.
“Seeking out retailers who can offer local knowledge and traceability is an excellent way to support Welsh farmers, butchers, and their communities as well as obtaining a product that is both trustworthy and tasty,” the bishop said.
80 dead in Mozambique flooding: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2013 p 6. March 23, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean, Disaster Relief.
Tags: Brighton Malasa, Dinis Sengulane, Ian Ernest, Tropical Cyclone Felleng
Church leaders in the Indian Ocean and Southern Africa have launched appeals for aid following flooding across the region.
On 1 Feb 2013 Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean asked for support for the Diocese of the Seychelles after the island was hit by Tropical Cyclone Felleng. The “country and the diocese have suffered heavy losses from the floods,” as “church buildings and other important structures have been destroyed. However we give thanks to the Lord as there has been no loss of life.”
Bishop Brighton Malasa of the Diocese of Upper Shire in Malawi reported his country had been hard hit by floods. He estimated that 33,000 people had been dislocated by flood waters in his diocese. “We would appreciate humanitarian support such as soap, clothes, cereals, sugar, blankets and tents,” he said.
While floods are common in the early part of the year in southern Malawi, the “oldest people in our communities are saying they have not seen such rains in the past 50 years,” the bishop said.
In the Diocese of Lebombo in southern Mozambique approximately 70,000 people have been displaced by flood waters, Bishop Dinis Sengulane said. “The situation is dramatic and it calls for our response if we are to avoid more damages to the lives of people”.
The flooding had destroyed crops and left “stagnant waters [that] will become favorable places for the proliferation of mosquitoes that bring malaria,” the bishop wrote to supporters in the West in an appeal for “mosquito nets to prevent malaria” as well as “seeds and school materials for children.”
On 31 Jan 2013 the United Nations reported severe flooding in southern Mozambique has affected a quarter of a million people, while heavy rains buffeted the north of the country as Tropical Cyclone Felleng made landfall after passing over Madagascar.
The floods have killed at least 48 people in the south of Mozambique, the UN reported while government officials put the death toll at 80.