Camels and tigers and bears, oh my!: Get Religion, February 15, 2014 February 17, 2014Posted by geoconger in Biblical Interpretation, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: camels, Fashion Times, John William Colenso, New York Daily News, New York Times, Time
The silly season is early this year. With editors and most top-tier reporters away in August on vacation (along with the subjects of their stories — need to set the proper precedence of seniority at the start of this story) the late summer is the time when the second team knocks out stories that leave readers asking: “what were they thinking?”
True — there are exceptions to this venerable custom. What would Easter or Christmas be without stories proclaiming what “the science” tells us about such events. Perhaps the massive snowstorms in the Northeast have kept the A-team in bed for some publications? Otherwise I would be hard pressed to explain the thinking behind the editorial line taken in a spat of stories reporting on a paper published by two archaeologists at Tel Aviv University.
The absence of camel remains at an archeological site in Israel dated to the time of Abraham demonstrates the Bible is false — or as the Fashion Times headline tells us “Historical ERROR in Bible’s Old Testament, REVEALED: Radiocarbon Dating of Camel Bones Shows Inconsistency.”
I like the screaming ALL CAPS used for error and revealed — one need read no further to see where that story is headed.
The New York Daily News was a little more cautious in its story “Israeli archeologists’ discovery suggests the Bible is wrong about camels.” It reported:
New archeological evidence is throwing cold water on the biblical image of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph riding camels through the desert. A team of Israeli archaeologists has studied the oldest-known camel bones from this ancient period and the results are in — camels reportedly started plodding around the eastern Mediterranean region centuries after the Bible tells us they did.
After analyzing the facts from radioactive-carbon dating, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University claim the domesticated animal arrived on the biblical scene near the 10th century B.C. Scholars believe Abraham lived at least six centuries before that, Time reports.
Still, stories about the Jewish patriarchs contain more than 20 references to the domesticated camel, according to The New York Times. In Genesis 24, Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. The servant traveled on his master’s camels.
I laughed out loud when I read this. Perhaps it was out of caution that its reporter might not have been able to verify the information the New York Daily News cites the New York Times for the flash news that there are camel references in Genesis.
Time does a much better job with this story. Reporter Elizabeth Dias lays out the facts and then proceeds to pour cold water on the hyperbole — taking as her target the New York Times’ account.
The New York Times, in a story about the finding today, announced, “There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place … these anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history.” Behold, a mystery: the Case of the Bible’s Phantom Camels.
The discovery is actually far from new. William Foxwell Albright, the leading American archeologist and biblical scholar who confirmed the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls, argued in the mid-1900s that camels were an anachronism. Historian Richard Bulliet of Columbia University explored the topic in his 1975 book, The Camel and the Wheel, and concluded that “the occasional mention of camels in patriarchal narratives does not mean that the domestic camels were common in the Holy Land at that period.” Biblical History 101 teaches that the texts themselves were often written centuries after the events they depict.
Time also puts this story in context, noting Biblical scholars have long been aware of apparent anomalies. It quotes a number of liberal Biblical scholars to flesh out the conundrum of Biblical history v. a Biblical faith.
The Bible has also never been a history book or a scientific textbook, explains Choon-Leong Seow, professor of Old Testament language and literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. Interpreting the Bible is a little like studying Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper, he says. Modern viewers do not consider the Christ figure in da Vinci’s painting an accurate portrait because we know it was painted centuries after the supper happened, but that does not take away from the artist’s spiritual message about Jesus’ last night with his disciples. “For us who believe that this is Scripture, Scripture is important as it has formative power, it forms the people, and it transforms,” Seow says. “It is poetic truth rather than literary truth.”
Understanding the Case of the Phantom Camel as a fight between archeological evidence and biblical narrative misses the entire spiritual point of the text, as far as scholars are concerned. Anachronisms and apocryphal elements do not mean the story is invalid, but instead give insight into the spiritual community in a given time and place. In this case, camels were a sign of wealth and developing trade routes, so it is likely that the biblical writer used the camel as a narrative device to point out power and status. “We needn’t understand these accounts as literally true, but they are very rich in meaning and interpretive power,” [Duke University's] Eric Meyers says.
I would have liked to have seen Time ask conservative Biblical scholars — say someone from the Dallas Theological Seminary — for their view on the camel controversy. It would have improved an otherwise great story.
Contradictions and difficulties with the historical veracity of the Pentateuch were a major news item at one time. That would have been in 1862 when the Anglican Bishop of Natal (South Africa) John William Colenso released the first of what became a seven part series of books examining the historicity of the first six books of the Old Testament.
Colenso, a one time mathematics teacher at Harrow and the author of the standard mathematics textbook for secondary schools in the mid-Nineteenth Century, demonstrated that some of the claims laid down in the Pentateuch were mathematically impossible. The battle has raged back and forth for the last 150 years, but some newspapers will always report the latest developments as breaking news that will shatter the foundations of faith.
It is a commonplace of the Jewish and Christian scholarly tradition that the Torah or Pentateuch was not written contemporaneously with the events it describes. Conservative scholars who follow the traditional teaching that Moses was the author of the Torah would not dispute the fact that he lived long after the events described in Genesis.
The author or authors of Genesis who transcribed the oral tradition of Abraham may have understood a word to have a meaning in their day that differed from its historical past.
Perhaps the word gamal was one such word. Could it have meant a beast of burden in Abraham’s time and by the time the stories were set down in writing a gamal came to be understood to mean the domesticated dromedary, the one-humped Camelus dromedarius?
As an aside, I find it amusing that some of the newspaper stories on this issue are assuming Abraham was a true historical figure, but the stories of camels in Genesis is a myth. Much of the historical critical Old Testament scholarship of the Twentieth century would believe the camels were real, but it was Abraham who was the myth.
Walter Beltz for example dismisses Abraham as mythical character akin to Aeneas. … eine mythische Person… Die Gestalt Abrahams ist eine mythische Schopfung. (Walter Beltz, Gott und die Gotter: Biblische Mythologie, Aufbau-Verlag Berlin und Weimar, 1975, p. 109.) Or they have held that the accounts of Abraham’s life as portrayed in Genesis “is an inextricable tangle of history and myth.” (Manfred Barthel, Was Wirklich in der Bibel Steht, trans. by Mark Howson, What the Bible Really Says, Wings Books, 1992, p. 63.)
Time does the best job of all in presenting this story. But it too could have used a bit more balance. Better yet, read the original piece from Tel Aviv University and decide for yourself. You might be surprised in light of the press reports cited above to discover there is only one reference to the Old Testament in the paper when in the first paragraph the authors state the “Patriarchal narrative” had led some scholars to suggest an earlier date for the domestication of the camel in Israel than could be supported by their archeological finds. That’s it.
First published at Get Religion.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Peter Ball
The former Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt. Rev. Peter Ball, who was arrested in November 2012 on suspicion of child abuse, has not been charged following an 18 month investigation by detectives from Sussex Police.
On 28 Jan 2014, the Crown Prosecution Service said it was still considering the case against Bishop Ball, who was arrested in his Somerset home in November 2012 as part of Operation Dunhill. The bishop was reported to have been taken ill following his arrest.
Sussex Police had initiated an investigation after the Church of England turned over the results of its internal review of Bishop Ball.
In 1993 Bishop Ball resigned after he was cautioned by the police for having committed an act of gross indecency against a teenager. The now 81 year old bishop was licenced to officiate at church services following his resignation, but has not had the licence renewed since 2010.
In 2012 a Sussex Police spokesman it had “received from Lambeth Palace two reports from a Church safeguarding consultant, which contain reviews of Church safeguarding files relating to historic issues in the Chichester Diocese. We have also received the files themselves.
“The reports and files relate to matters more than 20 years ago and we will review the contents in order to establish whether any police investigation of possible criminal offences would be merited.”
The late Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Rev. Eric Kemp, was skeptical of the veracity of the charges brought against Bishop Ball. In his 2006 memoirs, Shy But Not Retiring, Bishop Kemp stated: “Although it was not realized at the time, the circumstances which led to his early resignation were the work of mischief makers.”
Chichester priest arrested for abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2014 February 17, 2014Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Vickery House
A retired Diocese of Chichester priest has been charged by police with a host of sex crimes dating back almost 40 years.
On 28 Jan 2014, the Sussex Police released a statement saying the Rev. Vickery House (68) had been charged with 8 counts of sexual assault “on the authority of the Crown Prosecution Service following an investigation by detectives from Sussex Police over the past 18 months”.
Mr. House of Handcross, West Sussex was arrested in November 2012 and has been on bail pending the outcome of the investigation. He faces two charges of molesting a 15 year old boy in Devon between 1970 and 1971, two charges relating to a man in East Sussex between 1976 and 1978, and 1983 and 1985, one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1978 and 1980, one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1981 and 1984, one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1984 and 1986 and one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1984 and 1986.
The Diocese of Chichester released a statement last week saying it was “aware that a retired priest, previously arrested as part of Operation Dunhill in November 2012, has been charged today with eight counts of indecent assault.”
“As this case is under investigation no further comment will be made. The Diocese of Chichester has been assisting Sussex Police with the inquiries and continues to do so,” it reported.
Mr. House has been granted bail and is charged to appear before the Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 27 Feb 2014.
Schiavo Redux: Get Religion, January 21, 2014 January 30, 2014Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Get Religion.
Tags: Aujord'hui en France, euthanasia, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Terri Schiavo, Vincent Lambert
A French court has ordered a Reims hospital to provide nutrition and hydration to 38-year old quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, who has been in a state of minimal consciousness (en état de conscience minimale) for five years following a motorcycle accident.
Last Thursday a tribunal administratif overruled the wishes of the hospital, Lambert’s wife and some of his siblings who wanted to cut off intravenous feeding. The court sided with his parents and his other siblings, who as observant Catholics, objected to euthanizing him. Le Monde reports the Lambert case will reopen the contentious debate about euthanasia, the value of life and human dignity in France.
Have we not heard this before?
The Lambert case has a number of parallels with Terri Schiavo saga in America: a spouse ready to move on vs. Catholic parents not ready to let go; no clear statement of the patient’s wishes, conflicting medical terminology of persistent vegetative state v. minimal consciousness; political intervention by Congress and partisan debates in the French parliament; and a high profile role played by Catholic bishops. While it is early days yet, the most striking difference is the different decisions reached by the courts.
In Florida the courts came down on the side of death, even though the presumption of the law is in favor of life, while in France they have chosen life, even though euthanasia is legal.
The hospital authorities can now appeal against the decision before France’s Constitutional Council. The French press reports the Lambert case comes amidst a growing social and political debate over legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia. President Francois Hollande this week entered into the fray, saying he favored the legalization of euthanasia, but covered his bases by saying it was appropriate only under strict government scrutiny.
A 2005 law permits passive euthanasia, where a person causes death by withholding or withdrawing treatment necessary to maintain life. According to Aujourd’hui en France the court ruled against death as Lambert’s condition was not terminal.
Le tribunal a notamment «jugé que la poursuite du traitement n’était ni inutile, ni disproportionnée et n’avait pas pour objectif le seul maintien artificiel de la vie et a donc suspendu la décision d’interrompre le traitement». La juridiction a par ailleurs estimé que «c’est à tort que le CHU de Reims avait considéré que M. Lambert pouvait être regardé comme ayant manifesté sa volonté d’interrompre ce traitement».
The court’s ruling “held that continuing treatment was neither unnecessary nor disproportionate and was not intended only for the artificial preservation of life and accordingly suspended the decision to stop treatment.” The court further held that “it is wrong for [the hospital] to have decided that Mr. Lambert could have been regarded as having expressed a desire to discontinue treatment.”
Le Figaro explained the court in Chalons-en-Champagne ruled against ending Lambert’s life as he was neither “sick nor at the end of life … “, « ni malade ni en fin de vie ».
The French newspapers I have seen have done an excellent job is covering this story. The Aujourd’hui en France story quotes doctors and family members on both sides of the debate, a spokesman for the French Episcopal Conference, and the politician who introduced the 2005 euthanasia law to parliament.
Le Figaro and Le Monde are equally even handed in the sourcing of their stories and in the description of Lambert’s condition and the court ruling.
How different the French reporting on Vincent Lambert has been so far compared to the job the American press did with the Terri Schiavo case. It will be fascinating to see if the New York Times and other outlets on this side of the Atlantic pick up the story, and whether they use the phrase “brain dead” — a legal not medical term the French press have so far avoided.
First printed in Get Religion.
Church of Norway clergy union backs gay marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 January 27, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
Tags: gay marriage, Presteforeningen
The executive council of the Church of Norway’s clerical union has given its support to church gay marriage. At its December meeting, the union’s central board, the Presteforeningen, unanimously voted to ask the Church of Norway to prepare a rite for the blessing of gay marriages.
Founded in 1900, the Presteforeningen, or Priestly Union counts 2500 clergy and candidates for Holy Orders among its members. It serves as a trade union for the clergy in negotiating wages, conditions of work and other professional concerns.
In 2008 the Norwegian parliament was the first among the Scandinavian countries to revise revised its marriage laws to permit same-sex or gender neutral marriage, followed by Sweden 2008, Iceland 2010, and Denmark 2012. While the Church of Sweden in 2009 authorized its clergy to perform same-sex the Church of Norway has so far declined to follow the government’s lead.
The executive committee’s vote has sparked dissent among clergy ranks, however. NTB reports that 50 clergy have quit the union in protest since the vote, including the former Bishop of Agder and Telemark, the Rt. Rev. Olav Skjevesland.
Central Africa says no to women priests: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Women Priests.
Tags: Fanuel Magangani
The General Synod of the Church of the Province of Central Africa has voted down a proposal by the Diocese of Harare at their 27 November to 1 December 2013 meeting in Lusaka to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood.
Bishop Fanuel Magangani of Northern Malawi told The Church of England Newspaper the motion had been put forward by Bishop Chad Gandiya of the Diocese of Harare in response to motions adopted and put forward by a number of diocesan synods.
Bishop Magangani said he voted against the motion because it was contrary to tradition. “Some of us are happy to maintain our roots without the idea of thinking that we know better than those who have gone before us over the years of the Christian faith. I believe that the Church fathers down to the Apostles taught and reserved the faith I would like to uphold. I feel satisfied with the way I received the teaching of the Church and that there is everything I need for my salvation without diluting it with my ideas.”
The motion fell short of the necessary two-thirds vote in the House of Laity with 14 yes and 10 no votes, but was defeated in the House of Clergy, seven yes to 21 no, and in the House of Bishops six yes and nine no.
Chester priest pleads guilty to child porn charges: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chester, Ian Hughes
A Merseyside vicar has plead guilty in the Liverpool Crown Court to 16 counts of possessing child pornography.
On 3 Jan 2014 the Rev. Ian Hughes, (46) former priest in charge of St. Luke’s Poulton and St. Paul’s Seacombe in Wirral in the Diocese of Chester admitted to possessing over 8000 images and films depicting child pornography and bestiality. Following his arrest on 22 May 2013 the Diocese of Chester suspended Hughes from his benefice and he was stood down as governor of the Wallasey School Park Primary.
Judge David Aubrey QC adjourned sentencing until 28 January 2014 pending the submission of a pre-sentencing report. However he told Hughes he could face imprisonment as “all sentencing options were open to the court.”
Eastbourne priest arrested on child abuse charges: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Jonathan Graves
A priest of the Diocese of Chichester was arrested by police last month on suspicion of having sexually abused a 12 year old boy in 1988. On 3 Dec 2013 the 56 year old man, identified as the Rev. Jonathan Graves by the BBC ,was arrested at his home in Eastbourne by Sussex Police and held on “suspicion of acts of indecency, indecent assault and cruelty against a boy known to him”.
Mr. Graves, who currently does not have permission to officiate in the diocese, was released on bail and ordered to appear before a magistrate in April.
The allegations of abuse were referred to detectives following the 2011 review of diocesan records conducted by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss. Sussex Police stated the Diocese of Chichester were “co-operating fully” with the investigations, and further noted there were “currently no allegations of recent or current offending.”
Tags: Geoffrey Hammond, Society of St John the Evangelist
The former chief executive of the Fellowship of St John Trust has pled guilty to theft. On 9 January 2014 Geoffrey Hammond was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by the Southwark Crown Court for stealing £99,493 between May 2012 and August 2013 while serving as the trust’s executive officer.
An internal audit found a substantial shortfall in the trust’s accounts last summer. When confronted Hammond admitted the theft. He was dismissed from his post on 5 Aug 2013 and the matter turned over to the police.
The Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) was an Anglican religious order founded in 1866 at Cowley, Oxford, England, by Father Richard Meux Benson, and was the first permanent religious community for men established in the Anglican Communion since the Reformation.
In the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries the society expanded to America, Canada, Scotland, India, South Africa and Japan. It maintained a presence on Marston Street, Oxford from 1868 to 1980 and in 1905 opened St Edward’s House in Westminster. While the SSJE remains active in the United States, in 2012 the order was dissolved and Edward’s House sold.
Proceeds from the sale were placed with the Fellowship of St John Trust fund trust fund for care of retired members of the society in England.
A former Labour Councilor for the Higham Hill Ward of Waltham Forest, Hammond stated he took the money to meet his debts. The trust has recovered all of the money stolen.
Tags: Diocese of Lucknow, Morris Edgar Dan
The Church of North India has deposed the Bishop in Lucknow. Police also arrested Bishop Morris Edgar Dan on 15 December 2013 after the Allahabad High Court revoked the bishop’s bail on charges of forgery and fraud.
CNI general secretary Alwan Masih told The Church of England Newspaper Bishop Dan had “duly terminated by the executive committee of the CNI synod as of 25 November 2013” following an investigation into charges the bishop had sold church lands at below market prices to a syndicate which then resold the property, giving the bishop a kick back of the profits.
Shabnam Dan, the daughter of Bishop Dan, told CEN her father had been “framed”. She accused an influential businessman with orchestrating a campaign to ruin her father after he refused to cooperate in a plan to defraud the diocese. The criminal case continues.
Akinola kidnapped: The Church of England Newspaper, January 10, 2014 January 16, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Crime.
Tags: Peter Akinola
Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola was kidnapped on Christmas Eve by armed gunmen on Christmas Eve, but was released unharmed after he refused to pay a ransom.
At approximately 3:00 pm on 24 December 2013, the former Primate of All Nigeria was “carjacked” outside of the offices of the Peter Akinola Foundation Centre for Youth Industrial Training in Abeokuta, the capital of Western Nigeria’s Ogun State. Shortly after his driver pulled onto the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, a car carrying four gunmen cut off the archbishop’s Toyota Primera and fired pistols into the air.
Their car was forced to the roadside and the gun forced the archbishop and his driver to lie face down on the floor of the back seat. The car was driven west towards Nigeria’s border with Benin while the bandit who held the archbishop at gunpoint demanded a ransom payment. Archbishop Akinola told the bandits he was a retired clergyman and had not the means to pay ransom.
The kidnappers stopped in a deserted area near the Benin border and after stripping the archbishop and his driver of their clothes, released them into the bush unharmed.
In a Christmas Day interview with the Premium Times, Archbishop Akinola said after he wa released, he made his way through the bush to a road where he “saw a police vehicle coming and there were gunshots, and the police team later came to rescue me from the spot.”
The archbishop had high praise for the police and for Ogun Governor Ibikunle Amosun. “I have to praise them, and I appreciate the governor who left his work to the bush looking for us. It’s unprecedented for a governor to personally lead a team into the bush. He risked his life and yet he didn’t mind that. I’ am deeply touched and impressed,” he said.
Tags: Steven Lopes, The Portal
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has defined the essentials of Anglicanism that may be kept by converts entering the Anglican Ordinariate of the Catholic Church.
In an interview published in the December issue of The Portal, Msg. Steven Lopes of the CDF said the Vatican’s “working definition” of “Anglican patrimony” was “that which has nourished the Catholic Faith, within the Anglican tradition during the time of ecclesiastical separation, and has given rise to this new desire for full communion.”
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer will not be the sole source. The “Anglican liturgical patrimony is not just 1549 or 1662, nor is it just 1928 or 1976. We can’t go back to a specific period and say ‘this is it’, but you have to look at the whole Anglican experience to see how that faith was nourished’,” Mgr Lopes said.
In October 2013, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – the English branch of the Ordinariate — launched a new Mass text which included passages from Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer.
Tags: Otis Charles
The Episcopal Church’s first “out” gay bishop has died. The Rt. Rev. E. Otis Charles, retired Bishop of Utah and former Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., died on 26 December 2013 at a hospice in San Francisco. He was 87.
Ordained in 1951, Bishop Charles was elected Bishop of Utah in 1971 and held the post until his retirement in 1986. He served as Bishop of Navajoland for two years before accepting the post of Dean and President of EDS, retiring a second time in 1993.
A father of five, Bishop Charles told his wife he was gay in 1976. Upon his retirement from EDS he informed the House of Bishops of his sexual orientation and announced he and his wife Elvira were divorcing. In 1995 Bishop Charles wrote Breaking the Silence: Out in the Work Place, stating his support for changing church teaching on the morality of homosexual relations. In 2008 Bishop Charles took part in a civil same-sex marriage to his partner Felipe Sanchez-Paris, who predeceased him.
He remained an active member of the House of Bishops in retirement and took up residence in San Francisco, where he served as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of California.
Francis the homophile: Get Religion, January 3, 2014 January 6, 2014Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Independent, Pope Francis, The Advocate, Time
With but a few exceptions, the “Francis is nicer than Benedict” meme continues to entrance the Anglophone press.
It appears that many who were once hostile to the Catholic Church have been encouraged to see in the new pontiff a reflection of their own social and political desires. Some of these assertions about what the pope believes and what he will do as head of the Catholic Church have bordered on the fantastic.
In choosing the pope as its “person of the year”, Time magazine’s editor Nancy Gibb wrote Francis had:
done something remarkable: he has not changed the words, but he’s changed the music.
The new pope was a kinder, gentler man, Time believed, who had rejected “church dogma.” He was teaching a softer, more inclusive Catholicism, noting his:
focus on compassion, along with a general aura of merriment not always associated with princes of the church, has made Francis something of a rock star.
This is rather mild compared to some liberal paeans to the pontiff. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Freedland quipped “Francis could replace Obama as the pin-up on every liberal and leftist wall.”
When the gay-lifestyle magazine, The Advocate, named Francis its “person of the year”, it explained its choice by stating:
Pope Francis’s stark change in rhetoric from his two predecessors — both who were at one time or another among The Advocate‘s annual Phobie Awards — makes what he’s done in 2013 all the more daring. First there’s Pope John Paul II, who gay rights activists protested during a highly publicized visit to the United States in 1987 because of what had become known as the “Rat Letter” — an unprecedented damning of homosexuality as “intrinsically evil.” It was written by one of his cardinals, Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI. Since 1978, one of those two men had commanded the influence of the Vatican — until this year. …
The Advocate saw in Francis the potential for change in church teaching.
Francis’s view on how the Catholic Church should approach LGBT people was best explained in his own words during an in-depth interview with America magazine in September. He recalled, “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”
While these stories have focused on Francis in the context of feature or “people” stories, the meme has also made its way into straight news reporting. A story in Saturday’s Independent illustrates the Francis effect on reporters. “Pope Francis tripled crowds at Vatican during 2013″ should have been a straightforward story. It begins with:
Pope Francis attracted over 6.6 million viewers to his audiences, Masses and other events in Vatican City in 2013. Since being elected for the position in March, the first Jesuit Pope attracted almost triple the number of visitors that gathered to watch former Pope Benedict XVI speak at Vatican City in the whole of 2012.
The story shifts as it then notes Francis had been named by Time and The Advocate as their “person of the year” with a quote used as a segue to what it sees as the pope’s contradictory statements on homosexuality.
However, his track-record as a champion for gay rights in the Catholic Church was marred after he apparently expressed “shock” at gay adoption in December 2013. The Bishop of Malta alleged that Pope Francis gave him his blessing to “speak out” against the Maltese Civil Unions Bill that aims to legalise gay adoption, in his Christmas Sermon.
The first half of the story prompts me to ask, so what? What does the rise in visitors to St Peter’s Square mean? Is this a gauge for something, if so what? What happened to the number of visitors to St Peter’s when Benedict became pope? Why is this news, and not a “fun fact”?
Should we assume, as The Independent does, that the changing tone on homosexuality has prompted a rise in the number of visitors to the Vatican? The Independent may think this to be the case, but from where does the evidence or authority for this assertion arise?
The second half of the story is bizarre. The Independent assumes Francis is a “champion for gay rights”. What does that mean? Is he pushing for a change in doctrine or discipline? When did this happen? Or has The Independent confused style with substance?
The two parts to this piece, short as it is, do not hang together as a news story. There is no context, no balance, no sourcing to this piece. Though presented as a news story, it is an editorial making the argument that the church should get with the times and ditch its old fashioned teachings on human sexuality — “See how the people flock to Francis because he is a champion of gay rights!”
Should any news story make the assumptions The Independent makes about Pope Francis? Not if they want to practice quality journalism. It has confused fantasy with reality.
First printed in Get Religion.
Tags: Brian McLaren, Ed Stetzer, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Richard John Neuhaus, Summorum Pontificum, Washington Post
Basil Fawlty: Can’t we get you on Mastermind, Sybil? Next contestant: Mrs. Sybil Fawlty from Torquay. Specialist subject – the bleeding obvious.
Fawlty Towers: Basil the Rat (#2.6)” (1979)
The Washington Post reports some progressive Christians are unsatisfied with contemporary worship and are seeking more traditional ways to do church.
The article “Americans turning to ancient music, practices to experience their faith” highlights the sense of incompleteness, of liturgical inadequacy felt by some Christians this Christmas.
In our of-the-minute culture, Santa seems old-fashioned. But Christians are exploring far older ways of observing the holiday.
In the living room this week along with the pile of presents, there’s more likely to be a wreath or calendar marking Advent, the month leading up to Christmas that symbolizes the waiting period before Jesus’s birth. Christmas services largely dominated by contemporary music are mixing in centuries-old chants and other a cappella sounds. Holiday sermons on topics such as prayer, meditation and finding a way to observe the Sabbath are becoming more common.
These early — some use the term “ancient” — spiritual practices are an effort to bring what feels to some like greater authenticity to perhaps the most thoroughly commercialized of religious holidays, say pastors, religious music experts and other worship-watchers.
I find this article problematic. On the surface a reader unacquainted with this topic might assume this is a balanced story reporting on a new trend in American religion.
It offers vignettes that illustrate the phenomena and offers four voices to flesh out the story: Ed Stetzer, Brian McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber and a “man in the street,” or more precisely a lay Catholic woman from suburban Washington. A knowledgeable Washington Post reader might know that one of these voices is conservative: Stetzer, while McLaren and Bolz-Weber are progressive Christians.
As an aside, why does the Post omit “the Rev” before the names of the three clergy on first mention? And, is Brian McLaren an Evangelical? Is that the label he gives to himself, or is it a descriptor given him by the Post? But that is a battle for another day.
Adding Stetzer into the mix to balance McLaren and Bolz-Weber gives the impression of balance, and the pithy quotes offered by the three would lead one to believe that a cultural-religious trend is emerging in American religious life.
My concern is that this trend is about 175 years old. The article is written from a perspective that the progressive wing of the old main line churches is the fulcrum around which American religious life pivots.
“Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail” is an article that has been written several hundred times over the past fifty years, reporting on Christians from non-liturgical traditions entering the Episcopal Church due to its liturgy.
Episcopalians and other Protestants have been entering the Catholic Church since the time of John Henry Newman in large part because of a belief in the inadequacies of their tradition measured against the doctrine, discipline and worship of Rome.
And the Orthodox Churches in America over the past twenty five years have seen an influx of ex-Protestants who are drawn to that tradition’s “ancient” liturgies and spiritual vigor.
All of what the Post describes about the dissatisfaction some are finding in their “seeker” friendly churches has been reported for decades.
Nor is this a phenomena of movement between faith traditions. Renewing the Catholic Church through the reform of its liturgy was one of, if not the greatest achievement of the papacy of Benedict XVI (from this Episcopalian’s perspective).
When he issued his Summorum Pontificum , allowing the older form of Mass t0 be used once more, Benedict restored to the church the liturgy that had shaped that church’s life for centuries — words that shaped Catholic culture, informed its teaching, instructed its arts and nourished its saints (and even a few sinners).
In a 2006 interview with Zenit, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus spoke of the necessity of reforming modern Catholic worship:
Q: A major theme in your book is the importance of a revitalized liturgy for renewing Catholic life. How do you see that occurring?
Father Neuhaus: Don’t get me started. The banality of liturgical texts, the unsingability of music that is deservedly unsung, the hackneyed New American Bible prescribed for use in the lectionary, the stripped-down architecture devoted to absence rather than Presence, the homiletical shoddiness.
Where to begin? A “high church” Lutheran or Anglican – and I was the former – braces himself upon becoming a Catholic.
The heart of what went wrong, however, and the real need for a “reform of the reform” lies in the fatal misstep of constructing the liturgical action around our putatively amazing selves rather than around the surpassing wonder of what Christ is doing in the Eucharist.
The battle over liturgy and the aesthetics of worship recounted by Fr. Neuhaus is a live topic in many denominations. But there is so much more to this than the latest liturgical spats.
Carved above the entrance way to a theological college I once attended was the phrase: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. The phrase is often expanded to Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Lex Vivendi and interpreted to mean: “As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live.” Worship reveals what we believe. It is who we are. It is the foundation of our Christian identity.
In an April 15, 2010 address to the Catholic bishops of Brazil gathered in Rome, Benedict said:
Worship, however, cannot come from our imagination: that would be a cry in the darkness or mere self-affirmation. True liturgy supposes that God responds and shows us how we can adore Him. … The Church lives in His presence and its reason for being and existing is to expand His presence in the world.
What the Post has picked up round the beltway — what Benedict told the Brazilian bishops — what Anglicans are seeking to find through the Book of Common Prayer, is the divine presence.
Was the Washington Post unaware of the wider context of liturgical renewal and reform? Or is its worldview so narrow that it cannot see anything? Have they only just now discovered, as Basil Fawlty would say, the “bleeding obvious” about liturgy and church life?
First printed in Get Religion.
Time’s betrayal of liberalism: Get Religion, December 23, 2013 January 5, 2014Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Press criticism.
Tags: India, Julia Duin, Lionel Trilling, sodomy laws, Time Magazine
Time magazine’s exercise in gay agitprop was the focus of Thursday’s Get Religion’s Crossroads podcast. This extraordinarily unprofessional and illiberal article violated just about all of the standards of professional journalism — without resorting to alliteration, I enumerated its failings in my story “Time takes sides in India’s sex wars” as:
unbalanced, excessive adjectives and adverbs, open support of one side of an argument, short of key facts, lacking context, and stylistically flat.
But Lutheran Public Radio’s Todd Wilken and I are likely to disappoint our audience as we did not discuss the underlying issue: decriminalizing same-sex carnal relations in India. We kept the focus of our discussion on journalism and political theory. I grant you a discussion of the importance of Lionel Trilling’s The Liberal Imagination to modern reporting will not set the SEO world aflame as would a talk about the moral rights and wrongs of sodomy, but for those who value journalism and its importance to culture — this is hot stuff.
Julia Duin – one of the stars of the religion beat at Washington Times for many years and now a professor of journalism — commented on the original post that the Time story would not have seen the light of day at the Washington Times. “It’s so depressing to see this” sort of story in a quality publication, she wrote.
When I wrote for the Washington Times -a much more conservative place – reporters were not allowed to put their opinion into their work. Seems like the bias only leans one way. This for reporters, mind you, not for columnists. I see liberal reporters scoffing at conservative values. I never see the opposite.
Is this merely an ideological fracas? Am I throwing around words like “agitprop” out of political pique? Why is this bad reporting?
American journalism is founded upon a methodology best articulated by the German historian Leopold von Ranke. It is a scientific objective worldview that sees the task of the journalist (like the historian) to report what actually happened (wie es eigentlich gewesen). In this school of writing, the journalist must set aside his own views and present a story on its own terms, to establish what the facts are and let the facts dictate the story. In the Time piece we see ideology dictate the story.
Trilling called upon liberalism to examine its own pieties and commonplaces — good journalism does this too.
First printed in Get Religion.
Time takes sides in India’s sex wars: Get Religion, December 13, 2013 December 13, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Press criticism.
Tags: India, Lionel Trilling, Pauline Kael, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, sodomy laws, The Hindu, Time Magazine
Time magazine reports India’s Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the nation’s colonial era “sodomy laws”, ruling there is no “right” under the constitution to same-sex carnal relations. The court ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code could be repealed but only by the legislature not judicial fiat.
Time is not too happy about this. The magazine’s editorial voice can be heard through out “Homosexuality is Criminal Again as India’s Top Court Reinstates Ban”. The lede states:
In a surprise move, India’s top court on Wednesday reversed a landmark judgment by a lower court decriminalizing homosexuality in the country. The court said that the law regarding homosexuality could only be changed by the government. “The legislature must consider deleting this provision (Section 377) from law as per the recommendations of the attorney general,” Justice GS Singhvi, the head of the two-judge Supreme Court bench said in Wednesday’s ruling.
In 2009, the Delhi High Court had overturned an archaic colonial law (section 377 of the Indian Penal Code) that made gay sex an offense punishable by up to life imprisonment. Wednesday’s decision shocked many because while anticipation was high not many expected India’s top court, which in the past upheld many progressive rights judgments often going against the government and popular discourse, to revoke such a forward looking judgment.
“Archaic” is also used in the subheading of the story to describe the law. The commentary in the second sentence of this paragraph is not quite accurate. The Attorney General of India had argued in favor of overturning the law — there is a hint of this in the quote from the court’s ruling, but nothing further.
The Hindu, one of India’s leading daily newspapers, noted the attorney general called the sodomy law a British import.
Mr. Vahanvati had said “the introduction of Section 377 in the IPC was not a reflection of existing Indian values and traditions, rather it was imposed upon Indian society by the colonisers due to their moral values. The Indian society prevalent before the enactment of the IPC had a much greater tolerance for homosexuality than its British counterpart, which at this time under the influence of Victorian morality and values in regard to family and the procreative nature of sex.”
Time makes its views clear in this paragraph.
While activists vow to challenge the ruling, the decision to decriminalize homosexuality is now in the hands of New Delhi. And while the good news is that the government has recently changed its position on the issue, arguing for it in the court pointing out that the anti-gay law in the country was archaic and that Indian society has grown more tolerant towards homosexuality, the bad news is that the country is heading for general polls in a few months and a much embattled coalition government is striving hard to retain power. It is thus highly unlikely that gay rights will take center stage in Indian Parliament any time soon.
“Good news”? That does cross the line dividing news and commentary.
There is also a lack of balance. Time quotes the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, a “veteran LGBT activist” and other “[s]tunned LGBT activists”, but offers no voices in support of the decision, or an explanation of the legal principles offered by the court in its decision.
What then is going on in this story? Was there a breakdown in Time’s back office that permitted an ill-written story barely distinguishable from a press release making it through the editorial process?
It is not as if no voices in support of maintaining the law are present. When the Delhi court struck down the law in 2009, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian leaders held a joint press conference denouncing the decision. Times‘ argument that a general election campaign will see this issue disappear from the public eye due to its unpopularity implies politicians support keeping the law — and The Hindu reports some will even campaign on this point.
Is the attorney general correct in saying laws banning consensual same-sex carnal relations are un-Indian and merely a vestige of the Raj? Or does the near unanimous voice of opprobrium from India’s religions for homosexual acts and the political classes desire to campaign on this issue speak to an Indian cultural and religious aversion to gay sex?
Or, are we seeing the “new normal” of reporting on social issues? As my colleagues at Get Religion have shown, balance is not a requirement for many mainstream media outlets when reporting on social issues. Bill Keller of the New York Times has stated his paper strives to be impartial when covering politics, but does not feel this same need when reporting on social issues. As TMatt has wrote at Get Religion, Keller believes that:
When covering debates on politics, it’s crucial for Times journalists to be balanced and fair to stakeholders on both sides. But when it comes to matters of moral and social issues, Bill Keller argues that it’s only natural for scribes in the world’s most powerful newsroom to view events through what he considers a liberal, intellectual and tolerant lens.
There is nothing really new in Keller’s worldview. Sixty three years ago Lionel Trilling wrote in the preface to The Liberal Imagination “It is one of the tendencies of liberalism to simplify.”
In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation. This does not mean, of course, that there is no impulse to conservatism or to reaction. Such impulses are certainly very strong, perhaps even stronger than most of us know. But the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.
The state of American intellectual life has changed little, and I fear it has worsened. Trilling believed there should be an interplay of ideas between left and right for “it is not conducive to the real strength of liberalism that it should occupy the intellectual field alone.”
Citing John Stuart Mill’s essay on Coleridge, Trilling wrote:
Mill, at odds with Coleridge all down the intellectual and political line [wrote Trilling], nevertheless urged all liberals to become acquainted with this powerful conservative mind. He said that the power of every true partisan of liberalism should be, “Lord, enlighten thou our enemies… ; sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions and consecutiveness and clearness to their reasoning powers. We are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom: their weakness is what fills us with apprehension, not their strength.”…What Mill meant, of course, was that the intellectual pressure which an opponent like Coleridge could exert would force liberals to examine their position for its weaknesses and complacencies.
Time’s report on the court battle in India over Section 377 reflects the complacency that Trilling fought so hard, unsuccessfully, to halt in American letters. By not engaging with ideas uncongenial to its own thinking Time has become sloppy, stale and predictable — all but valueless as reporting and rather tepid, even insipid, as polemic.
Please hear what I am saying in this post — I am not discussing the merits of the court decision, but Time magazine’s reporting on the court decision. As journalism this story fails the test — unbalanced, excessive adjectives and adverbs, open support of one side of an argument, short of key facts, lacking context, and stylistically flat.
Now if the story had been presented as “liberal outrage over Indian court decision” essay or news analysis piece, my criticisms would not be as sharp. However, Time has packaged this story as a news piece. Sunk in their complacencies, Time and many other media outlets are small-minded and provincial. They serve as exemplars of the mindset ascribed to the late New Yorker movie critic Pauline Kael: “I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.”
First printed in Get Religion.
AP reports he did have sexual relations with that woman: Get Religion, December 10, 2013 December 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Associated Press, Daily Mail, Legion of Christ, Thomas Williams
“Can a bad person be a good theologian,” asked Mark Oppenheimer in the lede of an October column on the scandals surrounding John Howard Yoder. Should private failings overshadow public achievement?
This question has been asked of prominent figures ranging from T.S. Eliot to Bill Clinton to Mike Tyson. Is the aesthetic value of the Wasteland diminished by Eliot’s anti-Semitism, or the former president’s accomplishments wiped away by his claim he “did not have sexual relations with that woman”? Does biting Evander Holyfield’s ear or being convicted of rape undo sporting achievements? Will Pete Rose ever be inducted into the baseball hall of fame?
Religious leaders are held to a different standard, Oppenheimer wrote:
All of us fall short of our ideals, of course. But there is a common-sense expectation that religious professionals should try to behave as they counsel others to behave. They may not be perfect, but they should not be louts or jerks.
By that standard, few have failed as egregiously as John Howard Yoder, America’s most influential pacifist theologian. In his teaching at Notre Dame and elsewhere, and in books like “The Politics of Jesus,” published in 1972, Mr. Yoder, a Mennonite Christian, helped thousands formulate their opposition to violence. Yet, as he admitted before his death in 1997, he groped many women or pressured them to have physical contact, although never sexual intercourse.
Oppenheimer does not cast stones, but he pulls no punches in discussing Yoder’s flaws. He does not call him a hypocrite, but asks whether interpretations of his work should be colored by personal failings. This week MennoMedia, the publishing agency for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, announced it will add a disclaimer to new editions of Yoder’s books that speak to his history of sexual harassment and abuse.
These musings on celebrity right and wrong were prompted by an Associated Press article reporting on the marriage of a former Catholic priest who left the Legion of Christ under a cloud. The article begins:
Thomas Williams, the onetime public face of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order who left the priesthood after admitting he fathered a child, is getting married this weekend to the child’s mother, The Associated Press has learned. The bride is the daughter of former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers.
The second paragraph notes Glendon’s position as President of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and names his wife to be — Elizabeth Lev. It then moves back to Williams.
Williams, a moral theologian, author, lecturer and U.S. television personality, admitted last year that he had fathered a child several years earlier. At the time, Williams apologized for “this grave transgression” against his vows of celibacy and said he had stayed on as a priest because he hoped to move beyond “this sin in my past” to do good work for the church. …
Towards the end of the article the Legion of Christ scandals are recounted and Williams’ fall from grace is placed against the order’s larger problems. The article closes on a curious note, however.
The Legion said the numbers indicate that less than 1 percent of the 1,133 priests ordained in the 72-year history of the order had been found guilty by a church trial of abuse, and less than 4 percent had been abused. A Legion spokesman said he didn’t know what the percentage was for the current number of Legion priests.
One percent of priests are abusers and four percent have been the subject of abuse? And what is the unknown percentage, abusers or victims? Should “abused” in the second clause of the first sentence be “accused”, or is the AP setting the two numbers against each other?
That technical point aside, my discomfort with this story comes in the middle of the piece when it shifts style, moving from reporting to commentary.
Asked for comment Thursday, Lev confirmed the wedding plans in an email, adding: “We have no intention of ever discussing our personal life in this forum.”
She had initially denied an intimate relationship with Williams, though they frequently appeared together in American circles in Rome, particularly with visiting U.S. student and Catholic tour groups.
Their wedding closes a circle of sorts, even as it raises some uncomfortable questions: Who beyond Williams’ superior in the church knew about the child while the couple tried to cover it up? Was Williams already in a relationship with Lev when she became a regular contributor to the magazine he published? And did the family ties to Williams influence Glendon in her defense of the Legion and its disgraced founder despite credible reports that the founder was a pedophile?
Who is asking these questions? And for that matter, why the move to the “‘enquiring‘ minds want to know style”? While asking out loud these questions may titillate some readers, to me they speak to the reporter’s frustration of not being able to get past the “no comment” email.
There is no balance to this article. By that I do not mean a “yes he did, no he didn’t” exchange, but an appreciation of Williams’ work as a moral theologian. Was he a clerical hack and hypocrite, or did he produce valuable work? The article does not ask nor answer this question — leaving it the level of a “moral theologian” who was caught engaging in immoral practices.
The degree of vehemence in this piece may lead one to suspect personal animus. Why else would the AP omit the news that their child has Downs syndrome. The Daily Mail, which takes great delight in exposing the foibles of naughty clergy, found time in its piece to applaud Williams for having done the right thing in marrying the mother of his disabled child.
Yet the story the AP has reported is true. Where then is the line between a harsh but fair report and a hatchet job?
In this instance the back story of the scandals at the Legion of Christ do have a place, as does Williams’ personal fall. Yet a complete story would tell us about human failing and redemption.
There is no context in this story, only anger. Not moral outrage at a priest failing in his vows, but a cartoonish depiction of one man’s fall. There is no humanity, no decency in the tone and presentation of this story. It is a hatchet job.
First published in Get Religion
Prayers for Glasgow helicopter crash victims: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, Scottish Episcopal Church.
Tags: Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway
The Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway has offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the Clutha helicopter crash of 29 Nov 2013, when a police helicopter crashed into a pub killing at least nine and injuring 32 people
The Rt Rev. Gregor Duncan stated: “On behalf of the Episcopal Church in Glasgow and across Scotland I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to all the families of those who have lost their lives and to those who have been injured in this terrible disaster.”
Approximately 120 patrons were inside the Glasgow pub last Friday evening when a police helicopter crashed into the roof of the building. Chief Constable Stephen House said the two officers and the civilian pilot aboard the chopper were killed, along with six people on the ground.
“We can now confirm that the number of fatalities involved in this incident has risen to eight,” the chief constable said, “fourteen people remain seriously injured in Glasgow hospitals and are being cared for by health colleagues there.”
Dr. Duncan offered thanks for the help provided to the emergency services by volunteers, offering the church’s “gratitude to the many citizens of Glasgow who have come to the help of the people caught up in this tragedy, and praise the exemplary work being done by all the emergency services and medical staff.”
“Our churches across Glasgow, and beyond, will be praying for all those affected by this tragedy and for the whole city of Glasgow,” the bishop said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Tags: Diocese of Qu’Appelle
Police have recovered the bishop of Qu’Appelle’s crosier, stolen last month from St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina, Saskatchewan.
On 18 Nov 2013 Regina police reported they had recovered the five and a half foot long staff made in the 1880s in London for the first bishop of the Canadian diocese. Valued for insurance purposes at C$15,000, the crosier sported a silver head encrusted with semi-precious stones. Police report the crosier had been damaged as the thief appeared to have attempted to pry the jewels from the staff.
The police have declined to speak to the circumstances of the crosier’s recovery, though they have asked the public to assist them with their inquiries to catch the thief.
Gov-Gen backs gay marriage/republic for Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
Tags: gay marriage, monarchy, Quentin Bryce
Governor-General Quentin Bryce has endorsed gay marriage and a republican form of government for Australia.
Appointed Australia’s first female governor-general in 2008 by then Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Mrs. Bryce, the former governor of Queensland, stated on 22 November 2013 in a lecture delivered in Sydney that she hoped Australia would become a nation were “people are free to love and marry whom they choose”.
“And where perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first head of state.”
The governor-general’s comments prompted some political leaders to call for her dismissal, while others endorsed her views.
NSW state MP David Elliott, who in 1999 led the “no republic” coalition that fought attempts to make Australia a republic and remove the Queen as head of state said: “If Quentin Bryce wants to debate policy and legislation she should run for parliament, not use her vice-regal position to pursue her own political agenda.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the Associated Press she was pleased the governor general had spoken out. “To have the governor-general step forward and say this is something Australians care about, and as the governor-general, she believes that marriage equality is a human right … it’s hugely influential across all voter groups.”
However, Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott – a staunch opponent of gay marriage a supporter of the monarchy — said he was not perturbed. “It’s more than appropriate for the governor-general approaching the end of her term to express a personal view.”
Mrs. Bryce is expected to step down in March, 2014.
“Cross does not save” says Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
Tags: Diocese of Grafton, Sara Macneil
The Diocese of Grafton has appointed Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop.
On 17 November 2013 a twelve member Nomination Board appointed by the diocesan synod selected the Rev. Dr. Sara Macneil to be the 11th bishop of the New South Wales diocese.
In a statement released on the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn website, Dr Macneil, the Senior Associate Priest at Holy Covenant in Jamison, ACT, said she was “surprised, overwhelmed, humbled” to be appointed Australia’s first female diocesan bishop.
“I am awed by the confidence placed in me by the [Grafton Diocese] appointment board and by their willingness to be trailblazers,” she said.
She told the ABC: “There’ll be lots of people for whom it’s unexpected that a woman has been elected. For some people for whom it will be unwelcome, I think there’ll be some scrutiny but there’ll also be, for a lot of people, a lot of excitement and joy.”
While women have been appointed assistant bishops in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Brisbane, none have been elected to the episcopate. While serving as Archdeacon of Canberra in 2008 she stood for election as bishop in that diocese, but was not elected.
In 2011 Dr. Macneil abruptly quit as Dean of Adelaide, telling the congregation of St. Peter’s Cathedral she was resigning as she could “no longer work with integrity at diocesan level.”A member of the liberal wing of the Australian church, Dr. Macneil rejects the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, journalist the Rev. David Ould reports, and has argued the “cross does not save” but it is “Jesus’ presence among us” that saves. The bishop-elect also has gone on record endorsing the ordination to the priesthood of candidates who are in same-sex relationships — a stance at odds with the church’s teachings.
A onetime member of the Australian diplomatic corps, Dr. Macneil declined to elaborate on the reason she was resigning less than two years after her appointment as South Australia’s first female Dean – and the first woman to be appointed to the post in an Australian capital city.
Unlike other Australian dioceses, where the choice of bishop is made by the synod, in the diocese of Grafton a 12 member committee composed of six clergy and six lay members is elected by the synod to select and then appoint the bishop.
The choice of a new bishop for Grafton fell to a 12 member committee Other women have been consecrated as assistant bishops within Australian Anglican dioceses and, overseas, women have been made diocesan bishops but this is a national first for Australia.
Dr. Macneil’s election comes at a difficult time for the diocese. Her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Keith Slater, resigned in May 2013 in the wake of an abuse scandal involving the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore.
On 18 November 2013 a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began hearings on the diocese’s conduct in the North Coast Children’s Home affair.
However, Bishop-elect Macneil stated: “In recent times the Diocese of Grafton has faced financial difficulties and is now appearing before the Royal Commission… There is a determination among the people of the diocese to understand what has gone wrong in the past, to ensure that it does not happen again and to embrace the future with hope, trusting in God.”
Tags: Australia, Roy Morgan Research Ltd
Islam is not a religion of peace in the minds of the majority of Australians, a survey conducted on behalf of the Q Society of Australia reports. The survey undertaken by Roy Morgan Research Ltd shows indicates a majority of Australians believe the assimilation of Muslim immigrants is not working as 70 per cent believe the country is not a better place because of Islam.
The survey, completed in late October, found a majority (53 per cent) of Australians want full face coverings banned from public spaces and 50.2 per cent want Islamic sharia law banned all together.
Older Australians and those who voted for the governing Liberal/National parties coalition were helding harsher views of Islam than did Green party supporters or younger voters. However, only 15 per cent of Australians think Islam and terrorism are not related, while proposals by secularist and multi-cultural advocates to cancel state Christmas, Easter or ANZAC Day celebrations in order not to offend non-Christians is endorsed by only 3.5 per cent of those surveyed.
Q Society spokesman Andrew Horwood said the poll results validate in their opinion the need for “new strategies and policies. While followers of most religions seem to get along well, Australian politicians must acknowledge Islam is not just another religion and the growing concern is not a fringe issue,” he said.
The Q Society of Australia is a civil rights advocacy group founded in 2010 whose members are “concerned about the socio-political problems associated with the rise of Islam and sharia law in Australia; as well as religiously-motivated human rights abuses against religious minorities in many OIC-member countries,” its website states.
Oxfordshire priest imprisoned for child abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Christopher Tadman-Robins
A NSM priest in the Diocese of Oxford and former magistrate has been sentenced to prison for child abuse.
On 22 Nov 2013 the Rev. Christopher Tadman-Robins (66) was sentenced to two and half years imprisonment by the Luton Crown Court after having been convicted last month of five counts of sexually abusing a ten year old girl.
Ordained in 1989 Dr. Tadman-Robins had sat as a magistrate in Witney, and had taught music. He was also the former musical director of the Northern Ballet.
While his barrister pleaded with the court for his client to be spared a term of imprisonment as no other complaints of abuse had been made, Judge Philip Bartle QC said his past good deeds would not spare him.
“Your victim was aged from 10 to 12 and you were in your 50s. The impact on her of these offences has been devastating. She has suffered untold stress and has self-harmed.”
“Your actions took away her innocence which is something from which she will never recover,” the judge said as he handed down sentence.
Following his conviction last month, the Bishop of Dorchester noted Dr Tadman-Robins had served as a non-stipendiary curate in the Burford Benefice from 1989-1992. “Since then he has held no ecclesiastical office in the Diocese of Oxford, but used to take occasional services at the invitation of the parish clergy in West Oxfordshire. His permission to officiate was withdrawn as soon as he was arrested last year.”
“Any case like this is a matter of sorrow and regret for the Church of England. We recognise that the suffering of survivors of sexual abuse is profound and long lasting. The Church of England will not tolerate abusive behaviour in its clergy or anyone else for whom we have responsibility. We take allegations of offences such as these extremely seriously and always work closely with the statutory authorities to ensure abusers are brought to justice.”
“We would expect Dr Tadman-Robins to be referred for barring and prohibited from ever holding office in the Church of England again as a result of his conviction,” Bishop Colin Fletcher said.
Tags: CBS Evening News
I am reaching back a bit into my guilt file — stories I want to cover but for one reason or another have not touched. But the recent flurry of news stories about women priests and the Catholic clergy shortage led me to pull this item out of my bag.
The CBS Evening News reported earlier this year that there is a shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the United States. This may be news to some, I suppose, but the story has been getting a bit long in the tooth. However, the news “hook” CBS used in its segment was that the church was using Anglicans to plug the gap — hence the title: “Catholic Church turns to Anglicans to fill U.S. priest shortage.”
Yes, there is a shortage of Catholic priests in the United States.
No, the shortfall is not being met by using Anglicans.
Catholic dioceses in the U.S. and Europe are importing priests from India, Africa and Asia to meet pressing pastoral needs — this story has been told hundreds of times over the past few years in the secular press. A recent example of such stories is this well written piece in Der Spiegel reporting on an Indian priest’s acculturation to Germany.
The article begins with a recitation of the problem, profiling a Milwaukee priest who has the pastoral charge of seven congregations.
Sunday is anything but a day of rest for Father Tim Kitzke. On the Sunday we followed him, the priest said Mass at three different Milwaukee churches, held a luncheon for dozens of parishioners and baptized a baby. Kitzke and one other priest are in charge of seven churches in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. There used to be a time when 14 priests covered the seven churches. “It’s not only — maybe not the old model … but it’s the old reality,” he says.
The number of Roman Catholic priests in the United States has steadily dropped from nearly 59,000 in 1975 to just under 39,000 last year. But the number of Catholics in the United States has increased by 17 million. Asked if he worries, Kitzke says, “Definitely, yes, we obviously need more priests — that goes without saying, we need more vocations.”
The segment offers facts and figures on the priest shortage and then transitions to a former Episcopal priest who joined the Catholic Church and has since been ordained a Catholic priest.
Peer’s objections to central heating overruled by church court: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Lady Margaret Baldwin, Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct
The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Chichester has overruled objections to the installation of a heating system for St. Philip’s Church in Burwash, holding the objections made by a nonegarian peer, while no doubt well intentioned, had “served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system”.
In Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct, Chancellor Mark Hill QC, noted Lady Margaret Baldwin, a prominent member of the congregation, had made formal objections to the installation of a natural gas boiler and radiators to heat the church.
The chancellor wrote he had had “some difficulty in comprehending the nature of the objection advanced by Lady Baldwin,” which had been made in a “good number” of letters written in “dense text in a small font.”
“Their content strays considerably from relevant material – they are at times contradictory and at others repetitive.
“Lady Baldwin expresses herself to be animated by ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ – a worthy objective, but an intrusive and debilitating one if the concern is misplaced or rooted in a flawed understanding of the proposals.”
Chancellor Hill said the objections by Lady Baldwin, who was well into her 90’s, centered round fears the installation of central heating would damage the organ, which had been accidentally damaged during renovations in 1962.
The parochial council had engaged an “eminently qualified” architect to oversee the project had had raised the £51,000 necessary to undertake the project through a public appeal and a loan facilitated by the Diocesan Board of Finance.
He added: “As a dispassionate observer, I am saddened that Lady Baldwin’s ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ seems to have served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system.
“It has led to further faculty fees and may have increased the overall cost for the parish. That is much to be regretted,” the judge ruled in granting the faculty.
Ban on divorced/remarried Catholics from receiving Communion reaffirmed: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Robert Zollitsch
Divorced and remarried Roman Catholics may not receive Holy Communion, the Vatican has told the German Catholic church.
In letter dated Oct 21, 2013, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller directed the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau to retract its pastoral guidelines that permitted priests to “respect” the wishes of divorced and remarried Catholics who chose to receive the Sacraments.
The new policy introduced following the retirement of Archbishop Robert Zollitsch on 17 September 2013, said if divorced and remarried Catholics had made a “responsible moral decision” to receive Communion, their consciences should be respected.
The new policy was contrary to church teaching and “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage,” Archbishop Müller wrote in his letter, published in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost on Nov 11, 2013.
However, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, told Die Tagespost Archbishop Müller’s letter was not the final word.
“The prefect of the Congregation cannot end the discussion,” Cardinal Marx said. “We will see that this is discussed further, but with what result, I do not know.”
Typhoon Haiyan rocks the Philippines: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
Tags: Typhoon Haiyan
Church aid agencies have issue a call for help following the landfall of Typhoon Haiyan in the Central Philippines.
At least 10,000 people are feared dead around the city of Tacloban, 375 miles south-east of Manila and the death toll is expected to mount sharply after communications are restored to the south-eastern province of Leyte.
The head of the Philippines Red Cross described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, renamed Yolanda in the Philippines, as “absolute pandemonium” while Philippine Consul General in London said “the world has never seen a storm like this before”. The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council stated that approximately 4.28 million people have been affected by the storm, while UNICEF reports 405,000 children are in immediate need of food and shelter.
Oenone Chadburn, Tearfund’s Head of Disaster Management, reported: ‘We’ve been in emergency communication with our partners and their networks of churches, across the Philippines, all weekend.
“Together we’re initiating emergency food distributions and our church networks are planning emergency shelter-and-blanket distributions, as well as child-focused protection work. What we need now is the money to run these,” she said.
On 11 November 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said his “heart goes out to the people there. We are all deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of lives and of the suffering of millions as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.”
“Our prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and all those who are traumatised by the disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention. We pray for those who are most vulnerable in this crisis: children separated from their parents, the sick and injured, the disabled and the elderly.”
“As a Church, we will stand beside the people of the Philippines at this devastating time, offering all we can in practical and spiritual support as the scale of the disaster unfolds,” the archbishop said.
“May the victims of this terrible storm know God’s comfort and derive strength from their faith.”
Rochester vicar suspended for 8 years for sexual misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Rochester, Paul Meier
A disciplinary tribunal has banned a Diocese of Rochester vicar from serving in the ministry of the Church of England for eight years.
In a decision handed down last week, the Rev. Paul Meier vicar of St Margaret’s Church in Horsmonden and youth missioner for the Storrington deanery in West Sussex for the Diocese of Rochester, had engaged in gross misconduct for having had an affair with an 18-year old girl.
Mr. Meier had been suspended in October 2012 from his benefice after a complaint was made that he had engaged in a sexual affair with an 18 year old girl who had attended his youth group.
The tribunal learned the 47-year old married father of two whom he had known the girl and her family for at least six years prior to the incident and that the girl was “unbalanced”.
The relationship began in 2007, the tribunal learned, and in 2008 Mr. Meier invited the girl, then 18, to move in to his family home.
Mr. Meier had “hoped for further sexual intimacy” with the girl, Judge John Lodge, the chairman of the tribunal, observed. However, in 2008 the girl’s parents had their daughter admitted to a psychiatric unit for evaluation and treatment.
Judge Lodge held: ”The complainant became mentally disturbed, as evidenced by attempts to self-harm, and she acted bizarrely.
“Mr Meier admits the complainant self-harmed and that she told him about it. Rather than cease his misconduct and provide her with the support she needed and deserved, he allowed things to continue unchanged.”
Mr. Meier’s actions were “inappropriate to the work of a clerk in Holy Orders,” the tribunal ruled, and suspended him from the ministry for eight years.
Episode 86: Anglican Unscripted, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Justin Welby
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
Episode 85: Anglican Unscripted, November 14, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Disaster Relief, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
Published on Nov 14, 2013
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
Nigerian plea to keep politics out of church: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Politics.
Tags: Emmanuel Chukwuma, Holy Ghost Adoration Camp Ground
A stampede that killed 28 people at the close of a vigil at a Catholic festival in South Eastern Nigeria has led to calls from church leaders to ban politicians from canvassing voters at church services.
Details as to the cause of the sudden rush of the crowd at the Holy Ghost Adoration Camp Ground in Anambra State remain unclear. But at approximately 6:00 am on Saturday 2 November 2013 the crowd of 100,000 began to rush towards the exits, trampling scores of worshippers and killing 28.
The National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor , urged the Anambra governor Peter Obi to launch an inquiry into the tragedy. However, the chairman of CAN in South East Nigeria, the Anglican Bishop of Enugu,the Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, said the federal government should investigate the disaster.
Leaders of the governor’s political party have called for the arrest of opposition candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, Senator Chris Ngigie saying his comments to the crowd had caused the stampede – a charge the senator has denied.
Speaking to reporters after the disaster, Bishop Chukwuma said: “It is my own duty as CAN chairman, South East to ban all politicians from attending our churches with their teams for campaigns. The church should also steer clear of partisan politics because there are different kinds of people in the church that belong to different political parties.”
“So it is wrong to come into the church and begin to talk about manifestos. It is not going to be acceptable any more because it causes commotion and disrespect for one another.
“We appeal to bishops, priests, pastors and clergymen to please avoid politicians coming to use churches as campaign arena. This does not augur well for our spiritual growth.
“We therefore urge the Federal Government to set up a probe panel to find out what actually happened because we feel very much worried. Since the state government is involved, I think there should be a neutral body for the investigation,” Bishop Chukwuma said on behalf of CAN.
GAFCON to be ‘an Anglican province’ in all but name: Church Times, October 31, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church Times, GAFCON.
THE Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) will effectively provide for Anglican traditionalists the fellowship and support that provinces give to dioceses, Dr Peter Jensen, a former Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, told the Church Times at the close of the GAFCON conference in Nairobi last week (News, 25 October).
The conference adopted by acclamation the Nairobi Commitment, pledging primatial support for an umbrella group for British traditionalists: the Anglican Mission in England. GAFCON would not legally be a province, Dr Jensen said, but “effectively, yes”.
In light of the impending release of the Pilling report, and of the expected endorsement by the Church of England’s General Synod of a Measure allowing women bishops, but offering no safeguards to those opposed to this, GAFCON decided to shift its energies from the US to the UK.
The Pilling report will not be released until later this year, but the view of many of those present at GAFCON was that, based on statements released so far, and the theological views of the Pilling panel, it would opt for rites for the pastoral blessings of gay civil partnerships.
The internal strength of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and its acceptance by most provinces of the Anglican Communion, gave GAFCON the opportunity to redeploy its energies to the UK.
The Vicar of St Martin de Gouray, Jersey, Canon Gavin Ashenden, said steps had to be taken now to prevent conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics from fragmenting into half a dozen groups, should the crisis occur. A “non-geographic” province would be an ecclesial Velcro, gathering the diaspora, he said.
Adopted on the closing day of the conference with little public dissent, the conference statement received strong support from participants. The Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd Neil Lebhar, welcomed the statement, calling it a “unity” document that would gather other Anglicans into the GAFCON fold.
The Vicar of St Matthew’s, Elburton, and chairman of Reform, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said: “It sets a clear gospel priority for GAFCON. It is designed to carry forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness. . . I’m delighted.”
A multi-national committee composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone, the US/Canada, and England produced the document from reports submitted by the nine “mini-conferences” that convened during the meeting. The committee chairman, the Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd John Guernsey, told delegates that the statement had not been pre-written, but was a product of the conference.
The conference received a draft copy of the statement last Friday, and was directed to break into national groups to offer substantive criticisms for review by the writing team. Over the course of the evening, eight revisions were produced, and the final document was presented for approval the next day.
Not all the delegates were pleased with it. The Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Revd Jack Iker, said that it showed the strength of the “Sydney contingent” at the meeting. He was “concerned” about the deletion of points that were important to Anglo-Catholics, and noted that GAFCON treated Anglo-Catholics as poor relations to the conservative Evangelical majority.
Within the English section, a debate over the degree of thanks to be given to the Archbishop of Canterbury arose. While some praised the Archbishop for his seeming endorsement of GAFCON, others were concerned about what they perceived as his indecisiveness.
The director of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello Williams, read to the group a part of Archbishop Welby’s address in the Lords on the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, arguing that his words had all but conceded the argument to those who supported gay marriage.
In the final document, words of commendation for the Archbishop became: “We appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent personal greetings via video, and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.”
A behind-the-scenes fight over language describing the ministry of women also shaped the final document. It said: “We affirm the ministries of women and their vital contribution to the life of the Church: their call to the task of evangelism, discipling, and building strong marriages, families, churches, and communities. GAFCON 2013 upholds the Bible’s teaching that men and women are equally made in the image of God . . . excercising different gifts. We recognise that we have differing views over the roles of men and women in church leadership.”
Delegates from provinces that support women in episcopal leadership, however, fought for the inclusion of language in support of women bishops. The move was blocked by the dominant Nigerian bloc (almost 500 of the 1300 delegates), in alliance with conservative Evangelicals. When the final document was offered to the conference, a Ugandan woman clergy delegate voiced a lone “No” vote.
But the Nairobi Commitment was not a “Mosaic tablet”, Dr Ashenden said. It was “a fluid document,” produced by committee in a very short time, which addressed different audiences on different levels, while seeking also to express a vision for the future.
The confusion expressed in other areas was absent when addressing the situation in England. In the “Our Priorities” section, the document said GAFCON would continue to engage in cross-border support for Anglicans whom it believed were disowned by their ecclesial structures.
It stated: “In line with the Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’s commission to take the gospel to all nations.”
The document spelled out where these cross-border actions might take place. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalised or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognised the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”
Nevertheless, none of those questioned by the Church Times would say on the record who they thought would provide episcopal oversight for the AMiE, nor how it would be structured. But many, though not all, of the English conference participants agreed that GAFCON should focus on recognising that the problem existed, and that a solution needed to be reached before the crisis fragmented traditionalist Anglicans.
First printed in The Church Times.
Missing Catholic voices in Belgium’s euthanasia debate: Get Religion, November 5, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: Associated Press, Belgium, euthanasia
Let me commend to you an excellent article on a horrible subject.
The Associated Press story “Belgium considering unprecedented law to grant euthanasia for children, dementia patients” reports on moves by the ruling Socialist Party to permit doctors to euthanize children as well as adults with dementia. This report — long at 1000 words from a wire service — offers a balanced account on the move to extend the right to die to children.
It is thorough, balanced, provides context and expert analysis to allow a reader to make up his own mind. Yet, are some voices missing? The article opens with a question:
Should children have the right to ask for their own deaths?
It lays out the issue:
In Belgium, where euthanasia is now legal for people over the age of 18, the government is considering extending it to children — something that no other country has done. The same bill would offer the right to die to adults with early dementia.
Advocates argue that euthanasia for children, with the consent of their parents, is necessary to give families an option in a desperately painful situation. But opponents have questioned whether children can reasonably decide to end their own lives. …
Belgium is already a euthanasia pioneer; it legalized the practice for adults in 2002. In the last decade, the number of reported cases per year has risen from 235 deaths in 2003 to 1,432 in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. Doctors typically give patients a powerful sedative before injecting another drug to stop their heart. …
And offers opinion from a Catholic archbishop and medical ethicists.
“It is strange that minors are considered legally incompetent in key areas, such as getting married, but might (be able) to decide to die,” Catholic Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard testified. Charles Foster, who teaches medical law and ethics at Oxford University, believes children couldn’t possibly have the capacity to make an informed decision about euthanasia since even adults struggle with the concept.
“It often happens that when people get into the circumstances they had so feared earlier, they manage to cling on all the more,” he said. “Children, like everyone else, may not be able to anticipate how much they will value their lives if they were not killed.”
There are others, though, who argue that because Belgium has already approved euthanasia for adults, it is unjust to deny it to children. “The principle of euthanasia for children sounds shocking at first, but it’s motivated by compassion and protection,” said John Harris, a professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester. “It’s unfair to provide euthanasia differentially to some citizens and not to others (children) if the need is equal.” …
The AP’s sentiments are with those opposed to euthanizing children — closing with comments by an anti-euthanasia voice that lands a solid hit on those who call for death-choice. But it nevertheless offers both sides to the story and refrains from demonizing those with whom it disagrees. For a template on how to write a story about a contested moral issue, I would offer this piece.
Yet an American reader might question the use of the expert quotes. The commentary begins with a soft quote from the Catholic archbishop and then moves into a more rigorous back and forth on the topic between medical ethicists and physicians. Why do we not hear moral arguments from religious leaders? Where are the Catholic voices? (This is Belgium. after all.)
Selecting experts to respond to an issue is one way of shading a story — setting a dope against an expert, or a zealot against a rational voice is one way a newspaper can push the story in the direction it fancies. Should we then say the AP is unconcerned with the religious element to this story? Getting the soundbite out of the way from the archbishop before bringing in the important voices? Or, was there no faith voice comparable in stature to the ethicists and physicians available to speak?
There may be some of that present, but my sense is that the use of ethicists to discuss the issue rather than moral theologians reflects the state of the debate in a post-Christian society like Belgium. European anti-clericalism, the growing power of secularism coupled with the abuse scandals has driven the Catholic Church out of the public square in some parts of Europe.
A well-rounded Anglo-American or even French newspaper account of the debate on this issue would include faith voices. Not so in Belgium, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries or Germany where faith voices are heard less and less in the public square.The intellectual and political culture of those countries holds to the privatization of religion that does not welcome its insights into debates on public morality.
By including faith voices in moral debates in the Anglo-American press, are we privileging religion? Or are we giving it is fair place in the debate? Is the expected faith voice a political or intellectual choice? By that I mean do we hear from the Catholic churchman, Rabbi, or Protestant theologian because of the position accorded them by society — or because of the strength of their arguments?
As a journalistic issue, should we expect to hear religious voices opine on moral topics in irreligious societies?
Gafcon fears a fire over England: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Anglican Mission in England, Gavin Ashenden, John Guernsey, Pilling Report, Rod Thomas
The fear of fragmentation over the Pilling report and women bishops has led the 2nd Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) to adopt a statement pledging its members support to traditionalist evangelical and Anglo-Catholic members of the Church of England.
The Nairobi statement was adopted by the meeting on 26 October 2013 by acclamation, with only slight — but significant “no” voices raised. The Rev. Rod Thomas, vicar of St Matthew’s Elburton, Plymouth and chairman of Reform told The Church of England Newspaper he was very pleased. Mr. Thomas, a member of the writing committee that produced the document said “it sets a clear Gospel priority for Gafcon. It is designed to cary forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness … I’m delighted.”
The Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden,Vicar of St Martin de Gouray on Jersey, cautioned the document should not be read as a “Mosaic tablet. It is a fluid document” he explained that it was a multi-layered document written by committee for different audiences. However, the core principles enunciated were a reaffirmation for the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration and a shift of focus away from America to the U.K, he explained.
The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic of the Anglican Church in North America and chairman of the writing team, told delegates the text was not written before the meeting, but arose from its proceedings. After the opening plenary sessions, conference participants broke into “mini-conferences” that addressed topical issues facing Anglicans. Gafcon 2 boasted no invited speakers, with all of the presentations and mini-conferences presented by delegates.
Each delegate participated in a single session over the course of the conference, choosing in his registration his group: The Challenge of Islam, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Marriage and Family, Children and Youth, Gospel and Culture, Being Women of God, Aid and Development, Theological Education, and Episcopal Ministry. Over the 11 hours of sessions, that were structured as seminars to allow each participant voice in the deliberations, the mini-conferences produced several hundred recommendations for issues and items to be included in a final statement.
A draft document was presented to a plenary session of the conference on 25 October 2013. Gafcon general secretary Dr. Peter Jensen and Bishop Guernsey asked the conference to break into national or regional groups to offer substantive corrections and criticisms for review by the writing committee, which was composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone of South America, US/Canada and England. Eight drafts were needed to produce the final document from the several hundred submissions, and the final four page document was presented in the closing session of the meeting.
Divided into two sections — an extended preamble and the Nairobi Commitment — the document began with a recital of the highlights of the conference and a history of the formation of the Gafcon movement, now identified as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA). The document thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury as “he gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.’
It reaffirmed the GFCA’s evangelical theological principles and restated its denunciation of homosexual practices, affirmed the principle movements within the GFCA: Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics, and recounted its support for the formation of the Anglican Church in North America.
The document went on to reaffirm its self-understanding as a fellowship of Anglicans, but noted at this stage in its life it needed to create institutional structures to support its work, asking delegates to provide funds for a staff and central/regional offices.
In the section entitled “Our Priorities” the document spoke to the core issues facing Gafcon and announced that it would provide support for embattled Anglicans whose provinces or dioceses had disowned them, or made their lives intolerable. Yet, the willy-nilly cross-border interventions of the past ten-years, which had been condemned in the Windsor Report, were ruled out. Future crossings of ecclesiastical boundaries by the Gafcon members would be taken only after the Gafcon Primates council came to a consensus on the need.
“Supporting genuine gospel initiatives, recognising that there are times when the maintenance of structures can constrain the proclamation of the gospel. In line with The Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to all nations.”
Other priorities enunciated by the document included deepening “discipleship” as Christians, to the exclusion of “national, ethnic or tribal attachments.” Combatting the pernicious influence of secularism on the doctrines and discipline of the church, responding to the challenges of militant Islam and “work for the protection of the environment and the economic empowerment of those who are deprived of resources.”
These principles were then enunciated in the Nairobi Commitment, which included a specific pledge of support to traditionalists in the Church of England. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”
It was his hope that Gafcon would become a “non-geographic province”, Canon Ashenden said. “Not legally, but spirituality, psychologically” supporting clergy and laity marginalized by the existing order, he said.
Steps had to be taken now, he explained, so that if there was a crack up within the church over recommendations from the Pilling Report to provide pastoral rites for the blessing of gay civil partnerships, and when Synod endorsed the appointment of women bishops but declined to offer enforceable safeguards to those who could not accept this innovation, there would be one place to gather the diaspora.
While covering a vast amount of ground, the Nairobi Commitment was a clear call to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England. “Bishops have to decide,” Canon Ashenden said.between “Biblical orthodoxy” and the spirit of the age. “You must choose,” he said.
West Indian economic crash prompts episcopal calls for thrift: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Development/Economics/Govt Finances.
Tags: Diocese of Barbados, John Holder
An economic downturn and political turmoil in Barbados has prompted the Archbishop of the West Indies to challenge his countrymen to practice thrift and self-reliance. The Most Rev. John Holder has also tasked political leaders to set aside their political wrangling and work together to pull Barbados and the West Indies out of a protracted economic slump.
Last week the island’s Central Bank reported sharply lower foreign exchange reserves and a down turn in overseas investment, while economic growth was projected to be less than 1 per cent for the coming fiscal year. Last month the IMF forecast no grown for 2013 and 2014 for Barbados — marking it as one of the most sluggish economies in the hemisphere.
On 23 October 2013 Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler survived a no-confidence motion by a vote of 15-14. The Barbados Labour Party had charged the government with incompetence in managing the country’s fiscal affairs.
In response, Archbishop John Holder, the Bishop of Barbados, released a statement on 26 October with the church’s Advocacy and Social Justice Commission urging Barbadians to “use the coping and creative skills we have to ride out the recession and lay the groundwork for an economic rebound.”
“Barbadians of earlier times fought against the odds and laid the foundation for the quality of life we now enjoy,” the archbishop said, adding: “We are proud inheritors of such a spirit of fortitude and resilience, and we must show that we are capable of peacefully getting past the present economic setbacks and building a more prosperous and just nation.”
“We do have some control over our destiny. What we must not do is to throw up our hands in despair and just wait for the IMF’s dire forecast to be realised. Rather, we should use the unfavourable assessment as motivation to redouble our efforts to prove the predictions wrong.”
While crying up thrift for the people, the archbishop also challenged the government to institute social and economic reforms. “We must re-examine our systems and structures, and work to ensure that those Barbadians who consider themselves to be marginalised are given the opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits of a prosperous Barbados,” the statement said.
Politicians needed to do their part as well. “Leaders need to tone down the rhetoric and refrain from saying or doing anything which creates anxiety and despair. Instead, they should work together to find solutions to the problems which our nation faces. One up-manship and selfish actions will only serve to fracture the society at a time when unity is required,” the paper said.
Tags: Diocese of Qu’Appelle
Thieves have stolen the bishop of Qu’Appelle’s crozier from St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina.
The Diocese of Qu’Appelle reports that sometime in the last three weeks the antique bishop’s staff disappeared from the Saskatchewan cathedral. The police have been notified and local pawns shops informed of the theft.
The five and a half foot long staff was made in the 1880′s in London for the first bishop of the Canadian diocese and has a silver head encrusted with semi-precious stones. The Very Rev. Mike Sinclair, Dean of Qu’Appelle told the Regina Leader-Post the insurance value of the crozier was approximately C$15,000, but it was historical value made it irreplaciable for the diocese.
“It’s nearly impossible to sell,” he said, encouraging the thief to return the crozier.
“We’d love to have it back; it’s part of our family history, but at the same time we’re concerned for who has stolen it, that they don’t end up with more trouble than they need, when it would just be easy to return it.,” the dean said.
Anglican Unscripted Episode 84 – Gafcon Edition: November 3, 2013 November 3, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, GAFCON.
Published on Nov 3, 2013
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
This weeks show is everything you wanted to know about GAFCON I, II, and III but were afraid to ask.
Anglican Unscripted: October 5, 2013 November 2, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON.
Published on Oct 5, 2013
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
Why did Time fabricate a quote?: Get Religion, October 31, 2013 October 31, 2013Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Politics.
Tags: Air Force Academy, Jean-François Lyotard, nihilism, Time
“Jerry, just remember. It’s not a lie if you believe it.” George Costanza, “The Beard”, Seinfeld, Episode 102, 9 Feb 1995.
Time Magazine‘s “Swampland” blog appears to have fabricated a quote in its story about the revision of the Air Force Academy’s honor code. While one may well assume mistake or malice lay behind the creation of a quote, there is the suggestion of deeper purpose.
In reporting on the contretemps over the Academy’s honor code, Time might well have been making a statement on the purposelessness of honor codes in general. Could it be asking the philosophical question: “What is truth?” — offering an answer drawn from deconstructionism that posits that truth exists only in the eye of the beholder?
Follow me through this tale and tell me if you see what I see.
When published on 28 October 2013 the article entitled “On a Wing, But Not On a Prayer” the article began:
While there may be no atheists in foxholes, the Air Force Academy has decided there will be no mandatory God in the heavens. The academy — at 7.258 feet above sea level, the closest of all the nation’s military schools to God’s realm — has long had a reputation as the most Christian of the nation’s military learning institutions. But the Colorado Springs, Colo., academy has decided to make the “so help me God” coda to its cadet oath optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (not surprisingly, the Christian Fighter Pilot group denounced what it calls a “dramatic change” on its website).
The version that appears on Time‘s website as of 30 October 2013 is slightly different. The subordinate clause contained in the parentheses in the concluding sentence is absent. Perhaps this is due to the Christian Fighter Pilot group not having said what Time claims it said.
The Christian Fighter Pilot website noted:
After pointing out that this website did not “denounce” the decision (in fact, quite the opposite) and that the “dramatic change” comment was clearly facetious, [Time] deleted the reference.
Time corrected but did not note its error in the story. But the question how, or why, the error occurred remains. The Christian Fighter Pilot website suggested:
Given that [Time] clearly didn’t read the article, one wonders how he came to the conclusion that it was ”not surprising.” It’s almost as if he has preconceived notions about Christians in the military.
That is certainly a possibility. It may well be that Time read the blog, but misunderstood what it read. Given the need for speed in preparing internet stories, misreading a source will happen. Or, the author relied upon information passed to him by a person whom he trusted — a form of the “hat tip” [h/t] some bloggers use in citing the source of information in their posts (usually with attribution to the source), but often not confirming its veracity. Mistake rather than malice explains most sins.
The suggestion of bias raised by the Christian Fighter Pilot, however, finds support in the tone of the Time piece. On first reading I thought the Time piece somewhat heavy-handed in its approach to the story — “closest” to God, “no mandatory” God. To my ears these attempts at wit rang a false note. A wan smile was all that they elicited from me — juvenile, but not dreadful.
But other possibilities soon emerged.
The article stated:
The academy’s original honor code dates to 1959 and reads:
We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.
But it was modified following a 1984 cheating scandal to read:
We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.
The phrase “so help me God” was tacked on “to add more seriousness to the oath,” according to a former faculty member. Apparently, there was a subset of Air Force cadets who would cheat absent God as a wingman.
If you read this honor code extract against the knowledge the Time story violated such an oath when it fabricated the Christian Fighter Pilot quote, its cleverness is apparent. By using the ironic device of making a false statement in reporting on a code of conduct that condemns false statements, Time might well have been playing a language-game of the moral efficacy of honor codes. Why else would it suggest that morality is conditional?
Does not Time write: “There was a subset of Air Force cadets who would cheat absent God as a wingman” ? E.g., bad actions are not sinful in and of themselves. Lies are wrong when they are discovered to be lies, not before. And who has the authority to determine what is truth?
Time appears to be arguing for a post-modernist view of truth based not on Jacques Derrida’s deconstructionism, but on Jean-François Lyotard ‘s arguments that truth is inseparable from the age and system to which it belongs.
In lieu of meta-narratives we have created new language-games in order to legitimize our claims which rely on changing relationships and mutable truths, none of which is privileged over the other to speak to ultimate truth. [Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition, 1994]
Or, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Is Time making the argument that as it believes the Christian Fighter Pilot would have denounced the revision of the honor code oath in view of Time’s opinion o the Christian Fighter Pilot’s thinking, that fact that it did not denounce it is irrelevant? Did not CBS follow this line in what is now called the Dan Rather theory of journalism? “Fake but accurate“?
Or perhaps I have spent too much time on airplanes of late? There comes a time when to every man’s mind when the breaking point is reached when listening to Europop. What say you Get Religion readers? Is a cigar sometimes just a cigar?; “fake but accurate”; a mistake, what?
First printed in Get Religion.
With little fanfare, and no debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has adopted the Anglican Covenant.
Meeting in Benoni, a town outside Johannesburg, the synod adopted a second reading of the covenant, which it had affirmed in 2010.
The motion was introduced by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba of South Africa and seconded by the Dean of the Province, the Rt. Rev. Rubin Philip, Bishop of Natal.
Bishop Philip told the synod the covenant would not change the existing synodical structures of the communion, but quoting from the document said “we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ.”
The proposed motion asked the synod to note its adoption of the covenant in 2010 and to “confirm” it. It recommitted the ACSA “to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And reaffirmed the synod’s “belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant” which called upon the communion “to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ.”
The motion was adopted without dissent.
Encouragement for Gafcon from Archbishop Welby: The Church of England Newspaper, October 25, 2013 October 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury offered his encouragement to the Gafcon conference in Nairobi this week, but stopped short of offering the endorsement of his office to the global Anglican renewal movement.
Speaking at two services on 20 October 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the Most Rev. Justin Welby offered his vision of a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” Anglican Communion that pursued a deliberate programme of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”
He also stated the “colonial structures” of the past that comprised the communion’s Instrument’s of Unity were no longer fit for purpose.
The archbishop’s multi-layered sermon evolved over its two presentations – after being all but silent about Gafcon in his first sermon, in its second reading the archbishop spoke five times about the forthcoming Gafcon conference, set for 21-26 October 2013, at All Saints Cathedral. While the Lambeth Palace Press Office had released a statement saying Archbishop Welby was visiting Kenya to stand in solidarity with its people in the wake of the Westgate Mall terror attack, he made no mention of terrorism in his sermons and his time in Nairobi was spent exclusively on Gafcon.
The sermons sparked mixed responses. Archbishop Welby’s sermon was “outrageous”, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria said after the first presentation. The archbishop’s “softly softly” approach in seeking to reconcile the Episcopal Church with the Global South churches implied a degree of moral equivalence that the retired Nigerian archbishop found disheartening.
However, in his second presentation Archbishop Welby walked back his moral equivalency comments. The former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen welcomed Archbishop Welby’s admission the Communion was not work. Archbishop Welby’s statement “the old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work, given on the eve of Gafcon, give us hope,” he said.
The archbishop spent only 18 hours in Kenya, arriving in the early hours of Sunday. Travelling without his minders, the archbishop stayed at the home of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, before preaching before the 9:30 and 11:30 congregations at the Cathedral. Following his sermons he went into a closed door meeting with the primates’ council, before leaving for Ireland to attend the Porvoo Primates meeting that evening.
Participants at the luncheon described the atmosphere as being cordial, noting Archbishop Welby was seated next to Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Archbishop Wabukala. But the strength of the sentiments made in the presentations made by the Gafcon archbishops appeared to have stunned Archbishop Welby, who spoke for five minutes to the group.
One primate told the Church of England Newspaper no formal agreements were reached at the meeting, but he welcomed the start of a conversation with the English church leader.
In his sermons, the archbishop spoke of the centrality of Scripture in the life of the church, the “Bible must be at the heart of our study, our life, our walk with Jesus” he said, but a “church that only reads but does not act, disgraces the Bible.”
“There is a need for new structures in the Anglican Communion, “the archbishop said, adding the issues that divide us are “simple and complicated.”
To address them “we need a new way of being in communion, not the colonial structures” of the past, he said. But it was unclear as to what the solution was as each province offered its own solution to the problem, yet “we must find a way to live together, so the world will see” Jesus is Lord.
The Anglican world must be a sign to the world of the power of Christ and must engage in a deliberate program of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”
“The more seriously we take the Bible” the more effectively we will be able to deal with our divisions, he said.
The archbishop also hinted the Communion may not be able to count upon the Church of England to hold the line on issues close to the heart of the Gafcon movement. Archbishop Welby recounted his strong public opposition to the British government’s same-sex marriage bill. “In England, we in the church disagree with same-sex marriage because we honor marriage, not out of hate, or fear or anger.”
“I spoke at great personal cost” against the bill and received opprobrium and “hatred” from those who supported changing marriage. But as the Letter to the Hebrews said we must keep “the marriage bed undefiled”, the church could not support this change, just as it could not support “adultery or pornography.”
A “church that flourishes” is a church that is “based on the Bible” he said. “We all fail,” he said, because “we all sin,” but a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” church is what God wants Anglicans to be.
Gafcon looks to the future: Church Times, October 25, 2013 October 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church Times, GAFCON.
Tags: Henry Scriven, Paul Perkin
AT THE second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), held this week in Nairobi, the General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Jensen, said that the “future” of Anglicanism had “arrived” – and it was GAFCON.
The sentiment was apparently shared by most of the 1352 delegates from 40 countries, including more than 100 from the UK. Women clerics from Africa and the United States worshipped with conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics (Comment, 18 October).
“We believe the apostolic faith,” Dr Jensen said in the opening session, “and we do not believe the faith of those who contradict the Bible, and who deny the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ.”
The first day of the conference was devoted to worship, and to a preparatory talk given by Dr Jensen. The second day alternated between worship and presentations by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who hosted the conference, and the Principal of Oak Hill Theological College, the Revd Dr Mike Ovey.
Shorter presentations were offered by the Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, the Revd Paul Perkin; the Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng Bul; the Bishop of Jos, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Ben Kwashi; Andrea Minichiello Williams, of Christian Concern; the Bishop of Nelson, New Zealand, the Rt Revd Richard Ellena; and the vice-chancellor of Uganda Christian University, Canon John Senyonyi.
Dr Jensen characterised the Church’s problem as a failure of commitment. “We have failed to make disciples through teaching the commands of Jesus found in the Bible at depth. That is why so much of the Church in the West has simply collapsed, capitulated, and compromised before a virulent, antagonistic secularism.”
Delegates did not agree, however, on the extent of the collapse. The chairman of Reform, the Revd Rod Thomas, said that it was possible to be a conservative Evangelical cleric in the Church of England, but one should not expect the hierarchy’s preference, support, or sympathy.
Bishop Henry Scriven, the SAMS-CMS South American director, painted a less bleak picture. “Four of the five senior bishops of the C of E are Evangelicals,” he said; and the majority of the House of Bishops were “solid, orthodox men”.
Dr Wabukala said that the Churches represented at GAFCFON were “committed to the Anglican Communion”, and to the reform of its structures. GAFCON promised that it would work with the Archbishop of Canterbury in this.
The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Tito Zavala, said: “What we seek is a new way of support and encouragement for one another. We want to keep this humble, simple.”
The old ways of the Anglican Communion were as “dead as the British Empire”, Dr Jensen said and a commonwealth of Churches would replace it.
First printed in The Church Times
Tags: Justin Welby
ARCHBISHOP Welby’s attempts at shuttle diplomacy, holding private meetings with leading members of the Communion’s liberal and conservative wings, was met with scepticism in Nairobi.
The GAFCON leaders knew that, a week earlier, the Archbishop had breakfasted in London with the former Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, the first openly partnered gay bishop.
The office of Archbishop of Canterbury could not serve as an honest broker between the factions, conservatives warned Archbishop Welby, but must stand with or against them. The issues were not political, but spiritual, one archbishop said, and thus not amenable to compromise.
Archbishop Welby’s whirlwind visit to Nairobi on Sunday provided an opportunity for him to take the measure of six Primates and half-a-dozen other key leaders, including the General Secretary of GAFCON, Dr Peter Jensen, and the retired Nigerian Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, in a private meeting at All Saints’ Cathedral.
The conservatives also had an opportunity to size up Archbishop Welby. All of those questioned after the meetings expressed a personal regard for the man, but were sceptical that his office could provide a solution to the divisions within the Church if it sought to take a neutral stance.
“Archbishop Welby’s statement ‘The old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work,’ given on the eve of GAFCON, give us hope,” Dr Jensen said. Nevertheless, the future envisioned by Archbishop Welby “began with GAFCON 2008″, Dr Jensen said. “It’s time for him to catch up.”
First printed in the Church Times.
Tags: BBC, Justin Welby
The BBC and the perils of press releases
The BBC’s internet news division stumbled badly this week in its initial report on a major meeting of Anglican church leaders in Africa. The 20 October 2013 story entitled “Archbishop of Canterbury makes Kenya detour on way to Iceland” has already had one correction and substantial alteration but the underlying premise of the story remains flawed.
It demonstrates the perils of relying on a single source in reporting the news.
The opening paragraphs of the original version, reprinted by the London Evening Post, and the revised BBC version are identical. They begin:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a detour of more than 8,000 miles to visit Kenya – on his way to Iceland. Archbishop Justin Welby, who arrived on Saturday night, gave sermons at All Saints Cathedral on Sunday morning. He made the “last-minute” 24-hour trip to offer condolences after the Westgate centre attack, Lambeth Palace said.He is also meeting conservative Church leaders who are in Nairobi for this week’s conference of the traditionalist Anglican lobby group, Gafcon.
The story offers background on the trip to Iceland and the al-Shabaab terror attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. And then more details about the trip are added:
Archbishop Welby delivered sermons at 09:30 and 11:00 before having lunch with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops. GAFCON2013 – the second such conference – will starts today and runs till Saturday. The original conference – held in Jerusalem in June 2008 – was organised in response to the appointment of actively gay men and women as bishops, especially in the US.
The stories then diverge. The original version stated:
Through the GAFCON movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East- have begun to function independently of the official Anglican Communion.
The revised version states:
Through the Gafcon movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East – have begun to function outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
And at the bottom of the revision we read this correction:
Correction 21 Oct 2013: This story has been amended to clarify that Gafcon remains within the Anglican Communion.
The problem here is the correction still is incorrect. As the correction notes the Gafcon movement remains within the Anglican Communion. To say they are acting “independently” is false. The churches who comprise the Gafcon movement represent the majority of all Anglicans. The correction stating they are outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury misunderstands the role of the office of the archbishop. He is not a pope nor are Anglicans outside the Church of England under his authority — and within the Church of England his authority is over the Province of Canterbury. The Archbishop of York holds authority in the Province of York. In short, the Archbishop of Canterbury has no more authority over Anglicans outside England than I, or you, do.
I should also note the facts presented in the story are false. For example, the BBC reports the archbishop had lunch “with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops”. Yes, he did have lunch with these six people, but he also had lunch with the British High Commissioner, six other archbishops and a dozen or so Anglican worthies. I don’t know where the BBC got this information, but it certainly didn’t come from Nairobi.
And, the statement that the archbishop flew to Nairobi to offer support to the Kenyan people in the wake of the Westgate Mall bombing is false. It is not false in the sense that this is what the Lambeth Palace Press Office reported, but what Lambeth Palace said was untrue. If the BBC had bothered to contact the Gafcon conference organizers they would have learned the archbishop asked if he could meet the primates before the Westgate bombing took place.
How do I know this? I am in Nairobi reporting on the conference and I asked.
I might also add that in his sermons to the congregation of All Saints Cathedral the archbishop did not talk about al-Shabaab or terror. He spoke of Kenya’s Heroes’ Day (20 Oct) that commemorates the struggle against British colonial rule. He then focused on the Anglican Communion and the Gafcon conference. Nor did he visit the Mall or meet with ordinary Kenyans outside the cathedral.
By relying upon a single source and not verifying the information independently, the BBC propounded a false narrative. By being one sided and repeating information uncritically, the BBC let down the side.
A caveat, I may be violating one of Get Religion’s rules by reporting on a story in which I am peripherally involved. I am covering the conference for the church press and also appeared on the BBC’s Sunday programme after Archbishop Wabukala of Kenya offering my take on the latest perils of the Anglican Communion.
Ronald Reagan was right: trust but verify.
First printed in Get Religion.
Interview: BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme, October 20, 2013 October 20, 2013Posted by geoconger in GAFCON, Interviews/Citations.
Tags: BBC, Eliud Wabukala, Justin Welby
Pay Day Loans; Christenings; Chief Rabbi
- 45 minutes
- First broadcast:
- Sunday 20 October 2013
It’s four years since the first Global Anglican Futures Conference met in Jerusalem. This grouping of traditionalist Anglicans grew out of disaffection with the direction the Anglican church was taking in the USA and UK, particularly in relation to the issue of homosexuality. The second conference is taking place next week in Nairobi, and William Crawley will be hearing about its current agenda from its chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. l
The new Chief Rabbi has come under fire from ultra orthodox Jews for his decision to attend the educational Limmud conference in December. Does this decision mark a change in relationships between the Chief Rabbinate and ultra-orthodoxy?
Hear the broadcast at this link:
A new survey on loneliness suggests that religious people may be more likely to be lonely than those without a faith. Trevor Barnes considers whether the church’s focus on the family can alienate those who live alone.
And – to baptise, give thanks or simply to party? Guardians, godparents or “oddparents”? Prince George’s parents will give him a traditional christening next week , but what do the rest of us do?
Producers: Rosie Dawson
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala
Bishop John Holbrook
Sheikh Mohammad Yacoubi.
No right to ordination for gay man, Human Rights Tribunal rules: Anglican Ink, October 19, 2013 October 19, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Ink, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
Tags: Diocese of Auckland, Ross Bay
The New Zealand Human Rights Review Tribunal has dismissed a complaint accusing the Bishop of Auckland of discrimination against homosexuals.
On 18 October 2013 the tribunal ruled the Bishop of Auckland, the Rt. Rev. Ross Bay, had not violated the country’s Human Rights laws by refusing to allow Eugene Sisneros to begin the ordination process on because he is in a same-sex partnership.
Mr. Sisneros, a lay employee of St. Matthews-in-the-City in Auckland, filed a complaint with the tribunal stating he “felt totally humiliated that I had spent six years of my life in study, for a process that I was not permitted to enter because I was a gay man and in a relationship,” adding “My humiliation and disappointment continue to this day.”\
Read it all at Anglican Ink.
Belief in the Virgin Birth an optional extra, new Swedish archbishop declares: Anglican Ink, October 16, 2013 October 16, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of Sweden, Women Priests.
Tags: Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of Uppsala
The Church of Sweden has elected its first woman archbishop.
On 15 October 2013 the Rt. Rev. Antje Jackelén, Bishop of Lund, was elected Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden. She is the second Archbishop of Uppsala to be elected by popular vote by the church’s synod following the separation of the Church of Sweden from the state on January 1, 2000, and succeeds the Most Rev. Anders Wejryd who was elected in2006.
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
Anglicans must be bridge-builders, Archbishop Welby tells Toronto conference: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 1 October 16, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Justin Welby, Wycliffe College Toronto
Toronto: The Anglican Communion must not lose its vocation as a bridge-building church, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week in an address delivered at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Toronto pan-Anglican Congress.
In an address via Skype to the “Back to the Anglican Future: The Toronto Congress 1963 and the Future of Global Communion” Conference organized by Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto on 18 September 2013 Archbishop Welby stated his vision for the future of the church drew inspiration from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ideal of the Church as “Christ existing as community”.
Archbishop Welby observed that “there never was a generation in the Church that does not see a truck coming at great speed to run it over.”
The 1963 Congress sought to reshape the church to address a rapidly changing world. Then, as now, “do we need to rethink” the ways we are approaching “the problems,” he asked.
The way forward, the archbishop said, is “to start not with what is around us” but examine the issues through the lens of “theology, anthropology and ecclesiology. Who is the God we serve? Who are we? What is the Church for?”
Approaching the divisions within the church today in this way “changes the way we see the Communion,” he said.
He stated he had recently read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s doctoral thesis “Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church” and his views of the problems facing Anglicanism as well as the wider Christian world were informed by Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Luther’s dictum “simul iustus et peccator” – “simultaneously justified and sinful.”
“We focus over and over on the massive damage in our culture over changes in sexuality”, yet in “other parts of the world it is corruption, persecution, complacency or poverty. In many places it is all of these. What is the context the church is facing,” he asked.
“Financial corruption: the church is full of people who are financially corrupt” while in “places sexually corrupt,” he said. “We need to look at our context. We need to look at the Communion in light of our vocation” to change the world.
Greeting the Bishop of Egypt, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis who sat in the front row of the audience gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto, Archbishop Welby spoke of his visit to Egypt and Jerusalem in the company of Dr. Anis. There he “saw a small church. A minority of a minority, but one that has extraordinary influence, partly due to its bishop” he said with a nod to Dr. Annis, “but also because it is a bridge-builder.”
Anglicans are “being attacked where we are strongest,” he said. “We have a vocation to bring people together” and that is why we are being attacked by Satan.
“I am optimistic about the Anglican Communion,” he concluded, calling upon Anglicans to “seek the purpose of the church … [to ensure a] future of growth” through “reconciliation” and in this way harness the “energy” given to Anglicans by God to bring humanity into relationship with the living God.
The suffragan Bishop of Toronto, the Rt. Rev. Patrick Yu said he was he was encouraged by the archbishop’s words, and noted that when he had dined with the archbishop earlier this year, the archbishop said his priorities were “reconciliation and evangelism”.
Bishop Yu urged conference participants to “deeply embrace” these words, and by doing so, bring about the reform and renewal of the Anglican world.
Archbishop Welby to attend Gafcon primates’ meeting: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 1. October 16, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury has accepted an invitation to attend a meeting of the primates’ council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans of the Gafcon movement.
The Most Rev. Justin Welby will attend part of the two-day gathering of archbishops at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, held immediately before the 21-26 October 2013 Gafcon Conference.
The general secretary of the FCA, Dr Peter Jensen, stated Archbishop Welby’s “decision to come to the Primates meeting is a recognition of the importance of such a large and significant gathering of Anglicans from around the world and he will be made very welcome.”
The FCA movement was birthed by the 2008 Gafcon conference in Jerusalem. It has since grown into a global reform movement within the Anglican Communion that seeks to strengthen the church by affirming the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Leaders of the movement have also called for the reform of the current structures of the communion, expressing disappointment with what they believe to be the failures of the London-based institutions.
GAFCON Chairman the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya, had invited Archbishop Welby to address the 1200 delegates from around the Anglican world. However, the archbishop stated he was unable to attend as he had two prior engagements: a meeting of the Porvoo archbishops in Iceland, and the christening of Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace on 23 Oct.
The archbishop’s decision not to attend the meeting – made public last week – had disappointed conservatives. But writing in the current issue of the Churchman, Dr. Gerald Bray observed the archbishop had been placed in a difficult political position.
He noted that “although there will be a sizable contingent from England at GAFCON II, what authority will they have and who will they represent? It is a virtual certainty that none of the English diocesan bishops will be there, which will make it very difficult for the archbishop of Canterbury to attend on his own, even if he is invited. This is ironic, because the new archbishop is far more sympathetic to GAFCON than his predecessor was, and more in tune with it than most of his episcopal colleagues are.”
Dr. Bray observed that this “of course, is a large part of his problem. Even if he wanted to, Justin Welby cannot dismiss the bench of bishops and appoint men more in tune with his own way of thinking, and everyone knows that his eventual successor is almost certain to be of a very different persuasion. Banking on Canterbury’s support is therefore not a good long-term strategy for GAFCON, even if the present incumbent of the see is essentially on its side.”