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Celibacy in marriage a sin, bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Marriage.
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Celibacy in marriage is a sin, the Bishop of Sunyani told his diocesan Mothers Union last week. The Rt. Rev. Festus Yeboah-Asuamah to the MU that wives who withhold sexual congress from their husbands are sinning against God and their husbands, prompting their husbands to commit adultery.  “This does not mean men should also over-stretch their wives in sex,” he observed, but noted some wives placed church work above sex.  “Some women had engaged themselves with religious activities to the extent that they do not even have time to satisfied their husbands sexually. This habit, the Bishop said, was a contributory factor to sexual promiscuity by men, which had torn homes and families apart.” The bishop affirmed the church’s teaching that marriage was a lifelong union of a man and a woman and whose purposes as set forth in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer.  Mutual flourishing was based not on a mirrored set of responsibilities, but upon the complimentarity of man and woman. Husbands and wives had distinct rolls to fulfill in marriage, but it was a mistake to segregate the relationship into mens’ and women’s work. Each had a responsibility to raise the children, maintain the peace and purity of the marital home, and provide economic support, he said.

Gay rights are not human rights, Archbishop says: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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Gay rights are not human rights as understood by the Christian tradition of natural law, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala told reporters on 9 March 2014 after services at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. His remarks came in response to demands made by MPs that the country’s colonial era sodomy laws be stiffened along the lines of recent reforms of Uganda’s criminal code. The archbishop said he did not support change stating it was unnecessary as “Kenya’s constitution clearly outlaws” gross indecency. From the Anglican Church’s perspective, “we are very clear when it comes to matters of relationship which should be between two opposite sexes,” he told The Star, adding it was a false anthropology, however, to conflate actions with individuals. A person was much more than his sexual appetites. It was also wrong to raise an action to the level of a human right. “Human rights and rights are different. Human rights have no values while rights have values,” he told said.

Nigerian church support for sodomy laws: The Church of England Newspaper, February 21, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage.
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Faith leaders in Nigeria have unanimously applauded the revisions to the country’s sodomy law, and have denounced as imperialist, racist and condescending Western pressure to change the country’s attitude towards homosexuality.

Leaders of the Muslim community as well as the head of the country’s Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches applauded President Goodluck Jonathan for signing a law banning same-sex marriage, gay clubs and public displays of same-sex affection into law on 7 January 2014.

While overseas Catholic and Anglican leaders including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have expressed reservations about the new law, their Nigerian counterparts have endorsed the ban on gay marriage.

In an open letter written to President Jonathan published by the Catholic News Service of Nigeria, the press arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama called the new law “a bold and clear indication of the ability of our great country to stand up for the protection of the highest values ​​of the Nigerian and African cultures around the ‘ institution of marriage and the dignity of the human person, without giving in to international pressure to promote unethical practices of homosexual unions and other related vices. ”

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh stated his church also opposed the introduction of gay marriage into Nigeria. In a speech given at a banquet honouring retired Archbishop Peter Akinola, Archbishop Okoh was reported to have said the underlying issue was not homosexuality itself, but man’s rebellion against God’s law.

“Many people do not realise that what is referred to as the homosexual trouble is not the homosexual or lesbian trouble but people’s refusal to accept the Scripture for what it is, authority for life and practice following God.”

“In the beginning, man questioned the authority of God in the garden by saying did God actually say that you should not eat the forbidden fruit. That challenge to God’s authority dethroned God’s power and enthroned man’s power. So they concluded that God has no right to tell man what to do and that they were the people who knew what to do. So man set God aside and took over the command. Consequently, disaster followed,” he said according to Channels TV in Lagos.

The question for Nigeria was not merely government sanction for sexual sin, but the decision Adam and Eve faced in the Garden of Eden to defy God, he argued.

The controversy over gay rights and gay marriage in Nigeria has also been played out in the national legislatures of Uganda, Tanzania and Cameroon which are in the process of adopting laws banning gay marriage.

Both Nigerian prelates were sharply critical of overseas political pressure to adopt Western sexual mores.

Archbishop Kaigama  thanked President Jonathan for his “brave and wise decision” to sign the bill into law and prayed that God would protect his “administration against the conspiracy of the developed world to make our country and continent as a dumping ground for the promotion of all the unethical practices, that destroy God’s plan for man.”

Gov-Gen backs gay marriage/republic for Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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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.

Ban on divorced/remarried Catholics from receiving Communion reaffirmed: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013

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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.”

Auckland Synod rejects gay marriage: Anglican Ink, September 7, 2013 September 8, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Ink, Marriage.
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The Rt Rev Ross Bay, Bishop of Auckland

Lay delegates to the Auckland Synod have blocked the diocese from moving forward with gay marriages.

On 7 September 2013 delegates to the 54th meeting of the diocesan synod split over Motion 6, which would have begun the process towards gay marriage by changing the canons and creating same-sex marriage liturgies.

The bishop and assistant bishop gave their assent to the motion, while the clergy voted 80 in favor, 44 opposed and 4 abstained. However in the lay order the motion failed to break the 50 percent threshold. While 72 delegates voted in favor, 65 were opposed and 8 abstained – giving 73 “no” votes.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Robert Farrar Capon dead at 88: Anglican Ink, September 6. 2013 September 6, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Marriage, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rev. Robert Farrar Capon, noted pastoral theologian and food writer has died. Fr. Capon’s granddaughter Maggie Oliver announced via twitter that the 88 year old priest had died yesterday. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island confirmed to Anglican Ink Fr. Capon had died at 3:00 pm on 5 September 2013.

Author of twenty books, Fr. Capon came to national attention with his first book on marriage and Christian sexual ethics, Bed and Board, published in 1965 while he served as rector of Christ Church in Port Jefferson, Long Island. In 1977 he retired from parish ministry to devote himself to writing. At his death he lived onto Shelter Island, NY with his wife, Valerie.

Among his books were a trilogy on the Parables: The Parables of Grace, The Parables of the Kingdom, and The Parables of Judgment; The Mystery of Christ, Between Noon and Three, and Genesis: The Movie.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Nigeria’s Mothers’ Union rejects child marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, August 16, 2013 p 7. August 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Marriage, Youth/Children.
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The President of the Mothers’ Union of Nigeria has joined civil and women’s rights activists in the West African nation in denouncing the country’s senate for blocking a bill to that would have banned child marriages.

On 6 August 2013 Mrs Nkasiobi Okoh, president of the MU and wife of the primate Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, told a women’s Christian conference in Abuja Anglican women were “categorically” opposed to allowing child marriage.

The question of child marriage was brought before the legislature this month when the senate debated a series of constitutional amendments proposed by the Constitution Review Committee. A proposed amendment to Section 29 of the constitution states that a citizen must be of full age in order to renounce his or her citizenship, and clause 29(4)(a) clarifies that “full age” means 18 years or above; however, clause 29(4)(b) adds that “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”

The Review Committee recommended striking the latter clause as discriminatory against women and the measure was approved by vote of 75 to 14, receiving the necessary two-thirds majority.

However on 28 July the Sunday Trust reported that Deputy Minority Leader Ahmed Sani Yerima objected to the removal of the clause as it implied that 18 years was the minimum age for marriage. He told the senate “under Islamic law, any woman who is married is of age, and if you say 18 years is the minimum age for marriage, then you are going against Islamic law.”

The senate voted to reconsider the amendment, which received only 60 votes in its second reading – 14 short of the two-thirds majority.

In a statement following the vote the NGO “Girls not Brides” said: “This does not mean that senators voted to legalize child marriage in Nigeria. The contentious clause has been part of the constitution since 1979, and its scope has always been limited to the question of renunciation of citizenship. However, the senators’ decision to retain the clause, particularly in view of the arguments that convinced them to do so, has been considered by many as an implicit legitimization of child marriage.”

The Child Rights Act adopted by the Senate in 2003 sets the minimum age of marriage at 18. However only two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states have endorsed it, and in some Muslim-majority states girls may be married as young as 12 years of age, “Girls not Brides” reports. And according to a UNICEF report, 39 per cent of Nigerian brides in 2000-2008 were under 18.

Mrs Okoh said Anglican women were opposed to child marriages, as they fostered the oppression of women and robbed girls of their future. “We have always been emphasising that girls should be trained, when they are trained, we are influencing not only their home, but the wider community, that is my belief and I know that, that is what our women believed,” she said, according to the Vanguard Newspaper.

RNS cheerleading for gay marriage: Get Religion, July 21, 2013 July 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage, Politics, Press criticism.
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A poor outing from Religion News Service this week in its article about the passage of the British government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. While it is a wire service story and cannot be held to the same standards of depth of reporting as a story prepared in house by a newspaper, it nonetheless should strive for accuracy and provide context — and refrain from cheer leading in support of one side of the story.

The version that appeared in the Washington Post under the title “Queen approves same-sex marriage bill in England, Wales” appears to be in trouble from the start. The Queen in the person of Elizabeth did not approve the bill — the Crown or the Sovereign did. This is a small thing, but it signals the direction of the story. It begins:

England and Wales became the 16th and 17th countries in the world to recognize gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave “royal assent” to a same-sex marriage bill. Under the new law, gay men and women will be able to join together in civil ceremonies or in church services — although no religious denomination will be forced to carry out such services.

The article walks back the headline, but what does RNS mean by saying England and Wales are two countries? Is this an eruption of Welsh nationalism on the part of RNS? Parliament in Westminster passed the bill — not the Welsh Assembly. While Wales has a cultural and linguistic identity and a devolved legislature that addresses some issues, it is not a country.

The article continues by quoting the government minister responsible for shepherding the bill through Parliament and her political allies. It then states:

The bill’s passage saw many angry exchanges. It had the full support of Prime Minister David Cameron, despite the consternation of many in his own Conservative Party. The leaders of two other main parties, the Liberal Democrats and New Labour, also backed it. But some political commentators predict Cameron’s gay-friendly attitudes will cost him at the next election in 2015.

Without seeking comments from opponents of the bill the article then moves to a negative response from the Catholic Church — glossing over the fact that a majority of Conservative MPs voted against the bill. The facile  comment about “gay-friendly attitudes” distorts the political facts. It fails to identify who believes the Conservatives will take a drubbing at the next election nor does it say why — other than alluding to hostility to homosexuals. The Coalition for Marriage — one group that fought the bill predicts Cameron will pay a political price for pushing gay marriage — but it is not likely to recognize its views being presented by this article.

The Telegraph and BBC were able to find political opponents of the bill — not just religious ones — to speak out. Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth was cited by the BBC as having told Parliament it was “astonishing that a bill for which there is absolutely no mandate, against which a majority of Conservatives voted, has been bulldozed through both Houses”.

Its all there in Hansard for anyone to find — even his warning to the prime minister over his political folly. “I think the government should think very carefully in future if they want the support of these benches. Offending large swathes of the Conservative Party is not a good way of going about it.”

The RNS article also offers this:

But to the delight — and relief — of most people in the United Kingdom, the bill was passed by landslide votes in both houses of Parliament.

How does RNS know this? It could perhaps have made reference to polling data, but does not. The “delight” and “relief” quip appears to speak to RNS’s views — not the facts.

Little things are missing from the story — for example, when will the first gay weddings take place? (Answer: next Spring). The article tells us the Church of England does not permit same-sex weddings and the Roman Catholic Church is opposed — but are there faiths or denominations that support gay marriage? (Answer: Yes. Unitarians,  Quakers, Liberal Judaism, and some liberal Protestant groups). Are they banned too from offering church or synagogue weddings? No. They may opt in and offer gay weddings.

In sum, this article fails to present both sides of the story, contains inaccuracies and exaggerations, lacks context and important facts and engages in cheer leading in favor of gay marriage — confusing its own views with what it imagines to be popular sentiment. This is junk journalism.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

First printed in GetReligion.

Welsh Assembly Committee calls for full disestablishment of the Church in Wales: The Church of England Newspaper, June 30, 2013 p 7 July 2, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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The Welsh Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has recommended the state cut all ties with the Church in Wales.

In a paper released last week entitled Report on the Inquiry into Law-making and the Church in Wales the committee recommended “that the Church in Wales should be fully disestablished”, either by an Act of Parliament or “by a Welsh Government Bill in the event of a reserved powers model being introduced in Wales and relevant subjects, including, marriage policy, being devolved as part of that process”.

The Welsh Church Act 1914 disestablished the Church in Wales in part, ending the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts and severing ecclesiastical law from civil law in Wales.

However, Parliament left intact the duty of a Welsh incumbent to marry residents of the parish and, if the church had a graveyard, preserved the right of every member of the parish to burial.

The coalition government’s proposed legislation creating gay marriage exempted the Church in Wales from its duty to marry same-sex parishioners but prompted the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to review church-state ties.

David Melding, chairman of the committee, told the BBC he was “astonished that an Act of Parliament from the Edwardian era had come back to haunt us.”

“I certainly had assumed that the Church in Wales was disestablished – that’s an axiom of modern Welsh history. But apparently not. In two important areas – there may be more that we don’t know about – disestablishment is far from complete in Wales…”.

The committee report  stated the government’s “equal marriage proposal was drawn up without consultation with the Church in Wales but we are satisfied that the UK Government has taken steps to rectify that since.”

“However, the Committee also believes that the amendment proposed by the UK Government is a short term fix and that a wider issue exists which needs a more permanent solution, including considering the option of the Church in Wales becoming a fully disestablished body.”

A statement from the Church in Wales press office said it was “effectively in legislative limbo because its disestablished position is incomplete.”

It noted the “committee’s conclusions are not unexpected.”

“Certainly our position as a disestablished church which retains certain legal responsibilities to the community is unusual. However, in spite of that, we believe that we have a ministry to all in the people in Wales, regardless of whether they are members of the Church. The Church in Wales has not considered the issue of whether it should seek to change its status in relation to the marriage law.”

“However, it would welcome any assistance the Welsh Government is able to provide in easing the burden on our parishes of maintaining our burial grounds, which are open to all in the community, and to disused burial grounds which cannot be handed over to local authorities as in England”.

Cardinal backs gay civil unions over Vatican objections: The Church of England Newspaper, June 23, 2013, p 7. June 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage, Roman Catholic Church.
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Cardinal Godfried Danneels

Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, has broken ranks with the Vatican and given his support to legislation to create same sex unions.

In an interview with the Belgian newspaper Le Soir published on 4 June 2013 the cardinal said the Catholic Church “has never opposed the fact that there should exist a sort of ‘marriage’ between homosexuals, but one therefore speaks of a ‘sort of’ marriage, not of true marriage between a man and a woman, therefore another word must be found for the dictionary.”

“About the fact that this should be legal, that it should be made legitimate through a law, about this the Church has nothing to say,” the cardinal said.

A leader of the liberal wing of the Catholic Church in Europe, Cardinal Danneels was touted in the press as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II. His remarks follow similar comments made in recent months by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez, archbishop of Bogotà – who retracted his statement last November.

On 3 June 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released a statement entitled: “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons”.

“The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions,” the statement said, released under the signature of then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger and given the imprimatur of Pope John Paul II.

The CDF held: “The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.”

Cardinal Danneels’s comments follow a statement last month by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference in opposition to civil unions in Italy, “The family cannot be humiliated and weakened by similar representations that in a stealthy way constitute a progressive ‘vulnus’ on its specific identity, and that are not necessary to safeguard individual rights that to a large extent are already guaranteed by the law,” he said.

Pope Francis has yet to speak on the issue of civil unions in Italy or gay will marriage in England or France.

Catho-style: Get Religion, May 21, 2013 May 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Marriage, Politics, Youth/Children.
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Let me draw your attention to this fascinating article in the Parisian weekly news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur about the new generation of Catholics arising in France.

The article « Plongée dans la galaxie “catho-réac-décomplexée” » in Le Nouvel Obs(with a circulation of over 500,000 it is France’s most widely read general information weekly) asks the question who is leading the charge against the Socialist government’s gay marriage agenda — and finds that it is the “cathos 2.0″ generation. The 20-25 year old:

Enfants de Jean-Paul II et de Benoît XVI, … une nouvelle génération catho à la tête haute, grisée par la découverte de la militance, est née, très éloignée de la pudique discrétion de ses aînés.

Children of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, … a new generation of Catholic has arisen, intoxicated by their discovery of militancy that is  far different from the modest discretion of their elders.

Deconstructing this article has proven to be a hard task. On the surface the story of the Cathos 2.0 generation is so strong that it cannot be killed by a skeptical or hostile presentation. It is a French man bites dog story — student revolutionaries in Paris as ultramontane Catholics.

On the surface Le Nouvel Obs seems to have framed the story against the interest of the subject. While it allows the young Catholics to tell their own story, the analysis and commentary is drawn from the left — academics and liberal Catholics who bemoan the conservative political and doctrinal views of Cathos 2.0. Nor do we hear from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in France. This packaging should have made the issues unattractive and painted the subjects in an unsympathetic light. But  by the end of the story these young people come off well. You like them.

The article starts off in a critical yet cinematographic mode – – were this a film the opening paragraph would be accompanied by an accordion and perhaps Edith Piaf.

Trois garçons arrivent à Vespa. Un jeune couple veste treillis-capuche-fourrure traverse la place depuis le Café de Flore, situé juste en face. Une grappe de caqueteuses s’approche joyeusement de l’entrée tout en échangeant bises et potins. Une retardataire en talons hauts et breloques diamantées aux oreilles les rejoint en trottinant. Un concert ou un spectacle ? Pas du tout. Comme tous les dimanches soir, la jeunesse chic et branchée de la rive gauche a rendez-vous avec… Jésus ! Le clocher bat le rappel, c’est l’heure de la messe à Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Dans une église bondée, les jeunes gens, moyenne d’âge 20-25 ans, s’agenouillent devant le saint sacrement comme les bigotes d’autrefois. L’encens brouille la vue, et le choeur entonne un chant latin repris par une assemblée sagement recueillie. Non, nous ne sommes pas chez les traditionalistes de la Fraternité Saint-Pie-X, mais à l’une des cérémonies dominicales destinées à la jeunesse francilienne.

Three boys arrive on a Vespa. A young couple wearing hooded fur jackets crosses the square from the Café de Flore, located just opposite. A cluster of prattling girls happily approaching the entrance while exchanging kisses and gossip. A latecomer in high heels and diamond earrings hurries in. A concert or a show? No. Every Sunday night the chic and trendy youth of the left bank have an appointment with … Jesus! The bell sounds. It is time for Mass at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

In a crowded church, young people, 20-25 years of age, kneel before the Blessed Sacrament like the bigots of the past. Incense blurs vision and the choir sings a Latin chant taken up by a by the congregation.No, we are not in the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, but one of the Sunday ceremonies for Catholic youth.

The article continues with this skeptical, near derogatory tone. Traditional Catholic readers are likely to feel the bile rising in their throats as the read the story. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and act of « les bigotes d’autrefois »?

On les croyait effacés, et de fait ils nous étaient devenus invisibles. Depuis six mois, on les découvre par centaines de milliers battant le pavé sans relâche contre le mariage gay, veillant à la lumière des bougies sur les Invalides, créant happening sur happening grâce à la force de leurs réseaux, formant le gros des troupes de ces défenseurs acharnés de la famille dite traditionnelle.

Were not these people erased from French life? Had they not become invisible? But for six monthshundreds of thousands of them have pounded the pavement tirelessly protesting against gay marriage, lighting candles on the Invalides, creating event after event in the streets on the strength of their social networks, forming the vanguard of defenders of the so-called traditional family.

The presentation and the structure the first three quarters the story follows the conventional secular thinking of the French elites. Yet by the end of the piece you’re hooked by these kids – – their enthusiasm, their excitement, their faith. I cannot tell whether this was an accident or was calculated move to bring the reader on board. Perhaps what we are seeing here is a conscious bait and switch.

How do you get a middle-aged left-liberal secular audience to read a story about a youth movement that detests the values and agenda of the ’68 generation now in power? You do it by couching the story in tropes and phrases that are comfortable to the audience — and then you slip them a story about young attractive — chic — students at France’s elite universities whose faith is changing France and shaking up the French church.

Am I reading too much into this article? What say you GR Readers? For those whose French has faded away since High School, Worldcrunch has a shorter version of this article in English. Beware! The Worldcrunch version is not a translation but a re-write in English and has been de-Francofied for an American audience.

First published in Get Religion.

Bishops denounce Obama blackmail over gay rights: Anglican Ink. April 27, 2013 April 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage, Politics.
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The Anglican bishops of the West Indies have urged their governments to hold fast and resist pressure from Britain and the United States to legalize gay rights and gay marriage.

In a statement released on 25 April 2013 following the House of Bishops meeting in Barbados, bishops of the Church the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) reiterated their belief in marriage “defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman.”

“The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds,” the bishops said. The CPWI consists of eight dioceses: the Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Welsh re-think on gay marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, April 21. 2013 p 6. April 22, 2013

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The coalition government’s push to introduce same-sex marriage in England and Wales necessitates a review of the Church in Wales thinking on marriage, the Archbishop of Wales Dr. Barry Morgan said last week.

In his presidential address to the 10 – 11 April 2013 meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in Lampeter, Dr. Morgan said the church needed to consider the issue of same-sex relationships. “There has been a growth in understanding of same sex relationships in wider society in recent years and a more comprehensive understanding of human sexuality in general,” he said.

“Within the Church in Wales, as the bishops have pointed out, there are a variety of views about the ethics of same sex relationships.  There is a new appreciation of the value of any faithful committed life-long relationship.  The new Archbishop of Canterbury observed recently that, ‘It would be completely absurd to suggest that the love expressed in gay relationships was less than the love that there is between straight couples’.  The bishops have, therefore, asked the Doctrinal Commission to examine the whole issue of same sex relationships, and once it has produced its report, we will need to have a general discussion, perhaps in groups in the first instance, in this Governing Body to map out the way ahead for us as a Church.”

The doctrinal commission will also examine the Church in Wales’ relationship to the state. The coalition government had not consulted the Church in Wales when it said it would be banned in law from offering same sex marriages. The church in Wales should make up its own mind on this issue he declared, and it must decide whether it would keep its quasi-established position under Welsh law words clergy had a duty to solemnise marriages.

“If marriage were ever to become a devolved issue, I cannot see a devolved Welsh government allowing a disestablished church to hang on to this vestige of establishment,” he added, but “in any case, we ourselves might want to change the present arrangements.”

Dr. Morgan also discussed revisiting the issue of women bishops which was turned back by the governing body in 2008 by 3 votes after the bishops refused to give assurances or protections to those opposed to the innovation. In 2012 the Bishop’s bench released a discussion paper stating their unanimous support the ordination of women bishops.

The Archbishop also spoke to the challenges of the paper presented by Lord Harries last year on reorganizing structures of the church. “Churches with ordained clergy have been tempted to assume that all ministry is vested in an omnicompetent, all-singing, all-dancing professional minister and that the task of ministry belongs to him or her and then when he/she is a bit hard pressed, he or she may delegate some of the tasks to other people but really essentially it is her/her ministry.  That is to start in the wrong place,” he argued.

The church must use “all the resources that we have been given, and the gifts that all of us have, more creatively and imaginatively.  It means laity and clergy together, having a shared vision of the work of the Church,” Dr. Morgan said.

Hong Kong push for gay civil rights: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013 p 7. April 13, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Civil Rights, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage.
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Church leaders in Hong Kong have welcomed the proposal for public consultations on a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance (SODO) that would protect the civil rights of the homosexual community. While declining to speak to the merits of any particular bill, Roman Catholic and Anglican leaders have voiced their general approval of civil rights legislation.

On 1 April 2013 Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, a leading Anglican layman and the former secretary for food and health, took office as chairman of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunity Commission.

Last month gay activists attacked the appointment of Dr. Chow arguing that his religious principle would prejudice the debate. However Dr. Chow told the South China Morning Post he was a “liberal-minded” Christian and not prejudiced against gay people.

The issue should be handled discreetly. “In the process of legislation, there should be more discussion. Because not everyone would be courageous enough or would choose to disclose their own sexual orientation,” Dr. Chow told Radio Television Hong Kong.

“My religious background is relatively conservative, but even the Anglican Church in England is discussing this issue now,” he said adding that “regardless of what my religious background is or my personal view… these people should not be discriminated against.”

In November 2012 a proposal was put forward in the Legislative Council to launch a public consultation to gauge potential support for SODO. After vigorous debate the motion was defeated and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying dismissed calls for a consultation in a policy address in January.

Evangelical leaders had voiced concern that SODO would lead to gay marriage. Choi Chi-sum, secretary-general of the Society for Truth and Light, said they were “disappointed” that Dr. Chow had now offered his public support for the ordinance before consulting groups who opposed the legislation.

Created in 1996 the equal opportunities commission has a mandate to work towards the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy, disability, family status and race. This brief should be extended to sexual orientation Dr. Chow said.

Proposed Marriage and Divorce Bill draws church ire: Anglican Ink, April 12, 2013 April 12, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of the Province of Uganda, Marriage.
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Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

The Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) has called for the rejection of the Domestic Relations Bill  before Parliament arguing that proposals to turn common-law marriages into legally recognized marriages was bad social policy and jeopardized the rights of women.

In a speech delivered on 27 March 2013, the chairman of UJCC, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali — the primate of the church of Uganda – said: “Marriage for us in the Church is not a union of convenience but it is a lifelong partnership that can only be extinguished by the death of the partners.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Marriage is of God, not the state Church of England declares: Anglican Ink, April 9, 2013 April 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Marriage.
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The Church of England has reaffirmed its rejection of gay marriage stating the public blessing of marriage can only take place within the context of a lifelong, monogamous, male-female relationship. Marriage is a gift from God, not a right granted by the state nor cultural construct a paper released today by the church’s Faith and Order Commission entitled “Men and Women in Marriage”

“In calling it a gift of God, we mean that it is not simply a cultural development (though it has undergone much cultural development) nor simply a political or economic institution (though often embedded in political and economic arrangements). It is an expression of the human nature which God has willed for us and which we share. And although marriage may fall short of God’s purposes in many ways and be the scene of many human weaknesses, it receives the blessing of God and is included in his judgment that creation is ‘very good’ (Genesis 1.31). In calling it a gift of God in creation, we view marriage within its wider life-context: as an aspect of human society and as a structure of life that helps us shape our journey from birth to death.”

The report recognizes the existence of same-sex relationships as “forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form God has given us.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 69, March 29, 2013 April 3, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Hymnody/Liturgy, Marriage, Popular Culture, The Episcopal Church.
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In this week’s Anglican Unscripted your hosts discuss what Marriage is… and what Marriage isn’t — and with a combined total of 50 years Marriage experience — you are in safe hands. This is also Holy Week and this gives Kevin and George a chance to look around the Communion to discover how clergy are celebrating.
Some around the Anglican Communion have been told that the Episcopal Church doesn’t sue anybody… well the Episcopal church made it very clear this Easter season that is just wrong; and Kevin and AS Haley discuss the latest barrage from 815 and how it effects every vestry member in the Diocese of South Carolina. Kevin, George, Allan, and Peter pray that this Easter brings you into a closer walk with the Man who left the tomb empty. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com Tweet: AU69

NZ gay marriage commission formed: The Church of England Newspaper, March 3, 2013 p 7. March 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Marriage.
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The Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has chartered a theological commission to study gay marriage.

Last week the committee directed the church’s provincial secretary the Rev. Michael Hughes to write to the secretaries of the three branches of the church asking them “to consider and report” on the question “what is a theological rationale for a Christian approach to the blessing and marriage of people in permanent, faithful same gender relationships given the implications thereof on the ordination of people in same gender relationships.”

The three branches: Maori, Pacific Islander and Europeans/Asians, were asked to name three scholars to the commission who were asked to report back to the Standing Committee by year’s end.

The theological commission’s work will also be used to inform the Commission on the Ordination and Blessing of People in Same Sex Relationships (Ma Whea Commission) formed in November 2011 that was asked to provide a “summary of the biblical and theological work done by our Church on the issues surrounding Christian ethics, human sexuality and the blessing and ordination of people in same sex relationships, including missiological, doctrinal, canonical, cultural and pastoral issues.”

The Ma Whae Commission was also charged with finding a way to overcome the veto power to changes in church doctrine granted to each of the three branches and examine “the principles of Anglican ecclesiology and, in light of our diversity, the ecclesial possibilities for ways forward for our Three Tikanga Church”, the implications of the adoption of same-sex blessings to the church’s relations to the wider Anglican Communion, and to address the issue of “what care and protection there would be for those who could be marginalized” by the changes.

The Ma Whae Commission has been asked to report its findings to the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui by 2014.

TEC marriage task force formed: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2013 p 7. March 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, The Episcopal Church.
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The Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church have named 12 people to serve on the church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

In a statement released on 14 Feb 2013, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the group would help the church chart its way forward as it seeks to find a theological rationale for the changes introduced last year. At the July 2012 General Convention the Episcopal Church authorized temporary provisional rites for blessing same-sex unions and authorized a study group to examine the doctrine of marriage.

The presiding bishop explained: “The theology of marriage has evolved over time, with biblical examples including polygamy, concubinage, and other forms of relationship no longer sanctioned in The Episcopal Church.”

“We no longer expect that one partner promise to obey the other, that parents give away their children to be married, or that childbearing is the chief purpose of marriage. This task force is charged not only to take the pulse of our current theological understanding of the meaning of marriage, but to assist the faithful in conversation and discernment about marriage, in particular what the Church might hold up as “holy example” of the love between Christ and his Church.”

While the Episcopal Church has never sanctioned polygamy and concubinage, in the Twentieth century it modified its practices on divorce and remarriage. The aims of marriage as ordered in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: procreation, remedy for sin, and mutual care, have been reordered in successive American prayer books and are currently given as mutual joy, mutual care and the procreation of children.

President Gay Jennings observed: “The Episcopal Church’s theology and practice of marriage has changed significantly over the centuries, and we need to understand more clearly what we as a church mean when we use that word.”

The 12 member task force, whose members are drawn from the church’s liberal wing, are to deliver their report to the 2015 meeting of General Convention.

Second Church Estates Commissioner rejects govt’s gay marriage bill: The Church of England Newspaper, February 8, 2013 February 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, Politics.
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The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry MP, broke ranks with his party’s leadership this week and spoke against adoption of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill.

Rising to speak during the debate following the Second Reading of the Bill, Sir Tony stated that while he would vote against the bill, he wished to thank the government for their assurances that the legislation would protect religious freedom.

Speaking in his capacity as Second Church Estates Commission, Sir Tony said he wanted to “make clear to the House the views of the Church of England on the provisions that the Government have included to safeguard religious freedoms. Let me make it clear that I entirely accept the Government’s good faith in this matter and am appreciative, as is the Bishop of Leicester, who convenes the Bishops in the other place, and as are senior Church officials, of the attempts the Government have made.”

He noted the government was correct in ensuring that “every Church and denomination can reach its own conclusion on these matters and be shielded so far as possible from the risk of litigation” and he accepted the government’s pledge that the “quadruple locks” would protect the rights of the Church of England.

“The so-called quadruple locks are sensible and necessary,” he said, adding the “simple point” is that the Church of England and the Church in Wales “have not wanted anything different in substance from all other Churches and faiths—namely, to be left entirely free to determine their own doctrine and practice in relation to marriage.”

However, Sir Tony noted the Church of England was not a creature of Parliament. While it had a common law duties to marry all parishioners, the issue was rather “complex” as its “canon law remains part of the law of the land and it also has its own devolved legislature which, with Parliament’s agreement, can amend Church legislation and Westminster legislation.”

He noted that in changing marriage, the government was creating a “number of extremely difficult second-order issues. Although the failure to consummate a marriage will still be a ground on which a heterosexual marriage can be voidable, the Bill provides that consummation is not to be a ground on which a marriage of a same-sex couple will be voidable.”

“It also provides that adultery is to have its existing definition—namely, sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. It therefore follows that divorce law for heterosexual couples will be fundamentally different from divorce law for same-sex couples, because for heterosexual couples the matrimonial offence of adultery will persist while there will be no similar matrimonial offence in relation to same-sex marriage. The fact that officials have been unable to apply these long-standing concepts to same-sex marriage is a further demonstration of just how problematic is the concept of same-sex marriage.”

“There is an inevitable degree of risk in all this,” he said. While the “Government believe that this is a risk worth taking. The Church of England does not.” Sir Tony said.

Gay marriage and golf: Get Religion, February 11, 2013 February 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Marriage, Multiculturalism.
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Little news of the gay marriage debate in the French National Assembly has made its way across the Atlantic into the American press. The lack of news coverage could be due to the perception that the outcome is not in doubt. The governing Socialist Party and their allies on the left hold a majority and have directed their members to vote in favor. Or France, being a very foreign country, the goings on way over there are of little concern to the American newspaper audience.

Whatever the reason, the lack of interest is a shame as the debate has been informative, lively and fun to watch. And, some of the arguments being proffered have not been laid before the American public. Let me digress for a moment and bring you up to speed as to where things stand as of this post’s publication.

The story so far — Following last year’s general election victory by the Socialist Party (PS) and its presidential candidate, François Hollande (I have shortened this from François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande), the party and its allies on the Left — the Radicals, Communists, etc., began the legislative implementation of their campaign promise to legalize gay marriage and permit gay couples to adopt children. The right has fought the move while social conservative groups — led by the Catholic Church — have mounted a vigorous public protest campaign, culminating in the largest public demonstrations last month in France in the last 30 years.

In the National Assembly, the right, led by the UMP party, proposed 4999 amendments to the bill. After 24 marathon sessions spread over ten days, with many sittings lasting until the small hours of the morning, the National Assembly concluded debate on Friday and a formal vote is scheduled for Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013.  The Senate will then take up the bill on 18 March.

Back to GetReligion — When I say the debate has been fun, I mean that it has been vigorous and pointed to a degree seldom seen in the U.S. Americans fed upon the pap of MSNBC or Fox commentators might find the French political debate indigestible — too spicy, too rich. Part of this lies in the stark polarization of French public life. In European eyes there is very little difference between the American Democrat and Republican Parties. While such an observation would baffle most Americans, from a French perspective the difference between the two American parties is miniscule compared to the spread of ideas between the Communists and the extreme Right in France.

And the place of religion in politics is very different in France — some right-wing French groups are ultra-montane Catholics while others are atheists — and there are Catholic Socialists on left (though no Catholic Communists I have found, though friends tell me a few of their seminary professors might qualify).

The right-wing news blog, 24 heures actu, which the Atlantico says

est un média impertinent de droite, radical (sans être extrême), et dans une France bâillonnée par le discours convenu de certaines élites, ça fait du bien !

is an impertinent radical right (though not extreme) publication, and with France gagged by the conventional chatter of its elites, its impertinence is a good thing.

has attacked gay marriage as racist.

Le mariage pour tous serait-il, à l’image du golf, un loisir réservé aux blancs et aux bourgeois ?

Will “marriage for all”, like golf, be a hobby reserved for whites and the bourgeoise?

N.b., “Marriage for all” or “mariage pour tous” is the French equivalent of America’s “marriage equality” — a slogan of the left that seeks to drive the direction of the debate through packaging. But again I digress. Calling “marriage for all” a liberal bourgeois preoccupation that is irrelevant to the lives of “les pauvres, les Noirs, les Arabes, les Asiatiques, les Juifs, les Latinos, les ouvriers et les chômeur”( it is more euphonious in French, but means, the poor, Blacks, Arabs, Asians, Jews, Latinos, and the unemployed), might be dismissed out of hand were it not for the revolt of the black (or should I say Franco-African) Socialist deputies from the Caribbean and Réunion who have broken with the PS and will vote no. The center-left Paris daily Libération reports that none of the black overseas members of the GDR (gauche démocrate et républicaine) of the Front de gauche (Left Front) will support the bill.

Libération cites a speech given to the National Assembly by Bruno-Nestor Azerot, a deputy from Martinique who said in overseas departments, almost all of our population is opposed to this project that “challenges all the customs, all the values” of French citizens. M. Azerot added that it was offensive to link the civil rights movement with the gay rights movement, noting in particular that black slaves could not marry or raise families recognized as legitimate by the state. Marriage for all, he argued would undermine the family and devalue the hard won social and legal rights of France’s former slave populations.

A white PS leader from Réunion (a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean) Jean-Claude Fruteau told Libération he had not received any “negative reaction” from his constituency but added that a demonstration in Saint-Denis-de-la-Réunion organized by the Catholic bishop of the island should not be taken as a sign of the strength of the opposition to the bill. Réunion was a “small department where the Catholic Church has a strong influence,” he said.

Libération explained to its readers why overseas Black deputies would opposed gay marriage by quoting the chairman of the Left Front Group in the National Assembly, Communist Deputy André Chassaigne. In overseas territories, i.e., in departments with a majority black population, the “cultural dimension of family values may be more pronounced, it has a more traditional look.” The overseas deputies were invoking a “family model that was more conservative than in France,” but were “imposing religious practices” and “local circumstances” onto the French national stage.

The Libération article is written from an advocacy perspective — it makes no pretense at being balanced or offering opposing commentary. It quotes the speeches of the black deputies, but offers explanation and interpretation only from the left. The article is framed in such a way to help the newspaper’s liberal readers understand the puzzling phenomena of why blacks, whose rights the Left has always championed, would not return this support on the issue of gay marriage.

Frankly, I would not have expected Libération to have addressed the issue any other way. French newspapers have different standards than American ones. Criticizing Libération for being something that it is not is a pointless exercise, though pointing out its biases to those unaware of the differences between American and European journalism is a necessary task.

My colleagues and I at GetReligion have written hundreds of articles detailing the creeping Europeanization of the American press — where the New York Times and other prominent media outlets engage in advocacy journalism. But unlike the French or British press, they do not admit to their biases. While I would not hold out the European model as the ideal, its unashamed partisanship does allow for a discussion of issues that would never be countenanced in the American press — gay marriage, race (and golf) is one such subject.

First published in GetReligion.

Gay blessings authorised by 3 Canadian dioceses: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012 p 6. December 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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The Dioceses of Quebec, Rupert’s Land and Edmonton have authorised their clergy to bless same-sex unions.

Last month the Bishop of Rupert’s Land, the Rt. Rev. Donald Phillips announced that he had given his consent to a 20 Oct 2012 resolution endorsed by the diocesan to all gay blessings. Bishop Phillips said he had initially declined to give his consent to the resolution, but had changed his mind, writing “I am now settled that it is pastorally appropriate to proceed.”

Rupert’s Land clergy will not be permitted to solemnize a same-sex marriage, but upon application to the bishop may bless same-sex couples whose marriage has already been “duly solemnized and civilly registered,” Bishop Phillips said.

On 13 October 2012 the Diocese of Edmonton Synod also passed a motion that will allow clergy to bless civilly married same-gender couples on a case-by-case basis. The diocese had permitted clergy to celebrate the existence of gay unions within the context of a Eucharistic service, but the new rules permit parishes to bless these unions.

The marriage service may not be used for these ceremonies, the diocese has told its clergy and each blessing must receive the prior approval of the bishop.

Writing in the December issue of his diocesan newspaper the Bishop of Quebec said he too was authorizing his clergy to perform rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. In his presidential address Bishop Dennis Drainville said the issue of same-sex blessings had been addressed several times by the Canadian General Synod.  It had “affirmed the place and the welcome that this church offers to all people—including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ—while also recognizing that in the Church, both locally and globally there is no common mind about how to respond to their committed partnerships.”

He noted the General Synod could not come to a “common mind” on this question and had declined to legislate.  However, it also “recognized that there are and will be a variety of  practises across Canada and in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and because this is so we must continue to talk and pray together as we seek to discern a way forward in accordance of God’s mission in the world.”

This call to conversation and study, the bishop explained, was his mandate for adopting “pastoral” same-sex blessings.  Such blessings would not have the force of ecclesial or civil law, he noted: “This act of blessing is not the performing of a marriage but rather the blessing of civil union that has already taken place.”

Other Canadian Anglican dioceses that have approved same-sex blessings include: British Columbia, New Westminster, Edmonton, Niagara, Huron, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) also passed a motion asking its bishop to allow clergy “whose conscience permits” to bless same-sex unions.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church of England says “no” to gay marriages in church: Anglican Ink, December 7, 2012 December 8, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Marriage.
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David Cameron

Same-sex marriage is an non sequitur, the Church of England has told Prime Minister David Cameron, stating it will not support his plans for church gay marriages, nor will it allow them to take place in its churches.

In advance of the release next week of the text of the government’s bill authorizing gay marriage, the prime minister said his government was reversing course and would now permit churches to solemnize gay marriages. “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution,” the prime minister said, adding, “but let me be absolutely 100% clear: if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it,” he said on 7 Dec 2012.

However, the Church of England said the imposition of gay marriage on the country by the coalition government as undemocratic. “Given the absence of any manifesto commitment for these proposals – and the absence of any commitment in the most recent Queen’s speech – there will need to be an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with these proposals and make them a legislative priority. In our view the Government will require an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with on these proposals and to make them a legislative priority,” it said in a statement released today.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Rules governing the publishing of the banns of marriage changing: Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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The statutory procedure for publishing banns of marriage is to take effect next month.  On 19 Dec 2012, the Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure is due to receive Royal Assent. Section 2 of the Measure, which comes into immediate effect, changes the way clergy, parish clerks and all those responsible for publishing the banns of marriage are to proceed.

The new law gives statutory authority for the use of the language for the publication of banns of marriage as contained in Common Worship, providing an alternative form than that contained in the Book of Common Prayer.

Banns must now be published on three Sundays at the “principal service” of a church – under the former law banns were to be published at the “morning service.”  The new law also permits the banns to be published at any other Sunday service for three Sundays prior to the marriage.

In a note published by the legal office at Church House, the “principal service” is the “service which, in the opinion of the member of the clergy … is likely to be attended by the greatest number of people who habitually attend public worship.”

“Most parishes have a service on Sundays which will clearly be the ‘principal service’. In many parishes this will be the morning service, or one of the morning services. But in some parishes it may be an evening service. If there is more than one service on a Sunday it is for the person responsible for publishing the banns – usually a member of the clergy – to form a view as to which is likely to be attended by the greatest number of habitual worshippers. The banns must then be published at that service. (It does not matter, for the purposes of the legal requirement, that in the event a greater number of people unexpectedly attend a different service on the Sunday in question.)”

The Legal Office noted that the banns may be published at an additional Sunday service as well, offering the example of a couple that “might only attend an evening service, in which case the banns could additionally be published at the evening service.”

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop of Quebec authorizes gay blessings: Anglican Ink, December 1, 2012 December 1, 2012

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The Rt. Rev. Dennis Drainville

The Rt. Rev. Dennis Drainville

The Bishop of Quebec has authorized his clergy to perform rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

In his presidential address to the 2-4 Nov 2012 diocesan synod held in Quebec City, Bishop Dennis Drainville he would “like to proceed in the Diocese of Quebec, as several other Canadian dioceses have done, to provide both a rite of blessing and pastoral support for persons living in committed, same-gender relationships.”

The bishop’s call for gay blessings was put to debate and a motion adopted that read: “This Synod supports the bishop’s wish in his charge to Synod to permit the blessing of same-gender unions in the Diocese of Quebec and requests that he establish a working group to advise him on the implementation guidelines by the beginning of June 2013.”

Opponents of the motion argued the adoption of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions was un-Scriptural and placed the diocese at odds with the mind of the larger Anglican Communion.  However, opponents were able to must only 10 votes out of the approximately 70 delegates present.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Reporting on gay marriage in Spain: Get Religion, November 9, 2012 November 10, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Marriage, Politics, Press criticism.
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Laying out the front page of the November 7 issue presented a few problems for the Madrid daily El País. Journalists at Spain’s largest circulation newspaper (345,000) began a walk out this week after management announced that it was cutting 139 of the paper’s 460 posts. Those who still had jobs would see their pay cut by 13 per cent.

Management has had to fill in to keep the paper going and Wednesday presented them with two major stories: the U.S. presidential election and the decision by the country’s constitutional court upholding the country’s gay marriage laws.

Under the headline “El matrimonio gay es constitucional” El País reported that on 6 Nov 2012 eight of the Constitutional Court’s 11 judges rejected a legal challenge to Spain’s gay marriage law introduced in 2005 by the Socialist Party government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The law had been challenged by the People’s Party (PP), which recently took power under its leader Mariano Rajoy.

The article reported that 11 of the court’s 12 justices took part in the decision, and that support for gay marriage was voiced by the 7 liberal judges and 1 of the 5 conservatives – one conservative judge recused himself.

The first few paragraphs of the story are fairly straight forward, recounting the legislative background to the case and summarizing the legal arguments. Paragraphs that indicates the newspaper’s view of the issue round out the story.

El PP prefería amparar legalmente la unión de parejas homosexuales sin darle el nombre de matrimonio para “no generar confrontación social”. Pero la única confrontación social conocida hasta ahora, la única protesta masiva que ha habido en la calle desde la aprobación de la Ley por el Gobierno socialista en 2005 ha sido la de miles de ciudadanos que protestaron contra el recurso del PP y exigieron a Rajoy que lo retirara.

The PP had preferred a law that would give legal protections to gay couples without giving it the name of marriage so as to “not generate social confrontation.” However, the only social confrontation known so far, the only mass protest that has been on the street since the adoption of the Act by the Socialist government in 2005 has been the thousands of protestors who have called upon the PP and Rajoy to withdraw their legal challenge.

The article also has a side bar that discusses the Popular Party’s reactions. However, it does not quote Rajoy or supporters of traditional marriage, but the minority within the PP who support gay marriage. An American analogy would be having a discussion of the Republican Party’s reactions to the gay marriage vote in Maryland through quotes from the Log Cabin Republicans.

What also is missing is any reaction or comment from the Catholic Church – the primary opponent of the gay marriage law.  The following day El Pais ran a story that summarized the comments of the bishop of San Sebastián, José Ignacio Munilla on behalf of the Spanish Episcopal Conference – but that was it. There was no attempt in the main story to speak to the objective moral truth claims made by the church about the nature and value of marriage that lay behind the PP’s challenge to the 2005 law.

I should say that such an omission would be deadly for an newspaper article written in the classic liberal style, but El País is not that sort of paper. It follows the European advocacy model — in this case its news is written, unashamedly, from a a left-liberal point of view which espouses the European anti-clerical line.

Religion has no business in the public square, El Pais and most European newspapers believe. This argument is not unknown in the U.S. also. In the Proposition 8 case in California, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker invalidated the California ballot initiative that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. Judge Walker held the “moral and religious views” behind Proposition 8 were not “rational,” hence it was unconstitutional.

President Barack Obama, a former law professor, has argued that “What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy demands is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.”

While the secularist demands this, democracy does not – nor should journalism. Ignoring the religious arguments in public policy disputes, or dismissing them out of hand is an attack on freedom – religious freedom and democratic freedoms. It is also poor journalism as it omits one of the essential elements of the story.

The solution to this problem in Europe is to take more then one newspaper — El Pais is left liberal and you know what you are getting when you hand over your Euro. ABC and El Mundo  are Madrid’s two other quality papers. ABC is conservative and El Mundo center-left. Taken as a job lot a reader gets all sides of the story. Unfortunately in the U.S. newspaper market few if any newspapers acknowledge their biases, and two newspaper towns are few and far between.

What say you GetReligion readers? Is it fair to say that the American press has adopted the European advocacy style — but without admitting its bias? Is El Pais without ABC America’s future?

First printed in GetReligion

Anglican Unscripted Episode 55, November 3, 2012 November 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ordinariate, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, GAFCON, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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Anglican Unscripted Hosts Kevin and George talk about Gafcon II and the need for a global Anglican Congress to protect the Communion. You will also learn about Rome’s desire to bring Protestants into the ever expanding Ordinariate. AU also asks you to pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and we bring you perspective from skyscraper based storm landfall.

Canon Ashey talks about the dummying down of Scripture and other news from ACC-15. Peter has the latest rumors about the Crown Nomination Committee and Allan Haley discusses the second state to refute the validity of the Dennis Canon. Comments to AnglicanUnscipted@gmail.com #AU54 Please Donate to http://www.anglican.tv/donate

Diocese of Edmonton endorses gay blessings: The Church of England Newspaper, October 21, 2012 p 7. October 25, 2012

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The Rt Rev Jane Alexander

The Diocese of Edmonton has endorsed gay blessings.  At a meeting of its diocesan synod on 13 October 2012 delegates to the Synod voted by strong majorities to accept resolution G-3 “Blessing Same-Gender Committed Unions”.  Introduced by the Dean of Edmonton the resolution asked  the “Synod request the Bishop to grant permission to any clergy who may wish to offer prayers of blessing for covenanted same-gender relationships.”

In her presidential address to the meeting, Bishop Jane Alexander urged members of the diocese to agree to disagree.  “Over the years the church has weathered some pretty divisive and combustible issues,” she noted, citing remarriage after divorce, slavery and the ordination of women.

The church had survived these fights, she asserted because Anglicans had been willing to engage in dialogue and remain united.  “Can we see each other as Christ sees us and resolve to be together, to talk together, to pray together?”

Edmonton becomes the seventh of Canada’s 30 dioceses to endorse gay blessings.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Liberia says no to gay marriage; The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012, p 6. October 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Marriage.
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Bishop Jonathan Hart of Liberia

The Anglican Bishop of Liberia, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Hart, has been elected President of the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC). On 14 Sept 2012 the 28th General Assembly of the LCC elected Bishop Hart to a two year term as head of the West African nation’s umbrella organization for Christian churches.

Dr Hart’s first formal action as head of the LCC came within the week when he joined with the head of the National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCL) and the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia in urging the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf not to allow Liberia to be drawn into disputes over gay marriage and sectarian religious disputes.

The LCC and the NMLS condemned homosexual acts as being contrary to Christian and Muslim doctrines and called upon the government to rebuff foreign pressure to legalize same-sex marriages in Liberia.  They also rejected “all forms of attacks on religions and religious personalities” and called upon the press to be circumspect in their reporting and “regard peace as the yardstick against which they must measure the outcome of all their actions.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Australian Christian leaders appeal to MPs to reject gay marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, September 16, 2012, p 5. September 20, 2012

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The Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops of Sydney have endorsed a public letter urging the Australian parliament to reject calls to widen the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

The statement endorsed by Dr. Peter Jensen and Cardinal George Pell and by over 250 other Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic and Protestant clergy comes as parliament in Canberra on 10 Sept 2012 takes up four bills that seek to amend the Marriage Act to permit same-sex weddings under law.

Marriage is the “lifelong commitment and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family because it secures the relationship between biological parents and their children,” the preamble to the statement declared.

“As Christian leaders” those signing the statement affirmed their “commitment to promote and protect marriage. We honour the unique love between husbands and wives; the vital place of fathers and mothers in the life of children; and the corresponding ideal for all children to know the love and role modelling of a father and mother.’

“Marriage thus defined is a great good in itself, and it also serves the good of others and society, as it has done for thousands of years. The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is therefore not a special or limited interest, but serves the common good, particularly the good of children.’

They called upon Parliament to “protect this definition of marriage in Australian law, and not change the meaning of marriage by adding to it different kinds of relationships.”

On 16 June 2012 Dr. Jensen released a statement urging Anglicans to lobby their MPs to vote against the proposed amendments to the Marriage Act. He stated the “parliamentary success of this revolutionary re-definition is not inevitable. It will help however if in the near future Christians who wish to stand for marriage, as instituted by God, would thoughtfully and courteously let their views be known to their Federal parliamentary representatives.”

“We should speak up for the sake of love,” he said, “however hard it may be and whatever pressure we may face, we do not love our fellow Australians if, knowing God’s grace and his written will, we do not speak up and point them to God’s plan for the flourishing of human relationships.”

The first votes on the amendments are likely to take place by month’s end.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gay marriage rites in trouble at General Convention: Anglican Ink, July 7, 2012 July 7, 2012

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The House of Bishops has punted on the issue of gay marriage rites in the Book of Common Prayer, pushing the potential inclusion of gender-neutral marriage liturgies in the church’s authorized liturgy off until 2021.

The 6 July 2012 vote in the House of Bishops does not derail the issue of gay marriage liturgies, however, as other legislation remains pending before the 77th General Convention meeting 5-12 July 2012 that seeks to authorize “trial rites” for gay marriage.  However, the special rules governing passage of trial liturgies makes passage of gay marriage rites uncertain.

In its afternoon session on the second legislative day, the Bishops received Resolution C105 entitled “Marriage Equality” from the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee.  The resolution asked the General Convention to “revise the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church with regard to marriage, to reflect the fact that some jurisdictions provide by law, or will provide by law, civil marriage or civil unions for same-gender couples.”

In its explanation for the resolution, C105’s sponsor – the Diocese of Maryland – stated that “since the state of Maryland, other states, and the District of Columbia have made civil marriage available to same sex couples and the 75th General Convention Resolution C056 called for generous pastoral oversight and liturgies to bless these unions, it is time for the Episcopal Church to revise its Constitution and Canons.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Archbishops’ ‘no’ to gay marriage in Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2012 p 5. June 27, 2012

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Peter Jensen

The Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox archbishops of Sydney have urged Christians to reject gay marriage. The “revolutionary re-definition” of marriage was not “inevitable”, Dr. Peter Jensen said in his 17 June 2012 letter, but those “who wish to stand for marriage, as instituted by God, would thoughtfully and courteously let their views be known to their Federal parliamentary representatives.”

In separate letters read to congregations last Sunday, Dr. Jensen, Cardinal George Pell, and Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis called for the rejection of two private members bills that will amend the Marriage Act introducing same-sex marriage.  A social policy and legal affairs committee inquiry report was presented to Parliament on 18 June, but declined to endorse or reject the bills introduced by Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt and Labor MP Stephen Jones.

Archbishop Stylianos urged Orthodox Christians to lobby their representatives in government to vote against the bill.  The proposed legislation was ”diametrically against” the teachings of the Christian faith and Greek Orthodox tradition and must be stopped, he said.

Cardinal Pell told Catholics that said same-sex relationships were “contrary to God’s plan for sexuality.”  The proposed amendments to the Marriage Act would harm Australia.  “Instead of removing discrimination and injustice, [it] will cause them.”

A spokesman for Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich responded the churches’ views were behind the times.  ”With polls showing a majority of Australian Christians support marriage equality and with prominent Christians … and a growing number of clergy endorsing the reform, I don’t expect many people will be influenced by their priest this Sunday,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

In his letter, Dr Jensen urged Anglicans to “oppose this move as out of keeping both with the word of God and also of the best interests of our community.”

The Anglican archbishop opened his letter by saying it was important that the debate must be civil.  “God’s love for all teaches us that we must not be glib or unfeeling as we discuss, pray and act according to our convictions.”

But civility should not be construed as weakness.  “Christians are led by the word of God itself to bear witness to our strong commitment to marriage understood as the public joining of two persons of the opposite sex from different birth families through promises of enduring, sustaining and exclusive love, consummated in sexual union.”

Marriage “is one of God’s blessings upon us as a race” the archbishop said, for “through it God allows for the pure expression of our sexual natures, for the faithful companionship of one we love and the opportunity for the nurture of children.”

It was a “tragedy” he said that “marriage is so little understood or honoured and that so many people are denying themselves or others the experience of a public commitment and life-long union.”

“The education of children must not be distorted by the state-imposed idea that a family can be founded on the sexual union of two men or two women as a valid alternative to that of a man and a woman,” Dr. Jensen said, as the call for changing the law “only adds to the confusion by taking a God-given social institution for the creation and nurture of families and extending it to those who by God’s design and by nature cannot be married to each other.”

“This is not a matter of ‘marriage equality’ nor of human rights, since the right to be married extends equally, but only to those who are qualified,” he said.

Debate on the bills is not expected until year’s end, however, as its supporters concede they do not have sufficient support to pass the amendments to the Marriage Act at this time.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Danish parliament compels state church to offer gay marriages: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2012. June 25, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of Denmark, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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The Danish National Church – Den Danske Folkekirke, the state Lutheran church – has been directed by its country’s parliament to begin performing gay church weddings effective 15 June 2012.

Earlier this year the liberal-left coalition government of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt proposed legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state church.  While gay marriage is legal in Denmark, the state church’s bishops had ruled that the marriage liturgy could not be used for same-sex marriages.

Last week’s vote of 85 to 26 in the Kolketing, the Danish Parliament, directs the bishops to compose a second equal liturgy that would allow same-sex couples to be married by the church.

The new law permits individual priests to refuse to solemnize a gay marriage, but the local bishop must find another priest to perform the service in the recusant’s parish.

The debate within the Kolketing and in the Danish press has divided along calls for justice against Christian teaching and ethics.  After the vote, Denmark’s church minister, Manu Sareen, said the decision had been “historic”.

“I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it’s only heterosexual couples,” he said.

The leder in the left wing daily Politiken applauded the 7 June 2012.  “This resolution is not only a victory for homosexuals, but also for Denmark’s progressive, multifaceted image, which has been keeping a low profile in recent years. At the same time the resolution marks a defeat for the alliance of narrow-minded conservatives and religious sourpusses that held sway under the conservative government.”

However, a church affairs spokesman for the blue alliance, the conservative opposition to the ruling red alliance, denounced the government’s decision to override the bishops on gay marriage.

“Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can’t change something as fundamental,” the party’s church spokesperson Christian Langballe said during the debate. “Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman.”

Only three of the country’s ten Lutheran bishops have endorsed the new law and the Bishop of Viborg has warned that by compelling gay marriage, the government risked “splitting the church”.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gay church marriage in Denmark: Get Religion, June 8, 2012 June 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of Denmark, Get Religion, Marriage, Press criticism.
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The Telegraph reports that the Danish parliament has passed a law requiring all churches in the Nordic country to perform gay marriages. Clergy may opt not to perform the ceremonies, but church authorities must find a substitute minister to solemnize the marriage.

Strong stuff, if true. Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, Reformed, Orthodox and Pentecostal churches will now be compelled to perform gay marriages, the Telegraph reports, even if it is forbidden by their theological views on marriage.

Here is the lede:

The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.

Denmark’s church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote “historic”.

“I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it’s only heterosexual couples.”

Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.

The article recounts the political battle that led up to the vote, which passed 85 to 26 and offers quotes from supporters of both sides of the debate.

A conservative politician is cited as saying:

“Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can’t change something as fundamental,” the party’s church spokesperson Christian Langballe said during the debate. “Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman.”

While the Bishop of Viborg is reported as saying the new law risks “splitting the church”.  The government’s religion minister, who is identified as an agnostic, had sharp words for those who disagree with the new law.

“The minority among Danish people, politicians and priests who are against, they’ve really shouted out loud throughout the process.”

While a prominent gay politician offers the obligatory medieval quote:

“We have felt a little like we were living in the Middle Ages,” he told Denmark’s TV2 station. “I think it is positive that there is now a majority for it, and that there are so many priests and bishops who are in favour of it, and that the Danish population supports up about it. We have moved forward. It’s 2012.”

All in all, this is a nicely balanced piece. Views from both sides are offered and the casual reader gets a sense of where the debate lies. However, there is a hole in this story that needs to be filled — which churches will be compelled to perform gay weddings?

The article states that “all churches” will be compelled to perform gay marriages? Is that true?  No.

According to the Copenhagen Post this law applies only to the state Lutheran Church. It reported:

The ban on marrying same-sex couples in the Church of Denmark will be overturned in parliament today, as a majority of parties have announced their intention to support a law to make marriage gender neutral.

The law does permit vicars to decline to marry same-sex couples in their church, however. In such cases, couples would need to find another minister to perform the ceremony for them.

Same-sex ceremonies may occur as soon as June 15 should the nation’s bishops, as expected, come up with a ceremony by Monday that can be used to wed same-sex couples in church.

The new ceremony was needed after bishops ruled that the current one can only be used to wed heterosexual couples. But while same-sex and heterosexual couples will be wed using different rituals, their marriage status will be equal.

As Denmark has a state church an informed reader would come to this story with the knowledge that the government would only be able to compel the state church, the Lutheran Church, to perform gay marriages. But knowledge of Danish ecclesial affairs is not something one acquires in the normal course of life — the Telegraph should have been  more specific.

It would also have helped to recount the heavy newspaper campaigning by supporters of gay marriage in Denmark. The Danish press has been far from neutral in its coverage of this issue.

A leder in the conservative daily Kristeligt Dagblad had argued that  politicians should refrain from obliging the Danish National Church to perform marriage rites between homosexual partners:

Politicians shouldn’t play at being theologians. The Danish National Church should decide for itself what rituals take place within the church. For obvious reasons such a decision will revolve around other factors than equal treatment. … There’s much at stake here, including the historical understanding of wedlock as the foundation of the family, which remains the smallest and most important social unit. The politicians who are making the Church a battleground for party politics should not simply ignore this.

The left wing daily Politiken applauded the vote in a 8 June 2012 leder.

This resolution is not only a victory for homosexuals, but also for Denmark’s progressive, multifaceted image, which has been keeping a low profile in recent years. At the same time the resolution marks a defeat for the alliance of narrow-minded conservatives and religious sourpusses that held sway under the conservative government.

The European press may be able to offer a balanced analysis of the political forces that produced the parliamentary victory for the liberal government. But it largely incapable of relating, even understanding, the religious issues at play.

There is a story here that has yet to be told. The Telegraph reports that one bishop believes this  law will split the Danish National Church. The Copenhagen Post reports that only 3 of the 10 Danish bishops back the new law. Something is going to happen — hopefully the press will pick up on this story — and not approach it in the way Politiken has approached the story in parliament.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

First printed in GetReligion.

Episcopal bishops campaign against gay marriage ban: The Church of England Newspaper, May 6, 2012 p7. May 14, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, Politics, The Episcopal Church.
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A proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage has divided North Carolina’s three Episcopal bishops from other church leaders in the state.

Last week Bishops Michael Curry, Clifton Daniel and Porter Taylor released an open letter opposing Amendment 1, which will be put to the voters on May 8.

Their stance puts them at odds with a coalition of conservative church groups and the Vote For Marriage NC coalition.  North Carolina law forbids gay marriage, but adding that ban to the state constitution would make it much harder for a court to force the change.

In their letter, the bishops wrote they opposed Amendment 1 “because the love of God and the way of love that has been revealed in Jesus of Nazareth compels us to do so.”

“We oppose Amendment 1 because every time we baptize someone in the Episcopal Church, the entire congregation vows to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.’ We oppose Amendment 1 because it is unjust and it does not respect the dignity of every human being in the state of North Carolina. If passed, it will harm not only law-abiding gay and lesbian citizens but other men, women and innocent children in our state,” the three bishops form the church’s liberal wing said.

The Rev. Franklin Graham has recorded a message supporting a proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution that would make traditional marriage the only recognized domestic legal union in the state.

North Carolina resident Franklin Graham, the head of Samaritan’s Purse based in Boone released an audio message of support for Amendment 1 on 27 April 2012, urging voters to “take a stand on God’s definition of marriage.” Pollsters predict the ballot initiative will likely be endorsed by a majority of voters.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Religion law expert: Govt assurances on gay marriage have no legal merit: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2012 p 6. May 6, 2012

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Neil Addison

The government’s contention that the adoption of gay civil marriage laws would not affect religious marriage is not supported by recent U.K. Court of Appeals and European Court of Human Rights Rulings, religion law expert Neil Addison writes.

“It is fair to say that the entire subject is not as legally straight forward as the Government is suggesting,” Mr. Addison, author of the Religion Law Blog he told The Church of England Newspaper.

“In order to permit same sex couples to marry the Government merely needs to repeal s11(c) Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which says ‘11 Grounds on which a marriage is void; c)that the parties are not respectively male and female’.”

“However if it does repeal that sub section then those organisations and individuals which are authorised to register Marriage (which of course includes Church of England Priests by virtue of their office) would at that point be obliged to perform Same Sex marriages unless there is a specific statutory exemption,” he said.

The current state of the law, Mr. Addison wrote on his blog was that there was no difference between “Civil” as opposed to “Religious” marriage [as] both are in law the same thing and merely take place in different premises.”

In the case of Gas and Dubois v France 25951/07 the European Court of Human Rights reaffirmed its earlier decision in Schalk and Kopf v. Austria 30141/04 that there is no obligation under the Convention for States to legalise same sex marriage or indeed to legalise same sex civil partnerships, Mr. Addison said.

“The important point,” he told CEN is that under law “you either have same sex marriage which is identical to heterosexual marriage in all respects or you don’t have same sex marriage.  What you can’t do is create same sex marriage and then give it different rules.”

While, the government’s consultation states “the legalisation of same sex marriage would ‘make no changes to religious marriages. This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman.’  But this assurance is completely at odds with the European Courts decision in both the Schalk and Gas cases,” he said.

He noted the laws governing marriage in the U.K. would differ from Spain and other countries which had adopted gay marriage.  In 2009 the U.K. Court of Appeal in the case of Ladelle v Islington Council held the “orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life” was “not a core part” of the Christian religion.

Given this Court of Appeal precedent, if “Churches are told that they have to be willing to perform same sex marriage ceremonies they will have little legal ground to resist,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Religious oppostion to gay marriage “Orwellian” minister says: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2012 p 6. May 6, 2012

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Lynne Featherstone MP

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has rejected suggestions Church of England clergy will be compelled to solemnize same-sex marriages, saying it would be the U.K. government, not the church, who would “stand in the dock” to fight any potential EU directive. The minister also chided religious opponents of same-sex marriage their preference of traditional views of marriage over the government’s view was Orwellian.

On 19 April 2012, the member for Esher and Walton, Mr. Dominic Raab (Cons.) asked the minister “What plans she has to bring forward legislative proposals on same-sex marriage.”

She responded that the “Government believe that if a couple love each other and want to commit to a life together, they should have the option of a civil marriage regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

“Our current priority is the consultation,” she said, which opened on 15 March and runs until 14 June, “and we want to hear from all those with an interest in this matter.”

Mr. Raab stated that whilst he supported the proposal to allow gay civil marriage ceremonies, he was concerned the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010 may “expose churches and other religious institutions to legal challenge and force them to marry gay couples.”

“Will the Minister give a clear assurance that our churches will not end up in the dock in Strasbourg,” he asked.

Ms. Featherstone stated the government “will ensure that there is no risk of successful legal challenge against religious organisations that do not marry same-sex couples. It would not be religious organisations, but the United Kingdom Government in the dock in Strasbourg. We respect and understand the concerns of religious organisations, and we want to work closely with them to give them that reassurance.”

In response to a question from the member for St Austell and Newquay, Stephen Gilbert (LD), the minister stated the government’s proposal was “not touching religious marriage or redefining marriage. Religious people may continue to believe that marriage can be only between a man and a woman. That is not the state’s view. We do not take the Orwellian view that ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

 

East London vicar sentenced to 4-1/2 years imprisonment for immigration fraud: The Church of England Newspaper, April 13, 2012, p 3. April 17, 2012

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The Inner London Crown Court has sentenced the Rev. Brian Shipsides to four-and-a-half years imprisonment for immigration fraud.

On 3 April 2012 the court passed sentence on Mr. Shipsides, vicar of All Saints Church in Forest Gate in East London and his co-defendant, Ms. Amdudalat Ladipo, following their 22 Feb 2012 conviction of conspiring to facilitate entry and to obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK in breach of immigration law by allegedly conducting approximately 200 sham marriages between December 2007 and July 2010.

A second co-defendant, the parish curate the Rev. Elwon John, was exonerated by the court and found to have had no knowledge or role in the immigration fraud scheme

After having received a tip that the parish church was being used to conduct the sham marriages, officers of the Metropolitan Police and the U.K. Border Agency raided the church on 31 July 2010.  An examination of the church’s records led to the arrest of the two priests and Ms Lapido.

Ms. Ladipo, who served as the “fixer” – arranging the false marriages between EU residents and immigrants seeking British residency – has been jailed for three years.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Shipsides exploited a “loophole” in British law where those marrying in the Church of England are not required to obtain a certificate of approval from the Home Office ahead of a marriage.

The prosecution stated “most of the so-called couples participating in those marriage ceremonies were not actually couples at all and they were not married in that church because they wished to spend their lives together and sought the blessing of the church upon their union.”

“Rather, it is clear that most of the persons married at All Saints Church, Forest Gate, during the indictment period went through a ceremony of marriage for very different reasons – for the purposes of this immigration scam whose ultimate purpose was to enable one of the persons participating in the ceremony to obtain enhanced rights to enter and live in the United Kingdom,” prosecutor David Walbank told the court.

Mr. Shipsides hid the magnitude of his crimes from his congregation and the diocese by not reading the banns of marriage, and pocketing the fees from the marriage.  However, the sharp rise in marriages reported led to questions by the diocese.

“In at least one instance, such a concern was felt about one particular wedding that Rev. Shipsides was instructed [by the diocese] in terms that it should not go ahead,” Mr. Walbank said.

“He responded in due course that he had cancelled that wedding. That was a lie. He had in fact gone ahead and conducted the ceremony despite being instructed not to do so,” the prosecutor said.

Mr Shipsides conduct left the Church of England “open to abuse by those cynical and unscrupulous enough” to exploit marriage laws, he said.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Peter Grobel told Mr. Shipsides: “Your important role in this conspiracy was a disgraceful abuse of your calling as an ordained minister of the Church.  This was a conspiracy to breach the United Kingdom’s immigration laws by arranging sham marriages.”

“These marriages took place in your church. Your church where you had been the priest in charge for many years,” the judge said, adding “your criminal conduct appears to have been motivated as much by arrogance as by greed.”

“There really is no mitigation in respect of this type of offending which undermines UK immigration law, threatens the benefit system and exploits the lives of many vulnerable and desperate people,” the judge held.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Cats, dogs, contraception and Rick Warren: Get Religion, April 12, 2012 April 13, 2012

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Do all dogs go to heaven? Rick Warren thinks so, and he believes cats will enter paradise too according to an interview the mega-church pastor gave to ABC’s Jake Tapper for This Week on Easter Sunday. The influential pastor of Southern California’s Saddleback Churchoffered his views on the immortality of animal souls as well as comments on a wide range of issues including the implications of the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate.

While the ‘doggies in heaven’ angle provided a light touch to the interview, it also opened the door to a potential discussion of the theological and moral questions animating the contraception fight waged by the Catholic Church against the Obama Administration HHS mandate. However, the opportunity was lost to push Rick Warren on the coherency of his theological and political arguments as ABC treated the issue as a joke.

Yes, you heard me right — all ‘dogs go to heaven’ has a bearing on the question of the morality of artificial contraception. But ABC missed it.

Which leads me to ask two questions. Why did they miss it? And even if they were aware of the issue, where they wise to let it go?

Why did they miss it? One reason might be that given by New York Times columnist Mark Oppenheimer. In a recent GetReligion post by my colleague Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Oppenheimer responded to a question about media coverage of religion by saying in part:

It’s not skeptical enough. … We either treat religion with reverence, or we treat is as a human-interest curiosity … the truth is that the mainstream media is not critical enough. It misunderstands religion, sure — but is still oddly hands-off and reverent.

Oppenheimer is right about the media’s treatment of religion as being too soft and too reverent. But it is not for the reason he suggests. Most reporters do not know what questions to ask when speaking to faith leaders, and when they do hear something they often as not do not appreciate its importance.

We can see this in the This Week interview. In a segment entitled “Rick Warren: Contraception Debate About ‘Greater Principle’ of Religious Freedom” Tapper asked Warren several strong questions about his advocacy against the mandate. Warren encapsulated his opposition to the mandate stating that while he had no objections to contraception, he did believe:

There is a greater principle, and that is do you have a right to decide what your faith practices? I would be just as opposed to someone making a law that says every Jewish deli now has to serve pork. Well, I would be — I would protest that. Why? There are 100 other delis  you can get pork at. Why do I have to insist that the Jewish delis also serve pork? There’s plenty of places to get contraceptives.

Tapper’s political radar, skills and experience were evident when he questioned Warren. At one point Warren stated:

… Most or many religious organizations insure themselves. We insure ourselves here at Saddleback Church. I have 350 staff. We have a self-insurance program, where we do our own insurance. So we’re basically robbing from ourselves to pay for ourselves.

TAPPER: But weren’t you already required to do this under California law?

WARREN: That’s not the issue. The issue is on a national level, on a national level, to start limiting churches and their organizations, the church and organizations — or any organizations, whether it’s Christian or not, in what they believe that that limits what they do with their school or their health care, that is a violation of the First Amendment, in my opinion.

Let me say I am not examining the merits of Warren’s answers, but applauding Tapper’s skill in asking the right questions that served to draw out the implications of Warren’s thinking.

But a second segment, where Tapper asked questions of Warren submitted by audience members, showed the Oppenheimer effect in action. In her blog, USA Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman commented on the theological exchange between Tapper and Warren. She wrote:

Early on in the interview, ABC invited folks to raise questions on social media and one viewer tweeted a query: if “faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.”

Warren, a Southern Baptist, keyed in on the essentials of salvation — a personal acceptance of Jesus Christ. He told the tweeter, “I do believe that. And I believe that because Jesus said it… Jesus said ‘I am the way.’.. I’m betting my life that Jesus wasn’t a liar.”

Warren explained that God’s grace is the only ticket, that our works on earth cannot earn heavenly passage, although, he joked, “Most of us want to have enough.. good works to get into heaven, but enough bad works to be fun.”

Bottom line, says Warren, “I’m not getting to heaven on my integrity. I’m not getting to heaven on my goodness. I’m getting to heaven on what I believe Jesus said is grace…”

Grossman then stated these words were:

“evangelical gospel. But where Warren goes next may not be. Tapper relays a Facebook question: Do dogs go to heaven?

Said Warren, “Absolutely yes. I can’t imagine God not allowing my dog into heaven.”

Cats, too, Warren added. “Why not.”

The “Why not” answer Warren gave to cats in heaven could also have served as a great link back to the issue of the HHS mandate. For the theology that animates Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that sets forth the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception, is informed by the same issue that is involved in the question about animals in heaven. While I think it safe to say that all traditional Christians, not just Evangelicals, believe in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, I would disagree with the contention that Evangelicals on the whole object to the proposition that animals go to heaven.

Critics such as Peter Singer have held that Christianity has no moral regard for the welfare of animals. Singer prefaced his account of Christian thought regarding animals with the statement: “To end tyranny we must first understand it.”

But as Oxford theologian Andrew Linzey has noted, there is “an ambiguous tradition” about animals in Christianity. Thinkers as diverse as Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Fenelon, and Kant and have held that animals do not have rational, hence immortal souls. Descartes defended a distinction between humans and animals based on the belief that language is a necessary condition for mind and as such animals were soulless machines (Descartes, Discourse on the Method)

Others theologians, philosophers and writers as diverse as Goethe, St John of the Cross, C.S. Lewis, Bishop Butler, and John Wesley held the opposite view and believed that animals will find a place in heaven. Billy Graham is purported to have said:

I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness’ in heaven. If it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.

That may be all well and good, you say, but what has any of this to do with the healthcare debate?

As Janet Smith notes in her book, Humanae Vitae: a generation later, in Catholic moral teachings one of the differences between humans and animals is that while animals engage in reproductive sexual congress to create another member of the species, humans engage in procreative sexual intercourse “wherein they cooperate with God to bring into existence a new immortal being.”

The soul of Man is immortal while the soul of an animal is mortal. Thomistic theology holds that animals possess sensate souls that can respond effectively to the environment around them. However, animals do not possess rational souls — being able to reason about reality. The sensate soul is mortal while the rational soul, created in the image of God, is immortal. And it is this distinction between mortal and immortal souls that prevents animals from going to heaven, and prohibits contraception in Catholic moral teaching.

For the Catholic Church, Dr. Smith notes:

sterlization, abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization, and production of animals for “farming” of organs for transplantation are all permissible for animals. Yet the Church finds none 0f these actions permissible for Man. Again it is because of the nature of Man, not the nature of the  biological processes per se, that Man must not interfere with these processes.

When Rick Warren responded “why not” when asked whether there are cats in heaven, it prompted the question of what was distinctive about mankind, and closer to home, what was immoral about contraception. Why privilege one theological view of humanity or of the soul (one Warren admits not sharing) over against another?

Which leads into my second question. Had the reporter recognized the theological linkage between the two issues would it have served any useful purpose to ask this question? On a secular news show should all questions come back to a secular base? Or when interviewing a religious figure, should theological questions be asked that draw out the thinking and beliefs of the subject?

Is the Oppenheimer effect at work here? Is Rick Warren a political leader or a religious leader? Is his theology or methodology coherent? Is that even important? Am I aiming a bazooka at a fly? Should we give religious leaders a pass on their theology and hold them accountable only on their secular beliefs?

What say you GetReligion readers?

First printed in GetReligion.

Gay marriage will not harm the church, dean argues: The Church of England Newspaper, April 6, 2012, p 7. April 10, 2012

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Dean Peter Catt

The Dean of Brisbane has urged the Australian government to legalise same-sex marriage saying it is a question of equal justice that will not harm society.

In a submission to the Australian government’s federal parliamentary inquiry on gay marriage, Dr. Peter Catt, Dean of St John’s Cathedral, broke ranks with his Anglican colleagues and urged adoption of the proposed Marriage Equality Amendment Bill.

Saying he was writing in his private capacity, the dean told parliament that he believed that a foundational principle of society was that “each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all.”

Current laws and the traditional understanding of marriage discriminate against gay couples, he said, noting that marriage was “available to all opposite-sex couples with legal capacity, regardless of any other characteristic”.

“Recognising the union of same-sex couples doesn’t reduce the liberty of other couples to enter into legally- and socially-recognised partnerships – so there is an inherent injustice in preventing same-sex couples from doing so,” the dean argued.

Australia’s Catholic bishops have urged the government to reject the gay marriage bill, while the primate of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall in December said “discussion about changing same-sex marriage laws has been a topic of discussion across the world-wide Anglican communion, and resolutions at the Australian General Synod consistently support marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, based on Scripture.”

However, the dean argued that churches would not be forced to marry gay couples under the proposed legislation.  Adoption of the bill would also enable Anglican supporters of gay to press for change from within the church. “I believe the inclusion of this provision will provide a position space in which religious groups will be able to have their own internal debates and conversations about their approach to marriage.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

No gay marriage at St Paul’s Cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, March 23, 2012, p 7. March 28, 2012

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The Dean of St Pauls, David Ison, and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres

Dr. David Ison has backed away from a pledge to conduct same-sex blessings at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Speaking to the Times following the announcement of his appointment on 6 March 2012, Dr. Ison, the present Dean of Bradford Cathedral, endorsed the concept of gay marriage. “Marriage doesn’t belong to the Church,” he said.

The new dean said he was encouraged that gay people sought the church’s blessing for their partnerships. “As a Christian who is committed to marriage, I would say that for people to take on board, in their relationships, a commitment to lifelong chastity and being together is actually the best pattern for how to flourish if you’re going to be in a relationship… whether you’re gay or straight.

“I’m encouraged that a good number of gay people want to take on the virtues of marriage. For Christian gay people to model that kind of faithfulness, in a culture which, historically, has often been about promiscuity, is a very good thing to do,” he said.

According to the Times, Dr. Ison said he would continue to provide ceremonies to affirm and pray for homosexual couples. “The Bishops’ regulations say you can do things which are pastorally appropriate… Marriage is an institution, but the definitions of that, and how you get into it, and quite what its responsibilities are, have changed over time,” he said.

However, in an interview with the BBC’s Sunday Programme broadcast on 11 March 2012, Dr. Ison stepped back from his earlier remarks about gay blessings at St Paul’s. Asked by interviewer Edward Stourton about his views on the issues surrounding marriage, the dean said that “marriage is something which we have inherited as an institution and its meaning is defined by custom, practice, theology and law.”

“The government is trying to take a bit of a short cut in saying we just have marriage and open it to same sex couples too,” he said, adding that the Church of England was looking at the question of “how we related the church’s teaching and the doctrine of marriage to the need to be able to order, to express and to affirm gay partnerships … we need to make the virtues of marriage available to gay couples,” Dr. Ison said.

Asked if he would be “happy to conduct a gay marriage at St Pauls?” the dean responded that “there isn’t such a thing as gay marriage.”

“What I have done, once, is to pray for a couple who wanted to see Jesus Christ at the centre of their civil partnership. And I would be glad to do that with the bishop’s permission and within the framework of the guidance of the Church of England,” Dr. Ison said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gay marriage ‘nuts': The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012, p 6 March 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, Politics.
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The Church of England will be making a submission to the government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Mr. Tony Baldry told Parliament last week.

On 1 March 2012, the member for Wellingborough, Mr. Peter Bone, (Con.) asked what “recent representations he has received on the implications for the Church Commissioners of the Government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage.”

Mr. Baldry stated the Church of England would be making a “detailed submission to the forthcoming consultation exercise, which will provide an opportunity for a more focused critique of what is proposed, including the proposal to distinguish in law between civil and religious marriage.”

In response Mr. Bone asked if it would not be simpler “just to write back and say, ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman so this is completely nuts’?”

The Second Church Estates Commissioner declined to be drawn over the sanity of the government’s plans, but noted that “so far as the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and many other faith groups are concerned, marriage is a union between one man and one woman. That is a point that we will be putting forward, I hope, responsibly and clearly in the consultation.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church of Ireland debates sex and Christian belief: The Church of England Newspaper, March 15, 2012 March 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Marriage.
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The Archbishops of Dublin and Armagh. Photo: Church of Ireland Press Office

The Church of Ireland has reaffirmed its belief in traditional marriage.  In a statement released at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Ballyconnell, the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin stated the “church’s position on marriage as being the union of one man and one woman remains constant”.

Approximately 450 members of the Church of Ireland’s General Synod met from 9-10 March 2012 at the Slieve Russell Hotel in Co Cavan at a special meeting of synod called to discuss human sexuality “in the context of Christian belief”.

The meeting had been organized by the Irish House of Bishops in response to the controversy surrounding the revelation that the Dean of Leighlin in July 2011 registered a same-sex civil union with his partner, with the tacit approval of his bishop.

The special two day meeting was not designed to achieve a resolution to the disputes over human sexuality, organizers of the conference told The Church of England Newspaper, but to further debate.  The gathering was also closed to the press in order to facilitate the free flow of discussion.

The conference opened with address from Dr. Alan Harper, the Archbishop of Armagh and Dr. Michael Jackson, the Archbishop of Dublin and was followed by round table discussion of the scripture and human sexuality led by Bishop Richard Clarke of Meath and Kildare.  After a break for dinner the conference reassembled to hear “storytellers” offer “their personal experiences from gay perspectives.”

A series of seminars were offered on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  The Rev Doug Baker, a consultant to the Church of Ireland’s Hard Gospel Committee and instructor at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, spoke on the topic of handling conflicts within the church, while Mrs. Ethne Harkness and Judge Catherine McGuinness gave an overview of the state of legislation in Northern Ireland and the Republic on civil partnerships and the proposals being put forward by the coalition government on gay marriage.

Two ecumenical participants, Bishop Jana Jeruma-Gringberga of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain and Dr Andrew Goddard of the Church of England led a seminar on the science and psychology of same-sex attraction and gender determination, while Dr. William Olhausen, rector of Killiney Parish, Ballybrack, and Dr Stephen White, Dean of Killaloe in Co Clare spoke to the theological issues at play.

Dr. Bryan Follis, rector of All Saints’ Church, Belfast and the Rev Brian O’Rourke, rector of St Anne’s Church, Shandon in Cork offered differing views on the pastoral care of gay people in congregations.  Dr Follis affirmed the church’s traditional teaching on the morality of homosexual behavior, but discussed ways of providing pastoral support to those with a homosexual orientation that reflected the love of Christ while being faithful to his word.  Mr. O’Rourke, rector of parish self-described “inclusive church” argued the church should provide the same level of support to gay people that it did to all others, including offering them the opportunity to marry.

Two sets of parents spoke of their experiences with gay children, while the chairperson of Changing Attitude Ireland, Canon Virginia Kennerley and the chaplain at Queen’s University Belfast, the Rev. Barry Forde, spoke on the question whether it was possible to agree to disagree.

On the second day, the Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller led a study for the conference on the Gospel texts surrounding human sexuality (Matt 5:17-48; Matt 19:3-12; Matt 25:31-46; John 4:1-54), while the Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh, the Rt. Rev. Ken Clarke, discussed Rom 1:8-32 and 1 Cor 1:1-20.

In their statement the archbishops affirmed the conference had seen “substantial conversation reflecting strongly held convictions characterised by clarity of expression without judgmentalism.”

It had been held in a climate of “respectful dialogue” and it was “clear that there is a breadth of opinion in the Church of Ireland on these matters but also a strong sense of the cohesiveness of the church.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Chelmsford curate cleared of immigration fraud charges: The Church of England Newspaper, March 2, 2012, p 3 March 7, 2012

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The Inner London Crown Court has exonerated the Rev. Elwon John of charges that he committed immigration fraud.

The curate at All Saints Church in Forest Gate in East London was found to have had no knowledge or role in the immigration fraud scheme conducted by his co-defendants: the vicar, the Rev. Brian Shipsides, and the fixer, Ms. Amdudalat Ladipo.

On 22 Feb 2012 the court found Mr. Shipsides and Ms. Ladipo guilty of conspiring to facilitate entry and to obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK in breach of immigration law by allegedly conducting approximately 200 sham marriages between December 2007 and July 2010.

After having received a tip that the parish church was being used to conduct the sham marriages, officers of the Metropolitan Police and the U.K. Border Agency raided the church on 31 July 2010.  They found Ms. Lapido at the church, waiting to witness a marriage of friends.

The defendant allegedly tried to dispose of a package she was carrying which the police recovered and found contained forged identity documents.  An examination of the church’s records led to the arrest of the two priests.  Mr. Shipside entered a guilty plea at the start of the trial, but Mr. John protested his innocence throughout – and has now been acquitted of wrongdoing.

In a statement released after the verdict was handed down, Simon Prankard, senior investigating officer at the UK Border Agency’s London Criminal and Financial Investigation team, said: “This was a long and complex enquiry into what was an organised and sophisticated attempt to cheat the UK’s immigration laws. It was also an unusual investigation, involving a church minister, Brian Shipsides, who was prepared to abuse his position and the trust placed in him by the Church and his community.”

“I hope this case sends out a message that we will not tolerate abuse of our immigration system.  Those who facilitate sham marriages are breaking the law and will be held accountable for their actions – no matter who they are.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Immigration fraud trial begins for Chelmsford curate: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2012, p 7. February 10, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Immigration, Marriage.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The trial of a Diocese of Chelmsford clergyman and his accomplice on charges of immigration fraud began last week at the Inner London Crown Court.

The Rev. Elwon John and Amdudalat Ladipo, an illegal immigrant from Nigeria, are accused of having conducted and facilitated approximately 200 sham marriages for a fee to assist illegal immigrants to remain in Britain.

Mr. John (44) is charged with having performed the marriages in concert with the Rev. Brian Shipsides (55) at All Saints Church in Forest Gate in east London, the Crown Prosecution Service told jurors.  Ms. Lapido (31) is alleged to have served as the go between the clergymen and the illegal immigrants.

Mr. Shipsides entered a guilty plea at the start of the trial, while the two other defendants have pled not guilty.

On March 13, 2011 the Crown Prosecution Service presented formal charges against the two clergymen and Ms. Lapido of conspiring to facilitate entry and to obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK in breach of immigration law by allegedly conducting approximately 200 sham marriages between December 2007 and July 2010.

After having received a tip that the parish church was being used to conduct the sham marriages, officers of the Metropolitan Police and the U.K. Border Agency raided the church on 31 July 2010.  They found Ms. Lapido at the church, allegedly waiting to witness a marriage of friends.

The defendant allegedly tried to dispose of a package she was carrying which the police recovered and found contained forged identity documents.  An examination of the church’s records led to the arrest of the two priests.

In his opening remarks Mr. David Walbank, prosecuting for the Crown stated the case against the defendants involved a “massive and systematic immigration fraud” centered at “one particular parish church in the east of London, All Saints Church in Forest Gate.”

The Crown will seek to prove that over a two-and-a-half year period almost 200 sham marriages were “entered in to for the purpose of immigration” with “most of the so-called couples participated in these marriage ceremonies were not actually couples at all.”

Illegal immigrants “married [to EU residents] in that church not because they wished to spend their lives together and wanted the blessing of the church, most of the persons married there for a very different reason.  Their ultimate purpose was to obtain enhanced rights to enter and live in the United Kingdom.”

The trial is expected to last for four weeks.  Last week Manchester vicar, the Rev. Canon Patrick Magumba, was jailed for 30 months for having conducted sham marriages at his church in Rochdale.  In 2010 the Rev. Alex Brown was convicted of having conducted almost 200 sham marriages at his East Sussex church, while the vicar of St Jude with St Aidan Church in Thornton Heath, Mr. Nathan Ntege, was arrested in August 2011 on suspicion of conducting fraudulent marriages and is awaiting trial.

Manchester vicar jailed for immigration fraud: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2012, p 7. February 10, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Immigration, Marriage.
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Canon Patrick Magumba

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A Manchester vicar has been sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for immigration fraud.

On 26 January 2012 the Bolton Crown Court sentenced the Rev Canon Patrick Magumba following a guilty plea entered last December on one count of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law and to two counts of theft.

Canon Magumba, a Ugandan immigrant and the former Team Vicar for the South Rochdale Team Ministry of St Peter’s, Newbold, St Luke’s Deeplish, and St Mary’s, Balderstone, was found to have conducted 21 fraudulent marriages at St Peter’s and 10 at St Luke’s between April 2008 and February 2011.

On 13 March 2011, the Archdeacon of Rochdale told the congregation of St Peter’s Church that Canon Magumba had been arrested and the rectory and church searched by officers of the UK Border Agency in connection with an investigation of sham marriages in the North West.

The police investigation found the vicar had also pocketed wedding and funeral fees, diverting £5,400 from St Peter’s and £2,908 from St Luke’s.

Magumba showed no emotion as sentence was passed at Bolton crown court on Thursday after he admitted carrying out 28 sham weddings.

As he handed down his sentence, Judge William Morris told Canon Magumba “whatever your motive for facilitating the fraudulent entry into this country of these individuals, neither you or anyone else in your place can place your conscience above the laws of this country. Your offences have brought scandal to the church and let down your family and parishioners.”

Sex and circulation: Get Religion, January 14, 2012 January 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Marriage, Press criticism.
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Jimmy Swaggart

There is nothing like a good sex scandal to boost circulation. A quick glance at the covers of the magazines offered for sale at your grocery store will confirm the maxim that sex sells. The escapades of film stars, royalty, and sports heroes have long been a staple of this genre, (politicians too, but they do not generate the same intensity of interest).

In recent years we have seen reality TV stars Paris Hilton, the Kardashian sisters and so forth — people who are famous for being famous — rise to pictorial prominence. But one of the staples of this genre that never seems to fade is the vicar sex scandal.

Every so often there will be a U.S. press feeding frenzy about naughty vicars — Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, John Corapi — but this is one area where in quality and quantity the English press continues to outshine America.

The naughty Church of England vicar caught with his pants down with a member of the choir is a story that never seems to grow old. The Daily Mail, which loves these stories, ran one the other day with the title “Queen’s chaplain takes a blonde from the church choir as his third wife (what would the royal flock say?)”

Here is the opening:

He is a senior Church of England cleric and Queen’s chaplain who has written guides to marital harmony. But the Reverend Canon Andrew Clitherow’s own affairs of the heart are causing quite a stir in his parish. He has divorced his second wife, Rebekah, and taken a third bride, Nicola, a glamorous soprano.

His congregation is in uproar and so is the local bishop. For Canon Clitherow, 60, is said to have assured the diocese there was no one else involved when he split from the second Mrs Clitherow last year. Now, less than a year later, the father of four has married Nicola Howard, 44, who has sung worldwide and released several albums. She has moved into the sprawling Georgian vicarage with him.

Although he is still at home, the Canon is no longer performing any church duties and is said to be on ‘sick leave’. Parishioners say his latest marriage to the mother of three is yet another episode in a bizarre clerical soap opera which began last year and is ruining the reputation of the church.

We then learn the details of Canon Clitherow’s personal life.  He married his first wife in 1982 and they had two children, but they divorced in 2002.  He married his second wife that year, a women he had first met in 1992 when she was a high school student and he the chaplain of her school.  This marriage also produced two children, but in March 2011 he announced to the congregation that he was divorcing a second time.

The Mail lets us know that rumors at the church swirled around this second divorce, with tongues wagging about the vicar’s affair with a blonde divorcee who was a member of the choir.  At the time of his divorce the vicar informed his bishop that the marriage had broken down but that there was no other person involved. The vicar went on sick leave following Easter services, citing stress as the culprit — and then married the blonde divorcee at a private ceremony at a registry office over the Christmas holidays.

The story makes great play with Canon Clitherow’s having written a number of marriage manuals as well as his position as one of Queen Elizabeth’s chaplains — a very great honor in the Church of England. It also offers the voices of angry members of the congregation, who want their thrice married layabout vicar — who continues to draw a salary and live in the rectory but does no work — to be gone from their parish as he is an “embarrassment”.

So you have it — a sex scandal (with pictures of the glamorous blonde) that one can read with moral relish and no embarrassment.  Too embarrassed to read about the trashy behavior of the Kardashians? Here is the genteel option, a Daily Mail story that allows the reader to be titillated and express opprobrium at someone who should have known better. What fun!

Now criticizing these sorts of stories is akin to taking a shovel to a souffle. This story has no pretense to being a morally improving tale or a work of cutting edge reporting — it is celebrity/gossip journalism. But in my secret heart I would have liked to hear something from the man’s bishop or some church voice to explain what exactly is wrong with this picture.

What is the Church of England’s view on divorce and remarriage? What is its view on divorce and remarriage of the clergy? There is a religion ghost here that could have been addressed without making the story too heavy.

I noticed one item — the timing of the first divorce in 2002. With the introduction of civil divorce and civil marriage in the nineteenth century, the Church of England was able to bear its witness to the evangelical expectation of marriage by refusing remarriage in church to divorced people without absolutely denying marriage to them.   This position, though never maintained without some sense of strain, continued to be the official position of the Church of England until November 2002.

Canon Clitherow could not remarry in the church until 2002 — and that coincidentally was the year that he divorced and remarried.

The Daily Mail ran a second story last week that touches upon these issues. “History’s repeating itself: Ex-Archbishop tells of the Queen’s ‘despair’ over Charles’s split from Diana and love for Camilla in a revealing new biography” offers excepts of a new biography of the Queen.

A new biography of the Queen reveals for the first time her despair over the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and the Monarch’s fears that  her eldest son was about to ‘throw  everything away’.

In Elizabeth The Queen, by Sally Bedell Smith, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, recalls the moment that the Queen finally confronted the problems in her son’s marriage. The Archbishop reveals she was terrified that history was about to repeat itself – that Prince Charles would give up his place in the line of succession for Camilla, just as King Edward VIII gave up the throne in 1936 to marry his mistress, Wallis Simpson.

Lord Carey says: ‘There was a moment when we were talking very candidly about divorce. I remember her sighing and saying, “History is repeating itself.” I saw despair. What she was talking about was the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

‘She was concerned that if they divorced, Charles would marry Camilla. She thought Charles was in danger of throwing everything out of the window by rejecting Diana and forging another relationship.’

In this naughty vicar story there are some strong echoes of the Charles/Diana/Camilla affair — Canon Clitherow after all is a chaplain to the Queen, as well as underlying religion motifs.

In 2005 the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams refused to marry in a church wedding Charles and Camilla, as conducting a new marriage would be tantamount to consecrating old infidelity. It would be compounding the wrong according to the Church of England’s teaching on remarriage — when the partner in the new marriage has been a significant factor in the breakdown of the old marriage.

The question I ask is how can these be reported? It may be too much to expect People or the Tatler to make these links. But is it beyond the Daily Mail? Is it beyond any newspaper? Given the prevalence of divorce in our culture can this topic even be addressed?

What say you GetReligion readers?

First printed in GetReligion.

Rochdale vicar enters guilty plea in immigration fraud trial: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 7. December 31, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Immigration, Marriage.
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Patrick Magumba

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A Manchester vicar is facing imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges of having committed immigration fraud.

On 12 December 2011 the Rev Canon Patrick Magumba entered a guilty plea before the Bolton Crown Court to one count of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law and to two counts of theft.

Canon Magumba, a Ugandan immigrant and the former Team Vicar for the South Rochdale Team Ministry of St Peter’s, Newbold, St Luke’s Deeplish, and St Mary’s, Balderstone, was charged with having conducted 21 fraudulent marriages at St Peter’s and 10 at St Luke’s between April 2008 and February 2011.

On 13 March 2011, the Archdeacon of Rochdale told the congregation of St Peter’s Church that Canon Magumba had been arrested and the rectory and church searched by officers of the UK Border Agency in connection with an investigation of sham marriages in the North West.

A spokesman for the diocese confirmed Canon Magumba had been “questioned by the immigration crime team over irregularities in relation to weddings” and “following proper procedures,” Manchester Bishop Nigel McCulloch suspended Canon Magumba’s “licence to operate as a minister of religion” pending the outcome of the investigation.

The police investigation found the vicar had also pocketed wedding and funeral fees, diverting £5,400 from St Peter’s and £2,908 from St Luke’s. It is not known whether these fees were the proceeds of the fraudulent weddings.

After the plea was entered, Judge Thomas Teague told the cleric that “he must expect to lose his liberty for some time.”

Canon Magumba will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on 19 January 2012.

Anglican “no” to gay marriage in Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, December 16, 2011 December 17, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican leaders have called for the rejection of the legalization of gay marriage in Australia.

Statements made by the primate, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, and Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney follow upon the 3 Dec 2011 vote by delegates to the Australian Labor Party’s national conference to support gay marriage.

However, the conference also endorsed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s call to allow ALP MP’s a free vote when amendments to the federal Marriage Act come before parliament next year.  While the governing ALP and the Greens support gay marriage, the opposition has instructed its members to vote against the change, while a number of Right Labor MPs have voiced opposition to the change.

In a statement released last week, Dr. Aspinall said that while the Anglican Church “acknowledges and continues to participate” in the national debate over gay marriage, it does so from the position of “commitment to the present definition of marriage in the federal Marriage Act.”

He noted the 2010 General Synod had expressed its “commitment to the present definition of Marriage under Commonwealth Law: that marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

Dr. Aspinall added that while many Anglicans supported state recognition of same-sex civil unions, “changing the definition of ‘marriage’ away from the exclusivity of male and female is not consistent with the Church’s current view.”

The Archbishop of Sydney rejected the philosophical and ethical premise behind the push for gay marriage.  In a 3 Dec 2011 statement, he said the ALP had a “proud history” of supporting equality, “so it is disappointing to see it divided over the false rhetoric of ‘equality’ surrounding same-sex marriage.”

The definition of marriage under law “is not a denial of rights,” he said, noting that “issues of inequity regarding the financial and legal status of same-sex relationships have already been addressed by the Parliament and I have supported these changes.”

But the ALP must consider the cost of tinkering with marriage.  “Redefining marriage will have unintended and unwelcome consequences for the meaning of parenthood, our openness to other forms of marriage, sex education and our commitment to religious freedom,” Dr. Jensen said.

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