jump to navigation

Justin Welby joins Tony Blair in Nigerian launch of inter-faith youth dialogue: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Interfaith, Islam.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Archbishop of Canterbury-designate has joined Tony Blair and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan in launching an inter-faith initiative in Nigeria to promote reconciliation between Christians and Muslims.

On 22 Nov 2012, Bishop Justin Welby took part in the conference in Abuja organized by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that brought Christian and Muslim students together. “By talking directly to one another, the aim is to break down barriers, and give the students the knowledge to resist extremist voices and ideology by working together to achieve long term peace for the next generation in Nigeria,” conference organizers said.

“Thirty four years after first coming to Nigeria, and with more than seventy visits since in all parts of this vibrant, passionate, talented and promising country, I am both challenged and profoundly excited by this initiative,” Bishop Welby said.

“It is a service, there is no question of bringing some external solutions, and peace and development in this country are always made possible only by Nigerians. Thank you for allowing me to contribute to the future of a country I admire and love,” he told the young people participating in the gathering.

Christian and Muslim leaders welcomed the dialogue between young people, while Mr. Blair said personallydeeply committed to addressing the challenges of religious reconciliation in Nigeria. Understanding and respecting different faiths is central to securing sustainable peace, particularly where those who seek to misuse religion for violent ends aim to destroy it.”

He lauded the work of Bishop Welby also, saying he hoped “that over the coming months, the work he and my Foundation do will go towards healing the rifts and divisions amongst faiths in the country, bringing unity and peaceful co-existence”.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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.
Tags:
comments closed

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.

Carlisle vicar sentenced to jail for abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

A Carlisle vicar, the Rev. Ronald Johns, has been sentenced to four years imprisonment by the Carlisle Crown Court for child abuse.  On 27 Sept 2012 Johns pled guilty to two charges of indecent assault and four counts of gross indecency against one victim, two charges of gross indecency with a second victim, and two charges of gross indecency with a third.

A statement released by the Diocese of Carlisle on 19 Nov 2012 said that a “prison sentence can never be a matter of pleasure, nor can it put right wrongs that were done, but the sentence given to Ron Johns today is just and fair and reflects the gravity of his offences.”

“We know that those abused are so manipulated by the abuser that they are the ones who end up feeling guilty, while the abuser attempts to excuse himself.  The Diocese of Carlisle therefore hopes that Ron John’s victims will feel that this sentence lays clear the truth:  Ron Johns did wicked things, which were not their fault or responsibility.”

Bishop James Newcome added that “we unreservedly condemn this and any abuse.  Jesus made it clear that those who are most vulnerable should be most precious, and hence safest with the Church.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.  We apologize again to them for failing to take the action we should have done when Ron John’s crimes first came to light.”

In his summing up, Judge Rabinder Singh said he was incarcerating Mr. Johns (75) as a pre-sentence evaluation found him to be a danger to society and that his behavior was manipulative and predatory.

On 15 Oct 2012 Bishop Newcome apologized for the way his predecessor, Bishop Ian Harland, dealt with Mr. Johns after allegations of abuse were raised. After Johns admitted the charges were true, Bishop Harland did not report the incidents to the police but transferred him from his post as canon at Carlisle Cathedral to serve as vicar of Caldbeck and Castle Sowerby with Sebergham in 1994. No charges were pressed by the victims at that time, and the diocese did not inform the police of the accusations or Mr. John’s confession.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Self censorship and the New York Times: Get Religion, December 5, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, Free Speech, Get Religion, Islam, Persecution.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

An International Herald Tribune report about Pakistan seems a bit confused as to what constitutes sectarian violence. Written under the title “Christian Aid Worker Is Shot in Pakistan” the article from the New York Times’ international edition ties together three different stories in one article. But it does not want to say why.

This story with a dateline of Hong Kong is a compilation of Pakistani press reports and wire service bulletins. As per its ethical reporting standards, the Times‘ man acknowledges his debt to these sources, though he did make a few phone calls to provide some original material to the stories. As this is a first report on the incidents I am not that concerned with how complete it is or if all the facts are properly nailed down. My interest in in how the reporter laid out his story given what he had in hand.

And it is the construction of the article and the unwillingness to state the obvious that leads me to say the Times has lost the plot.

The shooting of Swedish missionary, an attack on a Ahmadiya graveyard, and the kidnapping of a Jewish-American aid worker all have something in common (it is called militant Islam) but the Times’ reporter appears at a loss as to how to put the pieces together. Last month the New York Times brought on board as its CEO Mark Thompson, the former Director General of the BBC. It also appears to have taken on board Thompson’s policy of treating Islam with kid gloves.

Here is the lede:

HONG KONG — A Swedish woman doing charity work through her evangelical church was shot outside her home in Lahore on Monday, according to news reports from Pakistan. A gunman riding a motorcycle fired at the 72-year-old woman as she got out of her car in the upscale Model Town neighborhood.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack was sectarian in nature or was perhaps linked to another event Monday in Model Town in which masked gunmen vandalized a cemetery.

The article then goes into the details as they were known of the attack and then links to the second subject with this transitional sentence:

But early Monday morning in Model Town, gunmen tied up the caretakers of an Ahmadi cemetery and desecrated more than a hundred grave markers, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

The Times gives details of the attack on the graveyard, notes that Ahmadiya Muslims are “considered heretical by mainstream Muslims”, and recounts past terror attacks and government fostered discrimination against the Ahmadiyas.

The story closes with the tale of a kidnapped American aid worker Warren Weinstein seized by al Qaeda last year. Details of Mr. Weinstein’s plight are offered and a quote from an earlier Times story is offered.

Mr. Weinstein, now 71, also appeared in a video in September, embedded below, in which he appeals for U.S. acceptance of the Qaeda demands. At one point he addresses Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, saying:

Therefore, as a Jew, I’m appealing to you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the head of the Jewish state of Israel, one Jew to another, to please intervene on my behalf. To work with the mujahideen and to accept their demands so that I can be released and returned to my family.

These three stories share the common theme of extremist Muslim violence against religious minorities in Lahore: Christians, Ahmadiyas and Jews. What then is the problem I have with this article, you might ask?

Look at the second sentence of the story.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack was sectarian in nature or was perhaps linked to another event Monday in Model Town in which masked gunmen vandalized a cemetery.

The choices the Times is offering the reader are: a) the shooting of the Christian missionary was a sectarian act; or b) it was not a sectarian act but somehow linked to the attack by Salafist Muslims against an Ahmadiya graveyard. Perhaps I am thick but I do not see the distinction between a and b. Are they not both sectarian attacks?

And by adding in Mr. Weinstein’s case, which also took place in Lahore and also has a religious element — an American Jew being held captive by Muslim extremists who is forced to make a plea to the Israeli prime minister for his life — the militant Islam links are all there. But the Times does not want to connect the dots.

Why? Maybe the author was in a rush to get something into print quickly and mangled his syntax. Or is this an example of the Times‘ stifling political correctness? Is the Times heading the way of the BBC and self-censoring its stories?

In March 2012 the Daily Telegraph carried a short item reporting on Mark Thompson’s decision not to broadcast a show that might be offensive to Muslims.

Although the BBC was willing to disregard protests from Christians who considered its decision to broadcast Jerry Springer: The Opera as an affront, Mark Thompson, its outgoing director-general, is more wary of giving airtime to Can We Talk About This?, the National Theatre’s examination of how Islam is curtailing freedom of speech.

Lloyd Newson, the director of the DV8 physical theatre company which staged the new work, challenged Thompson to screen his production during a platform discussion at the theatre.

He pointed out that Jerry Springer: The Opera was a lot more controversial because it was a “satire”, whereas his work, consisting of a series of comments and factual statements set to dance, is “a factual piece”.

Thompson’s spokesman tells me: “We are currently working with the National on various ideas. There are currently no plans to broadcast Can We Talk About This?, but this is not due to the play’s content or themes.”

In the past, Thompson has conceded that there is “a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam”. He claimed that because Muslims were a religious minority in Britain, and also often from ethnic minorities, their faith should be given different coverage to that of more established groups.

Has more than Mark Thompson crossed the Atlantic from London? While the Times has long been a bastion of PC reporting, its aping of the BBC’s supine stance on Islam is disappointing. The hiring of Mark Thompson did not cause the New York Times to engage in self-censorship on Islam — but I suspect courage will not be one of the strengths he will bring to his new post.

First posted in GetReligion.

Gay therapy ban ruled unconstitutional: Anglican Ink, December 4, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Free Speech, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

Gov. Jerry Brown

A Federal Court in California has issued an injunction blocking implementation of SB 1172 – a law which would prohibit licensed therapists from counseling minors who wish to change their sexual orientation.

In a decision hailed as a victory for religious liberty and free speech, on 4 Dec 2012, District Court Judge William Shubb held the law was unconstitutional.

“Because the court finds that SB 1172 is subject to strict scrutiny and is unlikely to satisfy this standard, the court finds that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims,” Judge Shubb held, “based upon “violations of their rights to freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Whistling in the dark about Islam and reform: Get Religion, December 3, 2012 December 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Civil Rights, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Islam, Press criticism.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
comments closed


Has anyone seen a story in the U.S. press about the opening of France’s first gay-friendly mosque? I’ve not come across anything in the U.S. mainstream media so far, but the story has received a great deal of play from the European press.

Now the cynic in me would want to feign shock at the New York Times not having picked up this story as it deals with an issue dear to its heart. However, it is the foreign policy ramifications of this story that I thought would attract the attention of the U.S. media elite — for the underlying theme of this story has been the philosophical principle behind U.S. Middle East policy. All right-thinking people — government leaders, columnists, the professoriate — believe Islam can be reformed and its tenets brought in line with the Western liberal mind. I am surprised not to have seen America’s public intellectuals jump all over this story.

On Friday Le Monde published a tight, nicely written story entitled « Une “mosquée” ouverte aux homosexuels près de Paris ». Drawing from a Reuters wire service story and its own reporting, Le Monde reported that a gay French Muslim had opened a mosque in a borrowed room on the grounds of a Buddhist dojo outside Paris.

Reuters reported:

Europe’s first gay and lesbian-friendly mosque opens on Friday in an eastern Paris suburb, in a challenge to mainstream Islam’s long tradition of condemning same-sex relationships. The mosque, set up in a small room inside the house of a Buddhist monk, will welcome transgender and transsexual Muslims and seat men and women together, breaking with another custom where the sexes are normally segregated during prayer. Its founder, French-Algerian gay activist and practicing Muslim Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, will also encourage women to lead Friday prayers, smashing yet another taboo.

“It’s a radically inclusive mosque. A mosque where people can come as they are,” said Zahed, 35, whose prayer space will be the first in Europe to formally brand itself as a gay-friendly mosque, according to Muslim experts.

M. Zahed sounds like he has latent Episcopalian-syndrome and uses all the right sort of Christian left buzz words. The story offers a few more words of explanation from M. Zahed, negative reactions from French Muslim leaders and closes with comments from a French academic.

“The goal of these Muslims is to promote a form of Islam that is inclusive of progressive values,” said Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, an associate researcher at France’s Research and Studies Institute on the Arab and Muslim World. The push by gay Muslims for acceptance comes as a younger generation of Muslims is questioning some of the existing interpretations of the Koran as over-conservative. “Even though they are still a extreme minority, their views have a solid theological basis. So their message is not having an insignificant impact,” Bergeaud-Blackler said.

The Le Monde story goes a bit deeper. The comments from French Muslim leaders are much harsher than those reported by Reuters.

« Il y a des musulmans homosexuels, ça existe, mais ouvrir une mosquée, c’est une aberration, parce que la religion, c’est pas ça », estime Abdallah Zekri, président de l’Observatoire des actes islamophobes, sous l’autorité du Conseil français du culte musulman (CFCM).

Which I roughly translate as:

“There are Muslim homosexuals. They exist. But to open a mosque, that is an aberration because homosexuality is contrary to our religion,” said Abdallah Zekri, president of the Islamophobia (sorry AP but that’s what Le Monde calls it) Observer for the CFCM.

 Le Monde also has some choice quotes from M. Zahed as well.

« Les musulmans ne doivent pas se sentir honteux. L’homosexualité n’est condamnée nulle part, ni dans le Coran ni dans la sunna. Si le prophète Mahomet était vivant, il marierait des couples d’homosexuels. » Il rêve d’un islam « apaisé, réformé, inclusif », qui accepterait le blasphème car « la pensée critique est essentielle pour le développement spirituel ».

Which I understand to mean:

Muslims should not feel ashamed. Homosexuality is not condemned either in the Koran or in the Sunna. If the Prophet Muhammad were alive, he would marry of homosexual couples.” [Zahed] dreams of  “peaceful, reformed, inclusive” Islam which which accepts blasphemy as “critical thinking essential to its spiritual development.”

Le Monde frames the story in a sympathetic light to M. Zahed. He is the underdog seeking to reform an ossified, dyed in the wool religious establishment. The article offers both sides of the debate — M. Zahed’s beliefs and the institutional response. However, I am surprised this item has not received the New Yorker 10,000 word treatment. A Muslim who speaks like an Episcopalian I imagine would be catnip to the mainstream American media.

The Islam of M. Zahed is that of Presidents Bush and Obama. Government policy since 9/11 has been predicated on the belief that Islam is like Christianity or Judaism. Given enough time, money and jawboning, Islam can reform and accommodate itself within a secularist pluralist society.

Le Monde‘s article about M. Zahed and Islam is written from a Westernized Christian worldview. Change the location to Texas and Islam for Southern Baptists and you would have the exact same story — even down to the buzz words and phrases proffered by M. Zahed. How often is it repeated that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality?

However, Islam is fundamentally different from Judaism and Christianity and this difference is what makes it nearly impossible for Islam to reform. And, it is the consensus of Islamic scholars that Islam is in no need of reform. Writing in the Asia Times under the pen name Spengler, David P. Goldman’, stated:

Hebrew and Christian scripture claim to be the report of human encounters with God. After the Torah is read each Saturday in synagogues, the congregation intones that the text stems from “the mouth of God by the hand of Moses”, a leader whose flaws kept him from entering the Promised Land. The Jewish rabbis, moreover, postulated the existence of an unwritten Revelation whose interpretation permits considerable flexibility with the text. Christianity’s Gospels, by the same token, are the reports of human evangelists.

The Archangel Gabriel, by contrast, dictated the Koran to Mohammed, according to Islamic doctrine. That sets a dauntingly high threshold for textual critics. How does one criticize the word of God without rejecting its divine character? In that respect the Koran resembles the “Golden Tablets” of the Angel Moroni purported found by the Mormon leader Joseph Smith more than it does the Jewish or Christian bibles.

Now almost 10 years old, Spengler’s “You say you want a reformation?” remains fresh and his observations stand as a challenge to U.S. government policies that believe Islam can be transformed into another variety of American Protestantism.

Speaking at the U.N. in September, President Obama said of the Arab Spring:

“True democracy—real freedom—is hard work,” Mr. Obama said. “Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents. In hard economic times, countries must be tempted— may be tempted—to rally the people around perceived enemies, at home and abroad, rather than focusing on the painstaking work of reform.”

Can Islam, which allows for no distinction between church and state, reform? The academic cited in the Le Monde piece believes it can. France’s first gay mosque will be a symbol of the younger generation’s desire for an “Islam that is inclusive of progressive values,” she stated. A contrary voice speaking to Islam’s response to minority voices (past and present) would have been a welcome counterweight. And give pause to those expecting peace to break out all over the Muslim world.

First printed in Get Religion.

Waldo offers his support to TEC loyalists in South Carolina: Anglican Ink, December 3, 2012 December 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Secession, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: , ,
comments closed
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo

The Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina has offered his support to national church loyalists in the Diocese of South Carolina in their battle with Bishop Mark Lawrence.

In his 2 Dec 2012 Advent letter to the church, Bishop Andrew Waldo did not offer ecclesiastical oversight to the 5 to 12 South Carolina congregations that did not back the 17 Nov 2012 vote for secession, his offer of pastoral support lays the ground work for their absorption in to his diocese.

Bishop Waldo wrote this “Advent find South Carolina Episcopalians with an open wound, our armor pierced by our inability across diocesan boundaries to navigate the challenges of living and staying together in disagreement.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 58, December 2, 2012 December 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church, Zimbabwe.
Tags: , , , , , ,
comments closed


This week Kevin and George talk about the Artificial Ecclesiastical Diocese of South Carolina (AEDOS) and some of the miscommunication between it’s leadership. They also talk about International stories from Canada and Egypt. And what episode won’t be complete without a story about Legal Violence in Zimbabwe? #AU58 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

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

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ink, Marriage.
Tags: , ,
comments closed
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.

General Synod received a vote of “no confidence” from the Diocese of Bristol: Anglican Ink, December 1, 2012 December 1, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
Tags: , ,
comments closed
The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill

The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill

The Synod the Diocese of Bristol has endorsed a motion of no confidence in the General Synod of the Church of England, stating the failure of Synod last month to endorse legislation opening the episcopate to women clergy frustrated the “clear will” of the church.

On 1 Dec 2012, delegates to the synod adopted a three part motion of no confidence by a vote of 51 to 3. It stated:

In the light of the recent failure of the General Synod to pass the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) measure at its sessions of November 2012, despite overwhelming support for this legislation by this and other diocesan synods of the Church of England, Bristol Diocesan Synod:

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Manhattan media melancholia: Get Religion, December 1, 2012 December 1, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The New York Times‘ provincialism was the principal object of my harrumphing in last week’s Issues Etc. show of Lutheran Public Radio.  Host Todd Wilkin and I discussed three of my recent GetReligion posts concerning Media Coverage of Adultery, Gays in Pakistan, and same-sex marriage in Spain.

I was not aware that Lutherans had such a keen interest in sex — my stories about Bulgarian bishops behaving badly do not generate the same degree of excitement it seems.

Todd opened the show by teeing one up for me, asking why I described a recent item from the Gray Lady as being a “mid week sermon” rather than a news story. This provided an opportunity for me to be self-righteous, puff out my cheeks and tell “you kids” to “get off my lawn.” I also decried the Times‘ failure of imagination.

The gist of my criticism of the adultery story and Times‘ article detailing the gay sub-culture of Pakistan was that the conceptual universe presented in these stories is circumscribed. A news article on adultery laws is written from the perspective of an anthropologist peeping through the bushes at an exotic tribe. How quaint and colorful these primitive people are.

The same attitude is displayed in the story about Pakistan’s gay subculture. There is only one way to be gay and that is the New York Times‘ way, we learn. Men and women with same-sex orientations or relationships are not gay until they conform to Western standards (or stereotypes).

And, the Times appeared to have forgotten the role religion plays in shaping Pakistani culture. I argued this was a failure of imagination and reporting — a failure of reporting in that no mention of the role of militant Islam in governing sexual mores was mentioned, nor of the changing nature of Islam in Pakistan. The Sufi-dominated past has been replaced by a Saudi-dominated Wahabbist present — Sharia law and all that.

While were going on about sex, Todd rounded out the show with an article I wrote on the coverage of the gay marriage decision handed down by Spain’s constitutional court as reported in Madrid’s El Pais. However, the conversation took a different direction as the host asked me why I was tolerant of El Pais‘ bias in reporting on gay marriage, but cut the Times less slack for the same sins.

My response was that El Pais made no secret of its biases — it is an advocacy newspaper. Its news reports are filtered through its editorial voice. The facts are there (hopefully all of them), but the interpretation or framework upon which these facts are laid is that of the Manhattan booboisie. The Times does not acknowledge its biases and believes it engages in classical American journalism.

Many Times stories do meet this criteria and full, fair, thoughtful stories can be found every day in its pages. But over the past generation the European style of advocacy reporting has crept in — and in issues touching upon the “culture wars”, Times stories more often than not are advocacy, not news stories.The result is a suffocating style of reporting that is unable to move beyond prejudices and conventional pieties.

Why does any of this matter? Am I huffing and puffing about the Times’ new journalism because it is not to my ideological tastes? There may be some truth in this rejoinder — and if the substance of my critique remained at this level then I would concede my criticisms are as shallow as the reporting I scorn.

What I hope to convey in my pieces published at GetReligion is my belief that the journalist as an author has an obligation as a literary artist to chronicle, to create, to order, and thereby serve not merely personal and superficial truths but universal ones. This obligation to the truth is the goal of classical journalism, and its renunciation by the Times in pursuit of advocacy and expediency is what I find to be so very disheartening.

Well, that is what I hoped I said.  Tune in and see.

First printed in GetReligion.

No Catholics in the new Europe: Get Religion, November 30, 2012 November 30, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Anglican Ink, EU, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

This is a great country. I’ve been privileged to live and work abroad, but there is no place like America. It’s a cleaner, cheaper, nicer place. Big cars, big hair, the big country — purple mountains majesty, amber waves of grain and all that — makes me proud to be an American. Give me a political landscape dominated by God, guns and gays and I’m happy. Yet, I must admit there are some things Europeans do better than Americans. I take away nothing from the observations made in Philip Jenkins book, “The New Anti-Catholicism, The Last Acceptable Prejudice”, but the Europeans do anti-Catholicism or anti-clericalism much better than we do.

While it is the French who have unfairly earned a reputation as cheese-eating surrender monkeys in the American psyche, it is the the European establishment — Matthew Arnold’s chatter classes — who deserve the accolade. But as church-eating surrender monkeys.

Religion has no place in the public square in European political life. In January the Irish Independent reported the Irish Labour Party had called for a secularist litmus test for senior civil servants. Catholics were bad people who needed to be kept under close scrutiny lest they undermine the government.

All senior officials in state bodies which are likely to have to deal with the Catholic Church should be screened to ensure that they will not show inappropriate deference to the Catholic Church. Those who feel they are ‘Catholic first and Irish second’ should seek promotion in other organs of the State.

Such sentiments are not exceptional. The news this week of the appointment of a new EU health commissioner offered an illustration of this Weltanschauung. On 28 Nov 2012 the BBC and the DPA (the German wire service) reported the European parliament had given its approval to the appointment of Malta’s Foreign Minister Tonio Borg as health commissioner. For those who missed this news here are extracts from the DPA story:

Maltese Foreign Minister Tonio Borg will be the European Union‘s new health commissioner, EU governments confirmed Wednesday, giving the appointment its final blessing. Borg, 55, will replace John Dalli, who resigned last month over claims he did nothing to stop an acquaintance from using his ties to ask a Swedish company for money to influence new EU tobacco rules.

Borg has vowed not to water down the rules, which he has identified as a priority and has said should be ready in January. Borg‘s nomination had proven controversial, after some EU parliamentarians raised concerns about his conservative views on abortion and homosexuality. He has pledged to abide by the EU‘s human rights charter, regardless of his personal views on social issues.

The story received more play from the Times of Malta and Malta Today, which ran a provocative second day story based upon an interview with a Swedish MEP.

Cecilia Wikström, the Liberal Swedish MEP who had dubbed Tonio Borg “a dinosaur that does not belong in our modern world” when the former foreign minister was nominated for the post of EU Commissioner, has reiterated her stand that Borg’s personal political standpoints did not make him fit for the post of health and consumers affairs policy Commissioner.

And these objectionable beliefs are?

“Borg is a very well known politician with a high education [who] would have been a fantastic leader of Europe a couple of decades ago,” Wikström said, pointing out that his conservative beliefs might put him at loggerheads with several aspects of his portfolio. “Had Borg’s portfolio been on something else, like fisheries, culture, higher education or even the internal market, he would have been a wonderful commissioner. “Since Borg’s portfolio deals with rights and the choices people make, I think this is going to be complicated for him,” Wikström said, mentioning as an example, sexual and reproductive health rights that would include the provision of safe and legal abortion for women.

Ms. Wikström, who also is a Lutheran minister, believes Borg’s Catholicism to be incompatible with government service, save in areas that don’t matter much like Fish & Agg.

The only mainstream English-language report on Borg’s appointment that I have seen that raises these questions was the New Scientist – the British science news weekly. Its article “Staunch conservative to be new EU health commissioner” framed the story around the objections to Borg’s Catholicism.

Borg is Catholic and is known for his conservative views on abortion, homosexuality and divorce. For example, he is a supporter of the Embryo Protection Act currently being debated in the Maltese parliament. If approved at the end of November, the bill will prevent experimentation on human embryos, ban egg and sperm donation, and prohibit the freezing of embryos for IVF procedures other than in a few special cases.

The article reported on the grilling MEPs gave to Borg during his confirmation hearings.

Some MEPs questioned Borg’s stance on abortion, recalling how he tried to incorporate the ban on abortion, even if the mother’s life is at risk, into Malta’s constitution. Borg replied: “The laws on abortion are a matter of national law… These are not matters within the competence of the Commission and the Union.”

But in the end Borg’s appointment was approved on a 386 to 281 with 28 abstentions. The New Scientist rounded out its story with comments from liberal MEPs who warned they would be watching Borg for signs his faith was influencing his job, and with comments from International Planned Parenthood and a stem cell researcher who said that:

“Although I do not dispute his technical skills, there is the risk that personal views, especially when radical in nature, will interfere with or slow down important projects which have already been endorsed by public opinion,” he says.

From the classical journalism perspective, the New Scientist story is incomplete. We have the back and forth between Borg and his critics, but the comments and critical observations offered that would give context are one-sided — Planned Parenthood and a stem cell researcher. Nothing is offered from those on the opposing side of the argument. That, however, is not a surprise, as the New Scientist’s reputation is one of being on the secular left — and I do not fault them for being true to their editorial line.

But from the mainstream media we have next to nothing. The wire services and the short BBC item do not do justice to the ethical issues at play. Part of the problem is the lack of space and resources. Not all stories can be covered and editors must pick and choose how they utilize their space on the page and their reporter’s time. However, I also believe there is an agreement in just about all newsrooms that the criticisms raised by the New Scientist are valid. This belief that religion belongs to the private sphere of life and is not welcome in the public square permeates the European press.

A response I hear from supporters of the secularist model runs along the lines of “If you want to hear a sermon go to church”, meaning the worlds of faith and news are so far apart that one should not trespass on the other. I do not agree. Incorporating faith or ethical issues into journalism is not proselytizing. It is being faithful to the dictates of honest fair and full reporting.

First printed in GetReligion.

Presiding Bishop taking charge in South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 29, 2012 November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

A gathering of national church loyalists has learned that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is backing their move to claim the mantle of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The presiding bishop’s attorney told the 15 Nov 2012 meeting of TEC loyalists   the national church had been preparing for the fight with Bishop Lawrence and the majority faction in the diocese for some time.  However assertions made at the meeting that the former Bishop of East Tennessee will be intervening on behalf of the presiding bishop supplant Bishop Mark Lawrence were unfounded.

The Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg told Anglican Ink his officiating at public worship as a priest in the jurisdiction of the Diocese of South Carolina was permitted under a license he held by Bishop Mark Lawrence, while his actions as a bishop were of a pastoral nature. The retired bishop said the had been given “no special or particular authority” to exercise episcopal office in South Carolina.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Egypt’s parliament endorses Sharia law: Anglican Ink, November 29, 2012 November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Politics.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

President Mohammad Mursi of Egypt

Egypt’s Constituent Assembly has endorsed Article 2 of the country’s proposed constitution making Sharia law the basis for the country’s civil legal code.

On 29 Nov 2012 members of the Egyptian parliament began voting on each of the 234 article proposed by a constitutional committee chartered by President Mohammad Mursi. However, representatives of Egypt’s Christian communities and the opposition walked out of the talks last week after the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated drafting committee refused to compromise over Sharia law.

The Egyptian Independent reported there was uncertainty until the start of voting as to whether a quorum would be reached.  The 100-member chamber requires 67 members to be present to vote on the constitution and 22-members had announced they would boycott the proceedings.  However, the ruling party was able to call upon reserve members of Parliament, elected as alternates at the last election, to fill seats deemed to have been vacated.  At the start of the vote on Thursday afternoon 85 members answered the roll call.

Article 2, Sharia Law, which states that “the principles of the Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation,” remains unchanged from the 1971 constitution. However a new clause, Article 221 states that these principles are to be deduced from its fundamental rules and its Sunni sources.  The constitution also gives religious scholars at the Al-Azhar University the right to consult on the interpretation of Sharia law and its relation to the civil code.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

BBC to review its religion coverage: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 6. November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Press criticism.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The BBC has released the terms of reference for the review of its coverage of religion. The review led by former ITV chief executive Stuart Prebble will investigate the “breadth of opinion” by conducting a content analysis of the BBC’s coverage of religion, immigration, and the EU, by comparing its coverage of these issues in 2007 to its current coverage.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch last month the review had been prompted by complaints that the corporation’s coverage of world news and religion was not always impartial.

“It’s an acceptance that these are areas where people are particularly concerned that we should get it right,” Lord Patten said. “We’ve been criticised in those areas and we think it’s very important to listen to that criticism, not necessarily because it’s right but because it reflects real and interesting concerns.”

The review will have four principal terms of reference:

“Whether decisions to include or omit perspectives in news stories and current affairs coverage have been reasonable and carefully reached, with consistently applied judgement across an appropriate range of output;

“Whether ‘due weight’ has been given to a range of perspectives or opinions – for example, views held by a minority should not necessarily be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus;

“Whether the opinions of audiences who participate through phone-ins or user-generated content have been given appropriate significance, and whether the use of audience views in this way has correctly interpreted the relative weight of opinions of those who have expressed a view on an issue; and

“Whether the BBC has ensured that those who hold minority views are aware they can take part in a debate such as a phone-in.

The BBC Trust has previously examined the impartiality of the Corporation’s coverage of business (published 2007); network news and current affairs coverage of the UK nations (2008); science (2011) and the Arab Spring (2012). The report is expected to be completed by early 2013.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Christchurch Cathedral demolition approved: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 6. November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

A New Zealand court has turned back a legal challenge from an architectural preservation group that sought to block the demolition of earthquake-ravaged Christchurch Cathedral.

On 15 November the court rejected the petition of the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust, which had asked the court to stop demolition as the Cathedral was protected by an act of Parliament and could not be torn down without government sanction.

However, Justice Lester Chisholm ruled the Cathedral could be demolished, if a new Cathedral was constructed in its place. “Unless the terms of the Cathedral trust are varied, either the structure that remains will have to be repaired or it will have to be replaced by another Cathedral.

“While there must be a cathedral on the site, it does not necessarily have to replicate the Cathedral as it stood before the earthquakes occurred,” the court held.’

In an email to members of her diocese, Bishop Victoria Matthews wrote: “We have permission to deconstruct the old Cathedral and build a new Cathedral in the Square, and we are expected to use reasonable speed in doing so.

“The major deciding point seems to be the difference between building a Cathedral on the present site versus re-constructing the present Cathedral on the present site,” she said, adding “it is a 200-paragraph decision and I will bring to your attention further details at a later time.”

On 22 February 2011 the city of Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island was badly damaged by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The Cathedral’s tower collapsed and the walls and masonry were badly damaged, while the rose window above the altar was destroyed in a June aftershock.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Call for Royal Commission on child abuse in Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 7 November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Anglican leaders in Australia have welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s creation of a national Royal Commission to investigate institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse.

“The Diocese of Sydney expresses its unqualified abhorrence of child abuse, wherever it occurs,” Archbishop Peter Jensen said on 12 November 2012.

“While the terms of reference have yet to be decided, we will work and pray for an outcome that will result in a safer society for the most vulnerable,” Dr Jensen said.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Phillip Aspinall, voiced his support for the Commission also. “Of the nearly 3.6 million Australians who call themselves Anglican, statistically, one in four women and one in eight men are victims of abuse, so it is something that affects our Church on many levels,” he said.

A spokesman for the Primate said: “A decade ago Brisbane Archbishop Dr Phillip Aspinall called for a national Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. His call was dismissed by the Prime Minister of the time, and also rejected at a state level. Archbishop Aspinall believed then, as he does now, that the evil of child sexual assault needs to be addressed nationally, without fear or favour, respecting only the facts.”

On 12 November, the Prime Minister told reporters that she had asked the Governor General to charter a Royal Commission with wide-ranging powers to investigate church, charitable and state child care institutions as well as the responses of child service agencies and the police to allegations of abuse.

The formation of a Royal Commission comes amidst mounting media pressure in Australia to investigate child abuse committed in institutions such as orphanages, hostels and foster care homes. Last week a senior New South Wales police official accused the Roman Catholic Church of covering up child abuse in its institutions and protecting paedophile priests.

“The allegations that have come to light recently about child sexual abuse have been heartbreaking,” Ms Gillard said at a Canberra press conference.

“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject.”

“Australians know… that too many children have suffered child abuse, but have also seen other adults let them down – they’ve not only had their trust betrayed by the abuser but other adults who could have acted to assist them but have failed to do so.

“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil.

“I believe in these circumstances that it’s appropriate for there to be a national response through a Royal Commission,” the Prime Minister said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Court throws Dr Kunonga out of Zimbabwe’s churches: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 7. November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

A three-judge panel of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court has held the properties of the Diocese of Harare belong to the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and are to be administered by the Bishop of Harare, Dr. Chad Gandiya.

Supreme Court Judge Yunus Omerjee on 19 Nov 2012 dismissed the claims made by the former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and ordered that he return control to Dr. Gandiya. Dr. Gandiya greeted the news with joy.

“Today is a day of thanksgiving for the love, grace, mercy and faithfulness of our God. To God be the glory, Great things he has done! We will forever remember and sing how gracious our God is. We call upon all members of our Diocese to be gracious also in winning.”

In 2007 Dr. Kunonga broke with the CPCA to form the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. The breakaway bishop claimed his reasons for leaving the CPCA were due to its support of homosexuality and progressive Western theology. However, the CPCA has long opposed the innovations of doctrine and discipline made by some Western churches, and notes the controversial bishop had been the subject of investigations for fraud, heresy and misconduct.

He was alleged to have ordered the murder of disloyal clergy and was a vocal supporter of the country’s strongman, President Robert Mugabe.  In return for his loyalty, the regime gave Dr. Kunonga a farm expropriated from a white commercial farmer.  The security services and police also supported Dr Kunonga, using violence to expel Anglicans from their churches who would not pledge their loyalty to him. Court rulings that ordered Dr. Kunonga to share the use of church properties with Dr. Gandiya’s supporters were ignored, and attempts by constables to enforce them were blocked by the secret police.

Last month oral argument was presented before the Supreme Court panel on the seven Anglican Church appeals. At the close of oral argument the court dismissed five appeals as defective. Two appeals that determined the ownership were taken under consideration.

At the hearing attorneys Adrian De Bourbon and Thabani Mpofu, appearing for the CPCA, argued that in a letter dated 21 Sept 2010 Dr. Kunonga had resigned as Bishop of Harare of the CPCA and that the province had accepted his resignation on 16 Nov. The formation of the Anglican Church of Zimbabe by Dr. Kunonga was a schismatic act that did not vest control of CPCA properties in the new entity.

Attorneys Tawanda Kanengoni and Charles Nyika appearing on behalf of Dr. Kunonga argued the former bishop and his board of appointed trustess for the Diocese of Harare were still members of the CPCA.  Dr. Kunonga’s letter of resignation did not conform to the canons of the CPCA and was void.  The dispute centered round who was the proper Bishop of Harare. The court held it was Dr. Gandiya.

Dr. Kunonga did not respond to email queries asking for his comments, but in a statement released after the verdict was handed down, Dr. Gandiya called upon the Anglicans of Zimbabwe to rebuild the diocese. “The first thing we ask every parish to do when you go back is to carry out thorough inspection of all our buildings.”

“Assess the damage, note what needs to be done and carry out a full inventory of what we left behind when we were evicted,” he said.

The “rebuilding of God’s people in our diocese should be a priority also. Our people were greatly traumatised by the persecution of the last five years. They are in need of healing,” also the bishop said. “Come let us work together, let us rise up and build! Renovate! Paint! Let us do it all to God’s glory.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anti-Semitism complaint filed against Surrey vicar: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 6. November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in British Jewry, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Free Speech.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has lodged a complaint with the Diocese of Guilford accused the Vicar of Christ Church Virginia Water,with anti-Semitism.

The Rev. Stephen Sizer has been accused under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 for misconduct consisting of “conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders”.

The Chief Executive of the Board, Mr. Jon Benjamin told the Church of England Newspaper they had met “with the Bishop of Guildford who noted the formal mechanism for complaints that we have followed.”

On 31 Oct 2012 the Diocese of Guilford released a statement saying “the Bishop of Guildford is considering a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against Dr Stephen Sizer and will be following the statutory procedures provided in the Measure.”

“Nothing else can be said at present, since the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 ensures that legitimate complaints against members of Anglican clergy are dealt with appropriately.”

Mr. Sizer has not responded to requests for comments on the allegations.

In its complaint, the Board said Mr. Sizer “spends time trawling dark and extreme corners of the internet for material to add to his website. Rev Sizer re-publishes such items to support the target of his polemical writing, while at the same introducing his readers to the racist and anti-Semitic websites from where he draws his material.”

Mr. Sizer had kept some “strange company” for a “Church of England vicar,” the Board said in a statement released on its website denouncing his association with “Holocaust deniers”, Iranian government agencies and anti-Israel groups. However, its complaint lay not in politics or “his supersessionist theology.  While we view all of these with concern and distaste, Rev Sizer is entitled to his views and may travel where he wants.”

“But we draw the line at making statements that we regard as anti-Semitic and advertising the content of racist and anti-Semitic websites.  It is a matter of great regret that we are driven to make this complaint, but the Jewish community should not have to stomach material that we see as crossing the line into anti-Semitism,” the Board statement said.

“We are not seeking to have him stopped from his ministry or dismissed from his job.  We only ask one thing, which is that effective measures are taken to prevent him from publishing or re-publishing material that we find to be not merely offensive but anti-Semitic.  We don’t think that’s too much to ask,” the Board said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

My advice to Justin Welby: Anglican Ink, November 28, 2012 November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Opinion.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Beware of hats.

Not cats or bats but hats. Beware. … That is my unsolicited advice to the next Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Were the great man to give me two minutes of his time and seek my counsel, I would urge him to remember that inappropriate headgear can be deadly.

Just ask Michael Dukakis. The Democrat Party presidential candidate in 1988 ran a skillful primary battle against his party opponents, but let Vice President George H.W. Bush define him in the general campaign. The man behind the “Massachusetts miracle” was painted as being soft on crime and weak on defense. Remember the Willie Horton ads? Don’t blame Bush for that one, however. Al Gore first came up with that attack in the primaries.

However, Gov. Dukakis did try to push back on the soft on defense issue and made a campaign stop at a tank manufacturing plant. The erstwhile president climbed into an M1 Abrams tank and seated in the commander’s chair drove round the proving grounds. This should have provided an opportunity for photos demonstrating the Democratic contenders pro-military bona fides. Some great shots would have been the governor shaking the hands of the (union) workers building the tanks – pushing the honest labor or Rosie the Riveter motif. Or he could have dressed in casual but manly work clothes peering into the depths of an engine or gun system with a soldier demonstrating his craft.

What hit the wires was the Governor wearing a large helmet peering out of the top of a tank with a goofy grin splashed across his face. The helmet made Michael Dukakis look like a child and achieved the opposite effect, appearing ridiculous and soft on defense issues at the same time.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Defining depravity downwards in Deutschland: Get Religion, November 27, 2012 November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Der Spiegel‘s English-language bulletin reports that conservative deputies on the Agricultural Affairs committee of the Bundestag have introduced legislation banning sex with animals. I never knew the farm beat for German reporters was so, so … so edgy?

Let’s pause for a  moment to contemplate the work of government. Courage mon amie … be brave and join me for a look at the article “Germany to Ban Sex with Animals”:

The German government plans to ban zoophilia — sex with animals — as part of an amendment to the country’s animal protection law, but faces a backlash from the country’s zoophile community, estimated to number over 100,000. Zoophilia was legalized in Germany in 1969 and animal protection groups have been lobbying for a ban in a campaign that has been fuelled by heated debate in Internet forums in recent years.

Now the center-right government wants to outlaw using animals “for personal sexual activities or making them available to third parties for sexual activities and thereby forcing them to behave in ways that are inappropriate to their species,” said Hans-Michael Goldmann, chairman of the parliament’s Agricultural Committee. In the future, having sex with an animal could be punished with a fine of up to €25,000 ($32,400).

The article continues with a response from Michael Kiok, who is identified as chairman of zoophile pressure group ZETA (Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information). Mr. Kiok appears to be channeling Harvey Fierstein and one can hear echoes of “I just want to be loved, is that so wrong?” in his arguments.

He argues the new law is unfair telling Spiegel: “We see animals as partners and not as a means of gratification. We don’t force them to do anything.” Mr Kiok goes on to describe his relationship with an “Alsatian called Cessie” and argues that the cruelty animals undergo as they are prepared for slaughter in the meat packing business should be addressed before the police come looking for him. The author rounds out the story with a summary of European laws banning zoophilia — illegal just about everywhere but Denmark — and this scientific nugget:

Sexual research in the 1940s suggested that 5 to 8 percent of men and 3 to 5 percent of women engaged in zoophilia. “That would put the figure in Germany at 1.6 million but that’s definitely too high. Taking a wild guess, I’d say it’s well over 100,000,” said Kiok.

From what I have seen, this legislation appears to follow a February 2012 article in the Frankfurter Rundschau. Its article “Verbot von Sex mit Tieren gefordert” reported on the efforts of an animal welfare office in Hesse to criminalize zoophilia in light of her experiences in working on farms. This story has also been an occasion of journalistic fun — some of the French accounts of this story I have read are a delight. “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge … What can you expect from the Germans.” The Mail and other English newspapers also have fun with this story. The Guardian has the best, most complete story, I’ve seen so far and it is written in a matter of fact tone that attempts to keep a straight face — yet the Minister of Agriculture’s face is prominently plastered a top the story.

The Guardian‘s thorough reporting brings out the information that the zoophilia group, ZETA, has 100 members and gives details about Herr Kiok.

But it is the British tabloid, The Sun who has the best quotes, has the most fun and raises the best question.

Bestiality dropped off the statute books as a crime in 1969 but in recent years incidents of it have mushroomed along with websites promoting it. There are even “erotic zoos” for perverts to visit and abuse animals ranging from llamas to goats. Hans-Michael Goldmann, chairman of the agriculture committee, said the government aimed to forbid using an animal “for individual sexual acts and to outlaw people ‘pimping’ creatures to others for sexual use”.

But pro-zoophilia campaign group ZETA — Zoophiles Commitment to Tolerance and Enlightenment — vowed to challenge any ban on bestiality. Chairman Michael Kiok said: “Mere concepts of morality have no business being law.”

Leave it to the tabloids to be the only forum where issues of ethics and morality are raised in conjunction with this story.

Perhaps this issue is clear there was no need to have an explanation why it is necessary to re-criminalize zoophilia after its having been made legal for 43 years. It is not necessary to explain why Nazi race theory, for example, is repellant and its arguments not disseminated. Yet, I believe Michael Kiok’s assertion that “mere concepts of morality have no business being law” need be addressed.

The Frankfurter Rundschau story raises the issue of mutual consent. Bestiality is wrong because an animal cannot give consent to participation in sexual acts with a human. But should not the ethical and moral tradition that lay behind laws banning bestiality be acknowledged — and perhaps a word or two from an ethicist or moral theologian on why this has always been considered wrong?

In the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) bestiality is a sin. Beginning with the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament passages from  Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 18:23, Leviticus 20:15-16, and Deuteronomy 27:21) the Western religions have held that sexual contact with animals is a form of self-abuse, defiles the body and dishonors God and his creation. It is, to use that wonderfully old fashioned word, an abomination.

While little studied, the current state of medical knowledge classifies zoophilia as an illness. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III R 1987), zoophilia (bestiality) is a mental disorder in which human beings have sexual desires for animals. The DSM-IV, (1994) placed it under the residual classification “paraphilias not otherwise specified”. Paraphilias are inappropriate sexual deviant fantasies and fetishes, such as bestiality, pedophilia, sadomasochism, and other inappropriate forms of sexual thoughts, urges, and actions.

All of which brings me back to Der Spiegel. There is a hesitancy by the German news weekly to say that this is wrong. Is that the business of a newspaper? Should the moral voice be extinguished in modern newspaper reporting? Is Herr Kiok’s argument that morality should not govern law true?

Der Spiegel appears to think so, as it has framed this story in such a way as to remove the moral element. By not providing contrary voices to the Zoophilia activists, the newspaper does not address the issue as to why this conduct should be governed by law. Popular disgust with the practices under consideration might make such arguments appear superfluous, but when Der Spiegel writes from the philosophical presupposition of antinomianism — the rejection of socially established morality — it concedes the argument to the Michael Kioks.

Zoophilia was illegal for centuries. Has been legal for 43 years, and now will be criminalized once again. Why?

First printed in GetReligion.

Evangelicals/Catholics lay out conditions for women bishops: Anglican Ink, November 28, 2012 November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals will not block new attempts by the General Synod of the Church of England to introduced legislation permitting the consecration of women clergy to the episcopate, provided adequate safeguards are introduced to protect liberty of conscience, freedom of worship and association for the members of the Church of England opposed to the innovation.

On 28 Nov 2012 the chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod the Rev. Canon Simon Killwick and the chairman of the conservative Evangelical group Reform the Rev. Preb. Rod Thomas released a statement  pledging their cooperation with the proposals set forth by Archbishops’ Council to reintroduce legislation on women bishops for consideration at the July meeting of General Synod.

At the close of their 27-28 meeting, the Archbishops’ Council released a statement saying that some of their members were saddened and shocked by the outcome of the women’s bishop vote.  Therefore, “the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Archbishop questions why a dismissed priest was licensed in Norfolk: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 6. November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

The Rev. William Stewart and Bishop Graham James

A Norfolk clergyman has resigned after allegations of misconduct committed while he served in the Church of Ireland were posted on the internet. On 11 Nov 2012, the congregation of Holy Trinity Loddon in Norfolk learned their vicar, the Rev. William Stewart had stepped down. The Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev Alan Winton said Mr. Stewart had resigned due to a “campaign focused on a matter from his past”.

However a former Archbishop of Dublin stated he was surprised to learn Mr. Stewart had been serving in the Church of England. On 12 Nov 2012 Church News Ireland published a statement from Dr. John Neill saying: “It has been brought to my notice that my name has been mentioned in reports concerning the Rev William Stewart who has resigned as Vicar of a parish in the Church of England.   Whilst extending pastoral support to him and his family when he resigned from CORE Church in Dublin some years ago, I consistently refused to give him clearance to apply for any further ministry in Ireland or overseas.”

Mr Stewart was inducted in the Holy Trinity Church, Loddon, on 16 June 2011 by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, after serving in Dublin.

“A number of parishioners have been supportive of him and his family but he has increasingly felt that under the present circumstances, he is no longer able to continue his ministry,” Bishop Winton said.

However, “in appointing William Stewart the diocese followed the normal procedure of seeking assurance from the Church of Ireland that he was a priest in good standing, and a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check was made and returned clear.”

“On this basis he was offered the post of Rector of the Chet Valley Benefice in good faith. When information about William was posted on the internet, the diocese consulted Norfolk Police.”

The bishop said that the police advised the diocese to “manage” the affair “in accordance with its normal procedures”.

Although Mr Stewart has made an “excellent start”, Bishop Winton said that “as a result of the information published on the internet, he has increasingly found the strain on him and his family to be too much, and has tendered his resignation.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Buddhism compatible with democracy, Tibetan leader says: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 7. November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Buddhism, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Lobsang Sangay

Democracy and Buddhism are compatible social institutions, the leader of Tibet’s government in exile declared last week, but they can only survive in East Asia if Western governments engage with China over Tibet.

In a statement released on 14 Nov 2012 and subsequently published in the Wall Street Journal, Tibetan political leader Lobsang Sangay, said U.S. President Barack Obama’s forthcoming trip to Asia was a hopeful sign for Buddhists in the region’s fledgling democracies.

The tour will “attract a lot of attention throughout the region, but especially in Tibet. Mr. Obama will visit Cambodia and Thailand, two predominantly Buddhist countries, and will be the first sitting American president to visit Burma, also a majority Buddhist nation,” he said.

The American President “should use his trip in part to make a broader point about the compatibility between Buddhism and democracy,” said Mr. Sangay, who holds the title of sikyong, and serves as the democratically elected leader of the Tibetan people and the political successor of the Dalai Lama. Like their Burmese counterparts, “Tibetans in exile have worked to build a democracy. Indeed, as with the upsurge of the Saffron Revolution in Burma, Tibetan monks have been at the forefront of a non-violent struggle for freedom in Tibet for the last 60 years.”

He called upon the Obama administration to press the cause of Tibet with China’s new leaders appointed this month at the 18th Party Congress. “Tibetans in Tibet are crying out for justice, including the autonomy and freedom to worship they have been promised by Beijing over the years. Some 72 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, 70 of them since March 2011, and five in one day this month alone. The common cry of all self-immolators is the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.”

Western engagement with the Chinese government over Tibet would be applauded by the world’s Buddhists, he said, the “millions of Indians, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Mongolians who at one time looked upon Tibet as the source of their culture and home of their faith. Today there are reportedly more than 300 million Chinese Buddhists.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Congo call to prayer issued by church leaders: Anglican Ink, November 28, 2012 November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of the Congo, Anglican Ink.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

Archbishop Henri Isingoma

Anglican leaders across the globe have joined the call for prayer for the Congo and a peaceful end to its civil war.

The Congo Church Association (CCA), with the support of Archbishop Isingoma Kahwa of the Anglican Church of Congo, issued a call for a week of special prayer for the Congo, asking Christians to pray from Monday, the 26th of November to Sunday the 2nd of December. “We hope individuals, groups and churches will commit to pray afresh for a resolution and definitive end to the conflict, violence and atrocities, and for a new era of peace, as well as for the needs of all those affected.”

A UK-based support group for the Church in the Congo and other Francophone regions of Africa, the Congo Church Association has released a fact and prayer sheet outlining the needs of Africa’s largest country.

“More than 500,000 people have been displaced in the east, including 60,000 into Uganda and Rwanda, following M23 violence against civilians and fighting with the national army,” the CCA wrote.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Mission and Public Affairs Council rejects call to legalize euthanasia: The Church of England Newspaper, November 26, 2012 November 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council has urged Parliament to reject a draft bill that would legalize euthanasia.

In a response published in 15 Nov 2012, the council said proposals put forward by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Choice at the End of Life would harm the social and moral fabric of England.

The proposals offered in APPG’s Safeguarding Choice: A Draft Assisted Dying Bill for Consultation, would “permit people actively to participate in bringing about the deaths of other individuals, something that, apart from cases of self defence, has not formed part of the legal landscape of the United Kingdom since the abolition of capital punishment,” the council said.

The APPG released its draft assisted dying bill on 3 July 2012 and was based upon the recommendations of the Commission on Assisted Dying chaired by the former Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Falconer QC.

On 30 June 2012 Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, the pro-euthanasia group which helped produce the draft bill, said: “The time has come to change the law and allow people the choice of an assisted death if they are competent and nearing the end of a terminal illness. A clear and present problem combined with overwhelming public support means that change is inevitable.”

The council did not agree, saying that legalizing “assisted suicide” undermined the value of human life and created a hierarchy of values that would determine whether a life was worth living based upon “age, illness, disability or economic or social status.”

Allowing people to participate in the deaths of others “would have far-reaching and damaging effects on the nature of our society; a price too great to pay for whatever perceived benefits they might arguably bring to a few.”

The council said that those seeking to end their lives “may be seen as being vulnerable, their position needs to be considered alongside the obvious vulnerability of more than 300,000 elderly people who suffer abuse each year in England and Wales, very many of them at the hands of their own family members, often for pecuniary reasons.”

The question must be asked, the council said was “might a change in the law place more vulnerable people at increased risk of neglect, marginalisation or abuse?  Unless the answer can be a demonstrable and convincing ‘no’ it would be negligent in the extreme to contemplate such a change.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Yousef Nadarkhani thanks Christians for their prayers: Anglican Ink, November 26, 2012 November 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Iran, Persecution.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor jailed sentenced to death for apostasy from Islam but released after an international protest campaign was in London this month to thank Christian Solidarity Worldwide for its advocacy on his behalf.

On 10 Nov 2012 Pastor Nadarkhani spoke to the For Such a Time as This conference through an interpreter thanking Christians in the West for their prayers and petitions on his behalf.  The following Sunday he preached at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, speaking to the plight of Christians in Iran.

He told the CSW conference his visit was an “opportunity for me to share about what the Lord did for me and to thank you because you supported me by your prayers, you supported my family in a very difficult time,” he said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina withdraws from the Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2012 November 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Diocese of South Carolina has withdrawn from the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Delegates to a special meeting of the diocesan convention held on 17 November at St Philip’s Church in Charleston voted to affirm the disaffiliation of the diocese from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church taken last month by the Standing Committee and its bishop, the Rt Rev Mark Lawrence.

The split comes after years of theological and political disputes between the conservative diocese and the liberal hierarchy of the national Church over issues of human sexuality, the nature and person of Jesus, and the doctrines of marriage. Issues came to a head at the 77th General Convention last July when the diocesan delegation and Bishop Lawrence withdrew from the Convention after it adopted provisional rites for the blessing of gay marriages.

Writing to the diocese on 15 November, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the Convention had no authority to remove the diocese from the General Convention. “The alteration, dissolution, or departure of a diocese of The Episcopal Church requires the consent of General Convention, which has not been consulted,” she said.

However, the Church’s constitution and canons are silent on this point, and the question of diocesan secession is currently before the state courts of Texas, California and Illinois.

Saturday’s vote is the second time the diocese has withdrawn from the General Convention. During the American Civil War the diocese left the Episcopal Church to join the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. In 1868 the diocese rejoined the Episcopal Church of the USA – the last “Confederate” diocese to do so.

However, Bishop Mark Lawrence told his diocese that this time round the diocese would not affiliate with any other Anglican body, but for the time being would be an extra-provincial diocese of the Anglican Communion.

“We have heard from Archbishops, Presiding Bishops, and diocesan bishops from Kenya to Singapore, England to Egypt, Ireland to the Indian Ocean, Canada to Australia,” Bishop Lawrence told the diocese.

“They represent the overwhelmingly vast majority of members of the Anglican Communion and they consider me as a faithful Anglican Bishop in good standing and they consider this diocese as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” he reported.

Bishop Lawrence told The Church of England Newspaper he had been in conversation with bishops of the Church of England who were “eager to help in various ways.” However, he declined to say more, noting it was best to say nothing more at this time. But South Carolina Episcopalians were conscious they were “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses praying for us, supporting us, interceding on our behalf with the martyrs,” the Bishop said.

A quorum present, three resolutions were brought to the convention for action. The first affirmed by voice vote the disaffiliation from the national Church taken by the standing committee and bishop. The second approved by voice vote amendments to the diocesan constitution removing all references to the national Church.

A third resolution that amended the diocesan canons to remove references to the national Church was approved by a vote by orders with 71 clergy in favour and three abstaining, while in the lay order it was passed with 47 in favour and five abstaining.

Those abstaining told CEN their congregations had not yet decided on what course of action to pursue. Approximately 12 congregations were not present at the meeting and of those, some are known to be active members of the faction loyal to the national Church.

In a press conference held at the close of the meeting, the canon to the ordinary, the Rev Jim Lewis said: “For the sake of clarity, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina is our legally incorporated identity. We have been the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and remains so.”

First printed in the Church of England Newspaper.

All human labour is ministry which honours God, Dutch Protestants affirm: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2012 November 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Protestantse Kerk in Nederland.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The General Synod of the Protestant Church of the Netherlands has asked Dutch Christians to reflect on the theology of work – the place of human labour in relation to the created order.

In a discussion paper released to the Protestantse Kerk in Nederland’s (PKN) 2000 congregations at the close of the 8-10 synod meeting, the PKN said an examination of “Christian tradition and the Bible in particular” was the best way of understanding the man’s place in the economy.

The discussion paper, “We and our work” was centered round four propositions that drew upon the church’s Reformed and Lutheran heritage:

1) We don’t live from our work but from God’s work. Our work does matter indeed, however it isn’t the final reality. Our salvation doesn’t depend on it. 2) All human work, whether paid for or not, primarily is ministry and a contribution to the well-being of other people. 3) The laborer is worthy of his/her hire, no more and no less. and 4) Working is working together and requires working together.

Founded in 2004, the PKN was formed by the merger of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and counts approximately 10 per cent of the country’s population as active members.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted: November 24, 2012 November 25, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: , , , , , ,
comments closed

This week Kevin and George talk about the Diocese of South Carolina and the response to their vote to leave the Episcopal Church. Peter talks about the recent vote for Women Bishop in the Church of England and Allan Haley discusses the legal ramifications facing the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church. And as always there is much much more in Episode 57. #AU57 comments to anglicanunscripted@gmail.com — Thanks to all who sent money for George’s new camera — sadly Kevin told George the wrong settings for HD…

China’s last Anglican bishop dead at 98: Anglican Ink, November 23, 2012 November 24, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, China.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

Archbishop Peter Akinola and Bishop K.H. Ting in 2010

The Amity Foundation Press reports the last Anglican bishop in China, the Rt. Rev. K.H. Ting, died on 22 Nov 2012 in Nanjing. Bishop Ting Kuang-hsun was 98.

For 57 years Bishop Ting served as president of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, stepping down in 2010, to become the honorary president of the China’s national Protestant seminary.

Educated at Shanghai’s Saint John’s University, Bishop Ting was ordained in 1942 in Shanghai and served with the YMCA in China. In 1946 he moved to Canada to serve as missions secretary of the Canadian Student Christian Movement. In 1948 he moved to Geneva to serve with the World Student Christian Federation, returning to China in 1951.

From1951-1953 he served as General Manager of the Shanghai-based Chinese Christian Literature Society, and in 1953 became president of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary. In 1955 was consecrated as Bishop of Zhejiang of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican Church in China.

The last meeting of the Chinese House of Bishops and General Synod was held in Shanghai in 1956, and shortly thereafter the church was merged by the Communist government with China’s other protestant denominations to form the China Christian Council. Bishop Ting remained an Anglican bishop, but his church had been effectively dissolved.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Calls to silence Lord Carey: Anglican Ink, November 22, 2012 November 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Lord Carey

The student union at the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s alma mater has begun a petition campaign calling for Kings College London to remove George Carey’s portrait from a gallery of famous alumni.

On 26 Oct 2012 the Kings College London Student Union released a statement saying it was offended by Lord Carey’s remarks on marriage in a talk given at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference. Lord Carey told the meeting at Birmingham Town Hall that re-defining marriage would “strike at the very fabric of society”.

“Let’s have a sensible debate about this, not call people names,” he said on 8 Oct 2012. “Let’s remember that the Jews in Nazi Germany, what started it all against them was when they started being called names. That was the first stage towards that totalitarian state.”

However, the former Archbishop’s restatement of Christian doctrine and teaching on marriage and sexuality was “outdated, hurtful and offensive” the student union said. In the name of “diversity” they demanded he be silenced.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

The Pope hates Christmas: Get Religion, November 22, 2012 November 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Biblical Interpretation, Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

Breaking news from the Telegraph… the newspaper’s Rome reporter reports that one Joseph Ratzinger, a.k.a. the Bishop of Rome, Pontiff of the Catholic Church alias  Benedictus PP. XVI, claims Jesus was not born December 25, in the year 1.

As I read this story, “Jesus was born years earlier than thought, claims Pope” I could envision the clatter of the teletype in the background with three bells ringing to tell the news room a major story had come across the wires. In a story datelined from Rome, we learn:

“The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years,” the Pope writes in [Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives], which went on sale around the world with an initial print run of a million copies.  “The actual date of Jesus’s birth was several years before.”

The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new – many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC. But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world’s one billion Catholics is striking.

“Many historians believe” that Jesus was not born in the year 1, or 0? How about all historians for the past few hundred years — I’m not aware of any school of church scholarship that holds to the  contrary view. The Telegraph reports that in addition to challenging the notion that Jesus was not born in the first year of the Gregorian calendar, the pope claims the traditional church creche is all wrong:

Christ’s birth date is not the only controversy raised by the Pope in his new book – he also said that contrary to the traditional Nativity scene, there were no oxen, donkeys or other animals at Jesus’s birth. He also weighs in on the debate over Christ’s birthplace, rejecting arguments by some scholars that he was born in Nazareth rather than Bethlehem.

Well, there goes the Christmas pageant. But why is this news? Anyone with even the remotest knowledge of the issue would not be surprised by this revelation.

It could well be ignorance on the part of the reporter, who upon reading the third volume in the pope’s Jesus of Nazareth trilogy was dumbstruck by this information and had to rush to print to tell England the news. Or, it could be that the Telegraph, aware of the abysmal level of religious knowledge and practice in England, believed that this would be news to the millions of cultural Christians in England whose only relationship to the faith were hoary memories of youthful school and church pageants. Or, this could be just another story in the series of articles from the British press that paints Benedict XVI in unflattering colors.

The article closes out with an Oxford professor’s calming assurance the pope may be right as “most academics agreed with the Pope that the Christian calendar was wrong and that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly thought, probably between 6BC and 4BC.”

Again we have the “most academics” — I would be interested to know who are the dissenters that believe in the 25 Dec 00 date.

The signs the story was rushed in to print also comes from the selection of the expert. The Professor of the Interpretation of the Holy Scripture from Oxford is quoted on the absence of any dating in the text of the Bible as to exact time of Jesus’ birth. But the professor is allowed to move out of his area of expertise — Biblical interpretation — into Patristics or Patrology (the study of the writings of the Church Fathers and the history of the early Christian Church) and in doing so, the good professor makes a mistake.

The idea that Christ was born on Dec 25 also has no basis in historical fact. “We don’t even know which season he was born in. The whole idea of celebrating his birth during the darkest part of the year is probably linked to pagan traditions and the winter solstice.”

This claim by the Old Testament scholar about the origin of the Christmas holiday is false. While the village atheist may delight in repeating this legend, it is nonetheless untrue. A non-academic rejoinder to this “pagan traditions” claim can be found in a 2003 article “Calculating Christmas” by Prof. William Tighe in Touchstone magazine.

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

From this piece, should you be interested in the details you can access the academic literature. But returning to the Telegraph piece, there are some fascinating things raised in the pope’s new book — and smart fellow that he is it came out just in time for Black Friday. There is an interesting historical and religious debate mentioned by the Telegraph story, the location of Jesus’ birth: Nazareth v. Bethlehem, but that is passed over in favor of the “striking” news about the calendar question. Given the excitement over the women bishops’ vote in the Church of England the reporter may have needed to “sex-up” his story to find space in the newspaper for another religion news item. Whatever the reason, the story is a disappointment. The Telegraph is supposed to be a “quality” newspaper, but this story is worthy of the tabloids.

First printed in GetReligion.

Interview: Issues, Etc., November 19, 2012 November 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Interviews/Citations, Issues Etc, Press criticism.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Here is a link to an interview I gave to the Issues, Etc. show of Lutheran Public Radio broadcast on 19 Nov 2012.

2. Media Coverage of Adultery, Gays in Pakistan, and same-sex marriage in Spain – George Conger, 11/19/12

Church of Sweden backs Israel boycott campaign: Anglican Ink, November 21, 2012 November 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of Sweden, Israel, Politics.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Archbishop Anders Wejryd addressing the Swedish Church Assembly on 21 Nov 2012

The Kyrkomötet  –  the Church Assembly of the Church of Sweden — has asked its government to support the Palestinian Authority’s bid for membership at the United Nations and called for a boycott of Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria.

On 21 Nov 2012 the annual synod of Sweden’s state Lutheran church adopted a series of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel resolutions during its annual meeting in Uppsala.  A longtime critic of Israeli policies, the Kyrkomötet today also gave its backing the Kairos Palestine Document and called for Israel’s withdrawal from East Jerusalem and the “occupied” territories.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Overseas Anglican plaudits for the next Archbishop of Canterbury: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 5. November 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Anglican leaders have welcomed the news of the appointment of Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.  The plaudits for the Bishop of Durham, however, have been mixed with advice and pleas for leadership from Canterbury for the factious Anglican Communion.

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth welcomed the appointment writing that Justin Welby  and added that he hoped the new archbishop would support the Indaba process – a conversation project between liberals and conservatives in the communion backed by the Anglican Consultative Council.  Bishop Chillingworth said he “enjoyed and valued my contacts with [Bishop Welby].  In the early stages of what has become Continuing Indaba – a movement of honest conversation across difference – his wide knowledge of the Anglican Communion, particularly in Africa, was of great importance.”

The leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala also praised the appointment, but noted that for Anglicans in the developing world, a common faith was more important than a common ecclesiastical structure.

The Kenyan archbishop said he hoped the new archbishop would rethink the current structures of the common and accept the African church’s view that “the chair of the Primates Meeting should be elected by the Primates themselves” and not go to the Archbishop of Canterbury by right.

“Our proposal, while not intended to deny the honour due to Canterbury as an historic see, is an expression of the truth we hold as vital, that our identity as Anglicans stems first and foremost from adherence to the faith we confess. It is this which gives substance and integrity to our bonds of affection and our efforts to relieve poverty and promote development.”

The new archbishop may have won over the Church of Uganda, which has withdrawn from inter-Anglican affairs since the 2008 Lambeth Conference..

“We are pleased to hear that he is an evangelical and will pray for him to lift up Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life,” and to set the Word of God written as the authority for our common faith and morality,” Ugandan provincial secretary Canon George Bagamuhunda wrote.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she was “delighted” with the news, but added she expected Bishop Welby would have rough going as archbishop. “I give thanks for his appointment and his willingness to accept this work, in which I know his gifts of reconciliation and discernment will be abundantly tested.  May God bless his ministry, shelter his family, and bring comfort in the midst of difficult and lonely discernment and decisions.”

Conservative American pressure groups like the American Anglican Council have urged the new archbishop to hold the line on gay blessings and clergy, but liberal American groups have asked the new archbishop to listen to them instead.

The Chicago Consultation, a politically influential liberal pressure group, welcomed the news noting the new archbishop was “known for his pragmatic approach to conflict resolution and his personal courage as an agent of reconciliation.”

They added they were “heartened that Archbishop-elect Welby decried homophobia in his opening press conference, and we hope that he will listen with an open heart to the voices of the millions of faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians across the Anglican Communion.”

The leader of the Anglican Church League in Sydney, Dr. Mark Thompson, wrote that “conservative Evangelicals could see a “great deal that is wonderfully hopeful in this appointment. Bishop Welby self-identifies as an evangelical. He is able to communicate clearly and winsomely.”

However, Dr. Thompson said the test would come in the new archbishop’s actions, not through is words.  As Bishop Welby “prepares to take up this challenging role at a very challenging time, one characteristic that has not been attributed to him is ‘courage’.”

Will Bishop Welby “stand up” to the Episcopal Church? Will he “call to account” Anglicans who have moved away from a Scriptural faith? Will he “stand” with the Global South “in the task of proclaiming Christ to a lost world?” Will he fire “Canon Kenneth Kearon and the others in the Anglican Communion Office who have manipulated the ACC agenda over the past decade in extraordinarily unhelpful ways?”

Will he “challenge” the British government over gay marriage? Will he support evangelicals in the Church of Scotland, in Canada and in the U.S. as well as Christians in the Muslim majority world who are being “persecuted” because of their faith.  And will he stand with members of the Church of England who in good conscience cannot accept the oversight of a woman bishop?”

“With such courage, and by God’s grace, respect for his office and health for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion might indeed return,” Dr. Thompson said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Ecumenical applause for the news of the appointment of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 5. November 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

Ecumenical leaders have warmly welcomed the news of the appointment of the Bishop of Durham to be the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

In Britain, the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said the Roman Catholic Church “warmly” welcomed the news, saying he believed the new archbishop “will provide an important Christian witness to this country over the coming years.”

“In fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer that his followers may all be one, I hope that we will endeavour to strengthen the bonds of Christian friendship and mission already established between the Catholic Church and the Church of England,” he said.

The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales’ sentiments were shared by the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch.  In his letter the Swiss cardinal described relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion as being “hugely important,” and expressed his certainty that under the new archbishop’s “leadership those excellent relations will continue to bear fruit.”

“For almost fifty years, as you are well aware, there has been a formal theological dialogue which continues to seek a deeper understanding of the great heritage shared by Anglicans and Catholics, as well as the points of divergence which still impede fully restored ecclesial communion. During that same time, relations between succeeding Popes and Archbishops of Canterbury have been marked by numerous meetings which have expressed intense spiritual and human friendship, and a shared concern for our Gospel witness and service to the human family,” wrote Cardinal Koch.

Dr. Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference of Great Britain, said “Bishop Justin has demonstrated himself to be a man of spiritual depth and wisdom. He has shown great passion and enthusiasm for working together with other Churches and we look forward to working with him in the context of the partnership between our two Churches.”

The General Secretary at the World Council of Churches, Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit of Norway said he was “especially heartened to learn of your long-standing commitment both to the international mission and work of the Church and to the importance of the ministry and work of reconciliation between different communities.”

“I particularly appreciate your engaged commitment with the people of Nigeria, and your deep desire to help to improve the lives of all people in that country, seeking ways to help them move beyond conflict, especially of an inter-religious nature,” the WCC leader said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Age no barrier to a full life, daredevil clergyman says: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 7. November 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

St George’s Cathedral, Perth

An 85-year old clergyman has rappelled down the side of the 131 foot bell tower of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Perth to demonstrate that age is no barrier to leading an active live.

The Rev. Tim Harrison, an assistant priest at the cathedral and chaplain to the local Royal Marines and Airborne Associations, said the last time he had rappelled had been in 1944 during the Second World War.

He told the Sun-Herald, “All my life I have put my faith in Jesus Christ – but for the last ten minutes it has been with the Mick upstairs,” referring to the abseiling instructor from outdoor activity specialists, Adventure Out.

“It is a question of trust. You trust your gear and you trust your mate, and that also goes for life. I have had some good mates and I have had some good gear.”

The abseil was organised by Amana Living, a local community care provider in Western Australia to mark the state’s Seniors which seeks to challenge negative stereotypes about aging.

“Driving around Australia gets a bit boring the third time round, so what are you going to do with yourself,” Mr. Harrison asked.

“This reminds me I am still quite young – although I am a bit stiff. Maybe same time next year,” he told the newspaper.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Communion sponsored mediation proposed for South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 21, 2012 November 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church, Windsor Continuation Group.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi

Resolution of the South Carolina standoff would best be served by an international intervention of the type proposed by the Anglican Communion’s Windsor Continuation Group, the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) said last night in a paper released on its website.

The American-based church think tank has proposed the national Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina take up the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group formed by Dr. Rowan Williams.

The ACI stated the WCG recommended that in cases of theological dispute between a diocese and province “a provisional holding arrangement” for the diocese be crafted that would “enable dialogue to take place and which will be revisited on the conclusion of the Covenant Process.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Polish anti-Semitism and the press: Get Religion, November 20, 2012 November 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
comments closed

A new film that premiered last week has resurrected moral questions that some Poles hoped had been settled long ago. The 20 Nov 2012 front page of the Warsaw daily Gazeta Wyborcza was dominated by the controversy surrounding the film Poklosie (Aftermath).  The headline reads  “Poklosie under attack — but the reaction of many Poles is that they are under attack from Poklosie.

The film questions Poland’s self-identity as an innocent victim of Nazi aggression. While there is no doubt that Germany sought to destroy the Polish nation, killing  millions, destroying its cities and attempting to eradicate its culture, film director Wladyslaw Pasikowski has challenged one of the pillars its post-war identity — the country’s innocence in the Holocaust.

Poklosie is a war movie that dramatizes the 1942 massacre of 340 Jews in the village of Jebwadne. However these Jews were not killed by the Nazis, but by their Polish neighbors who herded men, women and children into a barn and set it alight. Set in the fictional village of Gorowka, the site of a war-time massacre blamed on the Germans, the film takes place shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. The movie tells the story of two brothers who in attempting to preserve Jewish tombstones arouse the ire of villagers who fear they will uncover the crimes of the past.  As they used to say in Hollywood, this is a message film, and the message is that hiding past sins results in modern evils.

Amongst the motives for the massacre of the Jews by their Polish neighbors in the film is that Jews were Christ-killers. The incidents recounted in Poklosie are based on true events. In 2003, a Polish government commission released a report saying that claims the Polish Jews of Jebwabne were killed by the Nazis was false. They had been murdered by their Polish Christian neighbors.

I have not seen reference to this story in the American or British press so far — but articles last week in the French press on this story caught my eye. Le Figaro‘s story « La Pologne confrontée à une page noire de son histoire » and Le Nouvel Observateur « Poklosie  : le film qui fait polémique en Pologne » approach the story from an entertainment angle — a film that forces Poland to confront a “black page” in its history — that sort of thing.

The Polish press has treated this not as a movie story, but as an existential question. “Who are we? Where have we come from in our history? Do we share in the sins of our ancestors? Has our faith as Catholics led us to this?”

The Associated Press last year reported that in 2001:

Poland’s bishops made an apology for the Jedwabne massacre and other crimes against Jews under the German occupation, in a special ceremony of prayers in Warsaw. It was viewed as a step toward reconciliation with Jewish groups who often accuse the Catholic Church of being too tolerant of anti-Semitism.

However, conservative and nationalist newspapers have been harshly critical of the movie. They reject the assertion that Poland shares in the collective guilt of the Nazis for the Holocaust and reject the movie’s depiction of Polish peasantry being “evil anti-Semites” roused by their priests to commit murder against the Christ-killers. In the conservative weekly Uwazam Rze, Piotr Zychowicz writes in an article entitled “Polacy, Zydzi, kolaboracja, Holokaust”:

No nation has a monopoly on being evil and no nation has a monopoly on being good. Nations are composed of millions of people, and people, it so happens, are very different.

In an interview published in the right wing news and opinion website  Niezalezna.pl, Bogdan Musial argues the historical narrative of Poklosie is a false creation of the media.

Many American Jews left Poland and their father and grandfathers became victims of Holocaust. A big part of the Jewish Diaspora considers Poles to be anti-Semites. Remember the film industry and the media have a strong influence on the intellectual environment and they impose their cultural belief in Polish anti-Semitism.  There is also in German a harmful and false belief in “Polish nationalism” while there is also a lack of historical consciousness in Poland.

Prof. Musial goes on to state there is no doubt that a crime was committed in Jebwabne, but “reactions to the accusation of anti-Semitism should be measured.” He also suggests the “discussion about the anti-Semitism is designed to draw people’s attention away from the crimes of the Communist” era.

A crime has been committed and this is a fact. But the same fact is that the [2002 book Neighbors by Jan  Gross about the Jedwabne pogrom] is unreliable and distorts the history. The problem is that the so-called forces of progress in Poland consider this distorted history to be dogma. The people who denies this are called (by the so-called forces of progress in Poland ) freaks and nationalists. … Through the Gross’ glasses Poles are greedy, primitive, murders who are jointly responsible for the Holocaust and as anti-Semitic as Nazis. Not Germans, but Nazis! … Films such as Poklosie can only strengthen this image …

However the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s largest circulation daily appeals for critics to stop trying to halt the “cleansing process” of the national soul by appeals to to “nationalistic ideology”. Quoting Gross’s book it states there were Poles who killed Jews simply for profit. It defends Poklosie saying it is a:

… valuable work, unique in Polish cinema, reopening an only superficially healed wound of the Polish conscience.

In my recent posts at GetReligion I have been critical of the European-style advocacy journalism practiced by the New York Times and have argued its stories are neither balanced, fair nor complete in their reporting. And, the Times appears to be blissfully unaware of this problem. Yet advocacy journalism when it is done well can produce exceptionally fine work — such as the front page of today’s Gazeta Wyborcza — because it is written from an ideological and moral perspective that is not hidden by spurious claims of being objective. While I find the views express in Niezalezna to be unpalatable, taken in conjunction with Gazeta Wyborcza they provide a better picture of the affair than any single source.

I applaud the Polish press for addressing these issues of national identity, religious bigotry, and historical memory. Well done.

First published in GetReligion.

Church of England rejects women bishops: Anglican Ink, November 20, 2012 November 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
Tags:
comments closed

The General Synod of the Church of England has rejected legislation allowing women priest to be appointed to the episcopate.

Following 12 years of legislative progress and several hours of debate during the 20 Nov 2012 afternoon session of synod, the Consecration and Ordination of Women Measure failed to pass in all three houses of the Church of England’s legislative body.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Conciliator appointed for Fort Worth & Quincy cases: Anglican Ink, November 20, 2012 November 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Canon Law, Fort Worth, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

John Douglass of the University of Richmond School of Law

The Presiding Bishop’s office has appointed a former federal prosecutor and law school dean to serve as a mediator in the Fort Worth and Quincy cases.

On 19 Nov 2012 the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews wrote two letters to the nine bishops subject to complaints of misconduct for having express opinions contrary. Bishop Matthews informed the nine that Prof.  John Douglass had been appointed to be “conciliator” between the accused and the complainants.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church call for independence for West Papua: Anglican Ink, November 20, 2012 November 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Melanesia, Anglican Ink.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Rt. Rev. James Ligo, Bishop of Vanuatu

The independence of the West Papuan people from their Indonesia overlords is an issue of immediate concern for the churches of Vanuatu – the former New Hebrides – the Anglican bishop of the Pacific island chain, the Rt. Rev. James Ligo.

Speaking before the start of the meeting of the Vanuatu Christian Council, Bishop Ligo criticized the government of Prime Minister Sato Kilman from abandoning its pledge to work for Papuan independence.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church of England will not break with South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink, Church of England, South Carolina.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Church of England has declined to accept Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori’s assertion the Diocese of South Carolina may not withdraw from the Episcopal Church.  Nor will Saturday’s vote by the South Carolina Special Convention affect the standing of its clergy with the Church of England at this time, General Synod learned today.

Speaking for the church’s Council for Christian Unity (CCU), Bishop Christopher Hill said the Church of England sought to maintain good relations with all sides in the Episcopal Church’s civil war and would take no “hasty” actions at this time.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Archbishop of Canterbury defends ACC-15 from charges it is irrelevant November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Ink, Church of England.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected suggestions this month’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council was irrelevant, saying there was much to be “grateful for” from the ten day gathering in Auckland, New Zealand.

Speaking to the General Synod of the Church of England on 19 Nov 2012, Dr. Rowan Williams said he wished to respond to criticisms the “structure and pattern of ACC meetings is designed to push to the margin some of the more difficult and controversial matters in the Communion … to focus on mind on the process and take our minds away from the arguments we are not prepared to have.”

“I don’t believe this is true,” Dr. Williams said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Pedophile priest sentenced to four years imprisonment: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Ink, Church of England.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

The Rev.Ronald Johns

A Church of England vicar, who had been shielded by his bishop after charges of sexual abuse were leveled against him 20 years ago, has been sentenced today to four years imprisonment by the Carlisle Crown Court for molesting children.

Judge Rabinder Singh said he was incarcerating the Rev. Ronald Johns (75) as a pre-sentence evaluation found him to be a danger to society and that his behavior was manipulative and predatory.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

“Digital Bishop” consecrated for Rhode Island: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, Jr.

Rhode Island has consecrated its first “digital bishop.” On 17 November 2012, the Rt. Rev. William Nicholas “Nick” Knisely Jr., was consecrated as 13th bishop of the diocese by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, his predecessor Bishop Geralyn Wolf and Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Vatican issues clergy dress code: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Casual Fridays are over at the Vatican, the Catholic Church has announced.

On 15 Oct 2012, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State for the Vatican, released a letter stating that cardinals and bishops must wear a cassock at work or in public. Monsignors and priests are to wear a cassock or clerical dress while religious must wear their habits “always and in every season.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Breakaway bishop appeals Supreme Court loss: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 7. November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

Bishop Elson Jakazi has filed a motion with the Zimbabwe Supreme Court asking it to re-hear his appeal of a lower court ruling that held he was no longer Bishop of Manicaland.

Last month a three judge panel of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court heard seven appeals brought by the Church of the Province of Central Africa and the breakaway bishops of Harare and Manicaland, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and Bishop Jakazi.  The court dismissed five of the appeals and two cases concerning Dr. Kunonga and the Diocese of Harare were taken under advisement.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting with Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omerjee struck Bishop Jakazi’s case from consideration finding he had failed to comply with the rules of the court.

On 19 May 2010 Mutare High Court JusticeChinembiri Bhunu held that as Bishop Jakazi had resigned his see to join Dr. Kunonga to form the schismatic Anglican Church of Zimbabwe, he was no longer Bishop of Manicaland. “It is an established rule that resignation is a unilateral voluntary act which takes effect as soon as the resignation has been communicated to the correct person or authority.

“What this means is that once [Bishop Jakazi]‘s resignation letter was received by the Archbishop of the Central African Province of Central Africa, he automatically ceased to be an employee or member of that church organization without any further formalities.”

Justice Bhunu concluded that “having ceased to be an employee or member of the church organisation he automatically stripped himself of any rights and privileges arising” from his office. However, the bishop stayed enforcement of his ruling pending the appeal to the Supreme Court and Bishop Jakazi remained in control of the diocese’s properties.

The Supreme Court ruling ends the stay of execution of Justice Bhunu’s order to vacate. But Bishop Jakazi has told the Manica Post that “I am not going anywhere” and would fight any attempt to evict him from the cathedral in Mutare.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church coup in South Carolina: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 7. November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has backed an ecclesiastical coup against the Diocese of South Carolina and has purported to have prorogued the standing committee of the conservative evangelical diocese. A “Transitional Committee” in South Carolina loyal to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has formed a “steering committee” to act in the place of the diocese’s officers – its ecclesiastical authority – and has pledged to “continue” the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

On 11 Nov 2012 the steering committee announced that it was now in charge. “We write to assure you that The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina is continuing,” under the authority of a “steering committee of faithful Episcopalians” who will “reorganize our continuing Diocese over the next few months. This committee will serve as the broad-based group in the Diocese that communicates with the Presiding Bishop during this period when the Diocese has no functioning ecclesiastical authority.”

The loyalist faction, writing in the name of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and acting under its seal,  said that at a March convention they would “begin the work of selecting a bishop, a new standing committee, and forging ahead with our missions and ministry.”

Last month Bishop Jefferts Schori suspended South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence with the intent to depose him from office within sixty days.  By using the church’s “abandonment canon”, created in the Nineteenth century to remove from the church’s roster clergy who had “gone over to Rome”, Bishop Jefferts Schori need not bring Bishop Lawrence to trial or prove the charges.

The diocese, however, does not recognize the authority of the church’s new disciplinary canons introduced last year. It also adopted a “poison pill” amendment to its constitution and canons so that if the national church attempted to remove its bishop for political reasons, the diocese would automatically withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.  The 15 Oct 2012 announcement by the presiding bishop that she had suspended Bishop Lawrence, under South Carolina civil law, removed the diocese from the General Convention.

National church loyalists in South Carolina have been working in concert with New York and two retired bishops living in South Carolina: Charles vonRosenberg of Eastern Tennessee and James Buchanan of Western Missouri.

On 3 Nov, an advertisement affixed with the diocesan seal was placed in two newspapers by the clergy and vestry of two congregationsstating the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” “will continue” as part of the Episcopal Church with “new leadership and a new Bishop.”

On 7 Nov the same group, claiming now to be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina wrote to the clergy of the diocese inviting them to attend a “clergy day” with Bishop vonRosenberg where they would receive a report from “the Steering Committee.”

A spokesman for the presiding bishop’s office told the Charleston Post & Courier it was in her authority to act as Bishop Lawrence had been suspended and she had removed the standing committee removed from office.

However, in a paper released on 11 Nov, the Anglican Communion Institute noted the actions taken by the presiding bishop and the loyalist group violated civil and canonical law.  The Episcopal Church has “no canonical basis for the actions that the Presiding Bishop and pro-TEC local parishes appear to be taking.”

The ACI further stated the “absence of any canons authorizing what the Presiding Bishop and others are doing is proof that TEC is operating under a profoundly flawed understanding of the church’s polity.”

Canon lawyer Allan Haley has argued this latest action may be a step too far, as the national church’s actions cannot be defended by reference to civil or church law. The South Carolina Supreme Court has repudiated the church’s national property canon in the state, he notes and the “Dennis Canon is as dead as a doornail in South Carolina, and so are any thoughts of an implied trust on diocesan property based on other Church canons and past relations”

“Moreover, the Diocese of South Carolina is organized as a corporation under South Carolina law. That fact guarantees its own independent, legal identity in the State’s courts and before all of its executive and legislative bodies, officers and agencies. For the Bandit Bishop and her minions to try to appropriate that identity for their own nefarious purposes is fully akin to what would be called ‘identity theft’ in any other context,” he said.

Bishop vonRosenberg told The Church of England Newspaper the loyalist faction would meet on 15 Nov – two days before the diocese gathers in a special convention to respond to the suspension of their bishop.  He denied that his support for the dissident group was fomenting schism or a violation of canon law. “A group of loyal Episcopal priests felt the need to gather, for mutual support.  They asked me to offer a homily during the liturgy they will share.  I had previously been licensed in this diocese by Bishop Lawrence.  I certainly felt able to respond to the invitation affirmatively, and I look forward to being with that group.”

“I imagine that things will become clearer soon.  I hope so, because there is much confusion at this point,” Bishop vonRosenberg said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,309 other followers