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Crisis warning for care for the disabled: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2013 January 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Britain’s social care services are in crisis, the Bishop of Carlisle has warned.

Speaking in support of the report The Other Care Crisis, published this week by Scope, Mencap, The National Autistic Society, Sense and Leonard Cheshire Disability, Bishop James Newcome said “the social care system is failing to meet the needs of disabled people of working age.”

He noted the reportdemonstrates how the social care system is failing to meet the needs of disabled people of working age.”

Much of the debate in government on social care policy had “centred on older people and the needs of an ageing population. But one-third of those who need care and support are under the age of 65, and the report shows how their lives have been affected by the care crisis.”

“Without support, disabled people find themselves unable to wash, dress, leave their house or communicate with others. This can leave them unable to work, study and contribute to society,” the bishop said, and “any solution to the current crisis must address their needs as well.”

Citing research from the London School of Economics, the charities have warned the government was underfunding social care support for the disabled under the age of 65 by £1.2 billion. They warned the social care system was “on the brink of collapse as a result of years of chronic underfunding by successive Governments” and that local councils were “in an impossible position of wanting to provide more support to the growing numbers of disabled people who require care, at a time when they are facing unprecedented cuts to their budgets.”

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope, stated “enough was enough.”

“This is shocking evidence of a system that has failed disabled people, effectively condemning them to a life without basic dignity and invisible to society. Times are tough for everyone but being able to eat, wash and leave your home is not a luxury. It is absolutely appalling that this is the sad reality of life for thousands of Britain’s disabled people,” he said.

Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, added that “no-one in this day and age should be left without the help they need to take a bath or dress in the morning, and live an everyday life just like everyone else. This new research reveals for the first time how many people are living in the care ‘gap’ and it is a disgrace. No Government and no right-thinking person should allow this to continue in their street, their town, their country.”

The coalition government has not issued an official response to the report, but Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tyler of Enfield, has urged the government to act, notingFor the Liberal Democrats, putting social care on a sustainable footing would be a bold and lasting political legacy – and working age disabled people need to be at the heart of that debate.”

Continuing church priest arrested in Moscow: Anglican Ink, January 30, 2013 January 31, 2013

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A continuing Anglican priest has been arrested by customs officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, accused of smuggling cocaine into Russia.

State television broadcaster Rossiya 24 reported that Fr. Fabio Ricardo Rodriguez was arrested on 30 Jan 2013 after the priest’s behavior attracted the attention of Federal Drug Control Service officers.  After his arrival from Paris, Fr. Rodriguez appeared unwell and acted in a nervous manner.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.


No sex please, we’re Catholic: Get Religion, January 30, 2013 January 30, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Women Priests.
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The perils of re-writing another news outlet’s work were on full display this week in an article that appeared in the New York Daily News. Based upon a news story broadcast by Buffalo’s WGRZ-TV,Call him ‘The God Father’: Husband and dad will become Roman Catholic priest — and take vow of celibacy” reports that a former Episcopal priest who upon his re-ordination as a Catholic priest will begin a “sex-free life”, is filled with errors of fact and false assumptions about sacerdotal celibacy.

It is not clear at what point the errors entered into the food chain. Perhaps the subject of the story John Cornelius misspoke; perhaps WGRZ-TV misstated the quotes — or it may have be the fault of the Daily News. Whatever the reason, the only trustworthy fact that I would take away from this story is that former Episcopal priest John Cornelius will be re-ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on 26 Jan 2013. Beware of everything else.

Let’s start with the lede.

John Cornelius will be ordained a Roman Catholic priest this weekend — and with the blessing of his wife they’re giving up their sex life. Cornelius, a father of three, will become the first married Roman Catholic priest in New York — and Sharyl, his wife of 33-years, has agreed to the whole celibacy thing. “We have decided to do that voluntarily,” Cornelius told WGRZ-TV. “I have always had friends that are Roman Catholic priests and I appreciate what they’ve given up to serve God and the priesthood.”

The story continues:

Cornelius, 64, is a former Episcopalian priest who converted three years ago to Catholicism. He said his old church had gotten too liberal for him. “There was the ordination of the homosexual priest in New England,” he said. “Then it came time for women’s ordination. … It may have been okay for other people, but it was just too much for me.”The article reports Fr. Cornelius retired as an Episcopal priest in 2010 and “jumped at the chance after Pope Benedict issued a directive last year aimed at filling the depleted Catholic ranks with converted Episcopalian priests.”

It closes with the news that Fr. Cornelius will serve a “flock of other former Episcopalians at the Fellowship of Saint Alban” outside Rochester and speaks briefly of his faith journey. Let’s pick the low hanging fruit first and work towards the conceptual failures in this story. The chronology offered in the quote by Fr. Cornelius is incorrect.

Women priests were authorized in 1976 by the Episcopal Church (though a group had been illicitly ordained earlier). Non-closeted, non-celibate gay/lesbian clergy were first ordained in 1979 in New York city and by the early ’90s a number of dioceses were ordaining gay clergy. And the first “gay” Episcopal bishop, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, was consecrated in New Hampshire in 2003. The chronology offered by Fr Cornelius is incorrect. And the suggestion that the Catholic Church is free from the controversies surrounding gay or women clergy is not so straight forward.

And no, John Cornelius will not be the first married RC priest in New York. That honor belongs to Fr. Scott Caton of the Diocese of Rochester who was ordained under the 1980 Pastoral Provision. Fr. Cornelius may be the first priest ordained in New York state for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.

What is the difference between the pastoral provision and the ordinariate? The first has been around since 1980 and permits certain Protestant clergy who are married to be re-ordained as Catholic clergy. The second was created in 2011 as a home for Anglican communities (clergy and laity) who wish to seek full corporate unity with the Catholic church while retaining some Anglican liturgical forms and their own ecclesial structures.  The article does not do justice to these distinctions.

And, is it fair to say the re-ordination of ex-Episcopalians and Lutherans is a tool to fill the “depleted” ranks of the Catholic clergy?

And, is it fair  to say that by “giving up their sex life” Fr. Cornelius and his wife have “agreed to the whole celibacy thing”? Can abstinence from sexual relations with a spouse be considered celibacy — as understood by the Catholic Church? Is a “sex-free life” the definition of sacerdotal celibacy? Or is there a bit more to it than that?

The New Advent dictionary begins its definition of celibacy by writing:

Celibacy is the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity, by all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders in any of the higher grades.

Are Fr. Cornelius and his wife practicing celibacy, abstinence or chastity? No questions are asked by the article about clerical celibacy, nor are comments or observations made by knowledgeable sources — a bishop, theologian, church spokesman, et al. Is this the norm for re-ordained Episcopal clergy? Is this renunciation of the marital state a spiritual discipline, a physical separation — what is going on here?

I don’t know. Do you?

Presiding Bishop denouces schismatics as terrorists and murderers: Anglican Ink, January 29, 2013 January 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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A spokesman for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has denied suggestions that her sermon denouncing as terrorists and murderers those who did not share her views on the polity of the Episcopal Church was directed at Bishop Mark J. Lawrence or the members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Speaking to national church loyalists at a special convention held 26 Jan 2013 at Grace Church in Charleston, Bishop Jefferts Schori characterized her opponents as “wolves” and false shepherds.

She denounced the arbitrary use of power in church affairs, stating: “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny, and corruption.  That’s why Jesus challenges us to think about how the shepherd acts.  The authentic ones don’t sneak over the wall in the dead of night.  They operate transparently, and they work cooperatively with the gate-keeper himself.”

The presiding bishop also shared a story of a glider pilot who had entered restricted airspace in South Carolina and found himself harassed by local officials – a situation not unlike the dispute between the diocese and the national church she observed.

“I tell you that story because it’s indicative of attitudes we’ve seen here and in many other places. Somebody decides he knows the law, and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law, and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge. It’s not too far from that kind of attitude to citizens’ militias deciding to patrol their towns or the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors. It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage,” the presiding bishop said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Ordinariate liturgical commission meets in London: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2013, p 3. January 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
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The liturgical commission created by the Vatican to prepare a Catholic Book of Common Prayer for the Anglican Ordinariate met in London last week.

In 2012 the Vatican created the Subcommission on the Liturgy for the Anglican Ordinariates staffed by canon law experts, liturgists, and prelates.  The commission is to submit proposals in 2014 to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship on Anglican rites for the Eucharist, marriage, funerals and seasonal prayers that are in conformance to Catholic doctrine and discipline.

Shortly before the start of the 16-18 January 2013 meeting in London, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco – a member of the subcommission – told his diocesan newspaper Catholic San Francisco there was “diversity among Anglican liturgies.  We’re trying to have a more unified form. They can always use the current form of the Roman Missal, but also they’ll have a more traditional form that’s Anglican.”

Last August, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter – the American branch of the ordinariate – stated the liturgy now in use was the “Book of Divine Worship Rite I”, while “those congregations that prefer a contemporary idiom, the Roman Missal 3rd edition could be used.”

However, the Latin mass was not to be used in ordinariate congregations. Clergy who “want to learn also how to celebrate” according to the traditional Latin mass were “certainly encouraged to do so” under the “supervision of the local bishop,” Msgr. Steenson said, so as to “assist in those stable communities that use the Extraordinary Form.”

The traditional Latin Mass, (the Extraordinary Form) “is not integral to the Anglican patrimony, it is not properly used in our communities,” he added.

Those elements of the Anglican liturgical patrimony incorporated into the liturgical life of the Ordinariate sought to balance “two historic principles — that Christian prayer and proclamation should be offered in the vernacular and that the language of worship should be sacral,” Msgr. Steenson said.

Archbishop Cordileone said among the differences to be reconciled between the Anglican and Catholic liturgies were prayers said placement of the penitential rite before the offertory in the Anglican service and the use of “The Comfortable Words” recited by the priest or deacon to the congregation.

The archbishop added that within the Anglican Church there was a diversity of opinion over questions concerning the divinity of Christ, sexual morality and ordination.  “There weren’t Christians who, before the 1960s, didn’t believe Christ was divine, didn’t believe he rose bodily from the grave,” he said.

“It really wasn’t that much of an issue. Now that it has become, I think these more traditionally minded Anglicans lament that many of their fellow believers don’t hold to these traditional Christian beliefs and they see that the Catholic Church is. So they want to be in union with the Catholic Church because of those beliefs but they want to retain their Anglican worship and spirituality.”

Church of Ireland rejects abortion on demand: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2013, p 3. January 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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The Church of Ireland opposes abortion on demand, but believes exceptions based upon “undeniable medical necessity” should be permitted under law.

Last week the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Michael Jackson and Mr. Samuel Harper, Secretary of the Irish General Synod, testified before the Joint Committee on Health and Children of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) as part of three days of public hearings on the implementation of the Government decision following the publication of the Expert Group Report into matters relating to A, B & C v. Ireland.

The case of A, B & C v. Ireland before the European Court of Human Rights ECHR 2032 (2010) held there was no right for a women to have an abortion, although it held Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualified for a legal abortion under current Irish law.

In their prepared statement to the committee, the Church of Ireland leaders said they welcomed the government’s desire “to bring clarity” to the issue.

“This is a matter of almost indescribable complexity – both human and medical. We fully recognize that any decision which, in respect of a woman’s health, results in a termination is a terribly weighty one,” they said.

The Church of Ireland “stands with the notion of ‘real and substantial risk’ to the life of the mother in making decisions on terminations of pregnancies. Our statement flows from the Report of the Lambeth Conference 1958 which uses the similar phrase: ‘strict and undeniable medical necessity,’ as follows: ‘In the strongest terms, Christians reject the practice of induced abortion or infanticide, which involves the killing of a life already conceived (as well as a violation of the personality of the mother) save at the dictate of strict and undeniable medical necessity’.”

Following the hearing, Archbishop Jackson and Mr Harper said the “Church of Ireland opposes abortion but recognises that there are exceptional cases of strict and undeniable medical necessity. We believe the proposal to legislate and regulate in the area of abortion is overdue and welcome.

There was a variety of opinion within the Church of Ireland on what constituted “exceptional cases” they said, “but agreement that it includes circumstances where the continuation of the pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.”

However, they stated the Church of Ireland “emphasises the right to life and this includes the equal right to life of the mother and of the unborn child.”

Finding gold in the religion reporting dross: Get Religion, January 25, 2013. January 26, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
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The newspaperman’s art of rubbishing someone, while appearing professional and even-handed was the principal object of my harrumphing in this week’s Issues Etc. podcast.  Host Todd Wilkin and I discussed two of my recent GetReligion posts concerning the BBC’s coverage of the anti-gay marriage march in Paris and the Sydney Morning Herald‘s coverage of the Australian government’s commitment to preserve religious freedoms for religious entities under a future Bill of Rights.

Todd opened the show with a question about media bias, asking how news organizations could spin stories to show their approval or disapprobation of a topic, while maintaining the appearance of fairness. I responded with an outline of my story about the game’s played by the BBC’s man in Paris, before turning to the hard left politics of the SMH.

To the casual listener the BBC’s report would appear measured, while the SMH’s story was over the top. But if one knew how the game was played — how to rubbish an issue, person or movement with selective polling, ridicule, framing the story against interests, omission of pertinent facts and context, unbalanced quotes and comments and misdirection of issues (asking questions not germane to a story) — it was quite clear the BBC took a hatchet to French anti-gay marriage marchers and sought to chop them down to size.

Twenty minutes later I came up for air, took a deep breath and my segment concluded. Radio appearances are a challenge. Television is easy. I am quick to pick up visual cues while I miss verbal ones. If I am going long or off topic on video I can usually tell by the expression on the host’s face or the frantic hand gestures of his producer (usually a hand passing rapidly across the throat then followed by outstretch hands with fingers splayed). This means five seconds or for God’s sake stop!

I don’t get that sort of feedback with radio. This leaves me worrying that my critique of the shortcomings of others comes off as  the Two-minute Daily Hate or priggishness.


An email from a listener to this episode of Issues Etc., brought this home.

I’m writing after listening to the broadcast on the BBC coverage with George Conger and am confused as to which media groups to trust.  I would like to ask your opinion as to what is a good source for news?  I am actually so discouraged in this regard, that I basically ignore secular media.

Thanks, Eric

Not all GetReligion columns are negative. Quite a number hold out a reporter’s work for applause — showing the craft at its best. I recently praised an AP story on Tibet as an example of great writing and reporting. But the majority of stories address problems with the media. And these criticisms prompt emails from readers asking who amongst the journalistic fraternity has not sinned?

All writers have fallen short. All have sinned. No one is perfect (though there are a few reporters who come close.) In answer to the question who then should a reader trust, they should trust themselves. Bring a critical eye to the reading of a newspaper story. Read some of the acknowledged great writers and reporters (if you have a literary turn start with George Orwell). In time you will be able to discern the good from the bad.

Second, there are no good or bad newspapers — tabloids and propaganda outlets excepted. A reader will find excellent reporting on the pages of the New York Times, Guardian and Le Figaro or in BBC broadcasts. And they will also be treated to some outrageous howlers. The more knowledge brought to a story by the reader, the easier it is to appreciate quality. In short, don’t give up on the mainstream press — just be aware that it is written by fallible human beings who when they make a mess of a story do so through ignorance and seldom through malice.

The third point I would commend to Eric is that when you read something you like, let the newspaper know. If an editor only sees letters from readers wanting more Paris Hilton stories, that is what he is going to push on his reporters. One of the mysteries of life is that people are very quick to complain but slow to praise. On this website the comments from readers on positive reviews are always a fraction of those of negative ones.

Write a letter to the editor when you see something well done — it will surprise the editor, be greatly appreciated by the author and encourage the publisher to invest in quality journalism. Be in conversation with a newspaper, magazine, blog or author — this dialogue improves their craft. Don’t be passive.

First printed in GetReligion.


Liberia cancels diocesan convention: Anglican Ink, January 21, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Jonathan Hart

The Bishop of Liberia, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Hart, writes that diocese has cancelled its 83rd Diocesan Convention scheduled for 6 Feb 2013 in Harper, Maryland County in Liberia.

In a statement released by the diocese, Bishop Hart said a shortage of funds prevented the diocese from holding its convention.

Founded by freed American and West Indian slaves in the 1830’s, the Episcopal Church has had a presence in the country since 1836 and was part of the Episcopal Church until 1979, when it transferred to the Church of the Province of West Africa.

In 1980 the government of President William Tolbert was overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Doe.  The coup ended the dominance of political and economic dominance of the Americo-Liberian minority – the descendants of the settlers of the 1830s who comprised only 5 per cent of the population – but ushered in a generation of turmoil.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Interview: Issues, Etc., January 22, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Interviews/Citations, Issues Etc.
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Here is a link to an interview I gave to the Issues, Etc. show of Lutheran Public Radio broadcast on 22 Jan 2013

4. The BBC’s Coverage of a Paris Marriage March & the Sydney Morning Herald’s Story “Anti-Gay Rights to Stay” – George Conger, 1/22/13

South Carolina loyalists defy ban on using diocesan name and shield: Anglican Ink, January 25, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The loyalist faction within the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has unleashed a torrent of abuse against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocesan leadership as well as Judge Diane Goodstein following her order of 23 Jan 2013 blocking them from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.

Compliance with the court’s order has also been spotty. On Wednesday, Bishop Charles vonRosenberg told Anglican Ink the loyalist group would comply with the court’s order, and a spokesman for the South Carolina steering committee, Holly Behre, told the Associated Press they would honor Judge Goodstein’s ruling and will adopt a name that will comply with the spirit of the court order until the matter is resolved.

However compliance with the Order, which went into effect at 5:11 pm on Wednesday has been slow. The group’s website www.episcopalofsc.org did not remove the shield or the claim to be the Episcopal Dicoese of South Carolina until later Thursday.

As of our going to press, the loyalists group’s fundraising site, scstewardship.com, continues to display the diocesan shield and holds itself out to be the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, in apparent disregard of Judge Goodstein’s order which stated in part: “No individual, organization, association or entity, whether incorporated or not, may use, assume, or adopt in any way, directly or indirectly, the registered names and the seal or mark of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Malicious prosecution warnings for Episcopal clergy: Anglican Ink, January 25, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Canon Law, The Episcopal Church.
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Michael Rehill

A bulk email offering assistance akin to a pre-paid legal services plan has refocused the Episcopal Church’s attention on flaws within the new Title IV Ecclesiastical Discipline canons.

A 17 January 2013 email from CanonLawyer, Inc., an organization set up by long-time General Convention deputy and the former chancellor of the Diocese of Newark, Michael Rehill, elicited a wave of chatter amongst the clergy of the Episcopal Church after it warned of the risks of malicious prosecution under the new code.

In the personally addressed email, Mr. Rehill states: “I am writing to you because you are a Member of the Clergy of the Episcopal Church, and you are at risk of facing a proceeding under Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church.”

He states that “as a result of recent revisions to Title IV, many more Members of the Clergy are now facing ecclesiastical discipline,” adding “You need to be prepared before it happens to you.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

African outrage over civil partnership decision: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 7. January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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Howls of outrage and disbelief from the Anglican Churches of Africa and Asia have greeted last month’s decision by the House of Bishops to end the ban on clergy in gay civil partnerships from being appointed to the episcopate.

Archbishops representing a majority of the active members of the Anglican Communion have urged the Church of England to pull back, saying the bishops’ decision violates international Anglican accords, creates moral confusion over church doctrine and discipline, holds the church up to ridicule, and will provide Islamist extremists a further excuse to persecute Christian minorities.

The 12 Jan 2013 statement by the nine primates of the Global South Coalition follows critical responses from the Archbishops of Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.  Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria said the bishops of his church had agreed to break with the Church of England should the English bishops’ decision be implemented.

“Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.”

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda said the decision “to allow clergy in civil partnerships to be eligible to become Bishops is really no different from allowing gay Bishops.  This decision violates our Biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican Communion.”

The decision to permit partnered gay clergy to serve as bishops “only makes the brokenness of the Communion worse and is particularly disheartening coming from the Mother Church,” he argued.

The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr. Eliud Wabukala concurred, saying the announcement “will create further confusion about Anglican moral teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge.”

The “proviso” that clergy in civil partnerships remain celibate is “clearly unworkable. It is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book,” the archbishop said on 6 Jan.

However, “the heart of the matter is not enforceability, but that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living,” he argued.   “It cannot be right that they are able to enter into legally recognised relationships which institutionalise and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture” and the teaching of the church.

“The weight of this moral teaching cannot be supported by a flimsy proviso,” Archbishop Wabukala said.

African objections were not to the appointment to the episcopate of men who had a same-sex sexual orientation, but to those clergy who had contracted a gay civil partnership being appointed to the episcopate. The proviso that such relationships were celibate only when they involved the clergy of the Church of England was preposterous, one African bishop explained.

The Global South archbishops added this decision was “wrong” and had been “taken without prior consultation or consensus with the rest of the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is still facing major challenges of disunity.”

“The Church, more than any time before, needs to stand firm for the faith once received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles and not yield to the pressures of the society,” the archbishops said.

Retired archbishop starts Yukon “street ministry”: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 6. January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper.
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Old Log Rectory, Whitehorse, Yukon

On 13 January 2013 Archbishop Terry Buckle of British Columbia and the Yukon launched the “Street Hope Whitehorse” at a special service at Christ Church Cathedral in Whitehorse

The Bishop of the Yukon, the Rt. Rev. Larry Robertson, has given space to the street ministry in the town’s historic Old Log Rectory.  The rectory will serve as a base of operations for the volunteer team and will host twice weekly worship services.  The vision of the ministry, its website says, “is to reach out to people, ‘the up and out’ as well as ‘the down and out’ in a Holy Spirit enabled ministry of love and care.”

Archbishop Buckle explained they will be “reaching out to people on the streets, not just the down and out, but people, generally speaking, and merchants, just being a presence on the streets.”

“Since I’ve retired, I’ve given more thought and prayer to it and I really see a need of just going out and befriending people with acts of kindness and compassion,” Archbishop Buckle told the Whitehorse Star.

“We’re simply being there, and we can point people in right directions and help them where we can,” he said, adding “I just hope that in this whole approach to this kind of outreach ministry that people will sense the presence of God in their life and know the hope that our Lord gives and find the strength and help that they need to live out their lives.”

Sudanese bishop suspended: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 6. January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The Bishop of Yambio in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Rt Rev Peter Munde, has been placed on year’s administrative leave of absence.

On 28 December 2012 Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul stated Bishop Munde would be taking a sabbatical in Uganda for year. The decision to send the bishop away was taken to help defuse a split in the diocese that had seen a number of senior clergy withdraw from the church in protest at their bishop.

Archbishop Deng declined to state why the bishop had been sent on leave, but clergy sources in the Sudanese Church report the bishop had been accused of misappropriating funds, nepotism, and ordaining illiterates to the priesthood.

The Archbishop has appointed the Rev Samuel Borete as Vicar General for the diocese in the bishop’s absence and has asked the Bishop of Maridi, the Rt Rev Justin Badi to exercise episcopal oversight for the coming year.

Diocese reviews plan to make redudant half its city parishes: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013, p 6. January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Diocese of Newcastle (Australia) has begun a consultation on re-organizing the diocese, with one proposal making redundant nine of the city’s 15 Anglican churches.

A copy of the draft report leaked to the Newcastle Herald last month recommends closing the congregations due to falling attendance and rising costs.  Several of the congregations are in areas that have seen a shift in population with a flight to the suburbs.

Nine congregations would be closed, and the remaining seven reorganized into “tiers”. Tier-one churches are churches with a congregation of more than 450 and capable of sustaining a ministry and administration team, tier-two churches have a congregation of more than 250 people with two full-time staff and tier-three churches have more than 150 members and one staff member.

‘‘Churches falling below these benchmarks may not be sustainable in the longer term,’’ the report stated.  Only one parish, Christ Church Cathedral, with an average Sunday attendance of 250, would qualify as a tier one church under the scheme.

Selling redundant building and redeploying assets to serve middle class families with children was a more rational use of church assets, the report said. ‘‘The opportunity for the Deaneries lies in a consolidation of the wealth of resources to help tap into the emerging young professional class of families and couples.’’

However, the Assistance Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt. Rev. Peter Stuart, said the leak of the report was unfortunate as it gave the impression he proposals were diocesan policy. The report “does not represent the views of the Diocese but contains preliminary data which will be the subject of consultation in parishes beginning in January,’’ the bishop said.

In 2010 the diocese launched a five year plan to revitalize the diocese, updating the way it undertakes mission and ministry in the Twenty-first century.

Settlement reached in Episcopal misconduct cases: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 6. January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiastical Trials, Ecclesiology, Fort Worth, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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A settlement agreement has been reached in the disciplinary proceedings of 9 American bishops accused of misconduct for holding and propounding contrary views on church history and polity to those of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Last week representatives of the accusers: Bishops C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., and John Buchanan, met with representatives of the accused: Bishops Peter H. Beckwith, Maurice M. Benitez, John W. Howe, Paul E. Lambert, William H. Love, D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel H. Martins, Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and James M. Stanton, three observers from the House of Bishops: Mary Gray-Reeves, Edward S. Little, Michael Milliken to sign a “conciliation” agreement.

The nine had been charged with fraud, financial misconduct, teaching false doctrine and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.  The form the misconduct took was in having endorsed an amicus brief filed in the Texas Supreme Court in the Diocese of Fort Worth case and signing an affidavit in the Diocese of Quincy case.

The text of the settlement agreement — mediated by Prof.  John Douglass of the University Of Richmond School of Law following a 8-9 Jan 2013 meeting — has not been released so far as it must be signed by all parties and received the imprimatur of Bishop Jefferts Schori.

A statement from the national church’s press office noted the proceedings were closed and no news bulletins would be released by the parties, however sources at the meeting report the final document is an “amicable” resolution to the dispute.

ACNA to review women’s orders: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 6 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has agreed to launch a Task Force examining the question of the Holy Orders of women clergy.  Meeting last week in Orlando, the ACNA bishops set down a five part protocol studying the question of women clergy in conjunction with the issues of Prayer Book reform, the creation of a Catechism for the church, and a review of its ecclesial structures.

In ordering their priorities, the bishops decided to begin with a study of Scripture and church traditions and them move to the creation of church policies.  One bishops told The Church of England Newspaper the ACNA bishops wanted to ground their actions in doctrine, rather than find a doctrine to support their actions.

The election and translation of five bishops were approved by the College of Bishops, while time was also spent seeking to heal the hurts caused by the break-up of the Anglican Mission in America last year.

The ACNA currently permits dioceses to ordain women to the diaconate and priesthood, but not to the episcopate.  However, Forward in Faith and the Anglo-Catholic Diocese of San Joaquin have urged the province to review its “two integrities” structure.

The bishops announced they had appointed a task force to study the doctrine of Holy Orders – not limiting their work to the question of women clergy – and would begin by with the Bible and then move to a study of doctrine and tradition.

At Phase 4 “the Task Force will discuss the arguments, pro and con, related to the ordination of women, considering the relevant Scriptural texts and historical arguments, and reviewing studies conducted within and without the Anglican tradition.”

The College of Bishops said that before final action is taken, their recommendations will be passed to the theological commission of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.  The conservative reform movement within the Anglican Communion is divided on the question of women clergy with Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda strongly in favor, while Singapore, Sydney and the Anglo-Catholic provinces of Africa are opposed.

A report on overlapping dioceses and episcopal jurisdictions was also presented to the College.  A communique from the meeting stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into conformity “with historic Anglican practice. The goal of the work is to organize each region for the long-term sustainability of the movement in recognizable, godly Anglican Church structures.”

The bishops received a map showing the location of each of the their 951 congregations, which enabled the bishops to identify “11 regions of overlapping mission work among the various jurisdictions of the Province.”

While no diocese or group was slated for elimination, the bishops’ communique stated the challenge of overlapping jurisdictions “will result in enhanced collaboration, responsive structures and ministry oversight, with better sharing of resources, clearer communication and more profound unity in the mission that we share.”

Is Christian Zionism off the radar for the NY Times?: Get Religion, January 24, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Islam, Israel, Judaism.
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Comments given to an American church audience in 2011 by an Israeli rabbi, who stood for election this week to the Knesset on the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) ticket were a one-day wonder over the weekend in the Israeli press. Atlanta-native Jeremy Gimpel was lambasted by the liberal press in Israel for allegedly calling for the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim mosque built atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, to be destroyed and replaced with a new Temple.

The controversy was also an example of the importance of fleshing out religious ghosts in a story. The American and Israeli press that picked up this issue focused on the political angle. If they had developed the religious elements of the story they would have turned a campaign “gotcha” story about one politician into a better story about the links between Christian Zionists in the U.S. and conservative religious political parties in Israel. Looking into the faith element would have made this a better political story.

Let’s run through the coverage first then ask the faith questions that were left unasked.

On Saturday Ha’aretz’s English language website ran a profile of Gimpel following a broadcast the previous day on Channel 2 of comments made by the rabbi in 2011 to a church in Florida.

The Times of Israel summarized the controversy this way:

Fending off a frenzy of political criticism over a 2011 speech in which he appeared to speak with relish of the theoretical prospect of the Dome of Rock being “blown up” and a new Jewish Temple being built in its stead, prospective MK Jeremy Gimpel claimed in a TV interview on Sunday that he had actually been telling a joke meant to “parody” the extremists who want to destroy the 1,300-year-old Muslim shrine.

Statements Gimpel has made in the past, examined by The Times of Israel, indeed show no record of him explicitly calling for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock. They do indicate that he considers the golden dome atop the Temple Mount an alien element which he wishes would be replaced by the third Jewish temple.

A candidate for the Orthodox, right-wing Jewish Home party, Gimpel also sports a long history of hard-line statements that would raise eyebrows in many circles in Israel and large parts of the Jewish world, including calling the Jewish outlook of non-Orthodox Jewish movements “nonsense” and questioning whether Israel is truly a democracy because it forbids freedom of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount.

The Israeli political left jumped on Gimpel, with former foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s  liberal Hatnua party calling for his disqualification from the election for allegedly having uttered hate speech. The Anti-Defamation League’s Israel office weighed in also, saying they were appalled a rabbi would condone terrorism, Forward reported.

The New York Times‘ Israel correspondent picked up the story and it appeared in Monday’s edition on page A9 under the headline: “Rightist Israeli Candidate’s Remarks Cause Stir”. I imagine the American angle — Gimpel is a dual Israeli-American citizen and the Florida setting of the speech — prompted the editors to give the story space. The Times‘ article repeated the basic facts of the story of the speech and fleshed out the Israeli political context. It also carried the incendiary quotes that raised the ire of the left.

During a November 2011 lecture about biblical prophecies at the Fellowship Church in Winter Springs, Fla., Jeremy Gimpel, who is now a Jewish Home candidate, told the audience: “Imagine today if the dome, the Golden Dome — I’m being recorded so I can’t say blown up — but let’s say the dome was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the temple in Jerusalem. Can you imagine? I mean, none of you would be here, you’d all be like, I’m going to Israel, right? No one would be here. It would be incredible!”

After this mention of religion, the Times moves back into politics. This was unfortunate for if they had done some simple internet searching they would have learned some interesting things about the Florida church that calls into question Gimpel’s explanation.

A look through the website of the Fellowship Church in Winter Springs shows it to be a non-denominational Protestant Church that identifies itself as being part of the Christian Zionist movement. Among its outreach projects are the Temple Mount Faithful, whose mission according to its website is:

The goal of the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement is the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in our lifetime in accordance with the Word of G-d and all the Hebrew prophets and the liberation of the Temple Mount from Arab (Islamic) occupation so that it may be consecrated to the Name of G-d.

How credible is Gimpel’s explanation that he was making a joke that satirizes the views of those who want to destroy the Dome of the Rock and replace it with the Third Temple?

There are also questions that were left unasked as to what Gimpel meant when he told the Christian audience that if the Third Temple were rebuilt they would all “going to Israel.”

The question “why” a group of Central Florida Christians would go to Israel is not examined. Perhaps this statement from the Temple Mount Faithful website provides context for Gimpel’s words.

It is the view of the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful that the redemption will proceed in an orderly fashion according to G-d’s plan.

  • First is the foundation of the modern state of Israel and the miraculous victories that G-d gave the people of Israel in the wars against 22 Arab enemy states.
  • Second is the regathering of the people of Israel from all over the world to the Promised Land.
  • Third is the liberation and consecration of the Temple Mount and fourth is the building of the Third Temple.
  • The final step is the coming of the King of Israel, Messiah Ben David.

The existence of the state of Israel and the return of the people of G-d to the Promised Land is the biggest G-dly event and miracle in the history of mankind – ever. This was predicted by the prophets of Israel. We are calling all the nations to link arms in support of this people and the State of Israel to help her complete this process of redemption. We are not allowed to forget that the redemption of the people of Israel is a condition for the redemption of the earth. Also, we remember what G-d said over 4,000 years ago to Abraham, the father of the Israelites: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you”.

The articles note that Gimpel states he was conducting a Bible study on prophecy — but again does not ask what prophecies and why they would be of interest to a non-Jewish audience? By not exploring the religious angle the Times is missing the story. Politicians say dumb things all the time. Leaving the story on that plane makes it old news the moment the it is printed. Exploring the faith angle opens up far more interesting and important questions.

Did the Times simply play follow my lead and not bother with the religion angle? Did they choose not to follow it, or just did not see it? And does the reason for the omission matter? Did ignoring the faith element in this political story leave this incomplete? What say you GetReligion readers?

First printed in GetReligion.

Abortion flap divides Zambian diocese: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 7. January 24, 2013

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The clergy and cathedral chapter of the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity in Ndola, have locked out Bishop Derek Kamukwamba of Central Zambia, accusing their bishop of misconduct.

Shortly before Christmas, the bishop found the door to his office at the Cathedral locked.  He was handed a copy of a letter written by the chapter to Archbishop Albert Chama of Central Africa calling for his resignation.  The letter accused the bishop of having unlawfully ordained his nephew to the diaconate over the objections of the congregation who had reservations about his fitness.

They accused the nephew, the Rev. Stubbs Kamukwamba, of having got with child an underage member of the cathedral youth group and then helping the mother procure an abortion. The objections were brought to Bishop Kamukwamba, but were ignored the chapter said.

The bishop has declined to comment on the allegations as the charges are under review by the province.

Archbishop Joseph Adetiloye of Nigeria dead at 82: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 7. January 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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The man who oversaw the rapid growth of the Anglican Church in Nigeria that saw the West African church become the largest province in the Anglican Communion in the 1990’s has died. Archbishop Joseph Adetiloye died suddenly at his home on 14 Dec 2012, his family reports. He was 83.

Born on Christmas Day in 1929 on a small farm in Ekiti State, the future archbishop lost his father at the age of 3 and worked on the farm as a child to help support the family.  At the age of 8 he won a place at an Anglican mission school and began the training that led to his ordination as a priest and election as second Bishop of Ekiti in 1970.  In 1985 he was translated to Lagos and in 1988 he was elected the second Archbishop of Nigeria, retiring in 1999. At the 1998 Lambeth Conference Archbishop Adetiloye was the behind the scenes leader of the conservative coalition that codified the Anglican Communion’s views on human sexuality as expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan observed: “Archbishop Adetiloye will be long remembered for his zeal and passion for evangelism and planting of churches and his interest in not only the spiritual life of church members but also their education, health and economic well-being.”

Former seminarian turns rebel leader in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 7. January 24, 2013

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A former Anglican seminarian has emerged as the leader of a rebel militia in South Sudan allied with the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum.

David Yau Yau, who attended theological college from 2004-2006 in Yei, has emerged as the head of rebel militia at war with South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM].

After being sent down from Emmanuel Christian College for failing to receive his Diploma in Theology, Yau Yau entered politics, but lost an election to the Jonglei State Assembly in April 2010 when South Sudan received its independence.  Yau Yau charged the vote was rigged and took his supporters into the bush.  The government offered Yau Yau a pardon in 2011 and a commission as a general in the SPLA.  However in April the South Sudan government announced Yau Yau had defected to Khartoum and had launched another rebellion in the Jonglei State.

Yau Yau’s former theological college principal, Bishop Ruben Akurdit Ngong of Bor Diocese, told the Sudan Tribune that as a seminarian, Yau Yau had asked for prayers to help his tribe, the “Murle to change their way of life.”

Now the champion of the Murle people had become their “enemy” the bishop said. “This self-promoted rebel general is killing people.”

Bill to give religious institutions presumptive charitable status presented to Parliament: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2013 January 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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A Conservative MP has put forward a bill in Parliament seeking to expand religious freedom in Britain.

On 19 Dec 2012 Peter Bone, the member for Wellingborough, presented a Ten Minute Rule Motion in the House of Commons seeking leave to bring a bill to amend the Charities Act 2011 to “treat all religious institutions as charities”.

Writing on the Conservative Home website, Mr. Bone said the bill would clarify the law to give religious institutions a presumptive status as institutions providing a “public benefit”, therefore eligible for charitable status. The Charities Act 2006 introduced the requirement that all charities, including those advancing religion, education and the relief of poverty, should demonstrate public benefit.

The National Council for Voluntary Organizations, however, said it opposed Mr. Bone’s motion. It “risks downgrading religious charities in the public mind,” Elizabeth Chamberlain of the NCVO said. “Public benefit is what makes a charity a charity, and most are keen to demonstrate the value of their work.”

Mr. Bone said his motion would “not mean an automatic renewal of charitable status, but an acknowledgement of the role religious institutions play in our society.”

“The liberal, secular elite of the Charity Commission are on a very dangerous path of restricting religious freedom,” wrote the Conservative backbencher. “If this government truly believes in religious freedoms then respecting the advancement of religion as a public benefit should be acknowledged, as before, and the Charities Act 2011 amended.”

Mr. Bone cited the case of Preston Down Trust, a Plymouth Brethren congregation, as an example of the Charity Commission’s restricting religious freedom, after it declined to give the congregation charitable status.  On 18 Dec he delivered a letter signed by 113 MPs to 10 Downing Street to “express their deep concern at the Charity Commission’s current posture on registering religious institutions as charities.”

Bishop of Coventry joins House of Lords: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2013 January 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords.
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The Rt. Rev. Christopher Cocksworth

The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Cocksworth joined the House of Lords this week.  On 15 January 2013 Dr. Cocksworth was introduced to the upper house by the Bishops of Birmingham and Exeter and becomes one of the 26 Lords Spiritual.

In a statement, Dr. Cocksworth said: “I greatly look forward to fulfilling the responsibilities of a member of the House of Lords and although my concern will be the good of the whole of society, I hope my contribution to the Lords will be of special value to the life of Coventry and Warwickshire.”

Court blocks loyalist convention for Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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Diane Goodstein

Judge Diane Goodstein

The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order forbidding any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using the name, symbols or seal of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina – save for Bishop Mark J. Lawrence and the trustees of the diocese.

The 23 January 2013 order handed down by Judge Diane Goodstein effectively blocks the Episcopal Church and its allies from electing a bishop and standing committee for the minority faction loyal to the national church for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

However, canon lawyer Allan Haley notes the ruling does not prevent those in the diocese who wish to remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church “from meeting, but they will have to adopt a different name.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Restraining Order filed against Episcopal Church in SC case: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies from using the name, symbols of identity of the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

15 more parishes join lawsuit against the Episcopal Church January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina reports that 15 further congregations have joined it in their 4 Jan 2013 lawsuit against the national Episcopal Church.

The 22 Jan statement reported that of the dioceses congregations, 31 had joined the lawsuit against the national church, 13 congregations were supporting Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese against the national church but had not yet joined the litigation, nine missions and two parishes had not declared how they would act, while eight parishes and eight missions had indicated they would remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church.

“We are saddened that legal action is necessary to protect our members from an organization that uses the threat of legal action as a cudgel to keep its parishes in line,” Bishop Lawrence said.

First printed in Anglican Ink.

Channel 4 keeps it all in the Anglican family: Get Religion, January 22, 2013 January 22, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Women Priests.
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January has been a wonderful month for lovers of Anglican ecclesiastical drama. The resignation of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury at year’s end should have led to a few month’s peace and quiet for the Church of England and the wider Anglican world. I had even thought of taking a vacation this month as little of substance appeared on the radar as of late December.

I could count on the penchant of Episcopalians in the United States to sue each other over church property disputes — 88 cases and counting. And there would certainly be some sort of gay story — thank you Washington National Cathedral for announcing you will host gay weddings! But I could write those stories in my sleep — and to tell the truth I would have had a hard time selling them. I could hear the editors say: “You want me to publish another gay Episcopal story? Tell me how is that news?”

But thank goodness for the Church of England. When life get’s me down. When I begin to think my mother in law is right and there is still time to go to law school and have a “respectable” career, the Church of England comes to my rescue. What a month it has been. Fights with the government over gay marriage, fights over gay bishops, and fights over women bishops. The CoE is at its most interesting when it is at war. Liberal and conservative wings in full war cry, possessed of the certainties of the Israelites who went out boldly to hew Agag in pieces and to smite the Amalekites hip and thigh.

Last week the fight over women bishops flared anew, illuminating the dreary skies of Westminster as the lay members of General Synod met at Church House in London to hear a motion calling for the impeachment of the chairman of the House of Laity.

Channel 4 News — which is the fourth British television network (BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4) — ran a story entitled “Women bishops: laity votes in no confidence motion,” previewing the meeting. It began:

The debate over women bishops in the Church of England is reignited today as one of the houses of the church’s governing body meets to consider calling for the resignation of its chair.

The House of Laity, part of the General Synod, is meeting in London for an extraordinary meeting to vote on a motion of no confidence in chair Dr Philip Giddings, who spoke against women bishops – directly after the Archbishop elect, Rev Justin Welby spoke in favour.

Canon Stephen Barney, who will propose the motion after setting up a petition, says Dr Giddings’ action “undermined” the speech of the archbishop-elect and were not representative of the house.

The story goes on to give the background to the meeting, noting it was the laity who blocked passage of a bill permitting the consecration of women clergy to the episcopate. The story then quotes the mover of the resolution, giving him space to summarize his views:

Speaking to Channel 4 News ahead of the meeting, Mr Barney, who has insisted the motion is not a personal attack, said the purpose of the meeting was not to debate women bishops in this particular incident, but whether Dr Giddings was representing the house which he chaired.

He said: “I hope that we will have a proper debate. It’s a question of whether this was appropriate given that he was not representing the view of the vast majority of the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and indeed all but 74 of the House of Laity.”

Three more paragraphs of quotes from Mr. Barney are provided, followed by the line:

Dr. Giddings has not yet commented on the issue and said that “the time for debate is when we have the debate.”

Oh, and at the bottom of the page is this announcement:

The author of this piece, Katharine Barney, is the daughter of Canon Stephen Barney.

Is that clear. Katharine Barney the author of the news article is the daughter of the subject of the news article, Stephen Barney.

Is it possible for a daughter to write a balanced news article about her father? Yes, it is possible. A good journalist can detach themselves and write a story that is fair to both sides.  Love or hate Dad, a good reporter can still do their job. Yet the appearance of impropriety remains.

In this case, the balance expected of a reporter — a normal one, e.g., not the child of the subject of the piece — is absent. The British blog Cranmer — one of the best written and more intelligent religion blogs out there — had this to say:

This debate will attract an awful lot of media attention: it touches on theology, equality, morality, the governance of the Church of England, and the right separation of powers. One might expect Channel 4 News to have done rather better than get the daughter of the motion’s proposer to write a superficial and thoroughly biased article on the matter.

Standing outside the issues, the Channel 4 story failed as journalism. It was unbalanced. While Dr. Giddings declined to speak to the issues, there were dozens of others in the Church of England — bishops, lay leaders, commentators — who could offer a contrary voice. The context for this story was insufficient. How did the Church of England get to this place? Has this happened before? How much does it cost and who is paying for it? What happens if Dr. Giddings is impeached, or if he survives censure?

Where these problems addressed in the article, then it could be argued that having the daughter of the subject of the story write the story was a bold move by Channel 4′s editors to show the professionalism of its reporter. This did not happen.

Opprobrium should not be heaped on the author of the story, however. We do not know what the original story she submitted looked like, and by her lights this may have been a balanced complete account. The fault lies with the editors at Channel 4. What were they thinking?

First printed in Get Religion.

105,000 Christians murdered for the faith in 2012: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 6. January 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Persecution.
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Over 105,000 Christians were killed because of their faith in 2012, an Italian sociologist told Vatican Radio last week, with reports from Africa, India and Asia showing a surge in anti-Christian persecution over the Christmas holidays.

Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy from Islam but released after an international protest campaign was re-arrested at his home on Christmas Day, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

In a 26 December 2012 statement, CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said Pastor Nadarkhani had been returned to prison Iran. CSW reported he had “been returned to jail on the orders of the director of Lakan Prison, who claimed he had been released several days too early due to the insistence of his lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkhah,” who is also in an Iranian jail for having defended Mr. Nadarkhani.

The Mohabat News service reported that on 27 Dec 2012, approximately 50 converts to Christianity from Islam were also arrested by police in Tehran for unlawful assembly.  The converts were released after several hours of police interrogation, but the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, remains in custody.

In Nigeria, the Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, attacked a church service on Christmas Eve in a village in Yobe State, killing the pastor and several members of the congregation.  The First Baptist Church in the northern city of Maduguri was attacked by gunmen during a Midnight Service on Christmas Eve and the church’s deacon was killed.  Reports on the total death count vary, with reports ranging from 12 to 24 killed.  CSW reports that since 2010, 45 Christians have been killed in Christmas church attacks launched by Boko Haram.

On 29 Dec, terrorist believed to belong to an Islamist militia group attacked the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in Dafniya a town near Misrata Libya.  Three members of the church’s staff were killed and two were injured in the attack.  As members of the congregation left the church following the Saturday evening service, a bomb exploded inside the church.  The Coptic Church in Egypt reports the death toll could have been much higher as the blast went off after the congregation had moved from the church to the parish hall at the conclusion of services – those killed were those still inside the sanctuary when the bomb detonated.

A Catholic priest in Zanzibar was shot on Christmas Day, missionaries on the majority Muslim island off the coast of Tanzania tell The Church of England Newspaper.  Fr Ambrose Mkenda was shot by two men riding a motorcycle as stepped out of his car after returning home from celebrating Christmas Day service.  Sources on the island tell CEN Fr. Mkenda, who is recovering in hospital, was not believed to be the primary target of the attack and was mistaken for the Catholic bishop of the island.  Last year the Anglican and Catholic bishops and clergy on the island were forced to flee to the mainland for a week after Uamsho, an extremist Islamic group, sparked riots.

In an interview broadcast on 26 Dec, the Feast of St Stephen the Martyr, Prof. Massimo Introvigne reported that in 2012 it was believed 105,000 Christians were “murdered for their faith”, or “one death every 5 minutes.”

Christians were most at risk in areas with a strong Islamic fundamentalist presence, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, Pakistan and some parts of Egypt, in Communist North Korea, and in countries with strong ethnic national identities, where national identity is tied to religion.  In Orissa State in India, he said, Christians are considered “traitors to the nation.”

Ideology lay behind the persecution of Christians, Prof.  Introvigne said: “the ideology of radical Islamic fundamentalism, the more aggressive versions of ethno-nationalism and, of course, the vestiges of the old Communist ideology.”

He noted that “when it comes to the 105 000 deaths per year, these are not all martyrs in the theological sense of the term. However, within this number there those people who very consciously lay down their lives for the Church and often also pray for their persecutors and these offer forgiveness,” he said.

This forgiveness of those who persecute them is the “unique feature of Christianity, because many other cultures – even pre-Christian and post-Christian – speak, the right and duty of honor and vengeance. Christianity had this great civilizing function, which today we tend to forget, to have replaced the logic of revenge with the logic of forgiveness,” Prof. Introvigne said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Christmas services return to St Petersburg: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 5. January 21, 2013

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Altar of the English Church, St Petersburg

Ninety six years after its last service, an Anglican Christmas service was held  at the historic English Chapel in St Petersburg.

The British Consul General in St Petersburg along with English speaking Anglicans in the Russia’s second city returned to worship at the two hundred year old church for the second time since the October Revolution.  Last November, Remembrance Sunday was celebrated at the Church designed by the Imperial court architect Giacomo Quarenghi.

“It was very important to hold this service exactly in this church that once used to be the center of the British community for more than 200 years,” Mr Ward told the Moscow Times. “And it is very important for the British community to have access to this church again.”

Churchwarden Adrian Terris told the Moscow Times the expatriate community had been working for several years to worship once more in the English Church, and thanked the St. Petersburg Conservatory for their cooperation in allowing them to return.

Built by the Russia Company in Archangel, the church was moved to Russia’s new capital, St Petersburg in 1712.  From 1721 until 1917, the church was located at 56 English Embankment on land given by the Tsar to the British community in Russia.  The current Palladian neo-classical style church was built in 1875 to accommodate 2500 worshipers.  With the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, however, the church was closed and the building seized by the state.

Anglican worship resumed in St Petersburg following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993, with services held at the city’s Swedish Lutheran Church.  The St Petersburg English Church is supported by St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow, but the city has no resident Anglican chaplain at this time.

The church’s website states services St. Petersburg’s branch of the English church does not have its own permanent chaplain; services are instead led by Anglican clergy on short-term visits from Britain or by local clergy from the Swedish and Finnish Lutheran churches.

Canterbury gun control plea: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 5. January 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Connecticut, Crime, The Episcopal Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined a chorus of American church leaders calling for stricter gun control laws in the United States following last month’s Connecticut school shooting.

In his final “Thought for the Day” broadcast as Archbishop of Canterbury on BBC Radio 4, Dr. Williams acknowledged that by itself gun control will not end violence, but their strict regulation would curtail it.

“A week after the horrific killings of the schoolchildren of Sandy Hook in Connecticut, most of us are still struggling to get our minds around such a nightmare,” Dr. Williams said, adding that “nearly 6,000 children and teenagers were killed by firearms in the USA in just two years.”

The problem of “gang culture” was not unique to America, he noted, but “in the US, the question is, of course, about gun laws, one of the most polarising issues in American politics.”

“And there is one thing often said by defenders of the American gun laws that ought to make us think about wider questions.  ‘It’s not guns that kill, it’s people.’  Well, yes, in a sense.  But it makes a difference to people what weapons are at hand for them to use – and, even more, what happens to people in a climate where fear is rampant and the default response to frightening or unsettling situations or personal tensions is violence or the threat of violence.  If all you have is a hammer, it’s sometimes said, everything looks like a nail.  If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target,” the archbishop said.

Last week the Bishop of Olympia, the Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel joined the Bishop of Washington and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in calls for the government to review gun laws.

The Seattle-based bishop wrote that in the United States, “gun violence is a slow growing cancer which we have had the luxury, by and large, to ignore or at the very least show little attention to. Sadly, it has taken the loss of 20 of the youngest among us, the ones with the least power, to get our attention.”

“Up until that tragedy in Connecticut, we were starting to get used to school shootings. Will we get used to this too?” he asked.

Bishop Rickel joined Dr. Williams in rejecting the arguments put forward by the hunting and shooting community.  He stated the National Rifle Associations “solution is not surprising: arm more people. That solution grows out of a belief in the inevitability of a heavily armed society, which they have helped create. We are now the most armed nation in the world.”

The bishop said he was “not against the end of all guns. That, at this point, is probably unrealistic. But, I am very much for rational regulation of them.

Dr. Williams observed that “if it’s true that if all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target.”

The “control of the weapons trade is a start,” he said, towards ending the violence.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper-

Tibet is burning: Get Religion, January 18, 2013 January 19, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Buddhism, China, Get Religion, Persecution, Politics.
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Let me commend for your reading this AP article by reporter Gillian Wong on the military crack down in Tibet. Entitled “As Tibet burns, China makes arrests, seizes TVs” this article reports on the wave of self-immolations that have swept across Tibet in protest to the Chinese regime’s occupation of the region.

It opens with a strong lede, provides the facts in a straight forward – balanced way, offers good comments from knowledgeable experts, provides the principle points of view — all while being written under a Beijing dateline (which means the reporter can find herself severely discommoded by the government for reporting unpalatable truths.)

The article opens:

Chinese authorities are responding to an intensified wave of Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese rule by clamping down even harder – criminalizing the suicides, arresting protesters’ friends and even confiscating thousands of satellite TV dishes.

The harsh measures provide an early indication that the country’s new leadership is not easing up on Tibet despite the burning protests and international condemnation.

For months, as Tibetans across western China doused themselves in gasoline and set themselves alight, authorities responded by sending in security forces to seal off areas and prevent information from getting out, but those efforts did not stop or slow the protests. The self-immolations even accelerated in November as China’s ruling Communist Party held a pivotal leadership transition.

There is a strong religious component to the story:

Nearly 100 Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people have set themselves on fire since 2009, calling for Beijing to allow greater religious freedom and the return from exile of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Speaking technically, (e.g., removing the subject of the story and looking at its construction, language and the reporter’s craft) this is a superior news story — it has all the elements of good journalism. And when you add in the compelling subject matter of religious freedom and political self-determination for Tibet you have a great story.

Where I to add anything to this story, it would be a paragraph or two on what the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan Buddhist tradition has to say about self-immolation. Buddhism holds that human life is sacred — how does suicide as political/religious protest stand in light of these teachings?

My sense is that a reporter writing from Beijing can only go so far down this path before they find their visa cancelled. One telephone call to a leader of the Tibetan exile community in a story might pass police muster — direct quotes or a response from the Dalai Lama would be too much. An informed reader should look at the dateline of an article — the location where the story was written often placed in parentheses at the beginning of an article — so as to understand how to read the story. A dateline of Beijing as opposed to Hong Kong or Tokyo for this story says very different things. Let the reader understand.

Informed Western readers of this article are likely to come to this story with the knowledge the Arab Spring began with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia. Older readers will remember the self-immolation of Buddhist monks during the Vietnam war in protest to the South Vietnamese government’s policies. Is this the tradition in Tibet?

Not according to the Tibetan government in exile. They released a You-Tube video this past summer that looks into this question — noting the first Tibetan self-immolation took place in 2008.  The video received little news attention when it was released, and I do hope that it is picked up by the press now that the Chinese government has pushed this issue into the limelight with its crackdown.

What say you GR readers? Is an extra sentence or paragraph necessary to explain the religious “why” question behind this story? Or, given the threat of censorship from Chinese government that hovers over all Tibet or religion (think House Churches, Falun Gong) stories, is it incumbent upon the reader to approach these stories with a modicum of wisdom — knowing that he will only hear part of the story?

First printed in Get Religion.

Sydney Morning Herald has a problem with religious freedom: Get Religion, January 17, 2013 January 17, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Politics, Press criticism.
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It is only two weeks into the new year, but I believe we may have a winner in the worst newspaper article of 2013 contest. A Sydney Morning Herald story entitled “Anti-gay rights to stay” is so awful, I am just about at a loss for words. Were I to say this story was anti-Christian, boorish, ignorant, and aggressively offensive I would only be scratching the surface. It takes a non-story — Prime Minister Julia Gillard will maintain religious freedoms in the new bill of rights under construction — and turns it into a gay bashing extravaganza.

It begins:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has assured religious groups they will have the ”freedom” under a new rights bill to discriminate against homosexuals and others they deem sinners, according to the head of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Under current law, faith-based organisations, including schools and hospitals, can refuse to hire those they view as sinners if they consider it ”is necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities of adherents of that religion”.

Notice the quotation marks around the word “freedom”? What is that telling us? Read further into the story and you will find that there is nothing here other than the reporter’s indignation. There is no story. The prime minister has assured the leader of a lobbying group that the current rules governing the “freedom of religion” will not be changed. The SMH finds this deeply offensive, writing:

Discrimination by religious organisations affects thousands of Australians. The faiths are big employers, and the Catholic Church in particular is one of Australia’s largest private employers. They rely on government funding but because of their religious status are allowed to vet the sexual practices of potential employees in ways that would be illegal for non-religious organisations.

The story flow resumes with assurances given by two government ministers that there will be no change in religious freedom laws, followed by comments from church groups. (As an aside, I find the comments somewhat suspect. Knowing some of those who have been quoted, I believe their words have been misconstrued such that the issue of providing services has been conflated with hiring decisions. E.g., they do not discriminate in the provision of services but do reserve the right to employ like minded people.)

The article then brings forward a voice to support its editorial slant, and closes with a quote from the Attorney General that is crafted so as to make her look the fool. She is quoted as being in favor of expanding gay rights at the very end of the story after she states at the top of the piece she supports religious freedom expemptions– or in the SMH’s worldview — condoning anti-gay practices. This is a journalist’s way of calling someone a hypocrite without having to use the word.

Where do I begin? This article is so bad, so puerile, it could appear in The Onion or other comic websites as a farce — a caricature of biased hack journalism. Let’s take the word “sinner”. An emotional word not used by the prime minister or the Australian Christian Lobby spokesman but one inserted by the SMH into the narrative. It may give the story a crackle, but it also reveals the ignorance of the author of the words he is using.

Need I explain that religious organizations hire sinners every day? Yes, the SMH may have meant to say that religious groups do not want to hire particular types of sinner, but having decided to be clever, the SMH must take responsibility for its failure to intelligently use words.  Any editor who has half a brain should have known better than to allow such junk to go out under the newspaper’s name.

On a deeper level, however, the stridency of this article — its eagerness to defame and demean religious groups — suggests the decision to push a non story was deliberate, or the newspaper has been captured by a gaggle of gormless hacks unable to grasp the distinctions between unlawful discrimination and making hiring decisions based upon criteria shaped by church doctrine and discipline.

The sad thing about this SMH story is that it is not an outlier. A well written article entitled “The future of the press” by Keith Windschuttle in this month’s issue of The New Criterion looks at the reasons for the decline of the major newspapers in the English speaking world. Drawing upon William McGowan’s 2010 book Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of The New York Times Means for America, Windschuttle reports the collapse of the newspaper has been economic, political and existential.

McGowan makes it clear that the Times’ shift to the left was actually led by its publisher since 1991, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who enshrined within his organization the ideology of the 1960s generation which he shared: radical advocacy, identity politics, and New Age management theory.

Windschuttle explains the decline as the result of “staff capture”.

But even on newspapers without a countercultural proprietor, there is an underlying problem. The bureaucracies needed to run daily newspapers are susceptible to staff capture. In the last thirty years, on those newspaper companies not controlled by traditional owners but run by boards composed mainly of the biggest stockholders, the autonomy that is essential for journalists and editors to do their job has been exploited by the Left. Once they reached a critical mass in an organization, leftists recruited others sharing their political and cultural beliefs. They proceeded to impose the cultural values of the Left onto the entire editorial output. This did not prove to be a successful business model because it estranged at least half their potential readership—the conservative half—guaranteeing their circulations would continue to fall.

What has been true for the Times has also been true of Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald. He writes:

One of its former journalists, Miranda Devine, who is from a well-known newspaper family and who was employed on The Sydney Morning Herald for ten years until 2011, has described her experience: “When I arrived at the Herald it was controlled by a handful of hard-left enforcers who dictated how stories were covered, and undermined management at every turn.” A former executive of Fairfax said the worldview of the collective was “inarguably Left-leaning, and anti-business. It was also anti-religion—especially anti-Christian—and hostile to bourgeois family values. The tragedy was that [Fairfax’s] core audience was a conservative audience. You’ve never seen a paper more disengaged from its core audience, particularly the [Melbourne] Age.”

Windschuttle’s article is behind The New Criterion’s pay wall, but I do encourage you to find a way to read it — even [heaven forfend] buy the magazine!

Sadly, the article “Anti-gay rights to stay” is an example of the decline and fall of a once great newspaper.

First published in GetReligion.

Top of the pops hopes for Norfolk bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 5. January 17, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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St Nicholas Chapel, Kings Lynn

A bravura performance at last year’s Festival Too in King’s Lynn has led to a recording deal for the Bishop of Lynn, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Meyrick.

Bishop Meyrick, whose musical talents were showcased on ITV’s “Stars in Their Eyes”, where he dressed as Reg Presley and performed “Wild Thing”, will release a CD of rock and roll songs by the Rolling Stones, Bee Gees, Monkees and the Troggs to raise in aid of local charities.

The bishop told his local newspaper the CD had “come about because I sang at the Festival Too launch event.”

“After singing with the Yesterdays, the band suggested to me that I record a CD to raise money for charity and it’s gone from there really. I’ve now recorded what I need to and I’m just waiting for it to be tied together and for the launch date to be decided.”

Funds raised by the sale of the CD will be given to the Norfolk Hospice and to the Friends of St Nicholas Chapel.  The society and the Churches Conservation Trust are hoping to raise £210,000 towards restoration of the historic chapel in order to qualify for a Lottery grant.

The £1.5m project will replace the roof on the nave and south aisle and add insulation, toilets and lighting.

Peerage for Dr. Williams: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 1 January 17, 2013

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The Prime Minister’s Office has the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has been given a life peerage by the Queen. Upon his retirement from office, Dr. Williams will become Baron Williams of Oystermouth.

The 26 December 2012 announcement from No. 10 Downing Street stated Dr. Williams “will be created a Baron for Life by the style and title of Baron Williams of Oystermouth in the City and County of Swansea.”

Under the Life Peerage Act of 1958 the Sovereign may appoint life peers who have the right to sit in the House of Lords. Life baronies under the Act are created by the Sovereign but, in practice, none are granted except upon the proposition of the prime minister, who may create up to 10 life baronies during each parliament in recognition for service to the country.

South Carolina dispute goes to court: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 6. January 17, 2013

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The Diocese of South Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the Episcopal Church seeking a ban on the use of its name and seal by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies, and asking the civil courts to confirm that it had lawfully withdrawn from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

The 4 Jan 2013 complaint filed in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Dorchester County by the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 16 parishes asks the civil court settle the legal and ecclesiological question of the locus of authority in the Episcopal Church.  Since taking office in 2006, Bishop Jefferts Schori has argued authority in the church is vested in the General Convention and her office, rejecting the traditional view that authority resides in the dioceses with limited powers delegated to the national church.

The 65-page complaint addresses similar issues before the Texas Supreme Court which is reviewing the case of the Diocese of Fort Worth and lower courts in California and Illinois addressing the secession of the dioceses of San Joaquin and Quincy.

The pleading alleges three causes of action by the diocese against the national church. It alleges the national church has claimed the “right to ownership and possession” of $500 million of diocesan and congregational property; the national church has unlawfully used the diocese’s name and registered service marks; and that the national church “persons under its direction and control” had appropriated the diocesan seal.

Mr. Thomas Tisdale, Bishop Jefferts Schori’s attorney in South Carolina, declined to comment on the pleadings.  A spokesman for the presiding bishop told the Church of England Newspaper “the Episcopal Church has not received the legal papers in any such lawsuit in South Carolina and therefore cannot comment at this time.”

The pleading asks the court to step into the dispute between South Carolina and the national church following months of skirmishing that have included the 17 Oct 2012 suspension and subsequent dismissal of Bishop Mark Lawrence from the ministry by Bishop Jefferts Schori, the 15 Nov 2012 secession of the diocese, and the creation of a loyalist group in the diocese, acting under the authority of the presiding bishop, that has claimed the name, rights, property and interest of the diocese.

In a press statement reporting the news of the lawsuit, the diocese said it acted to prevent the national church from “hijacking” its name and assets.

“Like our colonial forefathers, we are pursuing the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, not as it is dictated to us by a self-proclaimed religious authority who threatens to take our property unless we relinquish our beliefs,” Bishop Lawrence said.

The Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of South Carolina stated “many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation.  They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.”

“We have existed as an association since 1785. We incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name … in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. The Episcopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese – but it does not have a right to use our identity.  The Episcopal Church must create a new entity.”

Bishop of Exeter to retire: The Church of England Newspaper, January 8, 2013 January 17, 2013

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The Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish

The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langish, has announced he will retire from office on 29 June 2013.  In a 6 Jan 2013 letter to the diocese, Bishop Langrish said that during the “13 years that I have had the privilege of serving as Bishop of Exeter I have grown to love this county and its people deeply.”

“Although 2012 has been a challenging year, as have many others before it, I hope that I leave the Church of England in Devon in good heart. We have recently seen growth in the number of vocations to authorised ministry, positive indications in terms of the numbers of those who worship with us and cause for optimism in the financial contributions we receive. For all of these, I am enormously grateful for your support and the depth of your commitment to growing God’s Kingdom.”

Clifton Daniel elected Bishop of Pennsylvania: Anglican Ink, January 15, 2013 January 15, 2013

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Clifton Daniel, III

A special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has elected the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III to serve as provisional bishop of one of the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest dioceses.

On 12 Jan 2013 the diocese elected by unanimous acclamation Bishop Daniel, the resigned Bishop of East Carolina, to serve as bishop for two years, or until the election of a diocesan bishop.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bishop of Massachusetts issues call for the election of a co-adjutor: Anglican Ink, January 15, 2013 January 15, 2013

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The Rt. Rev M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

The Bishop of Massachusetts has written to his diocese announcing the call for the election of his successor. In a letter dated 15 Jan 2013 the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE stated that he was “turning 68 this year.  From my prayer and conversation with my community, friends and family, I have decided to call for the election of my successor, a bishop coadjutor.  The election will take place at a special convention proposed for April 5, 2014.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anti-gay marriage protests prompts the ire of the BBC: Get Religion, January 14, 2013 January 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
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Figaro 14 Jan 2013The BBC has an extraordinary report on its website detailing Sunday’s march in the French capital by opponents of a government bill to create same-sex marriages. Fact free, disdainful of opponents of gay marriage, incurious as to the intellectual and moral issues at play, lacking in balance, padded out with the author’s opinions and non sequiturs — this report entitled “Mass rally against gay marriage in France” is a poor outing for the corporation. It has the feel of a rush job written in the back of a cab on the way to the airport — or at the hotel bar.

Written in the one sentence paragraph style favored by British tabloids, the article opens with the news of the protest, where it took place and why:

But the demonstrators, backed by the Catholic Church and the right-wing opposition, argue it would undermine an essential building block of society.

The BBC then plays the Million Man March game. (For those unfamiliar with this sport, the Million Man March game is one way a news outlet telegraphs its opinions. If it favors the event it accepts the numbers given by the organizers. If opposed, it plays up the numbers offered by the police.)

The organisers put the number of marchers at 800,000, with demonstrators pouring into Paris by train and bus, carrying placards that read, “We don’t want your law, Francois” and “Don’t touch my civil code”.

Police said the figure was closer to 340,000 and one government minister said the turnout was lower than the organisers had predicted. A similar march in November attracted around 100,000 people.

Where the reader in any doubt as to where this was going, the sentence structure should clear that up. The BBC offers the organizers’ numbers first, but undercuts them with police numbers and the claim of an unnamed government minister who poo-poos the turnout. Absent from this is the news that this is the biggest mass protest in France since 1984 or that the organizers were hoping to have at least 100,000 people in the streets. That is called context and that is missing.

We then move to ridicule, or in modern parlance “snark.”

The “Demo for all” event was being led by a charismatic comedian known as Frigide Barjot, who tweeted that the “crowd is immense” and told French TV that gay marriage “makes no sense” because a child should be born to a man and woman.

A charismatic comedienne shall lead them, the BBC reports — even though the story opens with the news that the march is backed by French religious leaders and the opposition (the right wing opposition the BBC reminds us).  Hiss and boo here. The French press and Reuters reported the presence of French archbishops, the head of the Protestant Federation, the chief Imam of Paris in the march. Gay leaders who oppose gay marriage on the grounds that it is an imposition of bourgeois heterosexual norms on homosexuals — by backing gay marriage French President Francois Hollande is condescending and homophobic some gay activists claim — were marching also. And what does the BBC offer as the face of the opposition? The “muse” of the march, as she is called by La Croix, Frigide Barjot.

The article notes:

Despite the support of the Church and political right, the organisers are keen to stress their movement is non-political and non-religious, and in no way directed against homosexuals, BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield reports.

In its broadcast, the BBC’s Paris correspondent states the organizers of the rally are being “clever”.  They wanted to give a “clear message”.  They “don’t want to be typecast as homophobes and they rather resent the way that what they would see as the ‘left wing liberal establishment’ has tried to paint them as reactionaries and homophobic types.”

Or, the clear message might be, “they don’t want a law passed creating gay marriage” and resent the false caricatures offered by the left wing press. Watch the report to hear that English classic — a harrumph — offered by the BBC’s correspondent when saying “left wing liberal establishment.”

The reporter also mentions the presence of anti-gay marriage gay activists — but tells the audience they are a minority within the French gay community. How does he know this? Is this not a “man bites dog angle” that is news worthy? Evidently not — for the BBC tells us to “move on, nothing here to see.”

The next trick used to rubbish the marchers is the use of selective polling.

An opinion poll of almost 1,000 people published by Le Nouvel Observateur newspaper at the weekend suggested that 56% supported gay marriage, while 50% disapproved of gay adoption. The poll also said that 52% of those questioned disapproved of the Church’s stand against the legislation. Earlier polls had indicated stronger support for the legalisation of gay marriage.

Would it have made a difference to report on other polls showing a shift in public opinion away from gay marriage since the Church began to rally the opposition — or that a majority in France are opposed to passage of both the marriage and adoption bill?

The article closes with this gem.

As the marchers began arriving in the centre of Paris, four Ukrainian activists staged their own protest in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican in support of gay rights. The women from feminist group Femen appeared topless while Pope Benedict recited his traditional Angelus prayer. Police moved to restrain the activists, one of whom was attacked by a worshipper brandishing an umbrella.

Nice photo of a topless blonde being savaged by an old Italian women wielding an umbrella — but apart from the opportunity to use that photo in the story, what purpose does adding four Ukrainian activists in Rome to a story of several hundred thousand Frenchmen protesting in Paris?

Perhaps I am as the psychologists say, “projecting”, seeing in the actions of others my own sins? Perhaps there is some of that behind my ire. But I’ve been at this  long enough to recognize the tricks of the trade.

Read it all in Get Religion.

Global South urges Church of England to pull back on gay bishops: Anglican Ink, January 12, 2013 January 12, 2013

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The Rt. Rev. Robert Paterson

The Global South Coalition of Anglican Primates – representing a majority of members of the Anglican Communion – has urged the House of Bishops of the Church of England to rescind its decision to permit clergy in gay civil partnerships to be appointed to the Episcopate.

By allowing partnered gay clergy to become bishops, the Church of England was jeopardizing the lives of Anglicans in majority Muslim countries, who would become targets of rage from extremists who would not appreciate the distinction being drawn by the House of Bishops between sexually active gay bishops and bishops who had entered a legal relationship defined by sexual activity, but who would nonetheless refrain from sexual activity.

Signed by nine archbishops, the statement follows responses from the Archbishops of Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria last week decrying the initiative.

The explosion over gay civil partnerships appears to have been an “own goal” on the part of the House of Bishops of the Church of England.  The Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Rt. Rev. Robert Paterson – who had been charged with leading a committee investigating the question – has stated the matter was taken out of his committee’s hands by the House of Bishops executive committee.

The final statement released on 20 Dec 2012 was not in exact accordance with the recommendations of his committee.  He noted the bulk of the business of the meeting had been devoted to the women bishops question and the civil partnership issue was not given a thorough hearing.  What was adopted was a holding statement — non-answer driven by legal advice that would satisfy parties until the final decision was made later this year.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Women clergy under review for the ACNA: Anglican Ink, January 11, 2013 January 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink, House of Bishops, Women Priests.
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More bishops, fewer dioceses and the future of women clergy were amongst the main topics of debate at the Anglican Church of North America’s College of Bishops meeting this week in Orlando.

Bishops from the conservative province in waiting in North America in the Anglican Communion approved the election of two additional bishops for the PEAR-USA Network. The Rev. Quigg Lawrence will lead the Atlantic Regional Network and the Rev. Ken Ross the Western Regional Network, while the Very Rev. Clark Lowenfield was elected bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast – a diocese in formation.

The bishops also confirmed the election of the Rt. Rev. Charlie Masters as bishop coadjutor of the Anglican Network in Canada and approved the translation of the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons from the Diocese of Bolivia to the Diocese of Pittsburgh as assistant bishop.

Time was also spent in mending fences amongst the College between the three former members of the Anglican Mission in America and the wider ACNA, following the protracted break up of the group.

A report on overlapping dioceses and episcopal jurisdictions was also presented to the College.  A communique from the meeting stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into conformity “with historic Anglican practice. The goal of the work is to organize each region for the long-term sustainability of the movement in recognizable, godly Anglican Church structures.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church of Nigeria threatens to break with Canterbury over gay British bishops: Anglican Ink, January 10, 2013 January 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

The Church of Nigeria will break with the Church of England should it appoint clergy living in gay civil partnerships to the episcopate.

In a statement released under the signature of the Archbishop of All-Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh at the close of the bishops’ annual retreat this week, the Anglican Communion’s largest church: “Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.”

The 20 Dec 2012 announcement by the House of Bishops and clarification issued on 4 Jan 2013 that the church had ended its moratorium on the appointment to the episcopate of clergy who had contracted civil partnerships but who had pledged to remain celibate has sparked sharp criticism from within Evangelical ranks within the Church of England and from the overseas church.  The claim that clergy who had entered a relationship that mimics marriage for same-sex were living a godly and moral life by refraining from consummating the relationship left some archbishops nonplussed.

The African church’s objections were not to the appointment of men to the episcopate who had a same-sex sexual orientation, but to clergy who had contracted a gay civil partnership being appointed to the episcopate. The proviso that such relationships were celibate only when they involved the clergy of the Church of England was preposterous, one African bishop told Anglican Ink.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Der Spiegel really doesn’t like Catholic Bishops: Get Religion, January 10, 2013 January 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church.
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before … A European magazine has written a hit piece on the Catholic Church and the clergy abuse scandal that is unfair, incomplete and one-sided … Sound familiar?

The latest installment comes courtesy of Der Spiegel. In an English-language piece entitled “German Catholic Church Cancels Inquiry” published on 9 Jan 2013, the mass circulation news weekly takes a stick to the Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference, over the cancellation of a study it had begun on the clergy abuse scandal.

The German bishops could well paraphrase Sally Fields, “You don’t like me, you really don’t like me!”

Here is the lede:

It was a major promise after a major disaster: In summer 2011, the Catholic Church in Germany pledged full transparency. One year earlier, an abuse scandal had shaken the country’s faithful, as an increasing number of cases surfaced in which priests had sexually abused children and then hidden behind a wall of silence.

The Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute (KFN) was given the job of investigating the cases in 2011. The personnel files from churches in all 27 dioceses were to be examined for cases of abuse in an attempt to win back some of the Church’s depleted credibility.

But now the Church has called off the study, citing a breakdown in trust. “The relationship of mutual trust between the bishops and the head of the institute has been destroyed,” said the Bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, on Wednesday morning.

How’s that for telegraphing your editorial opinions. Der Spiegel opens the story with a slippery trick — it defines the terms of the argument and then savages its opponent for not meeting those terms. The lede all but accuses the church of hypocrisy.  “They promised transparency but have cancelled the investigation.”

It makes an assertion the church is a shallow self-serving institution stating the abuse study was undertaken as a public relations stunt, an “attempt to win back some of the Church’s depleted credibility.” Der Spiegel may well think so, but should not it have cited a statement to this effect by the church, or even from one of its detractors?

Following the bishop’s explanation as to why the study was cancelled — the church did not trust Prof. Christian Pfeiffer of the KFN — Der Spiegel offers Dr. Pfeiffer space to air his complaints about the bishops lack of cooperation. A politician is then given a platform to criticize the church for cancelling the study, followed by an old quote from a Church spokesman stating:

Before the inquiry was called off, the spokesman for the German Bishops’ Conference, Matthias Kopp, had insisted that the project should continue regardless of the outcome of the conflict: “Should cooperation with the KFN fall through, there would be a continuation of the project with another partner,” he said.

The story then peters out with a few more quotes from Dr. Pfeiffer and a gratuitous editorial aside followed by a spiteful jab at Bishop Ackermann.

The project was of incalculable importance to the Catholic Church, because the loss of confidence after the abuse scandal was enormous. The cancellation of the inquiry throws into high relief Bishop Ackermann’s statement from 2011: “We also want the truth, which may still lie hidden in decades-old files, to be uncovered.”

The story as told by Der Spiegel  is the Catholic Church organized a face-saving study on the clergy abuse scandal, but pulled out saying they did not trust Dr. Pfeiffer just as the KFN’s investigators began digging in the bowels of the chancelleries. The clear insinuation being the Catholic Bishops Conference are a bunch of hypocrites.

Let me stop for a moment and say I have no special knowledge of this case. I have no reason to privilege the testimony of the bishops over Dr. Pfeiffer  or Dr. Pfeiffer over the bishops. The only dog I have in this fight is that of professional journalism. And this story as journalism stinks.

Why? Take a look a the press release from the Deutsche Bischofskonferenz that served as the basis for this story. Bishop Ackermann explains in detail the study was ended due to a personal dispute with Dr. Pfeiffer — and that the study will continue with another investigator.

This is a critical omission by Der Spiegel. The study has not been cancelled — the investigator has been fired and the study will be restarted with a new team. Rather than report what Bishop Ackermann said in his statement,

Ich bedauere, dass der jetzige Schritt unumgänglich wurde, der allein mit dem mangelnden Vertrauen in die Person von Professor Dr. Pfeiffer zusammenhängt. Gleichzeitig bin ich zuversichtlich, dass wir schon bald das Forschungsprojekt mit anderen Partnern in Angriff nehmen können.

Roughly translated as: Regrettably this step was inevitable due solely to our the lack of trust in the person of Prof. Dr. Pfeiffer. At the same time I am confident that we will soon be able to address this research project with other study partners.

Der Spiegel brings up an old quote from a spokesman for the bishops saying that should there be a conflict between the bishops and the KFN, the study would continue. By not mentioning the current statement while inserting the older one, Der Spiegel is insinuating bad faith.

I have never worked with the German bishops and do not know their reputation for truthfulness or transparency. There are some English and American ecclesiastical entities and figures whom I have learned not to trust — if  one London based Anglican agency were to tell me the sun will rise tomorrow morning, I would not print that story until I saw the sun rise myself and then I would ask for a second opinion — their reputation for integrity is so poor. There well may be bad faith on the part of the bishops. Dr. Pfieffer thinks so. But Der Spiegel is improving the story — sexing it up (to use a British newspaper phrase) — so that the reader will be led to believe one side over another. If deliberate that is journalistic misconduct, it an accident that is a most unfortunate error.

First printed in Get Religion.

Bishops ignite firestorm over gay bishop ban: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 7. January 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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The House of Bishops has ended the moratorium that banned clergy in same-sex civil partnerships from being appointed as bishops. The announcement, buried in the seventh paragraph of a 20 Dec 2012 report, has sparked protests and praise from across the church and wider Anglican Communion – and handed the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate Justin Welby with his first international crisis eight weeks before he takes office.

A spokesman for the Church of England told CEN the announcement and subsequent clarification of 4 January 2013 was not a reversal of policy, as no changes had been made to the church’s underlying teachings on human sexuality or its standards of moral conduct expected of clergy.  But “given the moratorium imposed by the House in 2011, It would however be true to say that the moratorium has been lifted” on clergy in civil partnerships being appointed as bishops, he said.

However, the distinction drawn by the House of Bishops has been overwhelmed by the reactions from left and right. Liberal pressure groups have hailed the announcement as a step forward for gay rights within the Church of England, with one commentator stating the announcement paves the way for Dr. Jeffrey John to be appointed Bishop of Durham.

Conservatives are aghast by what they see as a unilateral reversal by the bishops of church policy, while the leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr. Eliud Wabukala the Archbishop of Kenya, warned that the policy served to institutionalize hypocrisy in the Church of England.  The appointment of a partnered gay bishop, he warned, would devastate an already crippled Anglican Communion.

In 2011 the House of Bishops formed a working group led by the Bishop of Sodor and Man  to the review of the 2005 pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships.

At its 2011 launch, the Bishop of Norwich said this committee’s work “will include examination of whether priests in civil partnerships should be eligible for appointment as bishops. The 2005 statement was silent on this issue.”

While the committee was studying the issue the “House has concluded that clergy in civil partnerships should not, at present, be nominated for episcopal appointment.  The review will be completed in 2012.”

The bishops also formed a second committee chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling to revisit the church’s pronouncements on human sexuality. In their December announcement, the bishops said they head presentations from Sir Joseph’s committee — but were silent as to the progress of the Sodor and Man committee.

The bishops stated that “pending the conclusion of]the Sir Joseph Pilling] group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.”

On 22 Dec the gay pressure group Changing Attitude published an article on its website drawing attention to the announcement, and on 2 Jan Dr. Andrew Goddard, writing on the website of the Anglican Communion Institute, published an appreciation of the bishops’ statement and concluded their “decision is, therefore, a reversal not a confirmation of the existing policy” on civil partnerships.

Stories in the church and secular press soon followed leading to a statement of clarification issued by Bishop Graham James on behalf of the House of Bishops released late on 4 Jan.  Bishop James stated the bishops had heard reports from both committees and had lifted the moratorium as the Sodor and Man working party on Civil Partnerships had issued its report.

“The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England. But these, along with the candidate’s suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case,” Bishop James said.

A spokesman for the Church of England explained the decision to end the moratorium was not a reversal of policy, but an extension of the policy adopted in 2005 for the ordination of deacons and priests to now include episcopal appointments.

The Bishop of Carlisle said the bishops’ decision was a matter of justice. “The situation now is no different to the situation in 2005 which referred to clergy. What we’re saying for Bishops is exactly what we said for clergy.”

“It would seem wrong to set a different bar for Bishops than clergy,” said Bishop James Newcome on 5 Jan.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement welcomed the announcement, but offered a different interpretation from the bishops. The LGCM’s chief executive the Rev Sharon Ferguson said the church’s “discrimination” against gay and lesbian clergy had “undermined the church’s credibility in sharing the good news of God’s love for all. Removing the ban on bishops in civil partnerships is a positive measure but we must now see it come to fruition.”

Guardian columnist, the Rev Giles Fraser also hailed the news of the announcement, telling The Sunday Times that in light of the relaxation of the ban, “Jeffery John would be the perfect person to be Bishop of Durham because he has all the right skills.’

However Dr. Philip Giddings and Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream argued a “decision to move from the current position would be a grave departure from the Church’s doctrine and discipline it should be made by Bishops in Synod not by Bishops alone.”

“A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church,” they said, adding that “such an appointment would be a very divisive move both within the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.”

Part of the problem was the “ambiguous nature of civil partnerships,” they argued. “Most people assume that civil partnerships are sexual relationships. It is casuistical to claim that they are not.”

The Ven. Michael Lawson, chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council stated the current system was not working.  “Some bishops are known to be lax about questioning civil-partnership clergy about their sex lives,” he said, noting the “church has a poor record already” in upholding the “requirement of celibacy and traditional teaching.”

“At the very least” the announcement will “spread confusion and at worst will be taken as an effort to conform to the spirit of the age,” he said.

The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr. Eliud Wabukala concurred, saying the announcement “will create further confusion about Anglican moral teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge.”

The “proviso” that clergy in civil partnerships remain celibate is “clearly unworkable. It is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book,” the archbishop said on 6 Jan.

However, “the heart of the matter is not enforceability, but that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living,” he argued.   “It cannot be right that they are able to enter into legally recognised relationships which institutionalise and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture” and the teaching of the church.

“The weight of this moral teaching cannot be supported by a flimsy proviso,” Archbishop Wabukala said.

However, commentator the Rev. Peter Ould has argued that liberals and conservatives have been too quick in responding to the announcement.

The “problem” with civil partnerships and the clergy has not been “clergy not being truthful, it’s bishops who haven’t asked them to be truthful,” he said. Evangelicals would be better served by concentrating “on those responsible for enforcing discipline and Biblical pastoral care rather than those caught in the cross-fire over this issue,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Tentative settlement reached in the Fort Worth 7 and Quincy 3 cases: Anglican Ink, January 9, 2013 January 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, House of Bishops, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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A tentative settlement has been reached in the “Fort Worth 7”  and “Quincy 3” cases, sources close to the proceedings report.  Details of the agreement will not been released until all parties endorse the agreement, the sources report, but the disposition of the dispute is being characterized as “amicable” AI has learned.

If the agreement is ratified, the settlement will conclude the largest mass disciplinary proceeding launched against bishops of the Episcopal Church.

In emails dated 2 and 19 Oct 2012, the Intake Officer for the House of Bishops and aide to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews informed nine bishops they had been charged with fraud, financial misconduct, teaching false doctrine and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Bishop  Jefferts Schori.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Gafcon II set for Nairobi: Anglican Ink, January 8, 2013 January 8, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, GAFCON.
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The second Global Anglican Futures Conference – Gafcon II – will be held in Nairobi this October, the chairman of the primates’ council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, reports.

In his New Year’s Day message to the Anglican Church of Kenya, Dr. Wabukala stated that he was “very happy” to report that “in October this year, we are expecting the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON II) to be held here in Nairobi and we look forward to welcoming Anglican leaders from around the globe. I believe this will be a strategic moment in the reshaping of the Anglican Communion to fulfill our vision for global mission and a time when we will experience a foretaste of that glorious gathering of the people of God which Isaiah prophesied.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Religion as code words in the French press: Get Religion, January 8, 2013 January 8, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism.
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Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.

Alvy Singer, Annie Hall (1977)

When is a newspaper’s reference to religion not a reference to religion? When it is in a French newspaper, of course.

Reader Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz forwarded a story to the GetReligion website with a link to a news story from France 24, the English-language French state broadcaster.  The article reported that Esther Duflo, an economics professor at MIT and native of France, had been appointed by President Obama to a U.S. government post.

The lede to the France 24 story entitled “Renowned French economist to join Obama’s team” reported:

France’s Esther Duflo, a world renowned economist, has been nominated by US President Barack Obama to join a government body dedicated to advising the administration on global development policy.

Have you picked up the fact that Esther Duflo is French? France 24 did not want that titbit to slip by (though the side bar to the story does note she has lived in the US for18 years and has taken American citizenship.)

In his note, Mr. Szyszkiewicz wrote:

I find it interesting that religion is raised in the 4th paragraph. Not sure what to think of it.

GetReligion’s editor, TMatt, passed the query on to me for action. The pertinent passages noted by Mr. Szyszkiewicz read:

Duflo, who was raised in a “left-leaning Protestant” family, said she became aware of economic divides and social injustice at a very early age.

“I was always conscientious of the gap between my existence and that of the world’s poor,” she told weekly French magazine l’Express in a January, 2011 article. “As a child, I was extremely troubled by the complete randomness of chance that I was born in Paris to an intellectual, middle class family, when I could have just as easily been born in Chad. It’s a question of luck. It inspired in me a sense of responsibility.

Now, I have no knowledge of the inner workings of the mind of the author of this article, but I believe I can speak to how this passage could be interpreted from a French reader/writer perspective.

From an American perspective, the mention of a person’s religious background, or faith, can be an important component of the story — a way of helping the reader in a highly religious culture comprehending the actions, motivations and personality of the subject of a story. Many of GetReligion’s articles address touch upon this issue — critically when a story omits mention of the religious or faith-based component of a story, or in applause when a reporter gives flesh to a “religious ghost” in a story.

Is that the case here? Is France 24 telling us something about Esther Duflo’s religious upbringing that informs her economic theories? If so, no other news service has picked up on this angle. A number of articles have drawn upon France 24′s story, repeating the left-wing Protestant line — but no other original work has been done on this point.

I’m inclined to say the mention of Esther Duflo’s religious upbringing, her having come from “d’une famille protestante de gauche”, as she told the Paris daily Liberation in a January 2012 article, is French cultural code — not a religious ghost. In the France 24 article we are not dealing with religion, but with national stereotypes — the shorthand language that some cultures use internally to convey meaning.

The Economist a few years back published an article that helped explain France’s view of its Protestant minority.

In France, Protestantism, in the public mind, is almost synonymous with austerity and moral rigour; something to be respected, but not always liked. The Catholic who goes to confession “comes to terms without difficulty with his little sins and white lies,” says Jean-Marie Rouart, Le Figaro‘s literary editor, whereas “the Protestant brandishes frankness like a dagger, which he uses as implacably against himself as against others.”

Nobody in France gets a prize for guessing that Lionel Jospin, the country’s upright Socialist prime minister, is one of those dagger-wielders. In fact, he is a non-believer. But no matter. He was brought up in a Protestant family and impregnated with those Protestant values. That is what counts. For the French tend to think that a Protestant background spells honesty, respect for one’s word, hard work, a sense of responsibility, a modest way of life, tolerance, freedom of conscience—and a dour inflexibility. Protestants have been in the van of most of the great liberalising ideas and reforms in French history: the declaration of human rights, the abolition of slavery, the market economy, the devolution of power from the centre, the spread of state education, the separation of church and state, advocacy of contraception and divorce.

The dour philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (now out of favor among the French literary/academic elite but one of the most important intellectual voices of the last century in France) arose from the “culture of liberal Protestantism” his biographer Annie Cohen-Solal reported in an article published in Le Monde. Cohen-Solal argues Sartre’s liberal Protestant roots, as taught to him by his grandfather Charles Schweitzer (yes Dr Albert Schweitzer was a second cousin to Sartre) were the foundation for his moral and ethical views.

What then is France 24 telling us when it says Esther Duflo is a product of left-wing French Protestantism? Well, coupled with the  photo it used in the article, I would say the message is that of a dour, somewhat severe technocrat. As to what message the selection of a photo can tell about the editor’s view of the subject of his story, compare the France 24 photo with the Liberation photo of the same person. One is flattering, chic — the modern attractive intellectual French woman.  The other, well, is not.

Which takes me back to Mr. Szyszkiewicz’s question. Is there a religion ghost in the story of Esther Duflo? There is a good Episcopalian answer to this question — “it depends.” Yes, if this story came from an American pen the mention of her faith should open the door to the moral and ethical precepts that inform her thinking on international aid and economic development.

From a French pen — no. The mention of her Protestant up-bring (but not her faith) is a code to inform the reader that Dr. Duflo comes from a particular caste in French society. An American equivalent code might be that so and so is a product of Catholic schools, a Yale man, a San Francisco Democrat, a New Yorker. These phrases convey meaning in our culture that is not necessarily tied to facts, but stereotypes. I believe, this article’s reference to Dr. Duflo’s Protestant heritage is French shorthand — not reporting.

What say you GetReligion readers? Should we have our American or French glasses on when we read this France 24 report?

First published in GetRelgion.

Evangelical backlash follows England’s decision to allow “gay” bishops: Anglican Ink, January 7, 2012 January 8, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda

Conservative Evangelical leaders have charged the Church of England’s House of Bishops with hypocrisy, denouncing the 20 Dec 2012 announcement that gay clergy in civil partnerships, who remain celibate, may be appointed as bishops.

“A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church,” the leaders of Anglican Mainstream said over the weekend, while the Archbishops of Uganda and Kenya have warned that appointment of a partnered gay bishop would be a grievous blow to the wider Anglican Communion.

“Our grief and sense of betrayal are beyond words,” Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda said on 7 January 2013.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 62: January 6, 2013 January 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church News, Anglican.TV.
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Just when you thought it was safe to watch online Videos again… In this week’s Episode Kevin and George give some behind the scenes information regarding the next Gafcon. They also talk about invisible Christian Persecution this Christmas season and the Anglican World before and after the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson. Peter Ould discusses the recent Church of England news about Bishops in Civil Partnerships and Allan Haley tackles the real effect of the latest news from the Diocese of South Carolina. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com Tweet #AU62

South Carolina fires first salvo in legal battle with TEC: Anglican Ink, January 5, 2013 January 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Mark Lawrence

A South Carolina court has been asked “Who and what are Episcopalians and how is that church organized?” after the Diocese of South Carolina filed a lawsuit yesterday against the national Episcopal Church.  The 65-page complaint asks the court to issue an injunction banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies in South Carolina from using the name or presuming to act on behalf of the diocese and further asks the court to affirm the legality of the diocese’s secession from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

Filed on 4 January 2013 in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Dorchester County by the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 16 parishes, the complaint asks the civil courts to adjudicate the same general questions currently before the Texas Supreme Court in the Diocese of Fort Worth case. South Carolina has asked the court to legal scrutiny Bishop Jefferts Schori’s claim the Episcopal Church of the United States of America is a hierarchical body with final authority vested in the national church.

Yesterday’s action follows a generation of sparing between liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church over issues of doctrine and discipline.  However, the legal and ecclesiological issues of diocesan autonomy and national authority arose in 2006 after Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop. Unlike her predecessor Frank Griswold who told the Diocese of Louisiana that ultimate authority rested in the diocese, Bishop Jefferts Schori has argued that ultimate authority resides in the General Convention and in her office.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.


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