Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dr Rowan Williams gets 20 minutes with the Pope. They both know it's all over

From the London Telegraph-

The leader of a billion Roman Catholics meets the leader of 80 million Anglicans at a moment of historic crisis between the two Communions and they send all of TWENTY MINUTES together. Here is the official communiqué from the Vatican:

This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in private audience His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the course of the cordial discussions attention turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium, and to the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges.

The discussions also focused on recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, reiterating the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans, and recalling how, over coming days, the commission entrusted with preparing the third phase of international theological dialogue between the parties (ARCIC) is due to meet.

More here-

Rowan Williams and the Pope in historic meet

From The London Times-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has met with the Pope today in the wake of the Vatican’s move to 'poach' Anglican clergy.

Dr Rowan Williams held talks with Benedict XVI in Rome for the first time since the Pope approved a decree to accept Anglicans.

Pope Benedict is offering Anglican clergy the chance to transfer to the Roman Catholic Church, while maintaining many of their traditions and practices, including the right to marry.

The Vatican has been accused of exploiting divisions in the Church of England at a time when many Anglicans are angry over the ordination of women bishops.

More here-

St. Luke's prepares 10,000 meals for the hungry

From North Carolina-

"Runner!" somebody yells. A small boy wearing a white hairnet comes flying across the Parish Hall and slams down a full plastic bin. He gathers up three empty bins and disappears.

I grab a bag from the bin — it feels heavy — and place it on the scale in front of me — 394 grams. I spoon a little rice out of the top —384. Great! I place the bag into another bin, and the woman across from me snatches it up, smooths out the air and sticks it into the heat sealer in front of her. There are 20 people working our long table, hurriedly weighing bags and sealing them shut.

Behind us at two other tables, 20 more volunteers scoop food into the bags. In front of us, other people are counting full bags, packing and sealing them into cardboard boxes, and loading them onto a large cart. Teens from our youth group push the cart towards the door where the truck is waiting outside. We're all wearing white hairnets. The gong crashes! We've just packed 1,000 meals!

"Hooray!" we shout. But nobody looks up from their work, nobody stops moving. We've got 9,000 meals to go.

- - -

On Friday night, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Salisbury, volunteers packed 10,000 meals in less than two hours. Under the Stop Hunger Now food packaging program, these meals will be sent to feeding programs in schools and orphanages around the world.

As we gathered in the Parish Hall, the Rev. Whayne Hoagland Jr., St. Luke's rector, introduced Mickey Horner, Charlotte Program Coordinator for Stop Hunger Now.

Horner, an intense man, a man on a mission, gave us the facts: Six billion people on the planet, one billion of them starving. That's 25,000 people dying of hunger every day, most of them children. It's like 125 jumbo jets, loaded with children, crashing — every single day. If actual jets were crashing, people would be crying out for a solution. But deaths from starvation happen more quietly, one at at time, in places most of us have never visited.

More here-

Thanksgiving race helps the homeless

From Tennessee-

St. George's Episcopal Church is gearing up once more for the 16th annual Boulevard Bolt, a 5-mile run/walk held on Thanksgiving Day that has raised more than $1.2 million to benefit the homeless in Nashville.

The race is a collaborative volunteer effort organized by St. George's, The Temple and Immanuel Baptist Church. Twenty-three local agencies that serve the homeless in Nashville will receive funding from this year's race proceeds.

Last year's recipient agencies used race funds to support a wide range of programs, from providing homeless youths with backpacks containing street-survival supplies to adding a hot breakfast program at a local soup kitchen.

The race will start at 8 a.m., Thursday, at St. George's Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road.

Oregon elects Rev. Michael Joseph Hanley as bishop of Episcopal diocese

From Oregon-

Clergy and delegates from throughout western Oregon elected the Rev. Michael Joseph Hanley, 54, rector of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Roseville, Minn., as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon Friday during their 121st diocesan convention.

Hanley was elected in a second round of voting, with 104 of the 132 clergy votes and 146 of the 198 lay votes cast. A simple majority is required in both categories. The Rev. Anne Bartlett, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland and vice president of the standing committee, made the announcement at about 10:20 a.m., evoking cheers from the electing convention.

Sharon Rodgers, president of the standing committee, had called Hanley, who was at home in Minnesota waiting for the phone to ring.

"This may have been the most significant phone call I've ever made," Rodgers said. She informed Hanley of his election. "Quite honestly, we were both choked up," she said. "What would you like me to tell the people of Oregon?" she asked him.

More here-

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lincecum's the one; that makes two Cys

From MLB-

From now on, when Tim Lincecum steps onto the pitcher's mound, he'll stand alone in more ways than one.

Many pitchers have recorded more victories and strikeouts than Lincecum. Several have earned more Cy Young Awards. None, however, thrived to the extent that Lincecum has during a career that has been as brilliant as it is brief.

On Thursday, Lincecum became the only pitcher to capture the Cy Young Award in each of his first two full Major League seasons. The Giants right-hander was named the National League's repeat winner Thursday in balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"It's a tremendous honor for me," said Lincecum, 25. "To be up there and do what I've done means the world."

Several aspects of Lincecum's triumph combined novelty with history:

• This was one of the closest Cy Young votes ever. In balloting that assigned five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote and one for a third-place nod, Lincecum totaled 100 points and 11 first-place votes. He edged St. Louis right-handers Chris Carpenter (nine first-place votes, 94 points) and Adam Wainwright (12 first-place votes, 90 points).

"Both the guys I was going up against had tremendous seasons," Lincecum said, calling Wainwright a "workhorse" and praising Carpenter's speedy comeback from injuries.

More here-


From The Living Church-

The Archbishop of Canterbury asked on Thursday whether the differences between Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism are sufficient to prevent Rome’s deeper recognition of Anglican orders.

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams spoke at the Gregorian University at a conference in honor of the late ecumenical leader Johannes Cardinal Willebrands. The archbishop’s office has released a text of his remarks.

The “ecumenical glass is genuinely half-full,” the archbishop said. “For many of us who are not Roman Catholics, the question we want to put, in a grateful and fraternal spirit, is whether this unfinished business is as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume and maintain.”

Archbishop Williams quoted ten times from a newly published book, Harvesting the Fruits: Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue, by Walter Cardinal Kasper, whom he called “our greatly loved and respected friend.”

When announcing the book in late October, Cardinal Kasper called it “the result of two years of intense efforts I undertook with officials of my pontifical council, in collaboration with our … ecumenical partners.”

Archbishop Williams described Roman Catholics and their ecumenical partners as essentially united in their understanding of basic Christian faith.

“The links from trinitarian doctrine straight through to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper are strongly affirmed on all sides,” he said. “The whole discussion of sacramental life is centered upon how the believer is established in filial communion through the act of the triune God; there is little to suggest that outside the Roman fold there is any ambiguity over this priority of the divine act, or any separation between the act of God in salvation and a purely or predominantly human activity of recalling or expressing that act through human practices.”

Instead, he said, there is continuing disagreement about the nature of authority (specifically Roman Catholicism’s magisterium), about papal primacy and about the nature of the universal Church itself.

Is the universal Church, Archbishop Williams asked, “an entity from which local churches derive their life, or is it the perfect mutuality of relationship between local churches — or indeed as the mysterious presence of the whole in each specific community?”

Citing a sermon that Cardinal Willebrands delivered in Cambridge in 1970, the archbishop described a theory of primacy as a “community of communities” and a “communion of communions.” He cited the Anglican Communion’s proposed covenant as an example.

“The current proposals for a covenant between Anglican provinces represent an effort to create not a centralized decision-making executive but a ‘community of communities’ that can manage to sustain a mutually nourishing and mutually critical life, with all consenting to certain protocols of decision-making together,” he said.

More here-

Africans suffer from ‘collateral damage’ in US culture clash

From The Church Times-

RIGHT-WING organisations in the United States are cultivating African religious leaders as part of a strategy to undermine the social witness of US mainline Churches and promote homophobia in Africa, says an in vesti gative report by an Anglican priest and scholar, the Revd Kapya Kaoma.

The report, Globalizing the Culture Wars: US Conservatives, African Churches, & Homophobia, was commissioned by the progressive think tank Political Research Associates. It argues that African bishops and other leaders are being used as proxies in an internal US conflict.
The report charts how neo-conservative groups, such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), have presented the denominations’ commitment to human rights as an imperialistic attempt to manipulate Africans into accepting homosexuality — which they characterise as a purely Western phenomenon — and an attempt to destabilise and corrupt African morals.

Such groups have characterised the denominations — the Episcopal Church in the US, the United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church USA — as opposed to family values, the report goes on. Their rhetoric has fomented homophobia in Africa with disastrous conse quences, such as the proposed anti-gay Bill in Uganda, it suggests. Sexual minorities have become “the collat eral damage” of US domestic conflict.

More here-

Committee revises its view on women bishops — again

From The Church Times-

THE draft women-bishops legislation may not be ready for the February Synod, after the revision committee failed to agree last week on which powers should be given by law to bishops who would oversee traditionalist parishes.

At their previous meeting, in October, members of the committee revived the idea of vesting such bishops with legal rights, which the General Synod had rejected in July 2008. The move drew approval from traditionalists, but accusations of betrayal from WATCH (Women and the Church) (News, 16 October).

But at last week’s meeting, when it came to deciding which functions should be vested, members voted each one down in turn, leaving nothing. Sharp exchanges reportedly took place across the table as the work of the two previous meetings was, in effect, undone. Staff are left with the task of rewriting the legislation. “The timetable is now extremely tight” for February, the committee has acknowledged.

In a statement, it said: “The effect of the committee’s decision is there fore that such arrangements as are made for those unable to receive the episcopal ministry of women will need to be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop rather than vesting.

“There remain important issues for the committee to determine at its forthcoming meetings over the shape of the proposed legislation in the light of this decision, in particular whether to retain a statutory code of practice or adopt the simplest possible legislation.”

The committee goes on to state that it will “report to the full General Synod at the conclusion of its work”. Thereafter, the Synod will debate its proposals and has the option of approving, amending, or sending the legislation back to the revision committee for further consideration.
Voting figures will not be released until the committee makes its final report to the Synod. In anticipation of the question why it issues statements at all when the decisions keep changing, a C of E clarification said: “Synod members coming to speak to amendments they have submitted have the right to know when there has been a major change affecting their proposals. Since such decisions will quickly become widely known, the committee concluded it was best to put the facts on public record.”

Committee members are not free to comment on discussions. Prebendary David Houlding, of the Synod’s Catholic Group, who was an observer at the October meeting, said on Tuesday that the issuing of a press statement just before the Archbishop of Canterbury went to Rome for a meeting with the Pope was extraordinary.

More here-

New view of conserative America's influence on church in Africa

From Washington Post

Another salvo in the battle in mainline Christianity over sexuality and scripture.

Some of you may be following the litigation and infighting in many mainline denominations - Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian, among them - over the rights of same-gender couples. As advocates for sexual minorities have pushed harder for equality, conservatives have pushed back with a powerful narrative that intertwines sex, race and power. It says that Christianity in the West is dying, in part because of new ways of interpreting Scripture that allow equal rights for gays and lesbians, and that the new frontiers of Christian power are Africa and Asia.

Hard data on the views of mainline Protestants in these areas isn't known, but conservatives have argued that these Christians are more socially conservative and reject homosexuality.

Now a new report featuring a cover photo with Northern Virginia Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns, a leader of the conservatives who broke away from the Episcopal Church, argues that it's the Western conservatives who are pushing the anti-gay line into Africa -- not the other way around -- resulting in anti-gay legislation and homophobia that wasn't there before.

It will be interesting to see if this report makes any splash. The arguments aren't new but the mainline churches seem to be getting more organized in recent years and fighting back harder.

Priest Accused Of Misconduct Offered State Job

From Deleware-

An Episcopal priest who was relieved of his duties because of alleged misconduct with a female parishioner has been offered a state government job.

The Rev. Robert Broesler, pastor of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Wilmington, is scheduled to start working Monday for the Department of Health and Social Services.

Meanwhile, a hearing is scheduled Wednesday in a lawsuit in which Broesler, who denies any misconduct, claims church officials have wrongfully denied him pay and benefits and have indirectly tried to dissolve his pastoral relationship without following the required process.

Broesler, 54, is asking a Chancery Court judge for a restraining order to prevent church officials from taking further steps to jeopardize his position as a tenured pastor pending the outcome of church proceedings, or using his acceptance of the state job against him.

According to the lawsuit, Broesler was forced to seek other employment after the vestry at St. Barnabas voted in June to stop paying him. He was last paid in mid-August, and his home is subject to foreclosure, according to court records.

"Reverend Broesler is in dire financial straights (sic) because his contract has been breached and his compensation has been wrongfully terminated," his lawsuit reads.

DHSS spokesman Carl Kanefsky said Broesler has been offered a job with the Division of State Services, which provides individuals and families access to a variety of DHSS programs and services. Kanefsky did not have specifics of the job description but said the position was posted, and that Broesler emerged as a top candidate after his application was vetted and references checked.

More here-

Episcopal group demands return of tsunami funds

From Christian Today-

In its civil suit against the Church of South India, the US-based Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) has demanded a full return of 18.78 crore given for the relief and rehabilitation of tsunami victims.

The case filed at the Madras High Court sought the return of all monies with 24 per cent interest, given between March 2005 and January 2006.

ERD president Robert W Radtke has accused the former CSI leadership of swindling Rs 7.5 crore from the tsunami relief fund.

Pointing that it was a breach of the terms and conditions of the memorandum of understanding, Radtke demanded all funds be returned in compliance with the terms.

According to the MoU, the CSI must fully cooperate in the auditing of the financial activities and also funds not spent on activities must be returned within 12 months after the end of the project.

Earlier, in a statement, the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church, explained that the legal action was taken to "ensure funds are properly used to benefit the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami."

"The sole objective of our ongoing efforts to recover the tsunami relief funds is to fulfill our original intent to faithfully administer the funds that are received on behalf of vulnerable people," it stated.

The major fraud in the handling of the overseas fund was uncovered after an investigation by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Chennai police.

More here-

USA Today ad welcomes all people to the Episcopal Church

From ENS-

An advertisement focusing on the welcoming nature of the Episcopal Church that ran in the Nov. 20 edition of USA Today is being made available to dioceses and congregations for local media use.

The church's core beliefs and practices, including those related to Christ, the Bible, women's ordination and relationships, are featured in the ad on page 9A of the newspaper and on the Episcopal Church's website, Anne Rudig, director of communication, said in a Nov. 20 news release.

"We want to herald and share our welcoming message," she said.

"In the past few weeks, news about various religions has focused more about who's excluded from certain practices than who is included," Rudig noted. "We follow Christ and believe that he's very clear that all are welcome. We strive to 'love our neighbors as ourselves.'"

The Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, said in the same release that "we are celebrating the fact the Episcopal Church recognizes that God doesn't differentiate between the gifts of men or women, lay or ordained. We want people to know who we are and to make their own, informed decisions."

The ad is the first in a series of materials that will be made available to dioceses, congregations and provinces as an overall communication strategy for the church is developed, Rudig said.

More here-

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The sufferings of the Congo people: Great Congo Demo reprise

From The Telegraph-

One hundred years ago today, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Randall Davidson, led The Great Congo Demonstration against violence and oppression in Congo. Speaking at the Albert Hall, he condemned the 'great wrong' committed against the Congo people, acknowledging: 'We are ourselves in part responsible for the past, and, if that wrong be allowed to continue, by whomsoever carried out, we shall be answerable to God and man for its continuance.' Read the original letter to The Times in our archives.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said in a joint press release today with the Anglican Archbishop of Congo and the Bishop of Winchester, a century later violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to claim lives, with the conflict reportedly causing directly or indirectly the deaths of more than five million civilians since 1998.

The conflict, including the latest military operations, is characterised by widespread human rights violations, including horrific acts of sexual and other violence against women and girls, the deliberate killing of civilians, and the recruitment of children as soldiers, they said.

The attacks have resulted in the mass-displacement of local communities, exacerbating existing disease and poverty.

According to the United Nations, more than one million people have been forced to flee their homes since January of this year in both eastern and northern Congo.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury claims differences between Anglicans and Roman Catholics are not that great

From the London Telegraph-

Dr Rowan Williams challenged Catholic doctrine by claiming that even the dispute over whether women can be priests should not be a serious dividing issue between the two major Christian denominations.

He held up the Anglican Communion, which has been driven to the brink of collapse over homosexuality in recent years, as an example of how a family of churches can remain connected despite the differences between them.

The archbishop made his provocative comments at the Gregorian University in Rome, at a meeting to celebrate the centenary of Cardinal Willebrands, a former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

It is Dr Williams’s first trip to Rome since the Vatican’s surprise announcement of a new way for groups of Anglicans disaffected by the liberal direction of the church to convert to Catholicism.
He will meet Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday to discuss the implications of the creation of Personal Ordinariates, which could see hundreds of thousands worldwide enter into full communion with Rome while retaining parts of their former Anglican heritage.

Dr Williams, who had no part in the development in the scheme and was only given two weeks’ notice of its announcement, described it as “the elephant in the room” during his address on Thursday afternoon.

He admitted it represented an “imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some” but insisted it did not “break any fresh ecclesiological ground”.

The archbishop, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, said that joint statements made by the Anglican and Catholic churches since the 1960s showed a “strong convergence” in ideas about what the Christian church is.

More here-

‘I felt so isolated and lonely,’ says reverend who returned

From The London Times-

Less than 12 months after resigning from the Church of England to head for Rome in 1994, the Rev Peter Bolton, 51, was back in the Anglican fold complaining of isolation and loneliness.

Father Bolton, who was at a church in Royton, Greater Manchester, and who now ministers in Weston-super-Mare, warned Anglicans of the pitfalls of moving.

“I never really felt part of the Catholic Church,” he said. “I remember going to Mass on Sunday. In the Church of England, you expect people to talk to you. But in the Catholic Church, not a priest, not a man in the congregation, no one spoke to me. I felt so isolated and lonely” A priest who was helping him told him to “go back home”.

Father Bolton said that the two churches were culturally different. “While I desired communion with the Catholic Church, it did not quite seem to happen for me.”

More here-

Yankee Stadium organist from Montville starts second gig at Morristown church

From New Jersey- That explains why the Communion Hymn is "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".

For six years, Ed Alstrom has performed regularly for 50,000-plus as organist in one of the nation’s highest-profile venues — Yankee Stadium, during weekend baseball games.

Now, he’s got a second gig where the crowds usually top out at about 200: the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Morristown.

New Jersey native and accomplished jazz musician, Alstrom, of Pine Brook, began his job at Redeemer on Nov. 1, a week after his organ music accompanied the Yankees’ clinching victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Championship Series, and four days after he played for Game 1 of the World Series, when the Phillies beat the Yankees.

It’s a rare mix of the ethereal and the hardball worlds but Alstrom said there aren’t that many jobs for organists: You have to be flexible and you have to hustle, he says.

"I was looking, the church was looking, and we liked each other and we agreed on it," said Alstrom, 52, adding that he found the job posting on Craigslist in September. "I’m a freelancer who stockpiles work when and where I can get it, regardless of where it is. I’m fortunate in that I can do a lot of different things."

His Yankee Stadium experience dates to 2004, but his church experience is far deeper.
He trained as a church organist at Westminster Choir College in Princeton and has more than 30 years of experience at churches across northern New Jersey — Upper Ridgewood Community Church, Holy Spirit Lutheran in Verona and, most recently, Presbyterian Church in West Caldwell.

More here-

Cape again to host convention for Missouri's Episcopal diocese

From Missouri-

The 170th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri will meet once again in Cape Girardeau.

The main topic of the convention Friday and Saturday is "Mission, mission, mission. Building a bridge to bring ministry to a broken world," said the Rev. Robert Towner of Christ Episcopal Church in Cape Girardeau. Other topics include the focus for the Missouri mission, congregational outreach and its mission to the Sudan in Africa.

Christ Episcopal Church is experienced in hosting the conventions.

"We were effective hosts in 2002, and because we are the largest town in this southern region of our diocese and our church likes to move around the state with this convention, we are hosting it again," Towner said. "Our parish is a very vital assembly with a very strong sense of mission and outreach, and those are the themes our bishop wishes to highlight at this convention."

The 2002 convention included 225 delegates. This year's convention is expected to draw 300 to 350 delegates from around the state.

Thirty volunteers from the local church as well as volunteers from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Sikeston, Mo., will be getting things ready and helping during the two-day event.

The preparation "starts at least a year ahead of time in booking the venues," Towner said. "We are booked at the University Center, Old St. Vincent's Church, Drury Lodge and in our church. This takes a large amount of preparation to get all these sites ready."

The convention will include meetings on budget and finances, a keynote address by Dr. Dwight Zscheile, the Eucharist at Old St. Vincent's Church and an address by Bishop George Wayne Smith.

"There are a number of resolutions that are brought to this convention from our triennial national church general convention, but the primary task of this convention is to assemble in Christ's name," Towner said, "To renew the bonds of affection, communion and fellowship and to strategize for mission and pray for the power to accomplish it."

The convention begins with registration at 11 a.m. Friday. The day includes a morning prayer service, the celebration of the Eucharist at Old St. Vincent's Church at 5:30 p.m., dinner and compline service later that evening. It continues at 7 a.m. Saturday and concludes with lunch at noon.

Friar tuck sentenced

New York Post-

A Staten Island priest who admitted swiping $84,000 from his church to fund plastic surgeries and Botox treatments was sentenced yesterday to five years' probation -- and the threat of jail if he doesn't pay it back.

William Blasingame, 66, a former pastor at St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church, said nothing before Judge Alan Meyer handed down the negotiated sentence for second-degree grand larceny.
His lawyer, James Hasson, said Blasingame never meant to steal the church's money, but irresponsibly mixed his own funds with those of the church in a church account -- then spent it.

"He took a plea when he realized that what he did could very well be interpreted as taking this money illegally from the church," said Hasson.

Blasingame was nabbed in April, when church officials noticed money missing.
If Blasingame fails to pay back the money -- plus a 5 percent fee to the agency handling the restitution -- he could face up to 15 years in prison.

Read more:

Tracy rewarded with NL Manager honor

From MLB- Lucky for him the Pirates fired him

Jim Tracy took over the Rockies on May 29 hoping to straighten out specific problems.

That he did, and for it, Tracy received on Wednesday an honor he deserved -- the National League Manager of the Year Award, as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Tracy was the overwhelming choice of the voters. He received 29 of a possible 32 first-place votes for 151 points. Tony La Russa of the Cardinals received two first-place votes and 55 points. The Dodgers' Joe Torre received one first-place vote and finished third with 33 points.

The Rockies issued a release shortly after the results of the vote were made known to announce that Tracy and the club had finalized a three-year contract, to run through 2012. In addition, the entire coaching staff from 2009 has agreed to return for next season.

When Tracy moved from bench coach to skipper, replacing Clint Hurdle, the Rockies' offense was underperforming because of a lack of aggressiveness. Pitchers were trying too hard and veering into plans that didn't work. All around the field, the right plays weren't being made in key situations.

But after a little more than a week, the Rockies had earned a four-game road sweep of the Cardinals. Suddenly, Tracy began thinking the Rockies could do more than just put their house in order.

"We just played a terrific series," Tracy said, sounding excited and wanting to believe the series was the beginning of a trend. "We pitched great the entire series and we deserved to win these games."

The feeling Tracy had was dead-on. After an 18-28 start cost Hurdle his job, the Rockies went 74-42 under Tracy and won the National League Wild Card.

More here-

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Scioscia tops in AL for remarkable year

From MLB

There are ordinary challenges, ones met every day, and there are extraordinary ones -- thunderbolts that strike out of nowhere.

The Angels were leveled by a thunderbolt in the wee hours of April 9, when Nick Adenhart, a valuable young pitcher and valued young person of 22, was killed alongside friends Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson in what became a case of triple-murder charges filed against an alleged intoxicated driver.

"There are things that happen that you can prepare for," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "and there are things that happen that you have no manual for."

Moving forward, step by step, in the most emotionally challenging of his 10 seasons as leader of the Angels, Scioscia's steady hand and soothing presence created an atmosphere that enabled his team eventually to flourish under unimagined duress.

Scioscia, whose steely eyes turned misty at moments this season, was rewarded on Wednesday with his selection as 2009 American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"I don't look at it as a one-guy award, a manager award," Scioscia said, his Angels having won their third consecutive AL West title before falling two wins short of a World Series date with his hometown Phillies. "It's about a great effort by a whole organization. It's great for our organization to be acknowledged for this award this year. I think our organization is proud of that."

It is Scioscia's second Manager of the Year Award. He was named by the BBWAA in 2002, the Angels having claimed the franchise's first World Series title under his direction after entering the postseason as a Wild Card.

Scioscia was placed first on 15 of 28 ballots cast by two writers from each AL city. He was second on 10 and third on one for 106 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. No manager was named on every ballot.

More here-

Museveni warns against homosexuality

From The Monitor in Africa-

President Museveni has joined the anti-gay crusade, saying he had received reports suggesting that “European homosexuals” had launched a recruitment drive in Africa.

He urged the youth to reject the advances. Expressing his homophobia, Mr Museveni said the youth must stand firm and abhor the divergent sexual orientation.

“I hear European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa,” said Mr Museveni on Saturday, to an audience of mainly youth at the Kampala Serena Hotel that homosexuality is un-natural.

“We used to have very few homosexuals traditionally. They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either because it was clear that is not how God arranged things to be.”

The NRM leader was speaking at the inaugural Young Achievers Awards ceremony, an event organised by Tetea Uganda, a private firm, to honour the country’s youth who have excelled in various disciplines.

The President’s comments follow efforts by lawmaker David Bahati (NRM, Ndorwa West) who moved a private members Bill last month—The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, to outlaw homosexuality in the country.
Included in the draft text are not only condemnations of same-sex relations, but a new crime that carries the death penalty, and a criminal sentence for having sex while HIV positive.

Taboo subject
Homosexuality remains a taboo subject in many African societies and if passed in its current state, the Anti Homosexuality Bill, condemned by rights groups, would make Uganda one of the most dangerous places for gay people.

“You should discourage your colleagues [involved in homosexuality] because God was not foolish to do the way he arranged,” said Mr Museveni, adding, “Mr and Mrs, but now you have to say Mr and Mr? What is that now?”

More here-

Lecturer speaks on Anglicans rejoining the Catholic Church

From Dallas-

On Friday Nov. 13, Taylor Marshall spoke about how the Anglicans were joining the Catholic Church. With the room full and with lots of good refreshments, he began to speak. Marshall was never raised in any religion in particular.

Marshall went to Texas A&M to study Greek and Latin, and then received his master's in philosophy at the University of Dallas. After some time, he said that he "fell in love with Anglicanism." To him, it was something he had never seen before. During one of his family trips with his wife, Joy, he got to experience the spirituality felt in the Vatican. He said that he got to meet with Cardinal Bomb, an elderly man, who asked him a lot of questions about what he believed in. Three months later, after experiencing the missing parts of his religion, he joined the Catholic faith.

Marshall said that the Anglican tradition consists of three elements: The high church, the broad church and the low church. Although the church contains many of the beliefs of the Catholic faith, Marshall said that there are still elements missing from it. Being experienced in both faiths, Marshall said that there are a lot of theories that are wrong about the situation.

The pope has ordained that Anglo-Catholics can become part of the Roman Catholic Church while retaining their liturgies and other aspects of their Anglican heritage. Marshall emphasized to his audience that they must not listen to theories made up by other people simply because they have a biased view on either one of the faiths. "Theories mentioned such as, 'The pope doesn't have priests so he will steal priests from the Anglicans,' are not theories to be listened to," he said. "Instead, when one of these theories is heard, correct the person and try to explain." This new ordinance will be very difficult for those who are already bishops in the Anglican Church. These bishops depend solely on the church, and when they leave, they will lose everything that they have.

"This is something that will make a radical difference," Marshall said. "Pensions will be lost, insurance will be removed and many will even be attacked by others." The people who realize that they want to join the Catholic faith will have to give up many of their dreams and material belongings. This will only continue to get worse as people begin to lose jobs, but even with this radical movement, the Catholic faith will continue to help those in need. Even though this may seem like a small movement ordained by the pope, Marshall mentioned that the pope is "mirroring the sacred heart of Jesus."

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House of Deputies president sets out plan for naming vice president's successor

From Episcopal Life Online-

Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson sent a letter Nov. 16 to diocesan deputies and first alternates that outlined the process she will use for replacing the Rev. Brian Prior as the house's vice president.
Prior was elected Oct. 31 to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Minnesota. Pending consent, he will become the ninth bishop of Minnesota on February 13.

Prior's vice president position will become vacant on that day, Anderson said, according to Episcopal Church Canon V.4.1(b). Prior was elected to a second term as vice president of the House of Deputies during the July 8-17 meeting of General Convention in Anaheim, California.

In the letter, Anderson noted that there is no canonical provision for filling a vacancy in the office of House of Deputies vice president until the first day of the next General Convention.

"Following the precedent set by Dr. Pamela Chinnis, president of the House of Deputies in 1993 when a vacancy in the office of vice president occurred prior to the General Convention of 1994, I will nominate a clergy deputy, respected by the house, who has agreed to serve, if elected, for the 77th General Convention only, and not to run for any office to be elected by the House of Deputies at the 77th General Convention," Anderson wrote. "This would enable the house to be served by a vice president without compromising the election of the vice president to be elected to serve during the succeeding triennium."

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Catholic bishops claim moral authority amidst 'confusion'

From USA Today-

Responding to scientific advances and widespread "confusion" among their flocks, U.S. Catholic bishops today issued detailed guidelines on marriage, reproductive technologies and health care for severely brain-damaged patients.
The bishops gathered here for their semi-annual meeting also heard a preliminary report on the "causes and contexts" of the clergy sexual abuse scandal that resulted in some 14,000 abuse claims and cost the church $2.6 billion since 1950.

Researchers from New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice told the nearly 300 members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that homosexual orientation should not be linked to the sexual abuse, even as some church leaders have sought to make a link between gay priests and sexual abuse.

"What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse," said Margaret Smith of John Jay College. "At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now."

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Greinke proves he’s the best in the league

From the Kansas City Star-

Around here, among Royals fans in Kansas City, there’s been a persistent buzz about whether Zack Greinke would win the Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher.

Out there, in Zack Greinke’s offseason in Orlando, not so much.

“Not really,” he says. “I’ve been playing this ‘World of Warcraft’ game.”

The quote is classic Greinke — honest, surprising, funny — and probably as good a way as any for him to mark a day on a national stage. Greinke took 25 of the 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America, a blowout win over runner-up Felix Hernandez that was the AL award’s biggest margin since Johan Santana’s unanimous selection in 2006.

The award triggers a $100,000 bonus that, if nothing else, becomes a nice gift as he prepares to be married on Saturday.

Greinke’s story is well-documented here, of course, about how he debuted as a 20-year-old in 2004 and won the Royals’ pitcher of the year award, but led the league in losses the next year and walked away from baseball in 2006, when he was diagnosed with social anxiety and depression.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Coghlan named NL's top rookie

From MLB-

It's been more than eight years since that fateful summer of 2001, when Chris Coghlan's father was killed just days before the Marlins infielder-turned-outfielder's 16th birthday.

On Monday afternoon, when he was named the winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award for the National League, Coghlan couldn't help but think of his dad, Tim Coghlan, and how he must be beaming with pride about his son right now.

"I know my dad is watching from heaven with a smile on his face," Coghlan said. "It makes me smile outside and inside, because he was the one who instilled the work ethic in me and taught me the game."

A lot of tears were shed when Coghlan suddenly lost his father in a fatal car accident. But there were plenty of smiles to go around on this day.

This was the day Coghlan's astonishing adjustments to a new fielding position and spot in the lineup received its due diligence, the day everything he's been taught about baseball throughout his entire young life -- lessons from coaches, teammates and, of course, his dad -- came to fruition.

With Monday's announcement by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Coghlan -- the Marlins' prized prospect from Tarpon Springs, Fla. -- joined American League winner Andrew Bailey of the Athletics, other Marlins honorees in Dontrelle Willis (2003) and Hanley Ramirez ('06), and former ROY winners like Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki.

Time will tell whether this award vaults him onto a career path as successful as those of Howard, Jeter, Pujols and Suzuki. But Coghlan isn't one to get ahead of himself.

More here-

Bailey captures AL rookie award

From MLB-

A's right-hander Andrew Bailey got the call from New York at 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday and was told to "keep it under wraps."

He assumed, however, that it was safe to let his parents in on the secret: His rise from Minor League obscurity to Major League limelight turned historic when he was named the American League's 2009 Rookie of the Year.

"My dad couldn't believe it," Bailey told by phone shortly after the announcement. "He had been reading all these articles about who had voted for who, and everyone kind of thought Elvis [Andrus of the Rangers] was going to win. So when I told him, he was like, 'No way. Are you kidding? Really?'

"When I called my mom, she just started laughing. And then she started crying."

Andrus, Texas' acrobatic 21-year-old shortstop, finished second in the voting, which was carried out by selected members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Bailey, 25, posted 26 saves -- no other AL rookie reliever had more than two -- with a 1.84 ERA, also the best among AL rookies. He was listed first on 13 ballots submitted by two writers in each AL city, second on six and third on five to score 88 points, based on a 5-3-1 tabulation system.

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Bishop of Blackburn says he will not convert to Rome

From Religious Intelligence-

The Bishop of Blackburn will not be taking the Pope up on his offer of a home for disaffected Anglicans in the Roman Catholic Church.

In an interview given to the Lancashire Telegraph, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade said “I am Bishop of Blackburn, and I will continue to be until the good Lord releases me from it.”

At a joint press conference in London held by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster plans for a “personal ordinariate” for Anglicans who sought to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, while maintaining some aspects of their Anglican identity were announced.

Bishop Reade said the Pope’s offer was “very generous” but “I would have to say I don’t expect many to go” over to Rome.

“The Church of England is a big tent and while there are boundaries to what Anglicans believe, we are a Church that makes room for everyone,” he said. The point of friction in the Church of England for Anglo-Catholics today was the issue of “whether we have women bishops. It’s not quite as simple as saying ‘we have women judges and a woman Prime Minister’. I would hope we could come up with a stance that’s able to appeal to both sides.”

Bishop Reade said he would not be going over to Rome. “I would want to see my time out as Bishop of Blackburn. In other words, I could only cease to be Bishop of Blackburn if ill health, death or retirement intervened.”

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No room for compromise in the Anglicans' divided flock

From Yorkhshire Post-

THE Church of England was born in compromise. Or so it says in the preface to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Its ability to compromise is its "wisdom", say the preface's compilers.
But where is that wisdom now? Has it fled through the stained glass windows?

It emerged this weekend that the Church of England's traditionalist clergy and lay people have been snubbed after a compromise – that word again – deal over women bishops was jettisoned.

Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals had hoped and earnestly prayed that the Church would agree to appoint male bishops to oversee them. But it has now become sadly, possibly even tragically, clear that a body looking at the females in mitres proposals – the Revision Committee of the General Synod, the Church's parliament – has failed to back the idea.

The rejection will certainly cause an unholy mighty row and almost certainly lead to the exodus of clergy – possibly as many as 500 – who have long warned that they will depart unless they are given safeguards to protect their belief that a woman can no more be a bishop, or a priest for that matter, than she can father a child.

More here-

Scandal in Providence

From Get Religion-

This has been such a busy time for religious news that we’ve missed a fairly interesting story coming out of Rhode Island. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy got things going in a fiery Oct. 21 interview with Cybercast News Service. Here’s how The Providence Journal wrote up what happened:

Kennedy told an interviewer on Oct. 21, “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social-justice issue of our time.” He said, “If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health-care reform because it’s going to provide health care that is going to keep people alive.”

Bishop Tobin shot back that Kennedy “is correct in stating that ‘he can’t understand. He got that part right.” He called Kennedy’s comments “irresponsible and ignorant of the facts” and asked for an apology. Later, the bishop followed up with a letter inviting Kennedy to meet for a discussion of the issue.

Without apologizing in so many words, Kennedy accepted the invitation in a letter last week and said his comments “were never intended to slight the church.” Kennedy acknowledged that “the church has always stood for health-care reform.” He added, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy of the church on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

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U.S. Cardinal: Church must join health debate

From The Baltimore Sun-

In an apparent response to criticism of Catholic lobbying for tougher restrictions on abortion in the healthcare overhaul, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said church leaders have an obligation to raise their concerns in the debate.

The bishops opened their fall general assembly Monday at the Waterfront Marriott Hotel in Baltimore a week after lobbying successfully for an amendment to the healthcare bill approved by the House last week. The Stupak-Pitts amendment, named for the lawmakers who introduced it, would block federal subsidies for insurance policies that cover abortion. At least one Senate Democrat has said he would consider a similar measure as the upper body takes up the issue.

The amendment came as the result of a furious lobbying effort by the bishops’ conference, which has long called for universal health coverage but opposes abortion. The bishops’ role has drawn criticism from abortion rights supporters; Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat, suggested last week that the IRS might investigate the bishops’ tax-exempt status.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the president of the bishops’ conference, said "issues that are moral questions before they become political remain moral questions when they become political."

George said it was the job of the bishops to be public without being "co-opted" by any political agenda and serve as "leaven for the world's transformation" in policy debates, the Associated Press reports.

"We are most grateful to those in either political party who share these common moral concerns and govern our country in accordance with them," George said.

On the agenda for the semiannual meeting are several items related to marriage and reproduction. On Monday, the bishops heard a presentation on “Love and Life in the Divine Plan, a pastoral letter that the conference describes as presenting “the essential points of Catholic teaching on marriage that are foundational for understanding the nature and purposes of marriage, for living it faithfully, and for preserving and defending it as a necessary and unique social institution.”

More here-

Court ruling favors Episcopal Church, diocese; disputed property must be returned

From San Diego-

A Superior Court judge ruled Nov. 10 that the property and assets of two Diocese of San Diego congregations whose leadership attempted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church are held for the mission and ministry of the wider church.
As in other California court decisions Judge Steven Denton ruled that church property cannot be retained by departing members.

In issuing his opinion, Denton noted that it was undisputed that leadership of the two congregations -- St. Anne's Church in Oceanside and Holy Trinity Church in Ocean Beach -- had agreed from the beginning of their existence to be part of a greater denominational church and to be bound by that greater church's governing instruments.

Bishop Jim Mathes of San Diego said that the ruling, while a hard decision for members of dissenting congregations, also represented "an opportunity for reconciliation and renewal" should any of them desire to return to the diocese.

"We are eager to welcome these individuals back into the Episcopal Church. There is no need for anyone to change their place of worship," Mathes said in a statement to the media released Nov. 13. "We will celebrate the same service from the same prayer book at the same altar."

"This decision follows all other major decisions regarding property in a hierarchical church," added Mathes. "The Diocese of San Diego is grateful to conclude this necessary but painful season."

"This decision reaffirms the principle that the property of an Episcopal congregation must be used to further the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church," said Baker & McKenzie partner, Charles H. Dick, chancellor of the diocese and its attorney in the property litigations. "People should be free to leave the Episcopal Church if they wish, but they cannot take the property of the Episcopal Church with them when they depart."

More here-

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's time for Dr Rowan Williams to square up to a rampant Rome

From The London Telegraph-

I've lost count of the times I've been asked joshingly over the past couple of weeks whether I'm going over to Rome. I'd love to go to Rome, I reply, not least because my daughter has promised to buy me a Bellini in her favourite bar by the Pantheon. But there is about as much chance of me taking up the Vatican's offer of conversion to Roman Catholicism, under its new Apostolic Constitution, as there is of Pope Benedict XVI subsidising free condoms for Africa.

On Thursday, Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, makes his own journey to Rome. It's just a long-standing two-day business trip, you understand. He's not taking the Church of England with him. But I've been speaking to Anglican bishops who ask, wide-eyed, why he's going at all, so soon after the Pope's dawn raid on English Anglo-Catholics.

One of our senior bishops wanted to know why Dr Williams was bounced into attending the press conference, called hastily to announce Benedict's takeover bid – and staged alongside his top man in England, Archbishop Vincent Nichols – in the Roman Church's London gaff. Why hadn't Dr Williams, this bishop wanted to know, just instructed his chief spin doctor to say airily that he was busy and the Pope's acquisitive ambitions weren't a matter for him? Why didn't he also let it be known that he would no longer be going to Rome this week, because he and the Pontiff no longer had ecumenical common ground to discuss?

None of that would be in Dr Williams's nature, of course. We'd be entering an alternative reality in which Harrison Ford plays him in the movie, bursting into Benedict's Vatican chamber and hissing: "What's your game, Benny?" The Pope (played by Rutger Hauer) slowly turns: "Vot do you sink I'm doing, unshaven one? For you, ze Communion is over."

More here-

Bishops split over Mass translation

From The Pittsburgh Post Gazette-

The nation's Catholic bishops will address many social controversies at their meeting in Baltimore this week. But the topic with the greatest potential for conflict among them is a new translation of the Mass.

They will vote on a pastoral letter on marriage that explains church opposition to artificial contraception, cohabitation and gay marriage. They are expected to approve an easy-to-read pamphlet explaining church opposition to technologies that aid conception. They're also updating directives on the tube-feeding of incapacitated people. While they may debate how best to make those points, they are points the bishops agree on.

What divides them is a new translation of the Mass that has been in the works for years. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie has led the charge against what he sees as a "slavish" rendering of Latin into convoluted, ungrammatical English.

"American Catholics have every right to expect a translation of the new missal to follow the rules for English grammar. But this violates English syntax in the most egregious way," he said.

The bishops didn't write it. Rome requires one international committee to translate for each major language, and this text is intended to serve nations as diverse as Ireland and Pakistan. The bishops can propose amendments, but Vatican officials have final say over the text.

In 2001, the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments published Liturgiam Authenticam, new rules for translation. It stressed faithfulness to fourth-century Latin texts that were translations from Greek, Hebrew and other languages. It encouraged a special vocabulary for prayer that differed from everyday speech.

"Thus it may happen that a certain manner of speech which has come to be considered somewhat obsolete in daily usage may continue to be maintained in the liturgical context," it said.

Read more:

More Protestant flocks are led by female pastors

From Birmingham-
In the vast majority of Christian churches throughout the world, peo­ple gather on Sunday mornings and listen to a man preach a sermon as part of their worship services.

But in a growing number of Protes­tant churches, they are gathering to hear a woman preach. At Gardendale Presbyterian Church, for example, the pastor in the pulpit happens to be about 32 weeks preg­nant. "I feel profoundly called to this work," said Pastor Elizabeth Goodrich, who expects to give birth around Jan. 6, Epiphany on the western Christian cal endar.

"I discovered in seminary I love to preach."
Although the ranks of female clergy are growing, it's still rare when a woman holds the title of senior pastor. Large segments of Christianity interpret the Bible as forbidding fe­male pastors, while accept ing women in assisting or auxiliary roles. In many churches, that interpretation has loosened in recent decades, opening the pulpit to women.

More here-