Saturday, December 5, 2009

Married Catholic priest change ahead for the church

From Scripps-

The only married priest ordained by the nation's largest Catholic diocese has discovered in the past two years what other priests already know:

There's more need for them, more requests for their services, than hours in the day.

"It means that the priest shortage is really being felt," said the Rev. Bill Lowe. "Being an available priest is like being a lone cow walking through mountain-lion country."

The gregarious former Episcopal cleric -- known by some as "the Smiling Priest" -- was ordained by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in May 2007. The ceremony drew national attention and was interpreted by many as a sign the Catholic Church was rethinking -- or should rethink -- its mandate of celibacy.

Two years later, the long-term forecast for a dramatic increase in married priests still seems cloudy. An announcement by Vatican officials that church officials were making it easier for disillusioned parishioners and married priests from the Anglican community to convert was interpreted as a sign the door was opening. But Rome recently reaffirmed the importance of celibacy and announced that married Anglican priests would be welcomed into the church in the same type of manner as Lowe was two years ago, on a case-by-case basis.

Lowe is 71 and served for 36 years as an Episcopal priest before retiring, converting and un-retiring. He carefully tries to steer clear of any controversy, but he thinks the need for clergy will some day bring change.

More here-

Bishop takes issue with term used in debate over gay bishops

From Reading PA-

When is a moratorium not a moratorium? When the presiding bishop says it's not.

Presiding bishops are expected to put the best face possible on denominational developments.

So I did not expect any earth-shaking comments from the leader of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, when, during her recent visit to Lebanon, I asked about what I presumed was the recently ended three-year moratorium on ordaining gay bishops.

What I didn't expect, but got, was a denial that a moratorium had ever existed.

Afterward, I told her that when the dean of the National Cathedral invited me to lunch in the spring, we talked moratorium.

"Well," she conceded, "some have called it that."

The some would include the bishop of West Texas, who favored its continuance, and the bishop of Ohio, who did not; both used the "M" word in speeches at the triennial General Conference in Anaheim, Calif., in July.

It also would include the official Episcopal News Service, which reported that the 2006 convention's action, which was under review, "was widely regarded as a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops."

Award-winning religion writer John Dart, in the Christian Century, also said that resolution had called for a moratorium. Dart, though, did add that professor Ian Douglas of Episcopal Divinity School and some bishops have said the word was a misnomer.

Jefferts Schori insisted that nothing has changed, that the discernment process for ordination remains open to all, but that's trying too hard for a good face. The difference between the '06 and '09 resolutions is the absence of the '06 phrase urging "restraint" on gays' ordinations. The absence is as noticeable as the absence of "public option" in a health care reform bill.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to ordain second female priest today

From Ft. Worth-

A second woman priest will be ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth today and this time by a female bishop.

ClayOla Gitane will be ordained by the Right Rev. Bavi Edna Rivera, provisional bishop of Eastern Oregon, the denomination’s first Hispanic woman bishop. Assisting with Gitane’s ordination will be the Right Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, provisional bishop of the Fort Worth diocese.

Gitane’s ordination follows last month’s ordination of the Rev. Susan Slaughter as the first woman priest in the Fort Worth diocese.

"I think it’s a miracle," said Gitane, 52, who said she never expected to be a priest in Fort Worth. "I thought I’d be headed for parts unknown."

Although the Episcopal Church first approved women’s ordination in 1976, the Fort Worth diocese, under Bishop Jack Iker and his predecessors, was one of the few that prohibited women’s ordination, saying it violated church and biblical teachings.

A group led by Iker voted to leave the national Episcopal Church last year, saying the denomination had strayed from church teachings by several actions, including ordaining Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire.

Now Iker’s group, which also calls itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is a member of the Anglican Church in North America, which seeks to be recognized by the Anglican Communion as a more orthodox second province of the church in North America.

More here-

L.A. Episcopal Diocese elects first woman bishop in its history

From The LA Times-

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected the first woman bishop in its 114-year history today but had yet to decide whether to select an openly gay priest for a second bishop opening.

Clergy and lay leaders, meeting in Riverside for their annual convention, chose the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, a local favorite from Orange County known for her financial expertise and ability to build up congregations.

Bruce, rector of St. Clement’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente, edged out five other candidates, including two openly gay priests, for the first "suffragan" bishop post. Suffragan bishops assist a diocese’s primary bishop.

"All my life I have known that I have been called to serve God in Christ in God’s church," Bruce wrote in her biography on the diocese’s website.

Bruce, who was elected on the convention’s third ballot, received a majority of votes from both clergy and lay delegates. She appeared to benefit from a strong Orange County showing, but delegates said she was elected because she was the most qualified candidate.
"She’s a known quantity," said the Rev. Warren Nyback, a retired diocesan priest and convention delegate. "It’s an indication that the diocese is getting tired of male bishops. There’s been a yearning for a long time, especially among women clergy."

Bruce -- and the successful candidate for the second open position -- must be confirmed by a majority of the national church’s bishops and of diocesan "standing committees," which include clergy and lay representatives. Voting for the second position was beginning this afternoon; it was not clear when it would be completed.

More here-

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ireland: call to expel Nuncio after abuse inquiry

From the Church Times-

WIDESPREAD condemnation of the way the Roman Catholic bishops of the Dublin archdiocese dealt with paedophile priests over three decades culminated in a call for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, over the Vatican’s failure to respond to the scandals (News, 27 November).

The independent commission established by the Irish government under Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy of the High Court examined com plaints against 46 individual priests, involving 320 children, the majority of whom were boys. One priest admitted sexual abuse of more than 100 children.

It found that four Archbishops and several auxiliary Bishops of Dublin, including five now serving in dioceses of their own, seriously failed in their duty of protection towards children.
The Roman Catholic Church’s own rules and structures facilitated a cover-up, the report says, which included the movement of priests who were known offenders from one parish to another, thus allowing them to reoffend. It also failed to report offenders to the Garda Siochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland, over the entire period of their tenure in office. The Gardaí, in turn, often deferred to the hierarchy by simply advising archbishops of complaints they themselves had received. RC prelates were thus regarded as being above the law of the State.

The inquiry described the behaviour of successive Arch bishops of Dublin as showing “denial, arro­gance, and cover-up” over a period from the 1970s until the 1990s. The Justice Minister of Ireland, Dermot Ahern, described the report as chronicling a scandal on an astonish ing scale, and pledged that, in the Republic, no organisation or institution would be allowed to regard itself as superior to the State or its people. “A collar will protect no criminal,” he said.
Ms Justice Murphy’s report found that churchmen used a form of “mental reservation” as an excuse for lying, and, although some brave priests did confront their seniors with reports of abuse, the general policy was “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

It was also revealed that when the commission wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2006, asking for details of child-abuse reports sent to it, the Vatican did not reply; nor did the Papal Nuncio respond to two re quests for all documents relevant to the inquiry.

More here-

The Primate: Human Rights

From Australia-

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Phillip Aspinall has written to the Prime Minister commending him for the establishment of the Human Rights Consultation process and welcoming the resulting show of support from Australians for the protection and promotion of human rights.

Dr Aspinall said the Anglican Church of Australia was impressed by the depth and range of the Committee's enquiries. “We were delighted with the fair, balanced and comprehensive consideration of the numerous, often complex issues involved.

“Anglicans hold a variety of views on the best way to protect human rights. In particular, views differ on whether an Australian Human Rights Act is the best way to proceed. However, there was unanimous support from the Church’s General Synod Standing Committee, evident in its submission, for some form of legislative protection of human rights.”

Dr Aspinall said the need for human rights legislation is evident from the substantial experience of the agencies of the Anglican Church across Australia as they work to address the needs of the most vulnerable including refugees and asylum-seekers, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, children and the aged, prisoners and the mentally ill.

The Primate said while human rights education was important across the community so too was the development of a culture of understanding led by regulation and example, not just by governments but religious bodies like the Anglican Church.

In the letter to the Prime Minister Dr Aspinall urged the government to give particular attention to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, especially Articles 18 and 20(2) regarding the right to freedom of religion. “We believe that the right to freedom of religion should include the right of a religious body to determine the requisite qualifications, including religious belief, for employees and volunteers who carry out its work, in accordance with its religious doctrine and practices.”

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury in 'intensive' efforts to combat Ugandan anti-gay death law

From The London Times-

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has been criticised widely for failing to speak out against the new anti-gay law in Uganda that could see some homosexuals being executed. But there is method in his silence. Today, Lambeth Palace told me: 'It has been made clear to us, as indeed to others, that attempts to publicly influence either the local church or political opinion in Uganda would be divisive and counter productive. Our contacts, at both national and diocesan level, with the local church will therefore remain intensive but private.'

In fact, we can take for granted that Dr Williams is against the draconian new law. But speaking out publicly to this effect could indeed, as he says, have the opposite effect to that intended. It would almost certainly be seen as white-led colonialism of the worst possible kind, as a misguided attempt to impose western liberal values upon traditional African culture. It would not help the local Anglican Church, which has yet to come out on either side. But we can assume that the word 'intensive' in his statement today indicates that he is as distressed as the 2,000 who have signed a petition against it.

More here-

Ugandan church leader brands anti-gay bill 'genocide'

From The Guardian-

If Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill becomes law, it will be little short of state-sponsored "genocide" against the gay community, a prominent member of the Ugandan Anglican church said this week.

Canon Gideon Byamugisha said the bill, which recommends the death penalty for anyone repeatedly convicted of having gay sex and prison sentences for those who fail to report homosexual activity to the police, would breed violence and intolerance through all levels of society.

"I believe that this bill [if passed into law] will be state-legislated genocide against a specific community of Ugandans, however few they may be," he said.

The bill, which will strengthen Uganda's existing laws against homosexuality under its Penal Code Act, has been widely condemned by world leaders and human rights groups, who fear it will trigger a witchhunt against the gay community. Activists have raised concerns that the bill will hinder the country's fight against HIV/Aids among the gay community and legal experts have said it will undermine freedom of expression and association.

Yesterday, Uganda's Daily Monitor news website reported that Sweden will cut aid to Uganda if the bill is passed. Canada has also condemned the bill and the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, took the matter up directly with the Ugandan president, who has given tacit support for the bill, at the Commonwealth summit last weekend. Britain is Uganda's fourth largest donor.

More here-

Former Episcopal bishop Lipscomb now a Catholic priest

From Tampa-

John Lipscomb, the married, 59-year-old former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, was ordained a Catholic priest Wednesday. The morning after, he expressed joy and a sense of relief. He's at peace, spiritually. He's just a priest now. He's not the boss. "The part of the job that never fit was sitting in judgment of other people's lives," he said. "I'm at a point in my life where I want to do the things God called me to do, and not have to make the kinds of decisions that are impossible to make anyway."

"We're happy that John has found his place," said Jim DeLa, the Episcopal Diocese's director of communications. "If this is it for him, God bless him." Twelve years ago, Lipscomb was elevated to lead nearly 40,000 Southwest Florida Episcopalians in a ceremony that included a chorus of trumpets at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter in St. Petersburg. Over the next decade, he fought Parkinson's disease and caught malaria on a mission to Kenya. In those same years, dissension tore his church apart. In 2003, he joined 19 bishops in a "statement of sorrow" over the naming of V. Gene Robinson as the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop.

More here-

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Letter from the Bishop

Bishop Ed Little Writes his Diocese-

Dear brothers and sisters,

As an avid mystery reader - I must confess that the more gruesome the tale, the more I enjoy it - I make it a point of pride never to sneak a peek at the end. I want to wait until the very last moment before discovering “who done it.” Was it the jilted fiancé? The bitter business partner? The resentful cousin? Part of the pleasure is in the waiting. While some mystery readers do their best to figure out who’s guilty, I prefer the surprise. I don’t want to know - until the very last page. A gasp of surprise is the sign of a great mystery.

That’s why Advent presents something of a challenge to me. It tells the story in reverse. Advent begins at the end, on the last page, and moves to the beginning. And so, on the First Sunday of Advent, our focus is on the second coming of Jesus. “Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness . . . that in the last day, when [Jesus] shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal” (Collect for 1 Advent, BCP p. 211). On the cusp of a new church year, we gaze into the future and recognize that Jesus has history well in hand. As John puts it in his vision of the future: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2). From the opening moments of the Christian year, we know how things are going to turn out!

Having opened the book and sneaked a peek at the end of the story, we move to the middle - to John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and forerunner, who appeared on the bank of the Jordan River when Jesus was about 30 and preached about the coming Savior. The Second and Third Sundays of Advent focus on John’s ministry of preparation. This year, the Gospel readings come from Luke. “[John] went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” we will hear on 2 Advent (Luke 3:3). And then, the next week, John will confront us with his grim yet hopeful message. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” And yet, John adds, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:7, 16). John invites us to review our lives and prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. His message is always fresh, always challenging, and always appropriate.

Much more here-

Bishops, COGS asked to protest CIDA's stop to KAIROS grant

From Canada-

Leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) have been asked to protest against the sudden cancellation of traditional funding of the ecumenical coalition KAIROS by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

KAIROS is a social justice NGO that represents seven of Canada's largest denominations, including the Anglican Church. KAIROS does advocacy, education, and research work on topics including human rights, ecological justice, and Indigenous Peoples.

The Anglican Council of General Synod and the House of Bishops are now considering motions that would deplore CIDA's action and urge the federal government to reconsider the decision. KAIROS is also encouraging all Canadians to raise this issue with their MPs, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and CIDA leaders.

KAIROS has received funding from CIDA since 1973, and received a positive audit on its last funding period. In March, KAIROS submitted its 2009-2013 program proposal for just over $9 million-a number consistent with previous levels of funding. On Nov. 30, a CIDA official contacted KAIROS by phone to say funding would not continue because KAIROS it no longer fits CIDA priorities. No other explanation or information was provided.

If not reversed, this decision will have a devastating impact on Canadian education programs and KAIROS's international partners. Many KAIROS partners face human rights and humanitarian crises. Their work includes monitoring the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, holding government accountable for military abuses in Indonesia, and supporting women's rights in Colombia.

Former Suffolk church treasurer gets probation on embezzlement charge

From Virginia - Follow up from yesterday-

A former local attorney who embezzled almost $40,000 from an Episcopal church while acting as its treasurer got three years probation in a plea bargain when she was tried in Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The money was returned to the church less than a year after it disappeared.

Anne Marston Lynch, 34, was treasurer at St. John's Episcopal Church near Chuckatuck in 2007 when a new treasurer took over. The man asked for an audit of the accounts, and evidence was presented that the church was missing $39,786.20.

At least $25,000 of the money was withdrawn from BB&T Bank by Lynch, and no explanation was provided in the records, according to court testimony.

According to testimony, on October 13, 2006, Lynch, while she was treasurer, used the $25,000 to set up a new account in the church's name at another bank. She also transferred about $14,000 from a church savings account to the new account.

Lynch then withdrew from the new account $39,786.20 in a cashier's check payable to a George McGaha. Prosecutor Marilyn Sally said that Lynch, at the time, represented McGaha and was working for the Suffolk law firm of Pretlow & Pretlow.

Later, evidence presented at trial showed that Lynch turned the money over to McGaha, a man she represented in a traffic-accident case and personal-injury claim in Stafford County in 2000.

More here-

Episcopalians eye gay bishop

From the Washington Times-

The Rev. Mary Glasspool, an Episcopal priest who commutes daily from Annapolis to her office at the Baltimore-based Episcopal Diocese of Maryland may be on the verge of a much longer journey.

If she's elected this weekend in an election for two suffragan bishops in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, she would be the second openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The first is New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson. His 2003 election has been the wedge that split the Communion into conservative and liberal camps and caused roughly 100,000 Episcopalians to flee the church.

I'm not expecting quite that amount of fireworks should Ms. Glasspool, 55, be elected, but ever since the denomination voted last summer to allow more gay bishops, there's been this informal race among dioceses to see who can be first.

Clergy in the Los Angeles diocese tell me that she's got a decent chance because her executive experience in Baltimore assisting the bishop and mentoring clergy ranks her above the other five candidates for the two jobs.

She is the daughter of an Episcopal priest who opposed women's ordination (must have been an interesting father-daughter tension there), and she was rector at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Annapolis during the 1990s where it was a "don't ask, don't tell" situation about her homosexuality. Ms. Glasspool's partner Becki "was invisible as far as the parish was concerned," she wrote sadly in her bio.

More here-

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sudanese Bishop Calls for Independent State

From The Living Church-

Establishing an independent state in the southern portion of Sudan would help relieve persecution of Christians, said Bishop John Zawo of the Diocese of Ezo during a visit to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Providence, R.I., on Nov. 17.

“We should not continue to be second-class citizens in our own country,” the 40-year-old bishop told his audience, which included students from Brown University, the Episcopal Campus Ministry group, Sudan scholars from the Naval War College outside Newport, and St. Stephen’s parishioners.

Ezo is an area of continuing political conflict, on the border of the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has endured conflict since 1983, with almost 2 million people killed and over 4 million displaced from their homes. For the past 26 years, children there have had no basic health care or educational opportunities. Many Christian leaders have been killed during this time, and the Muslim government in Khartoum does nothing to stop the deprivation and bloodshed despite the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord.

In addition, for the past several years, Ugandan guerillas from the Lord’s Resistance Army have inflicted steady violence on the people of Ezo, forcing children into becoming soldiers and young girls into sex trafficking.

Bishop Zawo said he encourages his people to “focus their attention on God in the midst of misery and chaos.”

Tom Bair, husband of the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island, introduced Bishop Zawo. The Diocese of Rhode Island has a companion relationship with the Diocese of Ezo, which Mr. Bair said is approximately the same size.

In December 2008, Mr. Bair and Bishop Wolf traveled to southern Sudan to spend Christmas with Bishop Zawo and the people of Ezo. They witnessed firsthand the poverty and hardship of the area, but also the deep faith of the Anglican population, many of whom have lost all their possessions and must take shelter in straw huts covered with tarpaulins.

Bishop Zawo asked his audience to call for the United States government to help stop the killing in Sudan. He showed pictures of the conditions under which his people are forced to live.

In response to questions, Bishop Zawo said he believed the local population suffered less from religious persecution by the Muslim majority than from the racism of the government in Khartoum, which often pays equatorial Africans to convert to Islam, yet continues to treat them as inferior to the Arab population of the northern part of the country.

The There There

Lionel Follows up-

I may have left the impression in my recent post “Seat of Power?” that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) does not actually have an office in the building at 1001 Merchant Street in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. When I wrote the post, all I knew was that, if there were an office there, it was neither conspicuous nor magnificent.

Lest I be accused of trafficking in innuendo, I thought I should check out the ACNA office for myself. Besides, I had never really been to Ambridge, though I once went to a birthday party that might have been within the borough limits.

And so, this morning, I set out with digital camera on the half-hour drive to Ambridge. I parked the car on Merchant Street and walked to the building at Merchant and 10th. My first stop was the set of mailboxes on the 10th Street side of the building. Three mailboxes were labeled, for Watchword Productions (Suite 100), for Janet Vaughn (Suite 104), and for ACNA. That last mailbox lacked a suite number.

More here-

Nigeria’s past heroes may have died in vain — Akinola

From Nigeria-

Chancellor, Bishop Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, Most Rev. Peter Akinola, has said the situation in the country indicates that the vision, sacrifice and labour of “our past heroes are now virtually in vain.”

He berated the nation’s leaders for sending their children to foreign schools with tax payers money after grounding the educational system.

Akinola argued that between 1990 and 2002, the federal budgetary allocation to the education sector only existed on paper, judging by the disparity between published figures and disbursments.

Akinola, who is also the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), spoke at the university’s maiden convocation on Monday. He spoke shortly after his investiture as the chancellor of the university by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olajire Olaniran.

Akinola said, “On paper, the percentages of the federal budget for education between 1990 and 2002 ranged from as much as 5.45 to 11 per cent, but what was disbursed and actually expended on our schools was a far cry from those high figures.

“The standard of education has so fallen that we produce largely unemployable graduates; as many of them can hardly defend their certificates.

“The irony of the matter is that it is those responsible for the bankruptcy in our (education) system that take the lead in the desertion of state institutions.

“(They go) not to local private ones (universities), but more painfully using tax-payers money overseas where patriotic leaders have laboured to establish reputable and sound education institutions. Sadly, the situation in Nigeria today is that the vision, sacrifice and labours of our heroes past are now virtually in vain. A writer, Prof. A. Ekwunife, attributes it to truncated, vitiated and dualistic leadership value systems in Nigeria.”

More here-

Moving towards a united Christianity

From The Guardian-

In the past two months, relations between the three main Christian churches have moved in more promising directions than perhaps during the past 50 years of uninspiring liberal dialogue. By opening a new chapter of theological engagement and concrete co-operation with Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, Pope Benedict XVI is changing the terms of debate about church reunification. In time, we might witness the end of the Great Schism between east and west and a union of the main episcopally-based churches.

First there was the Rome visit in September by the Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Moscow's man for ecumenical relations. In high-level meetings, both sides argued that their shared resistance to secularism and moral relativism calls forth a further rapprochement of Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Declaring that "More than ever, we Christians must stand together", Hilarion insisted that each side can appeal to shared traditions and work towards greater closeness in a spirit of "mutual respect and love".

That this was more than diplomatic protocol was confirmed by the Catholic Archbishop of Moscow, Monsignor Paolo Pezzi. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he said that union between Catholics and Orthodox "is possible, indeed it has never been so close". The formal end of the Great Schism of 1054, which has divided the two churches for a millennium, and the move towards full spiritual communion "could happen soon".

Even on doctrinal matters, Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy are essentially in agreement. Hilarion acknowledged that the two have different ecclesiological models, with the former favouring a more centralised structure led by the pontiff while the latter emphasises the autonomy of provinces and local churches. "There remains the question of papal primacy and this will be a concern at the next meeting of the Catholic-Orthodox commission. But to me, it doesn't seem impossible to reach an agreement", said Pezzi.

More here-

Episcopal leader urges focus on compassion for Advent

From Ekklesia-

Advent is "a time of waiting, but it is not a time to sit around and wait for someone to do something," The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, says in her seasonal message.

The American Anglican leader is urging individuals and congregations to take time during the reflective period of preparation for Christmas to reach out with compassion to families and to strangers, in particular.

The Presiding Bishop's video Advent message, taped on the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St John The Divine in New York City, is available on the home page of The Episcopal Church website.

In the liturgical calendar, Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent was 29 November 2009.

"Advent is a time of expectation and hope," she said. "We are in a time in the world's history when we are in a great deal of darkness."

She declared: "It's a time to remember those who are suffering, around us and far away. I urge you to remember those who are at war, those who are returning from war and their needs."

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori concluded: "You have an ability to make a difference. We live in expectation of a world that is healed."

The Presiding Bishop's video Advent message will be posted on YouTube and Facebook.

The Episcopal Church has 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations and is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

More here-

Former Suffolk attorney sentenced for embezzling

From Virginia-

A former local attorney who embezzled almost $40,000 from an Episcopal church while acting as its treasurer got three years probation in a plea bargain when she was tried in Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The money was returned to the church less than a year after it disappeared.

Ann Marston Lynch, 34, was treasurer at St. John's Episcopal Church near Chuckatuck in 2007 when a new treasurer took over. The man asked for an audit of the accounts, and evidence was presented that the church was missing $39,786.20.

At least $25,000 of the money was withdrawn from BB&T Bank by Lynch, and no explanation was provided in the records, according to court testimony.

According to testimony, on October 13, 2006, Lynch, while she was treasurer, used the $25,000 to set up a new account in the church's name at another bank. She also transferred about $14,000 from a church savings account to the new account.

Lynch then withdrew from the new account $39,786.20 in a cashier's check payable to a George McGaha. Prosecutor Marilyn Sally said that Lynch, at the time, represented McGaha and was working for the Suffolk law firm of Pretlow & Pretlow.

More here-

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

House of Deputies president condemns proposed Uganda anti-homosexuality legislation

From ENS-

The pending Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country's anti-homosexuality laws would be a "terrible violation of the human rights of an already persecuted minority," Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has said.

Anderson was responding to a Nov. 16 request that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop Henri Orombi of Uganda and she speak out against the legislation. Anderson is the first to issue a statement.

Homosexuality in Uganda currently carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. If passed, the bill would extend prison sentences for homosexuals up to and including life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which includes assault against people under the age of 18 and those with disabilities.

Opponents fear that people, including family members and clergy, who support and advise homosexual people could be prosecuted and punished under the proposed law, which also would give Ugandan courts jurisdiction over Ugandan citizens who violate the law "partly outside or partly in Uganda."

The proposed legislation is "an attempt to use the authority of the state to deprive individuals of their God-given dignity, and to isolate them from the care and concern of their fellow human beings," Anderson said in her Nov. 25 letter to the co-conveners of the Chicago Consultation, a group of lay and ordained Episcopalians.

General Convention in 2006 condemned (via Resolution D005) the criminalization of homosexuality, Anderson noted.

The church's Executive Council, an elected group of 40 clergy, laity and bishops that carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention according to Canon I.4 (1)(a), is expected to meet by teleconference Dec. 7 to consider a possible statement on the Ugandan legislation.

More here-

The Right Reverend Eric Kemp

From The London Telegraph-

The Right Reverend Eric Kemp, who died on November 28 aged 94, was Bishop of Chichester from 1974 to 2001, a period of tenure that made his episcopate one of the longest in 20th-century Britain; having been exempted from the compulsory retirement regulation that was introduced shortly after his appointment, Kemp was 86, and still intellectually alert, when he resigned.

During his time as a bishop he was the acknowledged leader of the Anglo-Catholic wing of his Church, a role that he shared for some years with Dr Graham Leonard, the Bishop of London; and his decision to remain in office into the next century was motivated almost entirely by his relentless opposition to the ordination of women to the priesthood.

He regarded the Church of England's decision, in 1992, to proceed with the ordination of women as disastrous, and believed that he had a duty to try to mitigate its worst consequences.
This was achieved by means of controversial provisions for the continuing ministries and pastoral care of his fellow objectors – but he warned that if women bishops were ever consecrated schism would be unavoidable. He was himself prepared to ordain women deacons and, accepting the judgment of his church, was ready to have women priests in his diocese, leaving their ordination to one of his suffragan bishops.

More here-

England's historic cathedrals 'still need £100m work'

From The BBC-

England's cathedrals still need £100m of repairs over the next decade despite a spending programme of £250m since 1991, English Heritage says.

Most of the very urgent work identified nearly 20 years ago has been completed.
But it says six of the country's most famous cathedrals - Canterbury, York, Salisbury, Chichester, Winchester and Lincoln - do still require attention.

The organisation was criticised this year for scrapping an annual £3m scheme for repairing historic cathedrals.

At the time it blamed a government squeeze on its funding.
English Heritage's latest survey of 59 Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals suggests their condition is not as bad as might have been feared.

It says in most cases the most pressing repair works have now been undertaken.

Vatican announces new round of Catholic-Anglican talks

From Catholic Review-

The formal theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion will continue and will focus on the relationship between the local church and the universal church, the Vatican announced.

This third phase of work by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission “will deal with fundamental questions regarding the church as communion local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal church comes to discern right ethical teaching,” said a Vatican announcement published Nov. 28.

The announcement was made one week after Pope Benedict XVI and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, met at the Vatican.

The question of the relationship of the local church to the universal church has been the subject of debate both within the Catholic Church and especially in the Anglican Communion, primarily as it relates to the authority of local bishops and the authority of local churches to make decisions on matters of church practice and on moral issues.

Monsignor Mark Langham, an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Vatican Radio Nov. 26 that ARCIC III would begin with the broad question of the relationship between the local and universal church. Only then, he said, would it begin to discuss specific issues that individual Anglican provinces have dealt with separately such as the ordination of women, blessing same-sex unions and ordaining openly gay clergy.

He said the Vatican and the Anglican Communion hope the first meeting of the new commission would take place before the end of 2010, but both sides still have to appoint theologians to the commission, establish working groups and set a meeting schedule.

ARCIC was established after Pope Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury met in 1966.

More here-

Uganda: Is the Pope Treading On Thin Ice?

From Uganda-

The Pope's call to Anglicans to join the Catholic faith has been met with mixed reactions and shaken the already questionable future of the Anglican Communion.

As far as religious earthquakes go, this one has had the Christian Richter scales reaching for the heavens. Pope Benedict last month, through a pontifical decree, allowed Anglicans worldwide - both clergy and worshippers, to convert en bloc to Catholicism while still maintaining part of their spiritual tradition.

This is quite unprecedented since the Reformation and amounts to rewriting the rulebook. The fact that the Vatican sought no input from Lambeth Palace, the spiritual home of the Anglicans, before the decree was announced, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, confessed to having known about the decree two weeks before the announcement was made, not only seemed to undermine the Archbishop's position but throws some disturbing light on the future of the Anglican Communion.

But what exactly is the Pope saying? It's simple. All those Anglicans fed up with the liberal theological reforms of their church should jump ship and move over to Catholicism. What liberal progression could that be? Two things; women and gay people. The ordination of women bishops and the bickering over same-sex unions serving in church has riled many Anglican traditionalists, with African Churches threatening to break away from the Church of England. So, could this be the perfect blessing in disguise for the disenchanted Anglicans or will this ultimatum by the Pope draw battle lines jeopardising decades of dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans?

More here-

Monday, November 30, 2009

FT. WORTH: Anglo-Catholic Diocese would withdraw from ACNA if Women are Ordained Bishops

From Virtue online an interview with Jack Iker-

VOL: Some argue that internal differences in the new Anglican Province over, for example, the ordination of women, mean that ACNA will fragment. Others are unwilling to enter into a relationship with evangelical Christians. How would you counsel them?

Iker: While it must be admitted that ACNA is divided over the ordination issue, our aim is to maintain the highest possible level of communion with one another. We can certainly agree with evangelicals on a number is things, and our relationship with them is an opportunity to witness to the catholic understanding of the sacraments, particularly Holy Orders. We do not compromise our positions by striving to make common cause with others for the sake of the mission of the Church.

VOL: Would the Diocese of Fort Worth be forced to leave ACNA if Archbishop Duncan ordained women?

Iker: Archbishop Duncan does ordain women to the priesthood (and always has), and this places us in an impaired relationship. From this time on, it would be immensely helpful if he were to delegate such ordinations to other ACNA bishops. If at some time in the future ACNA authorizes the ordination of women bishops, Fort Worth would withdraw.

More here-

Statement from the Episcopal Church of Sudan

From Sudan-

“Blessed are the peacemakers”
Luke 2:14
Mark 2:1-11

We, the Provincial Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), met in Rumbek, Lakes State between 23rd and 27th November 2009, at the generous hospitality of the Diocese of Rumbek and the Government of Lakes State. We wish to give our heartfelt thanks to the Rt. Rev. Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel, Bishop of Rumbek, and H.E. Lt. Gen. Daniel Awet Akot, Governor of Lakes State, for their hosting of this great meeting and their exemplary hospitality for the entire week of the meeting. It has been an excellent opportunity for discussing issues of Church governance, management and structure; the expansion of Christianity in the Sudan, and the state of our great nation today, which we now bring to your attention.

The peace process in Sudan has reached a critical point. With less than five months before National Elections and just over one year to the referendum on southern self-determination, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is on the brink of collapse due to contentions over the referendum law, the demarcation of the 1st January 1956 borders, and violence recently perpetrated by other armed groups. We, the Provincial Standing Committee of the ECS affirm our role to act urgently to support the implementation of the CPA: through our internal Church networks, our ecumenical and inter-faith partners within Sudan and our international partner support.

More here-

St. Paul's Episcopal Church serves homeless in the southeast community

From Virginia-

A young man in his twenties with no place to go wept on the steps of St. Paul's Episcopal Church some years ago. A passer-by at the church, instead of asking him to move, asked him what was wrong, and to come inside.

This was the beginning of something special at St. Paul's.

"The young man had serious health issues and an addiction problem," said Isabel Steilberg, rector and director of Community Support Ministries at the church. "He worked hard on addressing those issues, and now he's married and an apprentice working for the New Jersey Transit System, when years ago he was ready to kill himself."

St. Paul's Episcopal Church has been serving the southeast community for 128 years. Due to the recent economic downturn, its services are in demand more than ever.

The church offers several programs for the homeless, or as Steilberg prefers to refer to them, their guests.

"The folks who come here are our guests who don't have a place to live. I don't speak of them in categories like homeless, because I don't call myself 'homed,' " Steilberg said.

Some of the programs offered at the church include a Safe Place/Day Center from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Day Center is run by Len Goss, who's been involved with the ministry for nine years.

The church used to offer the center five days a week, but has had to cut back during tough economic times.

"We're responding to the suffering caused by extreme poverty," said Steilberg. "The day center offers a place where people can come and sit, sleep, watch TV and eat breakfast, all without worrying about someone coming and telling them to move."

The services offered at the church are not only for the homeless, but also those who live in bad areas or are just down on their luck.

More here-,0,1222497.story

Seat of Power?

Interesting piece from Lionel Deimel's blog-

According to the Web site of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), its headquarters is located at 1001 Merchant Street, Ambridge, PA 15003. Ambridge, which might seem an unlikely place for a church claiming 100,000 members spread across the U.S. and Canada and headed by an archbishop, is the former home of American Bridge Company. It is a less-than-affluent community a few miles down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh. The Merchant Street address is about a two-block walk from the campus of Trinity School for Ministry, the Evangelical seminary that used to have “Episcopal” in its name. Ambridge is within the bounds of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, if, in fact, that entity can be said to have bounds.

Yesterday, I received e-mail from a friend who happened to be in the Ambridge area the other day and, for whatever reason, decided to see what the ACNA headquarters looked like. He sent me some photos of 1001 Merchant Street along with a note, which included the following:
What I found was surprising. There is no indication that ACNA is really there. There is no signage, and it would appear that there is only one tenant in what used to be the police/fire station, and that’s a biblical literacy group. The side door had ten lock mailboxes, so it seems as though the building can house that many tenants. It’s a pretty ratty looking place. As you can see from the photos, the third story is boarded up.

More here-

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Traditional carols are 'nonsense', says bishop

From The London Telegraph-

Away in a Manger cannot be sung “without embarrassment”, Once in Roy al David’s City is “Victorian behaviour control”; and O Come, All Ye Faithful is misleading, said the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines.

He blamed the much-loved carols for adding to confusion over the season’s real meaning and turning Jesus into a figure as fictitious as Father Christmas.

While others defended the traditional songs as “joyful” and “triumphant”, the bishop complained that the carols have contributed to the story of Christ’s birth being seen “as just one more story alongside the panto and fairy stories”.

In a new book published by the Church of England, Why Wish You a Merry Christmas, the bishop argues that carols encourage images of Christmas that have more to do with Victorian sentiment than the Biblical account of Christ’s birth.

“I always find it a slightly bizarre sight when I see parents and grandparents at a nativity play singing Away in a Manger as if it actually related to reality,” he said.

“I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said 'no crying he makes’, but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment?”

He said that Jesus would be abnormal if he had not cried as a baby. “If we sing nonsense, is it any surprise that children grow into adults and throw out the tearless baby Jesus with Father Christmas and other fantasy figures?” He continued: “Once in Royal David’s City has Jesus as 'our childhood’s pattern’ — even though we know almost nothing of his childhood apart from one incident when he was 12 years old and being disobedient to his parents — and invites children to be 'mild, obedient, good as he’, which means what, exactly? This sounds suspiciously like Victorian behaviour control to me.”

More here-

Diocese Of Lagos: Mother Diocese Of All Nigeria Anglican Communion Turns 90

From Nigeria-

The Diocese of Lagos, the oldest Diocese in the Church of Nigeria, inaugurated on December 10, 1919, will be 90 years old on December 10, 2009. At a period in the history of the Diocese, it was controlling the whole of the North and the West before many dioceses such as Ibadan, Bendel area and the North were carved out from it. The Diocese had produced seven Bishops and the seventh is Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos and Bishop of Lagos Diocese, MOST REVD ADEBOLA ADEMOWO. In this interview with CHRIS IREKAMBA, Ademowo narrated how it all started, progress made, activities lined up for the event, and why the celebration is going to be low-keyed, among other important issues.

Significance of the ninetieth anniversary

WE want to thank God for the Diocese of Lagos, the Mother Diocese in the Church of Nigeria. I must say that the good Lord has been on our side. He has been piloting the affairs of the Diocese. Right now, the Diocese of Lagos, without being immodest, has grown by leaps and bounds. It has grown with amazing rapidity.

The Diocese was inaugurated on December 10, 1919 while Christianity was planted in this country in 1842. There was a time this Diocese was controlling the whole of North and the West, but today there are many dioceses in the supra west and in the Bendel area and also in the Northern part of this country.

In actual fact, the Diocese of Ibadan was carved out from the Diocese of Lagos in 1952 and the whole of the North at that time. The Diocese had witnessed seven bishops, of which I am the seventh Bishop. The pioneering Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos was Melville Jones (1919-1940). Also Gordon Vining, who became the archbishop of West Africa, took over from him from 1940 to 1955. He was followed by Bishop Howells (1955-1974). The fourth was Bishop Kale, who was Principal of CMS Grammar School for years (1974-1985). And Bishop Segun took over from Bishop Kale. And the next, who later became the Primate of All Nigeria, was Archbishop Adetiloye.

He retired in 1999 and I took over from Primate Adetiloye in the year 2000. Then I was Archbishop for Province 1. And when we had 10 Provinces; I became the Archbishop for the Province of Lagos. There is a Bishop charge where I highlighted the summary of the achievements of my predecessors.

More here-

Pope, Anglican leader pledge to continue dialogue for unity

From Catholic News Service-

While some pundits have sounded the death knell for ecumenical relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, the Anglican spiritual leader, pledged to move forward.

The pope and archbishop met privately at the Vatican for about 20 minutes Nov. 21.

A Vatican statement said the two leaders reiterated "the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans."

And, it said, they discussed the work their representatives were to begin Nov. 23 preparing for a third round of study by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the body for official theological dialogue.

The statement said the two leaders discussed "recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion," a reference to Pope Benedict's apostolic constitution establishing "personal ordinariates" -- structures similar to dioceses -- for Anglicans who want to enter full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining some of their Anglican heritage.

The announcement appeared to cause some tension, mainly because Archbishop Williams was not informed about the papal provision until shortly before it was announced publicly in late October.

Despite the Vatican's clear statements that the move was a pastoral response to people who contacted the Vatican seeking to become Catholic, many headlines treated it as the Vatican taking unfair advantage of tensions within the Anglican Communion over the ordination of women as priests and bishops.

More here-