Saturday, June 5, 2010

Held funds released to Episcopal, Anglican parishes

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Parish endowments that were frozen in litigation between the rival Episcopal and Anglican dioceses of Pittsburgh have thawed, and the Episcopal diocese has sent checks totaling $360,000 in back interest to parishes in both dioceses.

"We were concerned that money that could have been used for ministry in these local churches had been tied up and so we're happy to have it available again so that all of our work in mission and ministry can go forward," said Bishop Kenneth L. Price Jr. of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

His diocese was awarded about $20 million in centrally held diocesan assets in a 2009 decision by Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Joseph James. Parish property is to be negotiated separately. However, the Episcopal diocese also held $2.5 million in endowment funds belonging to parishes that had pooled their money to get higher interest. The court decree indicated that parishes had the right to that money.

The litigation surrounds an October 2008 split, when the original, unified diocese voted to secede from the Episcopal Church over theological issues. The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which is part of the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America, has 55 parishes. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has 28 parishes that have chosen to remain in the Episcopal Church. Due to litigation over diocesan property after the split, the investment bank Morgan Stanley froze the accounts, so that the money was unavailable to both dioceses.

Read more:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rwandan archbishop tackles medical and spiritual agenda

From Canadian Christianity-

"THE FUTURE depends on how we listen to God and to each other," Emmanuel Kolini told

The Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda was in Canada in late May to address the AIDS crisis in Africa and the unity crisis in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Help for AIDS victims

Kolini stopped first in Ontario, where he was one of the speakers at a conference called 'HIV-AIDS and the Churches: Responses to the Pandemic in Africa and Canada,' held May 14-15 at The Centre for Public Theology at Huron University College.

Huron is a college with Anglican roots, affiliated with the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in London.

Kolini also consulted with officials at UWO on its Western Heads East (WHE) project. The program trains African women to develop community kitchens, and to make available a probiotic yogurt developed by UWO faculty members. The yogurt boosts the immune system and improves the health of those with AIDS, and may even help to lower infection rates.

More here-

Vigils held after Cumbrian massacre

From the Church Times-

CHURCHES in Cumbria are holding prayer vigils after Derrick Bird, a 52-year-old taxi-driver from Whitehaven, shot 12 people dead and wounded 25 on Wednesday, before turning his gun on himself.

Mr Bird shot another taxi-driver, believed to be Darren Rewcastle, in Duke Street, Whitehaven, at 10.35 a.m. The killings ended three-and-a-half hours later with Mr Bird’s own death in Boot in Eskdale, 20 miles away. His motives were yesterday still unclear.

The Prime Minister and the Queen have sent condolences to those affected. Mr Cameron has promised more help for the area, which is still suffering the effects of severe flooding last year and a school-coach crash last month.

On Wednesday night, the Church in Gosforth held a vigil, and on Thursday, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, United Reformed, and Baptist church leaders put out prayers for the “close-knit and hugely supportive” communities of West Cumbria. In a joint statement, they paid tribute to the members of the public who had gone to the aid of those who were wounded, as well as praising the emergency services.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been caught up in these terrible events of yesterday, but particularly they are with the family and friends of those who have been killed or injured. The community grieves deeply at the losses we have suffered: the confusion and pain will be long-lasting.”

More here-

Anglicans aim to defuse gay-marriage issue

From Montreal-

The Anglican Church of Canada has agreed to disagree when it comes to the fractious debate over gay marriage.

When priests, bishops and laypersons gather Friday for nine days of debate and discussion as part of the church's tri-annual General Synod in Halifax, the approach will be much different than three years ago, Archdeacon Paul Feheley said.

"This synod, we're approaching it not so much from the form of a winner-takes-all resolution," he said. "We're approaching it from a kind of conversational route and hoping by the end of synod, after numerous conversations and meetings . . . that the synod may come up with a statement on where the church is on this matter."

At the last national gathering in Winnipeg in 2007, a divided Anglican Church of Canada ultimately decided on a technicality not to give individual dioceses the right to decide for themselves whether priests should be allowed to bless same-sex unions.

The majority of the 300 delegates agreed to the idea, but church law requires separate majorities among priests, laity and bishops.

Read more:

Cash-strapped National Cathedral may sell its treasure

From the Houston Chronicle-

Facing a reduced budget and a third round of layoffs, officials at Washington National Cathedral are considering disposing of priceless treasures — including a trove of rare books — that are no longer considered part of its central mission.

The cathedral has begun tentative talks with Washington's Folger Shakespeare Library as it reorients itself as an Episcopal congregation, tourist landmark and promoter of interfaith dialogue.

The cathedral's rare-book library, which dates to 1964, can no longer be considered a “core function” in the current economic climate, said Kathleen Cox, the cathedral's chief operating officer.

“In tough times, you start having to pull away so you can make sure that worship continues,” Cox said. “So once that happens, you have to make sure that you are doing the best by those assets.”
She emphasized that the discussions are “preliminary,” and it would be “premature” to say if items would be sold or loaned.

“What would be an ideal situation is to find … through a partnership someone that might take on the responsibility of conserving and maintaining the books and then having them accessible to the public in some way,” she said. “This has to be consistent with any of the donor restrictions or intents.”

Stephen Enniss, Folger's librarian, said the two institutions have long worked together, with Folger's conservators advising cathedral staff on maintenance of the rare-book collection.
Some tomes in the cathedral's 8,000-volume rare-books collection will definitely stay, Cox said, including the Prince Henry Bible, a first edition of the King James Bible printed in London in 1611 that belonged to Henry, the prince of Wales and the king's eldest son.

The uncertain future of the rare assets — valued in the millions — comes amid a staff shake-up in which six employees were laid off. The cathedral has cut its staff from 170 to 70 since 2008, in large part because the cathedral outsourced its gift shop and discontinued residential courses at the Cathedral College.

More here-

Phoenix's Trinity Cathedral at the center of Arizona's immigration debat

From ELO- (Nick Knisley served in this diocese for several years)

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral sits on a divide in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, between the city's oldest Hispanic barrio to the southeast and the first wave of Anglo suburbs to the northwest. Its location also puts it at the center of the nation's immigration debate.
"That the cathedral lives on that fault line physically seems to be too good an opportunity to pass up," said the Very Rev. Nicholas Knisely, Trinity's dean, in a May 31 telephone interview. The opportunity, for the church and the Diocese of Arizona, lies in being "a crossroads ministry and inviting people in from different directions. My hope is that what we're trying to do at the cathedral can spread into the larger community."

Two years ago, Trinity added a midday Spanish-language service and watched its membership grow from 600 to 900 members. On May 30, Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith received and welcomed 20 new Episcopalians to the congregation during the service.

"You're not just coming to church on Sunday, you're doing the work of Christ in the world. I especially want to assure you that during this difficult time … you have the complete support of the Diocese of Arizona," he said in English, as the Rev. Canon Carmen B. Guerrero translated his words to Spanish. "We are going to do everything we can to defeat this terrible piece of legislation," Smith added, referring to Arizona's new immigration law (SB 1070) aimed at identifying, prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants, and scheduled to go into effect July 29.

"I know this has been a scary time, a very frightening time… (but) I am going to stand with you."

The congregation listened intently to Smith and when he finished it burst into hearty applause. A day earlier, tens of thousands of people -- some in support of the law, others in opposition -- from across the nation converged in Phoenix to participate in events and rallies.

More here-

German Catholic Leader Subject of Criminal Investigation

From Der Spiegel-

A German public prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation into the chairman of the Catholic Church's governing body in Germany. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, prosecutors believe, hired a priest he knew had committed sex crimes.

Public prosecutors in the southern city of Freiburg confirmed Wednesday that they had initiated criminal proceedings against the leader of the Catholic Church in Germany, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, for accessory to abuse of minors by omission. The city's chief public prosecutor, Wolfgang Meier, said the proceedings were the result of charges filed against another man at the end of May.

Investigators believe that Zollitsch -- who in addition to serving as the archbishop of Freiburg is also the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, the governing body of the Catholic Church in the country -- was aware of sexual assault allegedly committed by a Catholic priest in the town of Birnau on Lake Constance in southern Germany. As the person responsible for human resources in Birnau at the time, Zollitsch is believed to have allowed the hiring of the priest despite the fact that he allegedly had knowledge the man had committed sexual assault. Officials in Freiburg have since turned the case over to their colleagues in Constance, who have jurisdiction over the Birnau area.

More here-,1518,698373,00.html

More Emphasis on Confessing Might Have Helped

From the Wall Street Journal-

The Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, who founded a Roman Catholic religious order that helped troubled priests, began warning American bishops in the early 1950s that pedophile priests couldn't be cured. So sure was he that he made a $5,000 down payment on a Caribbean island to quarantine the worst offenders.

The island plan was never realized, but the basic idea to keep problem priests away from young people wasn't new. St. Basil wrote in the 4th century that clerics who seduced boys should be publicly flogged, imprisoned and supervised so they would "never again associate with youths in private conversation nor in counseling them."

Yet it wasn't until 2002 that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a zero-tolerance policy requiring that any priest who has engaged in sexual abuse of a minor be reported to authorities and permanently removed from ministry. The crisis has cost American dioceses more than $2.6 billion in settlements and fees since 1950.

Some reform-minded Catholics have suggested that required celibacy contributed to the problem, causing priests to exploit minors for sexual gratification. Some traditional Catholics say the Second Vatican Council's window-opening reforms led to relaxed enforcement of old church rules that would have kept priests in line.

More here-

Virginia Supreme Court to rule on Anglican-Episcopal church property fight

From the Washington Post-

There's some news in the ongoing infighting among American Anglicans.

Next week will mark a turning point in a three-year-old court battle over church property in Virginia when the state Supreme Court weighs in. The case is being watched by Anglicans around the country - and other faith groups facing bitter, potentially litigious divisions.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent and friends and families divided over the question of who owns a dozen churches - including some large, prestigious properties in Northern Virginia that belonged for centuries to the Episcopal Church. But at the end of 2006 majorities of members of the churches, including Truro Church and The Falls Church, voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join other, more conservative overseas branches of the larger Anglican Communion. Disagreements range from the ordination of women to the status of gay men and women to what the Bible says about salvation.

The breakaway conservatives have won almost all the court rulings so far, but the case is complex and involves both state and federal constitutional issues.

The Virginia Supreme Court could rule next week in a way that will lead to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or it could shut that avenue down and bring the case back to the Fairfax court were it was originally heard. There's a slight chance next week's ruling could end the case, but that seems unlikely considering how much time, money and emotion has been sunk into it by both sides.

More here-

Rowan Williams and Katharine Jefferts Schori: Anglican Smack-Down

From Beliefnet-

Like most Christians, I don't pay attention to missives from church leaders. This week, however, dueling pastoral letters issued for Pentecost from Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, and Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, caught my attention--because one so rarely witnesses a first-class theological smack down between tea-drinking Anglican primates.

Unless you've been sleeping in a cave, you are probably aware that the Episcopal Church (of which I am a member) has been arguing about the role of LGBT persons in the church. Along with the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church has opened itself toward full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians. Here in North America, this has caused some defections (fewer than at first predicted), some legal suits (most have been settled in favor of the Episcopal Church), monetary fallout (hard to separate from general economic downturn), and bad feelings (which, sadly enough, remain). But what is most surprising--and I regularly hear this from bishops, clergy, and congregational lay leaders--is that things are much less tense in the Episcopal Church now than they have been in recent years. Folks are moving ahead in their local parishes doing the sorts of things that Episcopalians are pretty good at doing--creating beautiful worship, praying together, and feeding hungry people.

Read more:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Archbishop’s Letter Could Affect 30 Leaders

From The living Church-

Now that the Archbishop of Canterbury has released his Pentecost letter and its proposed steps of discipline, a significant next step is interpreting what the letter means.

If all the Instruments of Communion were to exclude members based on actions that disregard the moratoria of the Windsor Report, 30 Anglican leaders — from laity to priests to archbishops — could be affected.

The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, founding missionary bishop of the Nigeria-sponsored Convocation of Anglicans in North America, said the archbishop’s letter does not cause him concerns.

The primates, he told The Living Church, “never agreed that there’s a moral equivalence between what they see as an attempt to change the Anglican Communion’s teaching and a provision for temporary pastoral care.”

The application of the archbishop’s letter, he said, depends on the interpretation of “past, present and future” actions.

“Is the [Anglican Church in North America] seen as a cross-border action?” he asked. “Am I considered a cross-border action? Is everything I saw and do a cross-border action?”

Episcopal News Service has reported that the archbishop’s proposals would affect two of the Episcopal Church’s representatives on the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue (the Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church’s interim deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, and Assistant Bishop the Rt. Rev. William O. Gregg, assistant bishop of North Carolina) and one member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb of Virginia Theological Seminary).

More here-

Presiding bishop issues pastoral letter to the church

From ELO- Text of letter at link-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a pastoral letter to the Episcopal Church, in which she refers to the Pentecost letter from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and urges continued dialogue with those who disagree with recent actions "for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding."

In his May 28 letter, Williams acknowledged the tensions caused in some parts of the Anglican Communion by the consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool and the ongoing unauthorized incursions by Anglican leaders into other provinces. Glasspool is the Episcopal Church's second openly gay, partnered bishop.

Jefferts Schori acknowledged in her letter that "the Spirit does seem to be saying to many within the Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God's good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.

New start for former Episcopalians

From the Boston Globe-

A group of former Episcopalians who broke away from their denomination because of concern over blessings for homosexual couples, as well as other issues, have chosen a former Catholic church in this mill town on the New Hampshire border as regional headquarters for the more traditional Anglican denomination they are attempting to construct in the United States.

During the week of June 7, about 100 bishops and delegates from across North America will gather here at All Saints Anglican Church for a meeting of the year-old Anglican Church in North America, or ACNA. On the agenda: affirming Amesbury as seat of the New England diocese, home of the region’s bishop and site of the diocese’s cathedral.

Use of Amesbury, with a population of 12,500 and a location 40 miles from Boston, as a diocesan headquarters breaks with a centuries-old tradition of headquartering dioceses in major urban centers.

The cathedral will occupy the building formerly used by Sacred Heart Church, which for decades served as spiritual home to Roman Catholics, many of them French-Canadian mill workers and their descendants.

While they grieved when their church was put up for sale, some are celebrating now.

More here-

Missed call ends Galarraga's perfect bid

Maybe there is crying in baseball. This may be the worst call in the history of the game. Video at the link.

To twist the famous newspaper lede, the imperfect call spoiled the perfect game Wednesday.

The Tigers were ready to celebrate when Indians shortstop Jason Donald grounded to first base with two outs in the ninth. Brandon Inge was jumping for joy. Don Kelly and Austin Jackson were rushing in from the outfield to join in the celebration that was sure. Gerald Laird and the rest of the Detroit dugout was readying to storm the field and mob pitcher Armando Galarraga.

One call from first-base umpire Jim Joyce changed history.

It was tough enough for the Tigers to believe. For Joyce, who made the safe call that broke up perfection in Detroit's one-hit, 1-0 win over Cleveland, it was heartbreaking. And as television replays showed, it was a mistake -- an honest mistake, as Joyce explained.

"It was the biggest call of my career," an emotional Joyce told reporters, "and I kicked it. I just cost that kid a perfect game."

Austin Jackson's over-the-shoulder catch seven pitches earlier for the first out of the ninth inning seemingly had taken care of the toughest play of the night, the toughest obstacle between Galarraga and history. Mike Redmond's routine ground ball for the second out put Galarraga on history's doorstep.

More here-

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Living God's Ongoing Story

From Christianity Today-

Against the backdrop of the recent economic crisis, N.T. Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham, opens with a persuasive call to recover character. Many Christians focus on "getting saved," but what about the rest of the Christian life? Often we get stuck between two extremes: an antinomian ("against law") spontaneity, and a rule-focused legalism. Instead, argues Wright in After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters (HarperOne), we need to develop virtuous character.

At first, the author's prescription sounds like a popular version of Aristotle's ethics: Virtue is formed by self-consciously adopting new habits, countless daily decisions, with the goal of becoming a just person. Do the right thing (which feels odd at first, not spontaneous) long enough, and it becomes second nature. The main means of attaining this virtue is "following Jesus."

By the second chapter, however, Wright begins to show how the valid concerns of pagan wisdom are taken up by the New Testament writers (especially Paul) and, in the process, are transformed by the gospel. We do not live toward the human-centered goal of virtue formation for the sake of happiness or even "human flourishing," but ultimately as priests and rulers who anticipate the restoration of the whole cosmos. "[W]e urgently need to recapture the New Testament's vision of a genuinely 'good' human life as a life of character formed by God's promised future, as a life with that future-shaped character lived within the ongoing story of God's people, and, with that, a freshly worked notion of virtue." And "you don't get that character just by trying. You get it by following Jesus."

More here-

Rwanda: Rucyahana Sworn-in at NURC

From AllAfrica-

Retired Anglican Bishop, John Rucyahana, was yesterday sworn in as the new president of National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) replacing Jean Baptiste Habyarimana who is now the commission's Executive Secretary.

During the ceremony, Rucyahana was also introduced to the commission's staff. Speaking during the function, the Minister in the President's Office, Solina Nyirahabimana, welcomed the new commission chief revealing that the clergyman was appointed due to his track record in peace, unity and reconciliation through Prison Fellowships.

"Bishop Rucyahana has played a significant role in redeveloping our country in matters of fostering peace, unity and reconciliation," she said.

"It is a great privilege to have him serve the country as the president of NURC mainly because of his track record related to unity and reconciliation".

Nyirahabimana commended the commission for the work done in promoting peace, unity and reconciliation, however, pointing out that there was still more to be achieved.

She promised the commission full government support in fostering peace, unity and reconciliation. Bishop Rucyahana thanked President Paul Kagame and the cabinet for entrusting him with the new role.

More here-

Latest Anglican peace bid meets with skepticism

From Reuters-

Archbishop Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the world's 80 million Anglicans, suggested last week that member churches approving gay bishops and same-sex unions and those actively opposing them be sidelined from official doctrinal committees.

The initiative was sparked by the consecration of an openly lesbian bishop in California last month. Williams also said conservative churches -- mostly in Africa -- that appoint bishops to serve in other countries would also be sidelined.

The proposal, if accepted in the Communion, would be the first time such sanctions would be imposed on dissident national churches. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism is a federation of churches whose head has no direct power over all members.

A group campaigning for homosexual rights in the Communion said the threatened discipline caused it little worry because the committees the dissenters could not work on were "trivial."

"These are delaying tactics, sops to the conservatives, which in reality gives them nothing," Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, UK, told Reuters.

The Episcopal bishop of California accused Williams of "creating a different kind of Anglicanism, more like the centralized, doctrinalised polity of the Roman Catholic Church."

"When an empire and its exponents can no longer exercise control by might, an option is to feint, double-talk and manipulate," Bishop Marc Andrus wrote on his blog.


Equally dismissive comments came from Bishop David Anderson, who heads the conservative American Anglican Council launched to oppose liberal trends in the Episcopal Church, the official U.S. member church in the Anglican Communion.

More here-

Bishop Bainbridge Remembered for Compassion

From The Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Harry Brown Bainbridge III, 12th Bishop of Idaho and chairman emeritus of Episcopal Relief and Development, died May 27 at age 70.

The bishop died at Talbot Hospice in Easton, Md. He was rector of Christ Church, Easton, from 1988 to 1998, when he was elected in Idaho. He retired as bishop in 2008. He had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2007.

Bainbridge was born in 1939 in Knoxville, Tenn. He completed a master’s degree at the University of the South, served in the Navy — he was a communications officer aboard the USS Norfolk during the Cuban Missile Crisis — and completed his seminary studies at the University of the South’s School of Theology in 1967. He was ordained deacon in 1967 and priest in 1968.

He joined the board of Episcopal Relief and Development in 2001 and was its chairman from 2003 to 2008. The board’s executive committee elected him as chairman emeritus in March.

“I am profoundly saddened by Bishop Harry’s death. He played a critical role in the life of this organization and served as a personal mentor and friend to me,” said Rob Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “Harry was a wonderful man whose love, humor, humility and numerous contributions will remain with all of us.”

More here-

Seminaries close out challenging year

From ELO-

Seminary campuses grew quiet this week with the 2009-10 academic year now ended, but that quiet belies vigorous -- and by turns upbeat and cautious -- discussions about the future of theological education.
As the year was beginning, a re-configured Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, had just sold its property to nearby Northwestern University, using the $13 million to pay off its debt and balance its budget.

While it ended its master of divinity degree the year before, Seabury this year began a joint doctor of ministry degree in congregational development with the Church Divinity School of the Pacific 2,100 miles away in Berkeley, California. It is an example, the school has said, of what it calls its new mission: to "embod[y] generous Christianity, grounded in the Baptismal Covenant and the Episcopal tradition, as we educate lay and ordained women and men for ministry, build faith communities, and enrich people in their faith."

In deciding to sell property, Seabury took a further step on a path that Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Episcopal Divinity School went down in March 2008 when it sold some of its buildings to Lesley University for $33.5 million and entered into a partnership that includes academic program enhancements and shared facilities for uses such as library, student dining and services, and campus maintenance.

EDS Dean and President Katherine Ragsdale told ENS that the 2008 decisions involving Lesley mean "we're no longer in a financial crisis. We face challenges but we're not in a crisis anymore."

The 2009-10 academic year ended on word of changes and potential changes at two schools on either coast. Manhattan-based General Theological Seminary announced that it faced a cash-flow crisis and would sell property to make ends meet until other planned sources of income came to fruition. Its trustees also said they would "pursue all productive avenues for conversations with other seminaries and institutions of the Episcopal Church to consider creative collaborations and common programs."

More here-

Ruling may lead to Penn Township church schism

Lest you think only the mainline denominations are in court...From the Pittsburgh tribune Review.

The future of a Penn Township church is in doubt after a Westmoreland County judge Tuesday permanently reinstated four elders to its board of directors.

Pastor Roy Aiken Jr. said the court ruling could lead his faction of the Christian Fellowship Center of Greensburg to leave and form its own church.

"We'll see," Aiken said after the announcement by Judge Anthony Marsili, who ruled that four votes, two taken in November and two more in January, to remove a total of four elders, were invalid.

Aiken and a group of supporters sought the removal of two elders, William Grassel and Frank Ring, for being quarrelsome and for not speaking in tongues, which is a special religious language required to serve on the board, according to the church's bylaws.

That group claimed the dispute went beyond religion and personality and involved church finances.

In January, Ring and Grassel pushed through the removal of two of Aiken's supporters on the board. For a short time the church, which counts about 100 families as members and owns 103 acres in Penn Township, was run by two warring boards.

More here-

The Catholic celibacy conundrum

From the London Guardian-

The open letter sent to the pope by a group of Italian women who have been or are in relationships with Roman Catholic priests has cast a new light on the rule of priestly celibacy in his church at a time when its abolition was already under discussion as a possible response to the crisis over clerical sex abuse.

One aim of the letter was to make the point that the rule against marriage in the western Catholic church is not a dogma but a discipline.

In one of its most intriguing passages, the authors claim that "the reasons which prompted the ecclesiastical hierarchy, in its day, to insert this discipline into its legal system are well known – economic convenience and self-interest."

Those alleged reasons are, in fact, far from well-known outside church circles, though they were alluded to last month in the Guardian's Face to faith column by the dean of Southwark, Colin Slee: it costs a great deal less to pay for single priests than for priests with wives and perhaps children.


U.S. Roman Catholic Church accused of scapegoating homosexuals trying to enter priesthood

From The Daily Mail-

Trainee priests are being grilled about their sexual experiences under tough procedures designed to stamp out child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

They are being confronted with a list of shockingly intimate questions from psychologists paid by Church officials in the U.S. to try tosimon weed out men who they think could go on to commit sexual assaults.

The questions include: 'When did you last have sex?', 'What kind of sexual experiences have you had?', 'Do you like pornography?', 'Do you like children?' and 'Do you like children more than you like people your own age?'

The process has led to accusations of 'scapegoating' and 'witch-hunts' by gay rights groups.
Men training to be priests are also asked detailed questions about their sexual fantasies, the reasons why any earlier romantic relationships failed and the nature of their relationships with their parents.

They are being routinely tested for HIV/Aids and made to sit exams to test such conditions as depression, paranoia and 'gender confusion' in an attempt to search for clues about possible deficiencies in their character.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cæli enarrant | Catholicism, Part 6: Evangelical

From The Living Church- Christopher Wells

This is the last installment proper of the present series, and is meant to explicate, in terms of contemporary ecclesial identities and locations, something of the “heart” of Catholicism. We tend to think of evangelicalism as inherently Protestant, and perhaps on that count alone opposed to whatever Catholicism must be. To be sure, in the last 200 or so years, many self-nominated evangelicals and Catholics have borne out this sort of an oppositional stance in their theology and in their relations (or lack thereof) with one another.

As recently as the mid-1990s, American evangelical leaders were castigated by their confreres for consorting with Roman Catholics in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together initiative of Richard John Neuhaus and Charles Colson that has continued to produce remarkable consensus statements on longstanding points of disagreement (mission, justification, Scripture and tradition, the communion of saints, Mary) between Christians in the modern West. And Roman Catholic authorities have sometimes returned the favor, as in occasional dismissals of evangelical groups as intrusive and unwelcome “sects” that lack any ecclesial basis or substance (notwithstanding Trinitarian baptism, plus devotion to Christ and Scripture as God’s Word).

More here-

Nigeria: Amaechi Condemns Ordination of Gay Bishop in Anglican Church

From All Africa-

Rivers State Governor, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, says the recent ordination of a gay Bishop in the Anglican Church in the United States of America is the height of moral decadence in the Church in particular and the world in general.

Governor Amaechi said this when the new Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, led a delegation to visit him in Government House, Port Harcourt.

Represented by his deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru, Governor Amaechi condemned the act, regretting the continued trend of moral laxity of people of this generation in spite of the proliferation of churches in the world.

Commending the new Primate for his elevation, the state chief executive urged him to face the challenge of redeeming the battered image of the Church frontally, saying "Primate, you have a lot in your hands; the times are not good and challenges are daunting," urging him to restore the virtues that made the Church a sacred institution.

He said, "It takes the will and grace of God for anybody to be lifted," calling on the church to collaborate with government in building a virile society, describing the Church as "the soul of the people."

More here-

Anglican Journal launches new website Commentary, videos and slideshows added to Synod news coverage

From Canada-

The Anglican Journal has launched a new website to better deliver up-to-the-minute news and views from General Synod 2010.

The triennial meeting of the Anglican Church of Canada takes place in Halifax from Jun. 3-11.

With new features such as commentary, blogs, slideshows, videos, the Journal has also assembled a team of reporters to deliver continuous coverage 24/7 with news stories, commentary and analysis, photographs and short video interviews throughout the day.

A print-out of each day’s website content will also be distributed to delegates each day at noon. Copies can also be picked up at the Anglican Journal booth, just outside Plenary Hall.

The website has a cleaner look and increased functionality will allow the Journal to better capture the mood and atmosphere of the proceedings. “A lot of what happens at synod is based on informal conversation, not just decisions being made on the plenary floor,” says Neale Adams, a veteran reporter and delegate to General Synod 2007. “That means talking to a lot of people.”

More here-

A translation project launched by a St. Paul church will end up serving Hmong worshippers the world over.

From Minnesota-

It's a story that loses a lot in translation: Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in St. Paul is working on a Hmong version of the Book of Common Prayer. This simple-sounding endeavor goes far beyond just replacing one word with another.

It's a story about a church that was in danger of dying joining forces with a culture that was worried about the same thing. It's a story about finding just the right words in a language that didn't even exist in written form until the 1950s. It's a story about a book from a St. Paul neighborhood that will spread around the world.

Five years in the making, the first Hmong translation of the most important book in the Episcopalian service might be completed by fall.

"That's our dream, anyway," said the Rev. William Bulson, the man overseeing the project. "It's really time-consuming work."

More here-

Rise of Episcopal Village

From Religion Dispatches-

While the media has greatly exaggerated the death of the Episcopal church, they also fail to report on the rise of Anglicans, Catholic and other mainline church leaders, who are rethinking how they “do church.” The reasons for this shift in thinking are myriad and have only intensified since 2008 when a number of studies indicated that for the first time in US history, less than 50 percent of Americans classified themselves as “Christian.”

Such shifts in church decline have been documented in the Church of England (UK) for decades. As reported by the Rev. Steve Hollinghurst, Researcher in Evangelism to Post-Christian Culture, the Sheffield Centre, Children’s Sunday school attendance, for instance, has drastically plunged over the past century, dropping from 80 percent at the start of the century to 12 percent.

In an article I penned for Yale Divinity School’s Reflections magazine, I observed that explorations of alternative worship/emerging church culture have been transpiring over in the UK for decades. In 2004, the Church of England responded to this spirit by launching “Fresh Expressions of Church” in 2004. This initiative—which now includes an unprecedented partnership with the Methodist Church—seeks to encourage and recognize new Christian communities that attract those who are not members of a traditional church. By 2008, the Church of England established a formal means of recognizing new forms of church that do not fit within the existing parish system.

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Geneseo rector is ready for new test in Alaska

From New York (upstate)-

The Episcopal Diocese of Alaska covers roughly 600,000 square miles, but it's home to about as many churches as the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.

Getting around to those churches is no easy task. More than half of Alaska's parishes aren't accessible by road, said Suzanne Krull, an administrator with the diocese.

"The only way to get to them is to fly," she said. "Before airplanes, it was dog teams."

Mark Lattime, Alaska's newly elected bishop, might have a way to address those problems.

A certified pilot, Lattime, the rector of St. Michael Episcopal Church in Geneseo the past 10 years, wants to fly himself to Alaska's many remote parishes. Doing so, he said, would help reduce costs and make him more effective.

"I know the diocese will need to talk about what it will mean for me to fly," said Lattime, a 1984 Fairport High School graduate. "I would have a lot more training and a lot more to do before I start taking off to some of the remote villages on my own."

More here-

Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank you to all the men and women who sacrificed for our freedom

An Orthodox home for Anglican worshippers

From Cyprus-

ANGLICAN parishioners’ dreams of using a local church have finally come true after nearly a decade of worshipping at a converted shop in Ayia Napa.

In a remarkable gesture of good-will by the Orthadox Church, the Bishop of Constantia and Famagusta has granted the full use of a tiny chapel in Dherinya to the Anglican Church until they have the funds and backing to build their own premises.

A colourful ceremony to mark the occasion was attended by parishioners and representatives from the Orthodox Church last week.

The tiny whitewashed church of Ayios Helena and Constantine has a capacity of just 50 and will be used for Bible readings, services, weddings and other events.

“It is a beautiful little church and we are very thankful that we have been granted use of it. Considerable amounts of money have been spent by the Church authorities in renovation of the building and surrounding land to a very high standard,” said Reverend Michael Crawford.
After losing the use of a small chapel in Ayia Napa five years ago, the Anglicans have been borrowing the Scandinavian Church on Nissi Avenue for Sunday worship, but their ultimate goal remains a church of their own.

More here-

Abuses are possible in charismatic communities, author contends

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

As a young religion journalist 25 years ago in Houston, Julia Duin joined an Episcopal charismatic community that was repairing ruined buildings and ruined lives.

But, after following the Community of Celebration to Beaver County, where she attended Trinity School for Ministry, she became disenchanted. Her 1992 master's thesis documented abuse of authority within the community, and the role of its founder, the Rev. Graham Pulkingham, in spreading a highly authoritarian theology to other charismatic communities nationwide. Months later she amended it to include evidence of sexual misconduct by Father Pulkingham, who was under suspension from ministry when he died suddenly in 1993.

Now Ms. Duin has written a book, "Days of Fire and Glory" (Crossland Press $24.95) which weaves a tale both soaring and sordid of the community's rise and fall. She will speak Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in St. Thomas-in-the-Field Church (Anglican), in Richland.

"I'm not trashing [the idea of] community," said Ms. Duin, who covers religion for The Washington Times. "But I would like the book to be a template so that if people do try to live out the New Testament vision of community again, they don't repeat the same mistakes."

Father Pulkingham achieved national prominence after reviving a dying Houston parish in 1963. An early leader of the charismatic movement, which brought Pentecostal practices such as speaking in tongues into liturgical worship, he began taking in street people who became the nucleus of the Community of Celebration. At its height it had 400 resident members, who lived together and shared resources. They founded a medical clinic and other neighborhood programs. Its traveling music ministry, Fisherfolk, achieved international acclaim.

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Church helping parish in Panama

From Newark-

Christ Episcopal Church will host "Saving Santiago," a fundraising event with a Latino flair, at 6 p.m. on June 12.

Proceeds will benefit the parish of Santiago and other building projects in the country of Panama.

The evening is open to the public, but advance registration is required. The event will be catered by renowned Dover restaurant, Sabor Latino, and dance music will be provided by local disc jockey La Rockola.

Christ Church recently launched a companion relationship with the Diocese of Panama, with the goal of assisting the Central American diocese with the completion of several building projects and supporting their ministry to the poor. The parishioners of Christ Church in Newton have pledged to provide financial support to build a new church in Santiago, to repair a leaking roof on the church of San Jose, and to provide ongoing support for several other parishes in the poverty-stricken rural areas of Panama.

The church of Santiago floods regularly and has fallen into disrepair as a result, a statement from Christ Church said. So far, more than $38,000 has been raised by the parishioners of Christ Church towards the Saving Santiago project.

More here-

Cutié To Be Once, Twice, Two Times a Padré

From Miami-

He's ba-aaack!
Roughly a year after scandalous photos of Miami's celebrity priest with his hand on the hot bottom of his divorced girlfriend ran in a Mexican tabloid, prompting an international scandal and causing him to leave the Roman Catholic Church, Alberto Cutié is back in the news.

And the news is that Cutié isn't really back in the news at all.

The 41-year-old former "Father Oprah" was made an Episcopal priest Saturday at Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park, where he's been serving as a layman since the revelation of his affair with parishioner Ruhama Canallis lost him the backing of the powerful Archdiocese of Miami, the advice column and the cable show carried in 22 countries.

More here-

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Anglican Communion falters, again

From The London Guardian-

Another crack has appeared in the Anglican Communion. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has proposed that dissident Anglicans be sidelined on an important doctrinal committee, and that they not be allowed to represent Anglican views to other churches.

Williams is responding to the consecration of the American bishop Mary Glasspool, who is openly lesbian. The act is in breach of moratoria that Williams supports. However, what is not clear is whether liberal Americans will be singled out for punishment. African bishops have also breached the moratoria, by consecrating bishops to administer to conservative congregations in the US. The defence the African bishops gave was that they were only responding to requests from the US to do so. And exactly the same defence could be offered with respect to Glasspool's consecration: she was elected to office by her parishioners.

William's letter says: "Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future." If only liberal provinces are contacted, Williams will be accused of unfairness, something he has been accused of before.

His broader wish is that Anglicans be more generous towards those with whom they differ by sacrificing what they see as their duty or rights. It's a laudable aspiration if you are a Christian, but it has consequences. It leads to what Williams has previously called a "tragic" response to the world – the tragedy arising from the inevitable conflict over what people regard as the right thing to do.

More here-

Canterbury proposes resignation of ecumenical commission members

From ELO-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is proposing that representatives currently serving on some of the Anglican Communion's ecumenical dialogues should resign their membership if they are from a province that has not complied with moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

Williams made his proposal in a May 28 Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion, in which he specifically refers to the May 15 consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool and the ongoing activity across provincial boundaries. Glasspool is the Episcopal Church's second openly gay, partnered bishop.

Two Episcopal Church members serving on the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue and one on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order are expected to be affected by the proposal.

When a province "declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the communion, it is very hard to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the communion as a whole," Williams said. "This affects both our ecumenical dialogues ... and our faith-and-order related groups."

Williams said that affected provinces "will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future."

Episcopal Church members currently serving on the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue are the Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church's interim deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, and Assistant Bishop William Gregg of North Carolina.

More here-

Cutié is a priest again — and a dad-to-be

Update from Miami-

As he stood in front of dozens of reporters a year ago to say he was leaving the Roman Catholic Church and marrying, celebrity priest Alberto Cutié took a plunge, putting his life on a path that would look little like what he imagined when he slipped on that first clerical collar in his 20s and and vowed a life of celibacy.

These days, he's a suburban 41-year-old husband, sharing a three-bedroom house in Miami Shores with his wife and her son, often cooking Cuban meals before a game of Chinese checkers.

On Saturday, after dusting off the same white stole he wore when he knelt before Miami's Roman Catholic Archbishop 15 years ago to be ordained, he put it back over his shoulders. Padre Alberto is a priest again, this time in the Episcopal church.

It's not the only change in his life. In six months, the padre will be a dad. Ruhama Buni Cutié is pregnant.

``God's not all that interested in you falling down. God is interested in you getting up again,'' Cutié told Episcopal bishops and hundreds of parishioners gathered Saturday at Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park for the ceremony marking his return to the priesthood. He spent the past year at Resurrection, studying Episcopal traditions as a lay minister.

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Phils' Halladay throws MLB's 20th perfecto

Unbelievable- two perfect games in one season. For you soccer fans out there a perfect game is when no player on the opposing team reaches base.

Baseball tradition says you don't talk to or even get near a pitcher when he's on the brink of a no-hitter, and especially not if a perfect game is on the line. But Roy Halladay is a different animal. So when asked at what point during his phenomenal Saturday night outing did he feel his teammates were giving him the cold shoulder, the intense right-hander quipped: "I'd say 2:30, 3 o'clock this afternoon."

About seven hours later, his quiet Phillies teammates morphed into an exuberant bunch in the midst of an on-field celebration, and a rare smile crept onto the stoic Halladay's face.

On this Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium, Halladay -- arguably the best pitcher in the game already -- was perfect.

Twenty-seven Marlins hitters came to bat, and 27 were promptly retired, as Halladay edged out ace Josh Johnson and delivered a 1-0 victory for his team while becoming the 20th pitcher in Major League history -- and second this season -- to fire a perfect game.

As if he needed any more affirmation.

"It's something you never think about," Halladay said. "It's hard to explain. There's days where things just kind of click and things happen, and it's something you obviously never go out and try and do. But it's a great feeling."

The 33-year-old Halladay joins Jim Bunning (1964) as the only Phillies pitchers to throw a perfect game. He is the 10th pitcher in Phillies history to throw a no-hitter -- the last one to do it was Kevin Millwood on April 27, 2003, against the Giants -- and the third in the Majors this season, joining Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez and the Athletics' Dallas Braden, who fired a perfect game on Mother's Day.

More here-