Saturday, August 18, 2012

Giles Fraser: The danger of being respectable

From The Church Times-

Judging from the number of phone calls I have had recently, the academics are beginning to get their teeth into the Occupy protests. Mostly, they ask the same things, and get the same replies. But, this week, a particularly well-informed post-graduate asked me a question that unexpectedly opened up a portal into my soul. He simply used the phrase "reputational risk". The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

"Reputational risk" was a phrase often used at St Paul's Cathedral, and in the City generally, and one that a number of us especially disliked. What would the man who was attacked for hanging out with prostitutes and tax-collectors have made of "reputational risk"?

Surely he would have had no place for it. Indeed, he was the stone that the builders rejected, and yet became the cornerstone. So how is it that the Church built in his name has become so concerned with its own reputation? In a sense, if the Church does not have a bad reputation - or, perhaps better still, if it were indifferent to the fact that it might - it would not be doing its job properly.

More here-

Archbishop of Cape Town condemns Lonmin mine deaths

From ENS-

Condemning the rising violence and deaths at Lonmin’s Mine, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town has called for “strong, but measured and proportionate” interventions from government, police and unions, to end the “senseless loss of life.”

“Our fervent prayers are with all the bereaved and injured,” said the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, while warning that one could not bandage wounds or demand an end to conflict without addressing the issues on which conflict feeds. He said that God’s promise of true peace could only be realized when there was true justice and equity, and that all sectors of society must strive for this. The archbishop called for hard work, and positive re-commitment to the vision of 1994, rather than complacency or hopelessness in the face of the country’s challenges.

The full text of the archbishop’s statement follows.

More here-

50th Anniversary of largest clergy arrest

From CT-

Tuesday, August 28, will mark the 50th anniversary of what appears to have been the largest simultaneous arrest and incarceration of clergy in American history. While I have written and spoken on it previously, I don't want this special anniversary to slip by without reminding readers of the turmoil and troubles of that tumultuous era.

The arrests occurred in 1962, and the place was Albany, a city in southwest Georgia. Tensions were high as its sizeable black population challenged rigid segregation and blatant discrimination. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., arrived to encourage the Albany Movement, and soon he, too, was in prison.

Rabbi Israel Dresner and I joined a group that traveled to Washington to ask John F. Kennedy to be more supportive of civil rights and of Dr. King in particular. The president couldn't see us, but as we gathered outside the White House the question was asked: can any of you go to Albany to attend Dr. King's trial? The rabbi and I had become close friends when we were jailed together as Freedom Riders the previous year. We glanced at one another and our hands suddenly shot up. Soon we were on a plane headed to Georgia.

More here-

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fears rogue priests could sue for damages

From Australia-

A LANDMARK Supreme Court challenge has thrown into doubt the Anglican Church's disciplinary processes for dealing with rogue priests.

In a case that will impact the church across the nation, an Anglican priest accused of sexual misconduct is challenging the validity of the clergy disciplinary regime.

The head of the Anglican Church, Dr Phillip Aspinall, has asked the court to be heard in the action which could open the floodgates for civil claims by priests who have been sacked or disciplined.

The disciplinary processes for dealing with rogue priests in almost every Anglican diocese in Australia are in doubt because of a landmark court challenge to their validity.

The head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Dr Phillip Aspinall, has asked to be heard in the legal action, which could open the floodgates for civil claims against the Church by priests who have been sacked or disciplined.

More here-

Dr John book slams C of E 'hard line' on same-sex marriage

From The Church Times-

THE opposition of bishops to same-sex marriage is "institutionally expedient, but . . . morally contemptible", the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, has written in a new preface to his book Permanent, Faithful, Stable (DLT).

Dr John (above) describes bishops' opposition to the "Government's proposals to extend civil marriage to include same-sex couples" ( News, 15 June) as "a public and politicalstance intended to maintain ecclesiastical unity, particularly within the Anglican Communion". Such a policy "may be institutionally expedient, but it is morally contemptible. It betrays the truly heroic gay Christians of Africa who stand up for justice and truth at risk of their lives. For the mission of the C of E the present policy is a disaster."

Last month, Dr John said that the Church did not "deserve to be listened to" on the subject of same-sex marriage ( News, 27 July).

In the preface, Dr John writes that the Archbishop of Canterbury "changed his public position" on same-sex relationships "as soon as he reached the throne of St Augustine. Since then the Church's line on homosexuality has continued to harden."

More here-

Crews work to restore 1868 church bell

From Georgia via Sacramento-

Workers are restoring a 1,250-pound cast bronze bell at one of Georgia's oldest churches.

The historic bell at Christ Episcopal Church is a replacement for one that was melted into Confederate bullets during the Civil War.
The Telegraph reports ( that the bell rang for nearly 150 years after that until this year, on Easter Sunday, when it fell out of the bracket holding it.

Church sexton Robert Hubbard said the bell didn't fall far, but about a foot of its lip broke off in two pieces.

Read more here:

This Could Be Its Finest Hour

From The American Spectator-

The U.S. based Episcopal Church's recognition of same sex unions last month mostly excited a big yawn. More interesting is the resistance of its mother body, the Church of England, to Prime Minister David Cameron's attempt to install same sex marriage in Britain. The latter's opposition is more significant because it remains its nation's established church and still wields political and constitutional powers.

Episcopalians have often behaved as the established church in America. It once was the church of America's elites. But now below 2 million members and spiraling, the Episcopal Church no longer excites more than knowing smiles. Its affirmation of transgender clergy last month, at its General Convention, fulfilled stereotypes about modern, liberal Episcopalians.

The Church of England similarly often has a penchant for striving to be trendier than thou. But even as it presides over an increasingly secular Britain, it cherishes its role as senior church in the global, 80 million member Anglican Communion. And its few pockets of spiritual vitality in Britain often tend to be evangelical, often immigrant. Its second senior most prelate, the Archbishop of York, is himself a Ugandan and potentially the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

It's also true than in a secularizing country, the Church of England (unlike U.S. Episcopalians, who mostly just resent more numerous evangelicals) appreciates the threat to religious liberty under a regime of imposed same sex marriage. How would the established church disallow what the civil law requires? The church may have to disestablish, especially if it desires any continued leadership over global Anglicans.

More here-

Services for seasonal workers held in island tradition at Episcopal church

From Maine-

Clad in a red T-shirt that promoted a 2008 performance of Johannes Braham’s “Requiem,” Geoffrey Schuller of Mount Desert thrust his arms into the air and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

A few minutes later he joined other worshippers in crying out, “Praise Jesus!” followed by a few “Amens” in quick succession.

Schuller’s spirited responses Sunday night would have been typical had he been worshipping at any of the state’s evangelical or Pentecostal churches. Schuller, however, was sitting in St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in a worship service for seasonal workers from Jamaica who work on Mount Desert Island.

The congregation was founded in 1870 by an early group of summer people. It was named St. Saviour’s for the French Jesuit Mission, St. Sauveur, established on the island in 1613. The words translate as holy savior or holy redeemer, which is the name of Bar Harbor’s Roman Catholic church located across the street and a block west of the Episcopal church.

More here-

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Family Research Council guard called 'hero' in shooting

Update on the shooting at FRC-

The scene was a frightening one: A man walked into the lobby of a political organization, assailed the group's work, pulled a gun and opened fire.

But when it happened Wednesday morning at the downtown Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council, only one person was injured: the security guard. And after being struck in the arm, he helped wrestle the gunman to the floor, thwarting an attack that police fear could have turned deadly.

"The security guard here is a hero, in my opinion," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said of Leo Johnson, who was conscious and in stable condition at an area hospital after the shooting.
Police and the FBI were investigating why the armed man, identified as 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins II of Herndon, Va., entered the front lobby of the conservative group, argued with the guard and opened fire. But one law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suspect made a negative reference about the group's work and what it stands for before shooting.

Corkins was being held on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, the FBI said in a news release Wednesday night. Authorities were interviewing him and canvassing his neighborhood in Herndon, located about 24 miles from the nation's capital.

More here-

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC: Another Perspective on Rector and All Saints Imbroglio

From David Virtue (regarding All Saints Pawley's Island)-

Like so many others, I am very fond of Rob and was all in favor of calling him to be rector of All Saints when Terrell Glenn resigned. Also like many others, I was unaware of any undercurrents until Thad Barnum read Terrell's very inflammatory letter of resignation to an unsuspecting Bible Study group on a Saturday morning this past November. Since that time I have been amazed at the venom and animosity that have been directed at Chuck Murphy, to the point where he and his family no longer feel welcome to worship at All Saints on Sunday morning. This is unconscionable.

Ever since Terrell resigned from AMiA Rob has made no secret of the fact that his heart was with Terrell and that he wanted to stay with Rwanda or move to ACNA and that is certainly his prerogative. Unfortunately for him, there are a substantial number of All Saints members who have no desire to make that change. In his letter to the congregation last week Rob seemed completely oblivious to the fact that it was under Chuck's leadership that the campus we all enjoy today was conceived and built. He talked about Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, but failed to credit Chuck with having the courage and vision to lead us out of an increasingly apostate Episcopal Church and create the Anglican Mission as a place of refuge, not only for us, but for those who were unwilling to stand with him (but were quick to follow after he had prepared the way). Rob has even insinuated that those who want to continue with Chuck and AMiA are guilty of idolatry. I can't believe he equates trust, loyalty, affection and appreciation with idolatry, but that's the message many of us have gotten.

Like it or not, Chuck Murphy is Rob's bishop and All Saints is an AMiA church, but that has not stopped Rob from pursuing his agenda. One of the first things that occurred, back in January, was a decision to divide All Saints tithe to AMiA and give half of it to Rwanda without even consulting or informing the congregation at large. This actually amounted to a 50% cut to AMiA and a 500% increase to Rwanda (compared to the 10% tithe they had formerly received from AMiA). More recently, Steve Breedlove, from PEARUSA, came to preach and conduct a forum, and Terrell and Teresa Glenn have been invited to speak to the vestry. In a week or so, Archbishop Duncan is scheduled to preach. This is an all out effort to persuade All Saints to leave AMiA and blatant 'in-your-face' insubordination on Rob's part that no leader should be expected to tolerate. Even so, Chuck waited until he was asked by a committee of four vestry members, including the present SeniorWarden, plus six former Senior Wardens, before he intervened.

It seems pretty obvious that this whole issue has been clergy generated, including the problems with Rwanda, with the single purpose of moving the AMiA to ACNA, without Chuck Murphy. That plan backfired when the AMiA bishops chose to remain with Chuck, but the effort to get control of All Saints continues. Are the rectors personal preferences all that matter? Can anyone tell me what we would gain from being in ACNA that would be worth splitting All Saints down the middle?

More here-

Fears vilification change may affect churches

From Australia-

Anglican Bishop Stuart Robinson fears changes to the ACT Discrimination Act could lead to religious disputes ending up in court and increase tension between faiths.

The head of the Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese has also criticised the ACT government for not consulting religious leaders about the proposed changes, which will make religious vilification in the territory illegal.

But Attorney-General Simon Corbell, who will introduce the legislation next week, says the proposed amendments are ''not controversial'' and have been consistently recommended by the ACT Human Rights Commission.

The proposed change would add the word ''religion'' to the list of serious vilification offences in the Discrimination Act, which already prohibits vilification on the grounds of race, sexuality, gender or HIV/AIDS status.

Read more:

Transitions for Episcopal Church, DFMS staff

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church and the church-wide Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) staff are undergoing transitions to re-orient not only the work of the church-wide staff but also where that work will be conducted.

The transitions are primarily, but not completely, a result of actions approved at General Convention 2012 in July. Many are budget-based and most are intended to be responsive to the priorities established at General Convention.

“The decisions on the re-orientation and transitions were made by senior management, particularly in affected departments, working as a team,” noted Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls. “The overriding concern has been to make decisions that serve the church as a whole as it engages God’s mission at the most local levels.”

Sauls emphasized that the predominant focus is on a redesign. “We have been reviewing and talking about seriously redesigning what we, as a staff, do and how we do it in order to meet the needs of the church in different circumstances than what our current structures were designed to address,” he said. “The whole church is being called to restructure for mission. We as the DFMS staff must engage this work faithfully.”

More here-

Activist and Episcopal deacon Lydia Hopkins dies

From New Orleans-

Lydia Elliott Hopkins, an Episcopal deacon and longtime activist who plunged into volunteer work after Hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans, died Aug. 8 of a heart attack while on vacation with her family at Grayton Beach, Fla. She was 63.

Shortly after the storm struck in August 2005, Deacon Hopkins organized volunteers at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Uptown New Orleans, where she was a member, and set up a program to provide free meals to people uprooted by the storm.

In 2008, she started working at All Souls Episcopal Church in the Lower 9th Ward, which had been especially hard-hit. Deacon Hopkins, a skilled cook and baker, organized food and housing programs and taught classes in creative writing and Bible studies, said Jessica White-Sustaita, one of her daughters.

“She was all about championing the underdog and reminding people to help each other,” White-Sustaita said. “She wanted to remind people of the Christian left as opposed to the Christian right.”

More here-

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Security guard shot at Family Research Council in downtown D.C.

From The Washington Post-

A security guard at the Family Research Council was shot and wounded Wednesday morning after a scuffle with a man who expressed disagreement with the group’s conservative views in the lobby of the group’s headquarters in downtown Washington, authorities said.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the shooter walked into the lobby of the building at about 10:45 and was confronted by the security guard as if the guard were asking him where he was going.

The man then took out a gun and opened fire on the guard, Lanier said. The guard and others wrestled the man to the ground, disarmed him and waited for police, she said. The guard was then taken to the hospital and is in stable condition, the chief said. FBI officials said the guard was shot in the arm.

“The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned,” Lanier said. ”He did his job. The person never made it past the front.”

The shooter is in FBI custody and has not yet been charged, authorities said. A law enforcement official said at one point in the scuffle, the shooter expressed views that differed from those of the Family Research Council. The official also said the shooter was carrying a bag that had a Chick-Fil-A bag inside. Chick-Fil-A’s chief executive has expressed similar views against same-sex marriage as the Research Council.

More here-

Guinea: Appeal Launched to Mark 70th Anniversary of Anglican Martyrs in PNG

From Guinea-

During World War II, 12 Anglicans working for God's Church in PNG lost their lives. This year marks the 70th anniversary since the death of the Martyrs of New Guinea.

The 12 Anglican Martyrs of PNG who died between 1942 and 1943 were Lilla Lashmar (teacher), Margery Brenchley (nurse), John Duffill (builder), Bernard Moore (priest), Mavis Parkinson (teacher), May Hayman (nurse), Vivian Redlich (priest), Lucian Tapiedi (evangelist and teacher), John Barge (priest), Henry Matthews (priest), Henry Holland (priest) and Leslie Gariardi (evangelist and teacher).

We remember these brave and courageous people by celebrating Martyrs' Day on 2 September and ABM has launched a special campaign to continue God's work in PNG. The focus is on St Margaret's Hospital in Ono Bay, north-east of Port Moresby.

In recent years, ABM has been working with the Anglican Church in PNG to upgrade St Margaret's Health Clinic to a Level 5 hospital. The hospital will now operate as a satellite hospital to the state-run Popondetta General Hospital while recruiting staff and improving skills.

The renovation and building of staff housing is one of the main priorities at present as quite a large number are needed. Currently the focus is on the construction of houses for the Hospital Manager and the Doctor.

Once the upgrading is complete, it will greatly benefit the local community living in this remote region of PNG.

The Fundraising Manager for ABM, Christopher Brooks, said: "We hope our supporters will be inspired by the Martyrs of PNG and contribute to the work of St Margaret's Hospital.

More here-

Under Rowan Williams, the church has failed gay people

Jeffery John from The Guardian-

Since 2005, same-sex couples in Britain have been able to contract a civil covenant which gives them the same legal protection and framework as heterosexual marriage. It is an act of legislation that has been almost universally acknowledged as a great good, a real advance for social stability and human happiness.

Far more people entered civil partnerships than the government had anticipated, and in the first years a high proportion of them were older couples who had been together in secrecy or semi-secrecy for decades – some from before the time homosexual acts were decriminalised in 1967. The sense of release and liberation, of joy in a newfound sense of dignity and affirmation, was extraordinary. For gay Christians it was a cause of profound thanksgiving to god.

The official church – and here my concern is mainly with the Church of England – is one of the few public domains where this development has been only grudgingly accepted, and in some quarters vehemently opposed. In recent years, while society has moved towards acceptance, the church has arguably moved in the opposite direction.

More here-

Anglican stance on same-sex marriage 'morally contemptible'

From The Mail and Guardian-

The most senior openly gay cleric in Britain has accused the Church of England of pursuing a "morally contemptible" policy on same-sex marriage, criticising Rowan Williams for changing his "public position" on the issue as soon as he was made Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a new preface to his 1990 booklet on gay relationships, Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, writes that, contrary to the expectations of those who believed Williams would soften the Church's attitude to homosexuality, the church's line has in fact "continued to harden" during his near-decade as archbishop.

In an abridged extract of the preface published in the Guardian, the Rev John, who was forced to withdraw his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 due to fury from conservative evangelicals, says that as Archbishop of Wales, Williams had made the case for an ethical framework for gay relationships.

"Tragically, he changed his public position as soon as he reached the throne of St Augustine," he adds. "Since then the Church's line on homosexuality has continued to harden."

More here-

Convention's recent changes to disciplinary canons are part of a long journey

From ENS-

Episcopal Church canons have expressed concern about clergy behavior since the General Convention in 1789 made it wrong for clergy — except “for their honest necessities” — to “resort to taverns, or other places most liable to be abused to licentiousness.”

That original Canon 13 also warned that clergy who “[gave] themselves to base or servile labor, or to drinking or riot, or to spending their time idly” would face a range of disciplinary actions.
The church ever since has been refining its answer to the question of how best to discipline errant clergy. The tradition continued at the recent 77th meeting of General Convention when bishops and deputies tweaked the current version of the Title IV disciplinary canons that have been in use for just more than a year. And there could well be more changes to come.

The 2012 adjustments, accomplished via Resolution A033, primarily involved clarification of certain definitions, as well refining and clarifying parts of the process.

However, the bishops and deputies meeting in July 5-12 in Indianapolis also told the church’s Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons to undertake a comprehensive review over the next three years of Title IV’s implementation. Resolution C049, proposed by the Diocese of Albany, directs the standing commission to determine “the extent to which the elements of safety, truth-telling, healing, and reconciliation are being effected” as first intended by the 2006 resolution (2006-A153), which authorized the work that resulted in the current iteration.

More here-

First wave of priests trading their Episcopal collar for a Catholic collar just beginning

From God Discussion-

Back in 2009, Pope Benedict invited disgruntled Episcopal male priests to join the Catholic Church, retaining their status as priests, as well as their marriages. He offered to ease the conversion by allowing the men to remain married, but stated that this move would not allow other priests to marry.

"The church has made it very clear that they're not currently entering a conversation or thinking about overturning celibacy," [Sarah Ritchey, Asst. History Professor at UL Lafayette] added.
Some priests are trading in their Episcopal priest collars for a Catholic priest collar.
Sitting inside St. Margaret’s on Friday, still wearing his Episcopal priest collar, [Rev. Jurgen] Liias said, “I feel like this is what God wants me to do.”

The disgruntled and disaffected male priests are upset by the Episcopal and Anglican Churches’ practice of ordaining women and openly gay men into the priesthood. This move officially began in the late 20th century, starting with the ordination of women, following with the ordaining gay clergy, with Gene Robinson as the first ordained openly gay bishop, and more recently, in July 2012, approving the ordination of transgendered men and women.

Lastly, the Episcopal Church allowing same-sex couples to marry also upsets some clergymen.

More here (including video)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Anglican bishop attacks Mugabe

From Newsday-

The Archbishop of York has warned against easing sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
John Sentamu said in an article in The Times that he was “not convinced the time had come to weaken international opposition to the President of Zimbabwe’s irresponsible, undemocratic, lawless and at times brutal regime”.

It is five years since the Archbishop cut up his clerical collar during an interview on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

He vowed at the time that he would not wear a clerical collar again until Mugabe ceased to be in power in Zimbabwe.

He wrote in The Times: “I made this prophetic statement as Robert Mugabe had slowly but surely cut up the identity of the Zimbabwean people into tiny pieces.

“It is fair to say that I did not expect still to be collarless five years on. I’m even asked occasionally why I have forgotten to wear one – but my answer remains that this corrupt and oppressive regime has simply been allowed to carry on for too long.”

More here-

Musings on General Convention

From Scott Gunn -

Our bishops continue to show an unhealthy love of secrecy. Do our bishops need to begin every day with a private, closed-door session? Since I don’t know what they do in there, I can’t say for sure, but it strikes me as antithetical to much of what we stand for as a church. Surely conversation — even frank, difficult words — can be had in public? And the bishops’ ban on Twitter (which, I am told, includes an unenforced provision against tweeting from the visitors’ gallery) seems pointless, since the public proceedings are live streamed. What’s the harm in someone posting news and comments on what the bishops are doing? The bishops can take a page out of the deputy playbook, where we learned that twitter did not harm our deliberations, and quite likely improved them.

The schedule is inhumane. Long-time deputies speak with bravado about the days which begin at 7:30 a.m. committee hearings and end with 10:00 p.m. deputation caucuses. This is a ludicrous way to treat a human body. We need to find another way to do things so that people can rest. Getting thousands of us in one place every three years is a precious opportunity to celebrate together, and we should have more social time. Oh, and more prayer time would be a good idea. First-time deputies, even though they have been warned, are often horrified by the grueling nature of the convention, which might explain why so many of them do not come back. We need to fix this.

Much of what we do is a waste of time. In one of my committee hearings one morning, we were in the midst of a lengthy discussion of how to rewrite a particular sentence. It occurred to me that this was entirely pointless, because few people would even read the resolution we were so carefully wordsmithing. What else might we have done with our time at Convention? What would happen if we set aside our legislative sessions one afternoon, and deputations spent time with another deputation from across our vast church? What would it be like if we prayed more? What if we did a service project together? With so many deputies and bishops, every minute is precious. We can’t afford business as usual next time. The opportunity cost will bankrupt us.

More here-

Moving past Goodbye

From The Living Church-

Reflections on the 77th General Convention have one characteristic in common: an eagerness to interpret the data through the prism of a deeply held ideology. And, if we were to experience for a moment the presence of not only the holy but also the generous Holy Spirit, we might be willing to admit that there is a touch of truth in every perspective.

My prism is family system theory. I ask: “How did we get here?”

The 65th General Convention (1976) was pivotal in the history of the Episcopal Church as it adopted a new Prayer Book (on the first reading and in which there was not one reference to the Anglican Communion) and approved local option for women’s ordination. At the time it felt like a major split could occur. And yet for the most part the Episcopal Church held together, thanks in large measure to public assurances in 1976 and the Statement on Conscience adopted by the House of Bishops in 1977. In effect the bishops and others said that Episcopalians were big enough to embrace those who would ordain women and those who would not, for reasons rooted in conscientious conviction. Lambeth 1978 explicitly affirmed local option for women’s ordination.

This principle was strengthened by Lambeth 1988 which, at the request of the Episcopal Church, expanded the principle of local option to include women in the episcopate. In 1989 the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris became Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts, and the first woman to serve as a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

I believe the turning point came five years later, in 1994, the 20th anniversary of the ordination of the Philadelphia 11. At a service commemorating that event, Bishop Harris preached directly to “traditionalist Episcopalians” who still opposed women’s ordination. They should recognize that they had been defeated and leave: “If this means saying goodbye to the selective traditionalists in our Church, … God go with you and peace — goodbye.”

Then the 72nd General Convention (1997), acting on the recommendations of a committee led by the Rt. Rev. Robert D. Rowley, abandoned the 1977 statement on conscience. Previous public promises notwithstanding, what had been optional was now mandatory.

More here-

Newman biographer highlights cardinal's insights amid Anglican turmoil

From CNA-

A biographer of Blessed John Henry Newman says the noted 19th-century Catholic convert can offer guidance to Anglicans in the midst of their denomination's current moral and doctrinal crisis.

Cardinal Newman “saw the importance of knowing one's faith, and the truths revealed by God through the Church – and the importance of living according to those truths, not according to opinions,” said Father Juan Velez, author of “Passion For Truth: The Life of Blessed John Henry Newman” (St. Benedict Press, $18.75).

While stressing the call to holiness for both laity and clergy, Newman also came to recognize the gift of the teaching authority held by the bishops in union with the Pope.

This visible apostolic authority contrasts sharply with the modern Anglican practice of “putting the beliefs of the Church up for a vote,” the biographer observed.

“Passion For Truth” is the first major biography of Bl. Newman to be published since his beatification in 2010. Its author discussed the late cardinal's life and thought in an Aug. 10 interview, two days after the biography became available as an e-book.

More here-

Monday, August 13, 2012

Evangelist Billy Graham being treated in North Carolina hospital for bronchitis

From NBC-

Evangelist Billy Graham is being treated at a North Carolina hospital for bronchitis, officials said Sunday.

Graham, 93, was admitted overnight to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., near his home in Montreat, for evaluation and treatment of a pulmonary infection. He was resting comfortably Sunday and his condition was stable, the hospital said in a statement.

David Pucci, the pulmonologist treating Graham, said earlier that Graham was being given antibiotics.

"This morning, Mr. Graham watched his grandson, Will Graham, on television preaching at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, S.C. Later, he enjoyed a visit from his daughter, Gigi, and one of his grandchildren. They ate lunch together and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon," Graham's spokesman, A. Larry Ross, said in a statement.

More here-

Seattle marchers show support for activist nuns

From Seattle-

Over the years, Patricia Patterson thought about joining protest marches in support of women's rights or against war. But the cause that finally got her to take to the streets was nuns.

"It baffles me that a group of women who are among the ... most compassionate are being, frankly, picked on by the Vatican," Patterson said Sunday. She joined a throng of nearly 500 people who marched in support of the nuns' group recently rebuked by the Catholic Church for promoting "radical feminist themes" at odds with official doctrine.

Patterson carried a picture of her aunt, a nun who had a major influence on her life. Other marchers carried flowers and sang hymns as they walked from Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill to St. James Cathedral, seat of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

But Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain wasn't home. He was in St. Louis for meetings with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group that includes about 80 percent of women's religious orders in the United States.

The Vatican put Sartain in charge of revamping the Leadership Conference to bring its practices more in line with Catholic orthodoxy.

After a four-day conference that concluded Friday, the nuns agreed to talk with Sartain but said they would not "compromise the integrity" of their mission.

More here-

St. Stephen's sanctuary reopens for good after quake damage

From Virginia-

The St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church congregation reopened its sanctuary permanently on Sunday during a rededication ceremony — a year following the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the Culpeper area last August, causing about $500,000 in damage throughout the nearly 200-year-old historic site.

The Aug. 23, 2011 natural disaster caused cracks in the sanctuary’s interior and exterior walls and produced extensive damage to the sanctuary’s stained glass windows, balcony area, steeple, chimney, front steps, sidewalks, organ and the brick wall bordering the church.

Meanwhile, the congregation continued to worship in the church’s parish hall and in limited areas in the sanctuary until the major repairs started after Easter Sunday.

A nearly at capacity crowd filled the sanctuary on Sunday for the nearly two-hour rededication ceremony of the church and ministries.

“Through the ages, Almighty God has moved his people to build houses of prayer and praise, and to set apart places for the ministry of his holy word and sacraments,” preached the Rev. Michael Gray, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church located on North East Street in downtown Culpeper. “With gratitude for the work of so many hands, we are now gathered to rededicate this sacred place.”

More here-

Local Episcopal priest to convert to Catholicism

From Salem Mass.

A longtime North Shore clergyman is in line to become one of the first Episcopal priests in the country to be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

The Rev. Jurgen Liias, who led Christ Church in Hamilton for 14 years before forming a breakaway Episcopal church in Danvers, has applied to the Vatican to be ordained into a new U.S. ordinariate created by Pope Benedict XVI on Jan. 1.

Liias said he will resign as an Episcopal priest and will be confirmed as a Catholic in a Mass on Wednesday at St. Margaret Church in Beverly Farms. If his application is approved by the Vatican, he will be ordained as a Catholic priest this fall.

Sitting inside St. Margaret’s on Friday, still wearing his Episcopal priest collar, Liias said, “I feel like this is what God wants me to do.”

Liias is among the first wave of Episcopal priests who have responded to Pope Benedict’s invitation to join the Catholic Church through the ordinariate, which is designed to allow Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage. Church officials describe an ordinariate as a parish without geographic boundaries.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nigeria: Bishop Laments 30 Percent Drop in Church Attendance

From Nigeria-

The Kaduna Diocese of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) said on Friday that worshippers' attendance in its churches has dropped by 30 per cent.

The Diocesan Bishop, Most Rev. Josiah Fearon, after the First Session of the 19th Synod in Kaduna, attributed the poor attendance of faithful to the current national security challenge.

Fearon said the drop in church attendance had also contributed to a 60 per cent drop in financial support to the church through the offering of tithes and the Church fund raising for the development of projects.

He specifically attributed the decline in fortunes to the spate of attacks on Christians during church services.

"A significant number of our members prefer to stay within the safety of their homes rather than go to church and be bombed to death".

The clergy man said that the security challenge had adversely affected the entire North-East region economically, socially and politically.

Fearon flayed the incessant killings in some part of the Northern states, in spite of pleas from religious leaders, individuals and national and international organisations.

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In Phila., many sacred spaces become white elephants

From Philadelphia-

Hunger, health care, and urban violence are the usual subjects of concern when the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia gathers for its semiannual meetings.

But at the spring 2011 session, a new topic was cast into the mix: real estate.

A member noted that he was grappling with a growing stock of vacant churches. Hoping for a solution from his high-placed peers at the conference table, he got instead a chorus of me-toos.

"I always thought I could sell my buildings to you," a prelate of one Protestant denomination joked to another.

The group erupted in laughter.

"But it was kind of sick humor," Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. recalled. "We all have these empty buildings now. We're all in trouble."

They are costly to maintain and increasingly difficult to sell, but painful to demolish, even as they decay into neighborhood eyesores. There are now so many shuttered houses of worship - at least 300 estimated across the Philadelphia region - that the anxiety over what to do with them has spread beyond religious circles and into City Hall and suburban town councils.

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