Saturday, May 3, 2014

Are married priests next on Pope Francis' reform agenda?

From National Catholic Reporter-

Pope Francis likes to say that he prefers to raise questions rather than issue edicts or change doctrine, and he has certainly generated plenty of debate with his off-the-cuff remarks about gays and his cold-call chats on topics like divorce and Communion, as happened recently with a woman in Argentina.

Now a recent conversation between the pope and a bishop from Brazil about the priest shortage may be moving the issue of married clergy onto the pontiff's agenda.

It began when Bishop Erwin Krautler, an Austrian-born bishop who heads a sprawling diocese in the Brazilian rain forest, had a private audience with Francis on April 4 in the Vatican.

During the meeting, Krautler and Francis compared notes on how much the priest shortage affects the church, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. Krautler's diocese, geographically the largest in Brazil, has just 27 priests for 700,000 Catholics, most of whom might attend Mass a couple of times a year.

More here-

Maryland diocese elects Heather Cook as bishop suffragan

From ENS-

In accordance with the Canons and Constitutions of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Maryland, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced that the Rev. Canon Heather Cook was elected Bishop Suffragan of Maryland. Cook was elected on the fourth ballot from a slate of four nominees. Total number of votes: 165 out of 304 possible.

Cook is the first woman to be elected bishop for the Diocese of Maryland. The election took place during the 230th Diocesan Convention, which is being held May 2-3 at Turf Valley Resort, Ellicott City.

More here-

Episcopal Church head at Saturday conference in Pawleys Island

From South Carolina-

 The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, will be among church leaders at a sold-out educational conference Saturday at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island.

Jefferts Schori will lead the opening Eucharist and give one of the keynote addresses titled “Connecting to the Wider Church.”

Other speakers will address subjects that pertain to the upheaval in the U.S. Episcopal Church with the withdrawal of churches, including a number along the Grand Strand, from the body.

Two workshops, “Rebuilding While Rejoicing” and “Showing the Way While Staying the Course,” will include officials from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which has been through a period of schism similar to that ongoing in South Carolina.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the breakaway churches in the state are enmeshed in a lawsuit over who owns the property of the breakaway churches.

More here-

Friday, May 2, 2014

Judas window allowed into church

From The Church Times-

AN ENGRAVED glass window has finally been installed in a Dorset village church, almost 30 years after the artist first offered it to the parish.

It depicts Judas Iscariot at the moment he hanged himself in remorse for betraying Jesus, with his 30 pieces of silver trickling though his fingers to the ground. But even though its creator, Sir Laurence Whistler, dubbed it the "forgiveness window", and showed the silver coins turning into flowers before they touched the soil (below), church authorities at the time deemed the subject of suicide unfitting.

The piece was originally intended as the final part of the restoration of St Nicholas's, Moreton, near Dorchester, which was devastated by a bomb in 1940.

More here-

Atlanta's Episcopal Bishop, Responding to New State Law, Bans Guns in Parish Churches

From Georgia-

Georgia’s new gun law, HB 60, allows permit holders to carry concealed weapons into a church—but only if the church specifically allows it.  Some local religious leaders who oppose the law, however, are taking no chances.

Atlanta Episcopal Bishop Robert Wright has issued a policy, banning guns in churches in his diocese—which covers north and central Georgia—with an exception for on-duty law officers.

Bishop Wright told WABE the policy is a response to what he said is the culture that inspired the new law.

“The culture is moving in a sort of, ‘be suspicious, arm yourself to the teeth against neighbor,’” Wright said.  “And we’re trying to articulate, as followers of Jesus, another way to be.”

More here-

Top Episcopal Church leader promotes unity at Nashotah House

From Milwaukee-

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church toured Nashotah House Theological Seminary for the first time on Thursday in response to an invitation so controversial it prompted the school's longest running trustee to resign in protest.

The visit by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, whose church has been roiled by schism over theological debates in recent years, came at the request of three Nashatoah seminarians who wanted their bishop to see this campus where disparate parts of the fractured Anglican Communion strive to live in peace.

One of them did not live to see it happen. Deacon Terry Star, who had worked with Jefferts Schori as part of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, died unexpectedly in March. He was 40.

"This was an act of reconciliation, and Terry was a big influence in that relationship," said Ezgi Saribay, one of the three seminarians who asked Nashotah House Dean, Bishop Edward L. Salmon, and Board of Trustees President Bishop Daniel H. Martins of Springfield, Ill., to tender the invitation.

More here-

Two candidates for Episcopal bishop have South Mississippi connections

From Mississippi-

The Episcopal Diocese in Mississippi will meet Saturday to vote on its 10th bishop during the 187th Annual Council, and two people with Coast connections are among the five candidates.

The election will be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew in Jackson.

The Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg, is married to Tom Fortner, former public defender in Jackson County, and the Very Rev. Brian Seage, rector at St. Columb's Episcopal Church in Ridgeland, served at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Diamondhead from 1997 to 2005.

Read more here:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Church to stick with controversial billboards

From New Zealand-

The new vicar of an outspoken Auckland church says controversial billboards will continue with her appointment.

The Reverend Helen Jacobi will be inducted as the new vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City tonight in a service led by the Anglican bishops of Auckland.

St Matthew-in-the-City is perhaps best known for its controversial billboards.

It erected a billboard in support of a bill to legalise same-sex marriages. The billboard, outside the church, showed two model brides kissing atop a wedding cake, with the text: "We don't care who's on top."

Before that it put up a billboard at Christmas depicting Mary with a positive pregnancy test, and in 2009 a billboard before Christmas depicted Mary and Joseph in bed with the text: "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow."

In April last year the church responded to Hell Pizza's "For a limited time. A bit like Jesus" Easter bun billboard with one saying: "Hell no, we're not giving up pizza for Lent."

More here-

Matthew Alan Gunter consecrated eighth bishop of Fond du Lac

From ENS-

Matthew Alan Gunter was ordained and consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac April 26 in a service held at Appleton Alliance Church in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Gunter is the eighth bishop of Fond du Lac, replacing the Rt. Rev. Russell E. Jacobus, who retired after serving as bishop of Fond du Lac for 19 years.

Eight hundred people gathered to participate in a liturgy that recognized Gunter as being “called by God to carry on the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the church,” according to an April 30 press release.

More here-

Episcopal bishop ordains deacon in laundromat

From Los Angeles-  (Can't make this stuff up)

Bishop Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, ordained Scott Claasen in a laundromat. Claasen was sponsored by Thad’s, an experimental community of the Episcopal Diocese. From their home page:

Thad’s is a movement of missionary people who’ve made a choice to leave the relative safety of the established church and take the love of Jesus “to the streets”. Our calling is to bring this transforming love into people’s lives in positive, transformative and practical ways. In church-speak, we’re a “mission station”, an experimental community of the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles.
From the Facebook page of Stephen Bruce:

The Episcopal Church finds a fresh way to ordain it’s leaders, amidst the chaos and noise of a laundromat in Venice CA. J Jon Bruno, our bishop diocesan, ordains Scott Claassen of Thad’s, while Thad’s leaders and community, including Jimmy Bartz rally up for Scott.

More here-

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Episcopal churches ban weapons after expansion of Georgia’s gun laws

From Georgia-

Episcopal churches in Middle and North Georgia have banned firearms from their sanctuaries following Gov. Nathan Deal’s approval of legislation that widely expands the state’s gun laws.
Bishop Robert Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta issued the directive Monday, telling church leaders and parishioners that the only exception to the policy will be on-duty law enforcement officers.

“My judgment and this policy are based on the normative understanding of the teachings of Jesus as the Episcopal Church has received them,” Wright wrote in a letter about House Bill 60, which takes effect July 1. “This matter and I hope this policy afford us yet another opportunity to live the words we pray each week.”

More here

Conservative Anglican leaders back Uganda anti-gay law

From ENS-

Leaders of the conservative wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion equate the experiences of Ugandans who support a new anti-gay law with those of victims of an earthquake or a terror attack.
The Global Anglican Future Conference — made up chiefly of Anglican archbishops in Africa, Asia and Latin America — concluded a two-day meeting in London on Saturday (April 26) with a statement that expressed concern for violence in South Sudan and Northern Nigeria. It then said:

“We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation.”

That legislation, signed in February by Ugandan president President Yoweri Museveni, specifies life in prison for some homosexual acts. It also outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires citizens to report to the police anyone suspected of being gay.

More here-

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No guns at Episcopal churches in Georgia, bishops say

From ENS-

 Firearms will not be permitted in buildings or on property of any Episcopal church anywhere in the state of Georgia, bishops of the two Georgia dioceses have said.

Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright and Diocese of Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase were responding to Gov. Nathan Deal’s April 24 signing of what is called the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014. Each sent letters to clergy and lay leaders last week.

The law, which expands broadly where guns may be carried, takes effect July 1. Places of worship may allow the carrying of weapons, but that permission must be granted by the ecclesiastical authority which, in the case of the Episcopal Church, is the diocesan bishop. Illegally bringing a gun into a house of worship will be considered a misdemeanor with a $100 fine. On-duty law enforcement officers will be exempt from the restriction.

More here-

Pope Francis: 'Inequality Is The Root Of Social Evil'

From Huffington-

Could it be that the Pope is weighing in on the fervor sparked by French economist Thomas Piketty's current bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century?

It's unclear. But the tweet's timing -- days after the book sold out on Amazon, where it is currently the best-selling book in the U.S. -- could suggest the Pope's support for Piketty, who posits that an unregulated free market creates an ever-widening wealth gap.

The tweet had nearly 10,000 retweets Monday afternoon.

The Pontiff’s warning comes months after he called unfettered capitalism “a new tyranny” and urged global leaders to fight growing income inequality in his first major written work as pope.

He laid out the platform for his papacy in the 84-page document last November, attacking the “idolatry of money” and calling on politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare.”

More here-

CofE’s top female cleric: I would have ‘no problem’ with blessings for gay marriages

From The Telegraph-

The most senor female cleric in the Church of England has said she would have no problem blessing gay marriages and accused the Church of “driving people away” with its current stance on same-sex relationships.

The Very Rev Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York, who is considered the frontrunner to become the first women bishop, said the current episcopate had not “quite got” how radically attitudes to homosexuality had changed in the UK.

In an interview with Radio Times, she disclosed that although she follows rules which ban official wedding-like blessing services for same-sex couples, she had previously “found ways” of celebrating gay and lesbian couples’ civil partnerships.

Speaking ahead of a new BBC2 series about York Minster, she said she had already been approached by couples of the same sex wishing to celebrate their marriage in church.

More here-

ACNA Archbishop endorses Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Law

From Episcopal Cafe-

The primates of Gafcon, including Archbishop Robert Duncan of ACNA, have issued a communique in which they endorse the Ugandan law that imposes harsh sentences for homosexuality and the support of homosexuals.

Highlighting added:
We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation.

Nowhere in the communique is it said what "new legislation" is meant. There has been a Western backlash against the recently enacted anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

The ACNA primates met in London April 24-26. The full communique is here, and at the ACNA website as well.

More here-

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rowan Williams: I didn't really want to be Archbishop

From The Telegraph-

Rowan Williams is a changed man. He was weary and weighed down towards the end of his time as Archbishop of Canterbury, wounded by the press and exhausted by the effort of trying to hold together a Church tearing itself apart.

Today he is warm, welcoming and even seems to be walking taller at his surprisingly modern home in the grounds of Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he is Master. Is this life easier? “Yes,” he says, laughing. “What do you think?”

There are no acolytes or spin doctors surrounding him here as there were at Lambeth. He is just a priest, alone in a black clerical shirt, smiling through a bushy white beard, eyes glinting under those famous eyebrows as he pours the tea.

More here-

Kenya: The Gospel of Francis - Pope Moves to Unite

From All Africa-

Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are the odd couple of modern Roman Catholicism. The avuncular John XXIII, who wanted to loosen up a hidebound Church, and the combative John Paul II, who struggled to rein in what he viewed as the excesses of the Second Vatican Council that John XXIII had convened, appear to be ideological opposites. Yet Pope Francis will canonize the pair this month - a surprising move that may offer a glimpse into his goals for the Church.

The most obvious implication is that Francis is weary of polarization, and hopes that the dual canonization will help to propel a shift toward a "big tent" Catholicism that appeals to a broader range of people. Francis is certainly in a strong position to initiate such a shift; his political capital is extraordinarily high, surpassing even that of US President Barack Obama in his early days in office. People seem to appreciate his preference for teaching by example and dramatic gesture - exemplified by his canonization of the rival stars of Vatican II - rather than by encyclical.

More here-

That horrible church moment for us introverts when we have to….yuck…and what I learned about it today

From Patheos-

I like 12 minute Episcopal homilies.

No time for fooling around. Just get to the point. And since that point can show up at any time, I have to be paying attention.

Paying attention to sermons is new for me. In the past my mind would often wander because my mind tends to do that during a 45 minute Sunday morning “sermon”/lecture/doctrinal beat down/look-at-how-much-I-know session.

In a way, I miss those days. I got some of my best writing ideas daydreaming. And those times when I was paying attention, long sermons allowed me to flex my judgmental muscles, thinking of all the ways that, if I were preaching on that verse, it would be so much better.

More here-

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Making a living on the competitive church-music circuit

From Boston-

IF YOU SPEND much time in Boston, you’re spending a decent chunk of your life in the company of people who took a lot of years to be able to do a special something not a lot of other people can do. We see it when David Ortiz hits a grand slam or when an MIT physicist dreams up a theory that just might explain the origin of the universe, and we see it in all sorts of smaller and quieter ways. Into that last category falls a particular kind of musician that’s big in these parts: the church performer.

Boston is a great hotbed of classical music, and it’s all there, ripe for the listening — and often for free — in any one of dozens of area churches. But when you’re sitting in the pews, immersed in whatever you’re immersed in, there can be a tendency to take the musicians around you for granted. You don’t always consider, say, how tough it is to make a living as an artist, especially when your venue tends to let people in for free on Sundays. And you don’t always think about how difficult it is to succeed in a field that requires you to be able to bounce from one singing gig on Newbury Street, hop a Green Line car and bang out another in Newton, before zooming back to Harvard Square for the final performance of the day.

More here-

How Popes John XXIII and John Paul II embraced the world

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

As you read this, I am in Rome for the canonizations of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II. You could say that it’s business since I’m the communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and I’m not Catholic. But it’s very personal. I could not have written that last sentence if the two of them hadn’t been elected pope in 1958 and 1978, respectively. They weren’t simply leaders of an institution known as the Roman Catholic Church. They were leaders of global Christianity whose ministry touched virtually every human being, Catholic or otherwise.

Born mid-baby boom and raised in the Episcopal Church, I have no memory of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope John called when I was a toddler and opened when I was in kindergarten. My earliest ecumenical wisdom, imparted by my mother, consisted of two facts: A) If we visited a Catholic church, I had to wear a hat and B) While I could go to Catholic Mass if a friend invited me to St. Albert’s, I could not reciprocate with an invitation to All Saints because Catholics weren’t allowed to go to any other church.

Read more:

Roman Catholics converge to raise 2 popes to sainthood

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Call it the day of three popes, maybe four.

When John Paul II first rose to the papacy in October 1978, people called it the "year of three popes," as two predecessor popes had died in the previous couple of months.

Today is shaping up to be the day of three popes -- with current Pope Francis canonizing John Paul II and a predecessor, John XXIII. (Or four, if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a longtime confidant of John Paul, attends as well.)

Read more: