Saturday, December 27, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury has pneumonia, needs 'bed rest'

From Ecumenical News-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is suffering from pneumonia, it was announced the day after he was forced to forgo preaching at the annual Canterbury Cathedral Christmas service.

On Christmas Day Lambeth Palace had posted a message on its website saying, "The Archbishop had been due to deliver an address on the true spirit of Christmas but cancelled on Thursday morning as he was too unwell."

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Year of Pope Francis: no wonder Iveagh House wanted to get back in on the action

From Ireland-

When Ireland’s new Ambassador to the Holy See, Emma Madigan, was chatting to Pope Francis in the pontifical library the day she presented her diplomatic credentials last month, the pope at one point told her: “You know, before the conclave last year the bookmakers were quoting me at 25/1, and then look what happened.”

If Francis’s election in 2013 saw the triumph of a 25/1 shot, what price do we put on the rapid turnaround – even U-turnaround – in Irish-Vatican relations now as compared with three years ago? Those were the days when Taoiseach Enda Kenny, rightly in the opinion of many, accused the Holy See of being dominated by a culture of “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism”.

More here-

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bill will put women bishops at head of queue for House of Lords

From The Church Times-

AS THE Bishop currently at the head of the queue, the Bishop of Lincoln might have been expected to be a little put-out by plans to enable his female colleagues to enter the House of Lords before him.                   

Instead, as the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill received its first parliamentary reading, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, welcomed the news.

"On the one hand, this is quite frustrating," he said on Thursday, "because greater Lincolnshire is under-represented in the House of Lords. . .

"However, far more frustrating has been the wait for women to be able to be ordained bishop, and for an anachronism to be consigned to history. For that to happen completely, it is absolutely right that women bishops are fully represented in all levels of society, parliament and the Church, and I look forward very much to seeing that happen."

More here-

Daughter of atheists now Anglican bishop tackling poverty

From Canada-

Jane Alexander was a teenager before she set foot in a church, and she wasn’t baptized until she was in her mid-20s with her first child.

Her parents, confirmed atheists, actively discouraged religion but encouraged music in their young soprano. That was her window into Christian faith and it changed her life, eventually.

Soft-spoken with a disarming smile, Alexander has been Edmonton’s Anglican bishop for the past six years. She’s one of a handful of females who hold this prominent job in Canada.

She has also just taken on a major leadership role in the city as head of Mayor Don Iveson’s ambitious task force on poverty.

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End of an era for Jebel Ali Anglican church

From UAE-

 Christmas will be a bitter-sweet affair for Reverend Canon Stephen Wright as the Anglican chaplain draws the curtain on more than a decade of service to worshippers at Christ Church Jebel Ali.

For 11 years Rev Wright, who is married with three children, has overseen a multinational congregation.

“Our congregation ends up being quite multinational. Some of them come because it’s English language. There is a family from Madagascar that comes here because there’s no French service for their children, whereas if you were a Malayalam-language worshipper, everyone [in attendance would be] Indian.

“It doesn’t matter what denomination or sect you’re in, in our congregation we have people from all different groups.”

More here-

Can you question the Virgin Birth and still be a Christian?

From Crux Now-

It’s a tough sell: A young, unmarried teenager gets pregnant, but the father isn’t a man but God himself. And the girl is a virgin — and (some believe) remains one even after she delivers a strapping baby boy.

That’s the story of the Virgin Birth, one of the central tenets of faith for the world’s 2 billion Christians. The story is embraced by every branch of Christianity, from Eastern Orthodoxy to Mormonism, Catholic and Protestant.

More here-

Christmas in Havana

From New Hampshire-

Cuba certainly has been in the news. Having lived there for a year in the 1980’s, traveled to the island many times, and having seen my son just return from his Young Adult Service Corps volunteer year in Cuba this past July, my reaction to the plan to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba is that it may very well be the beginning of a long process of lasting change. In these final days of Advent waiting, expectation and hope, many of us have been waiting and hoping for some good news to come out of Cuba for decades. I thank God for this development. Our five decades long policy of isolation, in my opinion, has not worked. I believe that Americans should be able to travel to Cuba freely, as we do in China and Vietnam. With increased travel and communication the expectation is that seeds of change will be planted.

More here-

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Super-astute' Welby faces big challenges ahead

From The BBC-

At an orphanage just outside Freetown in Sierra Leone, the Archbishop of Canterbury looks totally at ease as he not only watches, smiling, but takes part as the children sing to greet him.

Most of them have lost parents to Ebola. Some, though, have survived the virus, but cannot return to their homes because other villagers still fear they might infect others.

It is a brief trip, but there is just enough time for Archbishop Justin Welby to offer a heartfelt prayer to the congregation at St George's Cathedral in Freetown where his visit is warmly welcomed as a sign that the suffering of the people of Sierra Leone - and the over 2,000 who have died of Ebola there - is not forgotten.

More here-

Church of England still homophobic, says bishop

From The Guardian-

The Church of England is still guilty of “serious institutional homophobia” and has yet to overcome “inertia and ignorance” towards same-sex couples, an Anglican bishop has claimed.

Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, praised gay members of the clergy for showing “considerable courage and determination” as they fight deeply ingrained prejudices to marry.

“In very few years people will wonder what the fuss was all about,” the bishop says in a Christmas sermon for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community recorded for Pink News. He adds: “But for now it’s a path that calls for considerable courage and determination. So please spare a thought this Christmas for them.”

More here-

Pope gives Vatican leadership a withering critique

From The Boston Globe-

At the end of a tumultuous year for the Catholic Church, in which divisions among senior leadership over the direction being set by Pope Francis were at times glaringly apparent, the pontiff on Monday delivered a blistering critique of arrogance, careerism, gossip, and division in the Vatican.

Among other points, the pope denounced what he called “spiritual Alzheimer’s,” meaning “a progressive decline in spiritual faculties,” leading people to “build walls around themselves” and to make “idols” of their personal habits.

More here-

Memorable quotes from Pope Francis in 2014

From USA Today-

Pope Francis had a meaningful year.

He spread goodwill across the world, tweeted inspiration from his handle @Pontifex, remarked on social issues like gay marriage and euthanasia and cast a critical eye onto the Catholic church itself.

Take a look at memorable quotes from his 2014:

1. "Let no one use God as a shield while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression," and, "May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman." - During his September visit to Albania.

More here-

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tallest cross erected on city’s historic church

From India-

The historic Anglican church in the diamond city has been adorned with the tallest 10 feet high illuminating cross.

Thanks to the Friends of Churches (FOC), a small group of Christian youths promoting welfare and development activities of the churches across the state, this is first of its kind cross structure to be ever erected on the church in the entire state.

Samir Frank, president, FOC said, "Erecting 10 feet tall cross weighing more than 90 kilograms on the historic church was quite a challenge for us. But, we accepted the challenge and succeeded in erecting the tallest cross ever in Gujarat. Even after 200 years of its existence, the church structure is well maintained."

More here-

Priest who left ministry to marry replaced by married priest

From Irish Times-

A Catholic parish priest who has left the ministry to marry will this week be replaced in his English parish by a married priest with three children.

Last June, Fr Philip Gay celebrated 25 years as a priest at Coventry’s St Thomas More parish in the Catholic archdiocese of Birmingham. In October his parishioners were told he had decided to stand down from ministry “after careful consideration and for personal reasons”, so he could consider his future.

More here-

Anglican Archbishop Welby Talks Coping With Death of Young Daughter; Says He Doesn't Attempt to Answer Why God Allows Suffering

From Christian Post-

Church of England leader the Most Rev Justin Welby has opened up in an interview about the death of his first born child, 7-month-old daughter Johanna, who died in a tragic car accident. Welby said that he never attempts to answer why God allows suffering in the world, other than to point out that Jesus Christ was also young and unfairly killed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury told BBC Radio 4 that Johanna's death in 1983 is a "constant reminder of the uncertainty of life," and recalled the day of the tragedy, when his wife Caroline was being driven through Paris in the passenger seat, while their daughter was in a carrycot in the back.

More here-

Monday, December 22, 2014

How Dickens and Scrooge Saved Christmas

From The Daily Beast-

When A Christmas Carol was published just in time for the Christmas of 1843, the holiday had been in a long decline in England. The habit of celebrating Christmas had flourished there in medieval times as a wanton combination of marking Christ’s birth, the Roman orgy of Saturnalia, and the German winter festival, Yule.

Although the Anglican Church still held considerable power over the customs of Victorian England the observation of Christmas was, by then, more doctrinal than hedonistic. The folk memory of medieval community life had been wiped out by the industrial revolution. Large swathes of the countryside were depopulated. Rural churches were deserted, and the connection between the land and the bounty of harvests was gone.

More here-

If Mary and Joseph Tried to Reach Bethlehem Today, They Would Get Stuck at an Israeli Checkpoint

From Huffington-

'Tis the season of Nativity scenes. But here's a question to consider: would Joseph and Mary even have been able to reach Bethlehem if they were making that same journey today?
How would that carpenter and his pregnant wife have circumnavigated the Kafka­esque network of Israeli settlements, roadblocks and closed military zones in the occupied West Bank? Would Mary have had to experience labour or childbirth at a checkpoint, as one in ten pregnant Palestinian women did between 2000 and 2007 (resulting in the death of at least 35 newborn babies, according to the Lancet)?

"If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed," declared Father Ibrahim Shomali, a Catholic priest of the city's Beit Jala parish, in December 2011. "Mary and Joseph would have needed Israeli permission - or to have been tourists."

More here-

A Christian leader who is living in the real world

From The Financial Times-

Across much of the western world, Christmas has long lost its connotation as a religious festival and seems increasingly a moment for self-gratification. The UK is no exception in this regard. The number of Britons describing themselves as Christian has slumped dramatically in recent years. Today, only one in five identify themselves as Anglican — or members of the Church of England — down from 40 per cent of the population in the 1980s.

It is all the more remarkable therefore that nearly two years after he was appointed the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, is becoming an increasingly respected moral voice. An energetic and plain-speaking figure who spent most of his early adult life as an oil industry executive, he is righty gaining in appeal not only among Anglicans but also with people outside the Christian faith.

More here-

Anglican Bishop: Koran Should Be Used at Prince Charles’s Coronation

From The Trumpet-

In late November, Lord Harries of Pentregarth proposed the Koran be used to open the coronation of Prince Charles during a House of Lords debate. It ignited an angry outburst.

The senior Church of England bishop said the Church of England should lead in “exercising its historic position in a hospitable way.” After acknowledging that authorities agreed at a civic service in Bristol Cathedral last year to read the Koran before the service, he said, “It was a brilliant creative act of accommodation that made the Muslim high sheriff feel … warmly embraced but did not alienate the core congregation.”

More here-

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Justin Welby 'trying to bridge gay marriage split'

From The BBC-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is trying to bridge a split in the Anglican Church over same-sex marriage.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told Radio 4's Desert Island Discs he wanted to listen to both sides. He also admitted to moments of frustration on the issue.

He did not discuss his previous opposition to gay marriage, saying it would be "inappropriate" while the Church was debating it.

He also told the programme about growing up with an alcoholic father.

More here-

0 comments 'Literally a miracle:' Episcopal Diocese forgives $93,000 debt owed by independent Saginaw church

From Michigan-

If you ask the Rev. Eugene Burton, miracles are real.

The pastor of Christ Image Community Church in Saginaw will tell you he just experienced an early Christmas miracle when the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan erased a $93,000 debt owed by the independent church.

"It was literally a miracle for our congregation," Burton said.

'Practice what we believe'

Burton and his wife, the Rev. Melissa Burton, entered into a $125,000 land contract with the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan in 2010 to purchase the building at 708 W. Genesee, which formerly housed Calvary Memorial Episcopal Church.

More here-