Saturday, January 27, 2018

Christians recognize God’s grace at work in one another, pope says

From Catholic Sun-

When different Christian Churches recognize the validity of one another’s baptisms, they are recognizing that God’s grace is at work in them, Pope Francis said.

“Even when differences separate us, we recognize that we are part of the redeemed people, the same family of brothers and sisters loved by the one Father,” the pope said Jan. 25 at an ecumenical evening prayer service closing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The week ends on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, and the papal vespers are celebrated at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the church where, according to tradition, the apostle is buried.

At the beginning of the prayer service, Pope Francis stood before what is believed to be St. Paul’s tomb, accompanied by Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and Malta and Anglican Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, the archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See.

More here-

Rod Dreher’s Race Problem

From New Republic-

Last week, Rod Dreher, one of the country’s leading conservative intellectuals, offered a defense of Donald Trump’s notorious “shithole” comments, in which the president bemoaned the fact that immigrants from “shithole” countries in Africa and elsewhere were coming to the United States. “The whole thing is more morally challenging than I initially thought,” Dreher wrote from his longtime perch at The American Conservative. What followed was a slip of the mask, a valuable insight into the uglier ideas that undergird Dreher’s great project of preserving Western civilization.

“Let’s think about Section 8 housing,” he wrote, referring to public housing for low-income Americans, many of them minorities. “If word got out that the government was planning to build a housing project for the poor in your neighborhood, how would you feel about it? Be honest with yourself. Nobody would consider this good news. You wouldn’t consider it good news because you don’t want the destructive culture of the poor imported into your neighborhood. Drive over to the poor part of town, and see what a shithole it is. Do you want the people who turned their neighborhood a shithole to bring the shithole to your street?”

More here-

Why Some Catholics Defend the Kidnapping of a Jewish Boy

From Atlantic-

One summer evening in 1858, the police showed up at the home of a Jewish family in Bologna, Italy, and took their six-year-old child. Authorities had discovered that the child, Edgardo Mortara, had been secretly baptized when he was a baby. Edgardo had fallen gravely ill and his Catholic nanny baptized him for fear that he would die a Jew and be locked out of heaven. But Edgardo survived—and, in the eyes of the Church, he was now a Catholic. Papal law mandated that all Catholic children must receive a Catholic education, and so he was separated from his Jewish family, with Pope Pius IX personally overseeing his religious education.

The “Mortara case” spurred a wave of protests, with activists and intellectuals from Europe and the U.S. petitioning Pius IX to return the child to his parents. The pope refused. Edgardo eventually became a priest, and in 1940 he died in a Belgian monastery. The Vatican never apologized for his kidnapping specifically. But in 2000, John Paul II issued an apology for the persecution of Jews. Today, the dominant Catholic attitude toward the Mortara case is one of regret: “It’s not one of the episodes that the Church is very proud of,” Massimo Faggioli, a Church historian at Villanova University, told me.

More here-

Council proposes balanced draft budget with $133.7 million price tag for next three years

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council on Jan. 24 approved a $133.7 million draft budget for the 2019-2021 triennium that is based on requiring Episcopal Church dioceses to contribute annually 15 percent of their operating income.

The budget, which is essentially balanced, with a small surplus of just $2,654, is far from final. It must eventually be approved by General Convention when it meets in Austin, Texas, July 5-13. It will no doubt undergo some changes between now and then.

The budget is based on an anticipated $133.7 million in revenue to pay for an equal amount in expenses. The triennial budget is up about $8.7 million from that approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention for the current 2016-2018 triennium.

More here-

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Aweil bishop applauds recent Anglican Archbishop elections

From South Sudan-

The Anglican Bishop of Aweil Diocese Abraham Yel Nhial said the recent election for the Anglican primate and Archbishop was peaceful and transparent although he lost to the Bishop of Maridi Diocese Justin Badi Arama.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Monday, Bishop Yel said he accepted the results of what he termed as a tight race in which he lost by one vote to preserve unity and strengthen harmony within the Anglican Church and the whole country.

“The election was conducted in a harmonious atmosphere although there were election fevers during campaign but at the end of the day Bishop Badi was declared the successful candidate. He won by 1 vote. He got 80 votes and I got 79 votes. Immediately after the announcement was made, I stood up and congratulated him. I did it so to preserve the unity of the church and to strengthen harmony of our believers and the faithful,” he said.

More here-

Brazil takes “decisive steps towards gender equality” with election of its first female bishop

From ACNS-

The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil – the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (IEAB) – has elected its first female bishop, some 34 years after the province first paved the way for women to serve in all three orders of ministry. The Revd Canon Marinez Santos Bassotto was elected on Saturday (20 January) as the next Bishop of the Amazon during a meeting at Belém, in the northern Brazillian state of Pará. She will succeed Bishop Saulo Mauricio de Barros, who retired last November. The province was one of the first in the Anglican Communion to official open the episcopate to women in 1983. Its first female deacons were ordained in 1984 and its first female priests in 1985.

Bishop-elect Marinez Bassotto is currently the priest in the Southern Diocese’s (Meridional) parish of São Paulo in the city of Cachoeirinha near Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sol, southern Brazil. She has previously served as Dean of the National Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Porto Alegre. Originally from Rio Grande do Sul, the 46-year-old priest is married to Paulo Bassotto; and the couple have two daughters.

More here-

Episcopal Church challenged to repent for when it failed to protect victims of sexual exploitation, abuse

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, issued a call Jan. 22 for the Episcopal Church to spend Lent and beyond examining its history and its handling or mishandling of cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.

The two say in a letter to the church that recent “compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture.” The story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-22), they said, “is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned.

“It is a Bible story devoid of justice.”

More here-

Forgiving the Unforgivable?

From Plough-

“Should we pardon them?”

That was the question posed by the French philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch in a 1971 essay of that title about Nazi war crimes.1 Jankélévitch passionately opposed a statute of limitations for these atrocities.2 He argued that crimes against humanity – those committed in Auschwitz, for example – are dehumanizing in the most basic sense: they attack the very essence of what it is to be human. Crimes like these, he wrote, cannot be covered by reconciliation:

It was the very being of humanity, esse, that racial genocide attempted to annihilate in the suffering flesh of these millions of martyrs. ... When an act denies the essence of a human being as a human being, the statutory limitations that urge absolution in the name of morality actually themselves contradict morality.3

Forgiveness, according to Jankélévitch, died in the concentration camps. (His essay had a powerful effect: as a result of it, in France there was no statute of limitations for Nazi collaborators under the Vichy regime.)

More here-

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny elected to Anglican Consultative Council

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Jan. 23 elected one of its members, Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, as the church’s bishop member of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Konieczny, who has been bishop in Oklahoma since 2007,  succeeds Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas whose three-meeting term ended after the last meeting of the ACC in Lusaka, Zambia, in April 2016.

He joins lay member Rosalie Ballentine, a deputy from the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, who is the Episcopal Church clergy member.

More Here-

Questions of God Challenge a Pentecostal Preacher to Change in ‘Come Sunday’

From MSN-

Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a deeply moving portrayal of a Pentecostal preacher in the throes of a religious crisis in "Come Sunday," a glimpse into the soul of a real-life man challenged to change his beliefs.

Based on a reported segment on "This American Life," "Come Sunday" tells the story of Bishop Carlton Pearson, who for many years led a million-strong Pentecostal ministry based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until 1998, when he found his faith challenged.

Pearson decided that he no longer believed in hell, no longer believed that only saved Christians would go to heaven and no longer believed that his form of faith was the only one that God could accept. In so doing, he broke with the orthodoxy of his mentor Oral Roberts and threw his ministry into confusion.

More here-

South Sudan Episcopal Church gets new Archbishop

From South Sudan-

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) elected the new primate and Archbishop over the weekend in Juba.
Bishop of Maridi diocese, Justin Badi Arama, was elected as the new primate and Archbishop, to succeed Bishop Dr. Daniel Deng Bul who announced his retirement in July last year.

The election for a new bishop could not happen until it was approved by the House of Bishops last Friday.

The newly elected Bishop Badi won against his challenger, Abraham Yel Nhial, the Bishop of Aweil by just one vote.

Out of 159 participants, he obtained eighty votes while his rival, Bishop Nhial got 79 counts.

More here-

Episcopalian bishop visits USVI

From The Virgin Islands-

George Sebastian crouched in the hallway with his wife while he witnessed Hurricane Irma rip the roof from their home in St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 6.

“I was watching. I was hoping. I was praying,” said Sebastian, a parishioner from All Saints Cathedral, as he pointed to his house on a distant hillside. “I was stressed. I lost everything in a few minutes.”

About four months later, Sebastian has a new roof, and he’s driving Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his contingent around his island during pastoral visit earlier this month to the Diocese of the Virgin Islands. Curry listened to Episcopalians share their post-hurricane struggles and stress. He discussed how the church can bolster spirits and communities.

Since the horrendous 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, stories like Sebastian’s are many among the Diocese of the Virgin Islands. Curry strove to encourage parishioners.

More here-

Church of England bishops reject prayer service for transitioning people

From Episcopal Cafe-

In a meeting at Lambeth yesterday, the bishops of the Church of England decided not to authorize a separate service for trans people taking their true name.  The decision was made that the existing service for the affirmation of baptism would suffice.  This was decided despite strong urging from many, including the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.  The Reverend Chris Newlands, who proposed the motion, said it was “a wonderful opportunity to create a liturgy which speaks powerfully to the particularities of trans people, and make a significant contribution to their well-being and support.”  Below is a press release from the Church of England on the matter.

Following the debate and vote at General Synod in July 2017 on Welcoming Transgender People, the House of Bishops has prayerfully considered whether a new nationally commended service might be prepared to mark a gender transition.

The Bishops are inviting clergy to use the existing rite Affirmation of Baptismal Faith. New guidance is also being prepared on the use of the service.

More here-

Serving isolated parishes may mean ordaining married men, cardinal says

From American Magazine-

The idea of exceptionally ordaining older married men of proven virtue to celebrate the Eucharist in isolated Catholic communities is something that should be discussed, said Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

"It is not about being in favor of or against something, but about attentively evaluating various possibilities without being closed or rigid," the cardinal said in a new book in Italian, "Tutti gli Uomini di Francesco" ("All Francis' Men") released Jan. 22 by Edizioni San Paolo.

The book, by Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, includes interviews with churchmen named to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis.

More here-

Monday, January 22, 2018

Standing With Tamar: A Letter from the Presiding Bishop and President Jennings

From The House of Deputies-

Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:

In recent weeks, compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture:  the story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13: 1-22). It is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned. It is a Bible story devoid of justice.

For more than two decades, African women from marginalized communities have studied this passage of scripture using a method called contextual Bible study to explore and speak about the trauma of sexual assault in their own lives. Using a manual published by the Tamar Campaign they ask, “What can the Church do to break the silence against gender-based violence?”

It is, as the old-time preachers say, a convicting question. As our societies have been forced into fresh recognition that women in all walks of life have suffered unspoken trauma at the hands of male aggressors and harassers, we have become convinced that the Episcopal Church must work even harder to create a church that is not simply safe, but holy, humane and decent. We must commit to treating every person as a child of God, deserving of dignity and respect. We must also commit to ending the systemic sexism, misogyny and misuse of power that plague the church just as they corrupt our culture, institutions and governments.

More here-

What Happens if You Package the Bible as a Novel Instead of a Textbook?

From Slate-

I’ve owned eight or 10 Bibles over the course of my life, including a children’s illustrated New International Version, a handful of small gilt-edged New Testaments, a “life application” Bible packaged for 1990s teenagers, and a hefty tome emblazoned with my name. I’m not an unusually prodigious collector. Eighty-eight percent of American households own at least one Bible, and many own more. I happen to be writing this in a room at my in-laws’ house that holds five versions of the Bible, a small portion of their stash—which includes a pocket-sized New Testament, a hardcover “amplified” version, two leather-bound New King James translations, and a brightly covered Nuevo Testamento.

These Bibles vary in translation, publisher, language, intended audience, and aesthetics, but they have one thing in common: They are reference books. The text has been broken down into chapters and verses, and they contain explanatory footnotes and cross-references to related passages. In almost all of them, justified blocks of text run down each tissue-thin page in two columns, and in some of them, each sentence is its own paragraph. Some contain maps, long introductions to each book, sidebars, and copious endnotes. They are meant to be sampled or studied like a textbook, not read like a novel.

More here-

“We’re back” | St. Francis Episcopal Church holds first service on campus since Great Flood of 2016

From Louisiana-

Gene Knecht stood outside St. Francis Episcopal Church, greeting church goers with a handshake and a program as they entered the building.

Inside, Erik Pittman sat at his organ, where he sent a string of church hymns in the air as people chatted amongst themselves and found their seats.

The sanctuary started filling up around 9:30 a.m., about half an hour before the scheduled start of service. When 10 a.m. struck, chairs had to be added as more and more people kept walking through the two stained doors in front.

This wasn’t just another Sunday at St. Francis Episcopal Church.

No, this was the church’s first service on its main campus since the Great Flood of 2016, and, boy, did it feel good to be back.

More here-

Sunday, January 21, 2018

African-American deaconess honored at Episcopal church she founded in countryside north of Brunswick

From Georgia (via Florida)-

Speaking in the modest country church Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander founded in 1894, the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry said she lived the same “Why not” life as Christ during a service Saturday to celebrate her life.

The deaconess is buried in front of the original unpainted two-story Good Shepherd Episcopal Church she founded in the countryside on Pennick Road . It’s also where she founded a parochial school in the building in 1902 and began teaching children to read. In 1907, she was ordained the first African-American deaconess in the Episcopal Church.

She is buried directly in front of the church and school were a monument provides all her history except for her birth, said Anna Iredale, a publicist for the Episcopal Church.

“We say 1865, the year of emancipation,” on Butler Plantation where her parents were newly freed, Iredale said.

More here-

Utah's Episcopalian bishop cites LDS donations as example of differing faiths working together

From Utah-

Saying Americans “are hungry” for disagreeing people who continue to maintain positive relationships, the Episcopal Diocese of Utah is citing recent humanitarian donations from the LDS Church and the latter’s hosting of Episcopal Migration Ministries officials as evidences of successful efforts shared by differing faiths.

“I believe that it is very important to demonstrate that people can work together, value each other, and have friendships with each other, even though there are points of profound differences between us,” wrote the Rt. Reve. Scott B. Hayashi on the Episcopal Diocese of Utah’s Facebook page in a Thursday evening post. “I believe that the people of this nation are hungry to see people disagree and still be in positive relationship.”

More here-