Daily Archives: July 17, 2007

Nigerian Archbishop calls for end to crime wave in Delta region

THE ARCHBISHOP of Nigeria has condemned the kidnapping of a British toddler in the Niger Delta, and has called for an end to the crime spree that threatens to destabilise the country’s oil producing region.

Archbishop Peter Akinola wrote that ”˜the spate of kidnapping’ was a ”˜worrisome trend.’ He expressed relief that three-year-old Margaret Hill had been released unharmed, but asked ”˜How long will this go on?’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

Central NY Church Court Dismisses Case Against Episcopal Priest

After an 18 month saga of temporary inhibitions and presentment by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York and Bishop Gladstone “Skip” Adams, III of Syracuse charging a parish priest with financial misconduct at his former parish, the priest was exonerated today when the Episcopal Church ecclesiastical court dismissed all of the charges. That priest now has restored to him by canon law the right to celebrate the Eucharist and perform the other functions of a clergyman which were taken away from him by the bishop a year and a half ago.

Fr. David Bollinger defended the proceeding which resulted in the church court refusing to allow any evidence to be introduced against the priest or any witnesses to testify against him. The judge cited numerous procedural problems with the case brought by the bishop and the diocese against Fr. Bollinger. Carter Strickland, the judge in the ecclesiastical court, had previously directed the prosecutor, church attorney James Sparks, to give Fr. Bollinger copies of the evidence against him, but the diocese refused to release it to the priest. One of the pieces of evidence was the so-called Schafer Report. That was a report commissioned by the diocese and prepared by a previous judge of the ecclesiastical court. That report was believed to have contained evidence to the effect that Fr.Bollinger was not guilty of misconduct.

“One of the basic rules of due process of law is that someone accused of an offense should be able to see the evidence against him,” said Raymond Dague, the attorney for Fr. Bollinger. “The failure of the diocese and the bishop to disclose this evidence to Fr. Bollinger was the straw that broke the camel’s back in their case against this priest. We applaud the faithful judge who was able to stand up against a bishop and tell him that he was not above the law and rules of fair play.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Louisiana Moves to Restrict Abortion

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has signed into law two bills banning a controversial form of late-term abortions, making Louisiana the first state outlaw the procedure after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban in April.

Under two bills, which went into effect Friday, anyone convicted of performing “a partial birth abortion … thereby kills a human fetus” and can be imprisoned for one to 10 years, fined from $10,000 to $100,000, or both. Women who have the procedure will not be subjected to fines or jail time under the new laws.

A doctor charged with the crime can seek a hearing before the State Board of Medical Examiners to determine whether the procedure was necessary to save the mother’s life, an exemption under the new laws.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics

Pope Sparks Mass Revival

From the National Catholic Register:

Pope Benedict XVI has relaxed the rules on the use of the Mass celebrated before the Second Vatican Council.

In a document titled Summorum Pontificum, issued July 7, the Pope has instructed bishops to make the Tridentine Mass freely available in any parish that desires to have it.

The Holy Father called the instruction the “fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.” It comes into effect Sept. 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

At present, any priest or group of faithful wishing to celebrate the old Latin rite requires the permission of their bishop who can arbitrarily refuse the request.

But from September, all the faithful will now have the right to use without further permission what Pope Benedict describes as this “extraordinary form” ”” the Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

The “ordinary form” of the Mass will continue to be the 1970 Novus Ordo Mass of Pope Paul VI.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Offering Comfort to the Sick and Blessings to Their Healers

At 1 p.m. on a weekday, the emergency department at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Upper Manhattan is in full cry, with bays crowded, patients on stretchers lining the hallways, and paramedics bringing in more sick people. Time for the Rev. Margaret A. Muncie to work the floor.

Not shy, this pastor with the clerical collar, the Ann Taylor blazer and the cheerful insistence of one whose own mother called her a steamroller. Among the first women ordained an Episcopal priest and a self-described “Caucasian minority,” she’s an odd bird among the ethnically diverse staff and especially the patients, most of them black or Latino. But she keeps pecking her head behind curtains, parting gatherings of worried family members, impervious to startled looks of suspicion.

“Hi, I’m Peggy Muncie, a hospital chaplain,” she says. “Would you like a visit?”

She’s not there to thump. Deftly, she asks people how they’re feeling, then lets them vent their pain and fear, their anxiety and frustration. She nods, a little pushy with her probing. She flags a nurse. “Can you direct a doctor toward that patient?” she whispers.

And always, at the end of a visit: “Would it be all right if I prayed with you?” The health care chaplain will touch a forehead, hold a hand and quietly pray worries to the Divine, speaking with inflections that, as needed, may be Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim. For the Baptist woman in Bed 7 whose anxieties are making her chest pain worse, the chaplain prays for calm to allow the medicine to work. Gradually, the patient’s breathing slows.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

Prosecution Rests Case Against Central New York Priest

An ecclesiastical court ruled July 16 in Syracuse, N.Y., that the Rt. Rev. Gladstone “Skip” Adams, Bishop of Central New York, would not be permitted to testify in the trial of the Rev. David Bollinger, former rector of St. Paul’s, Owego, who stands accused of financial misconduct and disobedience.

Before the trial began, Carter Strickland, the presiding judge, excluded most of the evidence and all of the witnesses for the prosecution because it missed the discovery phase filing deadline by more than two weeks. Bishop Adams was not on a witness list submitted to the court at least 60 days before the start of the trial.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Karl Kurz offers his Thoughts

From a letter in the Parksville Qualicum News:

For a few years the marriage of same sex partners to live together as a unit is allowed in our country by the law.

There are people in our country who adhere to different faiths, who pay homage to their gods and they too are expected, and required to subordinate their religious practices to Canadian law.

Therefore, who and what are these 21 bishops who, as their Catholic partners in this same faith did for 2,000 years, terrorize and tyrannize the faithful by preaching that their God loves them all. Then by human judgement they reject great numbers, condemn them despite their innocence, ostracize them as being unworthy to socialize with ”” but still taking their tithes to make a living off ”” and beyond all this are unaware, or in demonstrated disregard, that they thereby remove themselves out of the bounds of the protective, but into the sphere of punitive criminal law.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Stephen Mansfield: On Religion, The Founders got it right

From USA Today:

Two days after he wrote the famous words “separation between church and state” in an 1802 letter to Baptists in Connecticut, Thomas Jefferson began attending church ”” on the floor of the House of Representatives. He would attend the makeshift church in the national Capitol nearly every Sunday morning for the rest of his presidency. Clearly, his understanding of the connection between religion and government is not the one we endure today.

We should not be surprised. It was Jefferson, after all, who insisted upon the Bible as part of the curriculum at the University of Virginia, Jefferson who approved federal funding for a Catholic priest to serve the Kaskaski Indians, and Jefferson who once said, “I am a Christian in the only sense in which he (Jesus) wished anyone to be.” True, he was far from theologically orthodox, he expected most of the young men in his day to end their lives as Unitarians and he angrily despised the clergy of his day. Yet, contrary to the secular dreams of an influential few today, Jefferson envisioned a government that would encourage religion while neither submitting to nor erecting a religious tyranny.

Even if Jefferson had envisioned a secular state, it would have made little difference in the early history of our nation. It was not his words that carried the force of law ”” written as they were 14 years after the Constitution was ratified ”” but rather the 10 words that are undoubtedly the most tortured in our history: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” These words, the first 10 of our Bill of Rights, make the intentions of the Founding Fathers clear. Having just fought a war of independence against England and her state church, they had no intention of allowing the U.S. Congress the authority to erect a new religious tyranny to dominate their young nation. Instead, they denied Congress the power to create a national church. The states and the individual citizens, of course, were free to be as religious as they wanted to be.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues

A Diocese of Connecticut Email Update on Trinity Church, Bristol

On Pentecost Sunday, May 27, some members of Trinity Episcopal Church, Bristol, including its rector the Rev. Donald Helmandollar, voted to align themselves with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). CANA is an initiative of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, a foreign province acting outside the bonds, customs and traditions of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Andrew Smith first learned of the vote through an Internet posting. He phoned Helmandollar and later received a letter dated May 27 stating that “he and the parish” had formally aligned with CANA.

Bishop Smith brought the matter to the clergy members of the Standing Committee and, with their advice and consent, released Helmandollar from the responsibilities and privileges of a priest in The Episcopal Church under Title III, Canon 9.8. Formal notice of the action was sent out on June 20.

After confirming that the wardens and vestry of Trinity had all also voted to align with CANA, Bishop Smith removed them from their positions under Title I, Canon 17.8 of the Canons and Constitution of The Episcopal Church.

The Bishop asked the CANA group at Trinity to vacate the buildings and surrender control of the assets by July 8. Through an attorney, the CANA group has stated that there will be no compliance and has further announced an intention to bring trespass charges against any Diocesan personnel who help recover possession of Parish property for the use of loyal Episcopalians. The Diocese has now turned the task of recovering the Parish property over to its attorneys.

On July 12, Bishop Smith wrote and sent a letter to members of Trinity Episcopal Church, inviting all who wish to continue as Episcopalians to meet with him to discuss the situation, meet a priest-in-charge for Trinity, and begin to identify new leadership.

“Trinity Episcopal Church has a long and solid history as a parish of this Diocese,” he wrote. “Its founders and members over the generations have built the parish within the family and tradition of The Episcopal Church. I truly regret that some members have seen fit to try to tear the congregation from the fabric of the Church and now lay claim to its property and assets.

“Please know that regardless of what may have been said by others, a parish in The Episcopal Church is a constituent member of the Diocese of which it is part. That is a matter of Canon law, and in Connecticut it also is a matter that has been determined by the civil courts. Trinity Episcopal Church, Bristol, is and remains a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

“… Please do pray for the whole Church of God in these times. I am praying for all the members of Trinity Episcopal Church. My hope is that we may pray, reason and work together to serve Christ in our day, as a blessing to God and a clear witness to Christ’s redeeming love in this world.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Christopher Seitz–Covenanting in the Church and in Scripture ”“ Congruent or Discordant?

In sum, covenants are deeply personal, relational, missional, reconciliatory expressions of the will of the One God to save, to bring into fellowship, and to oblige. This ”˜obliging’ is crucial, not because God delights in commands, but because commands are given in order for grateful response to be possible. But at the very same time, commands never replace the Holy and Living God, who in his character is the desisting and forbearing Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If the gracious ”˜obliging’ is cast aside, God has made provision for renewal and reconciliation, as part of the very act of covenanting in the first place.

It is not the task of those who undertake to compose a covenant, and those who obligate themselves, in Christ, to do what it asks, to imitate some precise form or event from within scripture’s panoramic account. This would be an odd kind of Biblicism, and may explain in part why the New Testament can refer reflexively to a new covenant with all high seriousness, without getting caught up in the provision of inventive new forms. The same holds true for the Anglican Communion in our day. To do this would be to undercut the dynamic and personal character of covenanting.

In the case of Anglicanism, it is the divine initiative in spreading the Gospel through the world to which we make response. We have never truly faced this moment with the kind of seriousness now required””due precisely to the success of missional expansion and the rapid character of communication and personal communion””and so it is not surprising that our time calls for a recognition, solemn and joyful, of God’s work, and of our concern to acknowledge and live within its gracious provision. That is why an Anglican Covenant is proposed by the Windsor Report and why we should undertake its relational, missional and reconciliatory calling in this present season.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant

Peter Berkowitz: The New New Atheism

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Hitchens anticipates that critics will point to those crimes against humanity, dwarfing religion’s sins, committed in the name of secular ideas in the 20th century. He attempts to deflect the challenge with sophistry: “It is interesting to find that people of faith now seek defensively to say that they are no worse than fascists or Nazis or Stalinists.” But who is behaving defensively here? Mr. Hitchens is the one who unequivocally insists that religion poisons everything, and it is Mr. Hitchens who holds out the utopian hope that eradicating it will subdue humanity’s evil propensities and resolve its enduring questions.

Nor is his case bolstered by his observation that 20th-century totalitarianism took on many features of religion. That only brings home the need to distinguish, as Mr. Hitchens resolutely refuses to do, between authentic and corrupt, and just and unjust, religious teachings. And it begs the question of why the 20th-century embrace of secularism unleashed human depravity of unprecedented proportions.

Even were he to concede that religion doesn’t poison everything, Mr. Hitchens presumably still would cling to his claim that the findings of modern science prove that God does not exist. Thanks to the knowledge we have attained of how the natural order actually operates — in particular the discoveries of Charles Darwin and modern physics — he concludes that “all attempts to reconcile faith with science and reason are consigned to failure and ridicule.”

This conclusion, however, contradicts that of the late Stephen Jay Gould, to whom Mr. Hitchens himself refers as a “great paleontologist” and whose authority he invokes in support of the proposition that randomness is an essential feature of evolution. Noting surveys that showed that half of all scientists are religious, Gould commented amusingly that “Either half my colleagues are enormously stupid, or else the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious beliefs — and equally compatible with atheism.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Tempers flare on Iraq

When senators from opposing parties call each other “friend” and pat each other as they talk, there’s a fighting chance they’re angling to wring each other’s neck.

So it appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday when Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina testily exchanged views on President Bush’s Iraq policy and troop welfare. An impromptu troop surge debate turned into a temper surge.

“Just wash your hands of Iraq,” an animated Graham said to the war critics, including the Democrat seated to his immediate right. “History will judge us, my friend.”

“It’s been a hard month, Lindsey,” Webb commiserated, wearing a tight smile. “You need to calm down, my friend.”

Read it all and the transcript is here.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

US Weighs Larger 'Surge' in Iraq

The U.S. military is weighing new directions in Iraq, including an even bigger troop buildup if President Bush thinks his “surge” strategy needs a further boost, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace revealed that he and the chiefs of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are developing their own assessment of the situation in Iraq, to be presented to Bush in September. That will be separate from the highly anticipated report to Congress that month by Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander for Iraq.

The Joint Chiefs are considering a range of actions, including another troop buildup, Pace said without making any predictions. He called it prudent planning to enable the services to be ready for Bush’s decision.

The military must “be prepared for whatever it’s going to look like two months from now,” Pace said in an interview with two reporters traveling with him to Iraq from Washington.

“That way, if we need to plus up or come down” in numbers of troops in Iraq, the details will have been studied, he said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

From Muslim Youths, a Push for Change

From the Washington Post:

Attending what Muslim American activists say is the highest-level meeting ever between Muslim American youths and U.S. officials, Mohamed Sabur couldn’t help but notice a frustrating paradox.

Part of what motivated the 23-year-old to leave computer science for politics was anger at seeing his community constantly defined by extreme topics such as religious violence. And yet Sabur sat last week through unprecedented meetings with officials from the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, and one subject kept coming up: Muslim American youth radicalization.

“I’m trying constantly to figure out: How can I be a civically involved Muslim, interact with other Muslims as well as the government while not seeming like a sellout, like my allegiance is in one camp or another?” the native Minnesotan said Friday, just before dinner on Capitol Hill with the two dozen other participants of the first National Muslim American Youth Summit, which ended yesterday. The summit was organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, one of the largest U.S. Muslim advocacy groups, to expose future leaders to the workings of a government many Muslims feel speaks about them but not to them.

Six years into a serious political and religious awakening prompted by the Sept. 11 attacks, American Muslims know why such meetings haven’t happened before. The community, 65 percent foreign-born, is just starting to build the type of institutions that can produce young Muslim civic leaders (some call this period “embryonic”). On the government side, things were just too brittle for a lot of invitations to be extended, officials say.

But what young Muslim Americans don’t know, summit participants said, is precisely what to do with their newfound drive.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth

Bishop Maurice Wood RIP

The Rt Rev Maurice Wood, who has died aged 90, was the flamboyant yet hugely popular bishop of Norwich from 1971 to 1985. He was very good with ordinary people and brought in young clergy to parishes around the city, giving it a great sense of energy. A friend and admirer of Billy Graham, he sponsored the American evangelist’s visits to Cambridge and Norwich in 1955 and spoke on his platforms in Japan and the US.

Born into an evangelical and teetotal family, Wood was a classic evangelical of the 1930s mould, nurtured by his time at Monkton Combe school, near Bath, Queens’ College and Ridley Hall, Cambridge, evangelical camps, bible classes, the Crusaders – and the suffering he witnessed as a chaplain with the commandos during the D-day landings, for which he was awarded the DSC.

A man of simple faith and great zeal, he was successively incumbent of two evangelical flagship parishes, St Ebbe’s, Oxford (1947-52), and St Mary’s, Islington (1952-61). He then became principal of Oak Hill Theological College, Southgate, his warm-hearted pastoral care attracting a good number of students, including many graduates. While never claiming to be an academic himself, and content with an uncritical reading of the scriptures, he added to the fortunes of the college by inviting such evangelical rising stars as John Simpson, later dean of Canterbury, John B Taylor, later bishop of St Albans, and George Carey, later archbishop of Canterbury, to join the staff. The Opportunity Knocks weekends run by the college played no small part in attracting men to the ministry.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops