Daily Archives: April 6, 2008

Divorce, abortion an offence to God, Pope says

Divorce and abortion are offences in the sight of God, Pope Benedict XVI charged Saturday, while calling on the Catholic Church to be merciful to those who had experienced such events.
“The ethical judgement of the Church on divorce and abortion is clear and well-known,” he told participants in a Catholic congress on marriage and the family.

“They are serious offences… which violate human dignity, inflict deep injustice on human and social relations and offend God himself, guarantor of conjugal peace and origin of life,” he said.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

The Pope's U.S. Trip not Just for Roman Catholics

When Benedict XVI travels to the United States this month, ecumenical and interreligious relations are a priority on his agenda, according to an aide of the nation’s conference of bishops.

Father James Massa, executive director of the U.S episcopal conference’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said this is because “the Pope is convinced that there will be no peace in the world until there is peace among the religions. That is why he comes to the table of dialogue here in the U.S. and in Rome, with hope and abiding conviction.”

Father Massa told ZENIT that this Holy Father “brings an amazing theological depth to ecumenical and interreligious relations.”

The Pontiff’s schedule during his five-day U.S. trip includes four stops dedicated to building these relationships. On April 17, the Pope will meet with 200 interfaith leaders at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

At the conclusion of that meeting, he will meet with religious representatives of the Jewish community to present to them his greetings for the feast of Passover, which begins for the Jewish people on April 19.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Telegraph: Teens need right to 'medically assisted suicide'

Teenagers should be given the right to medically assisted suicide and the parents of terminally ill younger children should be able to choose euthanasia under proposals from members of Belgium’s coalition government.

The plans to extend rules allowing doctors to perform euthanasia on terminally ill people suffering “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain” comes amid heated Belgian debate on the issue.

Under existing Belgian laws, in place since 2002, patients, other than newborn babies, must be over 18 to qualify for assisted suicide, a situation that Bart Tommelein, leader of Belgium Liberals, wants changed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Teens / Youth

From the Local paper: Faith Leaders address the Immigration Issue

I quote one response from the former Suffragan Bishop of South Carolina and now Assistant bishop of the Dominican Episcopal Church, William Skilton:

I have found it increasingly difficult to even enter into meaningful conversation regarding immigration issues that we face as a nation.

Where talk used to be of helping, teaching, sharing and even feeding, this has been replaced by a clamor of voices calling for apprehending, jailing and deporting those “strangers and aliens in our midst.” (New York Times colunnist) David Brooks, writing in The Post and Courier late last year, stated that “month by month, the ideas that once prevailed on the angry fringe enter the mainstream and turn into conventional wisdom.”

As the furor goes on and we seem to focus on how to deal with these fellow human beings, stories and statistics are used to brand them as possible terrorists, immorals, criminals and undeserving welfare recipients.

That many are illegally in the U.S. is true, but let us realize that most would not have ever been afforded the opportunity to receive a visa to come.

They are here seeking a better life for themselves and for their families, a life which would not be theirs had they not risked their lives to reach the “land of the free.”

It is interesting to note in the listing of those giving their lives for our country how many names just don’t sound like “us” Americans, but some would say, “Oh, no, that is different. …”

I think back in history and I am constantly reminded that my ancestors came seeking freedom and opportunity. They were welcomed, and we were blessed.

I deeply believe that Holy Scripture is painfully clear, that my call to love is a non-negotiable calling ”” one that I have embraced. I am not permitted the “luxury” of choosing what I like or don’t like; what I will obey and what I will not obey.

As a Christian, I am called to embrace the stranger and render radical hospitality to those who are most vulnerable, for we are fellow “sojourners in this land” (Exodus 23:9; Deuteronomy 24:17, 18).

I believe there is a reasonable solution, which will honor the dignity of the “least of these” while protecting our borders from unwarranted intrusion and the dangers that this might bring.

I believe the “faith community” needs to turn from its deafening silence, and stand and speak with a moral voice of reason, reconciliation and love.

The Rt. Rev. William J. Skilton

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

In Our Time on Henry VIIIth's Dissolution of the Monasteries

The Contributors are:

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University

Diane Purkiss, Fellow and Tutor at Keble College, Oxford

George Bernard, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Southampton

Take the time to listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

A NY Times Article on the Virginia Episcopal Church/Anglican Parishes Property Case

“We are pleased with this initial victory today,” said Jim Oakes, vice chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia, which includes the 11 congregations. “We have maintained all along that the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia had no legal right to our property because the Virginia Division Statute says that the majority of the church is entitled to its property when there is a division within the denomination.”

The law, passed in the mid-1800s, stemmed from doctrinal disputes in the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, Judge Bellows wrote.

The law has been little used since then, because the courts are reluctant to wade into religious disputes, said Carl W. Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

But this case and one before the California Supreme Court regarding the property of three former Episcopal parishes there indicate a new willingness of some courts to review these matters, Mr. Tobias said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

In South Carolina's Capital New home permits take a plunge

The demand for new homes in the Columbia region slowed significantly so far this year.

Builders in a six-county area received permits to build 676 homes and apartments in the first two months of the year, down 38 percent from a year ago, according to U.S. Census data.

Also, builders in Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties saw a 33 percent drop to 1,082 single-family homes in the first three months of the year, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia.

“We were expecting a downturn. I don’t know if I was expecting that much,” association executive director Earl McLeod said.

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Posted in * South Carolina

In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece ”” not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology

Lehrer News Hour: Americans Reflect on Evolution of King's Legacy

JOHN MCWHORTER, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute Center For Race and Ethnicity: Well, it depends on what you consider his legacy to be.

It definitely is for me, in terms of thinking about what needs to be done to alleviate the kinds of problems that Professor Charles just mentioned.

But what does worry me is that I think that, for a lot of people, King’s legacy is roughly that he led a bus boycott, that he went to jail in Birmingham, that he made a big speech in Washington, and he got shot. And, so, it’s all the dramatic things that sit in the memory the most, where it’s really, for me, the most interesting part of King’s legacy is the painstaking, grinding negotiations with the powers that be, or the powers that were, that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That stuff was really hard.

And it doesn’t make for good theater, that part of things. But those were the sorts of things that really did provide the kind of lives that we younger black people are leading. And what worries me is that I think some people see that wonderful speech at the March on Washington, or they think about King in jail, and there is an idea that what creates change is drama, and so that to complain, to talk about the things that are wrong in a fierce and articulate voice is, alone, a kind of activism, rather than getting back to the kinds of real grassroots kind of work on a national level that King was involved in.

And, so, my sense of King’s legacy, I think, is a little more mundane in terms of the sorts of things I imagine, which is him sitting with his lieutenants, and, you know, hashing things out with President Kennedy and the attorney general Robert Kennedy. That, to me, is what is amazing, because who else was going to do that at that time?

And notice that it’s hard to say that, on a national level, anybody is doing that sort of thing today.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Race/Race Relations

For Best Buy workers, a 'racial' orientation

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Race/Race Relations

San Diego Tribune: Episcopal Church leader battles division

From the time Anglican pilgrims arrived in Jamestown, it’s as if America and the Episcopal Church have been soul mates ”“ for better or for worse.

Now come the country’s culture wars over sexuality, conservative versus liberal, change versus tradition. And the 2.4-million-member denomination that has given us more U.S. presidents than any other, along with its first-ever woman leader, is not being spared.

Nearly five years after a gay priest was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the fallout continues. One diocese has seceded from the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Dozens of congregations, including nine of the 50 churches in the San Diego diocese, also have broken apart.

“I think we live in an increasingly polarized society and these particular actions in the church echo that,” said Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who in 2006 was elected the presiding bishop ”“ chief spiritual leader ”“ of the U.S. church.

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

GetReligion Compares the Washington Times and Post Coverage on the week's legal Ruling

Note the language that the Post used to describe the actual cause of all of this conflict. For the Post, this is all a matter of opinion on the Anglican right, which means that there is a national ”” note, not global ”” movement of churches upset about what “it believes to be an un-biblical liberal slant in the national church.” This is merely a matter of opinion on the right, you see.

Over at the Times, the emphasis is different. The Anglican wars are rooted in a “long-running dispute over biblical authority and sexuality.” In other words, this is not a problem being caused by an opinion, a mere matter of interpretation, on one side. There are facts here ”” a doctrinal dispute that exists. There are facts that can be quoted, there is non-judgmental language that can be used.

It’s a subtle thing, with the Post using language that suggests that the wars are being caused by a matter of opinion on the right. The Times, meanwhile, says that the conflict exists. Period.

Personally, I think it’s a good thing when newspapers stick to facts and, whenever possible, avoid using opinion language. I mean, who can deny that there is a conflict here over matters of doctrine linked to biblical authority and sexuality? Would anyone on the left deny that? The dispute is over who is right and who is wrong. But this split is being caused by a real conflict over doctrine. That’s a fact.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Media, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

A RNS Article on the Disputed "New" Diocese of San Joaquin

A strong majority of the 7,500 Episcopalians in San Joaquin’s 47 churches voted last December to follow Bishop John-David Schofield out the door and align with conservatives in the Argentina-based Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. They and other conservatives disagree with the U.S. church on issues of homosexuality and the authority of Scripture.

Schofield and the dissident congregations continue to occupy San Joaquin property, while Episcopal leaders maintain it belongs to the Episcopal Church.

Both Schofield and the conservative dissidents say because they left the Episcopal Church, they are not bound by the new bishop or impacted by his election.

Meanwhile, about 300 Episcopalians, 70 of whom were convention delegates representing 18 congregations, turned out to elect Lamb and begin rebuilding their diocese.

“Right now we’re trying to build a diocese with cell phones, Blackberries and cars,” said Lamb.

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

A.S. Haley Takes a Fascinating Look at Some Episcopal Church History

I am working on a post that will trace the history and the abuses of the “Abandonment of Communion” canons of The Episcopal Church. In the course of my research, I came across some documents that seem to suggest that we have all been through this before. The occasion was the formation, by a group of “low church” dissenters led by the assistant Bishop of Kentucky, the Rt. Rev. George D. Cummins, of the Reformed Episcopal Church in December 1873. A minister in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Rev. Marshall B. Smith, wrote a brave letter to his diocesan, the Rt. Rev. William Bacon Stevens, on June 6, 1874, in response to the address the latter had given at the Diocesan Convention that year. In the letter, the Rev. Smith (who had assisted in the formation of the REC) quotes the following part of his Bishop’s address:

“Since we last met in Convention an event has occurred which is unprecedented in the history of our Church. One of its Bishops has abandoned its communion and transferred, as he declared, the work and office which, by consecration, he received from this Church, to another sphere.

That other sphere has proved to be the establishing of a ‘Reformed Episcopal Church….’

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History