Daily Archives: April 15, 2008

Pope bringing blend of faith, reason

Wednesday at the White House, speak at the United Nations on Friday and visit the site of the 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center on Saturday. He will celebrate Mass in two baseball stadiums, the Washington Nationals Park on Thursday and Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

More than 20 percent of Americans are Catholic (65 million of 300 million), but only four of every 100 South Carolina residents, or 4.2 percent, belong to the church. But even in this predominantly Baptist state, the pope’s visit could have tremendous implications.

“You better believe it,” said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. “I think you’re looking at one of the two most influential Christian figures in the world today, the other being Billy Graham. … He’s more than a figurehead. He’s a very thoughtful person with a global perspective.”

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, has always been known as a deep thinker, striving to reconcile modern thought with orthodox Christian doctrine.

“I think what Benedict brings is a profound understanding of the relationship between faith and reason that our culture has lost; that faith is reasonable,” said Stephen Gajdosik, the media relations officer for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston. He planned to see the pope on the White House lawn. “I think our culture wants to posit a lot of false dichotomies, black or white. If we applied reason to the whole political maelstrom right now, we would find our way to solutions much more quickly.”

Monsignor Martin Laughlin, diocese administrator, also praised the pope’s ability to bridge the gap between secular and religious.

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

Inhibition Against Bishop MacBurney Lifted Temporarily

The inhibition against the Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney, retired Bishop of Quincy, has been temporarily lifted following an announcement on April 14 from the canon to the Presiding Bishop.

“In light of the personal tragedy that Bishop and Mrs. MacBurney are facing, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wishes to offer the bishop the opportunity to function liturgically in any services for his son if he desires to do so,” said the Rev. Canon Charles Robertson in an e-mail message.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Also from NPR: Roman Catholic Seminarians Reflect on Dearth of Priests

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States comes at a time when Roman Catholic seminary enrollment is down 60 percent since 1968. Two seminarians talk with Michele Norris about the shrinking pool of priests and other issues facing the U.S. church.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

NPR: Eager Catholics Flock to Their Shepherd

Pope Benedict XVI arrives Tuesday night for his first trip to the U.S., and although most American Catholics know little about their new pontiff, they’re still flocking to New York City and Washington, D.C., to see him.

The enthusiasm was quite unbridled among the 250 singers gathered at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Hyattsville, Md., on a recent Monday evening. They were not professionals ”” just people from parishes in the Washington metro area ”” but they were motivated: They auditioned for the choir, practiced for hours and memorized 134 pages of music. All for a chance to sing for the pope Thursday at Nationals Park, the new baseball stadium.

At a rehearsal three weeks before their performance, choir director Tom Stehle ran a tight ship, stopping singers mid-note to correct their pronunciation, scolding them for still reading when the music should be memorized.

During a break, Ann Ingram described her anticipation for the stadium Mass. “We come on Sundays and we get premium gas,” she said of a routine Mass. In comparison, she hopes the stadium Mass will be “premium high octane for a Lamborghini.”

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

Faith in Spotlight, Candidates Battle for Catholic Votes

Many years have passed since the Democratic Party was as much a part of American Catholic identity as weekly Mass and parochial school. But it still came as a shock to many Democrats to lose the Catholic vote, a key group in must-win states like Ohio, in the 2004 presidential election.

It is an experience they are determined not to repeat.

The presidential candidates are in the middle of an escalating battle for Catholic voters ”” most immediately between Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, but also between the two parties as they look ahead to the general election. This struggle is an important part of the backdrop for Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United States starting Tuesday, which has drawn gestures of respect from all of the presidential contenders.

There is widespread agreement that American Catholic voters are far more diverse than monolithic. Even so, both the Clinton and the Obama campaigns have hired Catholic outreach directors, deployed an army of prominent Catholic surrogates testifying on their behalf and created mailings that highlight their commitment to Catholic social teachings on economic justice and the common good.

Dismayed at losing so many Catholic and other religious voters to the Republicans in 2004, Democrats talk far more often, and more comfortably, about their values and the importance of their own faith these days.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

'Bitter' remarks cloud faith, values forum

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Sunday that ordinary voters may see Sen. Barack Obama as “out of touch” and removed from everyday concerns, trying to equate her rival with the Democratic nominees who were beaten in the last two presidential elections.

Obama lashed back, accusing Clinton of practicing the kind of politics in which “we tear each other down.”

Making back-to-back appearances Sunday night in a televised forum on faith and values, the Democratic rivals continued the escalating fight over a recent comment in which Obama said, among other things, that embittered small-town voters “cling to guns or religion.”

Clinton suggested that Obama’s remark, which was made at a San Francisco fundraising event, was fresh evidence that he could not win the general election in the fall.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Food Costs Rising at the Fastest Pace in 17 Years

Steve Tarpin can bake a graham cracker crust in his sleep, but explaining why the price for his Key lime pies went from $20 to $25 required mastering a thornier topic: global economics.

He recently wrote a letter to his customers and posted it near the cash register listing the factors — dairy prices driven higher by conglomerates buying up milk supplies, heat waves in Europe and California, demand from emerging markets and the weak dollar.

The owner of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies in Brooklyn said he didn’t want customers thinking he was “jacking up prices because I have a unique product.”

“I have to justify it,” he said.

The U.S. is wrestling with the worst food inflation in 17 years, and analysts expect new data due on Wednesday to show it’s getting worse. That’s putting the squeeze on poor families and forcing bakeries, bagel shops and delis to explain price increases to their customers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization

Housing Woes in U.S. Spread Around Globe

The collapse of the housing bubble in the United States is mutating into a global phenomenon, with real estate prices swooning from the Irish countryside and the Spanish coast to Baltic seaports and even parts of northern India.

This synchronized global slowdown, which has become increasingly stark in recent months, is hobbling economic growth worldwide, affecting not just homes but jobs as well.

In Ireland, Spain, Britain and elsewhere, housing markets that soared over the last decade are falling back to earth. Property analysts predict that some countries, like this one, will face an even more wrenching adjustment than that of the United States, including the possibility that the downturn could become a wholesale collapse.

To some extent, the world’s problems are a result of American contagion. As home financing and credit tightens in response to the crisis that began in the subprime mortgage market, analysts worry that other countries could suffer the mortgage defaults and foreclosures that have afflicted California, Florida and other states.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Helping hunger online, one grain at a time

A lovely and inspiring story, watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Hunger/Malnutrition, Science & Technology

Archbishop Gomez: Covenant Development a ”˜Painful Process’

The proposed Anglican Covenant could be applied in a variety of circumstances, including lay presidency of Holy Eucharist, according to the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies. Archbishop Gomez delivered the opening address at “An Anglican Covenant: Divisive or Reconciling?”, a conference and panel discussion April 10-12 at The General Theological Seminary (GTS) in New York City.

Archbishop Gomez is chairman of the Covenant Design Group, a task force appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to prepare a draft covenant for the Anglican Communion. Given his position, Archbishop Gomez said it should not be surprising that he speaks with a bias in favor of adopting an Anglican Covenant.

He outlined his role and offered a host of reasons why a covenant is not a foreign concept to the Anglican way of life, but rather is a laudable way to foster trust when the bonds of affection are strained within the Communion are strained. Most of his presentation was spent answering questions from conference attendees.

Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, assistant professor of church history at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, posed the question that if the presenting issue is human sexuality, what other issues could an Anglican Covenant address? Archbishop Gomez said that “if we took a second draft, lay presidency had been mentioned” as one possibility.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), West Indies

Orlando Sentinel: Black churches shun stigma of AIDS, take on job of testing

When the Rev. Bernard Smith started offering HIV screenings on church premises, the stigma of the disease followed him to his pulpit.

“People would call you the AIDS preacher,” the Largo pastor said. “But I wasn’t interested, and listened to a higher power.”

But after seven years and after hundreds of people entered his sanctuary to get tested for the virus, more people are listening to what Smith preaches. In fact, churches across the state are following his lead, launching a joint initiative between the state Department of Health and the African Methodist Episcopal Church to establish at least one AIDS testing site in a place of worship in every county.

In Volusia County alone, 12 churches have signed up to do testing. In Orange County, an Oakland church is hoping to become a site. In Polk County, a site in Winter Haven is set to start testing at the end of the summer.

James O. Williams Sr., one of the regional leaders of the AME church, said that his community can’t hide from the disease that has affected a disproportionate number of blacks: Last year in Florida, blacks made up 54 percent of the AIDS cases reported, but just 14 percent of the population, according to the state health department.

“In the past it’s been standoffish as far as the churches are concerned,” he said. “But these are our family members, and the church should be part of the healing process.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Connecticut Episcopal Diocese Appoints 'Priest-In-Charge' To Groton Church

Monday, the diocese informed the Groton church it had appointed a new “priest-in-charge” of Bishop Seabury, which recently ended its 132-year history with the Episcopal Church over differences in biblical interpretation.

“Our basic concern here is to continue to provide the services of a priest for the parish,” said Bishop Suffragan James E. Curry, who sent an open letter to the parishioners of Bishop Seabury announcing the appointment of the Rev. David Cannon, a retired priest from Preston.

Cannon, who served as vicar of St. James Church in Preston from 1964 to 2000, is likely to find it difficult to minister to his new flock ”” at least for the foreseeable future.

Gauss ”” who retired as rector of Bishop Seabury on Dec. 1, according to Curry ”” is still very much in charge there and said Monday that the church will continue on as it has been, regardless of Cannon’s appointment.

“We’re just going to go on,” Gauss said. “When the bishop earlier in the year fired the vestry, we then met and re-elected the vestry. And I have a civil contract with the parish.”

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

From the Barna Group: New Study Shows Trends in Tithing and Donating

Whether they believe in the principle of tithing or not, few Americans give away that much money. In 2007, the research revealed that just 5% of adults tithed.

Not surprisingly, some population groups were more likely than others to have given away at least ten percent of their income. Among the most generous segments were evangelicals (24% of whom tithed); conservatives (12%); people who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week (12%); charismatic or Pentecostal Christians (11%); and registered Republicans (10%).

Several groups also stood out as highly unlikely to tithe: people under the age of 25, atheists and agnostics, single adults who have never been married, liberals, and downscale adults. One percent or less of the people in each of those segments tithed in 2007.

Among all born again adults, 9% contributed one-tenth or more of their income. The study also showed that Protestants were four times as likely to tithe as were Catholics (8% versus 2%, respectively).

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A.S. Haley: Abuses of the Abandonment Canons (I)

Once again, because of the need to deal with historical and expository details, I will divide this post into a further two parts. This one explains how the abuses of the Abandonment Canons (Canons IV.9 and IV. 10) came about; the next post (after a short hiatus while I am away) will chronicle the instances of abuse that have so damaged the polity of The Episcopal Church in recent years. (Since these abuses are well known to all, I hope that this post, by providing the canonical background, will allow others to draw the appropriate conclusions for themselves, without waiting for the details in the next post.)

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Bishop John C. Bauerschmidt–Agreeing Together: Reflections on Ecclesiology and Theological Method

When Lambeth 1948 sought the place where this dispersed authority distributed in diverse places finds its focus, it pointed to the episcopate, “by virtue of”¦ divine commission, and in synodical association with”¦ clergy and laity”, and to the Book of Common Prayer. So again, we come back to agreement together: something different from centralized authority or universal jurisdiction, yet still substantial, and morally and spiritually authoritative.

I think it not too far a leap, at this point in the life of the Communion, to see the Instruments of Unity within the Anglican Communion as the means by which authority, multiple and dispersed, finds focus so that there can be agreement together. The agreement expresses a common mind, and a commitment to a life together that is substantial, even if not agreeing in every detail. Charity requires patience, and of course patience involves suffering. To walk away from agreement together as our means and end to the living of the Christian life in community is to attempt the re-founding of our doctrine of the Church on something else (indeed, what?); to walk away from the possibility of “mutual support” “mutual checking”, and the “redressing of errors and exaggerations” within the Communion. It is to take the ecclesiology of Cyprian, a committed builder of bridges between Churches, and to turn it into the ecclesiology of the Donatists, who defined their Church by separation. The ecclesiology of the Donatists, in some aspects his legitimate heir, represents in fact the metastasis of Cyprian’s ecclesiology.

Now I want to say something in parallel about theological method, already adumbrated in the 1948 Lambeth Report. In the same way that the Church seeks agreement in the midst of multiplicity, so too do the sources of Christian theological authority seek to come together and offer a coherent witness. They may be distributed in diverse places, according to the Lambeth Report, but they too agree. The Church has a regula, a rule of faith, which is akin to saying that the Holy Scripture needs to be reasonably interpreted in light of the Church’s tradition of understanding the Scripture. The Scripture has its own hermeneutical tool, a way of being interpreted, and it is rooted in the Scripture itself. As Lancelot Andrews put it “one canon…two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period…determine the boundary of our faith.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology