Daily Archives: May 18, 2008

Episcopal bishops urge unity, say feuds distract from work

Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham, England, said in a recent visit to Nashville that tensions among Anglicans must be resolved soon.

“We cannot afford to have again the same sort of five years we have just had,” he said. “It has been hugely costly ”” financially, humanly and in terms of our witness.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church believes the Anglican Communion will not find peace and unity until feuding members set aside their theological differences and focus on something more important ”” like saving the world.

“There is communion and unity when people are focused in the needs of others,” said Jefferts Schori during a visit to Middle Tennessee last week. “When they are focused on their own doctrinal differences, that is when life is more challenging.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

The Presiding Bishop adds a first in Kentucky visit

Meanwhile, some Episcopal churches and one diocese have voted to leave the denomination and align with foreign provinces — despite longstanding tradition in which bishops respect each others’ boundaries — and are now fighting in court over the use of their property. New parishes in Elizabethtown and Louisville have formed under the leadership of the bishop of Bolivia but are not involved in property disputes.

Jefferts Schori maintained that the denomination has a “fiduciary as well as moral responsibility” to make sure church property is used for the purposes that donors intended. “We don’t have a right to give it away to a group that says they don’t want to be part of the Episcopal Church,” she said.

When a questioner pressed her on the issue, she said that ideally the church should find a way to settle rather than go through messy, expensive litigation, “but we haven’t found it yet.”

One questioner at the St. Matthew’s Episcopal gathering asked about her own conversion experience and whether she shared the traditional Christian doctrine that Jesus was the only way to salvation.

She said her own conversion culminated a period of spiritual searching following the tragic death of a longtime friend as well as her readings of scientists who spoke of the mystery of the universe.

That prompted her conversion and eventual career switch from oceanographer to priest, a path that led to her 2006 election as presiding bishop of the denomination.

She said she feels called to “share the good news I know in Jesus,” while being cautious not to judge others. “I look around me and see evidence that God is at work in traditions that don’t call themselves Christian,” she said.

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

Simon Jenkins: Family planning is one area in which we don’t need MPs’ help

The House of Commons will vote this week on the government’s human embryology bill. It will also be voting on how far the state should regulate family life, how far MPs rather than government and arm’s-length agencies should decide on ethics and whether an MP’s “conscience” should override the liberties of ordinary citizens. The Commons will have a chance to stamp the medieval demand of the Catholic Church that MPs obey its edicts rather than their judgments.

In other words it is quite a week in parliamentary history – even without considering the merits of the legislation itself.

I was for five years a member of the relevant agency, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Not a day passed without some mind-crunching clash of human emotions passing its desk. The authority was set up under the original 1990 act licensing in vitro fertilisation, which offered hope of pregnancy to thousands of childless couples. I doubt if any modern act has been the architect of so much happiness.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Swiming Upstream, Boston U. Prof. Berger project looks at `evangelical intelligentsia'

For decades, Boston University sociologist Peter Berger says, American intellectuals have looked down on evangelicals.

Educated people have the notion that evangelicals are “barefoot people of Tobacco Road who, I don’t know, sleep with their sisters or something,” Berger says.

It’s time that attitude changed, he says.

“That was probably never correct, but it’s totally false now and I think the image should be corrected,” Berger said in a recent interview.

Now, his university’s Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs is leading a two-year project that explores an “evangelical intelligentsia” which Berger says is growing and needs to be better understood, given the large numbers of evangelicals and their influence.

“It’s not good if a prejudiced view of this community prevails in the elite circles of society,” said Berger, a self-described liberal Lutheran. “It’s bad for democracy and it’s wrong.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Statement By The California Catholic Conference Of Bishops' Regarding The Court Decision

“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love””a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.

“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage””and can never be marriage””as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Statement on California Supreme Court decision by Archbishop of San Francisco George H. Niederauer

In regard to this decision of the court, the Catholic Bishops of California have said that “Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love-a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.”

This teaching of the Church follows forth from the teaching of Jesus Christ: “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19: 4-5)

At a moment in our society when we need to reinforce the strength of marriage and family this decision of the Supreme Court takes California in the opposite
direction. This action challenges those in society who believe in the importance of the traditional understanding of marriage to deepen their witness to the unique and essential role that marriage between a man and a woman has in the life of society.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Statement of the Episcopal Bishop of California on Yesterday's Court Ruling

The California Supreme Court ruled today that in California all people have the constitutional right to marry and raise a family, regardless of sexual orientation. Below is the text of a statement from Bishop Marc in response to the ruling: I welcome the ruling of the California Supreme Court affirming the fundamental right of all people to marry and establish a family. All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law, and this decision recognizes that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal access to one of our fundamental human institutions. This decision gives our church another opportunity to partner with our state to ensure that all families have the support they need to build relationships that strengthen our communities, state and country. Jesus tried to free his disciples from a narrow definition of what it means to be his follower. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus says “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple””truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” God affirms the good in the world outside the boundaries of religious creeds and dogmas. In this spirit, we also affirm and rejoice in this decision by the California Supreme Court precisely because we are Christians. Clearly, this momentous decision will have ecclesial implications for the Episcopal Diocese of California. I intend to be in prayerful consultation with the people of our diocese to see how we can use this decision to strengthen our support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, and our witness to God’s inclusive love. The Diocese of California will issue an appropriate statement in due course.

–The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus is Bishop of California

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

Episcopal Seminaries Struggle With Costs

In the cloistered world of Episcopal seminaries, time sometimes seems to stand still as clergy-in-training gather in stone chapels to pray in ways familiar to their forebears centuries earlier.

But the semblance of timelessness can be deceiving.

Some of the 11 seminaries affiliated with the Episcopal Church are slashing core programs, while others report rapid growth in enrollment. Still others are reexamining conventional wisdom about what it takes — and how much it costs — to shape a faithful priest.

The Episcopal method of training clergy “is a very expensive way to do theological education,” said Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Pittsburgh-based Association of Theological Schools. “There is significant financial stress in the Episcopal seminary system.”

Centrist and liberal seminaries are facing especially hard times….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Familial DNA Testing

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: We have a report today on a conflict between solving crimes and protecting privacy. It’s called “familial searching.” Police can now take DNA from a crime scene and compare it to millions of DNA samples in a government database. If there is even a partial match, that could lead to the criminal by way of his or her family members if their DNA is in the database. And they could be completely innocent. Should that practice be legal? Lucky Severson reports.

Unidentified Man (working in lab): Stick it right back in there. Okay, and we’ll close it up right there. And this is the same thing, these are …

LUCKY SEVERSON: Three years ago, Pearl Wilson’s son Charles died in a Maryland prison while awaiting sentencing for rape. But for his mother, her son lives on.

PEARL WILSON: My son lives in me and I in him, and his blood is my blood, and my blood was in him.

SEVERSON: Though Charles is dead his DNA still sits in a databank. By law DNA has to be gathered from all felons. Some states even take it from arrestees. The DNA profiles remain there indefinitely.

Ms. WILSON: I’m worried about them continuously holding my son’s DNA in that database.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

Paul Kengor: Veritatis Benedictus

There were many remarkable aspects to Pope Benedict XVI’s recent trip to America. Among those not remarked upon, however, were two that stand out:

1) the degree to which Benedict’s message matched Pope John Paul II’s message in the latter’s profound 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth), and

2) the degree to which that message continues to resonate with so many Americans struggling to find and bring truth to our post-modern culture, including non-Catholic Americans.

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

Christopher Howse: After the fires of London

Of the 36 Anglican churches in the City of London, only 12 should stay open for worship with full-time clergymen, a commission under Lord Templeman recommended in 1994. The rest might be put to other ecclesiastical use or “appropriate secular purposes”.

How close we often run to disaster. The plan might easily have been implemented, leaving only four parishes in the whole City to administer the remaining dozen churches.

Worse things had already befallen City churches. Wren churches had been demolished in Victoria’s reign to improve the traffic flow: St Benet Gracechurch in 1868, St Mary Somerset the year after, St Dionis Backchurch in 1878, St Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street in 1887, St Olave Jewry in 1888.

As it happened, Bishop David Hope of London did not implement the Templeman report, and his successor, the present Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, proved to be in favour of preserving all the City churches for active worship.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

California ruling prompts challenge and gay nuptial plans

As gay and lesbian couples made plans to marry, activists opposed to the California Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage said on Friday they would escalate efforts for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexuals.

An amendment to the state constitution would override Thursday’s decision, which superseded state laws from 1977 and 2000 that defined marriage as a union between a man and woman.

Californians could vote in November on an amendment cementing that definition in the state constitution.

“It’s expected that certification for the ballot will occur in early June,” said Randy Thomasson, head of Campaign for Children and Families. “The ruling should be stayed in deference to the people who have demanded the right to decide this issue on the ballot.”

Thomasson expects a backlash against the court’s decision because it is at odds with the traditional definition of marriage, approved by voters in a 2000 statewide referendum.

“People know deep in their hearts it is only for a man and woman,” Thomasson said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality