Daily Archives: February 10, 2009

An Open Letter from Archbishop Akinola to Archbishop Williams

In preparation for the meeting I asked The American Anglican Council to prepare the attached report on the continuing situation of The Episcopal Church to enable people in the wider Communion to have a fuller perspective of the circumstances in North America. I shared it with my colleagues in the Global South but did not release it more widely in the hope that we would receive assurances from the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada that they were willing to exercise genuine restraint towards those Anglicans in North America unwilling to embrace their several innovations.

Sadly that did not prove to be the case. Instead we were treated to presentations that sought to trivialize the situation and the consequences for those whose only offence is their determination to hold on doggedly and truthfully to the faith once delivered to the saints. In addition I have learned that even as we met together in Alexandria actions were taken that were in direct contradiction to the season of deeper communion and gracious restraint to which we all expressed agreement. For example, in the days leading up to our meeting, the Diocese of Virginia declared the “inherent integrity and blessedness” of same sex unions and initiated a process to provide for their “blessing”. While we were meeting, The Diocese of Toronto also announced that it will start same sex blessings within a year and The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia filed further costly legal action appealing the court’s decision in twenty cases favouring nine Virginia congregations. These and many further actions are documented within the report.

Please read it all and the attachments in the pdf links underneath the letter.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Washington Post: New Bailout May Top $1.5 Trillion

The gravity of the financial crisis confronting the Obama administration will come into stark focus today when officials unveil a three-pronged rescue program that may commit up to $1.5 trillion in public and private funds, and possibly more, lawmakers and other officials said.

In announcing the plan, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will not ask Congress for more funds than the roughly $350 billion that remain in the Treasury Department’s original rescue package for the financial system, though congressional sources said such a request could come later if the new programs are unsuccessful. The rest of the money would come from other government agencies, such as the Federal Reserve, as well as private-sector contributions.

A senior administration official warned last night that the ultimate cost to taxpayers has not been determined. Several of the programs have not been finalized, and most are designed to ultimately return money to taxpayers.

Geithner plans to announce a public-private partnership that would seek to finance the purchasing of toxic bank assets that are at the heart of the credit crisis, officials and congressional sources said. These sources briefed by Treasury officials said the program may initially raise $250 billion to $500 billion in public and private funds to offer low-cost financing to encourage investors to buy the toxic assets. An administration official said the proposal is still subject to a public review and may not take final shape for several weeks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Living Church Analysis: Primates Offer Support, Warnings to Both Sides

The primates’ letter had received the unanimous endorsement of the primates, Archbishop Williams said. However, the WCG’s communication was a report prepared by a committee appointed by Archbishop Williams and presented by him to the primates as a resource document; it was not submitted to a vote. Many parts of the communiqué refer to passages from the 17-page WCG report. Other sections of the communiqué refer to the document on gracious restraint. The sections mentioned in the communiqué indicate broader support among the primates.

This communiqué, perhaps to a more significant degree than others in recent years, attempts to look to doctrine rather than legislation or political solutions. The primates pick up a theme from the Windsor Report, which questioned whether the Communion suffered from an “ecclesial deficit, in other words, do we have the necessary theological structural and cultural foundations to sustain the life of the Communion? We need to address divisive issues in a timely and effective way, and to learn the responsibilities and obligations of interdependence.”

The Episcopal Church and the proposed Anglican Church of North America both received support, as well as pointed but fair questions about their conduct and objectives. For instance, The Episcopal Church was praised for its efforts to date to exercise “gracious restraint” in not consecrating any additional openly gay bishops. The proponents of the proposed new parallel province in North America were reassured that they were Anglican, and that they were deserving of some measure of protection from legal attacks, at least in the short term.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Anglican Primates, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

ENS: Mary Kostel named special counsel to the Presiding Bishop

Mary E. Kostel has been named special counsel to the Presiding Bishop for property litigation and discipline, according to an announcement by the Rev. Canon Charles Robertson of the Presiding Bishop’s office.

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

Muslim investors profit by adhering to faith

As credit markets have imploded, triggering a global economic crisis, Islamically correct investors have seen a change of fortune: The conservative principles this small group of devout Muslims clung to during the economic heyday has insulated them from the worst of the past year’s suffering.

Their renunciation of the interest-based economy kept them away from investments in financial services companies, whose stocks have collapsed, and out of traditional mortgages.

“There was a time two or three years ago that Islamic finance was considered simply too conservative,” said Professor Ibrahim Warde, author of “Islamic Finance in the Global Economy” and an adjunct professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “Right now, many people are recognizing that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

Economist–The Senate is set to approve Barack Obama's huge stimulus bill

AFTER a couple of weeks in which his presidency seemed to have got off to a bumpy start, Barack Obama at last received some good news. On the night of Monday February 9th a stimulus package worth a whopping $838 billion over the next two years passed a crucial test in the Senate. There are several procedural hurdles still to clear but the vote, which required at least 60 senators to agree to end the debate (which can otherwise be talked out indefinitely, in a process called filibustering), went Mr Obama’s way.

The stimulus bill is not entirely out of the woods yet. The substantive Senate vote (which requires only a simple majority, now that the “cloture” vote has gone through) should be a formality when it takes place later on Tuesday. But there is still some hard work to be done reconciling the House and Senate versions. Although the two overall sums of money sound similar, this masks some important differences.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Church Society Comment on the Primates Meeting

Another meeting of Anglican Primates has come and gone, nothing of substance has been done or decided. The problem the Communion faces is not with one or two individuals such as Gene Robinson who unfairly has become the focus of our problems, but rather with false teaching. Those who teach that sexual immorality is acceptable are leading people to destruction. But this is true of more than one or two of the Anglican Primates there are several Primates, including Rowan Williams who appear to hold to such false teaching. Turkeys are not going to vote for Christmas. There are a number of Primates who have taken a lead including those associated with last year’s GAFCON gathering. Yet even they have seemed unwilling publicly to admit that the problem stretches to more than just one or two of their fellow Primates. But they are probably influenced in this by the fact that they are a minority and there are many more who whilst being genuinely outraged by what has happened in the US and Canada, seem temperamentally incapable of taking action. In the Anglican Way part of the task of Bishops is “to drive out strange and erroneous teaching” (Book of Common Prayer Ordinal) yet in much of what passes as Anglicanism today this part of their role is sadly neglected.

There was a brief time when combined outrage might have translated into action but Rowan Williams headed this off and now it seems that the body of Primates as a whole will not do anything.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009

In California Judges back a one-third reduction in state prison population

A panel of three federal judges, saying overcrowding in state prisons has deprived inmates of their right to adequate healthcare, tentatively ruled Monday that the state must reduce the population in those lockups by as many as 57,000 people.

The judges issued the decisionafter a trial in two long-running cases brought by inmates to protest the state of medical and mental healthcare in the prisons.

Although their order is not final, U.S. District Court Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt effectively told the state that it had lost the trial and would have to make dramatic changes in its prisons unless it could reach a settlement with inmates’ lawyers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, State Government

AP–FACT CHECK: Obama has it both ways on pork

President Barack Obama had it both ways Monday when he promoted his stimulus plan in Indiana. He bragged about getting Congress to produce a package with no pork, yet boasted it will do good things for a Hoosier highway and a downtown overpass, just the kind of local projects lawmakers lard into big spending bills.

Obama’s sales pitch on the enormous package he wants Congress to make law has sizzle as well as steak. He’s projecting job creation numbers that may be impossible to verify and glossing over some ethical problems that bedeviled his team.

In recent years, the so-called Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska came to symbolize the worst excesses of congressional earmarks, a device that allows a member of Congress to add money for local projects in legislation, practically under the radar.

Nothing so bold, or specific, as that now-discarded bridge project is contained in the stimulus package. That’s not to say the package steers clear of waste or parochial interests. Obama played to such interests Monday, speaking at one point as if he’d come to fill potholes.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

For Roman Catholics, a Door to Absolution Is Reopened

The announcement in church bulletins and on Web sites has been greeted with enthusiasm by some and wariness by others. But mainly, it has gone over the heads of a vast generation of Roman Catholics who have no idea what it means: “Bishop Announces Plenary Indulgences.”

In recent months, dioceses around the world have been offering Catholics a spiritual benefit that fell out of favor decades ago ”” the indulgence, a sort of amnesty from punishment in the afterlife ”” and reminding them of the church’s clout in mitigating the wages of sin.

The fact that many Catholics under 50 have never sought one, and never heard of indulgences except in high school European history (Martin Luther denounced the selling of them in 1517 while igniting the Protestant Reformation), simply makes their reintroduction more urgent among church leaders bent on restoring fading traditions of penance in what they see as a self-satisfied world.

“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

Obama Says Failing to Act Could Lead to a ”˜Catastrophe’

President Obama took his case for his $800 billion economic recovery package to the American people on Monday, as the Senate cleared the way for passage of the bill and the White House prepared for its next major hurdle: selling Congress and the public on a fresh plan to bail out the nation’s banks.

Warning that a failure to act “could turn a crisis into a catastrophe,” Mr. Obama used his presidential platform ”” a prime-time news conference, the first of his presidency, in the grand setting of the White House East Room ”” to address head on the concerns about his approach, which has by and large failed to win the Republican support he sought.

“The plan is not perfect,” Mr. Obama said in an eight-minute speech before taking reporters’ questions. “No plan is. I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis.”

The news conference was the centerpiece of an intense and highly orchestrated campaign by the administration to wrest control of the stimulus debate from Republicans and reframe it on Mr. Obama’s terms.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Media, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Geithner Said to Have Prevailed on the Bailout

The Obama administration’s new plan to bail out the nation’s banks was fashioned after a spirited internal debate that pitted the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, against some of the president’s top political hands.

In the end, Mr. Geithner largely prevailed in opposing tougher conditions on financial institutions that were sought by presidential aides, including David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, according to administration and Congressional officials.

Mr. Geithner, who will announce the broad outlines of the plan on Tuesday, successfully fought against more severe limits on executive pay for companies receiving government aid.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Archbishop Peter Akinola: A Wake Up Call to the People of God

All through our gathering at the recently concluded Primates’ meeting I kept wondering whether we were the ones to whom John was writing. We have a glorious reputation ”“ a worldwide communion of millions with a glorious history and beautiful heritage, fluid structures, grand cathedrals, “infallible” canons, historical ecclesiology and ”˜flexible’ hermeneutics ”“ but we are in danger of forgetting what we have received and heard and replacing it with the seemingly attractive gods and goddesses of our age. We are in danger of becoming the ”˜living dead’ by giving the outward appearance of life but in reality we are no more than empty and ineffective vessels. In parts of our Communion some have merged the historical gospel message of Jesus the Christ with seductive ancient heresies and revisionist agendas, which have resulted in an adulterated and dangerous distortion of the gospel. The call to obedience and repentance is one that we must declare but we refuse and instead we replace it with a polite invitation to empty tolerance and endless conversation. Sometimes we think that we can replace the need for repentance with activities, programmes, endless meetings, conventions and communiqués — we are wrong!

Our world is in turmoil desperately looking for hope and we have been given that hope in the life and person of Jesus the Christ who sets us free from the slavery of sin to the new life of the Spirit — that is our message, that is our assurance, that is the holy life to which we have been called. It is a life of costly commitment where we reject the false gods and promises of this present age and embrace the one true God and His righteous claims upon our lives. It is a life of obedience to the revealed Word of God which must never be compromised. It is a gospel message which is to be fully proclaimed unfettered and undiluted. It is a life worth living and a life worth dying for. It is a life of true freedom that was birthed in this land and one we dare not forget.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009

Separation of church and state at a crossroads in Spain

For a country steeped in Catholic tradition, these are alarming times.

Public schools are being told by judicial order to pull crucifixes from their walls. City buses with billboards espousing atheism have been rumbling through the streets here, prompting yowls of blasphemy from Catholic leaders.

“Probably God Doesn’t Exist,” bleated an ad plastered last month across Bus 14, a normally sunny mode of transport past this city’s harbor. “So Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life.”

The so-called godless buses ”” which copy a campaign begun in Britain ”” have appeared in Madrid and Malaga, Spain, and are planned for elsewhere in Europe. For Spain, the stunt is a provocative sign of the times.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Martin Beckford: General Synod Day 1

Later in the debate, The Rev Canon Professor Marilyn McCord Adams, of Christ Church, Oxford, asked if the Church of England had “lost its nerve” by concentrating on other denominations in its Synod discussions.

She also claimed a report on relations between Anglicans and Catholics “soft-pedalled” on the “harsh elements of Roman-Catholic piety”, and did not mention that some Anglican provinces have “dared to ordain women”.

But the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, claimed it was “characteristically Anglican” for the C of E to try to find a way forward with Catholics rather than concentrating on their differences.

Read it all.

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