Daily Archives: March 20, 2009

Diocese of Central Fla. Statement of Mutual Concern over Civil Courts Redefining Polity

The Diocese of Central Florida is thankful to the Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. (ACI) for taking the initiative in making a statement (see below) about the nature of hierarchy and governance within the Episcopal Church. We fully support and are grateful for The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, The Rt. Rev. Bruce MacPherson and the other signatories to the statement.

We fully share the concerns expressed in the statement regarding recent court filings and arguments made by the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor to “turn The Episcopal Church’s governance on its head.”

We oppose any attempt, in this civil litigation or in any other secular forum to turn Dioceses into “subordinate units” of the General Convention, the Executive Council or the office of the Presiding Bishop–something they never have been and must not become.

We are deeply concerned that the Presiding Bishop is seeking to reinterpret the Constitution and Canons of this Church and overturn 220 years of settled church custom and law by appealing to an outside secular court.

We welcome and encourage other dioceses within the Episcopal Church to stand with us in resisting this redefinition of our ecclesiastical polity through the use of the secular courts by the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor.

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

Roman Catholic Bishop Mantano's Testimony on the Proposed Vermont Act Relating to Civil Marriage

(Used with permission; make sure to compare it with the Episcopal Bishop of Vermont’s testimony posted yesterday–KSH).

Testimony in Support of Traditional Marriage

Honorable Members of the Judiciary Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning about a very important, yet very divisive legislative issue, namely, the present initiative in the Vermont legislature to alter the definition of marriage. Not only within the Catholic Church, but throughout this country and the world, both believers and non-believers in God have recognized marriage as the “legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.” (Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, p. 876). Marriage, the anthropologists have discovered, is a virtually universal human social institution. Everywhere in the course of human history human beings have recognized a special need to bring together male and female into a lasting union, so that children have the protection and care of their mother and their father, two very beautiful vocations in this life.

Thus, those united as husband and wife have the right to have their marriage recognized as a distinct relationship. This unique relationship, marriage, has its own dignity and purpose. It is not rooted in hatred, bigotry, a lack of compassion or understanding, or discrimination. The union of husband and wife is a distinct vocation and using the law to alter or to redefine marriage is an injustice to those who have embraced this state in life and negates the long history of benefit and the justified acknowledgment that it has received from the very beginning of history.

Desiring the good for all people and not wishing harm to anyone and respecting the rights of our fellow citizens to seek the truth and pursue the common good, we, nonetheless, have the duty to uphold and to defend the traditional definition of marriage as it has been upheld and revered over the ages.
Within the Catholic Church, we believe that “the vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes,” while always maintaining that it is the union of man and woman. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1603). For this reason, we profess that “the love of husband and wife reflects the love between Christ and the Church. By Christ’s will, marriage is one of the Seven Sacraments.” (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 281).
It is our firm belief that: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouse and the procreation and education of offspring”¦” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1601).
This core teaching, which we believe to be rooted in God, does not allow the Church to give an alternate definition of marriage. “ ”˜The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by Him with its own proper laws”¦God himself is the author of marriage.’ The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1603).
Thus, it has been and continues to be the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church that marriage is the union of man and woman. As already noted, it was not so long ago that this was a commonly held definition by peoples of different cultures and creeds, believers and nonbelievers. This recognition of marriage’s unique, understood and appreciated purpose is why the supreme courts of Maryland, New York and Washington, to name just three, have recently rejected the notion that the definition of marriage as one man and one woman could be construed as or even constitute discrimination. This fundamental principle is why Americans in more than 30 states, from Florida to Michigan, from Oregon to Wisconsin, have voted to declare marriage as the union of husband and wife.
Unfortunately, the Church’s defense of traditional marriage in many cases is interpreted in a negative way. Yet those who are united as husband and wife in marriage have the right to have their state in life properly identified and unaltered. The Church and this Diocese must support these married couples who properly understand their union as existing only between a man and a woman. Thus, it is unjust to assert that it is the intent of the Catholic Church to deprive people of their natural and God-given rights.
There is also the very real fear that if our government here in Vermont adopts the opposite view ”“ that our historic marriage tradition is just bigotry and discrimination ”“ this will in the end have very far reaching and perhaps legal consequences that will fall disproportionately on those Vermont citizens and faith communities who try to sustain and transmit the very marriage ideal that this law is attempting to supplant. When our own civil government wrongly and unjustly decides that our views of marriage are discriminatory, bigoted, rooted in hatred, we can expect severe consequences. Even though exemptions are proposed today, will they be taken away tomorrow? How can one declare a right and then grant an exception to the right? Isn’t this a contradiction in terms? Will we be denied access to common benefits because of our affirmation of traditional marriage? Will faith communities be penalized for adhering to their beliefs and creed? If civil unions have given way to a demand for marriage recognition, what other demands will be placed upon those who continue to uphold traditional marriage in imitation of those more than thirty states? Is that sacrosanct principle of separation of Church and State now being removed to allow government to intrude into religious matters and even mandate that citizens, especially those in public office and civil servants, act against their consciences and creedal beliefs? Is a self-determined, self-defined right being advanced at the risk of denying the rights of others?
And while there are those, even many, who find the practice of any religion useless or even odious, and find it offensive that any clergy should dare to speak about this issue, let us recall the principles upon which this country was founded. Contemplate for a moment the words of Samuel Adams: “The right to freedom is the gift of God Almighty”¦the rights of colonists as Christians may best be understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of The Great Law Giver, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” (“The Rights of the Colonists,” 1772). Alexis de Tocqueville, considered by many to be a keen analyst of American life, came from France in 1831 to study the penal system in the United States. Among his many thoughts, we find the following: “Despotism may be able to do without faith, but freedom cannot.” (Sanford Kessler, Tocqueville’s Civil Religion, American Christianity and the Prospects for Freedom, 1994). It appears that de Tocqueville may have realized that faith gives birth to and sustains freedom.
If the proposed legislation is enacted, will the Church and other communities of faith be denied the privilege of practicing their faith without fear of repudiation, scorn or retaliation? Will we become the objects of hatred and unjust discrimination? These are serious, grave questions, which cause one to ask why this legislation is being advanced with such expediency that does not allow the population at large to grasp the magnitude of this issue. Would we move so very quickly if we were lowering the age of marriage not requiring parental consent? These questions need more in-depth attention and further study. Realizing the imminent need to seek resolutions to address the grave economic situation of our state and country, we still cannot allow ourselves to make rapid decisions in other matters which will have serious consequences in the future and leave unresolved a whole series of moral, ethical and legal questions.
In giving this testimony, we also acknowledge the struggles and hardships endured by so many to protect and to support the beauty and dignity of marriage, even in the midst of personal challenges while remaining conscious of the common good. We also are fully conscious that the Church is called to demonstrate true concern for all peoples, especially those who suffer and face great challenges in life. So many people in different circumstances carry heavy crosses. The Church, in imitation of its cornerstone, Jesus Christ, seeks to be compassionate and empathetic to all in need of support and encouragement in this life’s journey. Likewise, also in imitation of Jesus, the Church must defend and uphold His teachings which do not originate from human uncertainty but rather are of divine origin. For the Church to be ambiguous or vague about its creed would be a grave injustice to those whom it seeks to serve in fidelity to the Gospel. Clarity in teaching is not meant to be harsh or threatening, but to place before us the message of Jesus, which challenges us to follow Him even in the very difficult moments of our life.
Any legislation concerning marriage has become a highly charged emotional issue which has divided families, friends, neighborhoods and communities and even ecclesial bodies. This sad reality causes pain and suffering for everyone and touches upon a very sensitive and intimate part of a person’s life. The Catholic Church must be concerned for all these people, while always mindful that it serves no one if it denies the truths of her creed. Yet we speak this truth in charity as “we all work for unity among God’s people, ”˜with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace”¦(Eph. 4:2-4)’” (Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, Guidelines for Pastoral Care, United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, December 2006, pp. 23-24). In these discussions, let us avoid hostility and anger which make of us enemies when God has called us to live as sisters and brothers as we support each other in the search for the Truth. Anger and hostility only will cause further division and negate our dignity as the sons and daughters of God. We hope that reason and prudential judgment will guide our emotions and permit realistic and sound solutions.
In concluding, I wish to recall that the early architects of these United States saw our nation as being “one nation under God” where the City of God was not in conflict with the City of Man. In his Farewell Address to the Nation (Published in The Independent Chronicle on September 26, 1796), George Washington proclaimed:
“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens…”

Posted in Uncategorized

Holy iTunes? Churches adopting point-click hymnal

When Joe Christian started planning church services 35 years ago, it meant spending hours flipping through hymnals and copying sheet music.

Today, it’s point, click, worship.

Christian, the music minister at Una Baptist Church in Nashville, is one of more than 12,000 people who have signed up for a new iTunes-like website called LifeWayworship.com. Along with buying recordings of worship songs and hymns, users can create and download sheet music for church bands and choirs. LifeWay officials hope their new site will make life easier for music ministers, while following copyright laws.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

David Brooks: Perverse Cosmic Myopia

In times like these, you’d expect prudent leaders to prepare for the worst. After all, the pessimists have recently been vindicated by events. But that’s apparently too painful to think about. In normal times, leaders like to focus on the short term at the expense of the long term. But now the short term is really confusing, so leaders take refuge in projects that are years or decades away.

The president of the United States has decided to address this crisis while simultaneously tackling the four most complicated problems facing the nation: health care, energy, immigration and education. Why he has not also decided to spend his evenings mastering quantum mechanics and discovering the origins of consciousness is beyond me.

The results of this overload are evident on Capitol Hill. The banking plan is incomplete, and there is zero political will to pay for it. The president’s budget is being nibbled to death. The revenue ideas are dying one by one, while the spending ideas expand. By the latest estimate, the health care approach will cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years and the national debt will at least double, while the Chinese publicly complain about picking up the tab.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Washington Post: In New Dilemma, Banks Cite Two Paths to Disaster

Some bank executives warned yesterday that the government is forcing them toward a disastrous choice between accepting restrictions on compensation that could cripple their ability to compete with rivals, or returning billions in federal aid, which could retard lending and damage the economy.

The possibility of a newly weakened banking industry also raised concerns among businesses in the wider economy that already are struggling to find financial firms willing to lend them needed money.

“We’re all going to lose on this thing,” said an executive at a large bank that took federal aid. He and other bankers expressed shock at the rapid progress of legislation that could impose large pay cuts on thousands of workers, and dismay that the industry is at the mercy of an angry Congress.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

AP: Pope tells Muslims 'genuine religion' rejects violence

Religion must reject violence, Pope Benedict XVI told Muslim leaders Thursday before celebrating an open-air Mass in front of thousands and delivering a message of hope for Africa’s expanding, vibrant Catholic flock.

In Cameroon’s capital of Yaounde, a clapping, swaying crowd of 40,000 welcomed Benedict to a sports stadium ”” his first occasion as pope to be among a great crowd of faithful on the continent that is witnessing the church’s biggest growth.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Baby boomlet: US births in 2007 break 1950s record

A record-setting number of babies were born in the United States in 2007, and it may prove to be just another reminder of prosperity lost.

In good times, we reproduce. In bad times, we don’t.

Health officials on Wednesday released a statistical snapshot of the good times: Births in this country topped 4.3 million in 2007, more than any other year in the nation’s history, surpassing the peak during the post-World War II baby boom 50 years earlier.

Many of those babies were conceived in 2006, when the economy was relatively good. A nation’s birth rate tends to rise in times of prosperity, according to experts.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

Benedict XVI urges Africa to Care for Its Soul

Speaking to the mothers and fathers present, the Pontiff asked, “Do you accept that [God] is counting on you to pass on to your children the human and spiritual values that you yourselves have received and which will prepare them to live with love and respect for his holy name?”

“You must be very careful,” he warned. “Africa in general, and Cameroon in particular, place themselves at risk if they do not recognize the True Author of Life!

“Brothers and sisters in Cameroon and throughout Africa, you who have received from God so many human virtues, take care of your souls!”

“Do not let yourselves be captivated by selfish illusions and false ideals,” he continued. “Believe — yes! — continue to believe in God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — he alone truly loves you in the way you yearn to be loved, he alone can satisfy you, can bring stability to your lives. Only Christ is the way of Life.”

Read it all.

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

One North Carolina Theatre Giving Hope Through a Free Movie Night

Great stuff–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Movies & Television, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar

A U.N. panel will next week recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies, a member of the panel said on Wednesday, adding to pressure on the dollar.

Currency specialist Avinash Persaud, a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket.

Persaud, chairman of consultants Intelligence Capital and a former currency chief at JPMorgan, said the recommendation would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations on March 25 by the U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reform.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Europe, Globalization

Fred Barnes: When the Pastor Says It's 'A Time to Sow'

Leaving the Episcopal denomination (while remaining in the Anglican Communion) has given Mr. [John] Yates the freedom to plant churches in urban areas amid many Episcopal churches. (One is next door to Christ the King.) His goal is to plant 20 churches in northern Virginia before retiring. Christ the King was the third, and a fourth was recently planted in Arlington. Mr. Kurcina, 33, who is my son-in-law, is preparing to plant a fifth in Fairfax County.

For a growing number of young preachers like Christ the King’s Mr. [David] Glade, planting and then leading a new church is an ideal option. As orthodox Anglicans, they didn’t feel welcome in the Episcopal church. And they felt a strong calling to lead their own parish. Mr. Glade grew up as an Episcopalian in Jacksonville, Fla. After graduation from Florida State, he came to The Falls Church as an intern and spent four years as a youth leader before attending Trinity Seminary outside Pittsburgh. He returned to The Falls Church eager to lead a theologically conservative Anglican congregation. “In order to do that, you had to go out and do it yourself,” he told me.

“Every new church has an awkward phase, figuring out who they are and getting to know each other,” Mr. Glade says. That phase is over. Christ the King has also become financially self-sufficient. It aims to be a “healthy church,” like its parent. “A healthy church reproduces itself,” Mr. Glade says. Christ the King may soon do just that. Its assistant rector wants to plant his own church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, CANA, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Bishop Mark Lawrence's Full Address to the Diocesan Convention of South Carolina

These two key dimensions of our vision, however, must be carried out with Another Fundamental Dimension of our diocesan life. Our constitution reads “The Church in the Diocese of South Carolina accedes to and adopts the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church”¦.” The relationship is there””though we may understand how it needs to be carried out in different ways. Certainly many of us in this diocese, but let us remember by no means all, have been on a very different course from the policy setters at recent General Conventions. The Standing Committee and I, following the path trod by Bishops Allison and Salmon, have felt compelled on several occasions to differentiate ourselves from statements or actions of various leaders in TEC””such as compromises toward the Uniqueness of Christ; certain non-Canonical actions of the Presiding Bishop and the HOB; as well as the controversies regarding Human Sexuality. I anticipate the continued need for such differentiation in the months and years ahead.

Beyond differentiation there is important witness still left to do, and from which I believe God has not yet released us. I believe the House of Bishops, and the Executive Council, following the lead of General Convention 2006 has resisted the change that the Holy Spirit seems to be urging us toward as Anglicans””such as, the call toward a more responsible autonomy and inter-provincial accountability. Yet these bodies have fearfully protected the prior century’s polity and structure when 21st Century structures are needed. It continues to astonish me that so many leaders in our Church favor revision of our doctrinal and moral teaching and yet uphold relatively recent canons and polity with a fervor that would be admirable if held toward the fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. This heel-dragging protectiveness was shown clearly in New Orleans in 2007 when the HOB refused to adopt the Primates’ Communiqué from Dar es Salaam, arguing that it was contrary to the polity of our Church. The bishops were soon followed by the Executive Council, therein making it difficult if not impossible for the Presiding Bishop to follow through with the Primates’ directives. If we had received the Primates’ recommendation the four dioceses which have since left would be intact and in TEC today! Even more recently, this fear was shown afresh when individual bishops who seemingly have little respect for the Windsor Process and the Anglican Covenant accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend Lambeth and then spoke against any progress towards a Covenant. They will not be able to hold back the future of global Anglicanism permanently. Either Episcopalianism will repent of its unscriptural autonomy or it will spread its splintering tendencies of the last forty years throughout the Anglican Communion.

I believe our steadfastness will be of service within TEC””if only by challenging the structural conservatism of the theological innovators to face the changes of the future. Even more importantly it will be of service for the Anglican Communion as it moves towards the emerging structures God is providentially shaping.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, Windsor Report / Process

Don Harvey: Reasserting Anglicans in Canada are planning to expand

Since the ANiC was launched in November 2007 with two small churches, two priests, and two bishops, we have grown to comprise 73 priests and dea­cons, three bishops, and 28 parishes, with a total average Sunday attendance of 3500. That initial growth has come from Canadian Anglicans who have felt conscience-bound to align with a biblically faithful Church, while still retaining their full Anglican identity. In recent years, tens of thousands have left the Anglican Church of Canada ”” and Anglicanism. The ANiC now provides an option for those who wish to remain Anglican. Our prayer and aim is that our future growth will come primarily from reaching out to the millions of unchurched Canadians through evangelism, church-planting, and discipleship.

Unfortunately, we are currently dealing with unnecessary and costly distractions because of litigation over church property. Despite our re­peated requests to seek mutually ad­van­tageous settlements through nego­tia­tion or mediation, four Angli­can Church of Canada dioceses ”” New Westminster, British Columbia, Niagara, and Huron ”” have forced ANiC parishes into court. The Primates’ recent commu­niqué calling for gracious restraint and mediation gave us hope (News, 13 February), but so far the Anglican Church of Canada has insisted on pursuing disputes in the secular court system.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Common Cause Partnership, Law & Legal Issues, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

N.J.A. Humphrey: Questions to Ask when Considering Consents to Episcopal Elections

….Here are some questions to consider, derived from the Ordination liturgy, which outlines in some detail what is entrusted to and expected from any bishop:

1. Does the person believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation? (BCP 513)
2. Has the person consistently conformed to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church? (BCP 513) If not, why not? Has any failure to conform been theologically or pastorally justifiable? Has this person accepted the consequences of such failure? Is this person willing to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church as the standard expected behavior of the clergy over which this person will exercise oversight?
3. Are there any doubts that this person has been lawfully elected? (BCP 514)
4. Have concerns been raised in any quarter as to this person’s suitability? (BCP 514) If so, what are the concerns? Are they justified? Are these concerns so serious that they raise the question of whether this person will engage in inappropriate or scandalous behavior in the future or compromise the witness that The Episcopal Church is called to maintain?
5. Is this person “one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel?” (BCP 517)

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Soldiers' accounts of Gaza killings raise furor in Israel

In the two months since Israel ended its military assault on Gaza, Palestinians and international rights groups have accused it of excessive force and wanton killing in that operation, but the Israeli military has said it followed high ethical standards and took great care to avoid civilian casualties.

Now testimony is emerging from within the ranks of soldiers and officers alleging a permissive attitude toward the killing of civilians and wanton destruction of property that is sure to inflame the domestic and international debate about the army’s conduct in Gaza. On Thursday, the military’s chief advocate general ordered an investigation into a soldier’s account of a sniper killing a woman and her two children who walked too close to a designated no-go area by mistake, and another account of a sharpshooter who killed an elderly woman who came within 100 yards of a commandeered house.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Middle East, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, War in Gaza December 2008--