Monthly Archives: November 2009

A Statement from the Episcopal Church of Sudan

We, the Provincial Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), met in Rumbek, Lakes State between 23rd and 27th November 2009, at the generous hospitality of the Diocese of Rumbek and the Government of Lakes State. We wish to give our heartfelt thanks to the Rt. Rev. Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel, Bishop of Rumbek, and H.E. Lt. Gen. Daniel Awet Akot, Governor of Lakes State, for their hosting of this great meeting and their exemplary hospitality for the entire week of the meeting. It has been an excellent opportunity for discussing issues of Church governance, management and structure; the expansion of Christianity in the Sudan, and the state of our great nation today, which we now bring to your attention.

The peace process in Sudan has reached a critical point. With less than five months before National Elections and just over one year to the referendum on southern self-determination, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is on the brink of collapse due to contentions over the referendum law, the demarcation of the 1st January 1956 borders, and violence recently perpetrated by other armed groups. We, the Provincial Standing Committee of the ECS affirm our role to act urgently to support the implementation of the CPA: through our internal Church networks, our ecumenical and inter-faith partners within Sudan and our international partner support.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Violence

Obama’s Speech on Afghanistan to Envision Exit

President Obama plans to lay out a time frame for winding down the American involvement in the war in Afghanistan when he announces his decision this week to send more forces, senior administration officials said Sunday.

Although the speech was still in draft form, the officials said the president wanted to use the address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday night not only to announce the immediate order to deploy roughly 30,000 more troops, but also to convey how he intends to turn the fight over to the Kabul government.

“It’s accurate to say that he will be more explicit about both goals and time frame than has been the case before and than has been part of the public discussion,” said a senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the speech before it is delivered. “He wants to give a clear sense of both the time frame for action and how the war will eventually wind down.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, War in Afghanistan

Robert Samuelson: Fed 'reform' we don't want

Congress has so far sensibly put this off limits. “Audit” has a different meaning in the context of the GAO than in everyday usage. It means examine, investigate, evaluate and, often, criticize. It’s not just crunching numbers. The GAO usually undertakes studies at the request of someone in Congress. This suggests that the GAO could be used to influence or intimidate the Fed through selective investigations, which would involve access to internal Fed documents and interviews with policymakers. The Fed might be pressured to finance government deficits or to adopt an “undue focus on the short term,” Vice Chairman Donald Kohn testified before Congress on July 9. Historically, similar pressures have caused other central banks to unleash inflationary torrents of money, Kohn said.

This is not inevitable, but even the impression that the Fed’s “independence” is compromised could perversely undermine confidence in the dollar, leading to higher market interest rates or a rapid fall in the dollar’s foreign exchange value. Massive projected government budget deficits compound the psychological damage. Similar objections apply to Dodd’s proposal to end the Fed’s power to examine and regulate financial institutions. If this crisis teaches anything, it is that the Fed needs to know more — not less — about large financial institutions.

The Fed isn’t infallible. Its mistakes contributed to the crisis. Its present low-interest-rate policy poses dangers of fostering inflation or new “asset bubbles.” But the congressional Fed-bashing poses greater dangers. Ironically, the destructive remedies being peddled are part of “financial reform” legislation. If this is “reform,” we’re better off without it.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

One Incredibly Cute Kitty

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

Father John Flynn: Calculating Divorce Facts

Everyone knows that divorce is a frequent problem, but measuring it exactly is not an easy task according to a report from Canada. The Ontario-based Vanier Institute of the Family published its 3rd edition of “Divorce: Facts, Causes and Consequences” earlier this month.

In it Anne-Marie Ambert, a retired sociology professor, looks at the Canadian situation and compares it to other countries. The common affirmation that one out of every two marriages will end in divorce is not as simple as it sounds, she observed….

[When the proper adjustments are made] this means that couples contemplating marriage for the first time need to keep in mind that the divorce rate for first marriages is lower than 38%, probably closer to 33% according to Ambert.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Children, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

The Tablet–Fresh talks aim to repair damage to Catholic-Anglican relations

Efforts are under way to salvage Anglo-Catholic dialogue following Pope Benedict XVI’s decree setting out new structures to receive groups of disaffected Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

Preliminary talks took place this week for a third round of talks by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic), which took place days after the head of the Anglican Communion, Dr Rowan Williams, said he had been “disappointed” that the Vatican had given him just two weeks’ notice of its intention to set up personal ordinariates to accommodate Anglicans who become Catholics.

On 21 November he met Pope Benedict XVI for the first time since the plans became public. The official communiqué said Dr Williams’ 20-minute private audience included “cordial discussions” and the men discussed “the challenges facing all Christian communities … and the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Canadian Primate says Vatican announcement won’t attract many Anglicans in Canada or hurt Relation

Admittedly, it was a bit of a surprise.

“It’s a bit of a bruise on us, no question,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, told the Anglican Journal. “It came out of nowhere.”
Still, Archbishop Hiltz doesn’t expect the Oct. 20 Vatican announcement opening the door for disaffected Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church””and still retain some of their Anglican traditions””will appeal to many Anglicans in Canada. Nor will it put a damper on ecumenical relations and the 40-year formal dialogue between the two churches, he said.

In fact, Archbishop Hiltz expects the fallout from this announcement to be minimal. “I personally don’t think there are going to be any huge implications from this. We are talking about a very small number of [Anglican] people who will respond to this provision that the Pope is putting in place.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

The Full Text of the Bishop of Massachusetts' Statement: clergy may marry all eligible couples

In July of this year, the 76th General Convention adopted resolution C056, “Liturgies for Blessings.” It allows that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

Your bishops understand this to mean for us here in the Diocese of Massachusetts that the clergy of this diocese may, at their discretion, solemnize marriages for all eligible couples, beginning Advent I. Solemnization, in accordance with Massachusetts law, includes hearing the declaration of consent, pronouncing the marriage and signing the marriage certificate. This provision for generous pastoral response is an allowance and not a requirement; any member of the clergy may decline to solemnize any marriage.

While gender-specific language remains unchanged in the canons and The Book of Common Prayer, our provision of generous pastoral response means that same-gender couples can be married in our diocese. We request that our clergy follow as they ordinarily would the other canonical requirements for marriage and remarriage. And, because The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage in The Book of Common Prayer may not be used for marriages of same-gender couples, we ask that our priests seek out liturgical resources being developed and collected around the church. We also commend to you the October 2008 resource created by our New England dioceses, “Pastoral Resources for Province I Episcopal Clergy Ministering to Same-Gender Couples,” available at www.province1.org.

We have not arrived at this place in our common life easily or quickly. We have not done it alone. This decision comes after a long process of listening, prayer and discernment leading up to and continuing after General Convention’s action this past summer.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Boston Globe: Massachusetts Allows Episcopal role in Same Sex Weddings

Five years after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts, the local Episcopal bishop yesterday gave permission for priests in Eastern Massachusetts to officiate at same-sex weddings.

The decision by Bishop M. Thomas Shaw III was immediately welcomed by advocates of gay rights in the Episcopal Church, who have chafed at local rules that allowed priests to bless same-sex couples, but not sign the documents that would solemnize their marriages.

The decision is likely to exacerbate tensions in the Episcopal Church and the global denomination to which it belongs, the Anglican Communion, which has faced significant division in the wake of the election of an openly gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

“The time has come,’’ Shaw said in a telephone interview. “It’s time for us to offer to gay and lesbian people the same sacrament of fidelity that we offer to the heterosexual world.’’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

David Campbell, John Green and J. Quin Monson–Tolerance? We have a ways to go

Romney certainly has history on his side: Republicans prefer nominees who have run before. John McCain, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush and even Ronald Reagan all ran and lost before they ran and won the presidential nomination. Having run and lost in 2008, Romney is in a prime position to run and win in 2012.

His candidacy, however, faces a major obstacle that should concern all Americans: religious intolerance. Mitt Romney’s membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormon church) clearly hurt him in 2008. Polls showed that anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of Americans openly said they would not vote for a Mormon candidate for president. Mormons are hardly the only religious group to face such overt hostility. Polls show that Muslims, Buddhists and people without a religion are all viewed more warily by Americans. And as America becomes more religiously diverse, we can expect still more candidates from faiths that might be unfamiliar to many Americans, or those who profess no religion at all.

The good news is that accurate information about such unpopular religious groups can help the cause of religious tolerance in America.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

LA Times Editorial: Christian leaders' stance on civil disobedience is dangerous

Philosophers have argued for centuries over whether it is ever justifiable to break the law in the service of a higher cause. The question acquired a new complexity with the advent of societies such as the United States, in which laws were enacted by elected representatives and not decreed by a monarch or dictator.

Few today would criticize civil rights activists, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., for participating in or condoning the violation of laws that perpetuated white supremacy — with the understanding that they would face punishment for their actions. But such civil disobedience is rightly regarded as the exception that proves that the proper redress for unjust laws lies in legislation or in court rulings based on the Constitution.

That cautious approach has been thrown to the wind by Christian religious leaders who, even as they insist on their right to shape the nation’s laws, are reserving the right to violate them in situations far removed from King’s witness.

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

Forecast for South Carolina Economy remains gloomy

Roughly half a million adults in South Carolina are unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking.

That is nearly 1 in 4 eligible workers in the state. And the months ahead look grim to John Rainey, South Carolina’s chief economic forecaster.

“I don’t feel hopeless, but it’s hard to feel hopeful,” Rainey said. He is chairman of the state Board of Economic Advisors, which tracks tax collections and unemployment filings and sets revenue forecasts for government spending.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Libby Purves on the Irish Catholic Church: The Church protected itself, not its children

If possible the evidence is even more damning. The accounts of rape, assault and beatings are familiar but almost worse ”” because cooler, more institutional, more deliberate ”” is the detail of the cover-up.

To quote the report, the archdiocese remained wedded to “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the Church and the preservation of its assets”. Right up to 2004, priestly sex offenders were quietly moved to new parishes, even promoted. Victims were told to keep silent. Archbishops held back files; the Papal Nuncio and the Vatican showed no inclination to throw open the records: a “studied silence” met requests for additional information. The pattern follows earlier investigations in the US and Australia; as one victim there said, cover-up “was a policy, a system, it was throughout the Church . . . it’s not just rogue elements”. In Ireland the gardai are now huffing about possible legal action, but their own inattention and deference to the clergy is also bitterly criticised in the report.

This is not old stuff from the era of Angela’s Ashes.

For seven years till 1995, Cardinal Desmond Connell, then Archbishop of Dublin, kept incriminating documents locked in a secret vault, detailing abuses by seventeen priests….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

Independent: British pessimism over Afghanistan is demoralising soldiers, say commanders

Britain is at serious risk of losing its way in Afghanistan because rising defeatism at home is demoralising the troops on the front line, military commanders have warned.

High-ranking officers, including a former commander of the SAS, have expressed deep concern that the country is in danger of “talking ourselves into a defeat back home” as the war reaches a critical stage.

They say there is “surprise and disappointment” among members of the forces at the constant pessimism in the UK over the conflict, and what looks like a lack of appreciation for what they are achieving at great personal risk and in extremely difficult circumstances.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

England and Welsh Bishops: chief prosecutor is ignoring will of Parliament on assisted suicide

he bishops of England and Wales have accused Britain’s chief prosecutor of encouraging people to break the country’s suicide laws.

They said Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), was creating categories of people whose lives would be legally considered less worthy of protection than those of others in society.

The bishops said his interim policy for prosecutors in cases of assisted suicide stigmatised the disabled and the mentally and terminally ill and could send out the message that it was acceptable to help such people to kill themselves.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology