Daily Archives: November 18, 2009

$500 Million, and an Apology, From Goldman Sachs

How much good will can an apology ”” and half a billion dollars ”” buy? Goldman Sachs is hoping it will be a lot.

After first staunchly defending its outsize profits and pay, and then bristling at calls for restraint in these tough economic times, Goldman is trying a new tack: It is apologizing for past mistakes that led to the financial crisis ”” and sharing at least some of its riches, The New York Times’s Graham Bowley writes.

A little more than a week after Goldman’s chairman and chief executive drew fire for saying the Wall Street giant was “doing God’s work,” the bank said Tuesday that it would spend $500 million ”” or about 3 percent of the $16.7 billion it has so far set aside to pay its employees this year ”” to help thousands of small businesses recover from the recession.

At the same time, the executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, also showed a bit of humility, acknowledging at a conference in New York that Goldman had made mistakes, and that it was sorry. “We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret,” he said. “We apologize.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Philadelphia Gives Homeowners a Way to Stay Put

Christopher Hall stepped tentatively through the entranceway of City Hall Courtroom 676 and took his place among dozens of others confronting foreclosure purgatory. His hopes all but extinguished, he fully expected the morning to end with a final indignity: He would sign over the deed to his house ”” his grandfather’s two-story row house; the only house in which he had ever lived; the house where he had raised three children.

“This is devastating,” he said last month as he sat in the gallery awaiting his hearing. “This is my childhood home. I grew up there. My mother passed away there. My grandfather passed away there. All of my memories are there.”

A union roofer, Mr. Hall, 42, had not worked since August 2008, when the contractor that employed him as a foreman went broke and laid off more than 40 people. He had not made a mortgage payment in more than a year, and his lender, Bank of America, was threatening to auction off his house through the sheriff’s office.

In most American cities, that probably would have been the end of the story: another home turned into distressed bank inventory by the national foreclosure crisis. But in Philadelphia, under a program begun last year to try to keep people in their homes, Mr. Hall entered the courtroom with a reasonable chance of hanging on.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Living Church: Two Fort Worth Bodies Tout New Unanimity

Now that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Southern Cone) are separate entities, they are both reporting unanimous decisions by their respective legislative bodies. The decisions move the dioceses away from one another and toward their respective theological commitments.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

The Archbishop of Canterbury claims higher taxes would be good for society

Dr Rowan Williams said that taxation should not be seen as a way of stifling business or redistributing wealth but helping to make the world a better place in which to live.

He called for new levies to be introduced on financial transactions and carbon emissions, and an end to the idea that unlimited economic growth is desirable.

Ugh. Why am I not surprised that Dr. Williams, who is frustratingly unreliable in the area of moral theology, comes out for the very dumb transaction tax? Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Taxes, Theology

Baltimore Sun: U.S. Catholic bishops approve document on marriage

“Thank goodness this is out there, clearly stated, with ample documentation and very reasonably put forward,” said Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore, which is hosting the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week. “I think it’s going to be a very positive document.”

While “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan” does not represent new Catholic teaching, bishops said the pastoral letter would address a need for an authoritative source to which church leaders may refer as they campaign against divorce, unmarried couples living together and same-sex unions. The bishops, meeting through Thursday at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, are scheduled to hear details of that campaign on Wednesday.

“We have the need to defend marriage within our culture,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, a member of the committee that wrote the document. “This pastoral letter will also serve as a foundational document as we seek a direction and a strategy to defend marriage over these coming years.”

Read it all.

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

U.S. Catholic Bishops Try to Reassert Control of a Restive Flock

The leader of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States on Monday launched a new effort to rein in Catholic debates and dissidents and to remind the flock that the bishops will be the arbiters of what it means to be a Catholic.

In remarks at the opening of the hierarchy’s annual meeting in Baltimore, Chicago Cardinal Francis George made it clear that after years of repeated questions about the bishops’ credibility, it was time for the bishops to clarify just who can and cannot speak for the church. He also confirmed that he had set up three committees of bishops to develop guidelines for determining what will be considered legitimate Catholic entities.

“Since everything and everyone in Catholic communion is truly inter-related, and the visible nexus of these relations is the bishop, an insistence on complete independence from the bishop renders a person or institution sectarian, less than fully Catholic,” George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told some 300 of his fellow bishops. “The purpose of our reflections, therefore, is to clarify questions of truth of faith and of accountability or community among all those who claim to be part of the Catholic communion.”

Read it all.

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

St. John's church in Detroit to mark 150th

Congratulations to them–go and check out the picture.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Obama: Too much debt could fuel double-dip recession

President Barack Obama gave his sternest warning yet about the need to contain rising U.S. deficits, saying on Wednesday that if government debt were to pile up too much, it could lead to a double-dip recession.

With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, Obama told Fox News his administration faces a delicate balance of trying to boost the economy and spur job creation while putting the economy on a path toward long-term deficit reduction.

His administration was considering ways to accelerate economic growth, with tax measures among the options to give companies incentives to hire, Obama said in the interview with Fox conducted in Beijing during his nine-day trip to Asia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Metropolitan Community Church campaign focuses on same-sex marriage

Sharon Henry, music minister at Stockton’s Valley Ministries MCC church, had a commitment ceremony in October 2004.

Then, in June 2008, during the window when same-sex marriages were legally performed and recognized in California, she and her wife, who are raising teenage boys, had a civil ceremony.

“It was more validating than I ever thought it would be,” Henry said. “It was the first time I was able to say, ‘I’m married.’ It was a pretty big thing.”

The question of same-sex marriage continues to be a contentious one, with polls showing most Americans opposed to it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

RNS: Catholic bishops claim moral authority amidst 'confusion'

Responding to scientific advances and widespread “confusion” among their flocks, U.S. Catholic bishops today issued detailed guidelines on marriage, reproductive technologies and health care for severely brain-damaged patients.

The bishops gathered here for their semi-annual meeting also heard a preliminary report on the “causes and contexts” of the clergy sexual abuse scandal that resulted in some 14,000 abuse claims and cost the church $2.6 billion since 1950.

Researchers from New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice told the nearly 300 members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that homosexual orientation should not be linked to the sexual abuse, even as some church leaders have sought to make a link between gay priests and sexual abuse.

“What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith of John Jay College. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

Orthodox Archbishop Jonah to visit Charleston, South Carolina, on November 21st

The Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, the Most-Blessed JONAH, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All-America and Canada, and Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South, will be making his first Archpastoral visit to Holy Ascension Orthodox Church. It is the first visit of an Orthodox Primate to Charleston, I believe, ever.

His Beatitude will offer a talk open to the public on Saturday evening, 11/21, at 7pm, here at Holy Ascension, entitled, “Do not resent. Do not react. Keep Inner Stillness.” 265 N. Shelmore Blvd. (I’On) in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

He will also give a reflection entitled, “The Cross of Christ: An Orthodox Christian Perspective”, at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, on the corner of Ashley and Cannon, downtown Charleston, on Monday, 11/23, at 11:30am, after meeting with Bp. Mark Lawrence. This talk is posted on Bp. Lawrence’s November 12 E-newsletter at www.dioceseofsc.org.

Further details of this Primatial visit are available at www.ocacharleston.org.

It is our joy to welcome his Beatitude to Charleston, and we open our doors to all who would come and pray with us, and who would like to sit at Metropolitan JONAH’s feet for a while.

Very gratefully yours,

Fr. John Parker
Priest-in-charge
Holy Ascension Orthodox Church

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Notes on the 78th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester

The bishop gave his address. He made a distinction between leaders and managers. We need managers, but we also need the visionaries who can provide direction to the managers and others. Times are tough, these days, with a bad economy, violence in our streets and around the world, insufficient health care and political wrangling, etc. However, we as Christians and particularly as Rochester Diocese Episcopalians must work harder to address problems to the best of our ability.

Three resolutions were presented that were related to the bishop’s address. These would establish task forces to review the “apportionment” process that calculates parish giving to the diocese, the models of ministry for rural communities and the opportunity to “plant” new congregations in this diocese. These were discussed and passed.

Time was allotted for the groups at each table of 10 to discuss how we came to be Episcopalians and how we might reach out to others. A few groups summarized their discussions.

The Youth Advisory Report proposed a new structure for youth ministry, splitting the diocese into five parts. There was some discussion about the proposal to combine urban and suburban parishes, and the resolution passed.

The 2010 diocesan audit and budget were discussed. Parish apportionments will be discounted 10% from the formula calculation (compared to 15% for the 2009 budget). At last year’s convention, the shock of the economic downturn was fresh and unprecedented since WWII. The bishop’s address at this year’s convention called for renewed energy even in the face of continued trying times. 2010 spending is slightly higher than in 2009, and the delegates passed the budget.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Set aside 'fear and anxiety,' Presiding Bishop says in Sacramento

Hundreds of worshippers packed into Sacramento’s Trinity Cathedral on Sunday morning to hear the nation’s leader of the Episcopal Church talk about the need to embrace change.

“Changing isn’t the problem,” said Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in her message. “Our fear and anxiety about it is.”

Jefferts Schori spoke to a supportive and welcoming crowd. After all, she interned at the midtown cathedral 16 years ago. Sunday she returned to deliver a message of hope and change for the Episcopal Church that has been marked by controversy in recent years.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

ECB's Mersch: Transaction Tax A "Scurrilous Idea"

The financial crisis has promoted some bad ideas about economic reform, European Central Bank Governing Council Member Yves Mersch said Tuesday.

Mersch, who is also governor of Luxembourg’s central bank, singled out the so-called Tobin Tax as a “scurrilous idea” during an economic conference in Brussels.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Stock Market, Taxes

Diocese of Bethlehem Makes Pastoral Provision for Same-Sex Couples

In accordance with General Convention 2009 observation that that “the discernment of The Episcopal Church is that there are no theological barriers to blessing ”¦ same-sex relationships that are based on love, fidelity and lifelong commitment ”¦” I offer the following interim measures, which you may bring to your parish or not, at your discretion.

As you know from our discussion at our Retreat, the General Convention, in addition to the words just quoted, empowered bishops to make “Generous Provision” regarding pastoral and liturgical ministry to same-sex couples. What follows are the pastoral provisions I feel able to make at this time, and I hope they may be seen as generous.

It hardly needs to be said that because this is a new thing, I will want to be kept well informed (and have provided for that in what follows), so that I can make adjustments as needed. This is not a burden on the couple, nor does it reflect on their integrity, but helps me do my job of being pastor to all the parishes.

I am not generally broadcasting this decision yet (although I suspect the word will be quickly out) because it is up to the clergy of a place to decide if they are interested, and then to take it up within the parish system.

Read it carefully and read it all (Word document).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops