Daily Archives: June 4, 2010

Mollie Hemingway Pedophile Priests Controversy: More Emphasis on Confessing Might Have Helped

The Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, who founded a Roman Catholic religious order that helped troubled priests, began warning American bishops in the early 1950s that pedophile priests couldn’t be cured. So sure was he that he made a $5,000 down payment on a Caribbean island to quarantine the worst offenders.

The island plan was never realized, but the basic idea to keep problem priests away from young people wasn’t new. St. Basil wrote in the 4th century that clerics who seduced boys should be publicly flogged, imprisoned and supervised so they would “never again associate with youths in private conversation nor in counseling them.”

Yet it wasn’t until 2002 that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a zero-tolerance policy requiring that any priest who has engaged in sexual abuse of a minor be reported to authorities and permanently removed from ministry. The crisis has cost American dioceses more than $2.6 billion in settlements and fees since 1950.

Read it all from today’s Wall Street Journal.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

Secularism is Ideal, Says Anglican Priest in Singapore

The concept that government should exist separately from religious beliefs is an ideal one according to an Anglican priest.

Systems where the line between state and religion was unclear have historically been open to ”˜blatant’ abuse, The Rev. Ng Koon Sheng expressed.

He was teaching a course organised by St. Andrew’s Cathedral (SAC) titled ”˜Sharing Our Faith in a Secular & Plural Society’ held on Tuesday.

Referring mostly to Christianity, the priest highlighted cases in which the Church either abused its authority or was abused by the state.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church/State Matters, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, The Anglican Church in South East Asia, Theology

CNS–Africans leave behind their homeland to minister to African-Americans

It might seem like an example of reverse mission: young African men leaving their homeland to pursue ordination as Catholic priests in a religious order that has no missionary presence in Africa, but a long-standing ministry to African-Americans.

For six Nigerians who will be serving in the United States as Josephite priests, it has been a 10-year journey, starting with four years spent in formation and undergraduate studies in a program the order has established in their home country and six years in the United States for the novitiate and graduate theological studies.

That journey concluded with their ordination in Washington May 29 by Bishop John A. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., who himself was ordained as Josephite priest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Church Times–Some Church of England Clergy face forging of papers and fake brides

“Sham” church weddings between foreign nationals are putting clergy under huge pressure, a North­ampton vicar said this week.

The Revd Michael Hills, Vicar of St Michael’s and of Holy Sepulchre, Northampton, has had three weddings raided by immigration officers as couples were about to get married. He said that his church appeared to have been targeted by people arranging sham weddings, often between illegal immigrants from Africa and EU nationals.

Couples had shown Mr Hills false passports and household bills to try to prove their address, and their entitlement to marry in the parish.

Four people were each sentenced to two years in prison last week, after admitting trying to dupe Mr Hills into marrying them using forged paperwork.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

Study cited for health-cost cuts overstated Its Upside, critics say

(Please note that the title above is from the print edition–KSH)

But while the research compiled in the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care has been widely interpreted as showing the country’s best and worst care, the Dartmouth researchers themselves acknowledged in interviews that in fact it mainly shows the varying costs of care in the government’s Medicare program. Measures of the quality of care are not part of the formula.

For all anyone knows, patients could be dying in far greater numbers in hospitals in the beige regions than hospitals in the brown ones, and Dartmouth’s maps would not pick up that difference. As any shopper knows, cheaper does not always mean better.

Even Dartmouth’s claims about which hospitals and regions are cheapest may be suspect. The principal argument behind Dartmouth’s research is that doctors in the Upper Midwest offer consistently better and cheaper care than their counterparts in the South and in big cities, and if Southern and urban doctors would be less greedy and act more like ones in Minnesota, the country would be both healthier and wealthier.

Read it all from Thursday’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Education, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

Canadian Anglicans aim to defuse gay-marriage issue

The Anglican Church of Canada has agreed to disagree when it comes to the fractious debate over gay marriage.

When priests, bishops and laypersons gather Friday for nine days of debate and discussion as part of the church’s tri-annual General Synod in Halifax, the approach will be much different than three years ago, Archdeacon Paul Feheley said.

“This synod, we’re approaching it not so much from the form of a winner-takes-all resolution,” he said. “We’re approaching it from a kind of conversational route and hoping by the end of synod, after numerous conversations and meetings . . . that the synod may come up with a statement on where the church is on this matter.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

A Beliefnet Excerpt from Stanley Hauerwas' New Memoir

I became a theologian because I could not be saved.

I was baptized at Pleasant Mound Methodist Church in ”” you will not be surprised ”” Pleasant Mound, Texas. Pleasant Mound Methodist was Methodist, but like most folks in that area, we were really Baptist, which meant that even though you had been baptized and become a member of the church, you still had to be “saved.” Baptism and membership were Sunday morning events. Saving was for Sunday nights. Sunday night was an hour hymn sing, a time for “personal prayer” at the altar rail, a forty-five minute to an hour sermon, and then a call to the altar for those convicted of their sin.

If you came to the altar, it was assumed that you had struck up a new relationship with God that was somehow equivalent to being saved. I wanted to be saved, but I did not think you should fake it.

I am not sure how old I was when I began to worry about being saved, but it was sometime in my early teens. I had begun to date a young woman who also went to Pleasant Mound, which meant I was beginning to sin. I was pretty sure I needed saving, but I just did not think I should try to force God’s hand. All this was complicated for me because the church was at the center of my family’s life.

Our minister was Brother Zimmerman. Brother Zimmerman had actually gone to college and maybe seminary, but he preferred to be called “Brother” to show, I suspect, that even though he was educated he was not all that different from the rest of us. He was thin as a rail because he gave everything he had to being a minister. I remember him as a lovely, kind man, but he believed we did need to be saved.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Methodist, Other Churches, Theology

Joe Carter responds to the PB's Letter: Is the Holy Spirit a Relativist or a Colonialist?

I realize I may be expressing latent colonialist tendencies and committing spiritual violence by imposing a singular understanding of basic logic on Bishop [Jefferts] Schori, but it appears that she is forcing us to choose between two alternatives:

#1. The Holy Spirit is telling some people that gays and lesbians can be ordained ministers while telling other people that such a move is contrary to God’s will. Ergo, the Spirit is a relativist who imposes moral requirements based on cultural norms rather than on a fixed, knowable standard.

#2. The Holy Spirit is consistent and has expressed his will on this issue to one group; the other group is mistaken in believing that the Spirit has spoken to them. The group that he has spoken to are therefore justified in attempting to apply this standard consistently throughout the communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Local Clergy and the Town Supervisor gather in Woodstock, New York

Following a colloquy on the effect of intermarriage, an increasing phenomenon, on the question of who is Jewish, [Jonathan] Kligler cited “commitment” as an important facet of “community.” In Judaism, he said, an individual is expected to have a relationship with each element of the “great triad” of God, Torah, and Israel (with the latter referring to the people rather than the country). Meanwhile, the Jewish Congregation recently demonstrated its identity as a community by gathering at the home of a member whose father had died.

The first purpose of a religious community, said Maclary, who has served as pastor of Christ’s Lutheran Church since 1998, is to “keep the faith” – to seek an interaction with God and an understanding of the divine. In an apparent allusion to the so-called Religious Right, the Lutheran minister expressed concern over the recent prominence of an intolerant segment of the Christian community. “The word Christian has been taken hostage, derailed by a group of people with a political agenda,” she said. “My denomination and others have been drowned out by a minority and are struggling to reclaim our identity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, City Government, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Boston Globe: New start for former Episcopalians

A group of former Episcopalians who broke away from their denomination because of concern over blessings for homosexual couples, as well as other issues, have chosen a former Catholic church in this mill town on the New Hampshire border as regional headquarters for the more traditional Anglican denomination they are attempting to construct in the United States.

During the week of June 7, about 100 bishops and delegates from across North America will gather here at All Saints Anglican Church for a meeting of the year-old Anglican Church in North America, or ACNA. On the agenda: affirming Amesbury as seat of the New England diocese, home of the region’s bishop and site of the diocese’s cathedral.

Use of Amesbury, with a population of 12,500 and a location 40 miles from Boston, as a diocesan headquarters breaks with a centuries-old tradition of headquartering dioceses in major urban centers.

The cathedral will occupy the building formerly used by Sacred Heart Church, which for decades served as spiritual home to Roman Catholics, many of them French-Canadian mill workers and their descendants.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

Benjamin Tupper–Afghanistan's biggest problem is bad leadership

The difficulty for an embedded American trainer is trying to take away a positive lesson about Afghan leadership. Waving your gun at your troops and then firing without warning is career suicide for an American military officer. But it works in Afghanistan. Bridging this cultural gap is something we just aren’t taught in our military schools.

Given the dearth of quality Afghan commanders, how do we make progress in cultivating a leadership cadre that can carry on the fight and win in our absence? My own solution to this problem was this: I simply ignored the incompetent officers. I didn’t waste time trying to change old men who had little interest in reform. Time was short, and lives were at stake, so I devoted my time developing the junior ranking officers and NCOs with good habits of effective leadership. I didn’t include the bad leaders in planning, and I didn’t expect them to go out on missions with our troops and me. Frankly, these senior officers preferred to be ignored, as it meant more nap time and vacation time for them, and less lecturing from a young pesky American Captain.

I focused on mentoring the young junior officers and NCOs who will be the future of the Afghan army. They will eventually assume command as their seniors retire, die or are forced out. Slowly but surely, these young studs will be percolating to the top of the chain of command.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

CEN–Nigerian Church criticized over Los Angeles Episcopal Consecration

Government leaders in Nigeria have chastised Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and the Church of Nigeria over the consecration of Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles. The Governor of the Rivers State in the Niger Delta this week told the Archbishop that the consecration of a lesbian bishop by the Anglican Communion diminished the moral authority of the Church in Africa and weakened its spiritual and social witness.

Enthroned as Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Communion’s largest province earlier this year, Archbishop Okoh has begun a tour of the national Church, meeting with Diocesan leaders and local officials. During the Archbishop’s meeting in Port Harcount with government officials a spokesman for Governor Rotimi Amaechi said the Glasspool consecration was a symbol of western moral decadence.

The governor told the new Archbishop, “Primate, you have a lot in your hands; the times are not good and the challenges are daunting.” By adopting the standards of the world and turning a blind eye to “moral laxity” the church was in danger of losing its prophetic voice, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, Theology

LA Times–Universities are offering doctorates but few jobs

As they walk in hooded robes to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” many students getting their doctorates this spring dream of heading to another university to begin their careers as tenure-track professors.

But when Elena Stover finished her doctorate in September, she headed to the poker tables. Frustrated with the limited opportunities and grueling lifestyle of academia, Stover, 29, decided to eschew a career in cognitive neuroscience for one playing online poker. She got the idea from a UCLA career counselor, who was trying to help her find employment.

“The job market is abysmal, especially within the academic system,” said Stover, who spent six years getting her doctorate at UCLA.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Bishop Peter Forster on how the political establishment views the Christian faith

Bishop Peter’s comments were made in the wake of The Foreign Office being forced to apologise for a leaked memo suggesting that the Pope’s forthcoming visit could see him opening an abortion clinic, blessing a gay marriage and launching a range of Benedict-branded condoms. The Bishop described the memo and its aftermath as distasteful.

Under questioning from Today presenter John Humphreys, Bishop Peter said: “There is a sort of familiarity breeding contempt in some circles in our society about our Christian heritage.”

The Bishop added: “Free speech is fundamental to society – and indeed Christianity was partly instrumental in that coming in, with its great emphasis on the individual rights in the early days of the Church ”“ but if free speech becomes irresponsible or objectionable or stirs up bad feelings it’s not good for society.

“Everyone in society has to have a certain restraint alongside a proper freedom of speech.”

Follow the link to the interview from April.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Uganda

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Spirituality/Prayer