Daily Archives: November 21, 2012
The Holy Father focused his weekly audience on the reasonableness of faith in God. Rejecting the thought of fideism, which he asserted as “the will believe against reason”, Pope Benedict said that God was not an abstract being, but a mystery. “Mystery, in turn, is not irrational, but the overabundance of sense, of meaning, of truth. If, when looking at the Mystery, one’s reason sees darkness, it is not because there is no light in the mystery, but rather because there is too much of it,” he said.
“Just as when a man turns his eyes to look directly at the sun, he sees only darkness; but who would say that the sun is not bright? On the contrary, it is the source of light.”
Church of England Votes Against Women Bishops: Archbishop’ s Statement
Although I realise many will be very frustrated that the Church of England’s General Synod failed to pass legislation to admit women to the episcopate by such a narrow margin, I believe that this result will come to be seen as a positive turning point.
The key issue at this stage was the maintenance of proper safeguards for those who as a matter of theological principle could not accept such a fundamental change. I am therefore heartened that the Church of England has stepped aside from following the path of the Episcopal Church of the United States which has progressively marginalised and excluded those who seek to hold to historic Anglican faith and order in good conscience.
Now that legislative pressure has been removed, it is my prayer that there can be a period of calm reflection in which the biblical understanding of calling, for both men and women, will be prominent.
The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council
David Cameron today urged the Church of England to “get with the programme” over women bishops.
The Prime Minister told MPs that as a personal supporter of women bishops he had been saddened by last night’s synod vote to maintain its ban on women priests serving in the upper echelons of the Church establishment.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron noted that the Church had its own processes and that MPs should respect them, even if they disagreed.
Mr Cameron said the Church needed a “sharp prod”. “They need to get on with it and get with the programme,” he added.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Voters are turning away from the Tories because of David Cameron’s support for gay marriage, according to a poll.
The finding casts doubt on the Prime Minister and George Osborne’s claims that backing same-sex weddings will boost Conservative chances of securing a majority at the next election
A ComRes survey published today found that 62 per cent of voters and 68 per cent of Tories believe marriage should continue to be defined as a ”˜life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman’.
Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding yesterday’s vote on women in the episcopate
[It appears that the House of Bishops have decided to attempt to push the matter forward in this Synod, which means that the ‘Group of Six’ (the Archbishops, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity) must have given permission and intend to report to the Synod why they have done so.]
Full text of the Archbishop’s presidential address:
At the end of yesterday afternoon’s proceedings the Archbishop of York said that the presidents would be consulting overnight in the light of Synod’s decision not to give final approval to the proposed legislation about women in the episcopate. We met last night, and we also this morning had the opportunity of an informal discussion with members of the House of Bishops. And what I say is in the light of those meetings
I have already said something in public about my personal reaction to yesterday’s vote and I don’t want to repeat now what I said then, or offer a commentary on other people’s comments. But there are a few things that perhaps it would be helpful to say today, from the chair, before we move on, as we must, to the rest of today’s business.
Whatever decision had been made yesterday, today was always going to be a difficult day. There would have been, whatever decision was made, people feeling that their presence and their significance in the Church was in some sense put into question. There would be people feeling profoundly vulnerable, unwanted and unsure. And that means that the priority today, for all of us, is to attend to one another in the light of that recognition. That is to give to one another the care that we need, and whatever else we do today and think today and say today, I hope that that is what we shall be able to offer one another.
But today is also an opportunity to express appreciation which I’m sure Synod will share for all those staff members and others in the Synod who have worked so devotedly in the course of this legislative process over the past few years. And while it is invidious to single out any individual, a great deal of the burden of steering this process through has fallen on the steering committee in general and the Bishop of Manchester in particular. Bishop Nigel will be retiring in the New Year, there will be a formal farewell to him later today by the Archbishop of York. But I can’t miss this opportunity of recording my personal gratitude to Nigel for the unfailing graciousness and skill that he has shown through this process.
Recognising the work that has been done prompts the reflection that it won’t really do to speak as if talking had never started between parties and presences in the Church of England or in this Synod. Nonetheless, in the light of much that was said yesterday, I believe it is very important that we hold one another to account for the promises made of a willingness to undertake and engage urgently in further conversation. I believe that yesterday there was both realism and unrealism in much of what was said, and the realism was largely in the recognition that there is now that urgent demand for close, properly mediated conversation. The offers that were made need to be taken up, the Presidents of Synod and the House of Bishops are very eager that that should happen, and in their meeting in December will be discussing further how that might most constructively be taken forward.
But I have to say, and I hope you will bear with me in my saying this, that there was an unrealism around yesterday as well. The idea that there is a readily available formula just around the corner is, in my view, an illusion. There is no short cut here, there is no simple, God-given (dare I say) solution, to a problem which brings people’s deepest convictions into conflict in the way in which they have come into conflict in this Synod and previously. Realism requires us to recognise that; to recognise the depth and seriousness of the work still to be done. The map is clear enough. The decisions we have to make are about the route, and those decisions, given the nature of the terrain, are not going to be simple and straightforward.
So as we enter into further conversation, and as we reflect on the urgency of moving our situation forward, please don’t let us be under any misapprehensions about what it is going to demand of all of us, intellectually, spiritually and imaginatively. Part of recognising that also, I think, involves us recognising the greatest risk of all that faces us as a Synod and I suspect as a Church in our internal life. Yesterday did nothing to make polarisation in our Church less likely and the risk of treating further polarisation of views and identity is a very great one. It will feel like the default setting.
If I can be frivolous for a moment, there is a Matt Groening cartoon set in outer space, an appropriate location you might think at the moment, where crisis is impending for the staff of an inter-galactic rocket and they run around saying, ”˜What do we do, who do we blame?’ Well, the temptation to run round saying what do we do, who do we blame today is going to be strong. I hope that we will try and hold back from simple recrimination in all this. So the work to do internally is considerable, but it is tempting to say that is as nothing compared to the work we have to do externally.
We have, to put it very bluntly, a lot of explaining to do. Whatever the motivations for voting yesterday, whatever the theological principle on which people acted, spoke; the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society. We have some explaining to do. We have, as the result of yesterday, undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society, and I make that as an observation as objectively as I can; because it’s perfectly true, as was said yesterday, that the ultimate credibility of the Church does not depend on the good will of the wider public. We would not be Christians and believers in divine revelation if we held that; but the fact is as it is.
We also have a lot of explaining to do within the Church because I think a great many people will be wondering why it is that Diocesan Synods can express a view in one direction and the General Syod in another. That means that Synod itself is under scrutiny and under question; and I shouldn’t be at all surprised if many members of Synod and groups within Synod were not feeling today confused and uncertain about how Synod itself works ”“ and whether there are issues we have to attend to there. We rightly insist in the Church of England on a high level of consent for certain kinds of change and the failure to secure a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity doesn’t mean that those high levels of consent are necessarily wrong. They do mean that there is a great deal of further work to be done, as I have said. But that sense of a Synod which, for admirable, praiseworthy reasons gives a very strong voice to the minority ”“ that sense of Synod needs some explaining and some exploring if it is not simply to be seen as a holding to hostage of Synod by certain groups. That is part of the explaining we have to do, and we are all, I guess, feeling those uncomfortable questions.
How exactly we structure the conversations which lie ahead, as I have said, will take some time to work out. The House of Bishops will need to be thinking very hard in a couple of weeks’ time about how that goes forward, and the Archbishops’ Council also meets next week. Bishops of course will meanwhile be taking soundings and pursuing conversations in their own dioceses, and that does bear a little bit on a question later today about the pattern of Synodical meetings next year. We have a proposal that we should meet in July and November next year rather than in February. There is clearly a case for not loosing momentum in our discussion. There is also clearly a case for thinking twice about pursuing after a very, very short interval a set of issues that are still raw and undigested. I think the difficult question that Synod will have to address in that context is how we best use the next six months or so. It may be, for example, that if we do not have the Synod in February, that reserved time should be set aside to some brokered conversations in groups rather smaller than 470. But you may well feel, and I think the House of Bishops as a whole feels, that the full Synod in February is a little close for comfort given all the business, all the emotion, all the consequence we have to explore. The best way of keeping up pressure for a solution may not be to meet in February; but that is of course for further discussion and is in no sense meant to minimise the sense of urgency that we all face. Within that timeframe is when initial conversations have to begin.
After all the effort that has gone into this process over the last few years, after the intense frustration that has been experienced in recent years ”“ and I don’t just speak of yesterday ”“ about getting to the right point to make a decision, it would be tempting to conclude that it is too difficult, that perhaps the issue should be parked for a while. I don’t believe that is possible because of what I said earlier about the sense of our credibility in the wider society. Every day in which we fail to resolve this to our satisfaction, and the Church of England’s satisfaction, is a day when our credibility in the public eye is likely to diminish, and we have to take that seriously: however uncomfortable that message may be. There is a matter of mission here and we can’t afford to hang about. We can’t, as I said yesterday in my remarks, indefinitely go on living simply theologically with the anomaly of women priests who cannot be considered for bishops.
I mentioned earlier the duty of care that we have which does not lessen with the pressure and complexity of matters we face. But I do also want to repeat something that I said last night, having said that I wouldn’t repeat what I said last night, let me say something that I did say I as believe that it is probably worth saying, and that is that in spite of headlines in the press, the Church of England did not vote for its dissolution yesterday. The Church of England in a very important sense cannot vote for its dissolution, because the Church does not exist by the decision of Synod, by the will or personality of bishops or archbishops, by the decision of any pressure group, but by the call of Almighty God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will not regard it as disrespectful to Synod if I say that Synod cannot vote to abolish God the Holy Trinity. Therefore, what God asks of the Church and what God equips the Church to do are as true this morning as they were yesterday morning and to paraphrase something I said in another context, God does not wait for us to respond to his call for mission and service until we have solved all our internal problems. We are going to be faced with a great deal of very uncomfortable and very unpleasant accusation and recrimination about yesterday and there is no easy way of getting through that except to endure it. But we can at least say God remains God, our call remains our call, our Church remains our Church and it is in that confidence that, with a good deal of deep breathing and as they say heart-swearing, we prepare ourselves to do our business today in the hope that the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit is what is always is, and always was and always will be.
You see, the CNN team seems to think that there is such a thing as a Southern Baptist tradition (there are many, quite frankly) and even a Southern Baptist theology (there is no one such approach to doctrine; ask Bill Clinton about that). The elder Stanley is held up as a prime example of the old Southern Baptist way and then Andy becomes the brave young leader who steps away from that frozen orthodoxy and finds his own way.
Truth is, Baptists and members of similar free-church flocks always evolve from generation to generation with millions of churchgoers flocking to the hot new preachers and the emerging super congregations that rise and fall in power year after year, decade after decade. One generation always creates its own new tradition and then outvotes the older generation by moving on to something new. In these evolving structures only the living saints get to vote.
The U.S. Supreme Court decides next week whether to hear challenges to laws defining marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman. It does so after two different electoral outcomes. In May, North Carolinians voted to amend their state constitution to protect the conjugal definition of marriage, a definition that 41 states retain. But on Nov. 6, voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state endorsed a revisionist view of marriage as the union of any two adults.
How should the Supreme Court decide? How should voters?
We can’t move one inch toward an answer simply by appealing to equality. Every marriage policy draws lines, leaving out some types of relationships. Equality forbids arbitrary line-drawing. But we cannot know which lines are arbitrary without answering two questions: What is marriage, and why does it matter for policy?
Dr. Ernest Zeringue was looking for a niche in the cutthroat industry of fertility treatments.
He seized on price, a huge obstacle for many patients, and in late 2010 began advertising a deal at his Davis, Calif., clinic unheard of anywhere else: Pregnancy for $9,800 or your money back….
People buying this option from Zeringue must accept concessions: They have no genetic connection to their children, and those children will probably have full biological siblings born to other parents….
“I am horrified by the thought of this,” said Andrew Vorzimer, a Los Angeles fertility lawyer alarmed that a company ”” not would-be parents ”” controls embryos. “It is nothing short of the commodification of children.”
Most of the increases would result from the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts, which would cause marginal rates to rise. Simultaneously, several temporary tax breaks pushed by President Barack Obamaafter the financial crisis also would end.
And most households””121 million in all””would be hit by an increase in the payroll tax that employees pay to 6.2% from 4.2%.
Also expiring at year-end is a provision to reduce the so-called marriage penalty, a set of tax provisions that require many couples to pay higher taxes when they file jointly. And millions more families’ earnings this year would be subject to the alternative minimum tax. The AMT was originally intended to prevent the very wealthy from avoiding taxes but would apply to middle-class households if policy makers don’t renew a provision that expired last year.
The next Archbishop of Canterbury has called the rejection of women bishops a “very grim day”, as bishops prepare for an emergency meeting on the issue.
The ordination of women bishops in the Church of England was narrowly rejected by its ruling general synod on Tuesday.
The Rt Rev Justin Welby, who takes over the Church’s top role next year, said the lost vote was hard “most of all for women priests and supporters”.
First, one major complexity is that the Communion has no clear definition of itself. The oldest and probably still most widely accepted understanding of the Communion is that offered by the 1930 Lambeth Conference and subsequently quoted in the preamble to TEC’s constitution. It defined the Communion as a “fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury,” which have in common “the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer”; that “they are particular [dioceses] or national Churches”; and that “they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.”
As we have noted before, this definition reflects the essence of catholic ecclesiology: the people of God are united in one local church by their communion with their recognized bishop, and through the communion of all the bishops in a college of bishops the people of God around the world are joined in one communion.
It is sometimes suggested that a better definition is the membership schedule attached to the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council. But this definition is clearly inadequate and is not in fact accepted by any of the Instruments as defining the Communion as a whole for all purposes. Indeed, while it purports to be only a definition of ACC membership, the ACC itself does not accept the schedule as performing even that limited role.
“This is the Lord’s Table. It is not Grace Church’s table. All are welcome to receive communion.”
It is not unusual to hear or read these or similar words””with the local parish or its denomination named””at a service of worship in which the Eucharist will be celebrated. Such an announcement reflects the practice commonly called “open communion.” To say that a church has an open communion policy has generally meant that persons who are not formally members of that church are nevertheless allowed or encouraged to share in the eucharistic meal.
Open communion in that sense is not universal, of course, and never has been. Some denominations as a matter of principle allow only their own members to commune and in practice take pains to ensure that the restriction is observed. But among churches of the Reformation, open communion has long been a custom widely accepted and fairly uncontroversial. Hence the invitation.
Lately, however, what is or might be meant by open communion has shifted….
It is imperative that we keep our terms clear and I have noted before it is curcial that we NOT call the increasingly common practice of TEC of inviting anyone no matter what their situation to communion open communion but instead communion of the unbaptized. With that said, read it all.