Daily Archives: December 22, 2017

(CEN) Church of England rejects key finding in George Bell review

The Church of England has apologised for its handling of the allegations of abuse by Bishop George Bell, who died in 1958, but resisted a key recommendation in the review it requested.

The leading barrister and former MP Lord Carlile of Berriew was asked by the Diocese of Chichester to review its handling of the accusation by ‘Carol’.

Although he accepted that the diocese had acted in ‘good faith’, one of his key recommendations was that there should be a confidentiality provision, at least where cases are settled without admission of liability, as in this case.

Lord Carlile was not asked to decide on the veracity of the claims, which ‘Carol’ asserted happened when she was a child. These events date back to the 1940s and 1950s. The terms of his review were solely on how the Church handled these.

But on this point he was damning. While acknowledging that the Church’s actions were informed by history, in which the Church has been seen to be slow to acknowledge abuse by its clergy, or even turning a blind eye, he concluded: “The process followed by the Church in this case was deficient in a number of respects.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ecumenical Christmas Letter 2017

The gospel story, the saving story of Jesus Christ is good news indeed. The Gospel according to St Luke tells us the story of the good news announced to the Shepherds. On the hillsides above Bethlehem the Angel of the Lord appeared and brought good news. The good news was none other than the birth in Bethlehem of a Saviour, the Christ, the Lord.

This year we have learned a new phrase in various parts of the world. This phrase is ‘fake news’. Fake news is dishonest; it is deliberate misinformation published in order to deceive, to confuse and disrupt. Fake news is used as a weapon to achieve dishonest advantage and to subvert honest debate and discussion. It is the antithesis of the good news. Fake news is but lying and does not come from God.

But we like the Angels proclaim good news and, like the Shepherds, we receive good news. The good news is good news for all people, whatever their situation in life. It is good news for politicians and leaders but is also good news for the refugees and displaced persons who continue to flee from danger and seek safety and sanctuary. As St Gregory Nazianzen writes:

He who gives riches becomes poor, for he assumes the poverty of my flesh, that I may assume the richness of his Godhead. He that is full empties himself, for he empties himself of his glory for a short while, that I may have a share in his fullness. (Oration 38. 13)

This is truth and this is good news.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Ecumenical Relations

(WSJ) Kim Phuc Phan Thi–The Salvation of ‘Napalm Girl’

A decade removed from the defining tragedy of my life, I still desperately needed peace. I had so much hatred and bitterness in my heart. Yet I was ready for love and joy. I wanted to let go of my pain. I wanted to pursue life instead of holding fast to fantasies of death. When Pastor Ho finished speaking, I stood up, stepped out into the aisle, and made my way to the front of the sanctuary to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

When I woke up that Christmas morning, I experienced my first-ever heartfelt celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I know what it is like to experience terror, to feel despondent, to live in fear. I know how wearying and hopeless life can be sometimes. After years in the spiritual wilderness, I felt the kind of healing that can only come from God.

I had spent so much of my life running—first from the bombs and the war, then from communist Vietnam. I had always assumed that to flee was my only choice. Looking back, I understand the path I had been racing along led me straight to God. Today I live at ease. Yes, my circumstances can still be challenging. But my heart is 100% healed.

My faith in Jesus Christ is what has enabled me to forgive those who had wronged me—no matter how severe those wrongs were. Faith also inspired me to pray for my enemies rather than curse them. It enabled me not only to tolerate those who had wronged me but to love them.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Christmas, Christology, History, Religion & Culture, Vietnam

(Guardian) Churches must become social hubs in order to survive, The Taylor Review says

England’s churches must become vibrant hubs at the centre of communities, offering local people a range of activities and services beyond a place to worship, if they are to be sustainable, according to an independent review.

Churches are “heritage assets”, but their care, maintenance and repair represents an enormous task, according to the Taylor review of the sustainability of English churches and cathedrals.

The report urges congregations to involve more local people to use and care for churches, citing examples where “enterprising clergy, PCCs [parish councils] and volunteers have developed their churches into vibrant hubs at the centre of their wider communities”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Poetry for a Friday–Edwin Muir’s ‘Transfiguration’

But he will come again, it’s said, though not
Unwanted and unsummoned; for all things,
Beasts of the field, and woods, and rocks, and seas,
And all mankind from end to end of the earth
Will call him with one voice. In our own time,
Some say, or at a time when time is ripe.
Then he will come, Christ the uncrucified,
Christ the discrucified, his death undone,
His agony unmade, his cross dismantled—
Glad to be so—and the tormented wood
Will cure its hurt and grow into a tree
In a green springing corner of young Eden,
And Judas damned take his long journey backward
From darkness into light and be a child
Beside his mother’s knee, and the betrayal
Be quite undone and never more be done

Read it all.

Posted in Advent, Poetry & Literature

(Church Times) BBC religion is entering a new era, says Bishop of Norwich Graham James

The BBC’s review of its religion and ethics output “feels like the beginning of a new era” the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, has said.

Bishop James, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on media issues, said on Wednesday that BBC had produced “the most promising review of religion and ethics at the BBC that I have seen for a generation… It is very promising all round.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the BBC published plans for reforming its religion and ethics output. These include the establishment of a religion editor for news, a global team of specialist reporters, a greater focus on religious festivals, and creating a “Year of Belief” in 2019.

Bishop James said he was hopeful that the proposals would be implemented, and that they would have an impact on religious programming.

“I’m confident that at the highest level [in the BBC] this is now being taking seriously, at a level I have not seen before.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Henry Budd

Creator of light, we offer thanks for thy priest Henry Budd, who carried the great treasure of Scripture to his people the Cree nation, earning their trust and love. Grant that his example may call us to reverence, orderliness and love, that we may give thee glory in word and action; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Canada, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Prayer Manual

O Day-Spring, splendour of the light eternal, Sun of Righteousness: come, enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. O King of nations, Whom they long for, Corner-stone Who makest all one, come and save mankind, whom Thou didst fashion out of the dust. O Emmanuel, our King and Law-giver, Desire of all nations and their Saviour: come and save us, O Lord our God.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God
from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

–Revelation 5:6-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture