Category : Pastoral Theology

Bishop Stephen Cottrell: safeguarding statements

Statement from Bishop Stephen

“Ten years ago I was approached about a safeguarding allegation regarding a priest. I was able to see the survivor and begin to hear what was a difficult and harrowing story. However, I was moving between roles at the time and although I did speak with colleagues about the actions that needed to be taken, I failed to ensure that these were properly documented and followed through in the way I would expect. Now that I have discovered that this incident was not followed up as it should have been, I am deeply distressed and extremely sorry. Because this has recently come to light, I am both thankful that it is being addressed properly now, but also mindful that in my new position as Archbishop of York it is absolutely essential that I am open and transparent about the need for the whole of our church to be scrupulously honest with each other about any failings in safeguarding.

“In the past, the Church of England has been too quick to protect its own reputation and slow to admit its failings. This must change. Those in public office should be subject to scrutiny. Good safeguarding is an absolute priority for the Church of England and for me personally.

“In the diocese of Chelmsford where I have served for the past 10 years, I have been helped by survivors I have worked with as well as a first rate safeguarding team to have a much greater understanding of why safeguarding itself is so important and how we must be prepared to confront our failings and learn from them. Therefore, although I am embarrassed that I did not follow this up as scrupulously as I should have done 10 years ago, I want to go on the record about what has happened in order to demonstrate a new spirit of openness and transparency over how we ensure that the church is as safe as it can be, that survivors are listened to and dealt with honestly, and perpetrators brought to justice.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Abp. Foley Beach’s ACNA Provincial Council address–Pursuing Racial Reconciliation

A few years ago, the College of Bishops was able to hear Dr. Albert Thompson from the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic speak to us about the history of our Anglican heritage and the failures of racism, the many injustices, and some of the progress we have made over the years. Last year in Plano at our 10th year Anniversary, we heard the Rev. Anthony Thompson from the REC Diocese of the Southeast. His precious wife was shot, along with eight other people, while having a Bible Study at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston by a hate-filled man seething with racism. Anthony told us about the power of the Gospel of Jesus and how it has enabled him to forgive the man who murdered his wife. In spite of this evil, we saw in the city of Charleston brothers and sisters like Anthony responding with the love of Jesus and the incredible power of forgiveness.

We need to search our hearts and make sure there is no offensive way in us as the Anglican Church in North America. All the words about spiritual renewal and revival in the Bible are not directed to the non-Christian culture, but to the people of God. We need to look within ourselves. And it starts with me. What the Lord has shown me about me in the past few weeks is this–I have failed to understand the incredible burden and pain that many of my black brothers and sisters live with every day. I have not wept with those who weep. And I have not understood the depth of the effect of racism and injustice. I have not understood the burden of living under racist acts, slurs, and systems they have to endure every day, nor have I understood the fear with which they constantly live for themselves and their families. It is not enough not to be a racist; we must not be blind to the sin of racism and ignore it in our midst.

Channing Austin Brown writes in I’m Still Here about a white student in a college class, who after visiting a museum on lynchings, said this to her fellow classmates: “I don’t know what to do with what I’ve learned,” she said. “I can’t fix your pain, and I can’t take it away, but I can see it. And I can work for the rest of my life to make sure your children don’t have to experience the pain of racism.” He writes, “And then she said nine words that I’ve never forgotten: ‘Doing nothing is no longer an option for me.’”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Regent College Vancouver) A new language for the sexual crisis of our generation- with Dr. Sarah Williams

Dr. Sarah Williams addresses the current sexual identity crisis that we experience today by advocating for 1) a better understanding of history and 2) a more nuanced use of language that can help us have better conversations about marriage, sex, and identity.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology

(CT Pastors) Pastor and author Jared C. Wilson shares what America’s first ordained African American taught him about facing hardship in ministry

I have to admit I didn’t know who Haynes was until I read an article about him recently. How did you encounter him?

When I was pastoring in Vermont, I did some research into the history of the area, and I stumbled across him. Haynes wasn’t from Vermont, but he spent 30 years pastoring a church in West Rutland. I was about five miles down the road from where he preached. So I was just looking into the church history of Vermont, and he’s a towering figure in that state. But when I started reading up on him, I thought he should be better known in American church history. He’s the first African American ordained by a religious body in America and the first black pastor of a mostly white congregation. That’s rare today. It was unheard of then.

You wrote, “I had a friend who once said ‘fall in love with a dead guy.’ Haynes is my guy.” Why do you feel this special affinity for Haynes?

One reason is his faithful pastorate. He was a devotee of the theology of Jonathan Edwards, so he was in that American Puritan tradition. He was heavily influenced by the revivals; he cites Edwards and George Whitefield in his final sermon to the congregation in West Rutland. So he has that theology, and he was just a faithful shepherd. The first substantive biography of him, by Timothy Mather Cooley, is full of wonderful anecdotes, vignettes of things Haynes did and said. He was so funny; he had the wit of a Spurgeon. I loved that he was a political-minded guy but kept that out of his pulpit preaching. His theology was very rich.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(TEC OPA) TEC Bishop Love of Albany’s Hearing Scheduled for this Friday

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

(NPR) ‘Breathe, Pray, Meditate’: Born From Resistance, Black Churches Now Leading In Crises

As her church distributed masks and hand sanitizer as it does each Friday, the Rev. Traci Blackmon said that black churches “have always been on the bottom rung ladder of all of this.”

“We’ve always had to figure out how to take care of our community, to take care of our neighborhoods and take care of our seniors, even when the economy is booming,” said Blackmon, associate general minister of justice at the United Church of Christ, who leads a church in Florissant, Mo. “So in some ways, we’re ahead of the game with this, because we know how to survive with less, because we’ve always had to survive.”

She said that “the way we are accustomed to being governed in this country is being challenged in ways that it has not been challenged in recent history before.”

“So I think it is all erupting and that makes this moment very different because we are in this moment partly created by a lack of leadership,” she added. “And now we have to navigate this moment without leadership.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

David French–American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go: And the journey must continue step-by-step

So now I sit in a different place. But where do I stand? I believe the following things to be true:

  1. Slavery was legal and defended morally and (ultimately) militarily from 1619 to 1865.
  2. After slavery, racial discrimination was lawful and defended morally (and often violently) from 1865 to 1964.
  3. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not end illegal discrimination or racism, it mainly gave black Americans the legal tools to fight back against legal injustices.
  4. It is unreasonable to believe that social structures and cultural attitudes that were constructed over a period of 345 years will disappear in 56.
  5. Moreover, the consequences of 345 years of legal and cultural discrimination, are going to be dire, deep-seated, complex, and extraordinarily difficult to comprehensively ameliorate.

It’s hard even to begin to describe all the ramifications of 345 years of legalized oppression and 56 years of contentious change, but we can say two things at once—yes, we have made great strides (and we should acknowledge that fact and remember the men and women who made it possible), but the central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldn’t center around pride in how far we’ve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.

Moreover, taking the next steps down that road will have to mean shedding our partisan baggage. It means acknowledging and understanding that the person who is wrong on abortion and health care may be right about police brutality. It means being less outraged at a knee on football turf than at a knee on a man’s neck. And it means declaring that even though we may not agree on everything about race and American life, we can agree on some things, and we can unite where we agree.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(The Week) Damon Linker–Don’t willfully ignore the complexity of what’s happening in America right now

The very least we can do is make a concerted effort to legitimize the pain and anger of African Americans, while defending the constitutionally protected right to protest. But this must also be paired with an unconditional condemnation of looting, stealing, smashing, burning, and destroying lives and property — none of which is protest, and all of which will succeed only in further rending the social fabric while giving would-be authoritarians pretext to crack down in the name of the public good.

If that much proves impossible for us to manage, we will have failed. And in that failure, we will have demonstrated before the world that we did all of this to ourselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Grace & Race Statement from Redeemer Church, NYC–Concerning the Killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd

We remember that throughout Scripture, God shows particular care for those who are most vulnerable, he commands authorities to be characterized by righteousness and justice, and he holds nations accountable for how they treat the least powerful groups and persons in their societies.

We recognize the pervasiveness of sin, we acknowledge that the bloody history of racially motivated violence in the United States continues to this day, we denounce any doctrine of racial superiority, and we join the many calls for systemic change in a nation that has often failed to uphold God’s vision of justice and has persistently worked against people of color. We pray that local officials will exercise their authority to pursue justice for Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, Mr. Floyd, and countless others whose stories have been neglected.

We repent of the ways that we as Christians have far too often failed to adequately stand against the evil of racism and violence: diminishing its severity, averting our gazes, and even perpetuating such injustice deliberately or complicitly.

We realize that for many of our brothers and sisters, the revelation of these deaths is but another reminder of an everyday reality, and that even now as we lament the loss of these lives, many others are overlooked while being subjected to cruelty and death due to the color of their skin. Even still, we remember that ​“nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Mark Lawrence offers some Thoughts on our Current Cultural Moment of National Unrest–Groanings too Deep for Words

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Ed Stetzer’s The Exchange) Race, Gospel, and Justice: An Interview with Esau McCaulley in 4 Parts

We have all been stirred by the events surrounding the death of George Floyd as well as the protests happening across the country. I wrote, “George Floyd, a Central Park 911 Call, and All the Places Without Cameras,” last week. Over the weekend, I invited John Richards to write a guest post, “Letter From a Quarantined Home: Expressing Disappointment with Some of My White Brothers and Sisters in Christ.”
To better understand the reaction to his death, to think about how we can respond as believers to the protests, and to consdider how we should address looting and riots, I interviewed my colleague and friend Esau McCaulley. The following multi-part series will walk us through that important interview. You can listen to that interview on my Moody Radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, right here. Or, we will post the interview in several parts here.

Read it all (and make sure to catch all 4 parts).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Bishop of Lincoln faces safeguarding disciplinary proceedings

The Bishop of Lincoln will face disciplinary proceedings in relation to a safeguarding children inquiry.

Bishop Christopher Lowson, who was suspended last year, faces allegations he “failed to respond appropriately to safeguarding disclosures”.

The Church of England said there was no allegation the bishop “committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult”.

Officials also confirmed the bishop’s suspension would continue

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

Canon J John–The recipe for resilience

what’s the recipe for resilience? I think we need to balance several things.

First, there needs to be a balance between both hope and realism. Hope is essential to getting up off the floor after some hard blow; without it we may as well stay there. Hope is one of the great virtues of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 13:13). The only safe and unbreakable hope comes from putting our faith in the God who, in Christ, has defeated all evil. Yet matching our hope there needs to be a realistic view of life that accepts that conflicts and challenges are inevitable. It’s an attitude that encourages people to make preparations well in advance. Resilient individuals put their armour on before the battle starts.

Second, there needs to be a balance between toughness and flexibility. Toughness is obviously important but resilient people know there are times and places where we need to be flexible. To survive a crisis often needs elasticity; the ability to bend not break before returning to our original shape when the crisis is over. In a gale, flexible willow trees may survive better than sturdy, rigid oaks.

Third, there needs to be a balance of both independence and dependence. It’s hard to give anyone else resilience; once someone has decided that they will lose a battle, then that’s what they will do. You’ve got to want to get up off the floor! That said, resilience is much easier if there is someone there to help you get on your feet. I feel that one of the most important roles of any church or church leader is to try to help people bounce back after the blows of life. Ultimately, the one who helps us all to get to our feet after we’ve been knocked down is God himself.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Yesterday’s NYT front page–‘I Can’t Turn My Brain Off’: PTSD and Burnout Threaten medical Workers

Screw all of you now I see exactly why the only thing left to do is suicide. — a Facebook post by a St. Louis paramedic in April

After Kurt Becker, a paramedic firefighter in St. Louis County, saw that post, which included a profanity-laced screed of frustration and despair over the job, he sent a copy to the man’s therapist with a note saying, “You need to check this out.”

“I’m reading this, and I’m ticking off each comment with, ‘stress marker,’ ‘stress marker,’ ‘stress marker,’ ” said Mr. Becker, who manages a 300-person union district. (The writer is in treatment and gave permission for the post to be quoted.)

The paramedics are part of a “warrior culture,” Mr. Becker said, which sees itself as a tough, invulnerable caste. Asking for help, admitting fear, is not part of their self-image.

Mr. Becker, 48, is himself the grandson of a bomber pilot and son of a Vietnam veteran. But his local has been hit by a dozen suicides since 2004, and he has become an advocate for the mental health of its members. To maintain his equilibrium, he works out and sees a therapist.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(CJ) The Therapeutic Campus–Why are college students seeking mental-health services in record numbers?

“I don’t know anyone [at Yale] who hasn’t had therapy. It’s a big culture on campus,” says a rosy-cheeked undergraduate in a pink sweatshirt. She is nestled in a couch in the subsidized coffee shop adjacent to Yale’s Good Life Center, where students can sip sustainably sourced espresso and $3 tea lattes. “Ninety percent of the people I know have at least tried.” For every 20 of her friends, this sophomore estimates, four have bipolar disorder—as does she, she says.

Another young woman scanning her computer at a sunlit table in the café says that all her friends “struggle with mental health here. We talk a lot about therapy approaches to improve our mental health versus how much is out of your control, like hormonal imbalances.” Yale’s dorm counselors readily refer freshmen to treatment, she says, because most have been in treatment themselves. Indeed, they are selected because they have had an “adversity experience” at Yale, she asserts.

Such voices represent what is universally deemed a mental-health crisis on college campuses. More than one in three students report having a mental-health disorder. Student use of therapy nationally rose almost 40 percent from 2009 to 2015, while enrollment increased by only 5 percent, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. At smaller colleges, 40 percent or more of the student body has gone for treatment; at Yale, over 50 percent of undergraduates seek therapy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Young Adults

(Unherd) Giles Fraser–Let priests pray in their churches

…[Today] the bishops of the Church of England will meet to consider the growing opposition to their policy of banning clergy from saying prayers in their churches.

To recap: on 24 March the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote to the clergy of the Church of England with the following instruction: “Our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but for private prayer as well and this includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own.”

The guidance of the government makes it specifically clear that clergy are allowed into their churches on their own to pray and to broadcast prayer. And the Roman Catholics and other churches continue to do so. But the C of E has banned its clergy from doing this, in some Dioceses with the threat of disciplinary action hanging over those who do.

The deep unhappiness about this continues to grow. Today a letter was sent to The Times signed by hundreds of clergy and lay people complaining about the current restrictions. And as the resistance grows so too does the counter-resistance — with arguments from those defending the official line appearing all over social media.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(CC) Peter Marty–Looking for constancy when routines are disrupted

I’ve been thinking a lot about constancy in recent days. The initial stay-at-home decree from health officials may have felt cozy or even exotic at the outset, especially to Americans accustomed to being on the go. But that sentiment fast morphed into waves of personal anxiety and disequilibrium as huge swaths of the country settled into extended isolation. With daily rhythms for life and work now disrupted, people with serious financial, medical, and relational constrictions are feeling especially exhausted.

I’ve had to face my own disorientation since the cancellation of in-person worship has become more than a momentary phenomenon. I’m lost on Sunday mornings as I try to navigate between online worship, reading the newspaper, texting colleagues, and lounging around within the confines of my home. It’s like having one’s circadian rhythm interrupted, only much more significantly than with a flight across time zones. The clock that regulates my spiritual metabolism has spent 60 nonstop years calibrating itself to weekly worship. I realize that people who don’t worship in a congregation have no idea what I’m talking about. But for me, this arrhythmia is huge.

Constancy isn’t just a virtue in horn playing. Spiritually speaking, it’s that God-inspired equanimity that allows us to find our way through turmoil. If I don’t get my bearings back soon, I may just have to pull out the horn and give myself a lesson.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Music, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(Regent College) [Church Historian] Bruce Hindmarsh–Coronavirus And The Communion Of The Saints

At the beginning of June, Carolyn and I were supposed to be leading a travel course for Regent College in Italy, “Martyrs, Monks, and Mystics,” but we sent a note to all the participants in mid-March to cancel because of the coronavirus. This seemed a judgment call at the time, but within days it became clear that it was the right decision: Europe went into lockdown and the grim statistics of the growing number of dead were reported each evening.

As a historian, it has given me pause. I remember that we have been here before.

It is as though the clock has been turned back several centuries. I was struck by the comment in the Financial Times of the famous virologist Peter Piot (who discovered Ebola): “All we have is medieval ways of containment: isolation, quarantine, contact tracing.” We have gone back in time.

As we were canceling our Italy trip, I was reminded of the early medieval bishop of Rome, Gregory the Great. He was called to lead in the hardest of times. We were hoping to park the tour bus by his family estate at the present church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio before we left Rome for Assisi. We would have told everyone that from his home on the Caelian hill, he could literally have looked straight across the little valley (as we can today) to the Palatine hill to see the crumbling palaces of past Roman emperors. To Gregory’s right was the already decaying Colosseum and ruins of the Forum. Repeated sieges of Rome had left famine and disease in their wake. Large areas of the city were destroyed by fire, and civil society stopped functioning altogether.

And that is not all: plague was pandemic during Gregory’s whole adult life. Something like a third of the population was wiped out during these years by their version of the coronavirus.

In this situation, what did Gregory do? He served his generation. He fed the poor, clothed the naked, and ministered to the sick. He devoted himself to prayer, supported the new Benedictine communities, sent out missionaries, promoted high standards for pastoral care, and took over the running of the city.

The pressures of his life meant that he could write eloquently of what it was to balance a life of active service with a life of prayer. He found inspiration from the example of the ministry of Christ himself.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Al Mohler) Obedience to God and Love of Neighbor in the Face of a Coronavirus: A Christian’s Mandate

But then, quite unexpectedly, Jesus said, “The second greatest commandment is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We should note that Jesus drew this from the book of Leviticus 19:18. The very same Book of Leviticus that included the quarantine of the diseased.

Love of neighbor means that we would not do anything to compromise, weaken, or endanger our neighbor—and that certainly includes our neighbor’s physical health. Applying all of these passages—Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Matthew, and Romans—we come to understand that faithfulness today means full and unwavering compliance with all rightful orders seeking to control the spread of COVID-19.

Interestingly, the command to “love your neighbor” ends with two words of enormous significance: “as yourself.” We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Often, we are told to not think about ourselves—that true virtue is found in self-sacrifice and having no regard for our own lives. That is true, but in this command from the words of Jesus himself, we are told to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Actually, endangering ourselves also endangers others. We regard our own lives, so we must regard the lives of others. We protect our lives, so we protect the lives of others. In the context of this pandemic, if we do not comply with the government’s guidelines and fall ill, then someone will have to take care of us. We will tie up resources, time, and put others at risk of catching what could be for some people a deadly virus. Furthermore, we are not able to contribute to the commonweal—to the larger community.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) New Christian coalition launched to support the bereaved

A new coalition of Christian organisations has been launched to support churches of all denominations in caring for the bereaved.

Loss and HOPE was launched last week at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in recognition of an increasing openness in society to speak about death and bereavement.

The coalition brings together the Ataloss.org website with the Church of England, Care for the Family and HOPE Together.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “Over the last few years in this country, there has been a real opening up of conversations about bereavement in our society.

“We’re beginning to realise the huge impact that losing a loved one can have on every area of a person’s life. As a result, increasing numbers of people are likely to reach out for help to process loss – and this is presenting the Church with a special opportunity for outreach to our communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(1st Things) Wesley Smith–Death On Demand Comes To Germany

…even I never expected full-bore death on demand to arrive in the West for another decade. I was too optimistic. A recent ruling from Germany’s highest court has cast right-to-die incrementalism aside and conjured a fundamental right both to commit suicide and to receive assistance in doing it. Moreover, the decision has explicitly rejected limiting the right to people diagnosed with illnesses or disabilities. As a matter of protecting “the right of personality,” the court decreed that “self-determined death” is a virtually unlimited fundamental liberty that the government must guarantee to protect “autonomy.” In other words, the German people now have the right to kill themselves at any time and for any reason. From the decision (published English version, my emphasis):

The right to a self-determined death is not limited to situations defined by external causes like serious or incurable illnesses, nor does it only apply in certain stages of life or illness. Rather, this right is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence. . . . The individual’s decision to end their own life, based on how they personally define quality of life and a meaningful existence, eludes any evaluation on the basis of general values, religious dogmas, societal norms for dealing with life and death, or consideration of objective rationality. It is thus not incumbent upon the individual to further explain or justify their decision; rather their decision must, in principle, be respected by state and society as an act of self-determination.

The court wasn’t done. The right to suicide also includes a right to assist suicide:

The right to take one’s own life also encompasses the freedom to seek and, if offered, utilize assistance provided by third parties for this purpose. . . . Therefore, the constitutional guarantee of the right to suicide corresponds to equally far-reaching constitutional protection extended to the acts carried out by persons rendering suicide assistance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(VM) Canon Giles Goddard offers some thoughts on the Living in Love & Faith Project

To be on the LLF Co-ordinating Group at the moment feels weird. We review and revise and re-edit the resources, on the basis of feedback from a wide range of people – more or less equally balanced between progressives and conservatives. We are working in the heat of the moment, and yet, because all is not yet ready for publication, we are working away from the public eye.

I think that what is emerging is something which just might do what Jeremy hopes it might. Films which tell real people’s stories, offered to us with vulnerability and trust, from across the spectrum. A book which opens up the variety of human relationships and understandings of sexuality and gender, recognising that we are, as a Church, in an unprecedented situation where there is a strong desire for unity but also deep questions about whether that must also require uniformity.

But I am so close to the process that I fear I may have lost my sense of perspective. And I know that the hinterland to which I am closest, the LBGTI+ community, is tired of waiting, tired of scraps from the table, tired of being fobbed off. LLF is a process; it will involve more talking, more listening, with a clear timetable for some decisions, but the timetable is not quick and any decisions to be made are far from being considered, let alone recommended. Meanwhile, opinion continues to change and more and more Christians accept the possibility of equal marriage.

Many people have said to me – ‘why can’t the Church just change? Why’s it all taking so long?’ To which my reply is that if we were a different Church, we could indeed have just changed a long time ago. If we were a Church made up only of progressive Christians, of people who are relaxed about the diversity of ways in which God created humans, then it would be easy to change. But we aren’t: we are a Church which includes many more conservative Christians, and many of us, including me, were brought to faith within those more conservative churches… and the eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier

How would you respond to Tyler, Amanda, and Jon? How would you counsel Tyler’s parents to respond? Tyler’s parents’ pastor advised them to first listen to their son rather than trying to preach at him, so after Tyler came out to them, they set up a time to simply connect and listen. Though they were clear they did not affirm Tyler’s choice, they did affirm their love for Tyler, Amanda, and their grandkids. They made a point to keep their weekly Thursday afternoon “dates” with their grandkids and stay a part of their lives. Because of this, Tyler has maintained his relationship with his parents, and though his relationship choices are unbiblical, they have been able to communicate their love and care for him and his family. Amanda’s mother responded differently. Decades earlier, her relationship with Amanda’s father had ended when he had proposed a polyamorous relationship and then left when she wasn’t open to it. Amanda’s choice reopened her mother’s unhealed wounds. Feeling angry and betrayed, Amanda’s mother effectively broke off the relationship with her daughter. When children choose less than God’s best for their relationships, affirming both grace and truth is a difficult but necessary balance for parents to maintain.

Another important pastoral step is to distinguish elements of polyamory that are in violation of God’s will from elements that are simply culturally unfamiliar to us. When we want to lovingly call people to repentance, we should be precise about what needs repentance and what relationships or elements can and should be sanctified in Christ. For example, the notion of kinship in polyamory is a secular echo of the way Scripture calls the church to function as a new family. In cultures that idolize individualism (but actually isolate individuals), polyamory’s focus on relationship, care, and affection can have a powerful pull. And in churches that idolize marriage and the nuclear family, polyamory’s focus on hospitality and community can be an attractive alternative. We can acknowledge that many of the elements that draw people to polyamory—deep relationships, care for others, hospitality, and community—are good things.

But Scripture does clearly connect sex, marriage, and monogamy in ways that are violated in polyamorous relationships. In the example above, Amanda and Tyler both need to be called to repentance for the way they have committed adultery. A pastoral approach would commend them for their desire to have other adults contribute to the life of their family but point them to the church—not a polyamorous relationship—as the place where God intends for that to happen.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in --Polyamory, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(EF) Spanish parliament starts the final process to decriminalise euthanasia

The first official debate to finally pass the draft law to decriminalise euthanasia, proposed by the social democrat party PSOE, took place this week in the Spanish Parliament.

It has the support of the majority of the parties. The draft law, inspired by the Dutch and Belgian model, proposes that those who suffer a serious and incurable or disabling illness, with unbearable suffering could ask for euthanasia.

First, the patient and a doctor will have to agree, afterwards a second medical opinion is needed, then the patient will have to confirm his decision two weeks later, and 15 days later it can be made. The process will not last more than a month.

Furthermore, the law foresees the creation of a Commission for Control and Evaluation in each region, in addition to a registry of health professionals who decide to be conscientious objectors. Doctors who allege this cause must do so in writing.

The draft law must now go through the Health Commission, go back again to the Parliament and, finally, to the Senate. A process that could be resolved before summer.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Spain, Theology

(Psephizo) Jon Kuhrt–Why do churches manage people badly?

The church frequently has to respond to the scandal and upset created by safeguarding failures and other cases of serious malpractice. As we all know, these scandals powerfully undermine the integrity of the church’s witness.

One key factor in ecclesiastical failures that is frequently downplayed is the poor state of basic ‘human resources’ practices. The “bad fruit” (Matthew 7.17) that is exposed has not emerged from nowhere. It grows in dysfunctional settings, where clear expectations are not established, proper structures are not in place, and where robust action is not taken against those who ignore requirements. Often there is a basic problem of poor management.

But management is not a concept that sits well within the church. The phrase “managerialism” is often used as code for all that the church does wrong. Theologians will say that the clergy are called to be priests, pastors, and preachers, not CEOs of mini-corporations.

Yet, over the past 20 years, in working for and with many churches and Christian organisations, I have consistently seen the bitter cost of this kind of attitude. Whether it is curates, youth workers, choirmasters, administrators, caretakers, or others, time and again I have seen the problems and sadness it causes.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(Church Times) General Synod accepts that ‘serious money’ must be found for abuse survivors

Calls for “proper” and “just” redress for survivors of clerical abuse, with “serious money”, were made in an emotional debate on safeguarding in the General Synod on Wednesday morning.

The Synod voted unanimously for an amended motion to endorse the response of the Archbishops’ Council to the recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The amendment, brought by the next lead Bishop of safeguarding, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, asked that the original motion be reinforced by “concrete actions”. Earlier attempts to strengthen it had foundered (News, 7 February). Dr Gibbs’s amendment also urged the National Safeguarding Steering Group to commit to a “fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors” and to update the Synod on the progress on the IICSA recommendations not later than 2021.

Redress was a small phrase with large implications, Dr Gibbs said. “It will mean serious money [and] changes in ways we handle claims and complaints.” Safeguarding responses must be “shaped by the righteousness and compassion of God’s Kingdom, not by the short-term and short-sighted financial and reputational interests of the Church,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Stewardship, Theology, Violence

(C of E) Overwhelming support for General Synod safeguarding motion

General Synod voted unanimously today to endorse the Church’s response to the five recommendations from IICSA and urged its national safeguarding steering group to work towards a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors.

The debate was opened by the lead bishop for safeguarding, Bishop Peter Hancock who shared personal reflections on his time as lead bishop along with outlining the Church’s response to the IICSA recommendations. The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs, takes over as lead safeguarding bishop in April.

Read it all and please note the links to the various speeches.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(CEN) Andrew Carey–The C of E Bishops are playing a game of power politics

Last week’s College of Bishops meeting was described by one unnamed evangelical bishop as a ‘bruising experience’. Out of it emerged a statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York apologising for the House of Bishops’ statement on civil partnerships in which it had set out the orthodox position of the Church of England.

The Archbishops wrote: “We… apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement … which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.”

Predictably, of course, this apology has done far more damage than the original statement. Liberals took it as a pseudo-apology along the lines of ‘sorry for offending you’, or ‘sorry for being caught out’. Many others took it as an apology for the actual statement and therefore a rejection of the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. Others took it as a clever bit of spin in which the Archbishops could head off liberal outrage, while still maintaining faith with evangelicals and traditionalists. That latter interpretation does the Archbishops no favours at all because it portrays them in similar terms to Iannucci’s Thick of It as spin doctors desperately and incompetently triangulating to win their nihilistic game of power politics.

The Bishop of Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Martin Seeley, is the latest Diocesan Bishop to break ranks with the Bishops’ pastoral statement on civil partnerships. He revealed that he and other colleagues had asked that the document be withdrawn but a majority of bishops decided against this course of action. From this insight, it is clear that we are beginning at last to see a bit of an honest open ‘fight’ in the House of Bishops. This is about time too. And I also hope that this division is openly revealed in the General Synod as it meets this week.

If we have this aim of achieving ‘good disagreement’ let us at least be open about it rather than hide it behind closed doors. It cannot be ‘good disagreement’ if it is hidden behind the superficial smiles representing faux Anglican ‘niceness’.At the moment suspicions are festering and we in the Church of England are in that anxious and fretting place – the calm before the storm.

The problem with processes such as Living in Love and Faith is that most of the debate and discussion takes place behind closed doors in a process that many of us simply don’t trust. I have always believed that this process is in place simply to kick the can down the road rather than leading to a place where a decision can be made about the future direction of the Church of England. I am much more likely to be convinced if this was an open discussion in the Church of England.

It would be much more honest to recognise the profound differences we have over human sexuality and decide how the two sides in this debate are going to co-exist – if they ever can – in the same Church.Does the future now lie in some kind of formal distancing of relationships from which different networks and forms of oversight can emerge?

–This column appeared in the Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2020, edition (subscriptions are encrouaged)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Andrew Symes on the Oxford Ad Clerum–Bishop offers orthodox Anglicans hope of retaining protected minority status as Diocese takes reappraising route

….there are several clues in the letter that the Bishop does not see his office as a guardian of the apostolic faith, or even as a neutral referee between those with opposing views, but rather as gatekeeper of a new era, ushering in a new default position of revisionist theology while continuing for the moment to tolerate those with traditional views.

Bishop Colin begins by referring first not to the Bishops’ pastoral statement itself, but to the Archbishops’ apology for it following the media furore. He then makes an excuse for the publication of this official episcopal statement, apologises for it himself, and goes further,calling it “wrong-headed and pastorally inept”. Although he acknowledges that some people were in favour of the statement, seeing it as a clear expression of the church’s historic teaching, he makes it clear that he, and by extension the Oxford Diocesan leadership, stand with those who oppose the statement – in fact he specifically quotes further criticisms of the statement from the Bishops of Oxford and Reading.

This criticism is not just about tone and timing, but also content. Outlining why the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement was needed in the first place, Bishop Colin explains it as a response to Civil Partnerships becoming available for heterosexual couples, which was simply a matter of “justice”, and only raised “technical questions” for the church. This dismisses the concerns that many faithful Christians have had about the Civil Partnership legislation: how it undermines marriage, and creates obvious issues about sexual ethics that the Bishops’ Statement was trying to answer.

The Ad Clerum goes on to quote with approval highly critical articles about the Bishops’ pastoral statement in The Times and in the Via Media blog. It is surely significant that these pieces which fiercely attack and even deride historic Christian teaching about sexual ethics and the Church of England’s attempts to navigate the issue, are commended by a Bishop, writing in a position of spiritual authority to his flock. He then makes clear his agreement with the view that, just as the church over the years has changed its understanding on the celibacy of clergy, use of contraception and permitting marriage of divorcees, so there is nothing “static and immovable” in Christian teaching. This, together with a marked absence in the letter of any reference to Scripture or even to God (except at the end – “God bless you”) will surely cause alarm as it appears to illustrate a complete loss of confidence in the idea, basic to Christianity, that faith is based on things that are unchanging!

A letter genuinely trying to balance the different views would offer resources from the two sides, as Living in Love and Faith is likely to do. Bishop Colin does not do this.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Diocese of Oxford Ad Clerum Letter in response to the recent C of E Bishops Pastoral Statement

But are you listening to other voices?

The responses of the bishops and many others have disturbed some people. We have had clergy in this Diocese, who are loved, respected and valued, write to say that they affirmed the pastoral statement. They are concerned to know that we will continue to honour and pastor to those who uphold the historic teaching of the Church of England on marriage.

We continue to listen carefully to voices from across the Church about these matters. As we stated in our December 2018 letter to members of ODEF, neither I nor my fellow bishops have any intention or desire to exclude in any way those who hold to the traditional teaching of the Church and our marriage discipline. As bishops, these are things we uphold. We do not permit uncanonical blessings, though we do seek to encourage priests who, in good conscience, want to pray for and with people at significant points of their lives in a spirit of generous hospitality. As bishops, we are always happy to advise clergy on these matters as issues arise.

Living in Love and Faith

As well as the pastoral insensitivity of the statement, the timing of it was problematic. The Church is now coming towards the end of a two-year national programme of listening, prayer and discernment led by the bishops.

Living in Love and Faith will help the Church to learn and explore questions of human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality. Study guides and resources will be published following the July General Synod. We hope and pray that parishes and deaneries will fully engage with those resources when they are published.

For some, the resources will break new ground. For others, they won’t go far enough. But we must hold firm to that timetable and await what comes next while trusting and praying for the those most closely involved in the process. Do take time to explore the LLF website.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture