Category : Wales

(Ekklesia) Savi Hensman–Equal marriage: churches sharing or burying good news?

Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, was unhappy with the decision, calling it a “step too far”. He said that, though the Church in Wales was not currently contemplating offering same-sex marriages, the law had “curtailed” the church’s freedom; “It should be left for us to opt in or opt out.”

To be fair to the government, it appears to have acted on this church’s official consultation response in June 2012, stating that “The Church in Wales is in an almost identical position to the Church of England with regard to the solemnisation of marriages” and “would seek assurances that the Government would specifically include the Church in Wales in any provisions for the Church of England under the proposed legislation.”

Given the Church of England’s influence and power, including seats in the House of Lords, the government was willing to go to considerable lengths to reduce the risk that the legislation as a whole would be blocked. Church of England official responses to proposals for marriage equality have tended to be highly negative, and to avoid recognising the diversity of views and reviews taking place of its position on civil partnerships and sexuality in general.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church of Wales, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Wales

Roman Catholic Bible Engagement Survey Suggests Need to Support Scripture Use and Literacy

The results of a survey commissioned by the Bible Society, in partnership with the Home Mission Desk of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, suggest that Catholics may need greater help in deepening their knowledge and use of, and prayer with, the Bible each day….

Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Bishops’ Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis, said:….“A large number of Catholics in England and Wales are reading and using the Bible which is encouraging, but there is also a large number who are not. We hope that this weekend’s Catholic Bible Sunday, which falls during the Year of Faith, and the other initiatives being put in place, will equip Catholics to make praying with and reading the Bible part of their day.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Wales

(Independent) Machynlleth: The town whose heart is broken over April Jones near certain death

The end of hope was widely expected, and all the more unwelcome for that. When it arrived yesterday afternoon, some railed against it; some were mute and bowed. But all in the Welsh town of Machynlleth were forced to face up to one heartbreaking reality: five-year-old April Jones was not coming home.

Since her disappearance on Monday, the 2,500-strong community living in the green valley on the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park has put on an extraordinary display of solidarity under the eye of 24-hour news coverage. Normal life ceased. The whole town set out in search of the missing girl, their missing girl. News that she needed medication and suffered from mild cerebral palsy only made their efforts more urgent.

The police, astonished by the intensity of the town’s response, struggled to cope with the stream of emotion and demands that people be allowed to help, and to conceal the fact that they were increasingly pessimistic about the chances of finding the little girl alive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Violence, Wales

Bishops of the Church in Wales respond to the Same Sex Marriage Consultation

We regret that the consultation focuses only on the practice of registering and recognising same-sex marriage, and does not invite comment on the principle. The question of why, and whether or not it is desirable to introduce the concept of marriage for same-sex couples should also be open to public consultation and debate.

In a consultation on legislation which potentially affects everyone, it is anomalous that the questions set in the consultation document are very restrictive. Eleven of the 16 questions are presented with a multiple-choice answer consisting of ”˜Yes’, ”˜No,’ or ”˜Don’t know’/”˜Doesn’t apply to me’. Only one of them allows a more detailed explanation (number 1), and where questions invite free comment (in only 4 of the 16) this is restricted to around 200 words. Six questions are exclusively aimed at people who either are or could be in a same-sex relationship (including transsexuals and their spouses). This suggests a strangely isolated approach to the institution of marriage, which is above all an institution in society, rather than a private arrangement between individuals.

The consultation document refers throughout to an alleged ”˜ban’ on same-sex couples contracting marriages. In normal parlance, for something to be banned, it must be possible but disallowed ”“such as the ban on smoking in public buildings, or the ban on carrying liquids on to an aeroplane, or the ban on alcohol or gambling on many religious premises. (It could be argued that there is a ”˜ban’ on the inclusion of religious content in civil marriage or partnership ceremonies.) This legislation does not lift a ban; it proposes the creation of a new state, ie marriage between persons of the same sex. A more accurate description would be, as in para 1.9(iii), that a same-sex relationship constitutes a ”˜bar’ to marriage: it is a situation in which marriage cannot at present take place. It would be correct to acknowledge that the proposed legislation aims to bring into being a state which did not exist before.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of Wales, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Wales

Archbishop of Wales says Same Sex Unions deserve the welcome of church

The Archbishop of Wales has lent his support to gay marriage today, saying: “All life-long committed relationships deserved the welcome, pastoral care and support of the Church.”

In his presidential address to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body in Llandudno, Dr Barry Morgan said Christians “need to show how the Gospel of Jesus is good news for gay people”.

He said the church had to ask itself whether it would “protect and support pastorally, faithful, stable, lifelong relationships of whatever kind in order to encourage human values such as love and fidelity and recognise the need in Christian people for some public religious support for these”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Wales

Bishop of Monmouth warns of witchcraft break-ins on church property

Witches have been breaking into churches and graveyards to perform black magic rituals, a leading Church in Wales cleric has revealed.

Bishop of Monmouth Dominic Walker said the incidents coincided with a resurgence in witchcraft in recent years, with the number of occult groups performing both wicca ”“ or white magic ”“ and black magic on the rise.

And while not a frequent occurrence, Bishop Walker said he had been called on several occasions during his nine-year ministry to help people escape these “satanic groups”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, England / UK, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Wales

Archbishop of Canterbury's Address to the Welsh Assembly–For the common good

In my remarks today I’ll be suggesting four particular areas in which, I believe, community is most evident; four particular kinds of priority for those who want to turn society into community. And all of them depend on one foundational assumption; that community occurs when people take responsibility for one another.

When we’re occasionally told ‘We’re all in this together’ (with varying degree of plausibility), that appeals to the sense that a solidarity experience, a community experience, means that what happens to me and what happens to you are not separate issues. My fate and my wellbeing is bound up with yours, and if it is bound up with yours then I have some responsibility for understanding and managing and nurturing that reality.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Politics in General, Wales

The English and Welsh Roman Catholic bishops’ Letter on Marriage and UK Government Policy

(Please note that this letter is referred to at the conclusion of the article in the previous post, which says it is to be read in every parish in England and Wales this weekend in worship–KSH).

Today we want to put before you the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society.

The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility. This pattern is, of course, affirmed by many other religious traditions. Christian teaching fills out this pattern and reveals its deepest meaning, but neither the Church nor the State has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself.

Nor is this simply a matter of public opinion. Understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, and for the creation and upbringing of children, marriage is an expression of our fundamental humanity. Its status in law is the prudent fruit of experience, for the good of the spouses and the good of the family. In this way society esteems the married couple as the source and guardians of the next generation. As an institution marriage is at the foundation of our society.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Children, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Wales

The Primate of the Church in Wales' Presidential Address

The Welsh Government intends to bring forward legislation soon, where instead of opting in to be an organ donor and therefore signing a card, it will be assumed that everyone is willing to donate their organs after death unless they have opted out. The trouble at the moment is that whereas 90% of the population say that they would be willing to be organ donors, only a third have signed the national register or carry a donor card. So the Government in Wales (but in no other part of the UK) proposes to bring in a law where it will be presumed that you are willing to donate your organs after death unless you have specifically opted not to do so.

One can understand the thinking behind all this. Most European States have more donors per head of population than Britain. In the UK as a whole, there are around 10,000 people waiting at any one time for a new heart, kidney or liver and three people a day die because there is no suitable organ ready for them. The waiting list for a kidney patient is three years whilst heart and liver patients wait on average six months. Organ transplants have a phenomenal degree of success these days and 90% of transplanted organs function really well a year after surgery and patients who have received them can often live for a decade or two.
The Welsh Government, sensitive to the fact that this is quite a radical departure, also proposes what it calls the “soft opt-out option” ”“ relatives will be able to have the right of veto on organ donation. Yet, although all this is admirable in its intention, I feel a bit uneasy, not about organ donations or transplants because there are strict guidelines governing these and gifting organs is a laudable practice, but about presumed consent.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Wales

David Anderson–R.S. Thomas: Poet of the Cross

R.S. Thomas, the Welsh poet and Anglican priest who died a little more than a decade ago, left a body of work that is slowly becoming recognized as among the best and most important religious poetry of the twentieth century.

Like the century itself, however, it is not easily orthodox or pretty. Its bleak moods and near despair reflect the pull of doubt that defined those decades for many, including believers. As such, it stands outside the mainstream of the dominant, God-affirming, sacramental poetry that looks back to Gerard Manley Hopkins’s affirmation that “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

Yet Hopkins was also the poet of the “terrible sonnets”””bitter spiritual laments that Thomas described as “but a human repetition of the cry from the cross”: My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Thomas’s own prolific poetic outpouring explored this very question, and his work continues to resonate with compelling freshness and urgency as a new century of uncertainty unfolds.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Wales

(BBC) Archbishop of Wales in 'significant change' warning

The Archbishop of Wales is urging officials to be open to “significant change” ahead of a large-scale review.

Dr Barry Morgan said the Church in Wales must adapt to cope with the decline in clergy, waning investments and falling congregations.

Three independent experts are to assess its use of buildings and financial resources.

The church’s organisational structure could also change, he warned.

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

New Roman Catholic Archbishop in Wales praises Anglican church over Rome 'journey'

The newly-appointed Archbishop of Cardiff spoke today of the “gracious” and “understanding” approach of the Church of England as around 900 former Anglicans in England and Wales prepare to be received this Easter into a special grouping within the Catholic Church.

The Rt Rev George Stack, who is to take up the most senior role in the Roman Catholic Church in Wales, said the personal ordinariate had allowed former Anglicans to join the Catholic Church as a group and maintain their identity.

“I think mainstream Anglicans recognise that there are people who feel that they must make this journey and I must say, I think they have dealt with it very, very well,” the Rt Rev Stack said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Wales

Give royal daughters equal rights to throne, says the Archbishop of Wales

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan has given his support to a growing move to give royal daughters equal rights to succeed to the throne as their brothers.

Dr Morgan is the latest senior UK figure to call for the rule, which stops the eldest daughter of a monarch from inheriting the British throne if she has a younger brother, to be scrapped.

The Anglican leader considers it absurd the present Queen would never have been crowned if she had a brother.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Wales

(Press Association) Marriage rate falls to record low

Marriage rates in England and Wales are at their lowest since records began, new statistics show.

Just 21.3 out of every 1,000 males aged 16 plus were married in 2009, down from a rate of 22.0 in 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The proportion of women aged 16 plus who were married fell from 19.9 in 2008 to 19.2 in 2009.

The rates were the lowest since calculations of rates began in 1862.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Wales

Robert Reich: Smoot-Hawley here we come

Willis Hawley and Reed Smoot, you may recall, sponsored the Tariff Act of 1930 that raised tariffs to record levels on more than 20,000 imported goods. The duo said this would protect American jobs and revive the economy. It did the reverse, plunging the nation into an even deeper depression. Other nations retaliated. Global trade plummeted. Americans got poorer, as did millions of others around the world.

Why do I think we’re on the way back to Smoot-Hawley? Because with Republicans and blue-dog deficit hawks gaining ground after November 2, the chance of boosting the economy with an “infrastructure bank,” another big spending package, or even a big round of middle-class tax cuts is roughly nil. This means a lousy economy ”” possibly for years.

And that leaves trade as a sitting duck.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, History, Politics in General, Wales

The Pope's Address at the Meeting with the Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland Today

As we reflect on the human frailty that these tragic events so starkly reveal, we are reminded that, if we are to be effective Christian leaders, we must live lives of the utmost integrity, humility and holiness. As Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote, “O that God would grant the clergy to feel their weakness as sinful men, and the people to sympathize with them and love them and pray for their increase in all good gifts of grace” (Sermon, 22 March 1829). I pray that among the graces of this visit will be a renewed dedication on the part of Christian leaders to the prophetic vocation they have received, and a new appreciation on the part of the people for the great gift of the ordained ministry. Prayer for vocations will then arise spontaneously, and we may be confident that the Lord will respond by sending labourers to bring in the plentiful harvest that he has prepared throughout the United Kingdom (cf. Mt 9:37-38).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Scotland, Wales

(Zenit) Pontiff Underlines Christian Roots of Wales

The Pontiff was unable to travel to Wales during this four-day state visit to the United Kingdom; thus, he addressed a particular greeting to the pilgrims who came to see him, led by Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham, Wales.

The Holy Father said, “I am happy to have this opportunity to honor the nation and its ancient Christian traditions by blessing a mosaic of St. David, the patron saint of the Welsh people, and by lighting the candle of the statue of Our Lady of Cardigan.”

He continued: “St. David was one of the great saints of the sixth century, that golden age of saints and missionaries in these isles, and he was thus a founder of the Christian culture which lies at the root of modern Europe.

“David’s preaching was simple yet profound: His dying words to his monks were, ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things.'”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Wales

BBC Radio 4's Today Programme–Cardiff's binge drinking culture

Over the course of the election campaign, the Today programme will be investigating the big trends in British society over the past 13 years, and how the trends have influenced the choices that politicians have made on our behalf.

In the first in a series of reports, John Humphrys visited Cardiff on a Saturday night, to see how the government has attempted to tackle the rise in binge-drinking.

Listen to it all (almost 8 1/2 minutes).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, England / UK, Violence, Wales, Young Adults