Category : * Religion News & Commentary

News and commentary from / about other (non-Anglican) Christian churches and denominations

After 800 years, Church of England apologizes to Jews for laws that led to expulsion

The Church of England on Sunday apologized for anti-Jewish laws that were passed 800 years ago and eventually led to the expulsion of Jews from the kingdom for hundreds of years.

A special service held at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford was attended by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and representatives of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mark the Synod of Oxford, passed in 1222.

The synod forbade social interactions between Jews and Christians, placed a specific tithe on Jews, and required them to wear an identifying badge. They were also banned from some professions and from building new synagogues. The decrees were followed by more anti-Jewish laws, and eventually the mass expulsion of England’s 3,000 Jews of the time in 1290.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(The Critic) Sebastian Milbank–Rod Dreher comes home: The conscience of the New World is here in the Old

According to Daniel French there is an increasingly “underground” aspect to conservative Christian life in the UK — believers have woken up to the fact that the culture is against them, and in many cases even traditional religious leaders too.

Another of his UK allies, Dr James Orr, believes that Rod Dreher is destined to have a significant impact on our conservatism. “His insights are proving more salient with every week that passes, not only for Christians but for all those who are beginning to feel the consequences of rejecting the West’s Christian inheritance.

“As hyper-progressivism continues to colonise the UK public square with neuralgic imports from the US culture wars, I predict that more and more people in the UK will start to take Dreher’s jeremiads seriously and pay attention to his constructive proposals.”

Whether or not James Orr is right, Dreher is interesting not just for who he is, but for what he represents. He stands at a newly emergent nexus of traditional European conservatism, English realism, and American romanticism and religiosity. With an increasingly sterile politics, caught between technocratic centrism and the hollow battles of the culture wars, there’s a desperate need for new ideas, and fresh approaches. This is a man worth listening to.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Children, England / UK, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(RNS) Jesus saved Beth Moore’s life. Twitter blew it up. A new memoir will tell the story.

For the past few years, Bible teacher and best-selling author Beth Moore has been one tweet away from disaster.

Moore, perhaps the best-known ex-Southern Baptist in the country, will recount her Twitter battles, her split with her former denomination and, more importantly, her lifelong journey with Jesus, in a new memoir titled “All My Knotted-Up Life,” due out from Tyndale in April 2023.

News of the memoir was first reported by Cathy Lynn Grossman of Publishers Weekly. Tyndale publisher Karen Watson told PW that the memoir will be a “southern literary reflection on an unlikely and winsomely remarkable life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Baptists, Books, Church History, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Women

(RNS) World Council of Churches faces calls to expel Russian Orthodox Church

The World Council of Churches is under pressure to oust the Russian Orthodox Church from its ranks, with detractors arguing the church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, invalidated its membership by backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and involving the church in the global political machinations of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The debate garnered a response on Monday (April 11) from the Rev. Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of the WCC, which claims 352 member churches representing roughly 580 million Christians around the world.

Sauca, a priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church who has visited Ukrainian refugees and publicly criticized Kirill’s response to the invasion, pushed back on the suggestion of expelling the ROC, arguing doing so would deviate from the WCC’s historic mission to enhance ecumenical dialogue.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(The State) ‘Modern-day barbarism’: SC Catholic Diocese of Charleston reacts to Richard Moore execution

The scheduled April 29 execution of South Carolina death row inmate Richard Moore is simply “modern-day barbarism,” the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston said Friday.

“Respect for life is, and must remain, unconditional. This principle applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts,” the diocese, which covers the entire state, said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Capital Punishment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Church Times) Russian atrocities denounced by Ukrainian church leaders

Ukranian church leaders have hardened their tone amid growing evidence of Russian army atrocities in their country.

“As we received good news that the Kyiv region was liberated, we also received horrific footage of civilian killings: it is difficult to explain and understand how the murder of innocent people and children can be justified,” the leader of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany Dumenko, said.

“Today, we heard that the peoples of Holy Russia are peaceful, while we see the ideology of the ‘Russian world’ justifying murder, violence, and war. This ideology must be rejected and condemned, as was the ideology of Nazism.”

The message was published before a speech on Tuesday by President Zelensky to the United Nations Security Council, describing how civilians were shot in the streets, thrown into wells, and crushed by tanks in a list of alleged Russian war crimes.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

St. Tikhon’s Forgiveness Sunday Homily for his Feast Day

Unfortunately, brethren, we do not like to acknowledge our transgressions. It would seem natural and easy for a person to know his own self, his own soul and his shortcomings. This, however, is actually not so. We are ready to attend to anything but a deeper understanding of ourselves, an investigation of our sins. We examine various things with curiosity, we attentively study friends and strangers, but when faced with solitude without extraneous preoccupation even for a short while, we immediately become bored and attempt to seek amusement. For example, do we spend much time examining our own conscience even before confession? Perhaps a few minutes, and once a year at that. Casting a cursory glance at our soul, correcting some of its more glaring faults, we immediately cover it over with the veil of oblivion until next year, until our next uncomfortable exercise in boredom.

Yet we love to observe the sins of others. Not considering the beam in our own eye, we take notice of the mote in our brother’s eye. (Matt. 7. 3) Speaking idly to our neighbor’s detriment, mocking and criticizing him are not even often considered sins but rather an innocent and amusing pastime. As if our own sins were so few! As if we had been appointed to judge others!

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Orthodox Church, Preaching / Homiletics

(Church Times) Rowan Williams adds his voice to calls for the WCC to eject Russian Orthodox Church

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has backed calls for the Russian Orthodox Church to be excluded from the World Council of Churches (WCC), as Patriarch Kirill of Moscow praised his country’s armed forces for acting in line with the gospel and Christian teaching.

“The case for expelling is a strong one, and I have a suspicion that some other Orthodox Churches would take the same view. Many in the Orthodox world feel that Orthodoxy itself is compromised,” Lord Williams told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme.

“The riot act has to be read. When a Church is actively supporting a war of aggression, failing to condemn nakedly obvious breaches in any kind of ethical conduct in wartime, then other Churches have the right to raise the question and challenge it — to say, unless you can say something effective about this, something recognisably Christian, we have to look again at your membership.”

The Archbishop, a Russian speaker and expert on Orthodoxy, spoke as Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General, Irina Venediktov, confirmed that the remains of more than 400 civilians, some bearing signs of rape and torture, had been recovered from Bucha, Irpen and other towns recently abandoned by Russian forces north of Kyiv.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Ukrainians hear note of hope as fighting goes on

Church leaders in Ukraine have begun talking more convincingly about victory over Russian forces.

The Primate of Ukraine’s independent Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko), told a Kyiv congregation on Sunday: “Although a heavy cross has fallen upon us, we must bear it with dignity, following Christ until we achieve victory — a spiritual victory over the evil brought to our homeland by the Russian aggressor. . .

“By the power of God’s truth and mercy, by the power of our people’s love, sacrifice, and faith, Ukraine — still wounded, tortured, and crucified by its enemies — will be resurrected.”

The Metropolitan preached as Russian forces continued shelling the capital, as well as Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Mariupol, and other cities, despite claims by Moscow last week that it was refocusing its offensive on eastern Ukraine.

He asked: “Have we, as a state and people, done something against Russia which merits this cruelty and murder — did we harbour evil plans against our neighbours, or did we just want to live in our own home as free people?”

Read it all.

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(RNS) At top universities, institutes of Roman Catholic thought focus on science and religion

“Unfortunately, today, Catholics have inculturated some of the worst divisions between science and Christian faith into our own mental worldview in America,” [Michael] Le Chevallier says.

“You have a number of Catholics who believe that evolution is in conflict with modern Catholic faith, and you have a number of young adults who identify that modern science and the Catholic faith are in conflict — often resulting in leaving the church.”

In February, the Lumen Christi Institute announced it had been awarded $3.6 million from the John Templeton Foundation to support a new three-year project that would create a national network of independent institutes of Catholic thought at U.S. universities.

Dubbed “In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide,” the network includes six Catholic institutes: the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago; the Nova Forum at the University of Southern California; the Collegium Institute at the University of Pennsylvania; the St. Anselm Institute at the University of Virginia; COLLIS at Cornell University; and the Harvard Catholic Forum at Harvard University.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(1st Things) John Wilson–A Not-so-Secular Age

I recently received review copies of two books on the same day. The first, a galley of a book to be published by Eerdmans near the end of July, was Encountering Mystery: Religious Experience in a Secular Age, by Dale C. Allison, Jr. The second, just out from Hurst, was Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity Is Taking Over the World, by Elle Hardy. The fortuitous juxtaposition was ironic, of course, but more than that, it was very close to my heart. Like you, I expect, I have seen an ever-increasing number of articles and books intimating a radical shrinkage of “religion,” ranging from Ryan Burge’s The Nones to recent provocative columns by Philip Jenkins (to mention just two examples from a vast field). And behind this, of course, we must acknowledge the enormous, though to me still unaccountable, influence of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age.

I will not issue any predictions. Many years ago, the admirable Joseph Ratzinger foresaw a radical shrinkage of the church, suggesting that, difficult as this passage might be, it could be purifying. I don’t know for sure what the future, even the “near future,” holds in this respect, but I do know that—for the moment, at least—we do not remotely live in a “secular age.” Imagine my surprise when, as I began to read Encountering Mystery, I discovered that Allison himself, despite the subtitle affixed to his book, also does not believe that we live in a “secular age.” On the contrary, and how strange. Whence then the framing? Perhaps that is why the superb scholar and memoirist Carlos Eire describes Encountering Mystery as a “marvelously daring book.” It is just that, describing many experiences (a few firsthand, many recounted by others) of the numinous, the mystical, the supernatural. I hope in due course that you will read it yourself. Nor, it’s important to add, are such experiences limited to Christians; see, for example, Susannah Crockford’s Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Secularism

A Rowan Williams sermon on the life and ministry of Oscar Romero on Archbishop Romero’s Feast Day–‘Life has the last word’

And so his question to all those who have the freedom to speak in the Church and for the Church is ‘who do you really speak for?’ But if we take seriously the underlying theme of his words and witness, that question is also, ‘who do you really feel with?’ Are you immersed in the real life of the Body, or is your life in Christ seen only as having the same sentiments as the powerful? Sentir con la Iglesia in the sense in which the mature Romero learned those words is what will teach you how to speak on behalf of the Body. And we must make no mistake about what this can entail: Romero knew that this kind of ‘feeling with the Church’ could only mean taking risks with and for the Body of Christ – so that, as he later put it, in words that are still shocking and sobering, it would be ‘sad’ if priests in such a context were not being killed alongside their flock. As of course they were in El Salvador, again and again in those nightmare years.

But he never suggests that speaking on behalf of the Body is the responsibility of a spiritual elite. He never dramatised the role of the priest so as to play down the responsibility of the people. If every priest and bishop were silenced, he said, ‘each of you will have to be God’s microphone. Each of you will have to be a messenger, a prophet. The Church will always exist as long as even one baptized person is alive.’ Each part of the Body, because it shares the sufferings of the whole – and the hope and radiance of the whole – has authority to speak out of that common life in the crucified and risen Jesus.

So Romero’s question and challenge is addressed to all of us, not only those who have the privilege of some sort of public megaphone for their voices. The Church is maintained in truth; and the whole Church has to be a community where truth is told about the abuses of power and the cries of the vulnerable. Once again, if we are serious about sentir con la Iglesia, we ask not only who we are speaking for but whose voice still needs to be heard, in the Church and in society at large. The questions here are as grave as they were thirty years ago. In Salvador itself, the methods of repression familiar in Romero’s day were still common until very recently. We can at least celebrate the fact that the present head of state there has not only apologized for government collusion in Romero’s murder but has also spoken boldly on behalf of those whose environment and livelihood are threatened by the rapacity of the mining companies, who are set on a new round of exploitation in Salvador and whose critics have been abducted and butchered just as so many were three decades back. The skies are not clear: our own Anglican bishop in Salvador was attacked ten days ago by unknown enemies; but the signs of hope are there, and the will to defend the poor and heal the wounds.

Read it all.

Posted in --El Salvador, Central America, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Roman Catholic

(CT) I Left the New Age Behind When I Read the Old Testament

As someone with an intense curiosity about world religions, I frequently listened to Christian radio, as well as stations specializing in Buddhism, Hinduism, shamanism, Celtic goddess worship, and several other types of spirituality. Hungry for answers, I searched far and wide.

In January 2015, I was driving along a Hawaiian road while listening to the Scottish-born pastor Alistair Begg on the Christian Satellite Network. Begg was giving an expository sermon called “Itching Ears.” It was about 2 Timothy 4, where the apostle Paul writes that in the end times, people will want their itching ears tickled by false teachers who offer false hope (v. 3). I could tell he was describing people just like me.

God used Begg’s sermon to convict me for the first time in my life. His words pierced my stony heart, and I felt ashamed of my false teachings. When I got home, I told my husband, Michael, that I wanted to start attending a real Christian church. He readily agreed.

After a lifetime of involvement in Christian Science and New Age practices, it took time to clear away the cobwebs of false belief. I realized that I did not trust God to provide for my needs. So instead of prayer and trust in the Lord, I continued relying on divination cards, astrology, psychic readings, horoscopes, and crystals.

Reading the entire Bible changed everything.

Read it all.

Posted in Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Putin believes he is defending Orthodox Christianity from the godless West

But we might do worse than ask why non-Western cultures so fear being sucked into what they consider a moral vacuum. If all they see is a series of reactive demands for emancipation acted out against a backdrop of consumerism and obsession with material growth, the suspicion and hostility is a bit more intelligible. What do we in the shrinking “liberal” world think emancipation is for? Perhaps it is for the liberation of all individuals to collaborate in a positive social project, in a society of sustainable and fair distribution of goods. Perhaps it is for the construction of a social order in which our interdependence, national and international, is more fully acknowledged.

Solidarity with Ukraine involves sanctions that will cost us as well as Russians – decisions that will affect our reliance on oil and gas and open our doors to more refugees. If we are willing to accept these consequences for the sake of a positive vision of interdependence and justice, we shall have a more compelling narrative to oppose the dramatic, even apocalyptic, myths arising elsewhere in the world.

Unwelcome neighbours, after all, tend not simply to disappear; in which case, we must work out how we live respectfully with them. One thing that might be said in response to Patriarch Kirill is that neighbours have to be loved, not terrorised into resentful silence – a matter on which the God first acknowledged in Kyiv in 988 had a good deal to say.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church History, History, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine

(RNS) In LA, ‘Atheist Pirates’ remove religious signs from public streets and overpasses

Standing atop an approximately 8-foot-high ladder, Evan Clark tugged at a sign tightly nailed to a utility pole on the intersection of Echo Park and Bellevue avenues, just beyond the 101 freeway ramps.

The sign quoted John 14:6, and as Clark spun and pulled it to loosen it from the pole, a man in a car shouted, “The way. The truth. The life!,” quoting the words from the Bible verse emblazoned on the placard Clark was trying to take down. The man, Clark said, likely assumed he was placing the sign, not removing it.

“People put a lot of passion behind these signs and their messages and ideas about Jesus and God,” Clark said. “I don’t like to be confrontational about any of that. I just wanted to do this as a casual thing to keep our streets secular.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(CT) Sexual Harassment Went Unchecked at Christianity Today

For more than a dozen years, Christianity Today failed to hold two ministry leaders accountable for sexual harassment at its Carol Stream, Illinois, office.

A number of women reported demeaning, inappropriate, and offensive behavior by former editor in chief Mark Galli and former advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye. But their behavior was not checked and the men were not disciplined, according to an external assessment of the ministry’s culture released Tuesday.

The report identified a pair of problems at the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism: a poor process for “reporting, investigating, and resolving harassment allegations” and a culture of unconscious sexism that can be “inhospitable to women.” CT has made the assessment public.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(First Things) Algis Valiunas–Nihilism For The Ironhearted

For Leopardi, unlike Shelley and Keats, nature provoked no ecstasies, so he might seem an Olympian mind of an antique cast, icy, sublime, and forbidding. Yet in a crucial sense he was a Romantic rather than a Classicist. Whereas Sophocles saw the world steadily and saw it whole, Leopardi beheld his own pitiable self wherever he looked. What he touted as the rarest magisterial vision of the world exactly as it is was in fact the special pleading of an unfortunate whom nature had selected for a very hard time. Rather than a disinterested neo-pagan sage, he was a soul in torment, who could not forgive the Creator for his deformity and loneliness, and therefore preferred to cut God out of the picture altogether, replacing him with immemorial philosophic abstractions such as cruel Nature and inexorable Fate.

This does not mean that Leopardi was not a great artist and an intellect to reckon with. His principal artistic persona, the spirit who negates and who takes pity on human beings for the agonies they must suffer, is the most straightforward of nihilists, alluring in his clarity of vision and unwavering fortitude. In the closing lines of Leopardi’s best-known poem, “La ginestra, o il fiore del deserto” (Broom, or the Flower of the Desert), he addresses the only plant to grow on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and praises its good sense as against human folly: “Far wiser and less fallible / than man is, you did not presume / that either fate or you had made / your fragile kind immortal.” Men choose to live within reach of the volcano’s devastating eruption because they are foolish, whereas the broom lives and dies there because it can’t do otherwise. “And unresisting, / you’ll bow your blameless head / under the deadly scythe” of the lava flow. To know your place in the world is to recognize that nature can snuff out your life in one terrifying instant, and when that time comes, men are as helpless as the broom. Acceptance—of sorrow, boredom, failure, and death—is the hardest part of wisdom.

It is of course Nietzsche who urges his readers to build their houses on the slopes of volcanoes, to live dangerously and say yes to life no matter how awful it gets. Leopardi’s is the more honest nihilism, the purest distillation of nothingness. Accepting one’s own particular portion of the universal lot is a far cry from love of life. Whereas Nietzsche preaches the supreme wisdom and moral excellence of amor fati, loving your fate so intensely that it seems entirely the working of your own will, Leopardi sees nothing to love even in the fate of the man who is clear-sighted and strong enough to gaze imperturbably upon life and death stripped to their hideous core. Leopardi’s is the more severe teaching, offering no hope of transcending Christian transcendence (in Erich Heller’s phrase) as do Nietzsche and his acolyte Rainer Maria Rilke in their glamorous prospectus of free-spirited modernity. One sees in Leopardi what godless life really is.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Apologetics, Eschatology, History, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Theology

(PRC) Religious dimensions of the conflict between Russian and Ukraine

News coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has touched on religious dimensions of the longstanding conflict between the two countries. Russia and Ukraine are home to some of the world’s largest Orthodox Christian populations, but the Orthodox Church of Ukraine gained independence from the Russian Orthodox Church in 2019 amidst the ongoing political turmoil. Now, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church has sought to justify the invasion, although other Russian Orthodox clergy have expressed opposition to the war.

Around the time of the split between the Ukrainian and Russian churches, we published a blog post based on data from a Pew Research Center survey of Central and Eastern Europe conducted in 2015 and 2016. The analysis found that even before the split between the two churches, a plurality of Orthodox Ukrainians (46%) looked to the leaders of the Ukrainian national church (either the patriarch of Kiev or the metropolitan of Kiev and all of Ukraine) as the highest authority of Orthodoxy, while just 17% saw the patriarch of Moscow as their spiritual leader. The patriarch of Moscow received higher levels of support in eastern Ukraine than in western Ukraine, consistent with a broader geographic pattern of views toward Russia within Ukraine at the time of the survey.

Posted in History, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine

(RNS) In Madison, mainline and evangelicals work together to help their churches thrive

While each church maintains its own legal status and denominational ties, they worship together and operate as one congregation.

“We really felt strongly that our community needs to see churches working together,” said Marrese-Wheeler.

That belief in working together led Marrese-Wheeler and the Rev. Pat Siegler, her co-pastor at Common Grace, to join the first cohort of Awaken Dane, which hopes to create “a movement of churches awakening to God’s call, forming life-giving friendships and partnerships, and growing in love for their home communities” in Dane County, home to Madison, the state’s capital.

Funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Awaken Dane brings together mainline, evangelical and Black congregations in the city — a rare feat in a time when churches remain divided along denominational and political lines in much of the country. Pastors of those churches spend two years together, building friendships and learning how to help their congregations engage in ministry outside the walls of the church.

The idea is to “tell a better story,” said Jon Anderson, executive director of the Madison-based Collaboration Project, which has partnered with the Wisconsin Council of Churches, a campus ministry called Upper House and the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary to lead Awaken Dane.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ecumenical Relations, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Ukrainian Churches deplore rising death-toll, as Russian Patriarch disregards calls for intervention

Church leaders in Ukraine have deplored the growing number of civilian deaths in the current war and have backed calls for firmer Western action, as the Patriarch of Moscow disregarded worldwide appeals for him to condemn the invasion and urge a halt to the fighting.

“All the people of Ukraine are suffering hourly from the terrible realities of war — and these are innocent sufferings, since they have done no harm to Russia,” the leader of Ukraine’s independent Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany Dumenko, said in a Sunday message to his clergy.

“Let us be comforted by the realisation that our innocent sufferings will be crowned inevitably with victory and eternal glory, just as the sufferings of Christ were crowned with them. . . With God’s help we will win — and Ukraine, now crucified by the Russian occupiers, will be resurrected.”

The message was one of several issued by the Metropolitan on Sunday, after talks with the Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, and the commander of Ukrainian forces defending the capital.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia, Ukraine

(Former Archbp of Canterbury) Lord Rowan Williams–on the Failure of the Russian Church

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Other Churches, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Keep resisting Russian invasion, church leaders tell Ukrainians

Religious leaders in Ukraine have urged its citizens to continue resisting the Russian invasion…, as churches around the world condemned the war, and Anglicans in Europe held a special service for peace.

“Remember firmly that the truth is on our side — and where the truth is, there is God and victory,” the leader of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany Dumenko, told Christians this week.

“Defenders of Ukraine, brothers and sisters, you have ruined the aggressor’s intentions for a quick victory. The whole world admires how Ukraine has successfully resisted Russian aggression.”

The message was released as Russian tanks continued to advance on Kyiv, despite aborted peace talks. By mid-week, dozens of Ukrainian civilians had been reported killed by missiles and shells in the country’s second city, Kharkhiv.

In a new sign of its distancing itself from the Moscow Patriarchate, the Primate of the Moscow-linked Orthodox Church in Ukraine, Metropolitan Onufriy Berezovsky, instructed all parishes to pray for God’s mercy amid the “cries and groans of the Ukrainian people” and “making the authorities wise and strengthening our army with courage”.

Read it all.

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Ukraine invasion: Church leaders and charities react with horror and dismay

Earlier on Thursday morning, the Bishop in Europe, Dr Robert Innes, wrote on Twitter: “We wake this morning to the sickening sights and sounds of war. Praying for all in Ukraine, for all who are fearful of what lies ahead and for the minimum possible bloodshed.

“At a time of international crisis, please join me in praying fervently for peace in Ukraine and especially for the wellbeing of our little Anglican community of Christ Church, Kyiv (which meets in the German Evangelical Church of St. Catherine’s).”

Bishop Robert co-ordinated an online prayer vigil on Thursday evening, including the Anglican chaplain in Moscow, the Revd Malcolm Rogers, and members of the Anglican community in Kyiv if it safe for them to do so. A further vigil is being organised by the Diocese in Europe on Shrove Tuesday (1 March) at 6 p.m.

On Thursday afternoon, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said: “This act of aggression impacts very harmfully on a free, democratic European state and on all the nations of Europe. I exhort you to pray for peace with justice for the people of Ukraine.”

In their statement, the Archbishops invited Christians to “make this Sunday a day for prayer for Ukraine, Russia, and for peace”, and also endorsed Pope Francis’s call to make Ash Wednesday (2 March) a global day of fasting and peace for Ukraine.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Ecumenical Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer, Ukraine, Violence

Churches unite to build new affordable homes

North East Churches Acting Together (NECAT) – with members including the Church of England, Roman Catholic, Baptist, URC and Methodist churches as well as independent churches – has commissioned consultants to advise on potential sites for affordable housing development.

Schemes being considered include supported accommodation for groups including older people and people with learning disabilities.

The move comes after the group held two conferences on housing and homelessness in the region in recent years.

Revd Joanne Thorns, a Church of England priest and Regional Officer for NECAT, has been working with Chris Beales, a member of the Church of England’s Housing Executive Team.

“We know that in comparison to London and other areas, house prices are not as high here in the North East,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CT) Birth Behind Bars: Christians Fight ‘Cruel,’ Outdated Prison Policies

Vanessa Franklin lost her mother, her father, and her husband in a 12-month span. But the grief of their deaths paled in comparison to parting with her three teenage daughters in the same year, 2008, when she went to prison for fraud.

“Being separated from them was worse,” said Franklin, who served four years in Oklahoma.

She couldn’t imagine a deeper hurt until a few years later, when her daughter, Ashley Garrison, was sentenced while pregnant. The 20-year-old went into labor the day she checked into prison.

Garrison had a boy and named him William. She held him for an hour before she was forced to relinquish custody to his father’s family.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Prison/Prison Ministry

(Crux) John Allen–In new Roman Catholic numbers, an ‘imponderable’ movement shaping history

Taking a look at the new set of numbers is instructive.

For one thing, the Annuario notes that Catholicism added 16 million new members in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available. Granted, that meant the church did no more than keep pace with overall global population growth, but it’s still significant at a time when most western perceptions are that the church is shrinking due to the fallout from the sexual abuse crisis, various scandals at senior levels, bitter political infighting, increasing irrelevance to younger generations, and any number of other alleged failures.

For sure, if you live in western Europe or in some parts of the United States, where parishes are closing or consolidating and Mass attendance seems in free fall, those perceptions are understandable. Yet the reality is that on a global level, Catholicism enjoyed the greatest expansion in its history over the past century, more than tripling from 267 million in 1900 to 1.045 billion in 2000 and 1.36 billion today.

Consider that 16 million is more than the entire Catholic population of Canada, and the church added that number of new followers in one year alone, Today, Catholics represent a robust 17.7 percent of everyone on earth.

In other words, the dominant Catholic story today is not decline, it’s breakneck growth.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

C of E Synod unanimously condemns persecution of Christians around the world

In a debate which heard powerful accounts of how Christians maintain their faith amid threats, violence, imprisonment and murder, members were told that 360 million Christians – about one in seven around the world – face persecution.

The Bishop of Truro Philip Mounstephen, who carried out a review of Persecution of Christians across the Globe for the Foreign Office in in 2019, said the situation has deteriorated even in the last year.

He highlighted the “disastrous fall” of Afghanistan to the Taliban, “now making it the most dangerous country on earth to be a Christian”, and the “outrageous murder” of Pastor William Siraj returning home after Sunday service in Peshawar on January 30.

“The wholesale denial of freedom of religion or belief in today’s world is a great evil,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Globalization, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(CT) Russell Moore–The Most Dangerous Form of Deconstruction

John the Baptist was not being unreasonable when he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:20) And when the disciples on the road to Emmaus said to their traveling companion, the recently crucified Jesus, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (24:21)—Jesus revealed to them that their hopes has been met in ways they couldn’t have imagined until that very moment.

The question is not whether we will deconstruct, but what we will deconstruct.

Will it be the wood, hay, and stubble that is destined to burn up and burn out? Or will it be our own souls? Sometimes the people we think are “deconstructing” are just grieving and asking God where he is at a moment like this. That has happened before.

By contrast, sometimes the people who appear most confident and certain—who are scanning the boundaries for heretics—are those who have given up belief in the new birth, in the renewal of the mind, and in the judgment seat of Christ. For them, all that’s left is an orthodoxy grounded not in a living Christ, but in a curated brand.

And that may be the saddest deconstruction of all.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NC Reporter) Archbishop of Canterbury: South Sudan trip with Pope Francis may happen in coming months

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby may undertake their much anticipated, but delayed joint trip to South Sudan in “the next few months” to encourage peace in a country still recovering from a bloody civil war and a humanitarian crisis.

“God willing, sometime in the next few months, perhaps year, we will go and see them in Juba, not in Rome, and see what progress can be made,” said the head of the global Anglican Communion on Feb. 6, referring to South Sudan’s leaders.

“That is history,” said Welby of the likely trip that will mark the first time the two ecumenical leaders have traveled together in such a capacity.

Francis and Welby had sought to visit the war-torn country in 2017, although the country’s violent conflict and deteriorating conditions had foiled those plans.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sudan

(NYT) As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

The police officer arrived at the Hindu temple here with a warning to the monks: Don’t repeat your hate speech.

Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them” and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

When videos of the event provoked national outrage, the police came. The saffron-clad preachers questioned whether the officer could be objective.

Yati Narsinghanand, the event’s firebrand organizer known for his violent rhetoric, assuaged their concerns.

Read it all.

Posted in Hinduism, India, Islam, Language, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution