Category : * International News & Commentary

(Lancashire Telegraph) Blackburn Cathedral promises no repeat of Islamic call to prayer

The controversial incident, involving a white-robed Muslim cleric or Imam, took place during a pre-Armistice Day concert by the town’s music society.

It came during a performance to 400 people of Karl Jenkins’ work The Armed Man (A Mass for Peace) which included the often-omitted second movement containing the call to prayer.

This was given by a local Imam and contains the phrase ‘there is no other God but Allah’.

Following a film of the event in the nave on Saturday, November 10, being posted on the internet, the Cathedral authorities came under criticism from Christian traditionalists. The Rev Kevin Logan, former vicar of Christchurch in Accrington, said: “It was inappropriate. It was wrong but we are all fallible and make mistakes. It should not happen again.”

The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, said: “I only found about the inclusion of the Islamic call to prayer minutes before the performance.

“It was inappropriate and should not have happened in the Cathedral.

“I am sorry it took place and I am sorry if anyone was offended by it.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Economist Erasmus Blog) The Greek Orthodox Church faces a battle over secularisation

Theresa May is not the only public figure in Europe who is making a rearguard defence of a “historic” agreement about an ultra-sensitive matter that was struck behind closed doors and may not survive open debate among the interested parties.

Earlier this month it was reported that a landmark accord had been reached to secularise the most theocratically governed democracy in Europe, Greece. The bargain was sealed on November 6th between the country’s leftist and atheist (though not especially anti-religious) prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, and the head of the Greek Orthodox church, Archbishop Ieronymos. Today the archbishop was struggling to defend the accord before the bishops who make up his Holy Synod. It has been billed as the hardest moment in the 80-year-old cleric’s ten-year reign, and even a turning point in the 200-year history of the Greek state.

The deal is certainly an intriguing piece of political gamesmanship. One provision dominated the headlines: the country’s 10,000 or so priests would no longer be considered civil servants, with all the job security and pension rights that go with that status. Instead the state would pay the church an annual subsidy of €200m ($230m) a year, a sum that would not be affected by any change in the number of clerics. Over time, the need for such a subsidy would diminish. In what was described as a win-win arrangement, a large portfolio of properties, ranging from land to urban real estate, whose ownership had been disputed between church and state since the 1950s would be jointly managed for the benefit of both parties.

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Posted in Greece, Orthodox Church

A study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis finds that about 40% of middle-class Americans will live close to or in poverty in retirement

• Two in five – or 40% – of older workers and their spouses will be downwardly mobile in retirement.

• If workers ages 50-60 retire at age 62, 8.5 million people are projected to fall below twice the Federal Poverty Level, with retirement incomes below $23,340 for singles and $31,260 for couples.

• 2.6 million of 8.5 downwardly mobile workers and their spouses will have incomes below the poverty level – $11,670 for an individual and $15,730 for a two-person household….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

([London] Times) British Jews apply for foreign passports as ‘insurance policy’

Thousands of British Jews have applied for foreign passports since 2016, driven mainly by a desire to retain EU citizenship after Brexit but also by fears over rising antisemitism and the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn coming to power.

New figures obtained by The Times show that more than 3,600 Britons have applied for German nationality under a 2015 scheme inviting the descendants of those driven out on religious, racial or political grounds by the Nazis to reclaim citizenship, with most applications from Jewish people.

Michael Newman, of the Association of Jewish Refugees, said those who fled the Third Reich for Britain might find it “emotionally or psychologically difficult” to reclaim German citizenship, but their children and grandchildren wanted to enjoy freedom of movement after Brexit. Some had also raised fears of rising antisemitism.

More than 180 British Jews of Sephardic heritage have applied for Portuguese passports and more than 50 have been granted Spanish passports under 2015 schemes to restore citizenship to descendants of Jews persecuted in the 15th century. The Jewish Community of Oporto said it received “thousands” of inquiries from British Jews.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in England / UK, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(Observer) Bullying claims at Oxford ‘medieval fiefdom’ take toll on reformist dean

It is a quintessential institution of the establishment, producing 13 British prime ministers, 10 chancellors of the exchequer and 17 archbishops. Among its former students are King Edward VII, Albert Einstein, Lewis Carroll and WH Auden. One fictional alumnus, Lord Sebastian Flyte, came to personify its privileges in the pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

But Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most venerable colleges, was plunged into turmoil last week when its dean was suspended from duties and barred from taking services at his own cathedral after being challenged under archaic and opaque rules.

A formal complaint has been filed against the Very Rev Martyn Percy with the college’s governing body. Few people know details of what is being alleged, or who is behind the move. Even Percy is largely in the dark, according to his friends.

The complaint is believed to centre on issues of governance; no one is suggesting improper personal conduct. It will be heard by a tribunal, which could dismiss Percy. A date for a hearing is yet to be set.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

(ADNE) The Rev. Andrew Williams elected the Next Bishop of the ADNE

Prior to his election, [the] Rev. Williams served as pastor of Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT. He began his professional life as a lawyer in the United Kingdom. From 1989-1998, he was a corporate litigator specializing in defending law suits brought against the legal profession. Despite a successful career, it was during this time that he began to sense that something significant was missing in his life, and much to the surprise of Rev. Williams and his wife, Elena, they found themselves drawn into something far deeper, and ultimately came to a living faith in God through the love, support and friendship of their Anglican Parish. A time of discernment followed, and after much prayer and strong encouragement from those who knew him, he resigned from his law firm and began training for ordination at Trinity College, Bristol. He graduated with an honors degree in theology and was ordained in the Diocese of Exeter in 2000. Drew spent six years as Associate Vicar of St. Andrew’s, Chorleywood, a vibrant suburban congregation just outside London. Prior to coming to Chorleywood, he served a congregation in the southwest of England….

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elizabeth of Hungary

Almighty God, by whose grace thy servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Hungary, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Find a way for the UK and EU to coexist, Archbp Welby and Bishop Bedford-Strohm tell politicians

In a joint statement issued by Lambeth Palace on Friday morning, Archbishop Welby and Dr Bedford-Strohm said: “European relationships are changing, not least as a result of Brexit. We do not know what will happen and what the relationship between the UK and EU will look like after 29 March 2019. However, what we do know is that the relationship between the Church of England and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland goes back over many centuries — long before the European Union.

“As churches, we urgently appeal to all politicians to find fair and sustainable solutions for the future coexistence of the UK and the EU. United in Christ we are drawn together in hope, faith and love, and those things which divide us are of much lesser importance.”

Last week, during a Q&A at Great Yarmouth Minster, the Archbishop said that there was “no necessary defeatism, no necessary outcome either to staying in Europe or leaving. . . The big problems in our society of inequality, of unfairness, of the abandonment of an understanding of a moral and ethical framework which helps us choose how to treat people — that is the thing that will decide our future. . . Being in Europe or being out is obviously important, but there is as much hope out as in or in as out.’’

Read it all and the full joint statement may be found there.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Other Churches, Politics in General

(NYT) At Brexit Crunch Time, Theresa May Takes a Pummeling

Theresa May rose to her feet before the British House of Commons on Thursday to make the sales pitch of her life, promising that the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union would be “smooth and orderly.”

It was not supposed to be a laugh line.

But the members of Parliament laughed out loud at Mrs. May. They laughed uproariously, and for long enough that she had to pause, eyes flickering over her papers, and wait for them to stop, so she could continue.

Over the past two and a half years as prime minister, Mrs. May, 62, has plenty of experience being derided and conspired against. On Thursday, the day she publicly presented her long-awaited, 585-page deal to withdraw from the bloc, or Brexit, she took such a pummeling that her survival as prime minister was in question….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

The Bp of Oxford on WWI–this is our Long Story

We are wise enough to know now that the battles our grandparents fought did not end at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when the artillery fell silent on the Western Front. The battles against tyranny and isolation and prejudice and inequality continue. The search for purpose and meaning and love continues still. Those battles need to be set in an eternal perspective. They recur in different ways in each generation.

Paul writes of that new and eternal perspective which flows from one person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God has reconciled us to himself through Christ. The destiny of humankind is not fragmentation and war but common purpose and unity and a new creation. We are part of this bigger story. God has now entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. It is our mission, in every generation, to work for peace and freedom and justice with the same commitment shown by the generation who fought the Great War.

As we look back one hundred years it is possible to see in our nation then a greater common purpose than we see today. We are not blind to the weaknesses of the war generation nor to the mistakes that were made. But we do see a commitment to a common cause, a confidence in the values of peace and truth and the common good, a desire to see the world reconciled and a willingness to face together the great challenges of the age.

Such common cause today defeats us. We are finding it difficult as a nation even to rethink and reimagine our relationship with Europe in a way that brings unity and common purpose. We grow more not less fragmented along lines of race and religion and politics and wealth. Our common discourse all too easily admits the language of hate and violence.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces

Veterans Day Remarks–Try to Guess the Speaker and the Date

In a world tormented by tension and the possibilities of conflict, we meet in a quiet commemoration of an historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. The resolution of the Congress which first proclaimed Armistice Day, described November 11, 1918, as the end of “the most destructive, sanguinary and far-reaching war in the history of human annals.” That resolution expressed the hope that the First World War would be, in truth, the war to end all wars. It suggested that those men who had died had therefore not given their lives in vain.

It is a tragic fact that these hopes have not been fulfilled, that wars still more destructive and still more sanguinary followed, that man’s capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow men.Some might say, therefore, that this day has lost its meaning, that the shadow of the new and deadly weapons have robbed this day of its great value, that whatever name we now give this day, whatever flags we fly or prayers we utter, it is too late to honor those who died before, and too soon to promise the living an end to organized death.

But let us not forget that November 11, 1918, signified a beginning, as well as an end. “The purpose of all war,” said Augustine, “is peace.” The First World War produced man’s first great effort in recent times to solve by international cooperation the problems of war. That experiment continues in our present day — still imperfect, still short of its responsibilities, but it does offer a hope that some day nations can live in harmony.

For our part, we shall achieve that peace only with patience and perseverance and courage — the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome…[a skilled adversary].

Do please take a guess as to who it is and when it was, then click and read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

(Local Paper) Colonel Miguel Howe–Veterans’ strength is the ‘strength of America’

Under a barrage of machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, [Brendan] O’Connor crawled across an open field with an orange target identifier on his back to mark the enemy and prevent aircraft friendly fire from hitting him. Once he reached the soldiers, O’Connor provided medical care and fought off the enemy.

He then carried the wounded back through the rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun fire, using his body armor to protect his comrades. He brought them to safety, but his mission was not complete. By the end of the battle, O’Connor had successfully rescued two comrades, saved the lives of 21 soldiers, prevented his team’s destruction, and sadly, mourned the loss of Master Sgt. Tom Maholic.

For his valor under fire, O’Connor was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

On this 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and the commemoration of Veterans Day, we honor veterans like O’Connor who have kept so many safe.

Today, our “most seasoned” living veterans are the ones who served in World War II. They are the ones who fought in Europe and the Pacific to throw back tyrants and liberate hundreds of millions. Men like my grandfather, Private 1st Class Alex Sapien.

Others defended our interests in the mountains of Korea and in — or over — the jungles of Vietnam; men like friend and mentor Brig. Gen. (retired) Harry Mott; my father Lt. Col. (retired) Chuck Howe; and my father-in-law Chief Warrant Officer 3 (retired) Rick Emmart. Still, other veterans served during the long vigil of the Cold War through Desert Storm….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Martin of Tours

Lord God of hosts, who didst clothe thy servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and didst set him as a bishop in thy Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, France, Spirituality/Prayer

Blessed Armistice Day

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Europe, History, Military / Armed Forces

Archbp Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

The Sex Discrimination Act was introduced by the Hawke Government and, regrettably, relegated religious freedom to the unsatisfactory category of an exemption. In other words, it legislated the rights of schools to discriminate. This was never asked for by church leaders and has always been considered by us as tantamount to marginalising religious freedom. Worse, it placed us in the invidious position of being described as those who discriminate against students and staff, rather than being put positively, where a school had the right to employ staff who were committed to the Christian ethos of the school. A fundamental community expectation recognises the rights of organisations to hire staff who uphold their values. You wouldn’t expect the Liberal Party to hire a communist any more than the Labor Party would hire someone who was anti-union.

In 1984, the categories for the exemptions were ‘sex, marital status and pregnancy’. However, in 2013, the Gillard Government decided to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex and relationship status’ as new protected attributes. There was good reason for inserting these new areas of prohibited discrimination in the body of the Act, but the way it was done was inept. The fact that the Sex Discrimination Act has, on average, been amended by Parliament once every year for over thirty years, speaks volumes.

So when the Heads of our Anglican Schools wrote their Open Letter, the subject at hand–stated quite clearly–was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordance with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all students….

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture