Daily Archives: October 1, 2007

Go Cubs!

KSH<----lifelong cubs fan. Don't ask. I actually got a card from a fellow seminarian for those grieving the loss of a loved one the day after the Cubs lost to San Diego when the ball went through Bull Durham's legs in game 5 of the 1984 National League Championship Series.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: The Lies We All Tell

I have to agree with the Episcopal conservatives here (though of course for different reasons) who called…[the House of Bishops Statement in New Orleans] a “legal fiction.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Peter Lee

Q: And how does that get resolved, given the situation or position of some in the church?

A: I think it’s resolved by patience and time, that as people — I know anecdotally of African clergy who have been guests at American churches where one of the clergy, say, in a multi-staff church was gay and had adopted children, and it was a brand new experience for the African priest to experience that reality, and so getting to know people like that on a personal level has been very helpful.

Q: There’s been a lot of hoopla leading up to this meeting, saying this is a make or break time for the communion, that the ultimate relationship between the Episcopal Church and the worldwide communion could be at stake. How do you assess where the relationship is?

A: I don’t see this as a deadline or breakthrough meeting. It’s an important meeting, but it seems to me that the relationships that we have worldwide, with dozens, hundreds of Anglicans worldwide are going to be intact. A very important meeting prior to this one occurred in July ’07 outside of Madrid, where a group of about 25 American bishops, including me, met with about 30 African bishops, and the press was not invited, and it was very clear that the great majority of them wanted to continue in relationship. The Anglican Communion is not a juridical group where there is a clear method of kicking someone out, to put it bluntly. So if we are — if our relationship is stressed with the rest of the communion to the breaking point, the break will come from others, not from us.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Presiding Bishop Sets Stipulations for Church Property Sales

The Episcopal Church will make sure that any property it sells is not intended for use by parishes that plan to affiliate with other Anglican provinces, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Sept. 30 on a visit to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Asked if she were satisfied with the agreement by the Diocese of the Rio Grande to sell St. Clement Pro-Cathedral in El Paso, Texas, to the congregation, Bishop Schori said she had recommended two stipulations.

“I’ve told them that my two concerns are that the congregation not set up as another part of the Anglican Communion and that there is some reasonable assurance that it’s a fair sale,” she said.

Bishop Jefferts Schori spoke to reporters before appearing on Grace Cathedral’s Forum, a weekly program, broadcast on the Internet. Bishop Jefferts Schori appeared on the program with the Bishop of California, the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus. She also preached at the 11 a.m. service.

The issue of control over property is becoming an increasing concern as parishes disaffected by The Episcopal Church’s stance on homosexuality and other matters affiliate with more conservative bishops in other provinces.

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s concerns evidently have not been written into the sale agreement. Bishop Jefferts Schori said she has made herself clear to Bishop Jeffrey Steenson and the diocese, but that it’s “too soon to get a response.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Polity & Canons

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Bob Duncan

Q: Tell me about this meeting in Pittsburgh. What are you and all these groups trying to accomplish here?

A: There are 10 jurisdictions who have been working together, a growing number, we started as six in 2004, who have committed to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel as it has been received, and to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America. We are fragments, like some of us represent fragments, dioceses of the Episcopal Church that can’t go down the road that the Episcopal Church is on, can’t leave the faith once delivered, and other fragments [are] folks who as long as 134 years ago actually found themselves put out of the Episcopal Church because of their stand on the gospel and their belief that the Episcopal Church was shifting and wavering and moving away from its’ reformation position. This meeting is a meeting in which these fragments, as bishops, and for the first time it’s all the bishops of these 10 fragments from the US and Canada, they are together and we’re together and what we’ve done is agree to the way in which we’ll move forward, move forward forming a federation of the Common Cause Partners, pushing that schedule along, and before too long appealing to provinces within the communion to recognize this federation as a new ecclesiastical structure in the States, the very thing that a number of the primates just a year ago in September called for from Kigali as they looked to the problems in the US church and to the wavering and wandering of the majority.

Q: So the goal here is to create an alternative Anglican structure?

A: The goal has been to bring together all of those who stand on scripture, who stand with the tradition, who are committed to mission and who can’t bring themselves to separate from what Christians have always believed. So we’re working together as bishops, forming a college of bishops, again first ever meeting here, who can work together in mission. We’ve shared all kinds of ministry initiatives together, from ministry to youth, all kinds of exciting things with postmoderns to work with the global church in relief and development to the more ordinary matters of church planting. Indeed one of the calls of this conference was for us together to plant 1000 new churches, which would be quite something to see.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop Of Vermont on the New Orleans Bishops Meeting

The Presiding Bishop asked me to serve on the writing committee that drafted the response. Along with seven other bishops, much of my time was devoted to this task. Three versions were presented over the course of two days before the final version was adopted. Beyond what you can read in our final version, I’m writing today to offer some personal commentary on this response.

I want you to know that I voted to support this document, although there are certain aspects of it which trouble me. Time will tell whether our response will be a helpful contribution to the current conversation; I sincerely hope that it will.
Arguably, the two most sensitive matters before us were consents to episcopal elections (Resolution B033 of the General Convention) and the authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions. Addressing both of these matters, the House of Bishops reaffirmed the actions of the 2006 General Convention, and here I remind us all that the General Convention is the primary decision making body of The Episcopal Church.

Regarding episcopal elections (BO33), I believe our statement, “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains,” went too far in the direction of trying to interpret a General Convention resolution, yet I can attest that some wanted an even stronger interpretation. The efforts to seek common ground are clearly evident in our writing on this matter.

The second matter addressed public rites of blessings for same-sex unions. Again, we rehearsed the actions of General Convention, which in 2006 took no action to authorize such rites. We acknowledged as well that “the majority of bishops make no allowance for the blessing of same sex unions.” Of course that means some bishops do. I am one who makes allowance for such blessings, and I intend to continue the current pastoral approach we have in place in the Diocese of Vermont for the blessing of holy unions. This was clearly addressed and understood in the House of Bishops.

Read it all. Ok, now follow the bouncing ball with me as we once again explore the Alice in Wonderland world of the Episcopal Church.

You may remember that back in 2004 the diocese of Vermont took some dramatic action:

Episcopalians in Vermont, in a “pastoral response” to the nation’s first and only civil unions law, have unveiled liturgical rites that gay couples can use in the state’s 48 Episcopal churches.

The worship guidelines, which look and sound like liturgies used for heterosexual weddings, are believed to be the first anywhere in the Anglican Communion that convey church blessings on gay civil partnerships.

The services are contained in a 36-page manual that was distributed to clergy, last month. A committee began drafting the rites in October, and they are expected to become of official in 2006.

The “blessing of holy unions” is backed by Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely. “It would help our people to have the experience of common liturgy where there’s consistency in teaching, in language.”

Read that very carefully. Got it? Liturgical rites that same sex couples may use, with an accompanying diocesan manual. And these rites are backed by Bishop Thomas Ely.

What was is that Tanzania was concerned about?

[The Episcopal Church is asked to] “1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144).”

Please observe carefully in that section the very important little word OR. It is not only through General Convention that the Primates in Tanzania did not want to see authorized blessings, but also at the diocesan level. So how are liturgical rites backed by the bishop not seen to be contrary to this? Only in a world where words mean what you want them to mean. [/i]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Gene Robinson

Q: Where does it leave the diocese of Chicago if Tracey Lind, an openly lesbian priest, is elected bishop?

A: We have a resolution of the General Convention that says we should exercise restraint, and we don’t really know where that will take us, and we won’t know until there is another bishop-elect who is gay or lesbian, and then we’ll see how that happens. I think we’re all exercising restraint in a sense that we know this is an important issue. We know it’s a controversial issue, and only time will tell how that will go either with bishops or with standing committees. And remember in our church it’s not just bishops who decide, but clergy and laity as well as the bishop.

Q: What did you learn at this meeting about the feelings of the rest of the world?

A: I think the international visitors underscored for me what we’ve known, but hearing it coming from their lips is even more powerful. Their contexts are so different from ours. It should not surprise us, but perhaps we’re naive when we forget that in many countries of the world if you’re known to be gay you can be imprisoned. There’s just rampant discrimination. In a context like that, to ever have a chance to sit in the room with a faithful, committed Christian person who also happens to be gay or lesbian — it’s just not something that happens. So to hear from their lips how their contexts are different from ours, I think it always helps to have that personal contact. It was just as important for them to experience how very different our context is. So I think there was learning on both sides. That’s really why we treasure the Anglican Communion so much is that if we hold together there is so much to be learned from one another.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Religion and Ethics Weekly on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

[KIM] LAWTON: Robinson acknowledged he had some frank exchanges with the archbishop.

Bishop [GENE] ROBINSON: I understood him to be saying that we had to choose between fidelity to our gay and lesbian members and fidelity to the process of what he called “common discernment.” And I said that, as a gay man, choosing a process over human beings felt dehumanizing to me. And perhaps there were people who were shocked that I said that, but after all, I’m the only openly gay voice in that room.

LAWTON: The New Orleans meeting seemed to solidify the decisions of those already contemplating leaving the Episcopal Church. New Mexico Bishop Jeffrey Steenson announced he was resigning in order to become a Roman Catholic.

Bishop JEFFREY STEENSON (Diocese of the Rio Grande): There are a lot of doctrinal matters that are being debated in the Episcopal Church that just astonish me, and I felt that it was really important for me now to be clear with myself about where I could be comfortable.

LAWTON: Four of the 110 U.S. dioceses have begun steps to break with the Episcopal Church. Conservative American bishops, including some who left the Episcopal Church decades ago, met together in Pittsburgh this week to discuss ways they can work together. Many are aligning with Global South Anglican churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Scottish Anglicans call for gay tolerance

The Scottish and Mexican leaders were expected to voice the view that gay people should live a fully equal life within the church.

But the Dean of Manchester Cathedral, The Very Rev Rogers Govender, said they were not so explicit.

He said: “It was a very good conference, very positive with about 50 people here and the two speakers were both very well received, it was a very positive experience.

“No specific calls were made at all.

“The conference was about issues of Anglican diversity and what they said -and others said in the course of the day – is that the Anglican church is historically diverse and makes room for people of different persuasions.

“At this critical time we need to reclaim that ground and make sure we put in our views on retaining that ethos which is essentially Anglican – rather than having extreme views on either side of the debate.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Jean Torkelson: Episcopal past, future tied to marriage issue

Sunday was the flock’s first chance to hear more about the recent decision by the Episcopal bishops , including Colorado’s Rob O’Neill, to hold off at least until 2009 on encouraging same-sex unions and openly gay bishops.

Schism looms anyway, a troubling prospect to churches like St. Philip’s, where the Rev. Theron Walker got applause Sunday when worshipper Tom Cook called out from his pew, “Thank you, Father, for being faithful (to traditional Christianity).”

Later, Walker put his head in his hands and said, only half-kidding, “The stress is driving my wife (Denise) crazy.”

First, why dwell on this story?

I think there’s a historical poetry and power connected to the Episcopal Church, whose roots are steeped in the Church of England and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. The denomination began with the marriage issue – Henry VIII’s marriages, to be exact – and five centuries later the marriage issue, in the form of same-sex unions, may shatter it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Alabama Episcopalians elect Sloan as assistant bishop

A priest known for his outreach to the handicapped and to the poor of Honduras was elected on Sunday to be the new suffragan, or assistant, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

“We all need to listen more, love more and squabble less,” said the Rev. John McKee Sloan, 51, who is known better across Alabama and his native Mississippi as “Kee” Sloan. The suffragan bishop-elect will be consecrated on Jan. 12. He will then serve under Bishop Henry N. Parsley, the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, which includes more than 30,000 Episcopalians across the north-central part of the state.

“I want to help the bishop love and serve the diocesan family,” Sloan said. “I’ll take my lead from the bishop.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

In San Francisco, Presiding U.S. Episcopal bishop affirms same-sex unions

The 27,000-member Diocese of California, based in San Francisco, has ordained more gay and lesbian clergy than any other. Priests in the diocese – which includes San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa counties and part of Santa Clara County – have blessed same-sex unions for more than three decades.

Those practices, once on the margins of the Episcopal Church, have become the mainstream.

The church’s House of Bishops gathered in New Orleans last week to discuss how to respond to the communique. They chose to maintain the status quo: They would “exercise restraint” by not consecrating any gay, partnered candidates for bishop, and they would not authorize “any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions.”

For conservatives, the statements were hollow because it allows priests to privately bless same-sex unions.

“This is neither prohibition nor restraint,” said a statement issued Wednesday by the Right Rev. John-David Schofield, bishop for the Fresno-based Diocese of San Joaquin. “It is simply turning a blind eye.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

From the Email Bag

The great value of Titus One Nine to all of us, including this slightly to the left of center Episcopalian, has been the inclusion of all the “news fit to print” (and leaving out some which isn’t) regarding the current challenges in the Episcopal Church. You have had the good grace to allow your readers to interpret that information as their intellect determined, until recently. In the days before the HOB meeting and subsequent to it there has been an increasing tendency to parenthetically comment on or reinterpret the input from various sources with whom you are not in explicit agreement. My belief is that this diminishes, not adds to, the value of the information. Many of your sources are unquestionably intellectually capable of making an interpretation of the current situation and the product of their efforts is their interpretation. Adding your editorial comment that they are in error in that interpretation is not terribly helpful as i t does not change their interpretation and they do have a right to that interpretation. It is no more right or wrong, inherently, than your own. So my advice is to go back to reporting the information and quit kibitzing.

But it is your blog and you are doing us all a considerable service by maintaining it, so thanks for that.

I would genuinely appreciate blog readers feedback on this, thanks–KSH.

Posted in * Admin, * By Kendall, Blog Tips & Features

Charles Taylor–Sex and Christianity–How Has the Moral Landscape Changed?

The Vatican’s present position seems to want to retain the most rigid moralism in the sexual field, relaxing nothing of the rules, with the result that people with “irregular” sexual lives are (supposed to be) automatically denied the sacraments, while as-yet-unconvicted mafiosi, not to speak of unrepentant latifundistas in the third world, and Roman aristocrats with enough clout to wangle an “annulment” find no bar.

But however incomplete and hesitantly followed the turns taken at Vatican II, it has clearly relativized the old top-down, one-size-fits-all model of reform. It has opened a field in which you don’t have to be deeply read in the history of the church to see that the dominant spiritual fashion of recent centuries is not normative. Which is not to say that this whole spirituality, aspiring to a full devotion to God, and fueled by abnegation and a strong image of sexual purity, is to be in turn condemned. It is clear that there have been and are today celibate vocations that are spiritually fertile, and many of these turn centrally on aspirations to sexual abstinence and purity. It would just repeat the mistake of the Protestant reformers to turn around and depreciate these.

The fateful feature of the early-modern Catholic Counter-Reformation, which erects such a barrier between the church and contemporary society, is not its animating spirituality: our world is if anything drowned in exalted images of sexual fulfillment and needs to hear about paths of renunciation. The deviation was to make this take on sexuality mandatory for everyone, through a moralistic code that made a certain kind of purity a necessary condition for relating to God through the sacraments. There are more ways of being a Catholic Christian than either the Vatican rule-makers or the secularist ideologies have yet imagined. And yet this shouldn’t be so hard to grasp. Even during those centuries when the reform outlook dominated pastoral policy, there were always other paths present, represented sometimes by the most prominent figures, including (to remain with the French Catholic Reformation) St. Francis de Sales and Fénelon, not to speak of Pascal, who, though he gave comfort to the fear-mongers, offered an incomparably deeper vision.

But as long as this monolithic image dominates the scene, the Christian message as expressed and embodied by the Catholic Church will not be easy to hear in wide zones of the contemporary world. But then, these are not very hospitable to a narrow secularism either.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

From Zenit: The Economic and Social Impact of Aging Societies

Decades of declining birthrates are causing a rapid aging of many nation’s populations.

Romanian President Traian Basescu recently warned that his country’s population was declining and that more needs to be done to support women who have children, the Associated Press reported Sept. 18.

“Romania urgently needs to revise its demographic policies,” he told participants at a conference on population and development in the city of Sibiu. The nation has 4 million people in the work force, while retirees number 6 million, according to the Associated Press.

Germany is another country feeling the pinch of a declining and older population, the New York Times reported Sept. 23. The population started declining in 2003, with a drop of 5,000 that year. By 2006 the decrease reached 130,000.

The German population is experiencing “exponential negative growth,” Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, told the New York Times.

The situation in Japan is also causing widespread concern, reported the British newspaper the Telegraph in a June 1 article. The population peaked at 128 million in 2005 and some forecasts expect it to drop below 100 million by 2050.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly

Randall Foster Responds to the New Orleans Bishops Statement

The one thing that was clear from the final statement of the HOBs is that nothing is going to change. Every concern of the primates was brushed aside as having already been dealt with sufficiently in accordance with TEC’s polity. For example, the Pastoral Council/Primatial Vicar scheme outlined in the Dar es Salaam Communique was tossed aside without discussion, and a hopelessly inadequate DEPO scheme under PB Schori’s direction (announced late last week without details) was endorsed in its place, even though the dioceses that had appealed for APO were never consulted and rejected the new plan as insufficient the moment it was announced.

Of course, two things were included in the HOB statement that might on their face seem to address the primates’ concerns. First, the House again pledged to exercise “restraint” in approving future bishop-elects whose “manner of life” posed a “challenge” to the world-wide Communion. But a pledge of “restraint” is not a prohibition, and “restraint” is purely voluntary and subject to termination any time at the whim of the party “restraining ” himself or herself. Secondly, the House collectively pledged not to endorse any official, public rites for same-sex blessings, while clearly leaving a vast amount of room for the continued practice of “private, unofficial” SSBs as a form of “pastoral care” (which “private” same-sex blessings may, of course, be performed in a church in front of 500 people by a priest or bishop in full vestments using language that may sound uncannily like a formal liturgy, just so long as no official text of a rite has been approved in advance by the bishop!). There will clearly be no turning back by TEC.

My response to all of this is deep sadness. New Orleans was undoubtedly the last chance for TEC to reverse course. I didn’t expect the HOB truly to repent and turn away from their path of the last several years, but frankly I had thought they would produce something that went a bit further toward meeting the actual requirements of the primates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

A Response from Reform to New Orleans Statement by TEC Bishops

We are facing an eleventh-hour crisis in the Anglican Communion; any suggestion that further discussion is the way forward is a failure to realise the imminence of the threat we face. What is needed now is firm, decisive leadership which clearly protects and promotes the Biblical Christian faith. It is around such a position that the Communion could unite. In practice this means that discipline should be applied to TEC. Any bishops involved in the consecration of Gene Robinson or who teach that such consecrations are acceptable should be dis-invited from the Lambeth 2008 conference.

Without such discipline, we fear that divisions within the Anglican Communion will become permanent, with very grave consequences for the Church of England herself. Many in the mainstream of the Church’s life will want to align themselves with orthodox believers and distance themselves from TEC. This will entail a review, and suspension of, current diocesan links with TEC. Where dioceses are unwilling to suspend such links, orthodox clergy and parishes will remain committed to the Church of England, but will find the case for seeking alternative forms of spiritual oversight increasingly attractive and in many cases overwhelming.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Organizations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Father John Heidt: What really divides us

Whereas the Protestant Evangelical starts with sin and atonement, the Catholic builds his theology upon creation and grace. The Catholic believes that we are sinful but we are not depraved; we are sick human beings but we are still human; we have lost our likeness to God but we are still made in His image. We can never excuse our sinfulness by saying that we are only human, for, after all, what more do we want to be!

The Catholic recognizes the horror of sin because he first has some idea of what we are meant to be. It is his glimpse into the natural law of creation that also makes him want to obey the law of God. The doctrine of creation leads to repentance; without it man’s attempt to obey the moral law leads only to neuroses.

Grace restores the divine image in man. Salvation comes through growth in grace, not through some kind of substitution deal between Jesus and His Father. Because grace saves us from the effects of our sins, we are no longer slaves but friends of God. Though our sins make us unworthy to come into His presence, by divine grace we are made worthy to stand before him.

Through the re-presentation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the sacraments rather than morality are the primary means of our salvation, “sure and certain means by which we receive grace.” That is why moral theologians such as Kenneth Kirk and Robert Mortimer insist that in the celebration of the sacraments the safest course must always be followed. And that is why Anglo-Catholics along with the rest of the Catholic world cannot accept any change in their administration that runs counter to the plain witnesss of scripture and the practice of the undivided church or casts doubt upon their reality in a period of reception ”“ not even for the sake of establishing some sort superficial political alliance with our fellow-Christians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology