Daily Archives: March 15, 2008

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Easter East And West

WALT WANGERIN, JR. (author, “Paul: A Novel”): This is the very center of what we believe, of who we are, of what our identity is, of why we continue to return to the Lord in joy. Without Easter, there is no church.

[KIM] LAWTON: More often than not, Eastern Orthodox and Western Christians celebrate the Resurrection on different days. But a growing number of American church leaders say this should change.

FATHER RON ROBERSON (National Conference of Catholic Bishops): The credibility of the Christian message really gets compromised when people on the outside see that we can’t even agree on when to celebrate the central mystery of our faith.

East meets West.
LAWTON: Conflicts over the celebration of the Resurrection stretch back to the beginning days of Christianity. Early church leaders wanted all Christians to celebrate the Resurrection on the same day, after the Jewish Passover. To that end, a council of bishops in the fourth century decreed that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the spring equinox. But as the Roman Empire divided between the Greek-speaking East and the Latin-speaking West, the church world also split. When Westerners adopted the new Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, the East kept the Julian calendar. Since the two calendars have differing dates for the equinox and full moon, in most years Easter falls on different Sundays.

LAWTON: During Holy Week, churches mark their beliefs with special services. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, these services are especially numerous and lengthy. One unique observance is the service of holy unction on Wednesday night.

MS. MATHEWES-GREEN: At the conclusion of this service, the members of the church line up and come forward for anointing, for healing. In the Orthodox Church, we still have a lively belief that Jesus heal, that we need healing of our souls and our bodies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Helping homeless feel at home in school

Watch it all–fantastic stuff.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Obama Denounces Statements of His Pastor as ”˜Inflammatory’

In the handful of years Senator Barack Obama has spent in the national spotlight, his stance toward his pastor has gone from glowing praise to growing distance to ”” as of Friday ”” strong criticism.

On Friday, Mr. Obama called a grab bag of statements by his longtime minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., “inflammatory and appalling.”

“I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue,” he wrote in a campaign statement that was his strongest in a series of public disavowals of his pastor’s views over the past year.

Earlier in the week, several television stations played clips in which Mr. Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, referred to the United States as the “U.S. of K.K.K. A.” and said the Sept. 11 attacks were a result of corrupt American foreign policy.

On Friday, Senator John McCain’s campaign forwarded to reporters an article in The Wall Street Journal in which Mr. Wright was quoted as saying, “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run,” and accusing the United States of importing drugs, exporting guns and training murderers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Nathaniel Pierce on the Question of the House of Bishops recent Vote to Depose two Bishops

The rationale presented in the ENS article would appear to be in error on two counts:

1) Canon IV.9.2 clearly states “by a majority of the whole number of
Bishops entitled to vote.” The “whole number” (currently 294) is
defined in Article I, Sec.2 of the Constitution. Mr. Beers somehow
construes “whole number” in IV.9.2 to mean “by a majority of those
Bishops present at the meeting during which the matter was
presented” (see #2).

2) Canon IV.9.2 only requires the PB “to present the matter to the
House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the
House.” There is no requirement or even implication that the
vote “by the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” must be
taken during said meeting.

In addition, the article states that the Secretary of the House of Bishops
determined that a quorum was present. A quorum is defined (Article I.2)
as a majority of Bishops with jurisdiction. For this meeting 52 Bishops
constituted a quorum. Under Mr. Beers interpretation, therefore, only
27 votes for deposition would be required in a worst case scenario.
That is 9% of “the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.” Or to
put the point another way, there really is a difference between requiring
a minimum of 148 votes for deposing a Bishop and interpeting that to
mean that only 27 votes to consent are required. For those who have
difficulty with counting, the difference is 121 votes.

For some this is nit picking. For me the Constitution and Canons of our
church state the mutually agreed upon understandings of how we will live
together in this community called the Episcopal Church. When these
mutually agreed upon understandings are trashed and/or ignored, then
the community itself is also trashed. When such an endeavor is led by
our Bishops, the harm done becomes egregious.

How hypocritical that we should seek to discipline those accused of
ignoring our C&C by employing a process which ignored our C&C.

–The Rev. Nathaniel Pierce lives in Trappe, Maryland

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Bishop Christopher Epting: Ups and Downs in the House of Bishops

There are the usual concerns about the constitutional and legal implications of signing on to an international set of “canons” which might jeopardize our ability to say legitimately that we are “autonomous” (make our own laws/canons). And concerns about “power to the Primates” on doctrinal and other issues. Concerns about too much emphasis on “Church of England formularies” (i.e. 1662 Prayer Book, 39 Articles, their Ordinal) rather than referring more broadly to “Anglican formularies.”

Personally, I think we can deal with all those matters. Draft 2 is clearly moving in the right direction. We are to work with it more at Lambeth, the writing team will then prepare a 3rd Draft which will go to the Anglican Consultative Council. If they reject it, it will go back for more work. If they accept it, we will begin the process of having it voted on in the 38 Provinces.

I think there is time for us to improve the document still further. It is clear to me that some kind of Anglican Covenant will be put forth and ultimately signed. The only question is”¦will we be part of it?

Read it all.

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

Andrew Carey in the Church of England Newspaper: Making Martyrs

Well, it was hardly surprising that Lambeth Palace, in negotiation with Gene Robinson, the American House of Bishops and other interested parties were unable to find any suitable way of inviting the Anglican Communion’s only ”˜partnered gay’ bishop to the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury offered him a venue in the conference’s exhibition hall – an offer which not surprisingly he rejected, since it was an avenue already open to him in the first place.

Consequently, Gene Robinson told this week’s meeting of US bishops that he had cleared his diary in any case to be present in Canterbury for the duration of the conference presumably attached to the hordes of activists of both the ”˜left’ and the ”˜right’ who will swarm over the campus, although he was not able to come as an official participant or observer.

“I am not here to whine. I learned of the result of this negotiation on Friday evening. I have been in considerable pain ever since,” he said. The trouble with this situation is that by singling out Bishop Robinson, his puffed-up sense of victimhood is reinforced. His propagandists already constantly remind the world that he had to wear a bullet-proof vest to his own consecration, as if he was seriously in danger from gun-toting conservative Anglicans.

But creating ”˜martyrs’ is frankly never a good idea: it tends only to reinforce divisions, heightens the sense of injustice felt passionately by various groups and creates deep feelings of anger. In one sense, it’s no use going back over old ground, but this all could have been avoided had the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican bureaucracy actually taken any notice of the Windsor Report which they commissioned in the first place.
The Windsor Report specifically asked the American bishops who had elected and participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson to withdraw from the councils of the communion. This approach had merit in that it didn’t require a specific scapegoat in the form of Gene Robinson, who it has to be said is an attractive and courageous figurehead. It also drew attention to the specific issue many of us are concerned about ”” not a sense of personal revulsion at homosexual acts or a hostility to gay and lesbian people, but the damage that is caused to unity when particular parts of the body of Christ act as though they have no need of the other parts. The offence of The Episcopal Church is not to offer pastoral care to homosexuals, but to unilaterally change the teaching of the Church.

The recommendation that The Episcopal Church withdraw from the councils of the communion had the potential to draw the sting out of this particular debate for a season while a more sensible approach could be developed towards dealing with our deep divisions. After all, it shouldn’t have been beyond Anglicanism to come up with some form of appropriate pastoral response to homosexuals without throwing out the Bible’s commitment to sexual expression only within monogamous marriage.

Additionally, the Windsor recommendation created distance between the Episcopal Church and many of the more outraged parts of the Anglican Communion. While retaining the semblance of communion it relegated the liberal wing of Anglicanism to a sort of secondary status within the Anglican Communion albeit for a temporary period while the Anglican Covenant was worked out. Had the Windsor model been followed then it might have been possible to have all the Anglican Bishops present this summer at Canterbury ”” even Gene Robinson. Most of the American and some Canadian bishops would be at the Conference in a non-voting capacity and a great deal of diplomacy might even have kept a larger number of Global South bishops at the table.

Instead, we have the worst of all worlds ”” a Lambeth Conference a shadow of its former self in terms of numbers. And in the gaze of the world’s press we will have the sight of Bishop Gene Robinson, an icon of living martyrdom, filmed and interviewed ad nauseam, while the real business of the conference is marginal at best to the centre of Anglicanism.

However, it’s not only liberal Anglicanism which has its martyrs. The Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, is trying his best to create a martyr for all evangelical Anglicans in the form of the octogenarian theologian, JI Packer, by moving against one of evangelicalism’s most respected theologians with a threat to ”˜depose’ him for ”˜abandonment of communion’, Bishop Ingham couldn’t have picked a worse target. Packer is of course a totemic figure for evangelicals both inside and outside the Anglican Communion (his ”˜Knowing God’ still a work which repays careful reading, even if he doesn’t quite have the appeal of John Stott).

It hardly matters that ”˜abandonment of communion’ has no equivalent in English canons and amounts to little more than the removal of Packer’s licence ”” a licence he no longer wants, given that the church he belongs to has voted to place itself under the oversight of the Southern Cone, which will presumably licence the clergy of the parish in future.

Yet it highlights the canonical fundamentalism to be found in North America. Having abandoned various fundamentals of faith, Anglicanism seems to be retrenching around the rules and order of the institutional Church. Whilst favouring ”˜untidiness’ in faith and morals, liberals like Bishop Ingham cannot seem to tolerate messiness in institutional terms.

–This article appears in the March 14, 2008 edition of the Church of England Newspaper, page 12

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

Bear Stearns exposed as a bank saddled with toxic sub-prime debt

“We are now experiencing the first truly major crisis of financial globalisation,” said the Swiss central bank governor Philipp Hildebrand this week.

“Never before have banks seen such destruction of their balance sheets in such a short time. Moreover, there are signs that the problems are spreading. The risk premiums on commercial property, consumer credit and corporate loans have risen sharply,” he said.

Debt levels have been much higher than in the Roaring Twenties; the new-fangled tools of structured credit are more opaque: the $415 trillion nexus of derivative contracts is untested. Nobody knows for sure if the counter-parties are able to deliver on vast IOUs, or whether the construct is built on sand.

What keeps Federal Reserve officials turning at night is fear that the “financial accelerator” will now set off a vicious downward spiral. There is a risk of “very adverse economic outcomes,” said Fed vice-chair Don Kohn.

Albert Edwards, global strategist at Societe Generale, said the toppling banks are merely a symptom of a deeper rot. “The banks are not the problem. Nor even the grotesquely leveraged funds. The problem is that an economic bubble financed by ridiculously loose monetary policy is unravelling,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

An ENS article on the question of the canonical validity of the HOB deposition vote

The Presiding Bishop’s chancellor has confirmed the validity of votes taken in the House of Bishops on March 12, correcting an erroneous report published online March 14 by The Living Church News Service.

Chancellor David Booth Beers said votes consenting to the deposition of bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox conformed to the canons.

“In consultation with the House of Bishops’ parliamentarian prior to the vote,” Beers said, “we both agreed that the canon meant a majority of all those present and entitled to vote, because it is clear from the canon that the vote had to be taken at a meeting, unlike the situation where you poll the whole House of Bishops by mail. Therefore, it is our position that the vote was in order.”

A quorum had been determined at the meeting by the House of Bishops’ secretary, Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Forward in Faith UK's Statement on Bishop MacBurney

From here:

Forward in Faith UK deplores the recent actions against the retired Bishop of Quincy, the Right Revd Ed MacBurney, by the House of Bishops of TEC as both pastorally and politically inept: pastorally on account of Bishop MacBurney’s age and tragic family circumstances; politically because of the certainty that it will alienate others across the Communion who have not yet grasped the extent of the graceless and totalitarian mindset which now dominates the Episcopal Church.

We are at a loss to understand why it is an offence for a bishop in good standing in one province of the Communion to offer episcopal ministry (at the request of its bishop) to a parish in another.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

HBO's 'John Adams' Takes Fresh Look at Founding Father

JEFFREY BROWN: Did you have a chance to read many of those letters we mentioned? And what did you see in them?

PAUL GIAMATTI: Well, I did. I got to read as many of the Abigail and John letters, which are extraordinarily intelligent and loving. And she’s an extraordinary — kind of more extraordinary than he is, in a lot of ways, I mean, stronger in a lot of ways than he is.

The Jefferson letters are fascinating, in a lot of ways because you definitely sense that they’re guys who know that they’re going to be taken by posterity and examined in depth. You know, they’re talking for the historical record, in a way, which is fascinating, but very wonderful debates.

JEFFREY BROWN: David McCullough, it was the letters between John and Abigail that really gave you a way into your book, wasn’t it?

DAVID MCCULLOUGH, Author: Yes, I’d read a lot that other people had written about John Adams, other historians and biographers. And they’re very good, many of them superb.

But it wasn’t until I got into what they themselves wrote that I realized how much, as Paul just said, how much humanity is there and that I wanted to tell that story. I wanted to give credit where I felt was long overdue, one of the most remarkable — two of the most remarkable Americans ever.

And what a story. It’s a biographer’s dream. And I’ve had subjects that I’ve greatly enjoyed. I’ve been very lucky in my subjects over the years. But I don’t think I ever had a book out of which I learned so much or during which I had such a wonderful time being in that 18th century, being with those brilliant people.

Something really to look forward to this weekend! Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Politics in General

St. John's Lodi, California, parishioners express relief over decision about Bishop Schofield

Leaders at Lodi’s St. John’s Episcopal Church say they are ready to move forward now that John-David Schofield has been officially deposed from the American Episcopal Church.

“Thank goodness; it’s about time,” said Andee Zetterbaum, a voting delegate in the former San Joaquin Diocese under Schofield’s tenure.

The Episcopal House of Bishops, meeting in Texas, took the action Wednesday against Bishop John-David Schofield who last December led the Fresno-based diocese to secede from the Episcopal Church.

The diocese is the first full diocese to split from the denomination, which in 2003 consecrated the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Bishop MacBurney Speaks out

A retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy on Thursday said he won’t fight charges that he broke church law last year by performing confirmations at a San Diego church.

“You can’t fight them because it’s true – I did it,” Bishop Retired Edward MacBurney said.

The 80-year-old MacBurney, who lives in Clinton Valley, Iowa, served as bishop of the west-central Illinois diocese from 1988 to 1994.

Read it all.

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

Bermuda Priest's fate uncertain as he vows to continue his fight

Anglican Bishop Ewen Ratteray was staying tightlipped over reports reaching the Bermuda Sun that Rev. Williams has been suspended from the post to which he was appointed last June.

Bishop Ratteray said the Church would not be commenting on the matter until after St. Anne’s parishioners had been informed of the latest developments.

The Bermuda Sun has been informed that retired Anglican priest Canon Thomas Nesbitt has been asked to fill in at St. Anne’s for the next two Sundays.

Mr. Hall told the Bermuda Sun yesterday: “There is clearly, and very sadly, an ongoing dispute between Father Williams and certain members of the congregation, which needs to be resolved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Latest News, Parish Ministry

Breaking news: Deposition Votes Failed to Achieve Canonically Required Majority

The Living Church has posted a major breaking story this evening. Their servers are currently down (“too many connections” says the message!) and so for the time being, we’re posting the full text.

The original story is here.

Deposition Votes Failed to Achieve Canonically Required Majority

Posted on: March 14, 2008

Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons.

The exact number is impossible to know, because both resolutions were approved by voice vote. Only 131 bishops registered for the meeting March 7-12 at Camp Allen, and at least 15 of them left before the business session began on Wednesday. There were 294 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote on March 12.

When questioned about canonical inconsistencies during a telephone press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina said the bishops had relied on advice provided to them by canonical experts, and did not examine canonical procedure during plenary debate prior to the votes to depose bishops Schofield and Cox.

Bishop Schofield was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1989. Last December, he presided over a diocesan convention at which clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelmingly to leave The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. Bishop Cox was consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Maryland in 1972. He resigned in 1980, later serving as Assisting Bishop of Oklahoma from 1980 to 1988. In 2005, Bishop Cox ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kan. Christ Church affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda after purchasing its property from the Diocese of Kansas.

Both bishops were charged with abandonment of communion. The procedure for deposing a bishop under this charge is specified in Title IV, canon 9, sections 1-2. The canon stipulates that the vote requires “a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,” not merely a majority of those present. At least a dozen bishops voted either not to depose Bishop Schofield or to abstain, according to several bishops. The number voting in favor of deposing Bishop Cox was reportedly slightly larger than the number in favor of deposing Bishop Schofield.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was questioned about the history of the canonical proceedings against Bishop Cox. At first she said during the press conference that she had not sought the canonically required consent of the three senior bishops of the church for permission to inhibit Bishop Cox pending his trial. However Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1-2 do not describe a procedure for deposing a bishop who has not first been inhibited.

Consent Never Sought

Later in the press conference, Bishop Jefferts Schori clarified and extended her remarks, saying she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops. One of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction confirmed to The Living Church that his consent to inhibit Bishop Cox was never sought.

In 2007, Bishop Cox sent a written letter to Bishop Jefferts Schori, announcing his resignation from the House of Bishops. Since he was already retired, he did not have jurisdiction, and therefore unlike Bishop Schofield, his resignation did not require consent from a majority of the House of Bishops. A trial of Bishop Cox was not mandatory.

Bishop Cox also does not appear to have been granted due process with respect to a speedy trial. Once the disciplinary review committee formally certifies that a bishop has abandoned communion, the canons state “it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the house.” The review committee provided certification to Bishop Jefferts Schori on May 29, 2007. His case should have been heard during the fall meeting in New Orleans last September. When asked about the apparent inconsistency, Bishop Jefferts Schori said initially she did not include Bishop Cox’s case on the agenda for the New Orleans meeting “due to the press of business.”

Title IV, canon 9, section 1 requires the Presiding Bishop to inform the accused bishop “forthwith,” in other words immediately, after the review committee has provided a certificate of abandonment, but Bishop Jefferts Schori did not write to Bishop Cox until Jan. 8, 2008, more than seven months afterward.

The two-hour business session at which the deposition votes were taken ran slightly longer than originally scheduled. First a resolution was read followed by prayer from the chaplain. A period of silence followed the prayer. After the silence was broken, the bishops discussed the resolution in small table groups followed by plenary discussion. When it appeared that everyone who wanted to speak had done so, the voice vote was taken. Each resolution was read and voted on separately.

(The Rev.) George Conger and Steve Waring

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons