Daily Archives: March 19, 2008

Bishop Iker's Sermon at Yesterday's Chrism Mass in Fort Worth

Continuity and fidelity; orthodoxy and obedience. These four themes are central to our ordination vows, and they lie at the heart of the promises that you and I renew and reaffirm today. But, dear friends, you know as well as I do that we renew these sacred vows today at a time of great dissention and upheaval in the life of the Church, and especially that branch of the catholic Church where we have been called to serve and witness. Every week it grieves me that I receive unprecedented numbers of canonical notifications from other bishops informing me of priests and deacons who have resigned from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church, many of them known to me personally. But these resignations from the ordained ministry have been received, not because they no longer desire to serve as priests and deacons in Christ’s Church, but because as a matter of conscience they can no longer serve in the Episcopal Church. It grieves me that in recent days canonical actions have been uncanonically taken against some very orthodox, faithful bishops (four of them to date, but still counting.) And the charge that has been brought against these faithful, orthodox, godly bishops is the very curious one of having “abandoned the communion of this church.” Again, it must be said that these are not bishops who have renounced their orders. These are not bishops who have abandoned orthodoxy. These are not bishops who have denied the Faith. These are bishops who have made hard decisions about what they will and will not do in continuity and fidelity, in orthodoxy and obedience to their sacred call by God to serve as bishops in His Church. I honor them.

In conclusion, none of us can say with any degree of certainty how all this is going to turn out, or when it will be resolved. But one thing is clear, my brothers and my sisters. By God’s grace today we stand, we make our stand, and we are willing to stand together, whatever the outcome or the cost. What we do today is to reaffirm our promises to be faithful, obedient, bishops, priests, and deacons, not in a denomination, not in a national church, not in a sect, but in Christ’s one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. May God help us and defend us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

Anglican schism not 'catastrophic': theologian

Schism is not a “catastrophic” event and is preferable to placating those who do not treat gays as equal simply for the sake of unity, a Canadian Anglican theologian says.

“There are moments when treating unity as kind of absolute virtue that’s higher than anything else is not necessarily the right thing,” Rev. Paul Gibson said in an interview, concerning an essay he wrote that was posted on the Anglican Church of Canada’s Web site Tuesday.

He wrote the essay in relation to the present schism in the Anglican Church over same-sex blessings, and concluded that a unified church that treats gays unequally would be a greater evil than a divided church. Since the start of the year, eight Anglican parishes, out of a total of about 2,000 across the country, have formally left the national Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

David Leonhardt: Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club

Raise your hand if you don’t quite understand this whole financial crisis.

It has been going on for seven months now, and many people probably feel as if they should understand it. But they don’t, not really. The part about the housing crash seems simple enough. With banks whispering sweet encouragement, people bought homes they couldn’t afford, and now they are falling behind on their mortgages.

But the overwhelming majority of homeowners are doing just fine. So how is it that a mess concentrated in one part of the mortgage business ”” subprime loans ”” has frozen the credit markets, sent stock markets gyrating, caused the collapse of Bear Stearns, left the economy on the brink of the worst recession in a generation and forced the Federal Reserve to take its boldest action since the Depression?

I’m here to urge you not to feel sheepish. This may not be entirely comforting, but your confusion is shared by many people who are in the middle of the crisis.

“We’re exposing parts of the capital markets that most of us had never heard of,” Ethan Harris, a top Lehman Brothers economist, said last week. Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary and current Citigroup executive, has said that he hadn’t heard of “liquidity puts,” an obscure kind of financial contract, until they started causing big problems for Citigroup.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Anthony Minghella RIP

The year was 1990, I had just started my doctorate at Oxford, our daughter was one year old, and life was stressful as well as lonely. One of the brightest lights during that time was the wonderful and too little known film Truly, Madly, Deeply, starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman. It lifted our spirits and we both remember it as if it were yesterday. If you ever get a chance, see it. In the meantime listen to this story about the film’s marvelous director from NPR –KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

Living Church Commentary: Flaws in Misconduct Canons

Barring a tidal wave of negative letters being sent to the task force charged with rewriting The Episcopal Church’s “misconduct canons,” clergy and lay leaders may have to stop and ask themselves whether anyone might be offended before publishing a critical opinion piece or posting an edgy blog entry on the internet.

That’s because among the changes being proposed by the “Title IV Task Force II” are those that would expand the definition of conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy to include virtually any public criticism of the church and its policies, and others permitting misconduct complaints to be filed “in any manner and in any form.” The task force recently released a draft of its work. Public comment on the 40-page document concludes June 30. The task force’s final report will be submitted for consideration to the 76th General Convention in 2009.

In an interview with Episcopal News Service, Steve Hutchinson of Utah, chairman of the task force, said the group sought to move away from a criminal justice model. He said the group recognized “that a reconciliation model is more consistent with our theology,” and that it should consider other professional-misconduct models, such as the American Medical Association’s code. There is “an emphasis on pastoral resolution” at all stages, Mr. Hutchinson told ENS, yet there is also a requirement that any pastoral resolution between a bishop and priest or deacon be reviewed and approved “so that there’s not the appearance of fair or unfair allegations or sweetheart deals.”

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

Nathaniel Pierce Responds to Mark Harris on the HOB Deposition Vote Question

Mark Harris made an unimpressive and unconvincing argument that the canons do not mean what the words on the page indicate that they mean.

To this, Nathaniel Pierce responded as follows:


Using the you cite figures from 2006, it really boils down to this: do you need a vote by 32 Bishops in order to depose a Bishop who is alleged to have abandonned the Communion of this church, or do you need 142?

If a Priest is charged with abandonment, a vote of at least 75% of “All the Members” of the Standing Committee is required (capital letters are in the text). Here, however, you argue that a mere 11% of the House can depose a Bishop on the same charge (based on the definition of a quorum as found in I.2 as of 2006).

Furthermore, you confuse two issues in your analysis. There is a difference between a “quorum” and “the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.” This is clearly conveyed by the fact that I.2 defines these terms separately, distinctly, and clearly. In almost all circumstances the presence of a quorum enables the House to conduct its business. However, on this issue, deposing a Bishop for abandonment, the number of votes required by the canon is a majority of the whole number which in turn is clearly defined in I.2. To simply equate a quorum with the whole number, ie to claim that these two separate terms are interchangeable even though they are defined very differently in I.2, is ludicrous.

–The Rev. Nathaniel Pierce lives in Trappe, Maryland

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

From the Email Bag


You are doing the right thing in closing comments on Titus[onenine]. For some of the correspondents on the blog, it would appear there is something compulsive about their need to sound off in bombastic terms about virtually everything. One of the things I have done over the years is compare the tone of some of the secular blogs with those in the Christian family and, frankly, there is very little difference in tone even if most of the times believers have their language under better control.

It grieves me that believers do not have the self-control necessary to carry on a sane and measured conversation.

God bless you this Holy Week.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Calls Mount for Olympic Ceremony Boycott

Moves to punish China over its handling of violence in Tibet gained momentum Tuesday, with a novel suggestion for a mini-boycott of the Beijing Olympics by VIPs at the opening ceremony.

Such a protest by world leaders would be a huge slap in the face for China’s Communist leadership.

France’s outspoken foreign minister, former humanitarian campaigner Bernard Kouchner, said the idea “is interesting.”

Kouchner said he wants to discuss it with other foreign ministers from the 27-nation European Union next week. His comments opened a crack in what until now had been solid opposition to a full boycott, a stance that Kouchner said remains the official government position.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Sports

Jeremy Bonner: In Pittsburgh What May be the Last Chrism Mass

In Pittsburgh, we have all had occasion to watch Bob Duncan over the past few years; at Trinity Cathedral we see him more than most. While his offices are next door, from time to time one will encounter a perambulating bishop wandering the corridors of the parish house, lost in thought. It is hard, though, to imagine the full impact of those years of struggle when, as the psalmist declares “the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.”

The poignancy of that moment in the service when the Bishop joined his clergy in reaffirming the promises that he made at ordination was all the more striking when one considers last week’s decision in the House of Bishops. At such a moment, it seemed peculiarly ironic that a denomination cannot distinguish between termination of the right to function in an ordained capacity within a particular national church (which all parties would seem to acknowledge as legitimate) and the declaration that a priest or bishop no longer holds valid orders for the exercise of ministry within the Anglican tradition (which, at the least, would seem to demand a trial with the same degree of rigor as that accorded Walter Righter thirteen years ago).

For all that, the homily was a much more pastoral offering that we have tended to hear from Bob Duncan in recent years, with but a single personal allusion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Barack Obama: A More Perfect Union

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Race/Race Relations, US Presidential Election 2008

Canon David Winter: Choices and Consequences

‘What you sow, you reap.’ That’s how St Paul put it – five words for a massive universal principle. Actions create reactions, choices create consequences. . Time and again all of us are shocked and perplexed to find that what we’ve sown, we’ve reaped. And this week that very principle has shaped the news.

We may think, like Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York and scourge of sinners, that a decision to join a call-girl ring would be without consequences. He has found out how wrong he was. When the Bible says ‘Beware your sins will find you out’, it’s not talking about some divine judgment after death, but this immutable principle of choice and consequence. Our choices have consequences – and if they didn’t, there’s honestly not much point in making them.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

A Statement by the Synod of The Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia

2. RECALLED that the Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 on Human Sexuality expresses the mind of the Communion, as further endorsed in the Statement of the Primates’ Meeting (Lambeth, 15-16 October 2003) “as having moral force and commanding the respect of the Communion as its present position on these issues.” The Diocese of New Westminster, Canada (DNWC) authorized the Public Rite of Blessing for those in same sex relationship (May 2003) and the 74th General Convention of ECUSA confirmed the election of a priest in active same-sex relationship to the episcopate (May 2003), clearly against the letter and spirit of the abovesaid Resolution. Of particular grief was TEC’s decision to proceed with the consecration of Gene Robinson (Nov 2003) notwithstanding the unanimous agreement and plea of the Primates (Oct 2003) that if they go ahead with the decision, “the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy” and that it will “tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level.”

3. NOTED TEC’s and DNWC’s further failure to adequately adhere or respond to the call for repentance by The Windsor Report (2004), the Communique of the Primates’ Meeting at Dromantine (Feb 2005) and in particular the various requirements in the most recent Communiqué of the Primates’ Meeting at Dar es Salam, Tanzania (Feb 2007) i.e. that TEC to unequivocally comply with moratoria on the consecration of persons in same-sex unions and on authorising any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions, to cease all legal action against those who feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or Presiding Bishop, and that TEC make provision for a Primatial Pastoral Council and Pastoral Scheme for pastoral care;

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

The Bishop of Arizona offers some Reflections on the recent House of Bishops Meeting

Much of our time together was spent on the hearing of reports and presentations, but the meeting was framed by two very emotional bookends.

The first was the announcement that in spite of intensive lobbying by many bishops of our church, the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided not to permit Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to participate in any capacity at the upcoming Lambeth Conference in July. Although Bishop Robinson was the only American bishop not to receive a formal invitation, it had been hoped that a way could be found to have him present in an unofficial capacity. This news was greeted with great sadness by most of the House, and we are working to find ways support our brother during our time in England, and especially to invite our counterparts in the Anglican Communion to meet with him. I invite you to read all the documents that are posted on the Episcopal News Service website, including Bishop Robinson’s very moving response to the Lambeth decision, as well as a resolution passed by the House in support of him. Whether one agrees with him or not, it is important to remember that he is a duly elected Bishop and that his exclusion is hurtful not only to him, but to the integrity of the American church.

The other sad moment in our time together came when we took action to depose two bishops of the church who had violated their ordination vows by working to take parishes out of the Episcopal Church, Bishop John-David Scofield of San Joaquin, and Bishop William Cox, retired Suffragan of Maryland.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Christians, Muslims move ahead on global talks

Gatherings of top religious leaders and even some heads of state will take place this year in the United States, at the Vatican, and in Britain, aimed at defusing tensions between the West and the Muslim world.

The first-of-their-kind dialogues ”“ which will kick off in July ”“ will begin with theological discussions but seek practical results. Yet they’re stirring some debate within the faith groups as to the proper way to engage “the other” and whether common ground can be found.

The initiative was sparked last October by “A Common Word Between Us and You,” an open letter from 138 Muslim clergy and scholars from more than 40 nations to the leaders of all the world’s major Christian churches. Concerned that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians,” the Muslim leaders proposed dialogue on the basis of the shared principles of “the love of God, and love of the neighbor.”

Most of the churches responded positively, buoyed both by the letter and the authority of those who signed it ”“ representing most schools of Muslim thought.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths

Canadian Bishop for Christchurch, New Zealand

Canadian Bishop who is part of a high-level advisory group to the worldwide Anglican Communion has been elected Bishop of Christchurch.

The Rt Revd Victoria Matthews is currently bishop-in-residence at Wycliffe College in Toronto. She was Bishop of Edmonton for 10 years from 1997 to late last year, and Suffragan (Assistant) Bishop of Toronto from 1994-97.

She narrowly missed being elected Primate of Canada last year.

Announcing the appointment today, the Primate of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia, Archbishop Brown Turei, said he looked forward to welcoming Bishop Matthews into the church of these islands. “I’m sure that, with all her experience, she will make a good contribution to our life and witness,” he said.

Bishop Matthews, 54 and unmarried, is only the second woman to become a diocesan bishop in New Zealand. The first was the Rt Revd Dr Penny Jamieson, Bishop of Dunedin from 1989-2004.

Bishop Matthews chairs the Canadian Primate’s Theological Commission, and has just been appointed to the Windsor Continuation Group, which will look at crucial questions about the shape of Anglican common life around the world.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces