Daily Archives: March 11, 2009

Pope’s Letter to Bishops Cites Mistakes

Pope Benedict XVI has written an unusually personal letter to bishops worldwide explaining why he revoked the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop and admitting mistakes in how the Vatican handled the case.

The letter, which the Vatican will release Thursday, is a further attempt to calm the waters after Benedict pardoned four schismatic bishops, including Richard Williamson, who in a television interview aired in January said that there were no Nazi gas chambers.

The revocation provoked worldwide outrage and caused Catholics and Jews alike to question Benedict’s commitment to ecumenism and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

A Letter from Bishop Michael Bird of Niagara

In that interview I reviewed with him the multitude of task forces, hearings, Bishop’s statements, regional and parish meetings and the long list of Diocesan and General Synods that have discussed and wrestled with this issue since 1976. I gave him a full account of our dealings with dissenting parishes and the court proceedings we have been involved in. I shared with Archbishop Rowan our experience of the incredible contribution that gay and lesbian people have made and continue to make in every aspect of our Church’s life and witness, and expressed the overwhelming desire on the part of two Synod’s to move forward with the blessing of committed same-sex relationships for couples who have been civilly married. I also indicated to him my intentions with regard to my giving permission for these blessings to begin to take place.

One of the most powerful moments in the course of my fifty minute meeting with the Archbishop was the opportunity to describe the process of how our new Vision has emerged and how we believe that God is calling us as a Diocesan family to enhance and develop our work together under the five key areas of focus that are outlined in the Vision. In fact I indicated that it was my sense that the challenge the Vision offers us around the work of prophetic justice-making has made us even more determined to become a more open and inclusive Church.

Archbishop Williams listened carefully to my presentation and there was no doubt that I had his full attention. He thanked me for such a full and detailed report and he indicated how important this opportunity was for him to hear from me personally. We went on to have a very helpful and frank conversation about the implications involved and I expressed my own personal commitment and the strong desire of the Diocese of Niagara to remain in communication and dialogue with our sister and brother Anglicans around the world. I made it clear that we very much value and hold dear our membership in the Anglican Communion and we are grateful for his leadership and ministry.

Read it all.

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

In Connecticut A Bill Requiring Changes To Catholic Church Structure Tabled

State legislators have tabled for the rest of the session a controversial bill that would have mandated changes in the corporate structure of parishes and institutions affiliated with the Catholic Church.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the co-chairmen of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, and Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, said serious questions about the constitutionality of the entire section of the state’s corporate statutes applying to religious groups – which a group of parishioners had asked lawmakers to amend – would have to be settled before a bill could be meaningfully debated in the committee. The statement announced the cancellation of a public hearing on the bill scheduled for today.

”Many of our existing corporate laws dealing with particular religious groups appear to us to be unconstitutional under the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Lawlor and McDonald said. “If that is correct, any changes to that law would likely also be unconstitutional.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

An Editorial from the Local Paper: Europe's growing anxieties

President Barack Obama will visit Europe at the end of March, returning to cities that rapturously received him last July, and will venture into Eastern Europe with a visit to the Czech Republic. The reception will be edgier than last time, for both economic and political reasons.

The economic anxieties are shared on both sides of the Atlantic. The Eastern European political anxieties are unique, and regrettably have been heightened by clumsy Obama administration diplomacy. The president will have to repair that damage or risk new rifts with allies.

Last week a special meeting of the European Union ended unhappily when Germany and France refused to back bailouts for Eastern European members facing dire finances. The economic strain poses a challenge to the cohesion of the European Union.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe

In Denver, one Restaurant Changing the World one Meal at a Time

A wonderful and inspiring story.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Poverty

Archbishop Rowan Williams: Ethics, Economics and Global Justice

Although people have spoken of greed as the source of our current problems, I suspect that it goes deeper. It is a little too easy to blame the present situation on an accumulation of individual greed, exemplified by bankers or brokers, and to lose sight of the fact that governments committed to deregulation and to the encouragement of speculation and high personal borrowing were elected repeatedly in Britain and the United States for a crucial couple of decades. Add to that the fact that warnings were not lacking of some of the risks of poor (or no) regulation, and we are left with the question of what it was that skewed the judgement of a whole society as well as of financial professionals. John Dunning, a professional analyst of the business world, wrote some six years ago about what he called the ‘crisis in the moral ecology’ of unregulated capitalism (in the editorial afterword to a collection of essays on Making Globalisation Good, p.357); and he and other contributors to his book discussed how ‘circles of failure’ could be created in the global economy by a combination of moral indifference, institutional crisis and market failure, each feeding on the others. Yet warnings went unheeded; people’s rational capacities, it seems, were blunted, and unregulated global capitalism was assumed to be the natural way of doing things, based on a set of rational market processes that would deliver results in everyone’s interest.

This was not just about greed. At least some apologists for the naturalness of the unregulated market pointed ”“ quite reasonably in the circumstances ”“ to the apparently infallible capacity of the market to free nations from poverty. It may help to turn for illumination to an unexpected source. Acquisitiveness is, in the Christian monastic tradition, associated with pride, the root of all human error and failure: pride, which is most clearly evident in the refusal to acknowledge my lack of control over my environment, my illusion that I can shape the world according to my will. And if that is correct, then the origin of economic dysfunction and injustice is pride ”“ a pride that is manifest in the reluctance to let go of systems and projects that promise more and more secure control, and so has a bad effect on our reasoning powers. This in turn suggests that economic justice arrives only when everyone recognises some kind of shared vulnerability and limitation in a world of limits and processes (psychological as well as material) that cannot be bypassed. We are delivered or converted not simply by resolving in a vacuum to be less greedy, but by understanding what it is to live as an organism which grows and changes and thus is involved in risk. We change because our minds or mindsets are changed and steered away from certain powerful but toxic myths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

ENS: Northern Michigan Bishop-elect, election process scrutinized

[The Rev. Rayford] Ray told ENS that while Thew Forrester has served the diocese since 2001, names of potential candidates for bishop were received from “throughout the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion.” A diocesan report said that names of 28 people had been received, 11 of those people completed the paperwork, and one person eventually dropped out.

He said there is “precedent” for putting forth only one name as candidate. In the most recent instance, in 2007, Mark Lawrence was the only candidate to be bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. Lawrence was first elected from among several candidates on September 16, 2006, but Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori later declared that election “null and void” because of defects in six of the needed 56 affirmative responses from diocesan standing committees. Required to hold a second election, the diocese nominated only Lawrence.

Ray noted that it is standard operating procedure in congregations looking for a rector, where a call committee typically discerns a number of candidates and, in the end, submits one name for the vestry’s final approval.

Oh please. The parallels with the South Carolina process are almost nil. Mark Lawrence was originally elected out of a slate of a number of finalists, as everyone knows. He was then rejected by the Standing Committees for the first time in a huge amount of time in the history of the Episcopal Church. It was only because of that rejection that South Carolina met again in Convention and voted on one nominee. There was no original process in Northern Michigan with several nominees, and there was no rejection of the election subsequently. If in the first South Carolina election on the bishop to succeed Edward Salmon there has been only one nominee, there would have been a hue and cry down here, and there should have been had that been the case.

In any event, read it all–KSH.

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

Reuters: Stem cell go-ahead puts Obama at odds with pope

U.S. President Barack Obama’s lifting of restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research puts him at odds with Pope Benedict and the American Roman Catholic Church.

After Obama signed the order on Monday, the Vatican and U.S. and Italian Church leaders condemned the move. One commentator said the test of “a real democracy” was its defence of the most defenceless.

Obama’s executive order reversed and repudiated restrictions placed on the research by his predecessor, George W. Bush, freeing labs across the country to start working with the cells, which can give rise to any kind of cell in the body.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on pro-life activities, called Obama’s decision “a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Washington Post: Obama Raises Profile Of Prayer

Prayer has become more common at presidential appearances under the Obama administration, including at nonreligious events such as stimulus rallies. The White House is acting in a deliberately inclusive, interfaith way that seems to limit opposition.

Church-state experts say the policy, which President Obama also followed while campaigning, does not appear to be illegal because the White House tells people who lead the prayers to be nonsectarian. But some raised concerns about prayers being scripted or reviewed in advance.

People who helped plan public events for former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton say they did not routinely organize prayers before non-religious events. Historians note that there is no clear record of prayers before presidential appearances, but they could not remember prayers being said as routinely as they are now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Howard Fineman: is the Establishment Starting to Turn on Obama?

Luckily for Obama, the public still likes and trusts him, at least judging by the latest polls, including NEWSWEEK’s. But, in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.

They have some reasons to be concerned. I trace them to a central trait of the president’s character: he’s not really an in-your-face guy. By recent standards””and that includes Bill Clinton as well as George Bush””Obama for the most part is seeking to govern from the left, looking to solidify and rely on his own party more than woo Republicans. And yet he is by temperament judicious, even judicial. He’d have made a fine judge. But we don’t need a judge. We need a blunt-spoken coach.

Obama may be mistaking motion for progress, calling signals for a game plan. A busy, industrious overachiever, he likes to check off boxes on a long to-do list. A genial, amenable guy, he likes to appeal to every constituency, or at least not write off any. A beau ideal of Harvard Law, he can’t wait to tackle extra-credit answers on the exam.

But there is only one question on this great test of American fate: can he lead us away from plunging into another Depression?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Media, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A conversation with Timothy Geithner, U.S. Treasury Secretary

Watch it all from Charlie Rose.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Credit Markets, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Your Prayers Requested for the Diocese of South Carolina Convention

It starts tomorrow.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

One Story of a Boy with a Dream Who Became a Man

Astonshingly moving–I wept. Watch it all (Hat tip: SS).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Men, Sports, Young Adults

A Refuge of Last Resort for some Californians

Hard but important viewing–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Walker Morrow: Breaking up is hard to do

The Anglican Church of Canada has reached the point where its bureaucracy has outlived its compassion. There. I said it. And I can speak with at least some small authority, considering that I was once an Anglican myself, although my observations led to enough disillusionment to see my departure from the Anglican Church. Generally I don’t like to disparage people for their religion (except Scientologists), but recent developments at the Anglican parish of St. Matthias in Victoria have tipped my hand.

The Anglican Church of Canada is in a state of unrest, for a variety of reasons mainly to do with biblical interpretation. In a nutshell, two completely separate theologies are competing for the same religious title: one rather conservative theology, which believes that the Bible carries great literal authority, and one rather liberal theology, which does not believe that the Bible carries great literal authority — although it still acknowledges the Bible as an important document. As you can see, the two just won’t mix, they won’t get along, it’s like asking a six year old boy to hold hands with a girl, it just ain’t gonna happen, no dice, no way, no how. But naturally, the higher-ups in the Anglican administration are trying to keep the two halves together, to ensure that the schism within the Anglican Church does not develop into a full-blown separation.

Read it all.

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

Chichester Bishop’s warning over Middle East Church

The Christian church in its homelands in the Middle East is undergoing a “rapid attrition”, the Anglican Bishop of Chichester has warned.

Bishop John Hind, in a House of Lords debate on religious persecution, pointed to the “extreme deprivation” suffered by Christians in Iraq.

“In places where different faiths have coexisted for centuries we see the rapid attrition of the Christian church in its ancestral homelands,” he said.

“In Iraq, Christians have suffered extreme deprivation, sometimes due to sheer religious hatred, sometimes just caught in the cross-fire, sometimes because, amazingly and quite wrongly, they are regarded as representatives of a western faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Middle East