Daily Archives: July 2, 2014

(RNS) Italian archbishop calls for 10-year ban on godparents to stop Mafia infiltration

After a pledge by Pope Francis to “excommunicate” mobsters from the Catholic Church, an archbishop in southern Italy has proposed a 10-year ban on naming godparents at baptisms and confirmations as a way to stop the Mafia from spreading its influence.

Monsignor Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, the archbishop of Reggio Calabria, wrote to Francis some time ago with his suggestion “to prevent the exploitation of the church,” in particular by the powerful Calabrian Mafia known as ’Ndrangheta, and discussed his proposal with the pope at the Vatican last weekend.

Mobsters taking part in the baptisms of newborns as a godfather, or “padrino,” help the mob establish a special bond with future generations of potential criminals.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Italy, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Anglican Church sorry for 'betrayal' of first African Bishop

Regarded as the father of Anglicanism in Nigeria, Bishop Crowther, who was born as Ajayi in western Nigeria in 1807, is credited with bringing many Nigerians to Christ. So great was his impact that he was ordained the first African Anglican bishop in 1864, despite great protest.

A former slave, Bishop Crowther became a great linguist, translator, scholar and mission teacher. He is also credited with producing the Yoruba Bible and greatly influenced how government’s improved their view of Africa in the 1800s.

But despite his passion and high achievements, Bishop Crowther’s mission was undermined and dismantled in the 1880s by racist white Europeans, including some of his fellow missionaries.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Belfast Telegraph) How did the C of E get into such an unholy mess over payday loans?

The Church, which invests in Wonga, is currently facing an ungodly dilemma of its own making.

Previously Most Rev Welby had made it clear that he believed that payday lenders should be put out of business. Entirely.

But, oops, this was before he was informed that the CoE’s financial wing had sunk something in the region of £100,000 into the company.

Following criticism of this odd state of affairs, the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group launched a review. (Although you would think that “Church investing in Wonga” would fairly obviously constitute an ethical no-no.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(CT) 33 Under 33–Meet the Christian leaders shaping the next generation

For this story, CT set out to find young believers who we think are leading today’s church in key ways””and who embody what it will look like in the years to come. We consulted ministry leaders, highly connected social media mavens, and millennials themselves to create the following list of 33 Christians 33 and younger to watch. The age cutoff corresponds with the start of the millennial generation in 1980.

Born in the ’80s and ’90s, millennials have grown up as digital natives. Most of them seamlessly incorporate technology into their lives, careers, and ministries. They also come from the most racially diverse generation in American history: More than 4 out of 10 U.S. millennials are non-white.

The following influencers span sectors of work, uniquely contributing in business and nonprofits, media organizations and ministries, academia and the arts. Some are up-and-coming in familiar institutions; others are venturing out with projects of their own. Plenty of names on our list will likely be unfamiliar””we wanted this project to introduce readers to all kinds of young, committed Christians, to put stories and faces to the millennial generation.

think about who you would mention and then read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

Robert George on the Hobby Lobby Decision–How we got here””and where we’re headed

The decision’s most important feature is its rejection of that contention. The five justices in the majority””Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy””explicitly reject it, thus establishing as a matter of law the proposition that RFRA protections can apply to for-profit businesses, and do apply to closely held corporations. It leaves open the question, which is probably purely theoretical, whether RFRA protections apply to large, publicly traded companies. Two of the four dissenting justices””Breyer and Kagan””decline to reach or opine on the question of whether RFRA protects for-profit businesses””pointedly refusing to join this aspect of the dissent filed by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor who, alone, contend that for-profit businesses do not enjoy RFRA protections.

Friends of First Things will not be able to resist the feeling that the late Richard John Neuhaus, the founder of this journal and the leader of the opposition to the idea that religion is a purely “private” activity that has no legitimate role in the public square, is smiling down from heaven. Yesterday was Fr. Neuhaus’s big day. The Court ruled that the Greens did not forfeit their rights to run their business in line with their conscientious religious beliefs merely by choosing the corporate form.

Just as the for-profit company known as the New York Times enjoys the right to freedom of the press under the First Amendment, so Hobby Lobby enjoys the right to religious freedom protected by RFRA. Protection for religious liberty doesn’t stop where commerce begins.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

Matthew Ellis of TEC Health Ministries on the Hobby Lobby Decision

I’m not sure of the long-term impact of this ruling. When I first heard it, I thought it was a disaster that would cause an avalanche of consequences. Actually reading the opinion, I think the attempt to direct a narrow interpretation on simply extending the accommodation previously arranged for nonprofits to ”˜closely-held’ companies is more of a comment on the ”˜least restrictive’ clause than an endorsement of corporate religious views.

Had there not been an existing structure in place to extend to these companies, I believe the Supreme Court would have ruled differently. Time will tell if future Court decisions expand this understanding or follow a more narrow interpretation of this verdict. For the moment, I’m hopeful this isn’t the disaster I thought it was at first.

Let’s be clear: the rights of actual, living individuals lost to the rights of companies this week.

Read it all and make sure to read yesterday’s comments also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Quartz) The Church of England just sold a piece of the Fijian island Vanau Levu

This has to be the weirdest business deal of the week: The Church of England just sold a chunk of forest-covered land on the Fijian island Vanau Levu for $8.8 million to the government of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. For the moment, Kiribati plans to use its 20-square-kilometer (7.7-square-mile) plot for agriculture and fish farming. But the investment is really a fallback for its 103,000 residents””a place to live if they must leave their home island.

“We would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” president Anote Tong told the Associated Press, via the Guardian. Tong is awaiting parliamentary approval of the land purchase before clearing that possibility formally with Fiji’s officials.

Why is Tong preparing for a mass defection to an island 2,000 kilometers away?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(W. Post) As Ukraine cease-fire expires, violence escalates

Violence in Ukraine escalated sharply Tuesday, as artillery shells and airstrikes pierced the relative calm of a 10-day cease-fire hours after President Petro Poroshenko allowed it to expire.

Both sides appeared to be readying for a protracted battle after days in which the fighting diminished but did not disappear. It remained unclear whether the Ukrainian military, which has battled pro-Russian separatists since mid-April, would be able strike a decisive blow against the rebels, who have seized territory in eastern Ukraine.

The longer a conflict drags on, the greater the risk of further civilian casualties and the harder it will be for Ukraine’s new government to stitch the society back together. Ukraine’s economy presented a formidable challenge even without a growing insurgency in the country’s industrial heartland. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France planned to meet Wednesday in Berlin in a last-ditch effort to restart negotiations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(CT) John Inazu–McCullen v. Coakley is the most important recent Supreme Court decision

[Pro-life activist] McCullen’s activities were indisputably peaceable. Yet the Massachusetts law criminalized them. Had she approached a willing listener to discuss abortion in a covered zone, she would have been subject to three months’ imprisonment for a first offense, and two and a half years’ imprisonment for each subsequent violation. The statute also prevented McCullen from entering the covered zone to sing or pray quietly.

The Massachusetts law meant that “McCullen [was] often reduced to raising her voice at patients from outside the zone””a mode of communication sharply at odds with the compassionate message she wishes to convey.” The zones “also made it substantially more difficult for [her] to distribute literature to arriving patients.” The Court noted that these burdens “have clearly taken their toll,” citing undisputed testimony that the law substantially reduced the success of McCullen and her fellow litigants in persuading women not to terminate their pregnancies.

In striking down the Massachusetts law, the Court properly emphasized that “it is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas.” And responding to arguments from the state that the buffer zones helped with administrative enforcement, the Court noted that “the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves this day. Let thy presence be with us to its close. Strengthen us to remember that in whatsoever good work we do we are serving thee. Give us a diligent and watchful spirit, that we may seek in all things to know thy will, and knowing it, gladly to perform it, to the honour and glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gelasian Sacramentary

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

–Romans 7:13-25

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CSM) In Hobby Lobby ruling, a defense of religious dignity

Judge not.

That’s the central message in a Supreme Court ruling Monday that found the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) cannot be used to force a privately held corporation to act against the religious beliefs of its owners.

The high court decided that the 2010 health-care law violates religious liberty by demanding such owners pay for contraceptive insurance that they regard as immoral. Government must not force the employers to act against their faith, the court found, because that would be the same as judging their religious views to be “flawed.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Reuters) Vatican bank's head to quit as shake-up bites, sources say

The Vatican bank’s chairman is to step down as soon as next week as part of the restructuring of an institution that has been an embarrassment to the Catholic Church for decades, Vatican sources said on Tuesday.

But the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, disagreed over whether Ernst von Freyberg was leaving willingly or whether he was being pushed out over differences within the Vatican about the pace of reform.

Freyberg’s departure is expected to be announced in connection with the publication, most likely next week, of the new annual report of the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

USA try Valiantly but Belgium is too Good in the World Cup

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Belgium, Europe, Sports

Happy Canada Day to all Canadian Blog Readers!

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Canada