Category : Other Denominations

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Pope Francis’s 2018 Homily for the Solemnity of Epiphany: ‘We may ask ourselves what star we have chosen to follow in our lives’

Seeing the star. This is where it starts. But why, we might ask, did the Magi alone see the star? Perhaps because few people raised their eyes to heaven. We often make do with looking at the ground: it’s enough to have our health, a little money and a bit of entertainment. I wonder if we still know how to look up at the sky. Do we know how to dream, to long for God, to expect the newness he brings, or do we let ourselves be swept along by life, like dry branches before the wind? The Magi were not content with just getting by, with keeping afloat. They understood that to truly live, we need a lofty goal and we need to keep looking up.

Yet we can also ask why, among all those who looked up at the heavens, so many others did not follow that star, “his star” (Mt2:2). Perhaps because the star was not eye-catching, did not shine any brighter than other stars. It was a star – so the Gospel tells us – that the Magi saw “at its rising” (vv. 2, 9). Jesus’ star does not dazzle or overwhelm, but gently invites. We may ask ourselves what star we have chosen to follow in our lives. Some stars may be bright, but they do not point the way. So it is with success, money, career, honours and pleasures when these become our life. They are meteors: they blaze momentarily, but then quickly burn out and their brilliance fades. They are shooting stars that mislead rather than lead. The Lord’s star, however, may not always overwhelm by its brightness, but it is always there, ever kindly: it takes you by the hand in life and accompanies you. It does not promise material reward, but ensures peace and grants, as it did to the Magi, “exceedingly great joy” (Mt 2:10). But it also tells us to set out.

Setting out, the second thing the Magi do, is essential if we are to find Jesus. His star demands a decision to take up the journey and to advance tirelessly on our way. It demands that we free ourselves from useless burdens and unnecessary extras that only prove a hindrance, and accept unforeseen obstacles along the map of life. Jesus allows himself to be found by those who seek him, but to find him we need to get up and go, not sit around but take risks, not stand still, but set out.

Read it all.

Posted in Epiphany, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

He is With Me, He is With Us

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God’s smile.

In one of her writings, we read: “We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him” (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks.

Pope Benedict XVI.

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Pope Francis’ ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Message for 2017

The first people to see the humble glory of the Savior, after Mary and Joseph, were the shepherds of Bethlehem. They recognized the sign proclaimed to them by the angels and adored the Child. Those humble and watchful men are an example for believers of every age who, before the mystery of Jesus, are not scandalized by his poverty. Rather, like Mary, they trust in God’s word and contemplate his glory with simple eyes. Before the mystery of the Word made flesh, Christians in every place confess with the words of the Evangelist John: “We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).

Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline, Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the Child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, “there is no place in the inn” (Lk 2:7).

We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land. Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two States within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders. May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice, and security that it has long awaited.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

The Homily of Pope Francis for Christmas Eve 2017–“God Has Embraced Pagans, Sinners and Foreigners, and Demands That We Do the Same” – In the “Revolutionary Tenderness” of Christmas, “A New Imagination of Love”

Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room, are the first to embrace the One who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship. The One who in his poverty and humility proclaims and shows that true power and authentic freedom are shown in honouring and assisting the weak and the frail.

That night, the One who had no place to be born is proclaimed to those who had no place at the table or in the streets of the city. The shepherds are the first to hear this Good News. By reason of their work, they were men and women forced to live on the edges of society. Their state of life, and the places they had to stay, prevented them from observing all the ritual prescriptions of religious purification; as a result, they were considered unclean. Their skin, their clothing, their smell, their way of speaking, their origin, all betrayed them. Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared. They were considered pagans among the believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens. Yet to them – pagans, sinners and foreigners – the angel says: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics

(CH) The New Wave auteur who believed great cinema had to be Christian

While thrilling art-house audiences with his urbane, witty films, Éric Rohmer attended Mass each Sunday at the Church of St Medard, subscribed to the royalist weekly La Nation française, and kept up his membership in the Louisquatorziens, a group devoted to the genius of the Sun King.

Publicly, he was one of the leading directors of the French New Wave. In private, he was a Catholic of the old type: loyal to pope and king. As his peers scuttled from one fashionable cause to the next, he admirably refused all political engagement, lapsing only in 1974, when he joined an anti-automobile group called Les Droits du Piéton, and in 2002, when he supported Pierre Rabhi, the Green presidential candidate whose slogan was “Growth is not a solution, it is a problem”. (Rohmer, no leftist, correctly saw that the Greens had come to echo his own aristocratic and reactionary ideals. He asked: “Doesn’t progress often consist in moving backward?”)

Rohmer despised the kind of “engaged” art that indulges in pamphleteering. Rather than trumpet his religious convictions, he used them to construct a unique approach to film-making. Used rightly, he believed a camera could capture the movements of both body and soul. “Be an atheist and the camera will offer you the spectacle of a world without God in which there is no law other than the pure mechanism of cause and effect,” he said. But the greatest film-makers did more:

I am a Catholic. I believe that true cinema is necessarily a Christian cinema, because there is no truth except in Christianity. I believe in the genius of Christianity, and there is not a single great film in the history of cinema that is not infused with the light of the Christian idea.

Read it all.

Posted in History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Economist Erasmus Blog) [Some] Evangelicals and Catholics react in different ways to the president’s proclamation about Jerusalem

Paula White, a megachurch pastor from Florida who is a member of the president’s faith advisory council, said: “Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends.” She has repeatedly hailed Mr Trump as a man uniquely sensitive to God’s “divine plan” and willing to take counsel from Christian leaders like herself as to how that plan should be helped along.

Those sentiments are typical of an inner circle of evangelicals that helped to bring Mr Trump to power and that has pressed him to keep his Israel-friendly promises.

Meanwhile Pope Francis spoke of his “deep concern” about the situation created by Mr Trump’s move, given the disruption of a delicate equilibrium in the governance of the sacred city and its holy sites. “I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” he said on December 6th. Some 13 leaders of Jerusalem’s traditional Christian communities, including the Orthodox and the Catholics who are guardians of the city’s holy places, warned of “increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land” as a likely result of Mr Trump’s initiative.

These contrasting reactions typify two utterly different schools of Christian theology.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Israel, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(WSJ) Robert George–Poe Francis can help Myanmar’s Muslims, but the best way is behind the scenes

Pope Francis was in Myanmar this week spreading the Word of God. Many observers wondered if he would use a specific word: Rohingya. Barring an unforeseen statement—always possible on the papal plane home—it appears the Holy Father won’t, though he alluded to the crisis the word evokes.

Rohingya is the name of a persecuted religious and ethnic minority in the nation once known as Burma, where about 88% of people practice the Theravada Buddhist religion. The Rohingya are Muslims loathed and feared by those who insist on calling them “Bengalis,” as if they were foreigners in their own country. They are also targets of various forms of legally sanctioned discrimination and humiliation. Recently Myanmar’s military authorities have subjected them to ethnic cleansing. This has left between 600,000 and 900,000 of Myanmar’s 2.2 million Rohingya as refugees in bordering Bangladesh.

The word Rohingya offends the group’s persecutors. That’s because it implies recognition of the humanity and basic rights the Myanmar government denies. This would seem to create a perfect opportunity for Pope Francis, which is why human-rights activists called on him to speak the word boldly in public. But silence and speaking out both come with serious risks.

Read it all.

Posted in Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Tim Tennant–Uniting Methodists Document and the Local Option (Part IV): What is the New Testament Teaching on sexual morality?

But, for now, it is clear that the Uniting Methodists document requires that we consider all of the language around sexual immorality in the New Testament as either generic, non-specific or only referring to a very tiny slice of sexual immorality; namely, pederasty. Yet, as we have seen, the exegetical case for this is not defensible. If we are being asked to sign off on this option and “agree to disagree” on this issue, then we will need to have a much better conversation about the biblical data which pertains to this question.

I, for one, remain completely unconvinced by the progressive argument and am actually disappointed that they would argue so strongly about their commitment to biblical authority and yet provide no serious exegetical argument for the dramatic changes they wish to usher into the life and faith of the church. To move a named sin from a New Testament “sin list” and declare that we are now to regard it as a sacrament is unprecedented. Christians have every right to resist this doctrinal innovation which is being embraced by a few declining mainline denominations in the western world.

Read it all.

Posted in Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(JE) John Lomperis–Not much Centrism in “Uniting Methodists’” Agenda on Sexual Morality

All of this to say, on the most prominent controversy within our denomination, this so-called “Methodist middle” group is actually exclusively aligned with one minority faction. As one of its leadership team members admitted, “Clearly, I am not ‘in the middle’ or ‘on the fence’ with regard to this struggle which is threatening to split the United Methodist Church.” The same is evidently true for all of this group’s leaders, given the platform they all signed onto.

Read it all.

Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(The Tablet) Outcome of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite will not end fight

Fr Frank Brennan, CEO of Catholic Social Services, wrote on the Jesuit-operated Eureka Street website on 9 November that wrote that with the return rate of the survey “a very credible 78.5 per cent” (compared with Ireland, where 60.5 per cent of eligible voters turned out to vote for same-sex marriage), the Australian vote in favour of Parliament legislating for same-sex marriage was likely to be even higher than the 62 per cent of Irish voters who in 2015 supported a change to the Irish Constitution recognising same-sex marriage.

“After Wednesday’s announcement, let’s hope we hear from some of our Catholic bishops repeating the sentiments of Archbishop Dermot Martin after the 2015 Irish vote: ‘The Church needs a reality check right across the board, to look at the things we are doing well and look at the areas where we need to say, ‘Have we drifted away completely from young people?’

“Wednesday will be a day of celebration for those wanting a ‘Yes’ vote,” Fr Brennan wrote. “It should also be a day when we Australians recommit ourselves to respect for all citizens, especially those whose beliefs differ significantly from our own. Our politicians led us into this divisive campaign. Now they need to lead us out of it with considered and timely legislation and a commitment to better protection of human rights for all.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

(Christian Today) Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to approach Pope and Archbishop over British mother jailed in Iran

A former foreign office minister and a senior Catholic have urged Boris Johnson to heed the advice of Tom Tugendhat MP and approach Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury to help negotiate the release of the British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is imprisoned in Iran.

The support for Tugendhat’s suggestion comes as Christian Today has learned that neither Lambeth Palace nor Pope Francis has, at the time of writing, received any approach from the Foreign Office. Christian Today has approached the Foreign Office for comment.

Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs committee of MPs and Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, put it to the Foreign Secretary that religious leaders be used to negotiate Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release with the Islamic clerics who run Iran’s judicial system.

‘This poor woman is being used as a political football not only sadly here but in Iran,’ Tugendhat, who is a Catholic, told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Vat. Radio) Pope Francis and Anglican leader Justin Welby appeal for peace in South Sudan

Pope Francis met on Friday with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, together with the new director of Rome’s Anglican Centre, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi. Following their half hour encounter in the Apostolic Palace, the two Anglican archbishops and their wives joined the pope for lunch in his Santa Marta residence to continue the conversation.

On Thursday, the Anglican leader presided at Vespers at Rome’s Caravita church for the installation of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi as his official representative to the Holy See. The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who previously served as nuncio in Burundi, preached the homily, stressing that ecumenical engagement is a moral imperative for all Christians.

Philippa Hitchen caught up with Archbishop Welby at the end of his brief visit to Rome to find out more about his meeting with the pope and their plans for a joint visit to war-torn South Sudan

 

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

Archbishop of Canterbury installs Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi as New director of Anglican Centre in Rome ceremony

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi was installed as the new director of Rome’s Anglican Centre by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, during a ceremony at the Oratory of S. Francesco del Caravita on 26 October.

Archbishop Ntahoturi becomes the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See, in addition to being the first African director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

The Vatican’s foreign secretary, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, preached at the ceremony while the Evensong celebration saw the church choirs of All Saints’ and St Paul’s Within-the-Walls sing together.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

Archbishop Welby to mark agreement with Catholic and Lutheran Churches on 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to mark an act of reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant churches on the 500thanniversary of the Reformation.

During a service at Westminster Abbey on 31 October, the Archbishop will present copies of a text supporting an agreement resolving the theological dispute behind the Reformation to the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation

The text is a formal resolution approved by representatives from the Anglican Communion, who have welcomed the substance of the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification, signed by the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran World Federation, World Methodist Council and World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Roman Catholic