Category : Pastoral Theology

(ACNS) Anglican commission begins work to develop global safeguarding procedures

An international commission established to make the Churches of the Anglican Communion safe places for children, young people and vulnerable adults has begun its work. The Anglican Communion’s Safe Church Commission was established by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at its meeting last year in Lusaka; in one of four resolutions on safeguarding.

The establishment of the commission was recommended by the Anglican Communion Safe Church Network – a global group of clergy and laity which “emerged out of a concern that a number of Anglican Provinces have seen highly publicised lapses in behaviour by some clergy and church workers with tragic consequences for those who have been abused.” The network, which was recognised by the ACC at its 2012 meeting in Auckland, “is a growing international group of people committed to the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare and safety of all people involved in churches throughout the Anglican Communion.”

While the network has an on-going brief to educate people about abuse and misconduct in churches, and to equip and support people working to make their churches safe, the commission has been given a specific time-sensitive task.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

(NYT) Germany Must Allow Third Gender Category, Court Rules

Germany must create a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or were born with ambiguous sexual traits, the country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday, finding that binary gender designations violated the right to privacy.

In 2013, Germany became the first European country to allow parents to register newborns as neither female nor male, if the child was born with characteristics of both sexes.

The new decision, by the Federal Constitutional Court, goes further, giving lawmakers until the end of 2018 to either allow the introduction of a third gender category or dispense with gender altogether in public documents.

The ruling arrives as society, medicine and law increasingly recognize the ways in which gender is socially constructed and not necessarily fixed or stable.

Read it all (another from the long line of should have already been posted material).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

(C of E) Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying tackled in new guidance for Church schools

Guidance for the Church of England’s 4,700 schools published today aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report makes 12 recommendations for schools including ensuring schools’ Christian ethos statements offer “an inclusive vision for education” where “every child should be revered and respected as members of a community where all are known and loved by God. ”

Clear anti-bullying policies should include HBT behaviours and language, policies on how to report incidences should be accessible, staff trained on recognising bullying, curriculum and collective worship should support the vision and the wider church ensure that schools are responding well to the guidance.

Commending the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Telegraph) Pressure to grow congregations leads to ‘clergy self-harm’ says Christ Church Dean

Pressure on bishops and clergy to grow their audience is leading to “clergy self-harm”, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has said.

Speaking to an audience at the charity Sons & Friends of the Clergy, Professor Martyn Percy, who also teaches in the theology faculty, said that bishops “need to stop being the CEO of an organisation that is chasing growth targets”.

He said that clergy stress was “fuelled by anxiety about growth and organisation and professionalism.

“The church has become too organisational and bureaucratic.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, speaks on the outcome of the postal survey on same-sex marriage in Australia

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) Australia Votes for Same-Sex Marriage, Clearing Path to Legalization

A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples.

Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots.

“The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the survey in a move described by advocates as a delay tactic devised to appease his party’s far-right faction. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(WS) A Must-not-Miss from Mary Eberstadt–The Primal Scream of Identity Politics


The founding document of identity politics, in other words, reflects reality as many African American women would have found it in the 1970s—one in which they were the canaries in the coal mine of the sexual revolution. It’s a world in which men are ever less trusted, relations between the sexes are chronically estranged, and marriage is thin on the ground. African American women were—and still are—disproportionately affected by aspects of the sexual revolution like abortion, out-of-wedlock births, and fatherless homes. Isn’t it suggestive that the earliest collective articulation of identity politics came from the community that was first to suffer from the accelerated fraying of family ties, a harbinger of what came next for all?

Identity politics cannot be understood apart from the preceding and concomitant social fact of family implosion. The year before the Combahee document’s publication—1976—was a watershed of a sort. The out-of-wedlock birth rate for black Americans tipped over the 50-percent mark (the 1965 Moynihan Report worried over a rate half as high). This rate has kept climbing and exceeded 70 percent in 2016. At the same time, other measures indicating the splintering of the nuclear and extended family expanded too. By 2012, Millennial women—who were then under the age of 30—exhibited for the first time the out-of-wedlock birth rate of black women in 1976: i.e., more than 50 percent. Millennials, of course, are the demographic backbone of identity politics.

And the out-of-wedlock birth rate is just one measure of the unprecedented disruption of the family over the last half-century-plus. Consider, just in passing, the impact of abortion. In 2008, the Guttmacher Institute reported that 61 percent of women terminating pregnancies were already mothers of at least one child. Many children—and many grown children—have been deprived of potential siblings via pregnancy termination.

Abortion, like single motherhood, is only one engine of a phenomenon that has come to characterize more and more American lives during the past half-century: what might be called the “family, interrupted.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(Baltimore Sun) Maryland churches ponder security in wake of Texas shooting: ‘This evil can happen anywhere’

The Rev. Alvin C. Hathaway says it’s the duty of any church to do all it can to ensure the safety of its congregants, so he has long had security cameras in place throughout Union Baptist Church in West Baltimore.

But after yet another mass shooting left 26 people dead at a Texas church Sunday — the worst such incident at a place of worship in American history — the church and community leader is feeling a special urgency.

Hathaway was hard at work Monday on an email to other local religious leaders to urge action across denominational lines on matters of security.

“It’s tragic to think that this anger, this violence, is now invading our sacred spaces, the places where we try to foster peace and reflection, especially in a country that espouses religious freedom,” he says. “But this is clearly a fact of life now. We must think about security over and against our freedoms.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(TLC) Bp. Sauls Files Defamation Claim against TEC in New York

Bishop Stacy Sauls, a top Episcopal Church administrator who was fired in April 2016 after a misconduct investigation exonerated him, is bringing his defamation claim against the church and 30 unnamed defendants to a new venue where experts say it belongs: New York City.

In response, the Episcopal Church is once again calling for his claims to be thrown out, as it did successfully when Sauls first brought them in Mobile, Alabama, earlier this year. Sauls is now appealing that ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court.

But in New York, the church is also challenging the merits of the case since the propriety of the venue is no longer in dispute.

In a 31-page memorandum filed Nov. 1, the church laid out for the first time its response to Sauls’s allegations. He claims a top-level, Machiavellian conspiracy at church headquarters in New York City ruined his reputation and successfully sabotaged his pursuit of new employment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops

(Wash Po) Ryan Danker–Historic church should rethink Washington, Lee plaque removals

The plaques on the walls of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, commemorate famous Americans who at one time called the Episcopal parish their own: George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

As a church historian, I believe the vestry’s recent decision to remove the memorials – as well as their forebears’ decision to put them up in the first place – disregards the true purpose of Christians’ commemoration of the dead.

From the very start of the Christian faith, believers have remembered the “great cloud of witnesses” who came before them. During the third century, the church in North Africa regularly commemorated early martyrs on the anniversary of their death – the origin of saints’ days.

Whether honored through holidays or monuments, the church still recognized the complexity of the human situation and never expected perfection from these early saints. Scripture and church history provided plenty of evidence of their shortcomings: Paul’s thorn in his flesh, Peter’s denial of Christ, Augustine’s lust, Thomas Aquinas’ borderline gluttony, Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic tendencies, John Calvin’s use of capital punishment, and John Wesley’s failed marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

The indefatigable former Bishop Chimes in (Again) on the Anglican/Episcopal mess in South Carolina

From there:

It has been publicly announced that the Diocese of South Carolina will enter into mediation with The Episcopal Church (TEC) at the Federal Courthouse in Columbia November 6-8. All parties to the ongoing litigation in both the State and Federal courts have agreed to participate. Many understandably hope this will bring an end to years of litigation. What is an appropriate expectation of the outcome?

A word often used by the TEC bishop and legal counsel is “reconciliation”. While an attractive word to readers and pleasing to the ear, it creates false expectations. To be reconciled implies, by definition, coming back together. It requires one or both parties to repent of their past actions and positions. That is unreasonable in this case.

Neither the Diocese of S.C. nor TEC has shown any evidence of changing course on any of the issues that created the initial divisions years ago. The Diocese has moved on, becoming formally affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and TEC has continued with its own theological agenda. The two are not compatible and are, if anything, further apart than ever.

And nothing in the behavior of TEC suggests their goals with departing parishes and Dioceses have changed over time. They continue to litigate in the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois despite having lost at the highest level in the state courts there. In the Diocese of San Joaquin, California, after spending $15 million to recover the parish properties, only 21 have been declared “viable” with the other 25 reported as going up for sale. In Bishop Adams former diocese, the people of Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY were denied the purchase of their former church, seeing it sold for 1/3 their offer to become a mosque instead. The pattern of behavior is clear. For TEC, “reconciliation” has meant, “surrender, return the property and we’ll forgive you so you can rejoin us”. That is not a viable way forward.

So what is a reasonable expectation? What might be sought, and could work, is a “settlement” that ends all the litigation and enables both dioceses to go their separate ways in peace. The Diocese of S.C. granted that grace from the beginning in 2012 to parishes wishing to remain with TEC. The 80% who chose to disassociate from TEC should be allowed to do the same. The two opposing dioceses share a common history in S.C. and a heritage each has some claim to. Perhaps there is a way to honor that reality outside the “winner takes all” setting of the courtroom.

The resources of both groups would be preferably spent on the work of ministry to which each feels called. A workable settlement would allow each to go its way in peace to pursue their separate callings. If that is the goal of the mediation, by both parties, then much good could come of it. Failing that, expect the litigation to continue.

[The] Rt. Rev. Dr. C. Fitzsimons Allison is 12th Bishop (ret.) of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The Misery Filter

In America we have education for success, but no education for suffering. There is instead the filter, the well-meaning deception, that teaches neither religious hope nor stoicism, and when suffering arrives encourages group hysteria, private shame and a growing contagion of despair.

How to educate for suffering is a question for a different column. Here I’ll just stress its necessity: Because what cannot be cured must be endured, and how to endure is, even now, the hardest challenge every one of us will face.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A S Haley on a recent Roman Catholic Dean’s sermon on Marriage–Is It Man over God, or God over Man?

This is an outstanding homily on last Sunday’s Gospel reading recounting Jesus’ skill in handling the Pharisees and the Herodians who tried to entrap him on the payment of taxes to the government (Mt 22:15-22). The Very Rev. John Lankeit, dean of the Cathedral of Ss. Simon and Jude in Phoenix, Arizona, shows Christians how to use Jesus’ logic to refute the trick assumption behind the question: “Do you believe in…[same-sex] marriage?”

Read it all and listen to the whole homily.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Diocese of Melbourne) Please reject euthanasia: Church to Victorian Government

Melbourne Anglicans have pleaded with the Victorian Government not to legalise medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia just before the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed in the lower house of the State Parliament.

The church’s synod discussed the bill on 19 October at their annual synod at St Paul’s Cathedral as a few blocks away Victorian MPs debated the bill in State Parliament.

Medical ethicist Dr Denise Cooper-Clarke told the synod the bill’s proposed safeguards were inadequate, that it was inherently discriminatory, and that improved palliative care was a much safer and more compassionate way to address “bad deaths”.

She said the bill would fundamentally change attitudes to suicide at a time when the Government was trying to reduce youth suicide.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Must Not Miss Science Times Article–To Mend a Birth Defect, Surgeons Operate on the Patient Within the Patient

The patient, still inside his mother’s womb, came into focus on flat screens in a darkened operating room. Fingers, toes, the soles of his feet — all exquisite, all perfectly formed.

But not so his lower back. Smooth skin gave way to an opening that should not have been there, a bare oval exposing a white rim of bone and the nerves of the spinal cord.

“All right, it’s the real deal,” said Dr. Michael A. Belfort, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology