Category : * Culture-Watch

The Guardian view on abuse in the Church of England: a reputation deservedly damaged

After news of Bishop Ball’s arrest broke, Lambeth Palace received seven independent accusations about his earlier behaviour. Two were seen by Archbishop Carey, who replied to them personally. Only one of the seven, though, was passed to the police, and that the least damning. Lord Carey’s message to the diocese after Bishop Ball was arrested urged prayers for the bishop and said nothing about victims. After Bishop Ball had retired on spurious grounds of ill health and accepted a caution – though remaining in denial about his crimes – Lord Carey worked to have him rehabilitated. True, he did so with less ingenuity than Peter Ball’s identical twin Michael, himself a bishop, who has admitted allowing his twin to deputise for him at “one or two events”, even after his disgrace.

Lord Carey nevertheless gave Peter Ball £12,000 from church funds, leading to loud complaints from the brothers, who had wanted £20,000. He deliberately kept Peter Ball’s name off the Lambeth blacklist of unemployable clergy; he had the disgraced bishop to stay at Lambeth Palace twice; he attempted to find him work in South Africa (writing to Desmond Tutu for this scheme) and in prisons; he wrote to an American parish that “Peter was possibly the victim of a plot but that, of course, cannot be proved”. Lord Carey’s only objection to a full rehabilitation of Bishop Ball as a retired bishop was that it might provoke unfavourable publicity.
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This was disgraceful, and the result has been a deserved disgrace. But it was part of a culture of privilege, power and make-believe that corrupted more than one bishop. Lord Carey’s successor, Rowan Williams did nothing to help Bishop Ball but very little and very slowly to hinder him either.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

A S Haley–TEC Bishop Jon Bruno Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The litigation grew nastier, as narrated in this post. Matters even began to sour between Bishop Bruno and his own Diocese’s convention. Eventually, the original purchaser pulled out of the contract (because of the litigation, no doubt), +Bruno rejected all attempts at mediation / conciliation with the parishioners, and the Disciplinary Board’s review panel ordered the matter (over +Bruno’s hypocritical objections) to a full-blown, public hearing, which took place over three days at the end of March of this year. (You can read the day-by-day accounts of the proceedings at this site, if you choose. With my departure from ECUSA, I have pretty much stopped chronicling all the desultory conduct that goes on in the name of that body.)

In the civil courts, meanwhile, +Bruno achieved mixed results. The parishioners’ lawsuit to stop him from selling the property was dismissed, but his suit against the original donor has not fared well. On February 24, the Court of Appeal reversed a decision by the trial court which had denied the donor’s motion to strike +Bruno’s “slander of title” claim against it. The decision ordered the trial court to strike the claim from the lawsuit and award the donor its attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result of its filing. The fees and costs will have to be paid out of the Bishop’s own corporation sole, since it was the plaintiff against the donor. In another ruling, the trial court found the original donor had failed to record a renewal of its deed restriction as required by law to keep it enforceable. That freed +Bruno to sell the property, but by then (as we now learn — see below) the original buyer had backed out.

After the disciplinary hearing concluded on March 30, the hearing panel took the matter under submission for briefing before issuing its decision. The Bishop’s attorneys asked the panel to dismiss all charges against him, while the attorney prosecuting the charges asked the panel to find him guilty and suspend him from active ministry for up to a year while fashioning a remedy that would foster reconciliation — for which +Bruno to date has shown no interest whatsoever.

On June 14, before the panel had issued any decision, one of the complainants submitted colorable evidence that +Bruno had entered into a new contract to sell St. James while the disciplinary proceedings were going on. The panel asked +Bruno’s attorneys to disclose to it whether he was under contract with a buyer or not, and when they gave evasive replies, the panel issued a sanctions order on June 17 directing +Bruno not to sell or contract to sell the property until “further order of the Hearing Panel.”

Now comes word from Anglican news sources that on June 22, +Bruno’s attorney sent an email to the panel in which she disclosed that Bishop Bruno had signed a contract to sell the property to another developer — just three weeks after the disciplinary hearing (the purchaser signed the contract a month later).

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(Church Times) Lord Carey steps back from ministry after ‘harrowing’ report on Peter Ball case

Both the Archbishop of Canterbury’s predecessors have issued personal apologies, and the Archbishop has asked Lord Carey to consider his position as an honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford, after the publication of an independent report on the Peter Ball case and the Church’s part in it.

Lord Carey has been strongly criticised in the report of the review group, chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, which was published on Thursday, almost two years after the review was announced by Archbishop Welby (News, 7 October 2015).

The 81-page report, Abuse of Faith, sets out in detail the events and circumstances leading up to, surrounding, and following the arrest and imprisonment of Ball, who received a three-year sentence in October 2015, having admitted to a series of indecent assaults and the abuse of 18 young men aged 17-25. One of his victims took his own life. Ball, who is 85, was released in February after serving 16 months of his sentence.

The report criticises the conduct of several senior Church of England figures — in particular, Lord Carey, who, it says, failed to respond to repeated expressions of concern and allegations against Bishop Ball — most notably those of the late Neil Todd, who was repeatedly abused by the bishop during the 1980s and ’90s.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

(USA Today) ‘Born this way’? It’s way more complicated than that

Getting America to believe that people are born gay — that it’s not something that can be chosen or ever changed — has been central to the fight for gay rights. If someone can’t help being gay any more than they can help the color of their skin, the logic goes, denying them rights is wrong. But many members of the LGBTQ community reject this narrative, saying it only benefits people who feel their sexuality and gender are fixed rather than fluid, and questioning why the dignity of gay people should rest on the notion that they were gay from their very first breath.

“There are a lot of lesbians who subscribe to the ‘born this way’ narrative, in part because it’s become almost an obligatory story,” said Jane Ward, a professor of gender studies at the University of California-Riverside and author of Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men. “If you support gay rights then you have to believe that. But there’s now almost 50 years of scholarship on how people come to understand their queerness,” and Ward says for some people, queerness is something they claim ownership of more deliberately, over time.

The opposite of “I was born this way” is not “I chose this way.” In a 2016 article on sexual orientation published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, researchers wrote that “whether sexual orientation is a choice” is a poor phrase for advancing our understanding of sexuality. We choose our actions, they wrote, not our feelings. Words like “choice,” “preference” and “lifestyle” are loaded because they’ve been used to oppress sexual minorities.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality

(NYT Oped) David Brooks–Why Fathers Leave their Children

…when you ask absent fathers themselves, you get a different picture. You meet guys who desperately did not want to leave their children, who swear they have tried to be with them, who may feel unworthy of fatherhood but who don’t want to be the missing dad their own father was.

In truth, when fathers abandon their own children, it’s not a momentary decision; it’s a long, tragic process. A number of researchers have tried to understand how father abandonment happens, most importantly Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson, who moved to Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., immersed themselves in the neighborhoods there and produced an amazing account, “Doing the Best I Can.”

Pregnancy is rarely planned among the populations they studied. Typically the parents are in a semi-relationship that is somewhere between a one-night stand and an actual boyfriend-girlfriend bond. The couple use contraception at the beginning, but when it becomes understood they are “together,” they stop. They don’t really talk about pregnancy, but they sort of make it possible….

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Men

(Local Paper) Remembering the Charleston 9 two Years Ago Today

Drums beat, a trumpet bellows and voices rise up in jubilant greeting of the morning, Pentecost Sunday. It’s a joyful day in the Christian church. Yet, here at Emanuel AME, sorrow still clings to the atmosphere, even two years later.

Memories of the nine who died here linger everywhere. They rest in worn spots on the pews. They float from the choir loft and resound from the pulpit. Downstairs in the fellowship hall, where blood flowed that night, bullet holes remain in the walls and tiles.

The date — June 17, 2015 — doesn’t feel very far away.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Blog Post Frequency will go down while Taking a Break for Summer Vacation

We are headed to New England!

I have been at this blog since the first part of 2003, and it is time for a break. As I am constantly insisting to my friends, none of us is indispensable, and this is a way of living that out by yours truly. Remember I told you I am the type of person who goes to bed every night just a little sad–only a little–about how much I don’t know (and still wish to find out). So moving away from the information addiction for me will not necessarily be easy–but it is important.

I will check in from time to time, but will be posting less. Thanks for your prayers, your comments and your support–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, Blogging & the Internet, Harmon Family

Bp of Kensington Graham Tomlin–Thoughts on Hope in Grenfell

In our community over the past few days we have been through a range of emotions that we rarely experience so close together. Even now as we meet and pray, there are people here in this church, in the surrounding streets wondering how to make sense of this.

How do you put into words what people here have experienced, the story of the past few days?

First there was Shock. As we woke up on Wednesday morning, there was that numb feeling, incredulity that something like this could happen in our modern, C21st sophisticated city. Looking up at the Tower and imagining what the people in there was going through was almost unbearable and so hard to even imagine how awful that must be.

Then there was Compassion. Alongside the tragedy, one of the remarkable things has been to see the amazing outpouring of compassion in this community over the past couple of days.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(PD) Ismail Royer–Bernie Sander’s Relativism Test Is Bad for Muslims and All Religious Believers

Thus, any Muslim unwilling to repudiate the belief that Islam is objectively true and that other religions are, at least in critical respects, objectively false, would be unqualified to serve under Bernie’s relativism test.

It also follows that any Muslims objecting to Vought’s appointment must either admit they don’t believe Islam is objectively true, admit they’re employing a double standard, or drop their objection to the appointment. The corollary to this, of course, is that any non-Muslims objecting to a Muslim’s appointment to public office merely on the basis of his religious beliefs are in precisely the same position. As James Madison wrote, the No Religious Test Clause means “Jews Turks & infidels” are free to serve in government. So long as a Muslim candidate for public service is qualified for office, the fact that he or she is an unapologetic Muslim can be no grounds for objecting to the appointment. Anyone who says otherwise while opposing Bernie’s test must either admit his bad faith or repudiate the Constitution.

I am inclined to think that Bernie Sanders and his allies mean well in opposing Vought’s nomination. They want to protect the feelings of members of a religious minority that has come under fire from many quarters. That sentiment is admirable and appreciated, but misguided. Bernie needs to realize that Muslims in America are more adult, and have more confidence in themselves and in the truth of their faith, than one might imagine. More importantly, by bending the Constitution in the name of pluralism to require relativism from all holders of public office, the institution of such a test would constitute a loss for Muslims and all religious believers in the long run.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Archbishop of York John Sentamu–Politics needs to find a place for religion

When Christians engage with politics their consciences are going to be bruised. They will be imbued with a vision of the Kingdom of God and at the same time will have to compromise, daily. It was Bismarck who first said “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.” To achieve anything worthwhile will often require settling for less than one’s ideals.

Cynics, and I include some media interrogators among them, choose to ignore this painful compromise; they posit only the stark, unrealistic and inhuman alternatives of perfection or hypocrisy. In fact, the word “hypocrite” entered the English language via the New Testament, where it was used by Jesus to excoriate those who laid down the law for others, while pretending personally to be virtuous. They were “play-acting”. That’s what the word means in Greek. It has nothing to do with failure: applied Christianity is for people who recognise their moral inadequacy and daily look for divine help to deal with it.

The pre-election hounding of Tim Farron was not acceptable. In interview after interview we were given the impression that his private views on gay sex were in the forefront of the Lib-Dem campaign. His tormentors should be ashamed of themselves. It is much to be regretted that he has now concluded that a leading role in politics is incompatible with his Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Sohrab Ahmari–(Current Political) Liberalism: Believers Need Not Apply

Soon after he took the party reins in 2015, Mr. Farron was asked whether, as a Christian, he considers homosexuality a sin. The Lib Dem leader gave the quintessential Christian reply: “We’re all sinners.” But it wasn’t enough. The question would resurface amid the election campaign this spring.

During a TV interview on April 18, he was pressed four times, and four times he demurred. Quiescence wasn’t enough.

Pressure mounted, and the next day Mr. Farron relented. No, he clarified in remarks at the House of Commons, homosexuality isn’t a sin. That still wasn’t enough. The latter-day Gletkins and Ivanovs needed to be sure that Mr. Farron believed this in his heart of hearts, not merely as a matter of public confession. If he didn’t think homosexuality a sin, asked a BBC interviewer a few days later, why had it taken him so long to say so? Mr. Farron was reduced to spouting gibberish.

Then the Guardian newspaper unearthed a 2007 interview, in which he had suggested that “abortion is wrong” but also cautioned Christian activists that an immediate outright ban would be impracticable. Confronted with his own words on the campaign trail, Mr. Farron pleaded that he’d never advocated abortion restrictions. It wasn’t enough.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(DW) Islamist extremism: Germany invests millions to prevent radicalization

Germany’s Family and Youth Minister Katarina Barley on Wednesday called for her country to strengthen its efforts to prevent all forms of extremism, calling for a federal law on the prevention of extremism to stabilize projects and initiatives against, for example, right-wing extremism.

Although there is now more money available for prevention, “we aren’t yet on target,” Barley said on Wednesday. Announcing the findings of a report into extremism prevention, Barley said at a press conference in Berlin that in fighting Islamist extremism, “we must not wait until young people have become radicalized.”

“Security and prevention must go hand in hand,” she added.

According to Barley, prevention work must begin where the threat is particularly high, for example in the school yard, on the Internet, and also in the prisons.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(ACNS) Church of England parish at heart of relief efforts following London inferno

In the hours since a massive blaze ripped through a tower block in west London early on Wednesday, nearby St Clement’s Church has been rapidly turned into an emergency relief centre. It sheltered more than 100 residents as the blaze raged and has subsequently been overwhelmed with donations. People have given clothes, bedding and toiletries for the residents of the tower, many of whom fled the block in their nightwear and have lost everything. Volunteers from churches throughout the area are running the relief operation.

[The] Revd Alan Everett described how events unfolded in the hours after the devastating blaze: “I opened the church at half three in the morning and within minutes the local community started bringing in supplies – the tables are now completely overflowing. The response has been overwhelming” he said. St Clement’s has now reached saturation point and has simply run out of room to store any more supplies.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) Conflicting views aired on who should follow ‘significant presence’ as Bishop of London

Should the next Bishop of London continue the London Plan or begin to ordain women priests, affirm gay clergy, do more to attract children and teenagers into church, or value pastoral diligence as much as high-profile mission? These were among the issues raised at a public consultation held on Tuesday evening.

Twenty-one people spoke during the meeting at St Alban’s, Holborn. It was chaired by the chairman of the vacancy-in-see committee, the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison. The Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary, Edward Chaplin, and the Archbishops’ Appointment Secretary, Caroline Boddington, were present to hear the debate.

Dean Ison set out nine priorities set out in the Statement of Need, which will shortly be published, alongside a profile of the diocese. The first was evangelism: “to proclaim the historic and eternal Gospel in a changing world and society”. Another was: “to ensure we live in generous orthodoxy . . . enabling mutual flourishing of all the whole Christian church, recognising that there is a diversity of views on various matters across the diocese, but we want to live together as the people of Christ”….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Tel.) Colombia gets first ‘polyamorous family’ as three men legally established as unit

Three gay men say they have gained legal recognition as the first “polyamorous family” in Colombia, where same-sex marriages were legalised last year.

“We wanted to validate our household… and our rights, because we had no solid legal basis establishing us as a family,” said one of the men, actor Victor Hugo Prada, in a video published by Colombian media on Monday.

He said he and his two partners, sports instructor John Alejandro Rodriguez and journalist Manuel Jose Bermudez, signed legal papers with a solicitor in the city of Medellin, establishing them as a family unit with inheritance rights.

Read it all.

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

Posted in --Polyamory, Colombia, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality