R.C. Bishop: “Church should welcome Unconventional Couples”

Catholic Church: Bishop Says Church Should Welcome ‘Unconventional Couples’

The Religion News Service’s Josephine Mckenna reported last week that Bishop Nunzio Galantino, leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis, said the church should welcome “unconventional couples” who are in “irregular matrimonial situations.” He said, “The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”

Galantino was Francis’ choice in March to lead the fractious Italian hierarchy, and from the beginning the bishop has adopted the pontiff’s inclusive approach. That has often landed Galantino in hot water, as he has spoken about the need for the church to welcome gays and to consider optional celibacy for the priesthood.

But Galantino has not softened his views, which are especially newsworthy because in October the Vatican will host a major conference of the world’s top bishops, called a synod, to discuss issues facing the modern family.

How to deal with gay and cohabiting couples is a likely topic of discussion, but the question of whether Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment can take Communion has emerged as a focal point of disputes among bishops.

Galantino is no stranger to controversy

In a May interview he appeared to denigrate pro-life witness outside of abortion clinics, saying “I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.”

The bishop was criticized for his claim that Catholics “have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia.” He also attracted criticism for his statement that he hoped the Catholic Church in Italy will be “able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favor of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality.”

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While the Anglican Communion is still divided in its discussion of gender and sexuality issues, this article from the U.S. web-site  ‘Religion Dispatches’ offers this link to Religious News Service’s report from Roman Catholic Bishop Nuncio Galantino (recently appointed Leader of the Italian Bishops Conference) pointing to the need for a more tolerant attitude towards ‘unconventional couples’ by the Church.

Given that Bishop Enzio is a close friend of Pope Francis, his advocacy of a more open attitude on contentious issues of gender and sexuality –  the treatment of divorcees and homosexuals, and attitudes toward the possibility of ordaining married priests – it may well be that our Roman Catholic friends will be witnessing more far-reaching reforms than might otherwise have been thought possible during the reign of previous pontiffs – with the possible exception of Pope John XXIII.

Many Roman Catholics will welcome reform in their Church on matters that impinge on the lives of many of the Faithful, and which need to be addressed in our world of today.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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The fight against intolerance begins at home

Britain has a duty to oppose religious and political extremism – be it the English Defence League or the supporters of jihad – in every corner of the land

Victims in retreat: Yazidis fleeing violence from forces loyal to Islamic State in Iraq

Victims in retreat: Yazidis fleeing violence from forces loyal to Islamic State in Iraq Photo: Reuters

The common theme is the politics of division and hate: attitudes and mantras that seek to divide rather than unite. Aggressive secularists would advocate the suppression of religion in the public sphere. Yet this would only perpetuate the message of intolerance towards others. Religion is the not the problem – political and religious extremism is.

The best response is to champion the British values that define our country, many of which are founded in faith. At heart, we are a Christian nation – from the Established Church in England, to the language of the King James Bible, deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. But most important, we are a place of justice and tolerance towards others. Our defence of freedom, the rule of law and the evolution of our democracy have all grown from the seedbed of faith.

This is why Britain has long been a safe haven for persecuted people. Whether French Protestants during the Wars of Religion in the 17th century, European Jews fleeing Nazism, or Bosnian Muslims following the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Our Christian values have helped us to identify and rectify our own prejudices and injustices: the 1689 Act of Toleration that protected nonconformists, the Catholic emancipation of the 19th century, or William Wilberforce’s tireless campaign against slavery. For centuries, these ideals have been the salt and light of the nation, illuminating our international reputation as a just and tolerant country.

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This excellent article in the U.K.-based ‘Telegraph’, refers primarily to intolerance found in the people of the British Isles. However, it has relevance to all us of – wherever we live!

The great enemy of true religion is sectarian, fundamentalist, puritanical religious opinion that has no room for the humanitarian rights of other people. Injustice has no place in true religion – however seemingly religiously-pure its motivation.

God, as Creator, Redeemer and life-Giver of all humanity, is  – at least, in His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ – the God and Father of all people  irrespective of their ethnic, tribal, religious, cultural or gender differences.

Christians – perhaps above all religious people – should be aware of the need to affirm the humanity and rights of other people to ‘live and move and have their being’ in the world that God has created for God’s glory. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is, above all, the God of Love – dispensing mercy and forgiveness to all according to their capacity to be merciful and forgiving of others. This leaves no room for fundamentalist religious rivalry or persecution.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, new Zealand

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a Live-in Youth Community at Lambeth Palace

Live a Year in God’s Time

  • Thursday, September 4, 2014

Adapted from Archbishop Welby’s website

The Archbishop of Canterbury will open Lambeth Palace in London to Christians aged 20-35. He invites them to spend a year living, studying, and praying at a historic center of the Anglican Communion.

Launching in September 2015, the Community of St. Anselm will gather a group of adventurous young adults from all walks of life, hungry for a challenging and formative experience of life in a praying community.

The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining part time. The year-long program will include prayer, study, practical service and community life.

Members of the community will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognize, drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study, and prayer. Through those disciplines, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st-century church.

Lambeth Palace seeks a prior to pioneer this new venture and direct its worship and work. The prior will work under the auspices of the archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that the Church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not exist is prayer. Living in a praying community is the ultimate wager on the existence of God, and is anything but comfortable or risk-free. Through it people subject themselves to discipline, to each other in community, and, above all, to God.

“I expect this venture to have radical impact — not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve. This is what we expect in following Jesus. I urge young people to step up: here is an open invitation to be transformed and to transform.”

“Archbishop Justin is passionate about prayer and about community,” said the Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, chaplain to the archbishop. “The renewal of prayer and religious life is the first of his three priorities, and that is what the Community of St. Anselm is all about.

“We are inviting people from all around the Anglican Communion — and beyond — to live a year in God’s time. There are no qualifications for joining the community except a longing to pray, to learn, to study together the things of God, and so to be stretched in body, mind and spirit.”

“Archbishop Justin longs that Lambeth Palace be not so much a historic place of power and authority, but a place from which blessing and service reach to the ends of the earth.”

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Thanks to the US-based web-site ‘Living Church’ for this extract describing the initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, inviting a group of young people to live-in for a year at Lambeth Palace. Others will be invited to attend and participate on a part-time basis. 

Already there is a community of prayer attached to Lambeth Palace, relied upon by Archbishop Welby as a resource group of ecumenical support for the ministry emanating from the Archbishop and his Staff. This new initiative is to enable a group of 20-35-year-olds to ‘spend a year living, studying, and praying at a historic center of the Anglican Communion’. 

From the perspective of local churches, where the number of older people exceeds those under 35 years of age, this new initiative should help to bring about a rejuvenated vision of the Mission of The Anglican Communion Churches in and to the world. With a core of dedicated young people determined to make a difference to our understanding of a sacrificial quasi-monastic life-style. It cannot but do good – not only for the participants, but for the image of a Church that may seem to have lost its relevance for the emerging youth of modern-day society.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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ABC Host for Interfaith Vigil for the Middle-East

Welby invokes Holocaust at vigil for Middle East minorities

Madeleine Davies   by Madeleine Davies – ‘Church Times’ correspondent

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 @ 05:15

Click to enlarge

Wake-up call: Archbishop Welby addressing faith leaders at a vigil for peace in the Middle East outside Westminster Abbey on Wednesday

CHRISTIANS in the Middle East have not been treated so badly since the invasion by Genghis Khan in 1259, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday. He later invoked the Holocaust when addressing an interfaith vigil at Westminster Abbey.

At a press conference at Lambeth Palace in the morning, the Archbishop said: “It took the barbarism of the jihadist militants to wake us up. But this . . . is a new thing. There has not been treatment of Christians in this region in this way since the invasion of Genghis Khan in 1259, 1260. . . I think we find it hard to believe that such horrors can happen.”

He was speaking after a meeting and prayer service with representatives of Middle East Churches, many of whom had just come from the region. In a joint statement, read out by Archbishop Welby, they warned that the region was “in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture”.

Archbishop Welby said that his prayers were with the family and friends of Stephen Sotloff, the US journalist whose beheading was shown in a video released by Islamic State on Tuesday. Mr Sotloff was “both the latest and most prominent victim, but also he represents many who have suffered in that way but are forgotten”.

Asked about the duty of the British Government to offer asylum to those facing persecution in the region, the Archbishop said: “The last thing we want to do is empty the Middle East of Christians. What Christians need there is not only the long-stop of asylum, but also the provision of safe havens and security to enable people to re-establish their communities in the area. Christians have been there for longer than anyone else. It needs to be remembered.”

On the question of military intervention, the Archbishop said that there was no consensus among the leaders gathered at Lambeth: “We are aware that history has not been totally encouraging in that area. But there are a mixture of views. Some people feel there needs to be more intervention, at least to buy some time. Others feel that that would be wholly unhelpful.”

After the conference, the Archbishop joined Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders at a vigil for peace at Westminster Abbey, organised by Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, and World Jewish Relief. He called the gathering “remarkable”.

Addressing the crowd, which included MPs, he said: “Labelling people for persecution is something that we learned much about in Europe in the ’30s and ’40s, and we are seeing it again.”

He wanted to honour the example set by Baroness Warsi, who “set her own career at nothing in order to demonstrate her commitment to hatred of hatred”. Lady Warsi, who was at the vigil, resigned as a minister in protest at the Government’s policy on Gaza, which she described as “morally indefensible” (News, 8 August).

After praising the efforts of faith-based aid agencies, the Archbishop said that it was “a moment for this to end. It must stop. . . If it does not stop there and in other places around the world, such as northern Nigeria . . . it will continue to spread. It will require courage and time and determination to overcome this evil.”

The vigil was addressed by Muslim leaders, including Ayatollah Milani, an imam from the Al-Khoei Foundation, who said that “what is happening in Iraq is the maximum and highest degree of atrocity done to minorities in the name of Islam . . . Our duty here is to show our solidarity towards all these minorities. . . Whatever is done in the name of Islam by ISIS is only misinterpretation of Islam and its values.”

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This meeting of the Archbishop of Canterbury, with Leaders of minority Christian Churches in the Middle East, at a special gathering at Westminster Abbey, alerts us all the the urgent need of prayer and practical assistance to be directed towards those who are currently under threat of extinction from the repressive forces of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Problems of how to deal with the emerging forces of the Islamic Caliphate have been discussed – varying from a call to military action against ISIS, to a call to prayer f0r both Muslim and Christian Leaders, drawing attention to the need for a more moderate understanding of both Christian and Islamic traditions that embrace peaceful co-existence rather than fundamentalist opposition.

This is a time of great stress for those in the Middle East whose homelands and communities are being threatened with extinction by a brutally oppressive (albeit fundamentally religious) system of governmental rule. Our prayers and practical aid, and support for the United Nations thrust of activity in the region, cannot be invoked too soon – if the Christian Churches in the middle East are to survive.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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A.C. in Wales – On the Threshold of Women Bishops

Wales: Crossing the Threshold – event marks new Women Bishops’ law

Posted on: September 3, 2014 1:39 PM

Related Categories: Wales, women bishops

[Church in Wales] Two women bishops from the United States will take part in a conference in Cardiff this week as legislation allowing women to be ordained as bishops in Wales comes into effect.

The Rt Revd Geralyn Wolf, former Bishop of Rhode Island, will be the keynote speaker at the Crossing The Threshold conference on Thursday (September 4). She will also become the first women Anglican bishop to preside at Llandaff Cathedral when she takes part in the conference service. The Rt Revd Gayle Harris, the Suffragen Bishop of Massachusetts, will also attend.

The conference marks the opening of the rank of bishops to women following legislation passed by the Church in Wales which comes into effect on September 12 – exactly one year after the historic vote. The delay was built in to allow the Welsh bishops time to prepare a Code of Practice to accompany the new law.

In addition to the US bishops, speakers and panellists include other senior theologians, including the Revd Preb. Dr Jane Tillier,  Rev’d Dr Jenny Hurd, chair of the Wales’ Synod Methodist and Canon Joanna Penberthy. Baroness Eluned Morgan, the Shadow Minister for Wales in the House of Lords, and Dr Gill Todd will also take part in the panel discussions.

Crossing The Threshold will be held at St Michael’s College, Cardiff. One of the organisers is the Revd Jan Gould, priest-in-charge of Glan Ely benefice in Cardiff. She says, “This conference is about how we ‘cross the threshold’ to a transformed leadership with the Church in Wales.

“Anglican women bishops in the USA have a huge amount to share and this is a unique opportunity to engage with their experience and to see together what that might mean for the future of the Church in Wales. People will have the chance to share their hopes, fears and expectations in small groups as the Church in Wales responds to this great change.”

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, will also attend the conference. He says, “At this momentous time – when the Church in Wales is just weeks away from legislation coming into effect to allow women to be ordained as bishops – I am delighted to support this conference and to welcome in particular Bishop Geralyn Wolf to share her experience and ministry with us.”

Crossing The Threshold conference takes place at St Michael’s College, Cardiff, on September 4. The day will close with a service at Llandaff Cathedral at 7.45pm, at which Bishop Geralyn will preside and Canon Mary Stallard, chaplain of St Joseph’s Anglican and Catholic School, will preach. All are welcome.

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This ACNA News of a Conference in Wales to prepare the way for the Ordination of Women Bishops in the Church in Wales must be very welcome news indeed. If things go well here, it could be that there will be a Woman bishop in the Church in Wales before one is appointed in the Church of England!

What remains to be implement now is the expected Code of Practice that will allow the scheme to go forward – with maximum cooperation by all parts of the Church in Wales. No doubt the Church of England will be closely monitoring what goes on at this Conference, which might presage what is expected to happen in the Church of England – under its separate jurisdiction.

In the meantime, we here in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand & Pacifica will be continuing our governance enhanced by Women Bishops – such as Helen-Anne Hartley, Bishop in Taranaki, and our own Bishop of Christchurch,Victoria Matthews, who will be chairing our Diocesan Synod Meeting, beginning tonight with a Eucharist in the Transitional Cathedra. Our Province of the world-wide Anglican Communion has co-existed with Women Bishop for some years now – with discernible benefits from that arrangement.

Let’s hope that the Churches in Wales and England may reap similar benefits!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Response to the ACANZP ‘Motion 30′

In response to a very recent post on the NZ website of a Colleague of mine in our diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand, concerning his article on an important issue coming up before our local Diocesan Synod this week (Dr.Peter Carrell’s original article can be accessed by this link:  - http://anglicandownunder.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/of-all-times-to-leave-our-church-now-is.html –  ) I have offered on ‘Anglican Down Under’, Peter’s blog-site, the following comment, which I hope might encourage local Synod members to act accordingly:

Father Ron Smith said…

‘Now, however, we have one party saying to the other, “You are withholding the promise of salvation from some to whom God freely offers it,” and the other party saying, “No, you are holding out a false hope of salvation to some who cannot be saved unless as part of their repentance, they are willing to live a celibate life.’Trevor Morrison

“The ‘other party’ in this case, includes – as the author of the article describes, the ‘Sola Scriptura’ group – a group whose policies I have great difficulty in taking too seriously, on grounds I have already enunicated clearly on ADU, but which include the understanding, in the Western world at least, that LGBT people are co-equal children of God, deserving of respect and eirenic understanding of their situation.”

All the dioceses of ACANZP will be (or have already been) advocating their stand on the acceptance- or not – of an openness to Gay relationships in our Church, which will then be taken forward to our next General Synod of the Church.

I my opinion, this issue needs to be resolved in an eirenic and pastorally caring way that will accept that the LGBT community is a reality and needs to be dealt with carefully and with the loving action of a Gospel-oriented polity, in a world that has now come to terms with the fact that Gay people should not be compelled to embrace celibacy as their only option, but ought be encouraged to commit to monogamous fidelity. This is a justice issue needing an appropriate Church response, and I would advocate accordingly.

The S.S. party – as represented here – seems to believe that to be Gay is to be unnatural, and that to live out that sexual-orientation in a monogamous, loving, Same-Sex relationship is anathema, not only t0 them but to the God Who created Gays.

I say, let due legislation accepting Motion 30 be passed as soon as is practicable! I most certainly urge the Synod of our Christchurch Diocese to give their assent to the process!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

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Rowan Williams confronts Richard Dawkins

A man of faith with a firm grip on reality

Rowan Williams has deftly punctured the New Atheists’ accusation that religious belief is at odds with reason

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

Gentle nature: the force of Rowan Williams’s views has been widely missed  Photo: Andrew Crowley/The Telegraph

As I researched Rowan Williams’s biography, it became ever clearer that the former Archbishop is the foremost Christian apologist in the English-speaking world. Partly because of his gentle nature, however, the force of his arguments against Richard Dawkins, A C Grayling and the other so-called New Atheists was widely missed.

Two especially dubious assumptions stand out among current attacks on belief in God – that religious faith is all about assenting to dodgy propositions; and that atheism must represent the default stance for a reasonable, “objective” person.

From a Christian or Jewish or Muslim point of view, the response to the first of these assumptions is that religion is a path of understanding (akin to some of the ancient philosophical schools) that can say little to those who have not set out on the journey. Dr Williams was fond of pointing out that disengaged study misses the point: it is like analysing a piece of music in terms of the decibels in its constituent bars.

But this is certainly not to suggest that Christians and others should ignore reason as they seek to elucidate their creeds. On the contrary, Williams added, it is the second assumption that looks especially wobbly from a believer’s point of view.

Anyone out of short theological trousers should know that God is understood in the monotheistic traditions to possess being in itself, and that therefore God is not any part of reality as we understand it. You can’t add up God and the universe and make two. One of Dawkins’s odder refrains is that any creator of the world would need to be complex, that this complexity would need to arise from natural selection, and that there is no evidence that any being more complex than humanity has evolved so far.

The god pictured by Dawkins is therefore a product of nature, as well as its creator. The mind boggles in the face of such elementary confusion.

Dawkins’s intellectual fig leaf is provided by the physicist Lawrence Krauss, whose book A Universe from Nothing is coy in acknowledging that a “self-explaining” cosmos is dependent on the prior existence of a quantum vacuum – out of which the process known as inflation, giving rise to a Big Bang – can emerge. But a quantum vacuum is not “nothing”, or even a static medium. It is marked by a series of chaotic fluctuations in which particles appear and reappear in a manner consistent with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

The uncomfortable reality for an atheist is that it’s impossible, in the terms naturalism allows, to say how anything could exist at all.

So the grounds for maintaining that the universe was created are more robust than sniffier unbelievers allow. Resistance to this sort of argument is indirectly linked to a more solidly based worry among secularists: the misuse of religion as a vehicle for repression and authoritarianism in parts of the Muslim and Christian worlds. Faith is like fire, to cite a sobering analogy. It warms; but it can also burn. No fair-minded observer can deny that religion has sometimes been put to deeply corrupt use. But it is a mistake to infer from this that spirituality must thereby be swept to the sidelines. The desire to muzzle faith communities can reflect an equal and opposite form of secular intolerance.

As my work unfolded, I regularly encountered not only a series of convincing protests against the New Atheism, but also a critical distinction made by Williams between good and bad models of secularism: the “procedural” and the “programmatic”. Procedural secularism grants no special privileges to any particular religious grouping, but denies that faith is merely a matter of private conviction. “Larger commitments and visions” should be allowed to nourish the public conversation.

The former Archbishop views so-called programmatic secularism in a far less positive light, because it insists on a “neutral” public arena and hives religion off into a purely private domain. Far from resolving clashes of world view, Williams warns, procedural secularism risks inflaming social conflict. His recipe for harmony is “interactive pluralism”, which encourages robust dialogue among faith communities and between them and the state. No one has received the whole truth “as God sees it”, so all have something to learn. Such an engagement is held to contrast with the relativism implied by multiculturalist attitudes: “tolerance of diversity” can conceal a multitude of sins. During all the fury over Williams’s ill-advised comments on sharia law in 2008, his broader argument was obscured.

Sane religious voices matter more than ever for two reasons. Firstly, because secularism has gone into reverse. Three-quarters of humanity now professes a religious faith; that figure is projected to reach 80 per cent by 2050. Secondly, because despite religion’s status as the pre-eminent source of social capital on earth, the destabilising effects of religious fanaticism are nevertheless plain to see far from Iraq and Syria.

In his own defence of theism, Williams appeals to the imagination as putting human life in a fresh perspective. This narrative is at once bold and reserved. Bold in seeing a potent pointer to God in this worldly existence. Bold about the resources good religion offers for addressing love and loss, transgression and redemption. Reserved in warning about the risks of saying too much too dogmatically. And Williams can still write of the Communion he led from 2002 to 2012 as a trusty home for visions of this kind. As he put it recently, Anglicanism at its best has tried to evince the Benedictine values of courtesy, hospitality, generosity and a reflective, practical faith. This vision forms a pearl of great price.

The new edition of ‘Rowan’s Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop’, by Rupert Shortt, is published by Hodder

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This paragraph in the article states a resounding truth – about religious belief and the dangers of religious fundamentalism:

“Sane religious voices matter more than ever for two reasons. Firstly, because secularism has gone into reverse. Three-quarters of humanity now professes a religious faith; that figure is projected to reach 80 per cent by 2050. Secondly, because despite religion’s status as the pre-eminent source of social capital on earth, the destabilising effects of religious fanaticism are nevertheless plain to see far from Iraq and Syria.”

Here is plain evidence of the fundamental sanity of the faith of our former Archbishop of Canterbury. What ever his perceived failing as ABC, he is probably one of the most spiritually alert of the bishops of the Anglican Communion. A good match for any atheistic contention against the place of religious faith in the human sphere.

The major point of Rowan’s thesis may be that fundamentalist religion of any flavour can be deleterious of any meaningful  spiritual understanding of a Loving Creator God of ALL.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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