Bishop Jake – on Love at the heart of our human being.

Giving and receiving love gives life meaning. Makes life worth living.

POSTED ON BY JAKEOWENSBY IN GRACEMATTHEW 22:34-46

Almost forty percent of the births in the United States each year result from unintended pregnancies. Unsurprisingly, then, there are scores and scores of articles offering parents advice on whether or not to tell their children that they were an “accident.”

Some parents fear that their children will feel unwanted if they learn the truth. Most child development experts assure their readers that well-loved children will not be bothered by the truth that their mother’s pregnancy was unplanned.

In other words, when children are sure that they are loved, they know in their gut that they are not really an accident. They belong here. Without them, their family—and for that matter this universe—would have a ghastly, aching hole in it.

That’s how powerful love is. Giving and receiving love makes life meaningful. Makes life worth living. In fact, without love, we would cease to exist as individuals and as communities.

Jesus said as much once when he was being indirectly criticized for playing fast and loose with the Torah. You see, a few leaders in the religious establishment perceived Jesus as a threat to their status. So, in order to discredit him with his followers, they asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:34-46)

Earlier in Jesus’s ministry, this group had criticized him for violating the Sabbath law. His friends had plucked grain for their lunch and, on the same day, Jesus himself had healed a man with a withered hand. (Matthew 12:1-14) They weren’t really asking him to give them a lesson on higher and lower laws. They were implying that Jesus willfully flaunted the law.

Jesus responded with words from the Torah itself. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind (Deuteronomy 6:5) and love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Today, many of us call this the Summary of the Law.

But Jesus was not interested in trying to justify breaking Sabbath law with reference to a higher law. He was explaining the very essence of God’s law: the role of love in human existence.

When Jesus teaches us to love God with every particle of our being, he’s not urging us to muster up devotion for a Being that we might just as well live without. He’s telling us to recognize that, by our very nature, we are what philosophers and theologians call contingent beings.

God’s love not only brought us into existence but also sustains us at every nanosecond. The theologian Karl Rahner put it like this: “You are the One without whom I cannot exist, the Eternal God from whom alone I, a creature of time, can draw the strength to live, the Infinity who gives meaning to my finiteness.” (Encounters with Silence, p. 7)

Without love—God’s love that brings us out of nothingness into life at each instant—we would not exist. We are, from head to toe, the beloved. And so is everyone else.

In this world so obsessed with measuring others by their productivity for the sake of economic competitiveness, we can lose sight of Jesus’s basic message that our neighbor is the beloved. Period. Instead, we can treat our neighbors as commodities, as disposable means to the end of a larger bottom line. We can make life into a competition in which there are winners and losers.

Jesus reminds us to recognize our neighbor as the beloved, not because of their achievements or their usefulness, but because that is who they always already are. The beloved of God. As Wendell Berry puts it, “Rats and roaches live by competition under the law of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.” (What Are People For?, p. 135)

There is no escaping it. We love God by loving our neighbor whom God already loves. “If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1John 4:12) Without love for neighbor, we destroy community and forfeit the sense of belonging and significance it conveys. We begin to feel like accidental humans.

But Jesus’s message is clear and consistent. No one is an accident. Everyone is God’s beloved. Everyone belongs. And it is our role, our calling in life to reinforce that truth for one another.

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Bishop Jake, of The American Episcopal Church (TEC) is a frequent blogger on his website jakeowensby.com. Each article of his is well-worth the few minutes it takes to read. His basic understanding here is that every human being is loved into existence by the will and purpose of God. Sadly, this is a reality that many people – especially those without faith or experience of love in their lives – may not understand.

However, today, in the light of the COVID Pandemic perhaps more than ever, each person needs to know that their life is not a mere ‘accident’ but an intentional loving work of our Creator, God, in whose image and likeness each one of us has been intentionally brought into being. The most perfect of these images was the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus, whose life was dedicated to demonstrating ‘The great love of God as revealed in the Son’. As each one of us behaves and loves others – in the same way as Jesus, without prior judgement but rather, accepting and loving one another – despite our perceived difference – so we fulfil the purpose for which we have been created.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Evolution, Cooperation, and God

Thursday, October 15, 2020 7:35 AM – Sarah Coakley – Church Life Journal

Evolution, Cooperation, and God

Sarah Coakley on the compatibility of recent evolutionary discoveries with classical theism.

Read more »    

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In a time of international concern about the environmental impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic, when people are beginning to ponder on the connection between Faith and the Creation, Professor Sarah Coakley‘s article is most apt.

Sarah is an Anglican priest/theologian with links to Both Cambridge and Harvard Universities, whose seminal work in both places has given her a niche in the forefront of academic theology.

Now, more than ever in the Church’s struggle for a voice in the current uncertainty about the place of religion in our environment of uncertainty about the future of our planet, Sarah’s prophetic voice can help us to understand the interface that exists between science and religion.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gicd_1gWiCI

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Conference urges Church to abandon abuse of LGTB+

UK churches urged to wake up to spiritual abuse of LGBT people

Online conference this weekend will discuss how churches can defuse ‘ticking timebomb’

Gay rights demonstration

A gay rights demonstration outside the Church of England headquarters in London in 2017. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/ShutterstockHarriet Sherwood@harrietsherwoodSat 17 Oct 2020 06.00 BST

Spiritual and emotional abuse of LGBT people is a “ticking timebomb” for churches in the UK and could lead to legal action and demands for redress, campaigners have said.

“Churches urgently need to wake up to spiritual, emotional and psychological abuse. If they don’t protect young people, the consequences will be massive. This is coming, and it will be a disaster,” said Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister and founder of the Oasis charity.

About 400 church leaders from different denominations are expected to take part in an online conference on Saturday to discuss how churches can be made safe for LGBT people. The practices of many churches “amount to serious and sustained abuse”, said Chalke, who has organised the Creating Sanctuary conference. “Without action, the coming years are likely to see a crop of high-profile prosecutions that, following the current scandals about child sexual abuse, will further damage the reputation of the whole church.”

In a message of support to the conference, Elton John said: “The failure of many churches to welcome, accept and include LGBTQ+ people creates stigma, loneliness, fear and denial, causing lasting damage to their wellbeing and mental health.” Churches must be safe and affirming, he said.

Jayne Ozanne, a prominent figure in the Church of England and a speaker at the conference, said spiritual abuse of LGBT people was “the next big scandal” for the church following decades of disgrace over child sexual abuse.

“It’s a ticking timebomb. When I first spoke out, I felt I was the only voice. Now I’m one of thousands, and people are feeling more and more emboldened to tell their stories,” she said. Campaigners say charismatic and evangelical churches that tell LGBT people they are an abomination or possessed by demonic forces are driving some towards self-harm and suicide.

Some churches practise “deliverance ministry”, which can include physical violence. Ozanne was hit with a Bible during “healing therapy” to “cure” her homosexuality, which led to a breakdown.

“If you are told that your desires are sinful, you desperately want it to work and your prayers to be answered. You submit yourself, thinking you’re doing the right thing. When it doesn’t work, when you still have those desires, the result is terrible anguish,” she said. “People think this is only happening in developing countries, but actually it’s happening here in the UK in white, middle-class churches too.”

Churches also cause damage by excluding LGBT people. Simon Butler, the vicar of St Mary’s, Battersea, and a member of the Archbishops’ Council, the C of E’s executive body, wrote last week: “For as long as I can remember, I have had to listen to simply dreadful stories emerging from certain evangelical and charismatic churches … [LGBT people] find themselves silenced, removed from every ministry and leadership role and generally treated like pariahs.” He said a “culture of fear” existed in such churches, alongside “the subtle and overt withholding of love or placing conditions on it, and silencing of dissent. It is, by any stretch of the imagination, a form of abuse.”

Following the publication this month of a damning report on the C of E by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA), the church needs to “get to grips” with other forms of abuse like spiritual abuse, Butler told the Guardian. “There is a culture in some places that must be challenged.”

Last week the bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, was accused of “virtue-signalling vacuousness” after she responded to the IICSA report by tweeting that the church needed to act and change.

Robert Thompson, the vicar of St Mary’s and St James’ in Kilburn, said he had reported to the diocese three concerns “around the spiritual and emotional abuse and safeguarding” of LGBT people in the past two years. “Due diligence and process has not been followed in any of them,” he said.

Six years ago a Manchester teenager, Lizzie Lowe, took her own life after telling friends she feared her church would not accept her if she came out as a lesbian. The church has since adopted a policy of inclusion.

In another diocese, in the south of England, a mother has formally complained to church safeguarding officials after her child, who was struggling with their sexuality, was given books by their church saying LGBT people needed to be cured. “I felt my child was unsafe and I was being silenced,” she told the Guardian.

In 2017, the C of E’s ruling body, the General Synod, condemned so-called conversion therapy as unethical and potentially harmful and called on the government to ban it. In July this year Boris Johnson said the government would take action against the “abhorrent” practice once it had completed a study.

Chalke said the aim of Saturday’s conference was to advise churches that they had a legal duty to keep children and vulnerable adults safe from abuse. “People are more willing to say publicly that they have been abused, and they will take it to court if necessary,” he said. “Whether churches are driven to take action because they genuinely want to care for people, or whether this is just about self-preservation, it’s wake-up time.”

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This Conference in the U.K. is devoted to a desire to warn the Churches of the U.K. that their abuse (or dismissal) of LGBT+ people in their communities can no longer be countenanced.

Gathered this weekend in online conference, Church Leaders and others will seek to find ways of bringing in an ethos of loving acceptance of ALL people within their communities – a matter deemed necessary in order to de-escalate the possibility of further harm to such people by Churches continuing to preach ‘against’ homosexuality and other gender and sexuality differences and relationships that are constant and faithful in their capacity for mutual ‘comfort and support’ – a faculty noted as necessary for decent and enduring partnerships within society.

Jane Ozanne, a member of the Church of England’s General Synod will tell of her own experience of mental breakdown – after being subjected to a ‘deliverance ministry’ (which was seen to be necessary in her church community for the purpose of ‘delivering’ her from her homosexual identity) that failed to secure its intentional purposes and became instrumental in her eventual breakdown:

“Some churches practise “deliverance ministry”, which can include physical violence. Ozanne was hit with a Bible during “healing therapy” to “cure” her homosexuality, which led to a breakdown. (apparently this still happens in the U.K.)

This spiritual violence; which sadly is still sometimes resorted to in congregations of conservative Evangelical parishes whose Vicar and lay ministry teams – where the very existence of homsexuality or any other sexual or gender identity than the heterosexual identity is considered anathema and demonic – persist in a ‘ministry’ which is now understood to be not only unethical and unhelpful but also, in some cases, destructive of the subject’s faith and mental well-being .

Such outdated treatment of LGBT+ people is now considered – by both scientific and spiritual authorities – to have been mistaken in the past, and to have caused damage to the well-being of mind and body of the subjects of cruel and archaic ‘therapy’ for what had been once deemed ‘sinful’ and even ‘demonic’, but which is now considered by enlightened social and spiritual authorities as being just a part of the wide spectrum of gender/sexual identity.

Father Ron Smith, christchurch, New Zealand

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Pope calls for more female leadership in the church

  1. CathNews NZ Pacific

Pope calls for more female leadership in the church

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

Pope Francis used his post-Angelus remarks to call for more female leadership in the church.

He would like women to “participate more in areas of responsibility in the church.”

“Today there is a need to broaden the spaces for a more incisive female presence in the church,” he said on October 11, “because in general women are set aside. We must promote the integration of women into places where important decisions are made.”

Adding, however, that women leaders in the church must maintain their vocation as laity and not fall into “clericalism.”

Pope Francis has made many gestures to give momentum to this desire to give women greater weight in the Church.

“Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded,” he wrote in Evangelii Gaudium.

Fr. Frédéric Fornos S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, says that since 2013, much has been accomplished, but more needs to be done.

Earlier, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ parable from the Gospel of Matthew about the king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. When the initially invited guests did not arrive, he sent his messengers out to invite anyone and everyone.

God loves and has prepared a banquet for everyone — “the just and sinners, the good and the bad, the intelligent and the uneducated.” Every Christian is called to go out to the highways and byways sharing God’s invitation to the feast, Pope Francis said.

“Even those on the margins, even those who are rejected and scorned by society, are considered by God to be worthy of his love,” the pope told the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray with him.

The church as a whole and each of its members, he said, are called to go out to “the geographic and existential peripheries of humanity, those places at the margins, those situations where those who have set up camp are found and where the hopeless remnants of humanity live.”

“It is a matter of not settling for comfort and the customary ways of evangelization and witnessing to charity,” the pope said, but rather “opening the doors of our hearts and our communities to everyone, because the Gospel is not reserved to a select few.”

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Pope Francis enunciates what many people – including Roman Catholics – feel about the status of women in the Church. However, he does stop short of recommending their priestly ordination –

………women leaders in the church must maintain their vocation as laity and not fall into “clericalism.”

While recommending their full inclusion into the adminstration and management of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis – by his reference to ‘clericalism’ – indicated that he is not ready to accept the possibility of ordination of women into the Sacred Ministry of his Church.

While Pope Francis uses his influence in the Catholic Church in a way that can only be beneficial for the prospect of an equal sharing of lay government and administration by women, it is interesting that he should stop short of presenting a case for their ordination – citing the problem of ‘clericalism’ as the reason for not proceeding to what might seem a natural progression for the role of women in the Church.

No doubt, although Pope Francis expresses a sincere intention for the equality of status for both male and female members of the Church, the current dogmatic insistence on a male-only priesthood is so deeply ingrained within the culture and praxis of the Vatican Tradition, that even the Pope would be courting rebellion amongst the conservatives among the College of Cardinals is he were ever to contravene this deeply-held tradition

However, for the Pope to encourage a feminisation of the Church’s administrative wing must be seen as a fillip to the women of the Church who have long wanted to take their rightful place as sharers in its governmental polity and administration. In the meantime, women may have to wait a little longer for a change in the climate of exclusion from sharing in the Catholic Church’s clerical functions.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Living in Love and Faith – Is There Really Hope for Change?

Resignations, Dysfunctionality and the House of Bishops

Posted on October 9, 2020 by Jayne Ozanne

Editor of ViaMedia, Director of the Ozanne Foundation and Member of General Synod

I resigned from my Bishop’s Council this week.

The decision has been a long time coming – I’ve felt I’ve been hitting my head against a brick wall over our failure to prioritise the poor and disadvantaged, especially given we are such a rich diocese, for years. In fact, I’ve been banging the drum since I got onto Council five years ago. Interestingly, even though we constantly rated serving the poor in our diocese as a “the top priority” during our discussions, it rarely seemed to make the cut into any paperwork . In virtually every meeting I can remember I have had to remind those in authority of the commitments we had agreed as a Council.

I realised things would never change when after one Diocesan Synod meeting I was told, when the priority yet again failed to be mentioned to those gathered, that it was because it was too long to fit on the slide! All rather ironic given that we’d just had a report that emphasised the real issue in our diocese was that of “hidden poverty”

In truth, I know I was as tired of banging my drum as Council members were of hearing it. So, eventually, it got to the point where I felt that the best way for them to hear me was by my absence. You see, sometimes leaving is the only way left for people to be heard….

Since I resigned, I’ve been reflecting on why it is so difficult for those in the central Church or Diocesan structures to hear what those outside or on the fringes of the Church see as completely obvious. It came into sharp focus again this week with the IICSA report which stated what so many of us have been saying for some time now – that we need a completely independent safeguarding system in the Church in order for it to be fully functional.

I have decided that the real problem is that our boards and councils are populated by mostly white, mostly male, mostly middle class and mostly middle aged (and that’s being kind) people who all hold virtually the same world view – and who are incapable of recognising that there is legitimacy to any other view other than their own. Because they all end up endorsing each other, they confirm their own legitimacy, and nothing therefore ever changes.

That’s why we find it difficult to embrace those from other backgrounds – those that are different to the monochrome “norm” that the Church of England has built into the warp and weft of its very foundations. You just have to look at the make up of General Synod to see what I mean.

It is why we’ve an appalling record on nearly every measure of diversity – we are seen by those “on the outside and margins” as racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic. We are outrageously bad at dealing with people with differing abilities too. Although it’s “not good show” of course for us to admit this in public.

And what does this “monochrome” system result in? Well, I won’t be popular in saying this, but I believe this ultimately results in the single most critical problem for us as a Church. It’s the real root of most of our problems, which few are prepared to admit let alone publicly name – it is that we have a leadership structure that is, I’m afraid to say, deeply dysfunctional. It seems our House of Bishops operates like a boys public school, with prefects and head boys who whip the younger boys (and they are of course mostly boys!) into line. It may seem like the body that so many aspire to, but once you’re there you get sucked into colluding with a system that few feel able to break free from. Although thankfully, there are some brave individuals who do.

It is interesting to question why so few have called this out publicly over all these years?

Especially given that to many of us on the outside and fringes this dysfunction is plain to see. We have bishops leading double lives, which no one seems to bother about or challenge. We have bishops preaching one thing and practicing another, particularly when it comes to the way in which they treat LGBT+ clergy in their midst. We have bishops who lament safeguarding failures, but whose own record is pretty poor. It all leads to a postcode lottery, which everyone knows about but no one does anything about because they (we?) have all got too much to lose…or worse, that they don’t think that somehow anyone will notice.

But we do, and we all know. The charade was up a long time ago.

It’s just like my own experience with Bishop’s Council – no one can be bothered to bang the drum any more. We are resigned to letting it all continue, with no one rocking the boat.

But time is running out. Many are tiring of this game. And they’re leaving.

So much so that soon the primary problem won’t be the fear of people rocking the boat, but rather the fear of ensuring that there are still people who are prepared to sail in it!

So reform is needed – and it needs to start at the top.

The House of Bishops is about to release resources for the Church of England to engage with over sexuality. What they seem to have failed to see (again!) is that the vast majority of people in the pews made up their minds about LGBT issues long ago….what they’re waiting for is for the House of Bishops to finally do so themselves. And to do so in a way that has some credibility.

So it’s time the House of Bishops had an OFSTED inspection. They need to turn the mirror on themselves and take a long hard look at what they see. They need to be honest about their dysfunctionality, their divisions and their double standards.

Miracles can happen – and with God’s grace this might just be one of them. Goodness knows we need it!

(n.b: Jayne Ozanne is a prominent British evangelical Anglican. Having come out as gay in 2015, she campaigns for gay equality within the Church of England)

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Jayne Ozanne is a member of the General Synod of the Church of England. She has also, up until the date of her resignation, been a member of the Bishops’ Council of that Church. Jayne was elected onto the Bishops’ Council principally for her experience of being gay and as a spokesperson for the LGBTQI+ Community in the Church.

From this article, is becomes obvious that, though Jayne is well-known and respected as being both gay and a member of the Church of England, with a dedicated mission to help the Church to come to a truly pastoral understanding of her community, she has come to the end of her tether with the way in which the Bishops’ Council seems set to eternally equivocate on matters of gender and sexuality, while the world outside of the Church moves on, with a growing wonder at the Church’s seeming indifference to the treatment of those whose gender or sexual identity – through no fault of their own – is different from the predominant ‘binary’ model.

While the Church of England’s bishops are now agonising about its past reputation for sexual abuse of adults and minors by Church officials in the past (with the urgent need to address both its reputation of episcopal suppression of details and the need to provide counselling and financial reparation for the ‘victims’); there seems little appetite among them to address the need for a more humane and pastoral treatment of the LGBTQI people who are amongst its bishops, clergy and congregations.

Hypocrisy is now openly recognised as one of the more dangerous failings of religious people and the institutions they serve. This was a failing that Jesus Christ sought to eliminate amongst his own followers, having already criticised the Jewish Leaders for their lack of attention to their own failure to address this very important moral issue.

While the Churches continue to close their eyes to this aspect of justice for the LGBTQI+ community, whose intrinsic difference in sex or gender identity is not of their own making; the rest of the civilised world will just dismiss this as being another sign of the Church’s inconsistency in it’s attempts to propagate a Gospel of God’s Love for ALL people – regardless of their natural attributes of class, race, gender or social status.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Eric Trump Claims His Dad ‘Literally Saved Christianity’

U.S. NEWS 10/06/2020 11:37 pm ET

Just like he’s saving Christmas and Thanksgiving.

headshot

By Josephine Harvey

Eric Trump has added a new fake achievement to his dad’s collection. 

He claimed during a radio interview in North Dakota last week that his father, President Donald Trump, “literally saved Christianity.”

“He literally saved Christianity. There’s a full-out war on faith in this country by the other side,” Eric Trump claimed on WZFG-AM on Friday. “I mean, the Democratic Party, the far left, has become the party of the quote-unquote atheist. They want to attack Christianity, they want to close churches, they want to ― they’re totally fine keeping liquor stores open ― but they want to close churches all over the country.”

Some Democrats pushed for churches ― along with schools, businesses and other nonessential spaces ― to be shuttered or opened at limited capacity while the deadly COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country. 

The president, whose white evangelical Christian supporters have remained among his most loyal during his time in office, made an empty demand that places of worship be reopened in May. However, he had no power to do so, and the decision ultimately fell to governors and local officials.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=JosieHarvey_&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=true&id=1313554927529062400&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffpost.com%2Fentry%2Feric-trump-literally-saved-christianity_n_5f7d2355c5b6e5aba0d1d927&siteScreenName=HuffPost&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Beyond the churches claim, Eric Trump cited no other examples of what exactly Christianity was being attacked by or what Trump did to save it. He claimed Democrats are out to get the religion, even though the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers identify themselves as Christians.

The claim can be tallied up beside the Trump family’s other baseless self-proclaimed achievements, which include saving Christmas and Thanksgiving from the nonexistent “wars” they claim are being waged against the holidays.

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How far will the Trump Family go to get the American people to vote for The Donald at this upcoming Presidential Election? Words fail me  :

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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The Beginnings of Anglican Franciscans

On the web-site – https://www.achs.org.uk/ (hosted by an Anglican priest friend, Fr. Perry Andrew Butler), I noticed this contribution from another Anglican member of the Anglican Catholic History society, Simon Bees, whose story about the celebrated Anglican Friar and Founder Member of S.S.F. (Anglican) ‘Father Andrew’ reminds us of the resurgence of the Franciscan life in the Church of England – as one of the ongoing resulting influences of the Anglo-Catholic OXFORD MOVEMENT in that country and overseas.

In the Octave of the Feast of Saint Francis (Feast-day October 4) this is a timely pointer to the need of the Church to re-consider Christ’s mission to the poor and marginalised of society that Blessed Francis, son of a well-to-do merchant in Assisi in the 13th century, was called to address:

Simon Bees‘s post:

“As we celebrate the life of St Francis of Assisi, we recall an early Anglican Franciscan. Fr. Andrew (Society of the Divine Compassion) Henry Ernest Hardy (later known as Father Andrew) (7 January 1869 – 31 March 1946) was a British Anglican clergyman and friar, who co-founded the Society of Divine Compassion to work with the poor in the East End of London.

Hardy was born in Kasauli, India; his father was a colonel in the Indian army. After growing up in India, he attended Clifton College[1] and an art school in Bristol, before studying at Keble College, Oxford, where he obtained a fourth-class degree in theology in 1891. While he was at Oxford, Arthur Winnington-Ingram (a Keble graduate who at the time was head of Oxford House in the East End of London, and later became Bishop of London) visited the university seeking volunteers to work with the poor.

Hardy offered his services and moved to Oxford House in October 1891, where he combined administrative work with practical assistance to the needy.[2] In January 1894, his thoughts about combining a religious life and work with poor residents of London led him and two others (James Adderley and Henry Chappel) to found the Society of the Divine Compassion, taking religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and for his religious name: “Andrew”.

Brother Andrew was ordained a priest, following studies at Ely Theological College. The new society was then based in Plaistow, in the East End, and its members staffed St Philip’s Church. Father Andrew was the last of the original three members of the community (Adderley left in 1897, and Chappel died in 1915) and was its central figure for many years, as well as acting as priest-in-charge of St Philip’s from 1916 until his death, apart from a year spent on retreat in Southern Rhodesia. He was highly regarded as a confessor, spiritual guide and religious writer. (A bishop described him as a great man, such as God sends only once or twice in a generation.) He was also a talented painter. His health, which had troubled him for many years, worsened as a result of the strain imposed by the Second World War, which hit the East End severely – the church was bombed twice. He developed cancer, and died on 31 March 1946.”

(Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams is a Patron of A.C.H.S)

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, new Zealand

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Roman Catholic Theologian Supports women’s Ordination

Scripture scholar John Wijngaards lays out the reasons to ordain women

Oct 3, 2020by Hille Haker– OpinionJusticeTheology (National Catholic Reporter)

(Dreamstime/Peter Titmuss)(Dreamstime/Peter Titmuss)

WHAT THEY DON’T TEACH YOU IN CATHOLIC COLLEGE: WOMEN IN THE PRIESTHOOD AND THE MIND OF CHRIST By John Wijngaards – 216 pages; Acadian House$16.95

In a small, very readable and well-argued book, John Wijngaards presents his decadeslong research on women’s ministry. The reader of What They Don’t Teach You in Catholic College: Women in the Priesthood and the Mind of Christ is invited to follow him on a journey that recalls his own awakening shortly after the Second Vatican Council to his present scholarship on the issue.

Wijngaards’ verdict is unequivocal: If the church continues to ignore insights from Scripture, reason and experience in favor of the tradition, it perpetuates a cultural prejudice that has held back millions of women. Given the changes in similar teachings, slavery in particular, there is no reason why the position toward women could not change.

Examining Scripture takes up most of the book. It is moving to see the argument develop in close readings of biblical texts. Jesus’ words, deeds and relationships to women must be read in view of the cultural context of women’s subordination, Wijngaards argues. Jesus did not call for the radical overthrow of the patriarchal order — but neither did he call for the abolition of the institution of slavery.

The Gospel of Luke highlights the importance of women in the formation of the church. Regarding Jewish religious institutions, Jesus radically questioned an exclusivist understanding of priestly sacrality and sacredness and instead preaches the grace and love of God who dwells in the heart of everyone.

While the 12 apostles were the first authentic witnesses of faith, they were not the only part of the emerging ministry. According to Acts, the members of the early community experienced the Spirit’s presence as overcoming cultural and social divisions. Wijngaards carefully reconstructs the development of these early communities and their governance structures.

He emphasizes that according to Paul, in the Christian communities, sex, class or race must not play a role, and he names the explicit pastoral qualifications for priesthood, which included men and women. The Letter to the Hebrews summarizes these as vocation, suffering, compassion and kindness in dealing with others. None of these qualities are gendered.

Yet, examining the second source of theological judgment — tradition — Wijngaards acknowledges that the classical teaching excluded women from priesthood.

The obstacles to women’s leadership have always been their body and their sex. Until the revision in 1917, canon law ascribed a natural weakness of mind to women, asserting that they are not created in the image of God and, by nature, are subject to men. Established especially by the most influential theologians of medieval theology, including Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure, this view confused cultural bias with natural and divine law.

Wijngaards, however, counters that “tradition” must necessarily be complemented by the other sources of theological judgment, lest it become biased. Just as the Catholic Church claimed that women are inferior, it also claimed that slaves are “naturally” subordinate, and it continued this teaching until the late 19th century.

Regarding women’s ministry, the obstacle that prevents them from being ordained is still their sex: They are equal in dignity to men, it is now stated, but they must be excluded from priesthood because they do not physically resemble the “Son of Man.”

John Wijngaards

Finally, the experiences of the faithful must also be considered. After the Second Vatican Council, Wijngaards recalls, many Catholics expected that ministries would soon be reorganized to match reforms, especially the understanding of sacramentality.

Wijngaards left the priesthood because of the church’s teaching on sexuality, and from then on, dedicated his work to the equal rights of women in the church. In the book, he quotes from letters he has received over the years as well as recalling the experiences of women religious who work in Christian communities in the absence of priests. They all lament the full recognition of women’s ministry.

Wijngaards’ book encourages Catholics to seriously engage with their faith. He provides readers with theological reflections that recalibrate a faith tradition that is at risk of losing its core mission: to remember the words and deeds of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and then to go and do as Jesus taught.

Christians believe that they walk in the presence of the Spirit who, as Wijngaards reminds them, accompanies them throughout history. The Spirit-advocate assists the faithful in discerning their judgments when faced with new challenges.

If the Eucharist is to be held in memory of the son of a human who is, at the same time, the Son of God, the church must stop being fixated on gender: Jesus’ gender or, for that matter, the apostles’ gender, is not a special gift.

Likewise, the church must stop regarding women’s gender as a flaw. This narrowing of one’s perspective is “traditionalist” in all the wrong ways: It contradicts rather than reflects the sources of theological judgment that ought to inform the tradition. By manipulating the reading of Scripture, dismissing reason and disrespecting the experience of the sense of the faithful, the Vatican has returned to a tradition that is undeniably part of its history.

Women are capable and needed as ministers. The church can, at any time, return to the praxis of the first centuries, ordain women as deacons and ordain women as priests, whether in extraordinary or regular circumstances.

Independent of whether one follows this conclusion or not, the book is a valuable source for anyone interested in learning about theological reasoning and discerning women’s ministry in the church.

[Hille Haker holds the Richard McCormick Endowed Chair for Theological Ethics at Loyola University Chicago.] 

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This Roman Catholic Theologian, Daniel Wijngaarde D.D., I.SS, has made a specific study of the case for Women in the Ministry of the Church; the fruits of which are revealed in this brand-new (small) book now available from Publishers: Acadian House.

In his use of The Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, and a modern understanding of the place of women in the Church and society, Daniel presents a very plausible case for the inclusion of women in the ministry of the Roman Catholic Church. Here is one of the paragraphs that perhaps sumarisies his argument:

“…… the church must stop regarding women’s gender as a flaw. This narrowing of one’s perspective is “traditionalist” in all the wrong ways: It contradicts rather than reflects the sources of theological judgment that ought to inform the tradition. By manipulating the reading of Scripture, dismissing reason and disrespecting the experience of the sense of the faithful, the Vatican has returned to a tradition that is undeniably part of its history.”

Whether this book will be allowed to influence the rule-makers at the Vatican, whose stolid argument against women clergy has been maintained – despite the decision made by other Church bodies to recognise and welcome such ministries – is yet to be seen. However, with the obvious openness by Catholic Universities such as Loyola in the U.S. to openly supporting such literature, it could be that those women in the Catholic Church who feel called into the Sacred Ministry of their Church could one day be seen and recognised as authentic deacons, priests, and eventually some be ordained as bishops! In the eirenic era of leadership by Pope Francis, could this be a possibility?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Do Democrats and Republicans worship the same God?

 Melinda Henneberger

OpinionPoliticsThis article appears in the Election 2020 feature series. 

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden are seen during their respective 2020 nominating conventions. (CNS composite/Photos by Carlos Barria, Reuters; Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

After the Democratic National Convention, which already seems like it happened a year ago, the evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham posted on Facebook, “In watching some of the Democratic National Convention on television this week, it has been interesting to see the absence of God. I don’t believe America’s finest hours will be in front of us if we take God out of government and public life.” That post was shared some 97,000 times, and many followers of Jesus and Donald Trump responded with an “amen.”

So how could Graham have missed former Vice President Joe Biden talking about God as his guide in all things? (“I found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose,” he said, and “as God’s children each of us have a purpose in our lives.”) Didn’t he hear the same testimonials I did?

Could be he was refilling the chip bowl when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Joe Biden’s faith in God gives him the strength to lead,” and again when former President Barack Obama said his friend Joe is “someone whose faith has endured the hardest loss there is.” God, as some of us believe is always the case, was everywhere at the Democrats’ convention.

But then, maybe Graham didn’t recognize the God who was so in evidence at the DNC. Just as, to be honest, I’m not overly familiar with the one evoked at the Republican National Convention.

They were so different, in fact, that I’m afraid that it’s no longer true, as Obama suggested in his career-making keynote at the DNC in 2004, that we worship the same “awesome God” in the blue states as in the red.

Biden’s faith compels him to get up every day determined to help the people God puts in front of him, from a boy with a stutter to that stranger’s Grammy he offered to sit with in the hospital. And then they weren’t strangers anymore.

Trump’s God is more of a life coach, and one with nothing but encouragement. He has said in the past that he has never really asked God for forgiveness. Even when told that might actually be required of him as a Christian, he said, “Hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness.” Especially, he said, since he does so well with Christian voters. “Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence.” What his faith tells him is that if he did it, then it must not be wrong. And if someone he disagrees with did it, well then it can’t be right. This attitude is contagious, apparently.

The God evoked by Lou Holtz at the RNC was, well, Lou Holtz himself, judging Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to be “Catholics in name only.” (Actually, Coach, she’s a Baptist.)

Sr. Dede Byrne’s God has assured her that “Donald Trump is the most pro-life president this nation has ever had, defending life at all stages.” If life ended at birth, this would be accurate.

Mike Pence’s God seems to feel strongly about gun rights, in keeping with “all of the God-given rights enshrined in our Constitution, including the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.” And racially, I’m sorry to say, Pence’s God might not even be on the side of the angels.

“If you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted,” Pence said of Trump, then “he’s not your man. “Heritage” in this context is a full-throated shout-out to Dixie, and though white supremacy has always been rationalized by biblical references, that distortion has always been wrong.

Fact-checking a political speech is almost always a workout, but for such a godly bunch, there was an awful lot of flat-out lying from Republican speakers. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said President Biden would “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that if Joe Biden wins this thing, the government will even be coming for our hamburgers.

There’s quite a difference between believing that we’re all of equal worth in God’s eyes, and humble before him, and that, as Trump says, “There is no one like us on Earth” and that we refuse to be “tied down, held back, or in any way reined in.”

I really don’t want to believe that Trump’s Republican Party worships nothing more unreservedly than Trump himself; that can’t be right.

But listening to one speaker after another praise him as “the defender of Western civilization” and someone without whom we’d be utterly lost — “Can you imagine what would happen to us if President Trump had not shown up in 2016 to run for president?” — I will say that I’ve never put that kind of faith in any politician, and wouldn’t want to.

[Melinda Henneberger is a columnist and editorial writer for the Kansas City Star and writes a monthly column for USA Today.]

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Pastor Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, arrogates to himself (and Donald Trump’s other ‘spiritual advisors’ – mostly Evangelicals but with some notable Catholic bishops – all conservatives) the privilege of ‘Speaking for God’ in the current religious controversy over Trump’s fitness to continue as President of the United States.

As this article’s writer points out here, presidential candidate Joe Biden (Democrat) attributes his motivation to serve the American people to his lively Catholic Faith. For Preacher Franklin Graham to ignore this reality shows just how deeply deceptive is the religious background of fighting for dominance by Trump’s supporters.

When suggesting that, unless Donald Trump is re-elected to the Presidency, the country will descend into chaos, Graham speaks as if he is a ‘Prophet of God’ pointing the people to God’s preferred election result. One problem with that scenario is that Donald Trump himself can hardly be said to represent Christianity at its most basic morality and effectiveness.

Firstly, how can a person present his suitablity for the presidency when failing to pay his taxes? The scandal of Donald Trump’s evasion/avoidance of tax – even while serving as POTUS – shoud surely alert the American public to his complete unsuitability for the office his currently holds, and hopes to continue holding at the upcoming election?

Trump’s outward display of having hands laid on him for God’s Blessing by a group of Pentecostal Pastors (most of whom are doing quite well, at least financially, out of their pastoring) cannot be said to have conveyed a great deal of Gospel integrity on the increasingly despotic rule of the recipient. Trump’s appetite for serving the poor and disadvantaged of the U.S. – a Gospel imperative – would seem to have been singularly lacking so far in his presidency; with the promise of further renunciation of legal rights and benefits for the citizens of the United States to come, if he is re-elected.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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C.of E. Archbishops on the ‘Church in a Pandemic’

England: ‘Renewal’ for church is coming despite ‘trauma’ of pandemic, say archbishopsPosted 7 hours ago

[Church of England] The Church will emerge “renewed and changed” from the crisis of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said.

In a joint address to members of the Church of England’s General Synod, Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell said that amid a time of trauma, loss and struggle in this country and around the world, Christians have proved to be a “people of hope”.

The address came at the start of special, one-day sitting of Synod in London, with reduced numbers, to make a rule change to enable it to meet remotely during pandemic restrictions.

Archbishop Justin acknowledged the multiple challenges and crises we are facing including hunger, poverty, domestic violence and climate change. He said churches have played a vital role serving their communities and bringing hope through the gospel. But the Church itself will, he said, emerge changed.

“We do not know what kind of Church of England will emerge from this time except that it will be different,” he said. “It will be changed by the reality that for the first time all churches have closed – first time in 800 years. It will be changed because for the first time we have worshipped virtually.”

He continued: “Out of these times we will see renewal – not because we are clever but because God is faithful. We will see a renewed and changed Church emerging from the shocks of lockdown. It is a Church that at the most local has fed so many, been in touch with the isolated through the heroic efforts of all who take part in it, of clergy and laity and those who even weren’t near the church before these times.

“It is a Church which has continued to pray and to offer worship through our Lord Jesus Christ, even if in new and unusual ways.”

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Archbishop Stephen spoke with emotion about the impact of pandemic.

“I hate this Coronavirus,” he said.

“I hate it not only because so many people have died, but because so many people have died alone, unable to hold the hand of their beloved.

“I hate it because our health service has been stretched to the limit. I hate it because so many are bereaved and could not even sit next to a family member at a funeral or embrace each other.

“I hate it because weddings and baptisms and ordinations have been postponed or have gone ahead without the parties that were meant to be with them.

“I hate it because children’s schooling has been disrupted. I hate it because so many people are so ill, so many crying out in pain, so many isolated, lonely, fearful, depressed.

“I hate it because behind locked doors terrible things have happened. I hate it because the poor and the disadvantaged have been hit the hardest.

“I hate it because it has left so many people across the world feeling hopeless as if life itself has been taken from us.”

But he said he was also thankful for the faithfulness of all who have served others during the crisis and risen to the challenge.

He added: “I am thankful that despite all the horrors of a Covid world we are learning a new commitment to Christ and how to be a humbler, simpler, church and we are putting Christ at the centre of our lives and learning very, very, very painfully what it really means to be a church that is dependent on Christ alone.

“And I am filled for longing: I long for us to be a more Christ-centered and Jesus-shaped church witnessing to Christ and bringing the healing balm of the Gospel to our nation for this is our vocation.”

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In this time of trial in the U.K. during the resurgence of COVID 19 the Church of England’s 2 Archbishops (Canterbury and York) have issued a statement to the Church’s General Synod about the challenges of ministry at this time. They both speak of its toll on the clergy and people, but they speak also of the fresh challenge of the opportunity for parishes to administer comfort, support and help to their neighbours-in-adversity.

While Archbishop Justin Welby speaks of the fresh opportunity for mission amongst the membership of the Church of England; the archdiocese of York’s newly-appointed Archbishop Stephen Cottrell spent time describing reasons why he has found the onset of the pandemic so debilitating – not only for the Church’s ministry but also for its disastrous effect on the lives of ordinary people in the U.K. and around the world.

Archbishop Stephen then went on to express the hope that the effects of the virus might bring the Church into a time of renewed dedication to the reason for its existence: to depend upon its Founder for enabling whatever ministry is it called to do. He ended with this word of consolation:

“And I am filled (with) longing: I long for us to be a more Christ-centered and Jesus-shaped church witnessing to Christ and bringing the healing balm of the Gospel to our nation for this is our vocation.”

While we, here in Aotearoa/New Zealand are currently enjoying moving down to lower levels of enforced ‘lockdown’ (Auckland to Level 2 and the rest of the country to Level 1) – principally because of our government’s early management of the crisis and New Zealand’s relative isolation from the rest of the world – we cannot but be concerned for other countries of the world (including Australia, the U.K. and Europe) where the crisis has accelerated, rather then being brought under control.

Our Prayers are for our fellow human beings around the world who are still facing further cases of infection and even deaths from the Virus. I shall lead prayers for them at our celebration of the Mass this morning at St.Michael and All Angels, Christchurch.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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