GAFCON/ACNA Archbishop Foley decries dissention

It had to come, sooner or later – a threatened split in the GAFCON/ACNA conglommerate – on the specific grounds of a perceived violation of its own self-advertised affinity on the basis of claiming to be the solely ‘Orthodox’ face of world-wide Anglicanism.

Archbishop Foley Beach (ACNA) Chair of the GAFCON – of which ACNA s the North American face – stands with clergy and people of ACNA in North America who are protesting against GACFON’s African Primates; for allowing women to be ordained bishops in their Churches.

This may just be one of ACNA’s mis-steps in their relationship with the African Churches of GAFCON, whose Archbishops are now accepting the fact that women are fully part of God’s Church and, therefore – despite the opposition of ACNA’s people in North America, whose vision of a purely ‘orthodox’ Church does not include Women Bishops – able to make up their own minds about whom they will, or will not, admit into Holy Orders.

GAFCON, having separated themselves out from the LAMBETH-based World-Wide Anglican Communion on issues of gender and sexuality – on the specific gounds of ‘un-orthodoxy’, on account of the Anglican Communion Church’s acceptance of Gay and Lesbian clergy – is now suffering from a threatened home-grown schism, on account of ACNA’s claim that GAFCON’s African bishop’s are undermining GAFCON/ACNA’s claim to ‘orthodoxy’ by ordaining women as bishops in their local Churches.

The problem with claiming ‘Christian orthodoxy’ as the basis for their separation from the more liberal Churches of the Anglican Communion; leaves GAFCON open to the possibility of being accused of double-standards; not only on the grounds of gender/sexuality, but also on the issue of Women’s Ordination; which the African bishop in GAFCON have decided to explore for themselves without prior consultaion with their U.S. GAFCON/ACNA partners.

It has been said that “Schism can only lead to further schism”. Will this be the end of GAFCON?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Here is the relevant article, published by the CHAIR of GAFCON/ACNA:

A Pastoral Message from Archbishop Beach Regarding Gafcon and Women in the Episcopate

From Archbishop Foley Beach
September 16, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to you today from Nairobi, Kenya at the close of the recent Gafcon Primates Meeting. I am thankful for our global fellowship that is providing encouragement for many, from those undergoing persecution in Nigeria to those grappling with theological innovations in Wales. I encourage you to read more from the press release here.

There is one matter coming out of our meeting that is a challenge for a number of us in the Anglican Church in North America, myself included. The Anglican Church of Kenya recently consecrated a female diocesan bishop, and there has been speculation about how this development might affect our fellowship. At our meeting, the Gafcon Primates agreed we have not come to a consensus on the issue of women in holy orders, and specifically women in the episcopate. At its founding, Gafcon articulated in the Jerusalem Declaration the centrality of the Gospel message of salvation while acknowledging differences in secondary matters and pledging “to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.” Such matters will certainly stretch our fellowship, but our unity in Christ remains strong.

I recognize that this decision will come as a deep disappointment to some. I share in that disappointment. I wish Gafcon were of a common mind on this topic, but the reality is that we are not. However, let us remember that Gafcon founded the Anglican Church in North America, and these orthodox leaders in the Anglican Communion sacrificially put their lives on the line for the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day. This decision does not change how our Province operates as our constitution and canons are clear. Gafcon is not an ecclesial jurisdiction; it is a conference. Nevertheless, we will continue to stand with these brothers and sisters to the greatest extent possible to maintain the Biblical Faith in the Anglican Communion and proclaim the saving Good News of Jesus Christ.

Please join me in praying for the Church:

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen (Prayer for the Universal Church, pg 646, BCP 2019)

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church in North America

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Christianity a relic, time to get creative, says Pope

Christianity is a relic

Christianity is a relic that no longer neither speaks to many people nor affects the way they live their lives, Pope Francis said on Tuesday.

He made the comments to Catholic Church clergy and lay leaders in St Martin’s Cathedral, Bratislava during his pastoral visit to Slovakia.

“The centre of the Church is not the Church itself” the Pope said encouraging the leaders to avoid “self-absorption” and attempts to “make ourselves look good.”

Francis urged the leaders to foster dialogue with both believers and those who do not believe.

“How great is the beauty of a humble Church, a Church that does not stand aloof from the world, viewing life with a detached gaze, but lives her life within the world,” he said.

“Living within the world, let us not forget: sharing, walking together, welcoming people’s questions and expectations. This will help us to escape from our self-absorption, for the centre of the Church … is not the Church.”

Warning against becoming nostalgic for the past or defending Church structures, Francis “We have to leave behind undue concern for ourselves, for our structures and for what society thinks about us”.

“The Church is not a fortress, a stronghold, a lofty castle, self-sufficient and looking out upon the world below,” he said.

“Here in Bratislava, you have a castle and it is a fine one!” he exclaimed.

“The Church, though, is a community that seeks to draw people to Christ with the joy of the Gospel, not a castle!” he emphasized.

Francis said the Church throughout Europe must face the challenges in front of it and find “new languages for handing on the Gospel,” asking, “Isn’t this perhaps the most urgent task facing the Church”?

The Holy Father told the leaders that it was useless to complain and to hide behind a defensive Catholicism that blames the evil world.

Calling for creativity in name of the Gospel, Francis suggested the solution is a fine balancing act.

What the solution is not is on one hand being “content doing what we did in the past” nor on the other hand falling prey to “what the media decide we should do”.

He went on to praise a Church that leaves room “for the adventure of freedom”, rather than “becoming rigid and self-enclosed”.

“In the spiritual life and in the life of the Church, we can be tempted to seek an ersatz peace that consoles us, rather than the fire of the Gospel that unsettles and transforms us,” the pope said in Bratislava.

In concluding his address Francis encouraged the Church leaders to develop people for a mature relationship with God and not to control them too much.

“If you watch how a plant grows all the time, you kill it,” he said in an impromptu aside from his written text.

Returning to his call for creativity Francis said Catholic preachers and those responsible for pastoral care of people “can no longer enter by the usual way, let us try to open up different spaces, and experiment with other means”.

“No one should feel overwhelmed. Everyone should discover the freedom of the Gospel by gradually entering into a relationship with God, confident that they can bring their history and personal hurts into his presence without fear or pretense, without feeling the need to protect their own image.”

“A Church that has no room for the adventure of freedom, even in the spiritual life, risks becoming rigid and self-enclosed. Some people may be used to this.

“But many others — especially the younger generations — are not attracted by a faith that leaves them no interior freedom, by a Church in which all are supposed to think alike and blindly obey.”

He offered three words to help guide Catholics: freedom, creativity, and dialogue.

Then addressing the priests he urged them to “Please think of the faithful… A homily, generally, should not go beyond ten minutes… unless it is really engaging.”

Those gathered in Bratislava’s cathedral for the pope’s address vigorously applauded the remark

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Hat-tip to our local CathNews.N.Z. for this article on a speech made by Pope Francis on his recent pastoral visit to the Church in Slovakia.

Pope Francis is encouraging Church Leaders and the Catholic Laity in Europe to imagine a new and altogether different model of the Church, where the Faithful Laity – including women and young people – have a role in the management of the Church, so that the clergy are not solely held responsible for the Mission of the Church, in which ALL the Baptised are called to take their part as Children of God.

In these times of the COVID Lockdown, when Church attendance is both limited and precarious, Pope Francis sees the need for the Faithful to take responsibility for their own spiritual health, with an openness to dialogue with other people of Faith in a world of a rich diversity, and also counselling the need for openness to new ways of living life and becoming fully human.

In another speech, Pope Francis asked the Church Leaders to concentrate on loving pastoral care, rather than offering lengthy exhortation on matters that tend to divide people, instead of gladly rejoicing in what we all have in common that builds up the local community. With an obvious reference to the sacramental culture wars presently being fought out by conservative Catholic Bishops in the United States, the Pope is counselling a more charismatic attitude towards the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is meant to draw people together ‘en Christo’, and not to separate the ‘pure and holy’ from the rest of us (remembering, perhaps that we are all sinners).

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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GAFCON Divided on Issue of Women Bishops

Catholicam Fidem: An Open Letter on the Consecration of Female Bishops in GAFCON

By Christian Wagner
September 14, 2021

To the Primates and Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church in the Global Anglican Future Conference:

Every Trinity Sunday, we confess that “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith.” This faith has been passed down to us from our Fathers. It is the faith by which we are strengthened and nourished. This is the faith which we are called in our Baptisms to defend and establish to the shedding of our blood. We know no other.

Primates and Bishops of GAFCON, we come before you in humility as our Reverend Fathers in God. You have the fullness of the ministry. You are the successors of the Apostles placed over us. It is in the Spirit of Apostolic charity that we come before you and beg of you to “guard the deposit committed unto thee.” (2 Tim. 1:14) You have sworn in your consecrations “with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word and both privately and openly to call upon, and encourage others to the same.” (1662 Ordinal)

A strange and erroneous doctrine has arisen within our Conference. It is a recent innovation devoid of the marks of antiquity. Within our Conference, a third female has been consecrated to the episcopacy. This is not in line with the Catholic faith handed down to us, which we have been called to guard and defend to the shedding of our blood. In all lowliness and humility, we, the undersigned clergy and laity of GAFCON and all other Orthodox Anglicans of the world, ask you to stand up and “banish and drive away” this “erroneous and strange” practice.

Sign Here: https://www.apologiaanglicana.com/post/catholicam-fidem-an-open-letter-on-the-consecration-of-female-bishops-in-gafcon

Signed,

Christian Wagner, Epiphany Anglican Church, Florida.

Eric Valentine, Calvary, Middletown Pennsylvania

W H Dunne, Diocese of Dublin

Jordan Costantino

Alexis Wagner, Epiphany Anglican Church, Florida

Johnny Lawrence, III

Benjamin Main, Church of the Holy Cross, South Carolina

Matthew J Taylor

Mark Marshall, Lay Reader, Providence REC, Corpus Christi, Texas

Cindy Lange, Lake Almanor, CA

Aidan Besneatte-Cullinane, Mountain City, TN

James Austin, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado, USA

Ralph W. Davis, Sterling, Virginia

Rev. Fr. A. James Gadomski, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Los Altos, CA (Diocese of Mid-America, REC)

Thomas Pfaeffle, San Mateo, CA

A. Beattie, Australia

Rev. Fr. Ricky McCarl, Good Shepherd Anglican Church, Harrisburg Pa (REC)

Bart Wallace

Anthony Meffe

Rev. Dr. James A. Gibson III, Church of the Holy Trinity, Grahamville, Ridgeland, SC

Justin Darrell DeVantier

Aaron Gann

Rev. Richard Reeb, Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, IL

Rev. Terry W. Gatwood, Vicar, All Saints Anglican Church, Monroe, LA

Rev. Nathan Casthro, Anglican Reformed Church of Brazil (IARB) Salvador/Bahia

Linsey Connelly

Kenneth Lopez, Postulant, Diocese of Fort Worth

The Rev. Steve Victory, Rector, Epiphany Anglican Church, Eustis, Florida (Gulf Atlantic Diocese)

Chris Blankenship

The Rev. Edward A. Fitzhugh, Vicar of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, Fort Worth, TX

The Rev. Charles Arthur McCoy, Deacon to the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Miraflores, Peru.

Jonah M. Saller, Emmaus Anglican Church, Maricopa AZ

K. Kevin Murphy, Esq., Junior Warden and seminarian, Good Shepherd Anglican Church (REC) in Harrisburg, PA.

Caden Cramsey, Holy Trinity Anglican Church (REC)

J. Adam Craig, Richmond, Virginia

Joseph Poon, lay member, Diocese of Singapore

Matthew Bergstrom, Lake Almanor, CA. St. Andrews Church (REC)

Josiah W. Sobere, All Saints Anglican Church, Diocese of Cascadia, lay member

Oz Alan, San Diego, CA

Gabriel Galdino, Salvador-BA, Brazil

Allan Santos Pacheco, Brazil.

Paulo Henrique Altrão de Mattos, Severínia-SP, Brazil

Fabio Bighetti, Curitiba-PR, Brazil

The Ven. C. Thomas McHenry, Christ Church at Union Chapel, Bath County, VA (DMAS)

Nathan Lachmann, Brazil.

The Rev. Matt Kennedy, Church of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY.

Josiah Spencer, St. John’s Anglican Church, N. Canton, OH

Bishop William Millsaps, Christ Church Monteagle, Presiding Bishop Emeritus at The Episcopal Missionary Church

Zachary Hertel, Episcopal Diocese of Central Fl (Lay Member)

Cory Byrum, Radford VA

Rian Martins, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Rev. Matthew Brench, Vicar of Grace Anglican Church (ADNE, ACNA)

Dr. J. Brandon Meeks, Theologian-in-Residence, All Saints, Hot Springs, AR (ACNA)

Cameron Williams, Episcopal Missionary Church

Rev. Stephen Lieberman, Christ the King Edmonton, ANiC

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Hat-tip to the conservative U.S. blog: ‘Virtue-on-line’ for this latest news of conflict within the quasi-Anglican Churches of the GAFCON conglomerate, which have set up their own rival ‘Anglican’ sodality – mainly in Africa, but also in North America and other countries (including England, Australia, and New Zealand, where rival ‘Anglican’ Churches have been set up by GAFCON with the intention of replacing the Lambeth/Canterbury-based Anglican Commuion Churches in most places which have moved on from the old culture of sexism and homophobia).

Perhaps not surprisingly, the persistence of patriarchalist sexism within the North-American GAFCON/ACNA member Churches has now found its outlet in this Letter to the GAFCON Leadership (currently headed by separatist ACNA Archbishop Foley in the U.S.A.) objecting to the continuing process in the African GAFCON Provinces of the Consecration of women as bishops – despite this being still a bone of contention within both the Low-Church and High-Church factions of GAFCON. (The irony here is that; for the Objectors, Women’s Ordination conflicts with the GAFCON boast of being ‘ORTHODOX ANGLICAN’).

Like the dispute in the Church of England that led a number of clergy and bishops into the Roman Catholic Ordinariate over the issue of Women’s Ordination; this new initiative in GAFCON exposes a difference of opinion that could split GAFCON – despite the fact that they have hitherto been united in their opposition to other matters (eg; The Blessing of Same-Sex partnerships in mainline Anglican Communion Churches around the world, which was one the the reasons for the raising up of a separatist GAFCON in the first instance).

Whether this matter can be resolved without a split in the ranks of GAFCON is yet to be seen. However, it has been said before that ‘Schism can only beget Schism’.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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STIGMATA – both Catholic & Anglican

Franciscan Padre Pio whose feastday in the Church is on 23rd September, has long been one of my favourite modern-day Saints of the Catholic Church. As one of the very few Christians whose lives have been marked with the wounds of Christ (The Sacred Stigmata – also gifted to Saint Francis of Assisi) – Padre Pio’s example of Holy Poverty within the Franciscan Order has long been a sign of his union with Christ. Since the death of Saint Francis, the Franciscan lifestyle has been perpetuated by several religious order of men and women, both Catholic and Anglican

We Anglicans in this modern age have also encountered witness to Christ’s relationship with one of our own modern-day Stigmatics, Dorothy Kerin, whose Foundation of Healing at Burrswood, in England, has been a testimony to her amazing gift of healing, which she was able to exercise after a time of prayer and preparation when she was virtually raised from what was expected to be her deathbed in her own overnight healing. Her story is recounted in this link, here:

https://www.visionsofjesuschrist.com/weeping1980.html

Having visited the Home of Healing at Burrswood with a group from the Institute of Christian Studies at All Saints, Margaret St., in London in 1970,I must confess that I was most impressed by the attitude of the staff and patients (mostly admitted when mortally ill) whose faith appeared to have born fruit in the incidence of recovery of people whose lives had been in the balance before being admitted to Burrswood.

Sadly, the Burrswood Estate has now been sold out of the guardianship of the Dorothy Kerin Trust during the 2019 Covid Lockdown – into the hands of a group intending to develop the property as a secular health resort. One wonders whal will happen to the lovely chapel?

Fathe Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Statue of Padre Pio

Image: Saint Pio of Pietrecina | San Sebastian Cathedral of Tarlac, Philippines | photo by Ramon FVelasquez

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina’s Story

In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul’s pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter’s Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. “This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio’s teaching,” said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio’s witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to “a privileged path of sanctity.”

Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease.

Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.

At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917, he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.

On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet, and side.

Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities, and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924, and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.

Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This “House for the Alleviation of Suffering” has 350 beds.

A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like Saint Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.

One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.


Reflection

Referring to that day’s Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) at Padre Pio’s canonization Mass in 2002, Saint John Paul II said: “The Gospel image of ‘yoke’ evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo endured. Today we contemplate in him how sweet is the ‘yoke’ of Christ and indeed how light the burdens are whenever someone carries these with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of holiness, which opens the person toward a greater good, known only to the Lord.”

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Who’s In? Who’s Out?- by Bishop Stephen

Sep 8, 2021 | ArticlesNews | 

The following article, by the Right Rev’d Dr Stephen Pickard, Assistant Bishop in the Australian Anglican Diocese of Canberra/Goulburn, is written at a time of threatened division in the Anglican Church of Australia by reactionary bishops and clergy of the GAFCON group led by the Bishops of Tasmania and Sydney – on the issue of whether or not the Provincial Church’s upcoming General Synod provides legislation allowing for the Blessing of Same-Sex Civil Marriage partnerships in the Anglican Church of Australia.

The Anglican Church of Aotearoa/NewZealand has already passed legislation allowing for the Blessing of Same-Sex Marriage partners here – despite the efforts of these bishops from the GAFCON-affiliated dioceses in Australia to dissuade our N.Z. Bishops from acting positively on this Inclusive Church initiative.

These same Australian bishops from the GAFCON group were present, recently, here in Christchurch, New Zealand, to assist in the ordination of a bishop to head the GAFCON-style aternative ‘Anglican Confessional Church’ to rival the official Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealanda and Pacifica (ACANZP). This gathering did not have the blessing of the N.Z. Bishops and is not part of either ACANZP or the world-wide Anglican Communion related to Lambeth and Canterbury in the U.K.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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‘To cherish and strive for a Church that welcomes all shades of faith and keeps the sacramental table open for all – the proud, the foolish, the misguided and the over-zealous – takes courage, tenacity and perseverance. In a fractious and divided world; in a time of great uncertainty beset by a pandemic and “alternative facts”, the Church of God needs to return to the Jesus of the Gospels,’ says The Right Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard.

The alternative title for this short piece could be: ‘Let’s get real about being comprehensive!’ The trouble is the word ‘comprehensive’ doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. But, what it is really about certainly does. How so? Perhaps the best way to explain is to take a step back in time to Post- Reformation England.

In the early 17th century the first great ecumenical theologian of the Church of England, Richard Field, wrote a three-volume treatise (as one does) with the title: Of The Church. Not the most exciting of titles and would be difficult to market today, I’m sure. Field was a colleague of Richard Hooker, the architect of what might be described as Classical Anglicanism.

Field was a deeply learned scholar of a more Calvinist flavour. He was acutely aware of the divisions of Post-Reformation Europe. On English soil, he was concerned about the division between a broad-church Tudor Christianity, espoused by the likes of Hooker, and a resurgent Puritanism. Beyond this internal tension within the English Church, Field recognised the reality of Roman Catholic influence and was aware of the other great traditions of Eastern Christianity. The bitterness and pain of the 16th century reform had left scars and there remained deep unhappiness among the Puritans (or ‘Precisions’ as they were also known) that the Reformation had not gone far enough. In particular, they wanted to replace episcopacy with a Presbyterian form of governance.

So, who’s in and who’s out? Words like ‘inclusive’ and ‘comprehensive’ were not then part of the stock-in-trade language. Field argued that it was premature to pronounce judgement on who was to be included and who was to be jettisoned in the Church of God. For Field it was not a matter of being in or out of the Church of Jesus Christ. In this sense he was following Richard Hooker who argued, for example, that the Roman Church remained part of the visible Church of God, albeit with serious errors that nonetheless did not overturn the foundation of faith. Field agreed. Indeed, he went further, and this gave his work a truly ecumenical edge in a time of rancour and ill will amongst Christians.

Field argued that it was not a question of being in or out, but rather being of the Church. The prepositions were critical. To be of the Church was a more open and humble way of regarding Christians who differed over significant issues of scripture, doctrine, morals and ethics. The visible Church of God was constituted by a variety of different and divided Churches. It included schismatics and even heretics, although Field gave pre-eminence to those of a ‘right believing’ Church. He took a harder line on this than Hooker who spoke of a ‘sound’ Church according to the Rule of Faith (for example, regarding the Apostles’ Creed). However, more importantly, Field was unwilling, for theological and moral reasons, to prematurely unchurch other Christians. He developed what in time became known as the via media of the Anglican Church. In doing so, Field rejected the narrower ecclesial boundaries of Rome and radical Protestantism.

Field’s approach to the Church may not seem particularly earth-shattering to us 400 years on. However, at the time his focus on being of the Church not only offered a far more inclusive, generous approach, it also retained a genuine openness to the future Church. It was simply not possible to say finally who was in or out, either in the present or in the time to come. At this point Field was following in the footsteps of the early Church theologian, Augustine of Hippo.

Field’s vision offered a reality check. Church division was real, and Christians had to learn to live with one another for the sake of witnessing the Gospel. His approach set the gold standard for the shape and character of the Church of England for its future. I say ‘gold standard’ because most certainly subsequent history shows how fragile his vision was and how difficult it was to resist the temptation to close the doors to those who were deemed not acceptable. It is a messy and sad story and, alas, remains so in some parts of the Church. Though from time to time there are those who have kept the flame of an open and generous Church alive. We desperately need more of them today!

To cherish and strive for a Church that welcomes all shades of faith and keeps the sacramental table open for all – the proud, the foolish, the misguided and the over-zealous – takes courage, tenacity and perseverance. In a fractious and divided world; in a time of great uncertainty beset by a pandemic and ‘alternative facts’, the Church of God needs to return to the Jesus of the Gospels.

They bear witness to a saviour who relentlessly kept the doors of the Kingdom open to so many, much to the chagrin and offence of the self-appointed good and righteous in his day. A comprehensive Church is a uniquely and inherently messy and challenging church. It is never the soft option; it is the road less travelled. This is the vocation and mission of those who travel the Anglican Way.

by Bishop Stephen Pickard
This story first appeared in the Southern Queensland Anglican Focus and is reproduced with permission.

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Here is the published information about Bishop Stephen, Asst. Bishop in Canberra/Goulburn :

Assistant Bishop Stephen Pickard

In 2013, the Right Rev’d Dr Stephen Pickard was appointed as the Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

Dr Pickard was consecrated Bishop in Adelaide in 2007. He has held a host of senior positions in the Anglican Church. He was previously assistant bishop in the Diocese of Adelaide and during that time was Chair of Anglicare South Australia and Acting Principal, St Barnabas Theological College.

From 1998 to 2006 he was Director of St Mark’s National Theological Centre and Head of the School of Theology, Charles Sturt University.Bishop Stephen’s Communications

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How will the Decision on S.S Blessings in the Church in Wales affect the C.of E?

A fly on the wall – by Charlie Bell

On Monday 6 September the Governing Body of the Church in Wales voted, after a passionate and moving debate, to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages and civil partnerships in its churches, and authorised a liturgy to be used in these services. Charlie Bell reflects on what this means for the Church in Wales and the Church of England.

This week the Church in Wales did what was almost unimaginable just a decade ago and acknowledged there might be some good in same-sex relationships. By bringing in experimental liturgy for the blessing of both civil partnerships and civil marriages, it has very much opened the doors of the Church and allowed the Spirit in to do its stuff. Presumably, if things go well and the world doesn’t fall apart (and if the evidence from other Anglican provinces is to be believed, the world does indeed not stop turning), the Welsh Church will move to actually perform these weddings in church, not least because the current position is a bit of a theological mess, albeit an understandable one. At the wedding ceremony, the church is witnessing and blessing what two people are committing to and celebrating before God. While the ceremony is not yet taking place in a church building, it is very clear what the direction of travel must be, if only from a position of theological coherence – a blessing is a blessing is a blessing.

For Wales to be taking this step is significant. It is not that long since political machinations ensured the blocking of the episcopacy – for the umpteenth time – of Jeffrey John, and we can only hope that the Church in Wales might have the decency and honesty to apologise to him for the travesty of justice he has suffered at their hands. With a lesbian bishop, and with the extraordinary stories of faithful, committed, loving LGBTQIA+ people that suffused the debate in the Church’s Governing Body, surely – at last – things are changing for the better. God is working God’s purpose out as year succeeds to year.

What the Church in Wales has done, like others before it, including the Scottish Episcopal Church, is find a way to hold a number of different integrities together. For far too long (and even in this week’s debate) we have heard that accommodating those who support same-sex blessings will tear the church apart by making it inhospitable to those who hold non-affirming theological views. This has often been nothing more than an extremely thinly veiled threat, and in rejecting this blackmail the Church in Wales has shown where the Church of England might go next year. It’s time to stop believing the lie that refusing to move one inch is a compromise.

The Church of England, then, as it moves towards the final consideration of Living in Love and Faith, will soon encounter the same tired old tropes – and must take courage from its sister across the border.

But oh to be a metaphorical fly on the wall of the Church of England’s not-so-secret WhatsApp group this week. Because the decision in Wales now makes life rather uncomfortable for the Church of England, and most particularly for the policing of its clergy’s lives. It feels like a day of reckoning is very close.

If you are ordained, or considering ordination – and even, in some places and quite anomalously, a licensed lay person – in the Church of England, you will be severely punished for getting married to someone of the same sex, whether in a church of another denomination or in a civil ceremony. Thanks to a politically motivated, poorly argued and abysmally timed communiqué released by the House of Bishops on Valentine’s Day in 2014:

The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same-sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same-sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives.

In practice, this means that bishops can, and mostly do, refuse to relicense any clergy who get married, meaning that if a clergyperson leaves their current role, then their ministry is in effect over. This edict remains in place, and while nobody in the current Church of England hierarchy is willing to take responsibility for how it is enforced, it continues to blight the landscape of LGBTQIA+ clergy. Bishops could vote to remove this, or simply ignore it – but they don’t. Several bishops have told me in private that they wish they weren’t bound by it, or that they think it is immoral, yet none will take a stand. It is a stain on the record of the House of Bishops – many of whom were not even in place when it was written. It does not need to be this way.

The difference now, though, is that Church of England clergy could go to either of the other two Anglican provinces in Great Britain, and either get married to someone of the same sex in an Anglican Church (Scotland) or have their marriage blessed (Wales). The very same clergy could then cross the border, and lose their job. This is an utterly absurd situation, and has to change – now.

Of course, many bishops will say that we ought to wait for the outcome of LLF and take things from there – the usual ‘wait a little longer’ argument that is very easy to make if you are straight, married, and unaffected by this misery. Yet we continue to hear about how much clergy wellbeing matters and how valued clergy are in the wake of Covid. Actions speak louder than words – it is nonsensical and unnecessary to continue this charade, in which LGBTQIA+ clergy are told they are valued and yet have the sword of Damocles hanging over them. If we are committed to a Church in which everyone is valued, and a Church in which different integrities are to be held together, then we need to make this simple change immediately – one which requires no Act of Synod, and which could be made by bishops willing to put their head above the parapet.

If we are to go into the decisions following LLF with integrity and with a genuine commitment to listening to one another and respecting difference, then now is the time to end this nonsense. Now is the time to stop punishing LGBTQIA+ clergy for making their commitments to one another formal. Now is the time to stop sacking clergy for getting married in a church.

It can be done – it can be done simply, and it can be done now. It is time to stop making excuses. It is time to set the clergy free.

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Despite the ongoing work of the Church of England’s programme: “Living in Love and Faith” there seems to be little will on the part of the hierarchy to progress with the ‘Blessing of Same-Sex Unions’ – a process which my own Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand (ACANZ) and now the Anglican Church in Wales – in common with other Anglican Churches in the West – have already Brought into being.

It may be that – like its later acceptance of the Ordination of Women – our ‘Mother Church of England’ is still so entrenched in institutional sexism and homophobia that it will take a few more years – and a new group of clergy – to bring about justice for LGBTQ+ people already existing within the family of the Church.

What the Church is suffering from in the meantime, though, is not just the resulting confusion of a ‘lack of nerve’ but also the risk of alienating a further generation of possible church-goers – because of its inbuilt culture of duplicity, enforced secrecy and hypocrisy on the part of both the bishops and the clergy of the Church.

One instance of this institutional hypocrisy is the fact that, some years ago, the General Synod of the Church of England (in implicit recognition of Same-Sex partnerships within the ranks of its clergy) passed legislation allowing for the allocation of pension rights to the same-sex partner of a deceased clergy person! How does this connect with the official negativity towards Same-Sex Relationships Blessings in the Church of England?

Also, the story of Father Jeffrey John (currently retiring as Dean of Saint Albans), whose nomination as an assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford was revoked when the virulent opposition of certain conservative clergy in the C. of E. forced the then-ABC to overturn his original acceptance of J.J., as a bishop in the Church is still being ruminated upon by those who viewed this as a blatant form of injustice towards an exemplary scholar and priest of the Church.

The irony, now of course, is that the Church in Wales, which also turned down J.J.’s candidacy for a Welsh bishopric; now has elected a S.S-partnered woman bishop and; as if to make a point of its mind-change, has also now passed legislation at its recent General Synod to welcome legally same-sex partnered couples to receive an official Church Blessing!

Far from criticising this move on the part of the Church in Wales, one can only thank God that the time has come for that part of our world-wide Anglican Family to shed the acute suspicion of hypocrisy that still, sadly, seems to afflict our Mother Church of England – on a matter that the civilised world has already made up its mind by providing the necessary legislation to facilitate the celebration of the honourable estate of loving, committed same-sex relationships.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Jo Kelly-Moore announced as next Dean of St Albans

Jo Kelly-Moore announced as next Dean of St Albans

 Published on September 6, 2021

The Archdeacon of Canterbury, The Venerable Jo Kelly-Moore, has been named today as the next Dean of St Albans, successor to the Very Revd Jeffrey John. Jo has been Archdeacon of Canterbury and a Residentiary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral since January 2017.

Speaking in response to the announcement, the Most Hon & Rt Revd Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “This is a fantastic appointment. Jo has been a real gift to Canterbury Diocese and she will be sorely missed. She navigates the complexities of the Church of England with humour, grace and skill and her commitment to the gospel of Christ is evident in her life.”

Speaking of her time with Canterbury Diocese, Jo said: “It has been a joy and a privilege to be in ministry alongside the people and communities of Canterbury Cathedral and Diocese – thank you! It has also been a time of great change and I have no doubt that exciting times lie ahead. May God continue to bless you as you seek to let God’s transformational love overflow from your lives into the lives of those you meet.”

The Very Revd Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury, said: “As a Chapter and Cathedral community, we offer our warmest congratulations to Archdeacon Jo on her appointment as Dean of St Albans. For the last five years, she and Paul and Adam and Nathan have shared our life here in the Precincts of Canterbury and we shall miss them greatly. Jo is no stranger to the work of a Dean and her experience in Auckland Cathedral, together with the energy and vision for both cathedral and diocese which she has demonstrated here in Canterbury, will be gifts which St Albans will both benefit from and enjoy.”

The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, added: “Jo’s passion and commitment to seeing faith lived 24/7 has been at the heart of her ministry here in the diocese. I have found her to be a fearless, charismatic and compassionate leader. I have thoroughly enjoyed having her as a colleague and will personally miss her support. Our loss will be St Albans’ gain.”

The Dean-Elect will be installed in the Cathedral to begin her ministry in December 2021. Details of an opportunity for the Diocese to say farewell to Jo will be announced in due course.

About Archdeacon Jo

Jo Kelly-Moore has been the Archdeacon of Canterbury and a Residentiary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral since 2017.During her time in Canterbury Diocese she served on the Church of England’s General Synod, contributing as a member of the steering committee for the 2021 Cathedrals Measure. She also championed the discipleship and empowerment of young Christians as Co-Chair of the Diocese’s Children and Young People’s Framework. Through Changing Lives Conversations, Jo highlighted the power of conversations about faith in everyday life. She has also played a key role in the development of the diocesan environmental strategy and has served on a number of diocesan and Cathedral committees.

From 2010 to 2017, she was the Dean of Auckland in the Anglican Church of New Zealand from 2010 to 2017. During her time there, she oversaw the completion of the cathedral church building and was also deputy vicar-general of the diocese. She served on the general synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and on that synod’s standing committee. Prior to her ordination, she practiced as a solicitor in both New Zealand and London. She is married to Paul and they have two adult sons

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  • Jo Kelly-Moore is well known to Anglicans in the Auckland Diocese of ACANZP. Born, raised and educated in Wellington, Jo became Dean of Auckland at a significant time in its Cathedral completion programme. Moving to the U.K. in 2017 to take up a post in Canterbury, Jo has now been called to replace Jeffrey John, on his retirement as Dean of St. Alban’s Abbey.

Those who know her will be pleased at Jo’s preferment, believing that she will prove a worthy successor to DeanJeffrey John, who was overlooked in successive calling to the episcopate – becausof his openness about his sexuality as a gay priest in the Church iof England.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch,New Zealand

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Pope Francis: ‘Beware of Fundamentalism’

Holiness does not come from following rigid rules, pope says

Sep 1, 2021by Carol GlatzCatholic News ServiceVatican – NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER

Pope Francis greets young people during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 1. (CNS/Paul Haring)Pope Francis greets young people during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 1. (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Redemption is the work of God, not of human beings, so be careful and do not listen to “fundamentalists” who claim holiness comes through following certain laws, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience.

The belief that holiness comes by observing particular laws “leads us to a rigid religiosity, a rigidity that eliminates that freedom of the Spirit which Christ’s redemption gives us. Beware of this rigidity that they propose,” he said Sept. 1 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.

God’s saving grace is received through faith in the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection, and God invites people to rejoice in the righteousness received through that faith in Christ, he said.

The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians by looking at the apostle’s explanation of justification by faith and of graces flowing from the Spirit, not from works of the law.

However, before beginning his catechesis, the pope spoke off-the-cuff to explain the context and purpose of the weekly audience talks, which are usually in-depth reflections on many aspects of church teaching.

The pope said the teachings in St. Paul’s letter were not anything new or “my own thing.”

“What we are studying is what St. Paul says during a very serious conflict” in Galatia. “They are not things that someone invented. No. It is something that happened at the time and that can repeat itself,” he said, referring to the apostle’s attempts to correct those who were tempted to believe a person is justified through works of the law, not faith in Christ’s redemptive action.

The pope said, “This is simply a catechesis on the Word of God expressed in the letter of St. Paul to the Galatians. It is not something else. Always keep this in mind.”

Even though he did not specify the reason for making the out-of-the-ordinary opening remarks, it may be related to negative reactions to his Aug. 11 general audience talk. Rabbi Rasson Arousi, chair of the Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel for Dialogue with the Holy See, sent a letter to the Vatican asking for clarification because the pope appeared to suggest Jewish law was obsolete, according to Reuters, which saw the letter.Read this next: Israel’s rabbinate asks Pope Francis to explain comments about Judaism

In that catechesis on St. Paul’s explanation that the law given to Moses did not nullify God’s promise to Abraham, the pope said, “The law does not give life, it does not offer the fulfillment of the promise because it is not in the position of being able to fulfill it.”

Abraham, who preceded Moses by more than 400 years, shows that faith in God brings righteousness, he said, which St. Paul used to illustrate that the gentile Galatians heard with faith and experienced justification like Abraham and, therefore, they did not have to follow Mosaic law, such as with male circumcision, as some new preachers at the time were claiming.

A Vatican source confirmed to Catholic News Service Sept. 1 that a response to the rabbi’s letter was in the works.

The pope’s talk Sept. 1 continued along the same line of the danger of “these new preachers” who had convinced some Galatians “that they had to go back and take on the norms, the precepts that were observed and led to perfection before the coming of Christ.”

“Does the love of Christ, crucified and risen, remain at the center of our daily life as the wellspring of salvation, or are we content with a few religious formalities to salve our consciences?”

St. Paul tries to convince these Christians they risked losing “the valuable treasure, the beauty, of the newness of Christ” if they let themselves “be enchanted by the voice of the sirens who want to lead them to a religiosity based solely on the scrupulous observance of precepts,” the pope said.

They knew that their coming to faith “was the initiative of God, not of men. The Holy Spirit had been the protagonist of their experience; to put him on the backburner now in order to give primacy to their own works, that is, fulfilling the precepts of the law, would have been foolish,” he said.

Christians today must also reflect on how they live their faith, he said. “Does the love of Christ, crucified and risen, remain at the center of our daily life as the wellspring of salvation, or are we content with a few religious formalities to salve our consciences?”

What happened in Galatia can still happen today in similar ways, the pope said, warning people not to listen to “these somewhat fundamentalist proposals that set us back in our spiritual life; try to go forward in the paschal vocation of Jesus.”

Even when people are tempted to turn away from God with distractions and their sins, “God still continues to bestow his gifts” and he “does not abandon us, but rather abides with us in his merciful love.”

“Let us ask for the wisdom to always be aware of this reality and to dismiss the fundamentalists who propose a life of artificial ascesis,” that is, the practice of strict self-discipline “that is far removed from the resurrection of Christ.”

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At the time when U.S. Catholic Bishops are criticising President Joe Biden for his identification with justice issues which conflict with official Catholic Doctrine, while yet remaining a practising Catholic, Pope Francis, in his September 1st Audience at the Vatican, warns Catholics against the dangers of putting rules and regulations before an active faith in God’s will and power to redeem ALL believers. This is a case of a True Shepherd warning the sheep of fundamentalists who place works above faith in the quest for salvation.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand.

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U.S. Catholic Bishops ignore truth of Transgender people

Recent transphobic statements from bishops make truth claims without facts

Sep 1, 2021by Daniel P. Horan – OpinionJusticePeople- N.C.R.

Pete, 9, a transgender minor, holds a banner as he takes part in a protest to mark LGBT Pride Day in Madrid, June 28. (CNS/Reuters/Sergio Perez)Pete, 9, a transgender minor, holds a banner as he takes part in a protest to mark LGBT Pride Day in Madrid, June 28. (CNS/Reuters/Sergio Perez)

Last month, two more U.S. bishops issued statements that dismissed the reality of transgender persons and their lived experiences. The first, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, published a document titled “A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology.” The second, Bishop William Joensen of Des Moines, Iowa, used the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary to digress into transphobic diatribe in a diocesan blog post.

In both cases, these bishops — whose intentions I believe are sincere, but whose knowledge, expertise and pastoral competence in this area are sorely lacking — resort to the tired straw man of “gender ideology” as the catchall for everything that frightens or confuses them about transgender persons or those who are otherwise gender nonconforming.

However, as I have explained in greater detail previously, there are many troubling aspects with use of the phrase “gender ideology” in various ecclesiastical circles. First among these concerns is the term’s ambiguity. There is no universally agreed upon meaning for this derogatory expression, which is convenient for those who seek an ideological bogeyman or frightening specter to haunt congregations into greater transphobia.

Both Burbidge and Joensen claim to ground their transphobia in the “truth” of church teaching and, in ways confused at best and disingenuous at worst, make reference to selective medical terminology or opinions. What is striking about this alleged recourse to truth is the stark absence of facts or evidence invoked to support their concerns about the experiences and identities of actual human beings in the world.

The way that these bishops talk about truth is with a Platonic abstractionism that does not bother to take into consideration the multiplicity of experiences of actual people living in the world. Sadly, we have seen this disconnection between some church leaders’ desire for truth and truth that is actually grounded in fact play out over the course of church history before.

I think of the way in which the church has viewed and its leaders have treated Indigenous populations, especially during the course of European colonization. I think of the long history of misogyny and subjugation of women in the church and within so-called Christian societies. I think of the church’s longstanding complicity in chattel slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. I think of the treatment of non-Christian communities such as during the medieval crusades, the widespread history of antisemitism or in the subtler discrimination of non-Catholic Christians before the Second Vatican Council.

What we see here is a pattern of dehumanization at work, one that may be experienced as motivated by the good and pastoral intentions of these bishops and like-minded others, but that has devastating and traumatic consequences in practice.

There is an ironical valance to all of this: These bishops claim to be offering observations and pastoral guidance in response to what they perceive as a “serious challenge” to society today, but in fact what is actually dangerous and harmful is their reinforcement of transphobic stigmas, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of developing medical and psychological data, and claims that all of their actions are supported by Catholic teaching.

The real problem is not the actual existence of transgender persons — or anybody who does not conform to the binary, complementarian worldview these prelates wished was singularly true. The real problem is church leaders who exercise a kind of intellectual and epistemological hubris that leads them to conclude that their experience of being in the world is an authentic measure of everybody’s experience of being in the world.

Pope Francis, who has also used the phrase “gender ideology” on occasion and in varying contexts, has also acknowledged that not even the pope has all the answers or is without the capacity for making mistakes.

In his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, “The Joy of the Gospel,” he wrote: “It is not the task of the Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality, but I do exhort all the communities to an ‘ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times.’ This is in fact a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse.”

Notice the imperative here: Francis acknowledges that the church community must examine the signs of the times, which ought to lead to our responding to and preventing “processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse.”

Left, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia; right, Bishop William Joensen of Des Moines, Iowa (CNS photos/Bob Roller)Left, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia; right, Bishop William Joensen of Des Moines, Iowa (CNS photos/Bob Roller)

Transphobia is a form of dehumanization, a kind of destructive and dangerous discrimination that has no place on the lips of a pastoral minister or in the documents of a church leader.

And yet, here we are again with bishops setting a precedent of discrimination rooted in an unfounded claim to truth without facts. When I talk about facts, I mean church leaders need to do a better job listening, learning and discerning what it is they are claiming to talk about.

What is starkly missing from these two statements and similar transphobic remarks by church leaders in recent years is any encounter with transgender persons themselves.

As I explain in my 2019 book Catholicity and Emerging Personhood: A Contemporary Theological Anthropology, there are resources in the Catholic theological and moral tradition that offer cisgender persons better footing in seeking to understand and learn from the realities and experiences of transgender persons. Far from being antithetical to the Catholic tradition, the complexity of human gender and sexual identity is a gift from God, which cannot be understood exhaustively through simple black-and-white, binary, stereotypical categories and ways of thinking.

The mystery of human personhood is complex and requires a tremendous degree of humility in approaching any claim to description or understanding, especially when attempting to make universal claims. And when approaching sensitive questions about identity and existence, we would do well to heed the wisdom of the medieval Franciscan theologian Blessed John Duns Scotus, who argued convincingly of the primacy of “intuitive knowledge” over “abstractive knowledge.”

Put simply, intuitive knowledge is a kind of immediate knowledge, a familiar or experiential knowledge, which is known at the deepest level because it arises from direct experience.

At best, the claims of those who dismiss the reality of transgender persons contributes to the dehumanization of God’s trans children because they are relying on an outmoded form of abstractive knowledge that may or may not reflect reality, since abstractive knowledge can also apply to things that merely exist theoretically.Related: The truth about so-called ‘gender ideology’

By contrast, the intuitive knowledge of transgender persons can access actual experiential reality that is foreclosed to those whose being-in-the-world is different.

Arguments that dismiss the intuitive knowledge of our transgender siblings not only fail to consider the full panoply of facts available to us, but also reject the most important source for knowledge of the reality of transgender experience: namely, the intuitive knowledge of those who are transgender.

It is not just insulting to encourage cisgender people to reject the names and preferred pronouns of transgender people, as Burbidge does so flagrantly in his “catechesis,” it is sinful, harmful and dehumanizing. I suppose these bishops wouldn’t mind it if we all started calling them by feminine pronouns or some title or name other than “bishop” with their surname or some other descriptor not of their choosing. I suppose they wouldn’t find it disrespectful or offensive in the least, right?

While I don’t expect many of the American bishops to understand easily something that does not align comfortably with their perception of the world, shaped as it is by their own experience of meaning-making, I would hope that when it comes to something as simple as addressing other human beings with basic respect, they would listen to Jesus’s own exhortation to live the Golden Rule as Matthew 7:12 summarizes: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”

That is what Christ asks of us at the start and the rest, if we are intellectually humble and open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we learn more about the complexity of human existence, will come with time.

Daniel P. Horan

Franciscan Fr. Daniel P. Horan is the director of the Center for Spirituality and professor of philosophy, religious studies and theology at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. Follow him on Twitter: @DanHoranOFM.

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Since the emergence of LGBT+ scientific and theological findings, conservative Churchmen (mostly men) have had problems with admitting to the recognition of the authentic existence of a class of gender/sexually-different’ human beings who feel ‘out of kilter’ with their at-birth gender assignment – to the degree that they, at some stage of their lives – often in puberty – feel no longer able to function in their assigned gender identity; leading them to seek identification with the particular gender they have grown to understand as being more natural to them.

This reality in the lives of a limited number of human beings – both female and male – has now been accepted by reputable medical and social scientists and anthropologists, to the extent that medical specialists have been assigned to perform, in some cases, surgical (and, more often hormonal) transformation of those whose circumstances indicate that such a procedure is both practical and necessary – in order for the person concerned to be able to effectively function as what they believe to be their ‘normal’ gender selves.

Sadly, there are those conservative people – among them prominent Churchmen – who cannot accept that a person’s gender self-identification should ever be different from that assigned to them at birth believing this to be a wilful and mistaken denial of the identity that has been assigned according to certain physical details presented as ‘normal’ to that particular person when they are born. This denies the fact that gender/sexuality is fluidly variable in the lives of many human beings and is also known to occur in the life of other creatures; both animals and birds. Such people have coined the dismissive term: ‘Gender Ideology’ in their desire to discount the possibility of such perfectly natural exceptions to the old idea of a solely ‘binary’ understanding of sexuality and gender identification – as either heterosexual or homosexual (male or female).

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Hypocrisy in the church is ‘detestable,’ pope says at audience

Aug 25, 2021by (CathNews.NZ)

Pope Francis leads his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 25, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Pope Francis leads his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 25, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Hypocrites are afraid of the truth, fearful of who they really are and incapable of truly loving, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience.

What hypocrites do “is like putting makeup on your soul, like putting makeup on your behavior” and hiding the truth, the pope said Aug. 25 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.

All this pretending, he said, “suffocates the courage to openly say what is true and thus the obligation to say the truth at all times, everywhere and in spite of anything can easily be evaded,” he said.

The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and focused on the dangers of the law by looking at the apostle Peter’s “inconsistency” at Antioch.

Gentile Christians were free from the Jewish law, but there was pressure from people from Jerusalem that caused Sts. Peter and Barnabas to draw back from what the Gospel said.

That is why, in his letter, St. Paul condemns St. Peter “to his face because he clearly was wrong” by trying to appease critics who still observed Mosaic law and to justify his hypocritical behavior.

“Peter had been eating with the Christians of pagan origin without any difficulty; however, when some circumcised Christians from Jerusalem arrived in the city, he then no longer did so, because he did not want to incur their criticism,” Pope Francis said.

“Watch out. The mistake was paying more attention to the criticism, to make a good impression than the reality of the relationships,” the pope said.

This was serious in St. Paul’s eyes, because other disciples imitated St. Peter, and, even though he did not mean to, “Peter was, in fact, creating an unjust division within the community” by not being transparent or clear about what he was doing, Pope Francis said.

In his letter, St. Paul “wanted to remind the Christians of that community that they were absolutely not to listen to those who were preaching that it was necessary to be circumcised, and therefore be ‘under the law’ with all of its prescriptions,” Pope Francis said.

These “fundamentalist preachers,” he said, “created confusion and deprived that community of any peace.”

In his reproach to St. Peter, St. Paul uses the term “hypocrisy,” which “the apostle wanted to combat forcefully and convincingly,” the pope said.

Hypocrisy can be seen as a “fear of the truth. It is better to pretend rather than be yourself,” he said.

Wherever people are living “under the banner of formalism, the virus of hypocrisy easily spreads,” he said, mimicking the kind of strained, forced smile one might see — a smile “that doesn’t come from the heart,” but comes from a person “who tries to get along with everyone,” but, in the end, gets along with no one.

“Hypocrites are people who pretend, flatter and deceive because they live with a mask over their faces and do not have the courage to face the truth,” he said. “For this reason, they are not capable of truly loving” because they are limited by their ego and cannot “show their hearts transparently.”

Hypocrisy can be hidden at a workplace “where someone appears to be friends with their colleagues while, at the same time, they stab them behind the back due to competition,” he said.

It is not unusual to find hypocrites in the world of politics, when someone lives one way in public and another way in private, he added.

“Hypocrisy in the church is particularly detestable. Unfortunately, hypocrisy does exist in the church and there are many hypocritical Christians and ministers,” he said.

Jesus, too, condemned hypocrisy, Pope Francis said, asking people to read Chapter 23 of the Gospel according to St. Matthew to see how often Jesus condemned such behavior.

“Let’s not be afraid to be truthful, to speak the truth, to hear the truth, to conform ourselves to the truth, so that we can love. A hypocrite does not know how to love,” he said.

“To act other than truthfully means jeopardizing the unity of the church, that unity for which the Lord himself prayed,” the pope said.

At the end of the general audience, the pope greeted athletes competing at the Paralympics in Tokyo. He thanked them for showing the world what hope and courage look like.

These athletes, he said, “show how pursuing a sport helps overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties.”

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No wonder Pope Francis is regarded with fear by some of his colleagues in the Roman Catholic Church – of which he is the elected spiritual head. At the time Cardinal George Bergoglio was elected, taking the name Francis of Assisi; his immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI (still living in the Vatican as ‘Pope Emeritus), had taken the almost unprecedented step of resigning from his leadership role – presumably because of his inability to control the rising tide of conflict within the Vatican itself – about how to handle the problem of abuse of trust by priests and bishops of the worldwide Catholic Church.

In marked disassociation from his predecessors (excepting perhaps Pope John XXIII, who ushered in a new era of Church politics by his inauguration of Vatican II, which brought a time of spiritual and theological renewal into the Church) the new Pope sought to distance himself from the culture of pomp and ceremony that had become one of the marks of the papacy. In shunning the use of the papal apartments – living, instead, in the relative anonymity of the Vatican Guesthouse – and choosing to drive himself by private car instead of employing the traditional chauffered papal limousine – Pope Francis was intentionally doing his best to live out, as practically as possible in the circumstances of his role, the ascetiticism of his namesake.

That this did not please some Cardinals resident in their extensive Vatican apartments, whose sense of entitlement was exhibited in their official title of ‘Eminence’ had perhaps clouded their minds as to the importance of their identification with the poor, rather than the wealthy and privileged of society. So, from the very beginning of Pope Francis’ eirenic reign, he sought to free the Church from the degree of institutional hypocrisy into which it had fallen, by default.

Pope Francis’ challenge to the tangential cult of hypocrisy – which had been uncovered by the discovery of abuse within the world of Catholic administration, in its parochial and religious outreach to the community – is both timely and necessary. The Catholic Church is not the only religious institution that needs to be reminded of the need for openness and integrity within its own organisation and outreach. Every Christian organisation and church community needs to operate in an atmosphere of openness and common accountability in its dealings with its own membership and its relationship to the world in which it is called to minister.

The common cult of ‘holier than thou’ no longer draws people to believe in the Church as sole arbiter of faith and morals. Society, too, has its role in these important aspects of human living and nurture. In his openness, for instance to gays, the divorced, and others in the Catholic Church who have suffered from institutional injustice, sexism and homophobia, Pope Francis has been roundly criticised by some of his bishops around the world. However, the Pope’s acknowledgment that ALL ARE SINNERS, ought to warn us all that, behind the curtain of rigid puritanism, there is often a darker reality – that needs to be admitted, repented of, and dealt with in ways that do not put the community at risk but rather, lead us all to a better way of living in honesty and at peace with God, and with one another.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand.

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