Breakaway GAFCON Church N.Z. – not Anglican

Because of the confusion on the part of a visitor to the Church of Saint Michael and All Angels (Anglican) church, here in Christchurch, New Zealand, regarding the status of a non-affiliated (schismatic) church located elsewhere in our city; I have decided to recall this article from the U.K. ‘Church Times’ that was published at the time of institutional separation of the separatist ‘GAFCON’ movement church, brought into being by secessionists from the traditional Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand – ACANZP – assisted by bishops of the GAFCON community from overseas churches (some of these re actually nominal Anglicans and others, bishops of other breakaway quasi-Anglican schismatic Churches from the U.S.A., the U.K., Africa and Sydney, Australia)..

(n.b. GAFCON has set up its own ecclesiastical structures – separate from the Anglican Communion which looks to the Archbishop of Canterbury & the Lambeth Conference for guidance, fellowship and leadership )

If this sounds confusing, perhaps a look at this orginal article may help understanding:

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Consecration of GAFCON bishop in new NZ Church is criticised


THE consecration of a bishop of a new Church of Confessing Anglicans in New Zealand, welcomed by synods in Australia, is a sign that the schism in the Anglican Communion is speeding up, the Bishop of Christchurch, Dr Peter Carrell, has suggested.

The two Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia (ACNZP) have described the presence of bishops in communion with their Church, who had not informed them before crossing boundaries, as “disturbing”. They are planning an “appropriate protest”.

The Virtue Online website reports that 650 people attended the consecration of the Revd Douglas (Jay) Behan as the first bishop of the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa, New Zealand (CCAANZ), a local expression of the GAFCON movement, at Centennial Chapel, St Andrew’s College, Christchurch, on Saturday.

It was conducted by 16 bishops and archbishops, including the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, and the Bishop of Tasmania, Dr Richard Condie. The synods of both Sydney and Melbourne have welcomed Mr Behan’s appointment.

“Is this the moment . . . when the fracture in the Anglican Communion becomes irreversible?” Bishop Carrell asked the Archbishop of Canterbury in a message posted on Twitter on Saturday. “Australian bishops out of protocol control, two of their synods greeting a breakaway diocese. Archbishops from Rwanda, Australia and ACNA combine to inaugurate a new Anglican Church!”

On Monday, he said that there was a “range of reactions” to the consecration in his diocese. The failure of bishops in the Communion to inform the diocese of their intention to minister there was “bewildering to many here”.

“I fear that the significance of the weekend’s incursion goes beyond the inauguration of a new Church and is a sign that the slowly emerging schism in the Anglican Communion is speeding up,” he said. “When the two largest dioceses in Australia recognise a new Anglican Church in another Anglican jurisdiction, we have a straightforward confusion of the goal of the Anglican Communion that we seek to fulfil the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they may be one.”Advertisement

In their joint statement on Tuesday, the Archbishops of ACNZP, the Most Revd Philip Richardson and the Most Revd Don Tamihere, wrote: “The disrespect for the normal protocols of the Anglican Communion and the lack of courtesy shown to our Church by these boundary-crossing bishops is disturbing, and we will be making an appropriate protest about their actions.

“We are especially concerned at the boundary crossing of bishops from the Anglican Church of Australia. We value our trans-Tasman relationship with our neighbouring Church and are disappointed to find a lack of respect for the jurisdiction of our Church.”

The formation of CCAANZ and the election of Mr Behan as bishop was announced in May last year, after the general synod of the ACNZP voted to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages or civil unions (News, 11 May 2018).

Mr Behan, who has been the Vicar of St Stephen’s, Shirley, in Christchurch, for 11 years, was one of two priests who immediately announced their resignation after the vote. He will now oversee 12 parishes, while continuing in this incumbency.

An online petition begun by Canon Christopher Douglas-Huriwai, a priest in the ACNZP, requests that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand remove all references to Aotearoa.

“If you are in impaired communion with [ACNZP] then you are in impaired communion with the Bishop of Aotearoa too,” he wrote. “That impairment makes any attempt at real and deep commitment to Maori as Tangata Whenua [the first people of the land] impossible.”

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Pope Francis promotes Christchurch Bishop

  1. CathNews NZ Pacific
  2. Top Story

Christchurch bishop Paul Martin appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington

archbishop paul martin

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

Pope Francis has appointed the Bishop of Christchurch, Paul Martin SM, as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington. The appointment was announced in Rome overnight and comes into effect immediately.

Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal John Dew says he is delighted with the appointment, which comes at a time of a heavy workload in the Wellington Diocese.“He is well known to clergy and many people of the diocese, and will be warmly welcomed by all,” says Dew. “I am fully confident that he will lead the diocese into the future with new vision and energy.”

As a coadjutor archbishop with papal appointment, Archbishop Martin is a collaborator with Dew in the governance of a diocese, with authority to substitute for Dew in his absence and a right to automatic succession upon Dew’s death, resignation, or transfer. (Canon 403).

On May 5, 2021, Dew turns 73, and at age 75 is required by Canon Law to submit his resignation to the Pope.

The appointment came as a surprise to Martin.

“I will be sorry to leave the diocese of Christchurch and the work we have been doing. However it is a privilege to take up this role in the Church of Wellington and I look forward to being with the people in the Archdiocese again,” he said in a statement from Catholic Communications.

Martin will maintain his southern connection by acting as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Christchurch until the Pope appoints a new bishop. Born in Hastings in 1967, as a Marist priest, Martin worked in several New Zealand dioceses and for a short while in Rome as Bursar General for the Society of Mary.

However, when consecrated Bishop of Christchurch Martin said,  “I am no longer a wandering religious, Christchurch is my home”. Once he got his ‘feet under the desk’, Martin developed a reputation for tackling big jobs and made the decision to demolish the earthquake-damaged Catholic cathedral in Christchurch and as part of a $500m “North of the Square” development, build a new cathedral in the centre of the city adjacent to Victoria Square.

At the time Martin called the new development a community and commercial collaboration between the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, Crown regeneration company Ōtākaro Limited and big-city developers, the Carter Group. The decision to demolish the cathedral and re-site it in the middle of the city is still seen as controversial by some.

An editorial in The Press agreed “the loss of the magnificent Barbadoes St basilica will be mourned” but adds ” its remoteness from city life, will not.” Then, faced with a shortage of clergy, in another significant decision, Martin decided to adopt a five “super-parish” model for Christchurch city parishes.

Criticised by some, for the way he made the super-parish decision, Martin said he took on board the concerns to the proposed changes but that after consultation with the people he thought most people were prepared to step into the new era.“I believe there is a majority support and enthusiasm for the proposal outlined and a clear direction has emerged,” he said.

In a statement on Christchurch Catholic website, Archbishop Paul asks that the people of Christchurch keep him in their prayers as he will keep the diocese in his. Martin’s appointment leaves two dioceses, Palmerston North and now Christchurch without a diocesan bishop.The Palmerston North diocese has been without a bishop since October 4, 2019, and it took nearly two years before Martin’s appointment to Christchurch.


Bishop Paul Martin must have been as surprised as anyone to hear of his designated move from Christchurch to become the Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington.

It must by now be obvious that Bishop Paul has been considered by Pope Francis to be one of the more gifted among the Roman Catholic bishops in Aotearoa/New Zealand – to have translated him from his recent appointment to lead the Christchurch Diocese. In the short time of Bishop Paul’s residence in Christchurch, he has had to deal with the daunting prospect of having to close parishes, and to facilitate the demolition of the iconic Catholic Cathedral in the diocese – in the wake of the devastating effects of the earthqakes which occurred almost a decade ago.

The efficiency with which Bishop Paul has managed this epochal activity has been quite remarkable – not without some vocal opposition; but with less problems than that experienced the local Anglican diocese, which had to abandon its preference for a new cathedral, because of violent protests by the local conservation society.

We Anglicans will regret this departure, principally because of the ecumenical relations existing between Bishop Paul and our own Anglican Bishop, Peter Carrell, in a situation of mutual concern for the people of Christchurch, who have shared in the devastation of both the earthquakes, and the unprovoked attack on the City’s Mosques, recently.

We wish Bishop Paul well in his ecclesiastical promotion to the role of Archbishop -Coadjutor in the Wellington Diocese (New Zealand’s capital city), where his capability will be an important factor in the progression of that city’s Roman Catholic community – especially on the retirement of Archbishop Dew.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Wise Words for this Year’s End…

Posted on December 30, 2020 by Jayne Ozanne – ViaMedia News

by the Right Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool and Chair of the Ozanne Foundation

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

Minnie Louise Haskins, who wrote these words in 1908, does not often appear in anthologies of great English poetry. Her poem was privately published in a collection called “The Desert”, and would almost certainly have been forgotten, if it were not for King George VI who used them in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to (what was then) the British Empire.

At the end of December 1939 the “phony war” had been running for almost three months. War had been declared, but nothing seemed to be happening. The bombs had not yet begun to fall on the UK. Dread and threat were certainly in people’s minds, but it was an invisible dread and a threat chiefly existing in the imagination. To that dread and threat the King’s quoting of Haskins’ poem spoke clearly, and the words became immensely popular, iconic and inspirational. They are carved in stone at the entrance to the George VI memorial chapel in Windsor.

At first sight it’s not obvious that the King chose the right words. Anxious people in dark and complicated times long for a known way. And there are always those who will insist that they have a safe light – if only people will follow them blindly.

This is certainly true this year, and indeed in the past few years.

The ongoing strength of political populism in the West flows from this anxiety, as people look for strongmen in whose booming words they can lose their own voice. So does the growth of movements based on “alternative facts” such as the antics of the President of the United States and his supporters in the weeks after the election there, or the stridently anti-rational lockdown protests seen around the world, including here in Liverpool. Empty promises of certain light, the hate that says it will cast out fear, all detached from the world’s reality.

Meanwhile Minnie Haskins, and King George, reached for a deeper wisdom, and people in 1939 were inspired by it, and I think we should be again. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

For me there’s another dimension to this, which goes beyond Haskins’ poem.

Walking by faith is the way things work, and is in particular the calling of the Church; and in the end the way becomes clear as we walk – together. We are not called to a vacuous smoothing-out of the complexities of the world, but to a process of courageous contribution and mutual enriching, so that the wisdom of God, as shared with a diverse community, may become clearer for us.

God’s wisdom becomes clearer as each person takes the opportunity to listen, and to speak, and to listen again. In short it becomes clearer through a diversity of voices and a mutual discerning.

In the political arena we have seen this discerning process in action – sometimes despite the best efforts of a simplistic and over-optimistic boosterism. Scientific advice and the values of human life and flourishing have (eventually) shaped policy. Of course this policy has had to be nimble, and to steer quickly and sometimes erratically by a flickering light. But there is no known way, and together the world is moving in the dark.

As I look back on the year and on the world, it seems to me that most of the political failures in dealing with the pandemic have come from a willed disregard of corporate wisdom, and from pretending there is a clear light. To feel our way in darkness and in faith is not heroic; but in the end it is the way the world works, and is working.

The same is true for the conversations within the Church on the matters that vex us. As an example, “Living in Love and Faith” is a complex and steady process which seeks to listen to many voices, including those (the diverse lived-out voices of LGBTI+ people) which have hitherto been excluded from the room.

Together we are seeking to discern a future for love, in faith. The bright lights and the booming words of a contentious certainty continue to attract some – but for most of us the way of mutual and gentle discerning is the way the church works, and is working.

Whether in the world of politics or of organised religion, this is a slow and a modest way to proceed.

Those who promise a simple light will continue to criticise it, indeed with an increasing shrillness. But for me Minnie Haskins and King George VI knew a thing or two, and I shall walk with them, into a future which is shrouded in darkness and filled with surprise but which is nonetheless assured by the presence of God.

In 1939 the King ended his quote from Haskins’ poem with the line I quoted: “That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” But the poem goes on in words that make sense in the context of the Christmas story, the story of the Incarnation, and which I commend to all Via Media readers as the year turns and as our hopes gather for 2021:

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool in the Church of England, is a well-known advocate for the LGBTQI Community. In addition, he has a way with words that well expresses the dilemma in which the Church s finds herself at this present time in history. This message, at the juncture of a New Year, reminds us all of our need for community sensitivity to one another’s needs and aspirations.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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A look back at 2020 in U.S. politics – N.C.R.

Dec 28, 2020by Michael Sean Winters – NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER (NCR)

President-elect Joe Biden receives a COVID-19 vaccine at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, Dec. 21. (CNS/Reuters/Leah Millis)President-elect Joe Biden receives a COVID-19 vaccine at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, Dec. 21. (CNS/Reuters/Leah Millis)

Looking back at the year in politics, the dominant theme was the nadir of President Donald Trump’s political career. The question that has accompanied the president’s political fortunes is closely related: Did American democracy hit its nadir?

At the beginning of the year, Trump became only the third president to be impeached, but his acquittal in the Senate left him claiming vindication. Politically, he was correct, and his supporters only came to resent the Democrats more and buy into the false idea that the president had done nothing wrong. Morally, and before history, I suspect the verdict will be more negative.

By the time the Senate voted to acquit the president on Feb. 5, however, a different threat to his presidency — and to the nation — had emerged: COVID-19. If you had designed something to exploit all of Trump’s weaknesses, this is what you would have devised. His disdain for expertise and bureaucracy made him suspicious of the very people he needed to rely on to formulate an effective policy response.

For all his brilliance at marshaling resentments in the zeitgeist for political ends, the president’s ignorance of history meant that he failed to recognize one of history’s most elementary lessons: Crisis are indispensable for the making of greatness, provided the political leader rises to the occasion. Trump’s inability to apply sustained attention to a problem (as opposed to a conspiracy theory), combined with his allergy to bad news, led him to articulate platitudes that were demonstrably false when the country needed to brace for the pending ordeal. He embraced crackpot ideas, retweeted nonsense, held press conferences last spring filled with cringe-worthy moments, such as his suggestion that ingesting disinfectants might cure a person of the virus, all rooted in a psychological, not a political, need to deliver what he thought was good news.

Other nations with more conscientious political leaders adopted more stringent policies, yet even their greater effectiveness has not prevented these countries from having to reenact more stringent policies this winter. But no other country has ejected an incumbent president or prime minister, as we Americans did. Apart from all of his other failings, it was the president’s lack of empathy ultimately that most doomed his reelection effort. It is shocking to contemplate the fact that had there been no coronavirus, Trump might have won a second term.

At the beginning of 2020, I looked to the year now just finishing, and wrote:

There is one irony to Trump’s divisiveness that shows how little we humans grasp our circumstances. For years, Democrats have pledged to energize more voters and get them to the polls. Republicans, on the other hand, have tried to make it harder for people to vote. But it is Trump who has energized the electorate even as he has divided it, and we can look for a record turnout in November. I hope he loses, but I also hope he loses big. What scares me more than him winning a second term is the prospect of him losing narrowly, and how he might react. That could be the constitutional crisis of 2020, not the impeachment that kicks off the new year.

I was correct about the record turnout. What I had not foreseen was that even though the election was not particularly close, Trump would still try and ignite a constitutional crisis in order to overturn the result. Trump, the putative coup plotter, has demonstrated a contempt for democracy that outstripped even his previous animus towards democratic norms.

There was no essential connection between the president’s casual bigotry and the outburst of anti-racism protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd this summer. Indeed, his opportunistic response to the protests did not sit well with those swingiest of swing voters, white suburban women. Again, the president’s lack of empathy crippled his response to Floyd’s murder, the videotaped gruesomeness of which profoundly scarred the national psyche.

The Black Lives Matter movement organized some of the largest and most widespread protests in history. The movement, however, had failed to morph into something more consequential by year’s end, something that achieves real changes in public policy. Protests only get you so far. Slogans that are catchy but inaccurate and immature, like “defund the police,” need to be set aside. Black Americans, so long and so comprehensively subjected to the countless indignities of racism, deserve real change, such as policies to confront discrimination in housing, create social capital in distressed neighborhoods — in both urban and rural areas — and to raise wages for working-class employees.

Merlin Pambuan, an intensive care unit nurse, is cheered by hospital staff at Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, California, Dec. 21, as she walks out of the hospital where she spent eight months with COVID-19. (CNS/Reuters/Lucy NichoMerlin Pambuan, an intensive care unit nurse, is cheered by hospital staff at Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, California, Dec. 21, as she walks out of the hospital where she spent eight months with COVID-19. (CNS/Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

The third political development of note was the improbable rise of Joe Biden to the highest office in the land. In a culture that is addicted to youth, in which “new” has long outstripped “best” for marketing purposes, for Biden, the third time was the charm. His uneven debate performance led to poor showings in the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, as well as the New Hampshire primary.

But, as the reality of the coronavirus sunk in, executive experience began to matter more to voters, the other candidates all suffered from their own political disabilities, self-inflicted or otherwise, and in the South Carolina primary, the last Daley-esque political machine swung to Biden and he almost ran the table three days later on Super Tuesday. There was no looking back.

Biden proved to be the perfect foil for Trump in the general election. His essential decency contrasted with the incumbent’s indecency. Biden famously oozes empathy. His long experience in Washington, a liability in normal times, strengthened his case with people tired of Trumpian incompetence.

In one regard, and an important one, Biden was not unlike Trump: Neither of them possess the overly polished speaking style that voters have grown suspicious of. For Trump, his authenticity comes through most powerfully when he exhibits his sense of grievance. For Biden, his unpolished, halting speaking style was omnipresent and, in its different way, conveyed that air of authenticity that voters demand.

One of the real political winners of the year were the hundreds of thousands of registrars of voters and other civic officials who managed to conduct an election in the middle of a pandemic. Despite what Laura Ingraham might have told you on Fox News, this election, like most U.S. elections, was largely free from incident. There was no demonstrable voter fraud, only a delay in counting mail-in ballots in those states that still had pre-COVID rules about not counting absentee ballots until the polls closed.

As we collectively limp into the new year, it is hard to assess what lasting damage has been done to American democracy by Mr. Trump, whether Mr. Biden will be able to heal those wounds, and how the now-mutating virus will continue to afflict our economy and our politics. How these hardships will intertwine with the pressing issues of racial injustice also remains to be seen.

It is by now banal to note that 2020 was a year unlike any other. Besides, all years are different one from another. History is the one thing that does not repeat itself. To me, 2020 yielded one truly intriguing question, whether history will consider COVID-19 or Trump the greater curse.

Michael Sean Winters


The following extract from the above Report by Michael Winters, N.C.R., is not a bad summary of the Trump Experience in the U.S.A. over the last year of his one-time Presidency:

“… no other country has ejected an incumbent president or prime minister, as we Americans did. Apart from all of his other failings, it was the president’s lack of empathy ultimately that most doomed his reelection effort. It is shocking to contemplate the fact that had there been no coronavirus, Trump might have won a second term.”

Nevertheless, despite his country’s rejection of the possibility of Trump’s second term as POTUS, he is still tweeting, obsessing, and blaming his own Republical Party for their lack of skill in keeping him afloat for his continuance in office.

However, it seems that it has taken the depradation of the COVID Pandemic to bring him down – a factor which still affects the health and well-being of the American people – and rallying the U.S.Government to supply the necessary supply and availability of a COVID vaccine to help offset further infection and death of a growing number of Americans.

Let’s all pray that Trump’s denoument as POTUS will help restore the status of the U.S.A. as a world leader in democratic government – to replace the authoritarianism and hubris for which the rule of Donald Trump will long be remembered at home and abroad. One is reminded of the ancient wisdom: ‘Sic transit gloria mundi’

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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TRUMP and his abortive collusion with the Religious Right

The religious right’s allegiance to Trump may cost them a price too high to pay

Now that it’s essentially an arm of the Republican Party, the religious right may have a hard time keeping younger believers & recruiting new members to their politicized churches.Commentary by John Gallagher Sunday, December 20, 2020  

  Trump evangelical ChristiansPastor Joshua Nink, right, prays for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as his wife, Melania, watches after a Sunday service at First Christian Church, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in January 2016.Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Without question, the folks who are sorriest to see Donald Trump leave the White House (aside from the grifters in the president’s orbit) are conservative evangelicals.

For them, Trump was just this side of the Messiah himself. The religious right didn’t care that Trump was married three times, paid off a porn actress to keep her silent, ran casinos, bullied people relentlessly, lied about his charitable giving, and caged children. The only thing that really bothered conservative Christians was that Trump cursed.

If you worship at the same altar of transactional politics that Trump does, the affinity between the president and the religious right makes perfect sense. Trump gave conservative Christians practically everything they wanted. He stacked the courts — especially the Supreme Court — with judges sympathetic to the religious right, who will side with their grievances for decades to come. He loaded his administration with religious right fanboys, starting with his choice for vice president, Mike Pence.

The hypocrisy speaks for itself. But what the religious right never seemed to reckon with was the cost of supporting Trump. That may be a lot higher than they thought.

It’s not just that the Biden administration will be a lot less open to pleasing conservative Christians. The incoming president is not the kind who will punish his political opponents, even when he disagrees with them. (If he did, Kamala Harris wouldn’t have been his choice for a running mate.)

No, the cost is likely to be reflected in numbers. The number of people in the US who identify as evangelicals has been shrinking for years. While the numbers vary depending on who is doing the surveying, the fact remains that the number of Americans who profess to be Christians is on the decline. While the mainstream Protestant denominations and Catholicism have taken the biggest hits, evangelicals haven’t been entirely immune.

Like many church goers, evangelicals tend to be older and whiter than the rest of the population. Moreover, younger evangelicals, while still relatively conservative, are much more moderate than their elders when it comes to issues like climate change or LGBTQ rights.

By aligning themselves so closely with Trump and becoming synonymous with his political base, conservative evangelicals made their movement effectively a wing of the Republican Party. If you want to grow your numbers, or at least slow the decline, becoming so highly politicized and divisive is not the best strategy. It makes it harder to recruit.

Moreover, being overtly partisan doesn’t help retain younger evangelicals. Some young believers have been struggling with the rightward political drift of their churches. The New York Times got 1,500 responses from young evangelicals for a 2018 story, and many questioned the close ties between their faith and the GOP, with some saying it had caused schisms in their families.

The scandal surrounding evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., his wife and the young man involved in their sexual shenanigans didn’t burnish the movement’s reputation with younger evangelicals either.

The religious right has been fighting so hard because it’s convinced its way of life is disappearing. Trump may have been their last chance to turn back the clock, but no matter how hard they fight, conservative evangelicals can’t stop the demographic and attitude changes working through the American population.

The more the evangelical movement is seen as an attempt to hinder progress, the less its chances for success or growth. They can either adapt to reality or deny it. With Trump, they chose the latter, and for that they’ll pay a price.


The picture at the top of this page show POTUS Donald Trump with his eyes closed. This well now be his ruling motif for his government during this time at the White House. Certainly, he is not doing much for the good of the United States during this time of transition to Democratic rule under President-elect Joe Biden (a practising Catholic).

Trump probably now feels the need of prayer for his translation to ‘Life After’ the four years of his presidency. By all acounts, he is spending more time on the golf course than in the Oval Office in this time of the COVID Pandemic, which is still raging all over the U.S. – despite the arrival of the new vaccines that his administration is slowly filtering into the public sphere.

His main supporters in the now bygone Election for POTUS were the conservative Evangelical Christians whom he courted assiduously during the recent lead-up to the Presidential Election which, however, he lost to the Democratic Party – more by what he did not do for the nation, rather than by any positive good that might have gained him other support during his presidency.

With the arrival of Joe Biden (who has his own detractors among some of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, whose conservatism has looked askance at Joe’s more liberal position on abortion and the LGBTQI community), America will once again become the more liberated, open and inclusive country that its Founders first envisaged for those immigrants who would help American to become the most democratic country in the world. The looked-forward-to emancipation of the Black community, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people in the United States can now be advanced under Democratic rule.


As further evidenceof Trump’s defeat – despite his support from the Con/Evo community in the U.S. – here is the latest news of a statement of Evangelical Leader, Pat Robinson, sealing Trump’s demise:


Rev. Pat Robertson, a fixture of right-wing evangelical commentary and one of President Donald Trump’s longtime supporters, declared that Joe Biden will be president and urged Trump to accept that fact.

The outgoing president, said Robertson, “lives in an alternate reality” and “is very erratic,” in footage posted by Right Wing Watch. Robertson said to Trump, “You’ve had your day and it’s time to move on” — and added that Trump should not try to run again in 2024, something he has been reportedly considering.

Trump won overwhelming majorities of white evangelical voters both times he ran for president. They have been a reliable component of his coalition and critical to the GOP’s viability in elections.

Pat Robertson informs Donald Trump he lost: ‘You’ve had your day and it’s time to move on’

This is a picture of Pat Robertson, making his concession speech to the former President

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Senior faith leaders call for global decriminalisation of LGBT+ people

More than 370 sign declaration demanding ban on conversion practices before UK conference

Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London, sent a message of ‘heartfelt encouragement’.

Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London, sent a message of ‘heartfelt encouragement’. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA ImagesHarriet Sherwood@harrietsherwoodWed 16 Dec 2020 00.01 GMT

Senior faith leaders from around the world are coming together at an event backed by the UK government to call for an end to the criminalisation of LGBT+ people and a global ban on conversion practices.

More than 370 figures from 35 countries representing 10 religions have signed a historic declaration ahead of a conference on 16 December in a move that will highlight divisions within global religions.

The signatories include Archbishop Desmond Tutu and eight other archbishops, the Catholic former president of Ireland Mary McAleese, more than 60 rabbis, and senior Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office had been due to host the conference at its Whitehall headquarters before the event was forced online by London’s move into tier 3 Covid restrictions. James Duddridge, the minister for Africa, will address the meeting.

Westminster Abbey is hosting a private celebration after the event, led by the deans of Westminster and St Paul’s cathedral.

The declaration calls for an end to the criminalisation of LGBT+ people and to “conversion therapy” – attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

It also acknowledges that “certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offence” to LGBT+ people, and have “created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence”.

The UK government has funded the conference despite failing to act on a pledge made in 2018 to outlaw conversion therapy. In July this year, Boris Johnson said plans to ban the “absolutely abhorrent” practice would be brought forward following a study.

Issues of sexuality and gender identity have caused bitter divisions within the global Anglican Communion, headed by Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, for decades. Church leaders in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda uphold traditional biblical teaching on the issue.

However, Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London and number three in the Church of England, sent a message of “heartfelt encouragement” to the meeting. “When Christian teachings are distorted to incite violence, this is a dreadful abuse of the gospel message,” she said.

The declaration has been signed by the leaders of the Anglican church in Scotland and Wales. Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, is co-chair of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, which will be launched at the conference.

Bayes said: “For too long, religious teachings have been misused – and are still being misused – to cause deep pain and offence to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. This must change.”

Another signatory, Dilwar Hussain, the chair of New Horizons in British Islam, said he had been pushing Muslim organisations to engage with LGBT+ justice, but admitted it was “challenging”.

He added: “There’s a lot of talk in Muslim communities of equality, prejudice, discrimination … If we’re going to be serious about addressing issues of justice and injustice in our society, we’ve got to have an argument that’s morally consistent.”You’ve read 11 articles this year


This is a most welcome move by the world’s Religious Leaders (Hosted by the U.K. Government) to call for a radical openness to LGBTQI people, and for the banning of the highly contested ‘Conversion Therapy’, which aims to ‘re-order’ the intrinsic gender or sexual self-identity of persons who do not comply with the heterosexual ‘norm’.

Here, at long last, is a move towards the inclusion of people whose gender/sexual identity is ‘different’.

The real significance of this move for people of Faith, who have formerly been ostracised from their religious communities – simply because of the gender-sexual difference – cannot be overstated. All human beings, in the Christian context at least, are said to have been created in the ‘Image and Likeness of God’ – who does not make mistakes in the subjects of the Divine creation.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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G.P.S. and GOD

Food for Faith, by Fr John O’Conner – 15 Dec 2020

GPS & God

Since this Food For Faith website began ten years ago I have written more than two thousand reflections, some fairly heavy and even a bit unhelpfully dense, and others more gently encouraging. One of my personal favourites began on a road trip in Italy.

A few years ago travelling in Italy with a friend I rented a car. I picked it up from Termini (along with my friend) in Rome. Our plan was, over three days, to enjoy Tuscany and Umbria. I had never driven in Italy before and had been warned that the way the Italians drive is proof that they believe in God.

I hired the car only because it had GPS. The agent at the rental counter assured me that the GPS voice could speak in English adding that this little box would guide me to whatever destination I typed.   As we drove away from Termini it was the job of my passenger to operate the navigation system. We got it working only after a couple of hours of confusion including one particularly difficult half hour when we drove through the same motor-way toll three times.   Within a short time the GPS was working well giving us clear directions exactly when we needed them. Over three days we managed to enjoy several small Italian towns: Assisi, Gubbio, San Gimignano, Siena and Florence among other wonderful villages and roads.  

For the first day we obediently followed every direction of the GPS voice. But it didn’t take too long for us to realise that if we accidentally, or even deliberately misunderstood, ignored or disobeyed the navagation instruction, the GPS would re-route us. This meant that if we drove a few miles down the wrong road, after a few attempts to get us to “U”-turn our guide would realise that the quickest route to our destination was not to return to the point of deviation, but to move ahead by a new route.  Once we understood this we realised that it was impossible for us to ever be lost, and in this realisation I learnt something wonderful about God.  With God, we are never lost, and the people we love are never lost. In every moment God knows where we are.

It is true that (as with the GPS) I might be in a place that I did not expect to land or want to be. I could end up in a destination that promised all kinds of beauty and pleasure, but did not deliver at all. But the moment I decide that I want to move again towards my ultimate goal, God is present to lead me.  

To be honest it does get a bit tiresome playing at disobeying the GPS. It is fun for a while to be re-found and re-directed, but in the end I realise that it is much easier to get on and stay on the road to where I am going.   The voice of God speaking to us through the scripture and Tradition of the Church offers us clear direction. But when we learn from our own experience we are led in the same life-giving way, to a future full of hope and promise.

When we listen for and live by the leadings of God, Life has a life-giving purpose.

An Invitation: Whenever you get a chance today, stopped at the lights, about to take a phone call, aware of a feeling of tiredness, shame or worry, take 5 seconds to know that Jesus is with you and move ahead together.


Not a bad reflection for the latter part of ADVENT, 2020, from Fr. John O’Conner!

Our ultimate G.P.S. is none other than our Creator, God who made us and knows every aspect of our being. When we find ourselves ‘ off-course’ and adrift in our lives, we might just remember that God is our origin and our end objective. When we let God back into our lives, we can be sure of his continuing support and guidance to our Safe Haven

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Barriers Broken in TEC Episcopal Election

Paula Clark elected 13th bishop of ChicagoPosted 7 hours ago
The Rev. Paula Clark. Photo courtesy Diocese of Chicago

[Diocese of Chicago] The Rev. Paula E. Clark was elected on Dec. 12 to be the thirteenth bishop of the Diocese of Chicago. She will be the first Black person and the first woman to hold the position.

Clark, who currently serves as canon to the ordinary and chief of staff in the Diocese of Washington, was chosen unanimously on the fourth ballot in an election conducted on Zoom from a slate originally composed of four candidates. She received 229 clergy votes and 284 lay votes.

“We Episcopalians are strong people who can model for the rest of this country and the world what it looks like to walk the way of love,” Clark told the convention over Zoom. “God is calling us to a new day and a new way of being.”

Clark was baptized into The Episcopal Church at age 10 by Bishop John Walker, the first Black dean of Washington National Cathedral and first Black bishop of the Diocese of Washington. She received her undergraduate education at Brown University and earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Before entering the seminary, Clark served as public information officer for the District of Columbia mayor’s office and Board of Parole for nine years and spent five years as director of human resources and administration for an engineering and consulting firm in Washington.

In 2004, she received a Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, and served at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Washington and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beltsville, Maryland, before joining the staff of Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. Her work for the diocese focused initially on clergy development and multicultural and justice issues.

The bishop-elect is married to Andrew McLean and describes herself as “the proud matriarch of our blended family of five adult children and seven grandchildren.”

Clark, who is scheduled to be consecrated on April 24, will succeed Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee, who is retiring on Dec. 31 as bishop of a diocese that includes 122 congregations and more than 31,000 members in northern, central and southwestern Illinois. Under the canons of The Episcopal Church, the diocese’s standing committee will serve as its ecclesiastical authority during the interim.

The other nominees were:

  • The Rev. Edwin Daniel Johnson, rector, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Boston, Massachusetts
  • The Rev. Fulton L. Porter III, rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Chicago
  • The Rev. Winnie Varghese, priest for ministry and program coordination, Trinity Church Wall Street, New York, New York


In a new experience for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, a black woman has become the Bishop of the Diocese! To be consecrated (ordained a bishop) on April 24, 2021, Paula Clark is a first for this busy Episcopal diocese, and a model for the newly emerging face of radical inclusion in that American outreach of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church in North America (TEC) has long been a model of social and democratic influence in the Anglican Communion, with sometimes disappointing responses from some other provinces – especially those of the GAFCON Churches, who formed their own virtual A.C. – mainly in Africa but led by the Sydney Diocese in the Anglican Church in Autralia.

Thank God, though, for the impact of TEC’s movement towards (1) the liberation of women into ministry, and (2) the acceptance of LGBTQI people into the life of our Churches. The Mother Church of England and other more liberal Anglican Churches owe a profound debt of gratitude to our sisters and brothers of T.E.C.

Father Ron Smith

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The barriers to listening need to be broken down

Church Times – 11 DECEMBER 2020

The Living in Love and Faith process will work only if Anglicans pay attention to the stories of real people, not sectional viewpoints, says Susan Gilchrist

THE results of the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process have been long awaited. It has been studying issues of gender and sexuality (News, 13 November) for a Church whose divisions have been put into sharper focus because of society’s changing perspectives and practices, especially in relation to lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and intersex people.

The aim of the process is to create a radical new vision of inclusion, and help the Church to understand what it means to follow Christ in love and faith in regard to the questions about human identity and the variety of patterns of relationship which are emerging in our society. These include marriagecivil partnership, cohabitation, celibacy, and friendship.

Living in Love and Faith notes (on page 3) that the programme makes no recommendations or guarantees about an agreed way forward in relation to identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage. The resources are intended, the Bishops say, only to initiate a process of “whole-church learning and engagement”.

That vision demands a truly listening Church. Already, many people have passed judgement on the material — some even before it was released. Instead of commenting in detail on the report, however, I want to examine what true listening and radical inclusion mean.

TOO often in society, there is not true listening. Instead, barriers are created, because of misunderstanding, ignorance, suspicion, and hatred. One of the main reasons for this is disputes about the origins of these conditions.

One group, mainly from the feminist movements, argues that they are forms of paraphilia: a disruption of the normal path of development, which is driven by sublimated sexual motivations. The other group, which represents a consensus among the professional medical institutions, argues that it they are personality variations, within the normal range of human development, and are driven, instead, by the search for identity. The methods of management are almost opposite to one another, depending on which of these diagnoses is chosen.Advertisement

The capacity for listening is destroyed when people on one side attack the other with accusations of malpractice, and say dismissively that “Their teaching is backed by no credible science but has been adopted by government, the NHS, schools, and therapists” — as a statement on the Transgender Trend website does; or when people on the other side respond, in equal measure, by threatening and disrupting their opponents’ meetings; or when Christian groups refuse even to consider the possibility of reinterpretation of an entrenched theological position.

What does the gospel tell us about such disputes? In St John’s Gospel, Thomas says to Jesus: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” When Philip, in the same passage, says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” he is asking for Jesus to prove his statement, but Jesus does not prove it; instead, he describes journeys that people make: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”

Thus, when Jesus responds to Thomas by saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” he is telling his disciples not to rely on the sort of evidence that Philip wants, but to follow the example of how he lives his life, and how other people live their lives. He reinforces this statement by saying: “No one comes to the Father except through me” and “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” That seems to rule out other approaches.

When, in the admittedly apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, Jesus tells people to “Become passers-by”, he is telling them not to listen to the machinations of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Instead, for true listening, he implies, listen first to the stories and experiences of real people, not to the pundits of his time — or even to those in our present Church.

ALL lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people disrupt the accepted order of any society in which gender complementary is socially and legally enforced. This is regardless of the morality of their acts.

For historical reasons, a sexual motive has always been presumed; but listening to the experiences of gender and sexually variant people shows that the driving forces behind them are, instead, those of love and identity.

OTHER STORIESGeneral Synod digest: ‘LLF debate is outside’ON MONDAY evening, the General Synod took note of the annual report from the Business Committee

Then, for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. That refers, without exception, to all people who seek to live their lives in ways that fulfil the love of Christ — and that welcome includes transgender, transsexual, lesbian, gay, heterosexual, and bisexual people. Those who seek to express their identities in roles that are true to themselves must be fully accepted in their own right. If we are truly to build the house of many rooms which Jesus refers to, we must listen to one an other with love and respect.

Sadly, and too often, instead of seeking to listen, we use what we hear about one another to condemn those with whom we disagree. Listening becomes more difficult if the condemnations become too great, and it may be made impossible if criminalisation occurs. To listen with an open mind is all that is asked.

Jesus was despised and rejected because he broke the mould. Instead of trying to prove our own agendas by attempting to turn science and theology into weapons that we use to condemn others, we should follow the example of Jesus, who refused to give Philip the proof that he wanted. Instead, Jesus showed that the way is through the example of the way he lived his life.

It is by following this pattern of listening and caring that we come to know Jesus. “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” In this spirit, then, let us resolve to go forward and make this house of Jesus a home where love can dwell: a house where all are welcomed, and a house that shines with the love of Christ.

THE Bishops tell us that the intention is to discern the way forward over the next two years to gain the radical inclusion that is sought. As a scientist and academic, I appreciate and understand the importance of using intensive and objective knowledge and engaging in thorough research.

As a contributor to and supporter of the LLF programme, I welcome the publication of this work, although I do have concerns about some of the material in the book. But it is more than 480 pages long, and extensive study programmes are also provided.

The Bishops say, as I mention above, that the resources are intended only to initiate a process of “whole-church learning and engagement”; thus, this work is yet another in the long line of many Church of England reports and documents that talk about the problems with gender and sexuality without tackling them.Advertisement

Certain groups are already intent on preparing guides to LLF which will satisfy the sectional viewpoints of their own members, who may also have little interest in digesting the mass of material that has been provided; or too little information or time. With so little guidance from the LLF programme, this information becomes open to abuse.

This potential is already evident in the issue of two videos timed to coincide with the release of the LLF resources. The Beautiful Story, from the Church of England Evangelical Council (News, 20 November), has already been defended by the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson “as not being intended to shut down or derail conversations about sexuality” (Online News, 26 November) .

A second video, produced by Christian Concern, takes the videos that the LLF programme has produced for its own educational purposes and edits them without permission by interspersing them with its own comments.

Not only is that an attack on the good faith of the people who contributed to the original videos: it also disregards their safeguarding concerns, it almost certainly breaches copyright, and it is being investigated as hate crime by the police (Online News, 30 November). Other videos representing different viewpoints could have been presented. In citing these videos, my aim is not to highlight their theologies, but to illustrate how listening is denied.

Surely, however, the essence of the gospel is in the hearts and minds of people, a gospel of love, rather than in any institutions or dogmas that are created.

THE condemnations that Jesus applies to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23.33: “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”, or, elsewhere, in Luke 11.37-54, are hardly moderate in tone. When taken out of context, the statement by Jesus “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” could be used by any pundit to reinforce any argument; but when it is taken in the context of the passage, as it must be, it demands a truly listening Church.

Properly used, the LLF material provides a valuable resource; but, unless we find the radical sense of listening and inclusion which Jesus presents, and, until we fully embrace one another in the gospel of Christian love, we will continue to make the churches less relevant to the needs of people, and of society, and become “passers-by” in the world.

Susan Gilchrist is a retired academic. She is a committee member of Sibyls, a Christian group for transgender people and their friends and family, and a former chair of the LGBTI Anglican Coalition.


I offer this article from the latest U.K. “CHURCH TIMES”, written by Susan Gilchrist, to showcase the problems already arising out of the publication ‘LIVING IN LOVE AND FAITH’ (LLF) that are identifiable from the perspective of LGBTQI people in the Church of England (and, by extension, those living in other Provinces of the Anglican Communion

Considering the length of time it has taken for the C. of E. to actually produce L.L.F., it offers little hope for positive action from the House of Bishops to actually accelerate the conversations that will be necessary before any alteration can be made to actual rules and regulations that prevent LGBTQI people from full recogntion as co-equal partners in mission – without prejudice on account of gender or sexual orientation grounds for radical inclusion.

In the meantime, supporters of this minority in the Church will still have to toe the line with regard to the current hesitancy in welcoming and celebrating the single people and couples whose lives are currently lived ‘under cover’, for fear of being exposed to the real possibility of exclusion from particular ministries which the Church otherwise opens up to those of the majority (binary) gender/sexuality identity.

Until the Mother Church of England becomes more openly supportive of LGBTQ people within the fold, there will still be leaders in other Anglican Churches around the world who will feel unable to accept such people within their own, sometimes more rigidly conservative communities. An honest, open welcome to gender/sexuality-different people by the hierarchy and the clergy of the C. of E. would help to bring a standard of justice and equality that are hallmarks of the Christian Gospel.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Joe Biden will restore U.S. commitment to Climate Change

Biden administration’s climate agenda reflects spirit of Laudato Si’

Dec 9, 2020by Daniel P. Horan – National Catholic Reporter –

Students from Catholic schools in the Washington Archdiocese stand outside St. Patrick's Church in Washington Sept. 20, 2019, where about 200 of them had gathered to pray prior to the climate change rally in front of the Capitol. (CNS/Carol Zimmerman)Students from Catholic schools in the Washington Archdiocese stand outside St. Patrick’s Church in Washington Sept. 20, 2019, where about 200 of them had gathered to pray prior to the climate change rally in front of the U.S. Capitol. (CNS/Carol Zimmermann)

There is no greater threat to life — human and nonhuman alike — than global climate change. As I have argued before, advocacy on behalf of discrete human populations, such as the unborn or the elderly, will prove futile if there is no habitable planet on which such people can live and upon which all living creatures depend for life. Such uncritical advocacy is like being “pro-fish” by removing them from a lake in which a predator has threatened their survival only to toss them ashore, leaving them to suffocate and die in an environment that is incapable of sustaining their life.

While the outgoing Trump administration has demonstrated nothing but disdain for human and nonhuman life other than its own, the incoming Biden administration is offering us a small sliver of pro-life hope when it comes to climate change, which should be supported and celebrated by Catholics.

The stark contrast between the two approaches to governance is seen in numerous areas, not the least of which is the polar-opposite perspectives each administration has of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Trump administration provided the requisite one-year written notice of its intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, an action that went into effect on Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after the presidential election. President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to rejoin the agreement on his first day as president.

The secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, recently stated in an interview that, given the disproportionate power and impact of the United States, humanity’s survival would be “impossible” without American participation and leadership in the global effort against climate change. Additionally, the United States is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, which places a greater spotlight on its international responsibility to model alternative policies and practices to reduce carbon emissions.

One of the most promising signs of the Biden administration’s seriousness in resuming the United States’ global leadership role has been the announcement of former Secretary of State John Kerry as “special presidential envoy for climate,” which is a newly created cabinet-level position that also includes a place in the president’s important National Security Council. The choice of Kerry — who is, like Biden, also a Roman Catholic — reflects the incoming administration’s prioritizing of the existential threat climate change poses not only to the future of life on this planet, but also the national security risks such changes pose in the inter

While serving as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, Kerry helped negotiate the Paris Agreement. Since his departure from public office in 2016, Kerry has worked to organize a bipartisan domestic and international coalition called “World War Zero” designed to increase awareness of the rising threat of climate change while also enlisting experts to help strategize best responses.

Unlike the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose elected leadership signaled a continued desire to push an adversarial and partisan culture-war agenda in its collective engagement with the Biden administration, Pope Francis, in his congratulatory call to Biden last month, emphasized areas of common ground between the church’s social teaching and the Biden administration’s priorities, including “addressing the crisis of climate change.”

Francis, who played a significant spiritual and nongovernmental role in promoting the Paris Agreement in 2015, issued his influential encyclical letter “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” the same year. The pope has recently renewed his call for nations to adhere to the Paris Agreement, stating in September, “We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world.”

The incoming Biden administration appears poised to implement many of the policies and practices that align with Francis’ repeated calls for personal and collective “ecological conversion” as expressed in Laudato Si’. With Kerry as the lead American diplomat charged with overseeing and implementing the administration’s proposed climate plan, I have hope that progress is possible in response to this existential threat, provided climate deniers, anti-intellectual Republicans, and fossil-fuel industries are kept at bay.

Last week, economist and journalist Nishan Degnarain wrote a lengthy article in Forbes in which he listed 10 actions the climate envoy can take to win the climate war. The article is well-argued and outlines both the opportunities and pitfalls that face the incoming climate envoy.

It got me thinking about the Catholic perspective and the many ways in which the impending administrative changes align well with the vision outlined in Laudato Si’. There are many resonances, but here I want to offer an illustrative set of five key alignments.

Taking science seriously: One of the hallmarks of Laudato Si’ is the way in which it frankly and responsibly draws on the best of scientific evidence for “what is happening to our common home,” as the first chapter describes it. The Biden administration shares with Francis a commitment to taking seriously scientific research and data. Unlike the Trump administration’s overt antagonism toward science and promotion of a dangerous culture of anti-intellectualism, the incoming Biden administration embraces expertise and scientific research in formulating policies and responding to crises.

Environmental justice for poor and marginalized: One of the key themes of Laudato Si’ is that of “integral ecology,” which calls for a paradigm shift in how we approach issues of society and the natural environment, recognizing their inherent relationship and interconnectedness. The Biden administration’s proposed climate plan is titled “Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.” Citing recent atrocities like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the plan explicitly acknowledges how climate change and pollution disproportionately affect poor and minoritized communities and the need to correct such injustices.

Intergenerational solidarity: Francis builds on the work of his pontifical predecessors when he writes in Laudato Si’: “Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” Anyone who has seen the powerfully symbolic image of then-Secretary of State Kerry signing the Paris Agreement on behalf of the United States will recall that he held his 2-year-old granddaughter on his lap, signaling the importance of this global pact as a matter of justice for future generations.

International collaboration: The Biden administration’s plan and appointment of Kerry signal another resonance with Francis’ repeated call for “dialogue on the environment in the international community.” The outgoing Trump administration has spent four years dislodging the U.S. from international collaborations, from the Paris Agreement to the World Health Organization, to both American and international detriment. Returning America to the international stage will strengthen partnerships necessary to respond to the existential climate threat as well as other crises that will inevitably arise.

Economy in dialogue for human fulfillment: Finally, in Laudato Si’, Francis reemphasized the centrality of the common good as the foundational principle of governance and international cooperation. He has written that “profit cannot be the sole criterion” when it comes to decision making, but that concern for the environment and “the most vulnerable members of society” should be key. The Biden administration has proposed a number of “clean energy” and economic initiatives aimed at sustaining dialogue between the economy and the environment, striving to connect our coordinated response to climate change with economic justice and growth.

[Daniel P. Horan is the Duns Scotus Professor of Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he teaches systematic theology and spirituality. His recent book is Catholicity and Emerging Personhood: A Contemporary Theological Anthropology. Follow him on Twitter @DanHoranOFM, and join him for a free Facebook Live event for a discussion about the column at 11 a.m. CST on the day a new column is published.]


Despite problems he faces in some quarters in the Roman Catholic community, President-elect Joe Biden (himself a practising Roman Catholic) will at least be faithful to the call of Pope Francis for international attention to be given to the desperate need for Climate Change resolutions.

Biden’s personal support for LGBTQ people and for women’s rights for abortion (matters cynically dismissed by Donald Trump’s Administration) has caused some problems for hard-line conservative Catholics in the U.S. However, despite that, Pope Francis lost little time to personally telephone the President-elect to offer his personal congratulations on winning the POTUS election!

Donald Trump is still doggedly hoping for a miraculous overturning of the U.S. Election process – even though his own Republican Party leadership is counselling him to accept the inevitable; that the majority of Americans want him gone! His truculence in defeat is proving embarrassing – not only for his own Republican Party, but also for those who care for America’s international reputation.

The world’s diplomatic community is looking forward to a hoped-for time of ethical responsibility in the new era of government in the United States of America

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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