A Response to the Bishop of Southwark on S/S Marriage

The letter below, published by the U.K. ‘ViaMedia’, from Simon Butler, a former member of the Archbishops Council in the C. of E. and member of General Synod, offers an affirming – yet critical – response to the recent address made by the Bishop of Southwark, to the diocesan Synod, on the subject of the need for the Church of England to accept the fact of Same Sex Marriage in the community, and to pastorally deal with both its supporters and those who, by dint of personal conscience, oppose the prospect yet want to remain in the Church.

The point of difference – between the bishop’s statement and Simon’s written response – is that Simon believes the Church must tackle the prospect of Same-Sex Marriage unequivocally, by unreservedly allowing for its celebration in Church, while yet accepting the fact that there may be some objections from clergy and members of the Church who have problems with this issue of radical inclusion.

As will be seen from his letter (below) Simon has been having conversation with an eclectic grouping of both liberal and conservative members of the Church of England – meeting under the title: ‘St. Hugh’s Conversations’ – all of whom are concerned for the unity of the Church, despite their respective differences.

Regarding the proposal of Bishop Christopher, that stops short of allowing for the celebration of S/S Marriage in the C. of E. From his experience of the St. Hugh meetings Simon has this to say to Bishop Christopher: –

“By all means, if your answer is ‘no’ (to S/S Marriage) or ‘not yet’ then please make that a little more clear. But if you do (say ‘not yet’), then I ask you to consider that your solution risks the very unity you wish to preserve, and condemns the Church to another round of politics, electoral games and harm. It offers nothing to conservatives and not a great deal to progressives. I think it just offers a way for bishops to avoid biting the necessary bullet rather than working to the maximum unity we can achieve where everyone – in a deeply broken Church – comes away feeling, if not happy, then secure and free to minister according to their conscience.

This challenge of Simon’s urges Bishop Chrisopher and all the bishops of the Church of England, to say clearly whether they support Same-Sex Marriage in the Church, or not. This question needs to be at least as decisive as the C. of E.’s current commitment to Women’s Ordination.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


Dear Bishop Christopher… An Open Response to my Diocesan Bishop after his Address to Southwark Diocesan Synod

Posted on November 29, 2022 by Helen King – ViaMedia

by Simon Butler, former member of Archbishops’ Council and member of General Synod 2005-2022

Dear Bishop Christopher,

First of all, I want to express my gratitude for your remarks at Diocesan Synod. I read them at a distance in New Zealand where I am currently travelling and was grateful for the clarity with which you spoke. It is important now that all bishops join the rest of the Church of England in saying exactly what they think about human sexuality. Otherwise Living in Love and Faith would be a dead letter.

I want to thank you for the way in which you have quietly and often publicly affirmed the ministry of LGBT+ clergy and lay people in the diocese. You have, in many ways, fulfilled the call we gave you in the Diocesan Statement of Needs at your appointment in relation to sexuality. I declare an interest: the drafting was my work! Thank you for your faithfulness here.

Being Bishop of Southwark has always been about herding cats – our clergy are outstanding in their passion and commitment, conservative and progressive alike – and you have gone as far as you possibly can – and as far as your conscience will allow – to appoint and encourage LGBT+ clergy in their ministries. You have been a pastoral bishop to us all, even if that has been frustrating for some colleagues who have wanted you to go further, and faster. After all, this is Southwark!

Your address to the Diocesan Synod was, as ever, the words of a pastoral bishop in the best tradition of Anglican Catholicism. I was not therefore surprised by a phrase I’ve heard you use before: “I do not expect to see the marriage canons changed in my lifetime.” It is something you often say, and it has served you well in Southwark, because it avoids you having to say what you think about same sex marriage. It does have the sense of being a politician’s answer, however, but one that I have often thought was both clever and perceptive. Only recently have I come to disagree with you, and from a surprising direction.

I have been privileged to take part in a series of – until recently – entirely confidential series of discussions called the St Hugh’s Conversations. They began between Conservative Evangelicals and some progressive bishops, but have in the past three years broadened to include some conservative bishops, and those, like me, who want to see change to the current teaching on sexuality changed (it is worth noting that the majority of members are senior members of General Synod, who have an eye to getting things through our decision-making bodies). Despite our profound differences as members, we have agreed we can now identify ourselves individually and share themes. During the Conversations, we have listened to one another with great respect and affection, particularly to the concerns of conservative colleagues who remain deeply concerned about any change to the current position, including the one you advocated in your address.

The uniting spirit of the St Hugh’s Conversations is a desire to bring to a conclusion the battle over sexuality that has beset the Church since 1987. None of us – conservative, progressive, LGBT+ or those who prefer to identify themselves as same-sex attracted – want to see our fragile unity further fractured, or the harm we do to one another as Christians continue its toxic tone. We believe – at least tentatively – that now must be the time to find a settlement which will suit us all. I have come to agree with this position.

To that end, I am very sorry to say that I think your proposals outlined at Diocesan Synod fall short of such a settlement. I think that to preserve the maximum amount of unity by virtue of an incremental settlement through a liturgy of blessing same sex relationships (including marriage, I assume?) is a mistaken, if understandable, episcopal desire to kick the can down the road on same sex marriage. You will expect a progressive like me to say that, but what has been a stunning development in the St Hugh’s discussions is that conservatives can see a church which accommodates such a development. There is a growing unanimity that – noting how painful it would be for conservatives in the Church to agree to such a development – a Church which allows same sex marriages to be solemnised, while at the same time making provision for those who cannot agree to such a development (which in their mind goes some way beyond the sort of conscience clause you propose), is the best way ahead. We need to make fair and just provision for both sides here if we are to reach the possibility of a settlement. Only in the St Hugh’s Conversations have such possibilities been aired and a fragile consensus sensed.

It is easy to see what provision for progressives would look like – an inclusive version of the marriage service. But what do conservatives want? To be honest, my sense is that there is not agreement here yet among them – like women bishops’ opponents, they are an alliance between impossibilists (who baulk at any change and would prefer an even more conservative settlement than the current position of the House of Bishops), those who want a very firm and clear boundary at every level of church life and governance (as laid out by the Church of England Evangelical Council, and something akin to a new Province), and those who are somewhere in between. It is not clear to me what their settled position is, and I sense it is not clear to them either! But it is much more than a conscience clause for opting out – rightly, in my view, they want some assurance of a future honoured and secure place in the Church.

Questions of ‘provision’ will stir strong emotions among bishops (and many women clergy too) who have to deal on a daily basis with the settlement we have made on women in the episcopate. It is not hard to see why such steps will fill episcopal hearts with dread! But, as you and I have shared with women colleagues the tortuous pain of the women in the episcopate synodical journey, I regrettably have concluded that likelihood of inadequate provision, which I firmly believe that what you propose in your Synod address offers conservatives and progressives, will lead to another round of politics, campaigning and rancour. Such an incremental approach may well appeal to some in the College of Bishops, but in the wider Church I think the College risks not reading the signs of the times adequately.

I once agreed with your ‘politician’s answer’ and thought it clever and necessary. But I am afraid now a politician’s answer won’t do. Living in Love and Faith has taught us to be clearer, rather than avoiding the elephant in the room. I want to know whether you are able to offer your support to an extension of the doctrine of marriage to same-sex couples or not. And I think you owe it to the process to give it.

By all means, if your answer is ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ then please make that a little more clear. But if you do, then I ask you to consider that your solution risks the very unity you wish to preserve, and condemns the Church to another round of politics, electoral games and harm. It offers nothing to conservatives and not a great deal to progressives. I think it just offers a way for bishops to avoid biting the necessary bullet rather than working to the maximum unity we can achieve where everyone – in a deeply broken Church – comes away feeling, if not happy, then secure and free to minister according to their conscience.

My prayers are assured for your next meeting with episcopal colleagues in the College.

Your brother in Christ,


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Trump’s ongoing liaison with America’s Religious Right

Considering the reality of Donald Trump’s support from the Religious Right in the U.S., it would appear that he still has their support for his insistence on claiming the moral high ground in American Politics. However, his demagoguery – still evident in his attempt to regain political leverage in his bid for re-election as the next POTUS – clearly demonstrates the danger of a strong movement away from true democracy in that country that once could claim a radical openness to people of every language, ethnicity and religious affiliation.

This burgeoning emergence of the ‘Religious Right’ – based on a mistaken idea of national supremacy rather than the Christian principle of equality and justice for all peoples – if it takes hold among the American people, could further isolate America as a nation dedicated to its own interests rather than the common interests of a free world order. ‘The Commonweal’ that America once proudly celebrated, when it undertook to host the meetings of the United Nation in New York, could be sadly overcome by the tactics of isolationism that marks out the territory of certain politico-religious dictatorships, that militates against the more Christian sense of a common humanity, where all are equal in the eyes of God.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


Alex Denethorn · Commentator on US and UK Politics –

Is Trump making a total fool of himself with his antics right now?

It’s not Donald Trump you should be concerned about.

As is fairly obvious, I’m British. Although I’ve spent considerable chunks of my life in the United States, at the moment, I’m stuck at home in the UK. What we’re seeing, quite frankly, beggars belief. You’ve had incompetent Presidents. You’ve had corrupt Presidents. But Trump is something on a whole different level.

Refusing to concede an election that he clearly lost is bad enough. Then we’ve been watching his attempts to get the election overturned, through the judiciary, pressuring the states themselves and, as we’re learning today, overtly asking the Georgia Secretary of State to ‘find’ more votes for him. That’s what real election fraud looks like, for those who weren’t sure.

Worse than this is the fact that there are still people willing to go along with his absurdity, and his lies. Months of disinformation regarding the election, and now Trump’s allies in Congress are willing to act on his false accusations by refusing to certify Biden’s victory in formal joint session – a session which, before now, has largely just been a ceremonial affair, intended to formalise the election once and for all.

If it’s not clear where I’m going with this, it’s simple: it’s not that Donald Trump is making a fool of himself. That’s par for the course. What’s worrying is that his allies and supporters are making the United States look like fools

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The church is, once again, at a crossroads

The article below the line here, from N.C.R. writer Joe Ferullo, though written from a Catholic perspective, could well apply to all Christian Churches on the planet. As probably the largest Christian Church. Roman Catholics have a similar trajectory of growth and decline as the rest of us who struggle to live out the Spirit of Christ in the gospels in today’s rapidly-changing world.

At the heart of Joe’s article as the newly fledged C.E.O. of N.C.R, is this statement:

 “Pope Francis is pushing for a more open church — a renewal and reinvention of the spirit of Vatican II. At his direction, dioceses around the world held synodal meetings: listening sessions with average, everyday parishioners. Participants demanded greater roles for women, a warmer welcome for LGBTQ+ Catholics and greater attention to the plight of the poor. Over and over, they criticized how leadership has polarized and politicized the church.”

We Anglicans, too, have an urgent need to rec9ognise and minister to the real needs of people in our own time and context. With the rise of the ‘Religious Right’ in the U.S.A. – replicated in the outdated views of some if it’s House of Bishops in the Roman Catholic Church – there is a desperate need not to reach back into a culture of ‘oughts and shoulds’, but rather to trust in God’s infinite grace and mercy to help us address the real and tangible need of all people to hear, and see at work in the Church; the grace and empowerment of Jesus Christ for hope for the future.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


The church is, once again, at a crossroads

People holding lighted candles leave St. Peter's Basilica after Pope Francis celebrated Mass Oct. 11 to mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. (CNS/Vatican Media)

People holding lighted candles leave St. Peter’s Basilica after Pope Francis celebrated Mass Oct. 11 to mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. (CNS/Vatican Media)

This is my first time writing for this space since I became publisher of the National Catholic Reporter just a couple of weeks ago. I’m new to the job (OK, very new) — but I’m not new to NCR and what it means to so many people.Back in 2009, I found myself at a confusing crossroads. The church seemed then to be making an especially sharp and obvious shift in a certain direction. Bishops in the U.S. dove headfirst into politics, attacking then-President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, despite the relief it would bring to millions without health care. Around the same time, the Vatican launched an investigation into the “quality of life” of American nuns, apparently worried that they were simply not Catholic enough.That culture shift — a long time coming, in many ways — felt like a direct challenge to parts of the church that still held on to the spirit and progress of Vatican II, to special concerns for the sick, the poor, and the forgotten. It was as if the leadership were saying: Tried that. Didn’t work. Time to step away. But that wasn’t my experience. By an accident of grace, I grew up in a working-class Irish-Italian-Latino parish in the Bronx, New York, that completely embraced the changes of Vatican II. We had “hootenanny Masses,” which inspired me to learn guitar and play “Here We Are” constantly around the house. Sister Maryann, my sixth grade teacher, sometimes taught us Joni Mitchell songs instead of long division. Nuns removed their old-style habits; religion classes became dialogues rather than rote recitation of the Baltimore Catechism.Over the years, the memory of that energy and innovation kept me Catholic, even as society turned more secular. And yet those memories suddenly seemed under attack. I decided to write about my particular Vatican II experience before it was pushed underground, before my version of that era became some alternative history that no one spoke of anymore.

But who would publish something like that? Secular media didn’t care enough. Most Catholic media I knew of would hesitate to swim against the obvious Vatican tide. Then, thanks to a friend, I got to meet NCR’s publisher, Joe Feuerherd, at a Los Angeles event. I told him about what I’d written — and Joe’s eyes lit up. He published “When Vatican II came to the Bronx” in the paper and online in the summer of 2009.Sister Maryann from sixth grade read it, found me and called. Sister Ellen Marie, who taught my daughters when they were little, sent a letter from her retirement home. Even some friends from the old neighborhood saw the essay and got back in touch.And so began a beautiful friendship with this newspaper. While working as a television executive in Hollywood, I continued to write when I could for NCR. In 2018, I joined the board of directors.Now, as CEO and publisher, I’m working for NCR when the church is, once again, at a crossroads. Pope Francis is pushing for a more open church — a renewal and reinvention of the spirit of Vatican II. At his direction, dioceses around the world held synodal meetings: listening sessions with average, everyday parishioners. Participants demanded greater roles for women, a warmer welcome for LGBTQ+ Catholics and greater attention to the plight of the poor. Over and over, they criticized how leadership has polarized and politicized the church. You could call these people “Francis Catholics” — they are, in many ways, a new generation of engaged believers, energized by the hope for change and growth.But, at the same time, defenders of tradition have dismissed or downplayed those voices. Here in the U.S., the Catholic bishops’ conference just elected conservatives to nearly every important leadership role — including the group’s new president, Archbishop Timothy Broglio. Our columnist Michael Sean Winters writes that “it is difficult to overstate what a repudiation of Pope Francis the selection of Broglio to lead the conference is.”

The pope will, nonetheless, press his case further: He has called for two global synods in Rome, in 2023 and in 2024, and will likely pursue at least some of the reforms that have emerged from those parish listening sessions.

It’s impossible to know where that path will lead by the end of 2024 — but these next two years could easily turn out to be the most decisive since Vatican II.TWEET THIS

At stake: What path does the church take in the generations ahead? Does it expand the tent and reach out, or does it circle the wagons and close in? It’s impossible to know where that path will lead by the end of 2024 — but these next two years could easily turn out to be the most decisive since Vatican II.All of which makes NCR more important than ever. In the coming months, readers will count on us to synthesize and analyze everything going on in Rome, Washington, and all the parishes and points of power in between. Thanks to you and your support, I know we will deliver the reliable, trustworthy journalism you depend on.  In the meantime, if anyone knows of a good hootenanny Mass still going on every Sunday, please let me know. I really miss them. And tell the pastor: I can bring my own guitar


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Archbishop of Canterbury visits Ukraine

“The Archbishop (of Canterbury) is making the Advent visit to show solidarity with the people and churches of Ukraine as they face ongoing Russian bombardment and a profoundly difficult winter. While in Kyiv the Archbishop will meet with leaders of Ukraine’s churches to hear their accounts of what the country is going through – and understand how the Church of England can continue to support them.”

This concrete action of the Head of the Church of England, to show our Anglican Church solidarity with the victims of Soviet oppression in the Ukraine, merits our congratulation; that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on behalf of us all in the Anglican Communion around the world, should initiate this radical openness to our sisters and brothers in distress.

While the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow continues to support President Putin’s relentless invasion of the Ukraine; the local Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch (no longer subject to the authority of the Russian Patriarch) will no doubt be glad of this show of solidarity from Archbishop Justin, who is meeting with him and other Christian leaders in the Ukraine in this time of their suffering at the hands of their warring Russian neighbour.

One might hope that this visit will help President Putin to understand that, although he has the backing of the Russian Orthodox Church for his acts of cruelty towards the people of Ukraine; this is not replicated in the desire for peaceful negotiations of many other Christians around the world, who long for peace but not at any price!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand



Lambeth Palace Press Release:
Archbishop of Canterbury begins visit to Ukraine  
For immediate release

The Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Kyiv today for a three-day visit to the Ukrainian capital.
During his trip the Archbishop is also meeting Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced people, and seeing the work of churches and charities providing support to them. 
On his way to Ukraine yesterday, the Archbishop met with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw during an afternoon spent in the Polish capital. He visited Ukrainian House, a support centre for migrants that has been turned into a crisis centre supporting Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion. 
In Warsaw the Archbishop met the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, to hear about the Roman Catholic Church’s extensive work supporting Ukrainian refugees in Poland. 
The Anglican Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes, is travelling with the Archbishop throughout the visit to Poland and Ukraine, which are both in the Church of England Diocese in Europe. There is a small but thriving community of Anglicans in both countries.
While in the Ukrainian capital Archbishop Justin and Bishop Robert will meet with members of Christ Church Kyiv, the Church of England church in Kyiv.
Arriving in Kyiv today, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “The people of Ukraine have shown extraordinary courage in the face of Russia’s illegal, unjust and brutal invasion. This visit is about showing solidarity with them as they face a profoundly difficult winter. I look forward to meeting with church leaders and local Christians in Kyiv, and learning how we can continue to support them amidst the ongoing devastation, loss and destruction of this war. 
“It was deeply moving to meet with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw yesterday and hear their stories. In this season of Advent, we remember that Jesus was born into conflict and persecution – and became a refugee when his parents fled violence and persecution to seek safety in Egypt. 
“I urge Christians in the Church of England and around the world to keep praying for the people of Ukraine in this Advent season – along with all people caught up in conflicts around the world – and offering our solidarity and support in every way we can.”

Bishop Robert said: “I am very grateful to have this opportunity to travel to Ukraine to show my personal support for our brothers and sisters in Christ here at this difficult and painful time.

“It is inspiring and humbling to see how members of our chaplaincy here at Christ Church in Kyiv continue to carry out their work and serve God in the face of the traumas of war. Archbishop Justin and I are here to show solidarity with all the churches in Ukraine as we continue to pray for a peaceful and just end to the war.  I want to thank everyone here for making us so welcome. 
“It was also inspiring to see the work of our chaplaincy in Warsaw and the Ukraine House which we visited on our way to Kyiv. I thank them too for the incredible work they – and others around our diocese – have been doing to support refugees who have fled Ukraine since the conflict began.”

The Archbishop’s visit to Ukraine follows his visit to Mozambique last week, where he met with people who have been internally displaced and traumatised by attacks by ISIS-linked terrorists in the southern African nation.
ImagesAccess High Resolution Images (Dropbox – credit: Lambeth Palace)Archbishop Justin is pictured with members of the Anglican Community in Kyiv, near to the Golden Gate. Pictured are Marharyta Stafiichuk and her mother, Krystyna Laschenko, who is warden of Christ Church, the Anglican congregation in Kyiv.


See, also this article from the Ukrainian Catholic Church:

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


Ukrainian archdiocese demands release of priests taken by Russian troops


Lviv, Ukraine — November 29, 2022

Two Ukrainian priests are shown in two separate photos

Father Bohdan Geleta, left, and Father Ivan Levitsky are seen in this undated screen grab. (CNS screen grab/courtesy of Ukrainian Catholic Church)

The Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Donetsk is demanding the release of two priests it said were arrested illegally in the Russian-occupied city of Berdyansk.

In a Nov. 25 statement, it said Fr. Ivan Levitsky, a hieromonk and rector of the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, and Fr. Bohdan Geleta, who works at the church, were detained by Russian troops Nov. 16, and the church was illegally searched the following day. The priests’ relatives still do not know why the two men were arrested or where they are now.

“We demand the speedy release from custody and imprisonment of our priests … as well as ensuring their unhindered legitimate service to the spiritual needs of the faithful … living in the city of Berdyansk,” said the statement from the Eastern archdiocese.

“We ask for maximum dissemination of information in order to release the captured fathers. We appeal to the authorities and all people of goodwill to join the cause of the release of priests, as well as for increased prayer in this intention.

Russian media reported the priests were detained because Russian troops searching the church and rectory found explosives and plans for “subversive” and “partisan” activities directed against the troops. However, the archdiocesan statement noted that the priests already were in custody when the search was conducted, so they “cannot bear any responsibility for the weapons and ammunition allegedly found in (the buildings). This is a clear slander and a false accusation.”

“The deliberately fabricated false accusation of possession of weapons and explosives against clerics who had no intention of doing such a thing … while previously they were not accused of anything, attests to the intention to use further terror against the imprisoned fathers. It also attests that in the cities of southern Ukraine, the Russian administration operates according to the methods of the Bolshevik special services,” the statement said.

Earlier in the war, in Melitopol, a 74-year-old Orthodox priest was evicted from his home. In April Russian troops arrested the chairman of the council of the German Protestant community in Berdyansk.

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Prescription for an Inclusive Church of England

The Diocesan News Letter of the Bishop of Southwark in the Church of England, Christopher Chesson, (linked below) gives powerful testimony to the Church of England’s need to fully accommodate the LGBTQI community in the ministry and mission in the national Church – in accordance with the civil laws that prohibit discrimination on the part of the Church towards any of her citizens.

The aftermath from the recent meeting of bishops of the Church of England, called to discuss the outcome of the long-extended Document: ‘Living in Love and Faith’; is that several of those bishops, beginning with the senior Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, have expressed their preference for a more inclusive Church – beginning with the welcoming of LGBTQI people as full members of the Church, with access to all of its sacraments. Here is a link to the Southwark Diocesan Newsletter:

Inevitably – as is only to be expected – in the conservative evangelical, Gafcon-dominated, Diocese of Sydney; its web-based mouthpiece in Australia, ‘Anglican Church League’, has jumped to publish an objection to the Bishop of Southwark, written by Dr. Martin Davie – from another conservative blog known by the curious title of ‘Anglican Mainstream’, which however, by its content, being at the extreme fundamentalist end of the Anglican spectrum, might better be named ‘Anglican Slipstream.

In the meantime, the Church of England seems determined – through its bishops – to direct the mission of the Church to streams of Living Water, with the compassion and mercy of the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Saviour and Redeemer of the whole world – not just of the self-assuming ‘pure and holy’.

Fathe Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Private lifestyle no longer a reason for job dismissal in German church

All employees can represent a “church that serves the people” regardless of their specific tasks as well as of their origin, religion, age, disability, gender, sexual identity and way of life, the bishops’ conference said.

This extract – from the article below published by N.C.R. – demonstrates the determination of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Germany to conform to the requirement of the German Government that seeks to outlaw discrimination of employment for secular employees of churches in Germany, solely on the grounds of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

There is, however, no compulsion to employ any person whose religious views conflict with those of the Church on matters of Church polity. Thus; the important principle to be seen in this move by the German Catholic Bishops – if this proposal is passed by the Bishops’ Conference presently taking place – is that the Catholic Church in German will no longer consider LGBTQ people to be unacceptable as secular employees.

P.S. An opposing point of view is now seen in Australia: (See the link following: -)


Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


Private lifestyle no longer a reason for job dismissal in German church


A LGBTQ flag hangs on St. Paul's Church in Munich 13, 2022. (CNS photo/Lukas Barth, Reuters)

A LGBTQ flag hangs on St. Paul’s Church in Munich 13, 2022. (CNS photo/Lukas Barth, Reuters)

BY CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE- BONN, Germany — November 22, 2022

People who work for the Catholic Church in Germany and live in a second marriage or in a same-sex partnership will in most cases no longer have to brace for their dismissal under new employment guidelines being discussed by the country’s bishops.

The bishops adopted the more liberal guidelines for the approximately 800,000 employees of the Catholic Church and the Caritas social services organization, reported KNA, the German Catholic newsagency.

Germany’s constitution allows religious and ideological communities a far-reaching right of self-determination, including employment requirements.

A central concept of the revised “Basic Order of Church Employment” is that in the future, an employee’s private lifestyle would no longer be a reason for dismissal.

“The core area of private life is not subject to any legal assessment and is beyond the reach of the employer,” the German bishops’ conference announced in Bonn Nov. 22. “This legally inviolable zone in particular covers the form of personal relationship and the private sphere.”

All employees can represent a “church that serves the people” regardless of their specific tasks as well as of their origin, religion, age, disability, gender, sexual identity and way of life, the bishops’ conference said.

According to the guidelines, religious affiliation can be a criterion for recruitment if it is required for a particular job, such as pastoral care, preaching or management that shapes the Catholic profile of the institution. All employees will continue to be expected to identify with the goals and values of the Catholic institution under the guidelines.

Apart from exceptional cases, leaving the Catholic Church remains an obstacle to employment or a reason for dismissal. Activity deemed hostile to the church is also an obstacle to recruitment and to being allowed to remain in the job.

The reform was decided by the heads of the 27 German dioceses meeting in Wuerzburg, KNA reported. The bishops’ conference said the plan received “the required majority,” meaning more than two-thirds of the bishops’ approved the measure.

In the previous amendment to the guidelines in 2015, three bishops had reservations and delayed implementing the changes. The new version is initially only a recommendation to the dioceses. Each diocesan bishop maintains the responsibility to implement it or not.

Under the 2015 reform of the Basic Order, the focus was on the individual employee and his or her personal lifestyle. The new Basic Order finds the employer and the managers responsible for protecting and strengthening the Catholic identity of the respective institution.

That identity is to be shaped by guiding principles, a Christian culture of organization and leadership and by communicating Christian values and attitudes — not by the private lifestyle of the employees, the guidelines state.

The German Caritas Association, the country’s largest Catholic social welfare organization, expressed relief at the changes and called them overdue. It is crucial that the new regulations be put into effect in all dioceses as soon as possible to ensure uniformity in employment conditions throughout Germany, the association said.

“We want to show that all people of goodwill are invited to be Caritas together with us, regardless of age and gender, of skin color and sexual identity, regardless of whether they are married, single or divorced after remarriage,” Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa, president of Caritas Germany, said.

Irme Stetter-Karp, president of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, praised the reforms as an “overdue step.”

“I now assume that the scrutiny and the sanctioning of people in church employment are a thing of the past at this point,” she said. “Instead, the church itself takes responsibility for ensuring that the institution is perceived as Christian. This paradigm shift is important.”

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Vitriol on line – from ‘Doctor David Virtue’

In his lates diatribe against the Church of England, former Kiwi, David Virtue, postulates the demise of the Church based on his cock-eyed (?) view of what he is disposed to call ‘Pansexuality’ – which he, and the Gafconite sodality he represents – are wont to dismiss as being inimical to the Sola Scriptura school of theology that denies the authenticity of any other than the outdated ‘binary’ view of human sexual identity and expression of manifest diversity.

Virtue, the voice of what he calls ‘orthodox’ Anglicanism on his U.S. website, is a well-known protester against the modern understanding of gender and sexual identity, which has now been proved to be more nuanced than the outdated binary understanding that once dominated the social and religious realm – before modern scientific and social research discovered the more complex reality of variety within the response of different human beings to sexual affinity in human relationships.

For instance, where the patriarchal world was always suspicious of the behaviour of intrinsically homosexual males (Queen Victoria refused to believe that a woman, too, could be ‘homosexual’ or ‘lesbian’ – attracted to their own sex) – a fear based on mainly what was once considered to be a biblical injunction against homosexuality as ‘sinful’ or ‘depraved’ – the world outside of the Church has been much more accepting of the biological reality of same-sex attraction.

Thus, the institutional Church has taken longer to realise that – as the world was no longer flat – so human biology was based differently from the biblical theory of the existence of only either male or female sexual attraction and identity, there is a small but significant number of human beings whose gender/sexual identity is not covered by the binary description. The question is; how does society (and the Church) deal with such people? Society has made the choice in most democratic countries of the world, where the law protects and encourages faithful monogamous same-sex relationships by the provision of both legal Civil Partnerships and the prospect of legal marriage for those who want to remain faithful to their chosen spouse.

The old understanding that married couples ought always to be capable of fruitful procreation (once the standard for the intent to marry) has long given way to the fact that some couples choose not to have children, while some – in older age – may not even have the prospect of producing children. This has not prevented them from celebrating their marriage in a religious ceremony in Church. Thus, the fact that same-sex couples cannot – of their union – produce children, should not prevent the Church from marrying them, or at least offering a blessing for their union.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand



By David W. Virtue DD – www.virtueonline.org – November 20, 2022

It should be apparent by now that, with the pansexual agenda now rocking the Church of England, that the Mother Church is under siege. Every indication is that it will concede the battle to the same-sex marriage revisionists.

A quiet inevitability hangs over it. Those protesting the CoE’s direction know that, however erudite their argument that the biblical standard that marriage is between one man and one woman, they will lose.

The Living in Love and Faith report has only one purpose: to enable the Church of England churches across the country to participate in a false process of learning and praying together as part of discerning a way forward in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage. That goal leads to the full acceptance of homosexual practice. That process will lead inevitably to the rejection of the 2000-year biblical worldview on marriage. “Listening” is code for hearing the whine of gays until they get their way.

The homosexual steamroller will brook no opposition. The bare-knuckle fight is on for the soul of the church. Based on the history of the last 40 years, the Church of England will succumb to the pansexual demands of a small, shrill, and strident group who have all the time in the world to see their worldview embraced, right up to and including the consecration of bishops living in same-sex relationships. It worked in the American Episcopal Church; it will work in the Church of England.

Never mind the damage that view has wrought. Over 100,000 fled the Episcopal Church. Millions was spent on lawsuits, churches were ripped apart, friendships destroyed, pensions shortened and jobs were lost. The final ignominy was a bishop was tossed out because he refused to allow homoerotic marriages in his diocese.

The deeper truth is that homosexuals and lesbians would sooner burn down the whole church, and, if possible, drag the rest of the Anglican Communion down with them. “Burn, baby burn” first shouted out by the Watts rioters of 1965, has taken on new meaning in today’s culture wars for the soul of the church.

‘We will not turn back, we will not repent, we have the culture, a seduced public, and time on our side. We are sorry that Archbishop Rowan Williams could not seal the deal in Dromantine, Ireland with the primates. One pesky Nigerian primate stood in the way of his success.’ Primate Peter Akinola wrote about it in a book, Who Blinks First, which you can read here https://virtueonline .org/who-blinks-first-rowan-williams-challenges-peter-akinola

The burning Sulfur smell of sodomy now assails the senses far and wide. Like a virus roaring through the body politic, the church’s pansexualists know that their persistence will win the day. Evangelicals are little more than useful idiots trying desperately to find a third way out of the morass.

The pansexualists will tolerate no compromise. They will have none of it. It’s all or nothing. They will temporarily wince at evangelical theological writers like Ian Paul and Vaughan Roberts, but these theologians will be emotionally gunned down by Jayne Ozanne and Colin Coward and a bevy of revisionist bishops who will demand that their pain of exclusion far outweighs the niceties of theological exegesis and apologetics.

This is, after all, the 21st century and one must get with the times. The Apostle Paul would never have understood committed same-sex relationships. Paul was a man of his times, culturally bound, busting a gut to get Jews to believe that the Messiah they were crucifying was the Lord of all creation. The fact that the Great Apostle did have condemnatory words to say about homosexuality is beside the point. Our understanding of sex has changed, we must look to the present and future and not to the past.

If only St. Paul could have met Bishop Gene Robinson or the Rev. Dr. David Monteith. St. Paul would have had an epiphany and changed his mind about God delivering them up to “shameful affections” (1 Cor. 6: 9-10), such as to a job as Dean of the world’s most famous, prestigious Anglican cathedral or the Appointments Secretary sitting at the right hand of the most powerful archbishop in the Anglican Communion.

For pansexualists, homosex is a right, not a gift. The Bible portrays human sexuality as a gift from God for marriage and procreation. For homosexuals, sexuality is a right they demand regardless of what God thinks or what the church has taught for two millennia. If straights can have sex, so can we…and who are you to say we don’t have a right to sex. You are clearly homophobic and a hater of homosexuals.

That lie is now entrenched in Anglican folklore. We who are faithful to God and scripture must now post the gay flag in our churches as a sign of our obeisance before our new sexual masters. As a result, the Church of England is captive to cultural Marxism, says former CofE Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

Here is what Professor J. Budziszewski prophetically wrote over 20 years ago: “Things are getting worse very quickly now. The list of what we are required to approve is growing ever longer. Consider just the domain of sexual practice. First we were to approve sex before marriage, then without marriage, now against marriage. First with one, then with a series, now with a crowd. First with the other sex, then with the same. First between adults, then between children, then between adults and children. The last item has not been added yet, but will be soon: you can tell from the change in language, just as you can tell the approach of winter from the change in the color of leaves. As any sin passes through its stages from temptation, to toleration, to approval, its name is first euphemized, then avoided, then forgotten.”

But victories don’t last forever; they are short-lived. Western pan-Anglicanism is in its death throes. Aging Episcopalians and Anglicans, now in their late 60s fill the pews with no new generations coming forward. Demographers and church historians now say that by 2040, most of Western Anglicanism will be gone, as will most of mainline American Protestantism.

Thriving Global South churches will continue to grow; they have only to wait it out to win. The spiritual center of Anglicanism will no longer be Lambeth or Canterbury, but Abuja. The Africans will get the last laugh.

God is not mocked, He is watchful over his flock, He will not allow them to be consumed. He has His remnant, and He is looking for prophets who will stand in the gap and warn the church of the perils of apostasy. Other Anglican options are already on the horizon and some commentators are urging the faithful to flee the CofE. Think GAFCON and the Anglican Network in Europe.

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Oceania Catholics to discuss ‘ Enlarging the Tent’

Looking at most conservative ‘Anglican’ websites around the world, one might be tempted to think that only Anglicans are concerned about the radical introduction of programmes for the inclusion of minority groups within the Church. The recent schismatic movement of ‘Confessing Anglicans’ in Churches fostered by GAFCON that has split the Anglican Church on matters of gender and sexuality is echoed in other denominations of the Christian Church – with the Roman Catholic Church also having to consider what it is to do about its mission to people on the margins of the Church who, hitherto, have been excluded because of their innate differences of status – the divorced, the women of the Church, and LGBTQI people.

In an article published by the Catholic Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand (Cath News NZ) we can see the change in attitude of both clergy and laity towards people who are ‘different’ from the majority, but no less loved and valued by God:

Oceania involves the countries and territories covered by the bishops’ conferences of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands and the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific. When launching this, the next stage of the Synod on Synodality, Vatican prelates acknowledged the first reports from the faithful are calling for inclusion – for women, for LGBTQ individuals and for the poor. “Let us just look to each person as a person loved by God and called into being by God,” said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich on Thursday.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


CathNews NZ Pacific

Church challenged to enlarge the space of its tent

enlarge the space of your tent

Monday, October 31st, 2022

The working document for the Continental stage of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality was released Friday NZ time.

Entitled “Enlarge the space of your tent,” the document was compiled from Synod submissions from throughout the world: bishops’ conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches, religious orders, Vatican dicasteries and other Catholic organisations.

Cardinal John Dew says this stage in the Synod process is a deeper contemplation of the issues raised in the various national local phases and summarised into the working document. Countries and regions all over the world, including New Zealand, will be considering it for further examination.

“National and diocesan groups will now be invited to take part in this reflection and discernment of the working document,” Dew says.

The work of reflecting on ‘Enlarge the space of your tent’ needs to take place between now and 5 December, so that the New Zealand response can be ready by 22 December.

The Oceania region’s bishops’ conferences will be having a joint meeting in Fiji in February 2023.

Oceania involves the countries and territories covered by the bishops’ conferences of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands and the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific.

When launching this, the next stage of the Synod on Synodality, Vatican prelates acknowledged the first reports from the faithful are calling for inclusion – for women, for LGBTQ individuals and for the poor.

“Let us just look to each person as a person loved by God and called into being by God,” said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich on Thursday. “Christ died for this person on the cross. If I am not able to give the space to the table to this person, than I am against Christ. Who is invited to the tent? All the people, created and loved by God,” Hollerich said. “Our behaviour is sometimes a bit more fragmented, and our love is not as big as the love of God.”

The Church must “establish new balances, otherwise, the tent will collapse,” he added.

The Catholic LGBTQ advocacy network New Ways Ministry praised the openness of the “Document for the Continental Phase”.

They lauded it as “evidence that we are in a new moment of conversation about LGBTQ issues in the Catholic Church”.

Others fear the document may be stretching the Catholic tent too far.

Early last month Cardinal Gerhard Müller, described the synod as part of a “hostile takeover of the Church” more intent on transforming it into a political party than about spreading the gospel.

Cardinal Mario Grech, (pictured middle) however, who is the general secretary of the Vatican’s Synod office, said the “Document for the Continental Phase” does not represent any decisions made by church leaders.

It is a channel for the many points of view that emerged at the parish level as they were summarised by national bishops’ conferences, he clarified.

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A Model for un-biased Church Reporting at N.C.R.

Anglican journalism, nowadays, seems to be littered with quasi-Anglican websites; such as that one going by the oxymoronic title of ‘Virtue-on-line‘, or the equally misleading titles of ‘Anglican Mainstream‘ and ‘Anglican Ink’ – propagating mostly malicious gossip about the provinces of the Anglican Church around the world that have moved on from the deadly culture of sexism and homophobia.

Contrarily, in the field of Catholic (Roman Catholic) journalism, there is at least one reliable source of information about the Church that – though independent of the Vatican and local bishops – behaves in a responsible way to objectively report the truth about what is actually happening – not only at the seat of power in the Church at the Vatican itself, but also in the dioceses and parishes of the world-wide Catholic community.

Perhaps the main difference between the ‘National Catholic Reporter’ and the various quasi-Anglican journals above-mentioned; is that its reporters are seriously intent on publishing what they discern to be the actual state of the Catholic Church – rather than mere gossip about what they perceive to be its shortcomings and points of difference that are unacceptable to the taste of the reporters. Rather than offering a negative, biased opinion of what they view as going on in the Church, NCR reporters have been officially acknowledged as being a responsible and thus effective agency of communication about the mission of the Church in the world.

Below the line here is an extract from the retiring C.E.O. of NCR, Bill Mitchell, whose personal observations about the history and import of the Journal, as it has moved on from its inception which began with reports from the 1960s beginnings of the Council of the Roman Catholic Church at Vatican II when Pope John XXIII called together the bishops of the Church from around the world to bring about the radical reformation that proceeded from that historic gathering, and which parts of the Church are still resisting – especially among the conservative hierarchy in the U.S.A., where the reforming zeal of Pope Francis is still being resisted.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


Although I spent most of my career in secular media, I served as an NCR board member from 1998 to 2004. I was the first editor of EarthBeat from 2019 to 2020 and served as publisher/CEO for the past two years. I retired Nov. 14, succeeded by Joe Ferullo, an outstanding journalist who distinguished himself among 50 applicants for the job with his vision for growing NCR’s readership.

Early on in the recent synodal process, I was skeptical about the unfortunately named “synod on synodality.” I participated in three synodal listening sessions: with my parish men’s group at the Paulist Center in Boston, with another parish group called Catholics Struggling to Stay Catholic, and with the NCR board of directors.

I was doubtful that the views expressed by these groups — especially our frustration over the church’s discrimination against women, LGBTQ+ people and committed but dissenting Catholics — would find their way to the Vatican.

I was wrong. Not only did such views reach their intended target but the Vatican chose to highlight them in its 45-page summary of comments from Catholics around the world.

“The vision of a Church capable of radical inclusion, shared belonging, and deep hospitality according to the teachings of Jesus is at the heart of the synodal process,” the report’s authors wrote.

Quoting what they described as “a parish group from the USA,” the authors added: “Instead of behaving like gatekeepers trying to exclude others from the table, we need to do more to make sure that people know that everyone can find a place and a home here.”

As reported by NCR Vatican correspondent Christopher White, the Vatican document “reckons with a number of topics once considered taboo in the Catholic Church, including women’s ordination, LGBTQ relationships, children of priests, sexism and clergy sexual abuse.

Those are some of the same topics, of course, that NCR has relied on its independence to tackle in ways not considered possible by other Catholic media.

But now is not the time for NCR to rest on its laurels. Just like the church, we have some work to do enlarging our tent.

The number of subscribers to our print edition has fallen, in large part because of changes in the ways readers get their news, from that high of nearly 90,000 in 1968 to fewer than 20,000 today.

Yet the printed newspaper (view the latest issue at NCRonline.org/latestissue) continues to play an important role in our company for journalistic as well as financial reasons. Thousands of our readers tell us they still prefer holding NCR in their hands as opposed to reading us on a screen.

Just as the synodal document encourages the church to seek out people missing from its ranks (as opposed to expecting them to just show up in church), NCR needs to continue to do so as well.

In ways unimaginable to the paper’s founders, NCR was an early adopter of digital media and now connects via social media and NCRonline.org with more than 800,000 monthly visitors.

Since digital readers yield far less revenue than their counterparts in print, we rely on the generosity of readers like you who have become members of NCR Forward and contribute to our various fundraising appeals.

In the interest of making as much of our journalism as accessible to as many people as possible — an especially important goal when so much disinformation is available free online — we have resisted the idea of a paywall that would limit our content to those able to pay.

Like the church, we need to enlarge our tent in several ways, especially among young people and people of color.

“There is universal concern regarding the meager presence of the voice of young people in the synod process,” the Vatican report noted, “as well as increasingly in the life of the Church.”

Our digital publishing has enabled NCR to make modest progress attracting younger readers. Our excellent news coverage and commentary, directed by Executive Editor and Vice President Heidi Schlumpf, reflects far more diversity than it ever has before. We remain a largely white organization, though, and we recognize that living up to our values requires significant improvement.

I leave this job confident that NCR’s talented staff, led by Publisher/CEO Joe Ferullo, will continue to uphold NCR’s editorial excellence at the same time they enlarge the space in our tent.

Bill Mitchell

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Brazilian Anglicans elect first Latino Female Primate

Surviving the attempt by GAFCON to alienate indigenous Brazilians from their Lambeth-related Anglican Church, the Province has gone from strength to strength in its determination to avoid the pitfalls of institutional homophobia and sexism that encouraged its dissidents to form their own para-Anglican Church under the provenance of the schismatic breakaway national Churches formed by Gafcon.

This election of a Woman Primate by the Anglican Church of Brazil is a triumph of God-given reason over the old understanding of a patriarchal society still totally embraced by the newly-formed ‘Anglican Confessional Churches’ which have schismatically split from their parent Anglican Provinces loyal to the Anglican Communion and the Founding Diocese of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference – whose influence is no longer supported by GAFCON and its associated progeny.

(Interestingly; the link below, from ‘Living Church’ which supports the idea of the former ‘Anglican Covenant’ – which was rejected by most Anglican Provincial Churches – is published by ‘Virtue-on-line’, in the U.S. which is the mouthpiece for the schismatic ambitions of the GAFCON sodality, which may not approve of what is now happening in the Anglican Church of Brazil). – click on the link below: –

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand



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