Saturday, 30 April 2005

Saturday miscellany

Two bishops write in today’s newspapers:

Geoffrey Rowell on Age of Benedict must be one of Christian unity

The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI predictably provoked anxious comment in the Western media because of his role as a defender of orthodoxy. Was he not someone who had said that non-Roman Catholic churches were not churches in the fullest sense? Yet in a fascinating conversation I had with him some three years ago he said that an ecclesial community, because it is ecclesial, must have the marks of the Church, and that Anglicans had them in a very deep way. Faced with the challenge of secularism in Europe, Christians needed each other for the work of mission: “No one of us can do it alone.” In answer to my question about how he understood the celebration of the Eucharist in churches — ecclesial communities — whose orders the Catholic Church did not recognise as valid, he replied that in such celebrations there was indeed a true feeding on Christ, and therefore there was a real and transforming grace.

I remembered that warm conversation when I studied the new Pope’s first message at the end of the conclave. He spoke of the grace of Christ in the Eucharist as that which must sustain and transform. He spoke of his own “primary commitment” and “compelling duty” to work towards “the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers”. Expressions of good feelings, he said, are not enough; concrete gestures are required, and above all “ that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism”. All are summoned to a purification of memory to receive the full truth of Christ, whose searching judgment at the end will ask of us “what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.”

Kenneth Stevenson An Anglican dispatch to Rome

But just how far is Pope Benedict XVI likely to go in the wider cause of Christian unity, or indeed to build some bridges (the meaning of the word pontiff) in his own church, which, under the surface, seems as much in need of its own ecumenical movement as the Anglican communion?

My litmus test comes from some of the advice given by one of his predecessors, Pope Gregory the Great, to an earlier archbishop of Canterbury. In AD597, Augustine arrived at Canterbury from Rome with a mandate to heal the wounds of Christianity, at the time divided between Celtic, Old Roman and Frankish, and to evangelise the recently arrived Anglo-Saxons. Gregory advised him to take a moderate line with the different Christian groups, provided they worked together and accepted his authority.

But his advice about what to do with pagan temples was even more intriguing: do not knock them down, just destroy the idols inside them, and replace them with Christian symbols.

I have frequently thought about those words, as they seem to me to have a wider application. When Christianity meets new terrain, as it has done before and will do again, it needs to enter the constructs and mind-sets of the people concerned - and not destroy them. But then comes the more tricky process of ensuring that the old idols inside are replaced by Christian truth.

Of course, analogies break down. But I cannot help thinking that the new pope’s track record, the result of his early formation, is based on a profound mistrust of new ideologies.

Yes, consumerism and relativism can run riot and become their own kinds of dictatorships. But they are themselves only the demerits of what could be deeper merits - that faith has to be appropriated (not just given), and that 20th-century European history has so many deep scars that many people find it hard, if not impossible, to trust any kind of authority, which has to be at least partly won and not simply assumed.

Controversial German theologian Uta Ranke-Heinemann explains why she’s glad that her former classmate has been made pope. Read this interview with her: A Humble Intellect (hat tip Andrew).

Martin Marty Considering Pope Benedict XVI

And here is A Mennonite look at the Holy See

Christopher Howse writes about a long-dead cardinal in Cardinal home from the Hill

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 April 2005 at 10:39am BST | Comments (0)
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Friday, 29 April 2005

Ripon controversy ends

The problems reported earlier (Dean of Ripon suspended and more on Ripon) have been resolved without going to a public ecclesiastical trial.

The Church Times has: Charges dropped as Dean agrees to quit Ripon.
The diocesan press release is here.

The Yorkshire Post carried two stories by Michael Brown
‘Autocratic’ Dean quits over wine and women
Wine, women and evensong: Claims that rocked cathedral

The picture from the Yorkshire Post is captioned:

Requiem: Dean Methuen pictured at the High Altar at Ripon Cathedral, reading from the mid-13th century Latin Bible during a requiem Mass similar to the funeral service of Richard III in 1485 – part of a Richard III symposium held at the cathedral in 2002.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 1:26pm BST | Comments (0)
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Bishop Duncan: We're the Anglicans here

The Living Church carries a long interview with Robert Duncan. The full text is here.

An extract to give the flavour:

TLC: So, as a body within the Episcopal Church, what’s your “lifespan”?

Bishop Duncan: Well, of course we claim to be, constitutionally, the Episcopal Church. And there’s every evidence, both from what the Windsor Report says and what the primates said in accepting it, in their communiqué in Northern Ireland, that we are the Anglicans. If the Episcopal Church’s constitution says that we’ll be constituent members of the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion now says, Episcopal Church, you’re in time out. In fact, you’re not only in time out, but it appears you’re making a decision to walk apart. If in General Convention 2006 the Episcopal Church determines to walk apart, then the question we ask is, who is the Episcopal Church? And our legal basis will be to say, we are, of course, because they have broken the constitution.

TLC: Do you think General Convention will be the turning point?

Bishop Duncan: Oh, yeah. The Presiding Bishop has made it clear, and he made it clear in Northern Ireland, that this church has thought about this, prayed about this, and is committed to this course, and there’ll be no turning back. And I think he reads the situation right. We also believe there’ll be no turning back. We intend, one of the issues for us going into General Convention, and we will be in General Convention, is to attempt to force this Church to make a very clear decision, unmistakably clear as to whether they’re going to walk with the Communion and repent from these actions, return to standard Anglican practice, or really going to move forward. They call it moving forward; we call it walking apart.

If they determine to move out, well, then they’ve determined to move out. We’re the Anglicans here. We’ll also stand in a way that says, we’re the Episcopal Church where we are. You know, there’ll be infinite court battles, but it’ll be very interesting, since the Communion will have said the Episcopal Church walked apart, and the Episcopal Church’s Constitution says that you’ve got to be constituent members, and we’re the only ones they recognize as constituent members, so who’s the Episcopal Church, legally? It’ll be very interesting time. I mean, we don’t want to go to court, but it’s quite clear the Episcopal Church is always ready to go to court, and this time I think they might not be so willing to go to court, because we think there’s every reason they’ll lose.

Some further analysis and quite a lot of comments on this can be found at The Questioning Christian in two posts: The Revolutionaries (Finally?) Hoist Their Flag and Bishop Duncan Needs Better Lawyers. Additionally, Fr Jake has comments here. For comments from conservatives, read titusonenine.

More critique
Mark Harris has now weighed in with Emerging Corporate Megalomania

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 12:55pm BST | Comments (17)
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Rowan Williams writes to ECUSA/Canadian bishops

It’s worth noting another letter that has been part-published. In the Anglican Journal report on the Canadian bishops’ statement, the following also appears:

Archbishop Williams… also sent a letter to the joint meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) which began April 28 - to which he had earlier been invited to attend but which he declined attending citing previous engagements.
In his letter, which the Canadian primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, read aloud, Archbishop Williams said he remained “hopeful” that the Anglican Communion, deeply divided over the issue of homosexuality, could still move forward together.
“The recent primates’ statement has, I know, been hard for many to hear. But what it represents is an attempt to hold some space for us all to decide where our future lies in regard to the (Anglican) Communion; to think about how we act with the goal of allowing our relations in Christ to develop, not to cut off the possibilities of moving together,” he wrote. “It undoubtedly challenges people on different sides of the current debate; essentially we are trying to find a way of moving forward as a church, not as a collection of interest groups of ‘left’ or ‘right.’”
He added that the primates’ statement “also represents a deep reluctance all round to move hastily in the direction of separation.”
The Anglican Communion’s present situation, he added, “is in some ways nothing new: we are always living between testimony to God’s overwhelming and unsurpassable gift and our own countertestimony of confusion or faithlessness.”
Archbishop Williams said he could not offer “an easy solution to our tensions,” adding, “that would be presumptuous.” But he added, “I can only send my greetings and prayers as a brother in this confused environment, and urge you all to look to the Lord of the church for patience, mercy and renewal.”
Canadian and American bishops welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter, which had come as a surprise. Archbishop Hutchison had earlier admitted to being stung by Archbishop Williams’ decision not to attend the joint meeting, saying he took it to mean the Archbishop of Canterbury did not wish to be associated with the beleaguered Canadian and American Anglicans.

The Living Church has reported that:

Over 40 American bishops and the secretary general of the ACC, Canon Kenneth Kearon, joined the Canadian bishops at dinner on April 27. Originally scheduled to attend the joint meeting of American and Canadian bishops, Archbishop Rowan Williams withdrew from the dinner following the primates’ meeting in Dromantine, saying it would be inappropriate for him to attend given the present estrangement between the North American Churches and the rest of the Anglican Communion. (TLC, March 27)

I can find no public record of Rowan Williams saying anything like this, not even in TLC’s own report.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 10:23am BST | Comments (1)
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General Synod Elections 2005

Election Poster There will be a general election for the Church of England’s General Synod in September. Church House Westminster held a consultation for returning officers on Tuesday of this week. In connection with this a lot of guidance material has been placed online. Although intended primarily for the returning officers much of it will be of more general interest.

The provisional timetable is:

1 Notification to electors of the election timetable to be followed in the diocese and issue of nomination papers:
Not later than Tuesday 19th July

2 Notification of the validity of any nomination:
As soon as any nomination is received

3 Closing date for nominations:
Friday 2nd September

4 Issue of voting papers:
Friday 9th September

5 Closing date for return of voting papers:
Friday 30th September

6 Day of the Count:
Monday 3rd, Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th, or Thursday 6th October

The final timetable may differ slightly from diocese to diocese.

There have been a number of changes since 2000. Some of the more significant are:

1 Synod has been reduced in size by 105 members.

2 There will no longer be a representative archdeacon from each diocese. Instead the archdeacons will be eligible to stand for election in their diocesan proctorial election although at most one can be elected in any diocese or electoral area.

3 Clergy with permission to officiate are now eligible to be candidates. Only those who are also a member of a deanery synod are electors.

4 Candidates will only have to provide one copy of their election address. Dioceses will be responsible for making copies and sending them to all electors.

Full details of who are eligible to be candidates, who the electors are, the number of clergy and laity to be elected by each diocese and a full set of rules are included in the online material.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 10:00am BST | Comments (6)
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Thursday, 28 April 2005

Canadian bishops issue statement

Updated Friday, and again Saturday

The following statement was unanimously adopted by the Canadian House of Bishops meeting in Windsor, Ont., on April 27.
Statement of Commitment by the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada April 27,2005
This is their response to the Windsor Report and the Dromantine communiqué.

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the statement.

The statement was reported by Reuters as Canadian Anglicans Skirt Requests Over Gay Unions in a story which erroneously attributes the US decision on their ACC attendance to the American HoB rather than their Executive Council. The Canadian decision-making body on that issue is the Council of General Synod which meets May 6-8.

Further press coverage
Anglican Journal Bishops agree to hold off on blessings
Toronto Globe and Mail Anglican bishops call moratorium on same-sex blessings
Religion News Service via Beliefnet Canada’s Anglican Bishops Agree to Moratorium on Gay Unions
The Living Church Canadian Bishops Won’t Halt Blessings of Same-Sex Unions
The Times Ruth Gledhill Rebel bishops reconsider same-sex blessings

The reports are a little confusing. In fact, the situation in New Westminster, which is the only Canadian diocese where SSB are at present formally authorised, is unchanged, but will be reviewed at the diocesan synod which meets on May 13 and 14:

Attracting the most media attention will be synod’s discussion on Saturday afternoon on how to respond to the Windsor Report, a document authored by an international group of Anglicans for the Archbishop of Canterbury, which tried to define the nature of Anglicanism.

One item in the Windsor Report is a call for a moratorium on the blessing of same sex unions until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008.

A proposed response is being put together by the Revs. Richard Leggett and John Oakes. The two priests, respectively at Vancouver School of Theology and Holy Trinity, Vancouver, come from the opposite ends of the theological spectrum, but together plan to come up with a single proposal.

A pre-synod session on April 16 at which the two men presented a draft response drew more than half of synod delegates, showing high interest in the issue.

Volunteering some of their time during school spring break to help prepare packages of papers for Synod delegates were Jen Nurse of St. George’s, Fort Langley, Stephanie McGee of St. Helen’s, Surrey, and Cara Ingham of St. Mary’s Kerrisdale.

Indicating national interest in New Westminster’s decision will be the presence of Canadian Primate Andrew Hutchison. He will preach at the opening worship Friday morning, and serve as the “synod partner” for the gathering.

At the Canadian House of Bishops meeting that Archbishop Hutchison chaired on April 27, Bishop Michael Ingham along with his 40 colleagues agreed “neither to encourage nor to initiate” the blessing rite until the national Canadian General Synod in 2007.

Bishop Ingham afterwards said that the phrase “neither to encourage nor to initiate” comes from a communiqué issued by Anglican Primates in February, and has been interpreted to mean there should be no further actions beyond those already started.

“I made it explicitly clear to the Canadian House that, in view of the upcoming Synod in New Westminster, I could sign the statement issued today only on the understanding that I would be governed very much by the advice of my own Synod,” said the bishop.

Further update
The Anglican Journal has published this article Council advised to decline primates’ call. This refers to a report reported much earlier.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 28 April 2005 at 10:40pm BST | Comments (1)
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Wednesday, 27 April 2005

more Roman reports

Two other sources of information about recent Anglican visitors to Rome:

The RC Diocese of Westminster has published excerpts from the press conference that Archbishop Rowan Williams and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor held on 25 April.

Anglicans Online has published Pierre Whalon’s Dispatch from Rome which also discusses the papal audience of that morning. Pierre Whalon’s earlier report was on the Sunday inauguration: Dispatch from St Peter’s Basilica.

Additional Item
Reuters has a video clip of the papal audience in which RW’s interaction with the Pope is clearly shown. This may not work correctly in some browsers: it worked for me in Internet Explorer 6 on WinXP. The Reuters video page has a strip marked Vatican Channel and the clip is labelled Pope Meets Religious Leaders.

ENS catches up
Anglican leaders meet with Pope Benedict XVI

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 27 April 2005 at 11:15am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Roman diary, part 2

Bishop John Flack, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See wrote earlier about his time in Rome during the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II. Now he writes again, this time about the election and inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, the comings and goings of Anglican dignitaries, and shaking hands with the new pope.

Read on…

FURTHER EXCERPTS FROM A DIARY OF LIFE IN ROME
TUESDAY 19 APRIL MONDAY 25 APRIL 2005

Tuesday 19th April

The second day of the Conclave and most of Rome waits with bated breath. We’ve been told to expect smoke at St Peters at 12 noon, so at 11.35am I rush out to catch a number 64 bus up to the Vatican, hanging on to my wallet for dear life (number 64 is known as the “Pickpockets Express”).

Everyone seems to be going the same way –- walking, running, driving –—there are thousands of “motorinos” — the ubiquitous Roman scooter. So the number 64 is slow, and I arrive at St Peters just in time to see black smoke curl into the sky. No surprises there –- no-one expects a result in under 24 hours.

The next smoke, we’re told, will be at 7.00pm. Later in the afternoon – soon after 5.30pm – Jonathan Boardman (Rome’s Anglican Chaplain) phones me to say “there’s white smoke on TV” so I put down everything and rush. A number 916 orange bus comes and 120 people get on it, all heading in the same direction. We have to get off the bus at the Ponte Sisto and walk across the Tiber to St Peters, part of a teeming mass of humanity, just like Old Trafford on match day. There is the white smoke on the giant TV screens (it really is like Old Trafford) and the Piazza San Pietro is filling up. A large banner says “John XXIV for Pope” –- from www.radicalpope.com. We wait the regulation 40 minutes after the white smoke for the announcement. There is a slight movement of velvet curtains on the central balcony above the doors of St Peters and then comes the cry “Habemus Papam” – we have a new Pope and his name is Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, who will be known as Benedict XVI. Applause ripples through the crowd of 100,00 people and the new Pope comes out to bless us, speaking clearly and precisely in Italian, French, English and German. One thing is clear – the new Pope is a linguist.

Wednesday 20th April

I spend the morning dealing with reactions to Cardinal Ratzinger’s appointment, on the net and on the telephone. There are extreme reactions, both of approval and disapproval. Approval centres round his reputation as a scholar and a linguist, disapproval because he is not from the developing world. The choice of the name “Benedict” gives out strong European signals.

I decide to be cautious in my public statements. Just as well, because soon I am being pressed to comment by “The Times”, Radio Belfast and the Hertfordshire Mercury, to name but three. By the afternoon the telephone lines to Lambeth are buzzing with arrangements for the Inauguration of Benedict XVI, which we learn will take place this Sunday, just four days away. The Roman Church certainly doesn’t hang about! I spend some time “gently bartering” over the size of the Anglican delegation to the Inauguration, which this time will include Bishops and other representatives from the wider Anglican Communion as well as home. Later I walk out into the Largo Argentina (the large square where it is said that the assassination of Julius Caesar took place) to buy today’s English newspapers – they usually hit the streets here around 4.00pm. I eat my supper with the “Times” the “Telegraph” and the “Guardian”. I’m shocked that two of these quality newspapers cannot spell “Papam” properly. Where are today’s Latinists among the sub-editors? O tempora, O mores!

Thursday 21st April

Thursday begins with a very pleasant breakfast in a hotel facing Santa Maria Maggiore. Over a cappuchino and a cornetti crema I marvel on Ferdinando Fuga’s wonderful facade, designed for another Pope Benedict (XIV) in 1750. My host is a well-known Italian journalist, whose work I admire. He wants to meet our Archbishop, of course, at the Inauguration. On these occasions my cricket technique is useful – “play a straight bat and don’t get caught out”. Walking back past the Angelicum (University of St Thomas Aquinas) I marvel at a perfect early Summer’s day in Rome – warm sunshine, a delicate breeze, sumptuous architecture, pre-Christian archaeology, friendly greetings from the carabinieri. Back in the Anglican Centre my whimsical musings are shattered by 41 e-mail messages, 11 answerphone queries, plumbers installing a new shower and decorators in the Chapel. And I’ve got 6 guests staying over the weekend, and 21 to lunch on Sunday.

Friday 22nd April

By 8.00am there’s a journalist in the Anglican Centre from Canadian TV, soon followed by a German television crew. I remember that the new Pope is German and so I do a respectful piece, conscious that I am being watched live by schoolchildren and students in places like Frankfurt and Hamburg. Bishop David Beetge arrives from the Church of the Province of South Africa — the first of our guests. He’s an important Anglican member of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). And he’s bigger than me, which I find very re-assuring. The Centre is being cleaned from top to bottom, with cleaners trailing plumbers in something resembling a domestic Gay Gordons. The rest of the day is a flurry of telephonic activity, last minute arrangements with the Vatican and Lambeth, discussions about flight times and the colour of Bishops’ chimeres. The English papers today are full of the British General Election Campaign, which reminds me that my agendas are not everybody’s. I wonder who will be coming to represent the Government on Sunday?

Saturday 23rd April

The alarm rings at 5.30am and an hour later I’m on the Leonardo Express to Fiumicino — Rome’s International Airport. Any resemblance between the Leonardo Express and the Heathrow Express disappears when I tell you that the Leonardo takes 35 minutes to cover 11 miles. So I am late to greet Bishop Chris Epting, who has just arrived from New York, where he works in “815 Second Avenue” — ECUSA’s headquarters. He’s one of two Bishops representing ECUSA at the Inauguration. A taxi covers the 11 miles back into Rome in just 15 minutes, which includes stops at 4 sets of traffic lights. Julia arrives from England and the kitchen is a hive of activity. By mid-afternoon I am back at Fiumicino hoping to meet Bishops Geoffrey Rowell, David Hamid and Michael Nazir-Ali, but only one of them has been put on the VIP list and so we get split into two groups. All is well when we are re-united in the Vatican’s chosen rendezvous, the Domus Mariae on the Via Aurelia. From there it is back to Fiumicino and this time all is well, I am soon greeting Archbishop Rowan and Mrs Jane Williams and heading back into Rome, this time at 85 mph behind 6 police outriders. We are soon in the Venerable English College with a welcome drink to hand.

Sunday 24th April

The day of the Inauguration arrives. By 6.00am I am looking up anxiously at a doubtful Roman sky. At 7.00am the “Anglican Centre” gang are in taxis trying to reach the rendezvous point at the Domus Mariae. At junction after junction we come face-to-face with road blocs. But Bishop Martyn Jarrett and I are wearing purple cassocks and these impress the traffic police, who salute us and move the barriers for us. By 8.30am we are in our seats in the Piazza San Pietro, with a warm breeze blowing in our faces and a clear sky. We watch the “Heads of State” delegations arriving. The British one consists of the Duke of Edinburgh (a cheery wave), Lord Falconer and Dame Shirley Williams. At 10.00am the Litany of the Saints begins (Tu illum adiuva) and 115 cardinals enter in matching gold chasubles. The Mass is in normal order, with the Giving of the Pallium and the Ring following the Gospel. It is very solemn, and there is a hush from the 400,000 congregation. Then Benedict XVI preaches, quoting his predecessor, John Paul II — “non abbiate paura” — “do not fear, for Christ leads his church from darkness to light. Follow Me.” He explores the Gospel reading, John 21 and explains the meaning of the Pallium and the Ring. Later in the Mass I share the Peace with Roman Catholic Bishops I know through the Focolare movement, with Salvation Army representatives, with a leader from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Organisation and with Armenian and Syrian Orthodox Bishops. Thus the long arm of Rome stretches round the globe, ignoring the chasms of history. At the end of Mass Benedict XVI steps unaided into the popemobile and is driven off through the crowds, who chant in football-fashion “Benedetto, Benedetto!”

At 6.00pm Archbishop Rowan goes to All Saints English Church in the Via del Babuino and presides at Anglican Sung Eucharist. There is “standing room only” and it is humbling to see a good number of our Roman Catholic friends there, drawn by the ecumenical nature of this very special day. The Archbishops draws our attention to today’s Gospel reading “I am the way, the truth and the life” and reminds us what a profound statement this is, as part of the re-calling of the whole Church to its common root. After the Eucharist there is a frantic search for taxis and a dash through back alleyways reminiscent of “The Italian Job” until we reach the glittering church of Santa Maria in Trastevere with the fabulous coffered ceiling of Domenichino. Here Archbishop Rowan preaches to a congregation of 500+, many of them young people, at Vespers for the Community of Sant’Egidio. By 9.30pm it is spotting with rain as I walk back from Trastevere past Monte Savello. The Tiber sends back a glassy stare in the darkness. It has seen many such days in the past.

Monday 25th April

Laying in bed till 8.00am has become an unaccustomed luxury, as are the bacon and eggs which appear at 8.30am. By 9.00am we are back on the way to the Domus Mariae, our rendezvous point for the trip to the Audience for Ecumenical Guests. Coaches take us into the Vatican State with much saluting by the Swiss Guards. Soon we find ourselves in the Sala Clementina waiting for His Holiness to arrive. There is endless fascination to be gained by interpreting the frescos in this Sala, built at the behest of Pope Clement VIII in 1595. Suddenly we are asked to stand and in walks Benedict XVI at a brisk pace in smart white cassock and stunning bright red shoes. He sits on a throne-like chair and reads a welcoming speech in Italian, French and English. Then he gets up from the chair and makes his way round the room greeting every single person individually. It is all very informal, with a normal handshake. We are invited to introduce ourselves, and we can choose to converse with the Pope in English, Italian, French or German. We note that the papal tiara is not in evidence and has been removed from the coat of arms. This is clearly to be a different style of papacy with much of the old formality gone. He greets Anglicans, Methodists, Reformed leaders, Orthodox Bishops and leaders of the inter-faith communities -– Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and others. Benedict XVI is clearly going to speak to the world at large, and not only to the Roman Catholic Church. With a wave of the hands and a final Italian greeting he is gone. Later at a Press Conference in the Venerable English College, the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster jointly weave their way through a minefield of questions and emerge together as the close friends they have become. A reminder that friendship -– the beatings of the heart -– is as much the lifeblood of ecumenism as the musings of the mind. As Cardinal J H Newman put it “cor ad cor loquitur” — heart speaks to heart. May the inauguration of Benedict XVI encourage Anglicans and Roman Catholics to do just that.

The Right Reverend John Flack
Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 27 April 2005 at 10:52am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Rowan Williams preaches for Christian Aid

Rowan Williams preached today at St Paul’s Cathedral. The service was to mark the sixtieth anniversary of Christian Aid.

The full text of the sermon is here.

The Lambeth Palace press release is here: Archbishop condemns lack of trust in fight against poverty.
The Christian Aid press release is here: Archbishop backs trade campaign at Christian Aid anniversary service.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 26 April 2005 at 4:07pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Monday, 25 April 2005

NACDAP provokes responses

Following a recent meeting in Texas, NACDAP has issued two documents: ACN Council Communiqué and Windsor Action Covenant.

This has provoked several strong responses: The Fat is in the Fire: The Network and the Windsor Action Covenant and also Windsor, DOA. But clearest of all is this from the Bishop of California, Bill Swing: The House of Bishops: All for One and Some for Something. Some extracts from these:

Bill Swing asks NACDAP these questions:

1. Why do you usually avoid House of Bishops meetings? And why will you not go to the altar rail and receive Communion alongside your sister and brother bishops?

2. Rumor has it that you receive lots of money from private foundations and give it to support African bishops who, in turn, will attack the Episcopal Church. Is there an audit of your receipts and disbursements? Could I review it? What are the goals of the foundations that financially support you? What African bishops receive your money? What American Episcopalians whom you know are on the staffs of African bishops?

3. If the bishops of the Episcopal Church are not invited to Lambeth Conference 2008 but the Network bishops with Bishop Robert Duncan as head are invited, will you attend?

4. What are the names of Network bishops who have consulted lawyers to ascertain the possibilities of someday separating “Network properties” from “Episcopal Church properties?”

5. In what situations around the USA is the Network in conversation with individual congregations, strategizing as to how the congregation can leave the Episcopal Church, take its assets, and join the Network?

6. It is stated that Bishop Duncan is on record as promising “to wage guerilla warfare on the Episcopal Church.” Is this true? Also on the House floor he has been accused of paying lay people of his diocese to go to a neighboring diocese to try to persuade conservative members to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Network. Is that true?

Mark Harris writes:

This Covenant is an attempt to hijack the Windsor Report and make it the instrument of the realignment effort. It is yet another effort to spin an advisory committee’s report into a partisan litmus test.

…All of this would be of no great import if it were not for the last pledge, not bulleted, which is the real basis of the covenant, and its only focus. That last pledge states, “If General Convention chooses finally to walk apart, I will not follow, but will remain a faithful Anglican, God being my helper.”

This then is the opening salvo of the battle of General Convention. One may be sure that the Network will come to Convention with pledge lists of persons who they contend will not be bound by General Convention action IF the Convention “chooses finally to walk apart.” And of course, it will be the Network and its leadership that will want to determine if General Convention has so chosen.

This Covenant is a marshalling of numbers, and an attempt to get members of this Church to pledge disavowal of actions of General Convention, leadership of the bishops of their dioceses, if not viewed as “Windsor Dioceses” and teaching of their clergy, if not viewed as “Windsor Parishes.” Its purpose is to implement resistance to any leadership other than that of the realignment groups, and in particular the Network itself.

The fat is in the fire and the play is unfolding. It is time to be watchful. It is not a time to be nice, for these are not nice times.

J-Tron notes:

It’s heart breaking. It really is. The Windsor Report has some deep flaws. But I have remained hopeful that it can be a starting point, a place to facilitate communication and unity. Certainly the folks who produced it had that hope for it. The Network does not. It chooses instead to use Windsor as a weapon, a method of labeling and relabeling those who it dislikes. This is an especially interesting development considering the Network’s own deep criticism of Windsor in the days after it came out. Now all of a sudden the Network wants to embrace Windsor, but only in so far as it pushes us forward into the rift.

…But the enemy that presents itself in the Network is not that of ultra-conservatism or homophobia. The enemy that presents itself in the Network is the evil of pride, deceit, lust for power, and a thorough drive to divide the Church. Not all members of the Network are engaged in this kind of behavior, but the Network perpetrates it on behalf of all who it calls “orthodox,” leaving those on the so-called right who truly wish to be in communion without a voice.

I call on Anglicans and Episcopalians of good conscience, whatever their political stripes or feelings about human sexuality, to reject the evil, schismatic vision that the Network is trying to perpetrate. If we have to split in the end, let it be because we have tried every possible remedy, every conceivable avenue of dialogue, and nothing else seems like it can be done. Let it not be because a small group of the power hungry possessed swept us into armageddon like battle with our friends and neighbors for the purpose of fulfilling their own ambitions….

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 25 April 2005 at 10:18pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Anglicans meet the Pope

Various reports concerning the inauguration of the new pope yesterday and his meeting today with ecumenical leaders including an Anglican delegation that included two ECUSA bishops as well as several prominent Anglican conservatives.

BBC
Anglican leaders greet new Pope

Catholic News Service
Anglican leader says pope to give energy to united Christian witness includes extensive quotes from RW

Guardian
Andrew Brown Opus Dei will be in the ascendancy in Pope Benedict XVI’s church
John Hooper in Rome and Stephen Bates Williams to meet new pope today

The Times
Richard Owen New Pope seeks a spiritual revival as he takes the throne
Ruth Gledhill Words of inspiration not lost in translation
Addition
Richard Owen Pope prayed: ‘God, don’t do this to me’

Telegraph
Jonathan Petre Williams looks to build bridges with Catholicism
Bruce Johnson Humanity has lost its way, says new Pope

Sunday Telegraph
Damian Thompson Then came the name ‘Josephum’ and gloom set in

Sunday Times
Christopher Morgan and John Follain Pope in talks with rebel Anglicans

And for a different perspective, Appointment of Pope Benedict sits uneasily with Arabs on Aljazeera.com

Update
An earlier column that I missed: Andrew Brown on opendemocracy.org Cardinal Chernenko?

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Sunday, 24 April 2005

General Synod - July 2005 - preliminary agenda

Synod meets in York from Friday 8 July to Tuesday 12 July. There is now a (very) preliminary agenda on the CofE website. It’s an rtf file, so for convenience I have reproduced its contents below.

General
Business Committee report (¾ hours)
Presidential Address (½ hour)
Eucharist and closing ceremonies (1¼ hours)
[Group work (1¼ hours)]

Legislation

Further Miscellaneous Provisions Measure: Final Drafting and Final Approval (25 minutes)
?Amending Canon No 24 (Clergy Discipline): Promulgation (5 minutes)
Fees Orders (½ hour)
Clergy Discipline Measure Rules
?Clergy Discipline Appeal Rules
Clergy Discipline Measure Code of Practice
(1 hour for the three)
Approval of petition renaming Diocese of Southwell (?deemed approval - allow ½ hour)

Liturgy
Ordinal: Second Revision Stage (2 hours) and Final Approval (1 hour)

Reports
Women in the Episcopate (2¾ hours)
Strategic Financial Review: progress report (2 hours)
2006 budget (1 hour)
Church Urban Fund (1½ hours)
Anglican/Methodist Covenant: interim report from Joint Implementation Commission (2 hours)
Standing Orders Committee report (¾ hours)
Constitutions report: Liturgical Commission and other Commissions (½ hour)
?Review of Diocesan Practice on Communion before Confirmation (1½ hours)
Hind follow-up (2¼ hours)
Inter-faith relations: MPA report (2 hours)
Trade Justice: presentation and questions (1 hour)
Archbishops’ Council annual report (deemed approval – allow ½ hour)
?Audit Committee: annual report (¾ hours)
??Euthanasia: MPA report (1½ hours)

Diocesan Synod Motion
Parochial Fees (Oxford) (1¼ hours)
[See below the fold for the text]

Private Member’s Motion
None

Contingency Business
Human Genome (Guildford DSM)

Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion

That this Synod request the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft Parochial Fees Orders increasing the level of parochial fees so as to reflect the real cost of the ministry to which they relate.

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Saturday, 23 April 2005

letters between bishops

Update a public statement by the Bishop of Dallas has been published here

Some correspondence has emerged:

The Living Church reports:

In the May 1 print issue of the magazine, TLC reported that the April 6 letter to Archbishop Williams was written to clarify some points made in a letter which was hand-delivered to him following the March 11-16 House of Bishops’ meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas.

The two letters of 6 April were signed by a total of 21 bishops, including 18 diocesan bishops (there are 100 domestic US dioceses plus several overseas dioceses within The Episcopal Church). The letter to Rowan Williams asks for a meeting at the end of May. No mention of this letter or request is included in the other letter to Frank Griswold.

The signatures include the diocesans of 10 out of 11 of the “NACDAP” dioceses (Albany, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, Rio Grande, San Joaquin, South Carolina, Springfield, Western Kansas.), except Keith Ackerman of Quincy, and also two suffragans and an assistant bishop serving in NACDAP dioceses.

They also include 8 other diocesans who do not belong to NACDAP:

  • David Bane Diocese of Southern Virginia
  • James Folts Diocese of West Texas
  • Bertram Herlong Diocese of Tennessee
  • Edward Little Diocese of Northern Indiana
  • John Lipscomb Diocese of Southwest Florida
  • Bruce MacPherson Diocese of Western Louisiana
  • Wallis Ohl Diocese of Northwest Texas
  • Don Wimberly Diocese of Texas

The research mentioned in the letters can be found here.

The Living Church has published a further item.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 April 2005 at 2:41pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Connecticut update

Further Update 27 April
This commentary has been published by Via Media USA

Update 25 April
There is an editorial in the Living Church about Connecticut: Harsh Treatment

Many thanks to commenters who posted links to news reports on this last week, while I was away from home.

The New York Times carried several reports:

22 April Dissident Priests Not Punished, but Their Fate Is Still Unclear
21 April Dissident Episcopal Priests Are Called Part of a Strategy
18 April Episcopal Clergy to Meet on Dispute Over Gay Issues

In the 21 April story, we read this:

…But as the bishop of Connecticut, Andrew D. Smith, prepared to suspend the priests, he described them as local troops in a nationwide strategy by conservative Episcopalians to secede and then establish a “replacement” church that would take the place of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. in the world Anglican Communion.

In an interview at his office in Hartford on Tuesday, the day after a meeting with the priests that seemed only to deepen the impasse, Bishop Smith said that the priests never had any intention of returning to the fold. Instead, he said, they were bent on “kind of a ‘Please, go ahead and shoot me’ ” approach that would make him a villain and win them public support.

Bishop Smith said the priests were following a strategy laid out in a memo written in December 2003 by a member of the American Anglican Council, a group of orthodox Episcopal parishes that includes those led by the six priests. The memo laid out steps that priests can take to distance and then eventually sever themselves from the parent church.

The memo said the strategy would “generate significant public attention” and added that the church authorities, knowing “well how conservatives could quickly become the ‘victims’ in the public mind,” would be reluctant to discipline priests.

“If you read that memo and then look at what happened there, there are a lot of similarities,” Bishop Smith said…

Meanwhile, the AAC republished the whole story from the NYT and also this press release.

The News page of the Connecticut diocesan website contains many useful links to statements, including a pdf copy of the letter of 27 May 2004 from the six parishes in which they list their demands:

  • We seek the immediate care and pastoral oversight of a bishop acceptable to us who:
    a) affirms Holy Scripture, the ancient creeds, and the 39 Articles.
    b) Upholds the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on human sexuality.
    c) Neither supported the election, consecration and ministry of V. G. Robinson as bishop, nor supports the ordination of any unchaste homosexuals to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.
  • We seek suspension without prejudice of the canons and resolutions of the Diocese of Connecticut requiring an assessment of funds in support of diocesan mission and ministry.
  • We seek a one-year review of these DEPO Agreements in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates of the Anglican Communion or their appointed designee,
  • We seek a written agreement that guarantees that the future succession of clergy in our parishes rests in the hands of the vestries, our search committees, and our DEPO bishop.
  • We seek a written assurance that you and the Diocese of Connecticut will not foster a ministerial environment that is hostile to our parishes’ mission and ministries.
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more pope stuff

This weekend Rowan Williams visits Rome again, this time for the inauguration of the new pope. Earlier reports were incorrect, and he is in fact the second modern archbishop to attend such an event. The first was Donald Coggan in 1978.

Meanwhile, some more commentary on the new pope from British newspapers this week:

In the Guardian:
Stephen Bates Back to the future with Joseph Ratzinger
Andrew Brown The last pope from Europe
Julian Baggini Grey matters
Mark Lawson Holier than thou

In The Times:
Stephen Plant Prophecies and the challenges that follow

…Yet, writing in 1995, that modern-day Cassandra, the liberal historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto, already foresaw Benedict’s election (or that of someone very like him) and with it the challenge he must now take up: “The effect (of Christian fundamentalism) will be mitigated if the Catholic Church — the world’s biggest and most widespread communion — keeps up what may become a unique commitment to moral absolutism in defence of human dignity, individual freedom, social justice and the sanctity of life. Yet the tempters who are always cajoling the Pope to compromise will probably triumph — not when the present pontiff dies, because the long life in office of John Paul II has strengthened the moral fibre of the cardinalate, but in the next pontificate after that.”

The first part of Fernández-Armesto’s prophecy is likely to be unpopular with anyone who cannot tell the difference between intolerance and the steadfast defence of absolute truth, or who are liable to mistake moral and theological precision for the ruthless maintenance of tradition. In this camp is pretty much everyone, Catholic and Protestant, agnostic and atheist, who thinks that the Vatican’s consistent anti-modernism is a terrible hindrance to human progress. But the second part of Fernández-Armesto’s prophecy will upset those who believe that because the Church has resisted modernity in the past it can go on doing so in the future…

Daniel Johnson The best man for the job

As usual, the BBC got the story all wrong. The task for the new Pope is not to take sides between liberals and conservatives. Nor was that the choice the cardinals faced in this extraordinarily rapid conclave. All cardinals are, by definition, conservative.

No, the great issue for Pope Benedict XVI is the one that he set out in his remarkable sermon at the preconclave Mass in St Peter’s. Does he wish to lead the Church down the primrose path of secularism, following the Christian heartlands of Europe in their descent into moral relativism, or does he intend to turn towards the new missionary Church of Latin America, Africa and Asia, to reaffirm the faith of Christ, the faith of St Peter, the faith of John Paul II? That is the real choice.

What the fight against communism was for John Paul II, the fight against rampant secularism will be for Benedict XVI. And all those anti-papist commentators who protested at the attention given to John Paul II’s illness, death and funeral will be gnashing their teeth once battle commences.

…Pope Ratzinger will be even more controversial than his predecessor. He began life under the Weimar Republic, which collapsed because it took moral relativism to extremes and succumbed to the secular ideologies of Left and Right.

…Where I do expect movement during the Ratzinger pontificate is on ecumenical relations with the Orthodox and perhaps also Protestant churches. The last Pope opened up this Pandora’s box, bringing several of the smaller Eastern churches back into the Catholic fold. If the battle against the intolerance of secularism is to be won, Benedict XVI will have to find a way of reaching out to his fellow Christians to make common cause…

Richard Owen Myths, challenges and censure: Pope Benedict XVI gets to work

…Setting out his vision for his papacy as he celebrated his first Mass as pontiff in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict told the cardinals who elected him on Tuesday that he would reach out to other religions such as Islam — provided that there was “reciprocity” — and continue to implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

In gold and white vestments, seated before Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and speaking in Latin, the man who once dismissed other Christian churches as improper said that his primary task was to work to reunify all Christians and that sentiment alone was not enough.

“Concrete acts that enter souls and move consciences are needed,” he said. He wanted “an open and sincere dialogue” with other religions and would do everything to promote the ecumenical cause, a reference not only to Anglicans but also to Orthodox Christians…

In the Telegraph:
Charles Moore Pope Benedict has a sense of history
Christopher Howse The Pope and Luther agree

In the Independent:
Catherine Pepinster A German Pope chosen to save Europe

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 April 2005 at 10:59am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 21 April 2005

Critical reaction to election of Pope Benedict

Hans Küng

“The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope comes as an enormous disappointment for all those who hoped for a reformist and pastoral Pope.

“But we must wait and see, for experience shows that the role of the Papacy in the Catholic Church today is so challenging that it can change anyone. Someone who enters the conclave a progressive cardinal can emerge as a conservative (such as Montini – Pope Paul VI), and someone who enters the conclave a conservative cardinal can, indeed, emerge as a progressive (Roncalli – Pope John XXIII).”

Küng goes on to discuss which first signals from the new pope will be important, and the problems which were not tackled by his predecessor.

There are others who are not happy with the outcome of the election.

Reuters “South Africa’s Tutu Disappointed at Pope Choice”

The Scotsman “Bishop [of Oxford] Denounces New Pope’s Election”

The Telegraph, in “Pope Benedict offers olive branch to critics” carries all three criticisms.

The Times reports that the pope’s elder brother is not happy either.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Pope Benedict to work for Christian unity

In his first sermon as pope, Benedict XVI has said that he intends to work tirelessly for Christian unity, suggesting that ‘concrete gestures’ are needed. He also sent greetings to the representatives of other ‘Churches and ecclesial communities’

He said that he…

assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.

Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that ‘purification of memory,’ which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.

The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.

The full sermon (in English translation from the spoken Latin) is available ‘below the fold’…

Following is the complete text of the first message of Pope Benedict XVI which he delivered in Latin at the end of this morning’s Mass with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the 264th successor to St. Peter in early evening yesterday.

Grace and peace in abundance to all of you! In my soul there are two contrasting sentiments in these hours. On the one hand, a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil for the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday as the Successor of the Apostle Peter in this See of Rome, with regard to the Universal Church. On the other hand I sense within me profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - does not abandon His flock, but leads it throughout time, under the guidance of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.

Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: ‘Do not be afraid’

The death of the Holy Father John Paul II, and the days which followed, were for the Church and for the entire world an extraordinary time of grace. The great pain for his death and the void that it left in all of us were tempered by the action of the Risen Christ, which showed itself during long days in the choral wave of faith, love and spiritual solidarity, culminating in his solemn funeral.

We can say it: the funeral of John Paul II was a truly extraordinary experience in which was perceived in some way the power of God Who, through His Church, wishes to form a great family of all peoples, through the unifying force of Truth and Love. In the hour of death, conformed to his Master and Lord, John Paul II crowned his long and fruitful pontificate, confirming the Christian people in faith, gathering them around him and making the entire human family feel more united.

How can one not feel sustained by this witness? How can one not feel the encouragement that comes from this event of grace?

Surprising every prevision I had, Divine Providence, through the will of the venerable Cardinal Fathers, called me to succeed this great Pope. I have been thinking in these hours about what happened in the region of Cesarea of Phillippi two thousand years ago: I seem to hear the words of Peter: ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and the solemn affirmation of the Lord: ‘You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church … I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’.

You are Christ! You are Peter! It seems I am reliving this very Gospel scene; I, the Successor of Peter, repeat with trepidation the anxious words of the fisherman from Galilee and I listen again with intimate emotion to the reassuring promise of the divine Master. If the weight of the responsibility that now lies on my poor shoulders is enormous, the divine power on which I can count is surely immeasurable: ‘You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church’. Electing me as the Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me as his Vicar, he wished me to be the ‘rock’ upon which everyone may rest with confidence. I ask him to make up for the poverty of my strength, that I may be a courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always docile to the inspirations of His Spirit. “I undertake this special ministry, the ‘Petrine’ ministry at the service of the Universal Church, with humble abandon to the hands of the Providence of God. And it is to Christ in the first place that I renew my total and trustworthy adhesion: ‘In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum!’

To you, Lord Cardinals, with a grateful soul for the trust shown me, I ask you to sustain me with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration. I also ask my brothers in the episcopacy to be close to me in prayer and counsel so that I may truly be the ‘Servus servorum Dei’ (Servant of the servants of God). As Peter and the other Apostles were, through the will of the Lord, one apostolic college, in the same way the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, successors of the Apostles - and the Council forcefully repeated this — must be closely united among themselves. This collegial communion, even in the diversity of roles and functions of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, is at the service of the Church and the unity of faith, from which depend in a notable measure the effectiveness of the evangelizing action of the contemporary world. Thus, this path, upon which my venerated predecessors went forward, I too intend to follow, concerned solely with proclaiming to the world the living presence of Christ.

Before my eyes is, in particular, the witness of Pope John Paul II. He leaves us a Church that is more courageous, freer, younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future. With the Great Jubilee the Church was introduced into the new millennium carrying in her hands the Gospel, applied to the world through the authoritative re-reading of Vatican Council II. Pope John Paul II justly indicated the Council as a ‘compass’ with which to orient ourselves in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Also in his spiritual testament he noted: ’ I am convinced that for a very long time the new generations will draw upon the riches that this council of the 20th century gave us’.

I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will to pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the millennia-old tradition of the Church. Precisely this year is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of this conciliar assembly (December 8, 1965). With the passing of time, the conciliar documents have not lost their timeliness; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalized society.

In a very significant way, my pontificate starts as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. How can I not see in this providential coincidence an element that must mark the ministry to which I have been called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me.

The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the poor and the smallest.

In this year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on the theme “The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.’ I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.

I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly ministry was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. ‘The priestly life must have in a special way a ‘Eucharistic form’, he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.

Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter’s Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.

Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.

Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that ‘purification of memory,’ which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.

The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.

In this moment, I go back in my memory to the unforgettable experience we all underwent with the death and the funeral of the lamented John Paul II. Around his mortal remains, lying on the bare earth, leaders of nations gathered, with people from all social classes and especially the young, in an unforgettable embrace of affection and admiration. The entire world looked to him with trust. To many it seemed as if that intense participation, amplified to the confines of the planet by the social communications media, was like a choral request for help addressed to the Pope by modern humanity which, wracked by fear and uncertainty, questions itself about the future.

The Church today must revive within herself an awareness of the task to present the world again with the voice of the One Who said: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ In undertaking his ministry, the new Pope knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ.

With this awareness, I address myself to everyone, even to those who follow other religions or who are simply seeking an answer to the fundamental questions of life and have not yet found it. I address everyone with simplicity and affection, to assure them that the Church wants to continue to build an open and sincere dialogue with them, in a search for the true good of mankind and of society.

From God I invoke unity and peace for the human family and declare the willingness of all Catholics to cooperate for true social development, one that respects the dignity of all human beings.

I will make every effort and dedicate myself to pursuing the promising dialogue that my predecessors began with various civilizations, because it is mutual understanding that gives rise to conditions for a better future for everyone.

I am particularly thinking of young people. To them, the privileged interlocutors of John Paul II, I send an affectionate embrace in the hope, God willing, of meeting them at Cologne on the occasion of the next World Youth Day. With you, dear young people, I will continue to maintain a dialogue, listening to your expectations in an attempt to help you meet ever more profoundly the living, ever young, Christ.

‘Mane nobiscum, Domine!’ Stay with us Lord! This invocation, which forms the dominant theme of John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, is the prayer that comes spontaneously from my heart as I turn to begin the ministry to which Christ has called me. Like Peter, I too renew to Him my unconditional promise of faithfulness. He alone I intend to serve as I dedicate myself totally to the service of His Church.

In support of this promise, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, in whose hands I place the present and the future of my person and of the Church. May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, also intercede.

With these sentiments I impart to you venerated brother cardinals, to those participating in this ritual, and to all those following to us by television and radio, a special and affectionate blessing.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 10:23pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Benedict XVI - Anglican Reaction

Official Anglican reaction to the election of Pope Benedict XVI

England: Archbishop of Canterbury
We wish Pope Benedict XVI every blessing in the immense responsibilities he is about to assume on behalf of Roman Catholics round the world.

His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere. I look forward to meeting him and working together to build on the legacy of his predecessor, as we seek to promote shared understanding between our churches in the service of the Gospel and the goal of Christian unity.

He is a theologian of great stature, who has written some profound reflections on the nature of God and the church. His choice of the name Benedict suggests that he wants to connect his vision of the Church to the monastic spirit of service and contemplation.

He will be in much in our prayers in the days and weeks ahead.

USA: Presiding Bishop (Most Revd Frank Griswold)
Along with many others, both within and beyond the Roman Catholic Church, I offer my prayers for Pope Benedict XVI as he takes up the august responsibility of his office. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide him in his words and his actions and that he may become a focus of unity and a minister of reconciliation in a church and a world in which faithfulness and truth wear many faces.

Scotland: senior bishop (Rt Rev Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway)

On behalf of the Scottish Episcopal Church, I offer the warmest of welcomes to the new Pope - Pope Benedict XVI. We send the assurance of our prayers for him as he leads his Church forward. Our hope will be that under his leadership the church will continue to work for the poor and underprivileged in the world, and that the cause of unity among all Christians will be encouraged, as well as co-operation with those of other faiths.

Ireland: Archbishop of Armagh (Rt Revd Robin Eames)
As Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland I extend to Archbishop Sean Brady, the clergy and people of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the prayerful good wishes of the Church of Ireland on the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.

I pray that God will bless and guide him as he takes up his new privileges and heavy responsibilities at this time.

Other reaction from the Church of Ireland
Archbishop of Dublin
Chair of the Christian Unity Committee of the Church of Ireland

Canada: Primate
(Most Revd Andrew Hutchinson)
I welcome the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as new Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Our two churches have a long history of ecumenical co-operation for the proclamation of the Gospel and the development of humanity. I look forward to continuing our work together and for opportunities to conduct dialogue at every level of the church.

The new Pope has chosen the name Benedict, which derives from the Latin word for “blessed”. We offer our prayers and best wishes to our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. I invite all Anglicans to join me in celebrating this election. May all of us be truly blessed by his pontificate.

Australia: Primate (Most Revd Peter Carnley, Archbishop of Perth and Anglican co-chair of ARCIC)
The presence of such a distinguished theologian will help sharpen the dialogue between Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church. We certainly hope that the ecumenical progress achieved over the last quarter century may be further developed and brought to fruition with the help of the new Pope’s incisive mind.

Meanwhile, we all rejoice with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters that the conclave came to such a speedy decision and we pray earnestly for Cardinal Ratzinger as he prepares for his important new work.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 12:39pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 April 2005

Challenging the norms of society

On this feast of St Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr, there is a sharp reminder that the role of a Christian is to stand as a challenge to many of the norms of society, and to criticise authority, whatever the personal consequences.

Alphege, a saintly hermit, was called to high office by Dunstan, and became his successor as Archbishop. He was captured by the Danes, who demanded an enormous ransom for his release. Alphege refused to pay it and forbade anyone from doing so, knowing that it would impoverish the ordinary people even more. He was brutally murdered by his captors at Greenwich on this day in the year 1012.

As we approach a general election, the political parties invite us first to consider our own interest. Who will reduce my tax? -allow me to jump ahead if there is a wait for health care? -secure my pension? -keep England for the English? and so on.

In the days of Alphege ordinary people had no say in the affairs of state, but today we do have a share, both through the ballot, and through the freedom to keep campaigning on important issues between elections. Christians have a responsibility to look at the coming election through Alphege’s eyes, and identify those policies which would impoverish the marginalised, who miss out on many of the good things our nation has to offer.

Beyond casting our votes, now is an excellent time to remind those seeking election of our concerns. We need trade justice, not just a free market. We need to give a welcome to those who need asylum, knowing that those we welcome will enrich our nation as generations of immigrants have done before them. We need to care for children and the elderly, and health provision assigned by need.

The present Archbishop has written to our political leaders about negative campaigning, which appeals only to the greed, the fear and the selfishness of the electorate. He said, ‘Election campaigns can quickly turn into a competition about who can most effectively frighten voters with the prospect of what “The Others” are going to do.’

Surely no party would want to claim that fear, greed and envy were their core values. Wouldn’t the British rather be known as the true heirs of Alphege?

Posted by Tom Ambrose on Tuesday, 19 April 2005 at 4:28pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 April 2005

Conclave stories

Today’s news is all about the preparations for the Conclave which begins at 4.30pm Italian time today (2.30pm GMT). If the cardinals decide to hold a vote this evening then it is possible that white smoke will be seen over the Sistine Chapel later today. News stories include

Update
Fulcrum has published an article by Oliver O’Donovan on Pope John-Paul II

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 April 2005 at 2:51pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Roman election

The election process to fill the vacancy in Rome begins today. The Conclave will meet for mass and the doors will be locked and they will be left alone to their deliberations.

Geza Vermes writes in the Telegraph, Let’s hope Vatican politics do not hinder the Holy Spirit in which he hopes for a more liberal, thoughtful Roman Catholic Church, less wedded to dogma and closer to Vermes’s view of Jesus of Nazareth:

To judge both the legacy of John Paul II and the problems facing the new papacy, there should be one sure criterion - the teaching of Jesus. Is conservative Catholicism based on the gospel?

It would be presumptuous for an outsider to offer advice to the conclave, but may he be allowed a dream? In this dream, the new Pope is urged by God to revitalise Catholicism from within by concentrating on the authentic gospel of Jesus, on the message conveyed by him to his disciples, and not on the doctrine about Jesus developed by St Paul and two millennia of Christianity. This is a simple and moving message, which Jesus formulated in his own language for his simple Galilean audience, about God, the heavenly Father, the dignity of all human beings as children of God, a life turned into worship by total trust, an overwhelming sense of urgency to do one’s duty without delaying tactics, a sanctification of the here and now, and, yes, the love of God through the love of one’s neighbour.

If made prominent, and not concealed under verbiage about sex, rituals, mass canonisation of saints and Mary worship, the authentic gospel would concentrate on the true essence of religion, an existential relationship between man and man, and man and God.

Reconstructed with the tools of 21st-century historical and biblical scholarship, and perceived by 21st-century minds in 21st-century circumstances, it would appeal to thinking people all over the world, who have left the Church in droves, and feed a genuine ecumenical spirit among religious groups outside Catholicism.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 April 2005 at 12:59pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 14 April 2005

Developments in Connecticut

The AAC and NACDAP have issued two statements concerning the dispute in Connecticut between the bishop and six conservative parishes.

First, this one announces that six prominent NACDAP/AAC clergypersons will preach this Sunday, one in each of the six parishes.

…Bishop Smith accuses the six of “abandonment of communion,” even though he has failed to provide evidence to support his charge and ignored the plea by Anglican Church leaders for restraint and latitude on the part of American bishops in conflict with their priests on fundamental issues of Anglican theology. Bishop Smith supports theological innovations regarding human sexuality embraced by the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church that are contrary to Scripture, to the traditional teaching of Anglicanism, and to positions firmly supported by the leadership of the Anglican Church comprising over 70 million members worldwide. The six Connecticut clergy and congregations targeted by Bishop Smith are biblically orthodox and remain faithful to apostolic faith and order upheld by the worldwide Anglican Communion…

Second, this one is an open letter from a total of seventeen NACDAP/AAC-related bishops (12 of them diocesans) addressed to the bishop and the standing committee of the Diocese of Connecticut.

…What are we to do? We have agreed as bishops not to cross diocesan boundaries. But was not this moratorium based on other moratoria being observed as well, and on the maintenance of status quo as regards actions against the conservative minority? Were not the commitments we made to one another at the March meeting of the House of Bishops also based on the assumption of the functioning of the Panel of Reference, called for by the Primates in February 2005? And was it not notification of their intent to appeal to the Panel of Reference by the six parishes, given by letter to the Bishop of Connecticut, that immediately precipitated the threat of inhibition and deposition of the clergy of those parishes?

We also ask: was Title IV, Canon 10, intended to be used against clergy who have resolutely maintained their commitment to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, as these clergy have? What about due process and right to ecclesiastical trials, both of which are denied when this Canon on Abandonment of Communion is used in this way? Who is it that has abandoned the Communion?

This is a painful letter for us to write. We pose much of this letter as questions. Is there some way to head off the terrible confrontation that now appears inevitable, not only in Connecticut, but also among us bishops? Please know that we are more than eager to be part of the resolution of this crisis in every appropriate way.

“The whole world is watching”, as we used to observe in the sixties. We do not seem to be commending the faith that is in us in any way that the watching world can appreciate or fathom. Whatever shall we do to reverse the course of the scandal that besets us?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 9:31pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 13 April 2005

ECUSA decides about Nottingham

Yet Another Two Updates

The Bishop of Pittsburgh doesn’t like it either. He has issued A Statement from the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network.

What the response of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council to the 2005 Primates’ Communique gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. While it gives an appearance of complying with the Primates’ request, in actuality it does not. The Primates asked the ECUSA delegation to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council (AAC) – the only appropriate response is therefore to stay at home.

The American Anglican Council doesn’t like it at all, see this statement which includes:

The Executive Council’s letter to the Anglican Consultative Council is manipulative and deceptive. The Primates were clear and direct in their call to the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada:

“…we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion.” (cf. paragraph 8)

While the language of the Communiqué is gracious and diplomatic, the intent is crystal clear—the American and Canadian Churches have been told to stand down from the Anglican Consultative Council. In addition, they have been presented with a clear choice to permanently walk together or walk apart. The parameters for “walking together” are also definitive: the Episcopal Church must repent of its heretical actions and embrace once more in word and in practice the faith and order of Anglicanism. We cannot accept that the Executive Council does not understand what the Primates have requested, and therefore we must assume that this is a deliberate plan to circumvent and ignore the full intent of the Communiqué.

The Executive Council is setting up an opportunity to lobby and influence the ACC meeting. Given the fact that ECUSA is insisting on such a presence, it seems a matter of justice and fair play that those who are excluded from ECUSA and isolated because they stand against revisionism should also be present and “available for conversation and consultation”. We call upon the Anglican Consultative Council to deny the Executive Council’s request; however, if the ECUSA delegation attends, we believe it is critical to include voices that offer a very different perspective, one that is consistent with Scripture and the accepted faith and order of the Anglican Communion.

No mention at all by the NACDAP Moderator or by the AAC of this paragraph in the communiqué:

16. Notwithstanding the request of paragraph 14 of this communiqué, we encourage the Anglican Consultative Council to organize a hearing at its meeting in Nottingham, England, in June 2005 at which representatives of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, invited for that specific purpose, may have an opportunity to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces, in accordance with paragraph 141 of the Windsor Report.

Clearly a significant disagreement then between both of them and the ABC:

Further Update
Archbishop of Canterbury commends Executive Council letter

In a communication to Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams extended thanks to the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council for its decision to withdraw its three American members from official participation in the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, England in June.

“I have just received the news of the decision about ACC. Thank you all,” Williams said. “I can guess how hard it will have been, but you have acted very generously and constructively and I hope this will bear the fruit that it should…”

The Executive Council of ECUSA has decided to withdraw its representatives from official participation in the ACC at Nottingham this June. The full statement is published by ENS here. The key paragraph is:

We are mindful that Christ has made us members of one body, and that no part can say to any other “I have no need of you.” At the same time we wish to express our openness to the concerns and beliefs of others. In the spirit of the Covenant Statement recently adopted by our House of Bishops, we voluntarily withdraw our members from official participation in the ACC as it meets in Nottingham. As an expression of our desire “to bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), we are asking our members to be present at the meeting to listen to reports on the life and ministry we share across the Communion and to be available for conversation and consultation.

Update Press coverage of this:
Associated Press Episcopalians accept no-delegates request and also this squib
Knight Ridder/Chicago Tribune U.S. Episcopal Church to sit out council over issue of gay bishops
Reuters U.S. church withdraws from key Anglican body

New York Times (This report also deals with another current American story) Connecticut Episcopalians Defy Bishop Over Gay Issues

Living Church Observers Will Attend ACC Meeting

Anglican Journal
U.S. church will bow out of international meeting

A first-hand account of the meeting on a blog

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 April 2005 at 9:38pm BST | Comments (48) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 10 April 2005

Sunday papers

Sunday Times
John Cornwell Fight for the soul of the church
Bryan Appleyard The world bids farewell

Independent on Sunday
Peter Popham Show of devotion sways cardinals’ choice
Lucy Lethbridge Rome clears up after the millions who came to take part in a piece of history

Sunday Telegraph
David Willey (of the BBC) Behind the elaborate protocol, a naked power struggle begins
Kevin Myers Two, four, six, eight: time to transubstantiate

Observer
David Aaronovitch A papal morality tale for a moral age
Peter Beaumont Now the search begins

Economist
Well, can’t link to it, but GetReligion has this:
Let’s elect a British pope

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 April 2005 at 1:29pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 9 April 2005

Pope: funeral reports

Guardian
John Hooper The final farewell
Stephen Bates Close encounters of a diplomatic kind

The Times
Richard Owen Faithful demand instant sainthood
Ruth Gledhill Commentary: the cult of John Paul will ensure his sainthood

Telegraph
Jonathan Petre Make him a saint the people cry as, watched by the world, Pope John Paul II is laid to rest

Independent
Peter Popham Sea of mourners bid farewell with tears and cheers

BBC
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan WIlliams talked, on the Today Programme yesterday to Edward Stourton of the Pope John Paul II. Real Audio required. Listen here

Update
Bishop John Flack’s diary for the week
other related material

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 9 April 2005 at 5:41pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Pope: weekend opinion roundup

Newspapers writing about the Pope:
Leader in the Guardian Pole of Poles
Leader in The Times Power of faith
Leader in the Telegraph Christianity in a Godless age

Christopher Howse The Victorian way of death
Jonathan Sacks John Paul’s blow against a virus of the soul

The Tablet has an article by the Italian commentator Marco Politi
A man ill at ease in his own century
More Tablet articles here

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 9 April 2005 at 5:23pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Nigerian primate issues two statements

Two formal statements were issued on 7 April 2005 by Archbishop Peter Akinola the Primate of All Nigeria.

A LETTER FROM THE PRIMATE OF ALL NIGERIA TO THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS AND THE MEMBERS OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA

A WORD TO NIGERIAN ANGLICANS IN NORTH AMERICA

In the first of these he says:

I now write to you in response to the recent Covenant statement from ECUSA’s House of Bishops during their spring meeting in Camp Allen, Texas and also because there have been a number of misleading reports about the recent Primates’ meeting in Northern Ireland.

While the statement issued by ECUSA’s House of Bishops expressed a desire to remain in the life and mission of the Anglican Communion, I was disappointed that the only regret offered was for their failure to consult and the effect of their actions instead of an admission that what they have done has offended God and His Church. As was pointed out in the Primates Communiqué issued in February ‘the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.” ECUSA has yet to grasp this reality and still appears to be chasing shadows. Until this is recognized there can be no hope of meaningful reconciliation.

The statement answered the call for a moratorium with regard to the ordinations of non-celibate homosexuals with a pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any bishop until 2006 – I find this response to be disingenuous since it holds the entire church to ransom for the sin of a few. While they have claimed to answer the call for moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions we know that there are Dioceses where the clergy are still continuing the practice of blessing same-sex partnerships with the Bishops’ explicit permission. I find this duplicitous and I would point out that the underlying issue is not a temporary cessation of these practices but a decision to renounce them and demonstrate a willing embrace of the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted throughout the Communion and described in Lambeth Resolution 1.10.

With regard to the Primates meeting in Ireland I find it highly offensive to hear claims that a group of us were influenced by external forces into taking stands that we would not otherwise have taken. There is absolutely no merit to these claims and I am saddened that there are those who wish to perpetuate this malevolent falsehood. Our actions and agreements were the result of prayerful deliberation and principled conviction. The idea that orthodox Americans manipulated us is an insult – in truth we in the Global South have been challenging them to stand firm. And there were a number of us who felt that the recommendations did not go far enough but out of respect for the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury we were willing to leave space for serious reflection and genuine repentance.

I was appalled by statements claiming that the devil was wandering the halls of the Dromantine Retreat Center – perhaps those who make such observations should first look within themselves before they accuse others. Many of us believe that what we achieved in our time together was due to the work of God’s Holy Spirit and to claim otherwise is blasphemous.

I have noted with disappointment that there are those in ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada who are suggesting that these Provinces should defy the Primates’ request that they voluntarily withdraw their members from the next meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council. I would urge the appointed leadership of these Provinces to weigh seriously the consequences of such actions if indeed there is to be any hope of the reconciliation and healing that we all seek. Moreover I believe that it is an accurate sense of our meeting to say that the Primates do not expect ECUSA and the Canadian church to participate in ANY of the structures of the Communion until they have chosen to respect the mind of the Communion. Until they decide to return - something for which we earnestly pray – the sad truth is that they have walked away from the Communion.

Finally, I need to address the important matter of provincial and diocesan boundaries. As I have repeatedly reaffirmed maintaining good order is important for the work of the Gospel but it can never be used to silence those who are standing for the Faith and resisting doctrinal error. It was our common understanding in Newry that the extraordinary pastoral relationships and initiatives now underway would be maintained until this crisis is resolved. If, however, the measures proposed in our Communiqué to protect the legitimate needs of groups in serious theological disputes prove to be ineffectual, and if acts of oppression against those who seek to uphold our common faith persist, then we will have no choice but to offer safe harbour for those in distress.

In the second document he says this:

It has been my privilege to meet Nigerian Anglicans in places across America including Washington D.C., New York City, Houston, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis and Chicago. I have witnessed your faithfulness and seen what a blessing you are, both to those who share our love for the Lord Jesus and also those who have yet to hear the good news of His love.

I have also become aware of the challenging circumstances in which many of you find yourselves because of the actions of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada. By their recent decisions, they have torn the fabric of our common life and have jeopardized your lives and ministries. This is a tragic reality that cannot be ignored. While it remains my prayer that ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada will repent and embrace the teaching of the Communion, their actions have placed an obligation upon me to provide for the proper and continuing pastoral and episcopal oversight for Nigerian churches in North America.

It is well known that many Nigerian Anglicans who live in the North America are no longer able to worship in an Anglican church, some have drifted to other churches, and others have even given up the faith. I well remember one woman coming to me during one of my visits and, with tears, saying she could no longer worship in an ECUSA church and that her whole family no longer had a church home, yet they would prefer to remain faithful Anglicans. In saying this she spoke for many others.

Several of our Nigerian clergy in America have been informed they can no longer work in an Episcopal diocese or have had their funding cut. Finally, the unilateral dismissal by the Presiding Bishop of the Chaplain we had jointly appointed to minister to Nigerian congregations illustrates the extent of the brokenness of our relationship and underlines the need to provide alternative structures for episcopal and pastoral care.

After much prayer and careful discernment with appropriate colleagues and advisors over the last two years, and in full consultation with the Nigerian congregations in America, together with the enthusiastic endorsement of the Episcopal Synod and the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) we announce the formation of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America.

This Convocation will function as a ministry of the Church of Nigeria in America. Our intention is not to challenge or intervene in the churches of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada but rather to provide safe harbour for those who can no longer find their spiritual home in those churches. While it will initially operate under our Constitution and Canons, it will have its own legal and ecclesial structure and local suffragan episcopate. I will be asking the next General Synod of the Church of Nigeria, which will meet in September 2005, to make the necessary constitutional amendments.

During the intervening months, in cooperation with our friends in the Anglican Communion Network, I will be appointing episcopal visitors from among already consecrated bishops to provide pastoral and episcopal oversight for those congregations already in operation and in formation. I am excited by the possibilities before us and look forward to seeing this ministry grow.

We ask that all people will join us in prayer for the fullness of God’s blessing upon the Convocation and the growth of its witness to all who would hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 9 April 2005 at 4:24pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Friday, 8 April 2005

Pope: Friday

Guardian
Stephen Bates 2bn to watch service and Pope’s will reveals he thought of resigning

From 5 April, and not linked here previously, Stephen Moss on Keeping the faith

Telegraph
Bruce Johnston and Jonathan Petre Burial will be marked by solemnity and splendour and Pope’s will tells how he considered resigning
Tom Utley Weddings, funerals and elections need ritual to give them dignity

The Times
Ruth Gledhill Now retirement at 80 seems even less likely

BBC
Alex Kirby John Paul II and the Anglicans

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 April 2005 at 10:49am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Pope: Church Times coverage

Today’s Church Times has the following:

Leader A pontificate in the true line

Bill Bowder The world remembers a ‘lived sermon’

Bill Bowder and Alexander McGregor John Paul II to be buried after a million file past

Jonathan Boardman ‘A family affair without fuss’

There is also a full obituary by Rupert Shortt and a Diary column from Rome by Jonathan Boardman, but these are only available at present to paid subscribers. Links will be added here when they become public.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 April 2005 at 10:25am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 7 April 2005

Church in Wales meets

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales has been meeting in Aberystwyth. This is the Welsh equivalent of a General Synod.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here.

The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, delivered a presidential address which can be read in full here and there is a press release giving highlights here:

In his Presidential Address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, presently meeting in Aberystwyth (University of Wales Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Penglais Campus, 6 th and 7 th April) , Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan , Archbishop of Wales has warned his fellow Anglicans about the dangers inherent in the present harsh tone of the debate being conducted within the Anglican Communion.

In his address, delivered today (Wednesday, 6th April), Archbishop Barry makes reference to many of the key events which make 2005 an important year in the life of the UK – the UK holding the Presidency of the both the G8 and the EU, the 20 th anniversary of Live Aid and 10 th Anniversary of Comic Relief, the publication of the Commission for Africa’s report later this month, World Environment day in June, and of course the UK General Election called yesterday for May 5 th .

However, the key point he makes is that while Anglican Christians, should have much to say on many of these key issues, it is difficult for us to be taken seriously when the present debate within the Anglican Communion has been couched in harsh, confrontational tones. In his address the Archbishop says:

If the church of God can’t conduct a debate in a civilised way when it claims to be a reconciled and reconciling community – what message does that give to the world? We cannot as a church call for compassion, peace and justice in our nation and in our world, if we as Christians do not exemplify those virtues in our own lives and in our dealings with one another.

… Referring to the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, due to meet in Nottingham in June, Archbishop Barry says

What is needed at the ACC is not a theological rant or a throwing of verbal grenades at people who happen to disagree with our own particular positions, but a reasoned, balanced, discourse of some of the issues involved and the giving of space and time to every kind of viewpoint. It would be better not to have a hearing at all in June if it is going to degenerate into some kind of verbal slanging match… What we need is not confrontation but a willingness to engage in discussion.

Earlier, the Church in Wales issued its Response to the Windsor Report. You can read this press release or you can read the full response here.

From the press release, in answering one of the four questions posed to the provinces:

What in the description of the life of the Communion in Sections A (The purpose and benefits of communion) & B (Fundamental Principles) can you recognise as consistent, or not, with your understanding of the Anglican Communion?

the Welsh response says:

a) The Anglican Communion is one that witnesses to the Kingdom of God … The Windsor report is a document which is in our opinion is a milestone in Anglican ecclesiology. It seeks to develop an understanding of the Church as an embodiment of God’s purpose. It is not simply a human construction. Instead it is how God seeks to heal and restore the world for his kingdom.

b) the dynamic nature of the Anglican Communion – Windsor report paragraph 9 expresses the care of Anglicans for each other, and we would want to add for the world … There have been many challenges to injustice, in ways which combine an ecclesiological reality of our common life with a challenge to oppressive political or social practices. It is not at all as though we are confronted with a static institution which has suddenly been destabilised by the actions of a few of its member churches. One of the ways in which that dynamism is expressed is the existence of inter cultural dialogue. One member of our working party who has worked in Uganda said – ‘It is important to recognise that these cultural factors of themselves neither validate nor invalidate traditions of Scriptural interpretation. None of us can or should offer a reading of Scripture free from cultural values. What is important is that the willingness to acknowledge these values.’

c) the authority of scripture in the Anglican Communion – we are glad to recognise in the report and affirmation of the importance of authority of scripture for Anglicans. However we felt that WR 61 in its description of shortcomings in Scriptural interpretation becomes a caricature of itself. We do not believe that those who have pressed for change have sought “to sweep away sections of the New Testament as irrelevant”. There is also the important issue of inculturation (discussed briefly at WR 85) when considering the interpretation of Scripture. Traditionally the Western church has set the theological agenda. That this is being challenged is a welcome sign of Anglican vitality. It is clearly important within the Anglican Communion that both African and Asian readings are heard respectfully and accorded the dignity of being received as valid contributions to theological discussion.

d) The Anglican Communion is one bound together by bonds of affection – we felt especially that that autonomy-in-communion was a fruitful concept for future discussion. Nevertheless there are times when we feel that the report feel that the Report tends to equate diversity with opinions, rather than a diversity of people, forgetting how the Report addresses this issue when discussing inculturation.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 7 April 2005 at 6:34pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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InclusiveChurch appeals to ACC and ECUSA

The Executive of InclusiveChurch has published on its website
An Appeal to the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America from InclusiveChurch.

While we recognise that the Primates, meeting at Dromantine in February, sought to prevent the fracturing of the Communion and to promote reconciliation and unity through their recommendations, we do not believe that these purposes are best served by all of the actions they commend. In particular we do not believe that the cause of unity and reconciliation within the Communion will be served by you deferring to the Primates request for your withdrawal from the Anglican Consultative Council…

…We are appealing to you directly because we believe we represent a substantial body of opinion in the Church of England that has had no opportunity to speak through our formal structures, but that would, had it opportunity, call for greater engagement and dialogue not less. We believe that it is by engagement and dialogue that our Communion will in the end be strengthened and enabled in its work of combating the ravages of poverty, war and disease that so beset our world. We therefore hope that you will continue your participation in the Anglican Consultative Council.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 7 April 2005 at 11:49am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Pope: Thursday

Telegraph
Jonathan Petre and Bruce Johnston British attitudes to Roman Catholics have mellowed
Jonathan Petre and Bruce Johnston Cardinals will shun media ahead of election conclave
Patrick Bishop Safety fears as pilgrims swell population of Rome to three times its normal size

Guardian
Stephen Bates UK cardinal may hold key to papal election
John Hooper Row over plan to downgrade UK embassy
John Hooper Flood of pilgrims swamps Rome

Independent
Peter Popham Presidents kneel and pray before the Pope

The Times
Queue to end all queues
Richard Owen People of Rome urged to open doors for faithful

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 7 April 2005 at 9:03am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 6 April 2005

Pope: Wednesday

It’s getting more difficult for journalists to find something interesting to say as the funeral preparations continue. Read Media descend on Rome for Pope’s funeral from the Guardian to see how reporters are coping. As before, a small selection from the British newspapers and the BBC only:

Guardian
Jonathan Jones Admire the stage instead
Stephen Bates Expert believes dignity is preserved

Independent
Peter Popham As the mourners queue, Cardinals begin secret deliberations to choose a new Pope

The Times
Richard Owen and Ruth Gledhill A subtle campaign of handshakes, hints and huddles

Telegraph
Ferdinand Mount He was a great pope. . . but he deserted the search for truth
Jonathan Petre and Bruce Johnston Cardinals disagree over vow of silence

BBC
Saving souls in cyberspace
Head-to-head: Challenges for new Pope
and there is a video clip (Real Player required) featuring Emily Buchanan discussing Choosing Pope John Paul II’s successor

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 April 2005 at 10:53pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 5 April 2005

Pope: Tuesday

Update
Photos of Rowan Williams and other Anglicans at yesterday’s Westminster Cathedral service can be found here

Press release from Lambeth Palace: Archbishop of Canterbury to attend Pope’s funeral

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has accepted an official invitation to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome on Friday. He will be the first serving Archbishop of Canterbury to attend a Pope’s funeral.

An invitation was received through the Papal Nuncio; Dr Williams said he was ‘pleased and honoured’ to accept.

Dr Williams has confirmed that he will be wearing the ring presented to his predecessor, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, by Pope Paul VI.

Dr Williams will travel to Rome on Thursday; he will be accompanied by the Revd Andrew Norman, Archbishop’s Secretary for International and Ecumenical Affairs and by Mr Jeremy Harris, Archbishop’s Secretary for Public Affairs.

The Archbishop will return to the UK on Friday evening.

British Newspapers

Telegraph
Jonathan Petre and Bruce Johnson Rumours sweep Vatican of plot to hide Friday death and Royalty and world’s political elite join river of pilgrims for the final farewell
Christopher Howse Cherie Blair strikes note of formality with lace mantilla

Guardian
another leader The limits of autocracy
Stephen Bates Vatican grottoes to be final resting place of John Paul II
Mark Almond The strange death of Protestant England
Martin Kettle It’s as if the Reformation had never happened

The Times
Andrew Pierce and Ruth Gledhill Prince chose to postpone the wedding after VIPs pulled out to go to Rome
Mary Ann Sieghart The Pope was not pro-life
another leader Time and place

Independent
Peter Popham It was like an antechamber to the afterlife, as if directed by Fellini

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 5 April 2005 at 12:41pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Monday, 4 April 2005

Sunday, 3 April 2005

Pope: additional links

The Archbishop of Canterbury: a further press release has just been issued: Archbishop: Pope’s last days a ‘lived sermon’.

A video clip in which the BBC’s Robert Pigott interviews Rowan Williams can be viewed from this page (scroll down).

The BBC Sunday radio programme for Sunday 3 April was devoted entirely to the Pope, and includes an interview with George Carey.

Other BBC coverage can be found from here.

Official Vatican documents appear here.

The Tablet has a special papal website here.

The National Catholic Reporter has much useful material, start here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 3 April 2005 at 6:25pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 2 April 2005

tributes to the Pope

Archbishop of Canterbury
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
British Prime Minister

British Newspapers

Guardian Clifford Longley The best and worst of times

Guardian Stephen Bates The pope who showed the church to the world

Observer Christina Odone The man in white who changed the world

Observer editorial The man who loved humanity

Observer Peter Stanford Who will now lead one billion souls?

Independent on Sunday AN Wilson The defenders of the faiths

Independent on Sunday Catherine Pepinster He was simply the world’s most charismatic Christian

Sunday Telegraph Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor ‘John Paul II will leave us all orphans. I shall miss him’

Sunday Telegraph Clifford Longley How does the Catholic Church follow John Paul? It doesn’t

Sunday Telegraph Christopher Howse The visionary who changed history through sheer force of moral will

Sunday Telegraph editorial The meaning of suffering

The Times William Rees-Mogg A truly great holder of this highest of religious offices

The Times editorial Man and mission

Sunday Times Mary Kenny John Paul’s final gift: to share his last hours with the world

Sunday Times Leading article: A hard act to follow

Sunday Times John Cornwell Death of a titan

Sunday Times Christopher Morgan ‘Bishop of Gatwick and the panzer cardinal’ prepare for nine days of mourning – and the horsetrading of votes

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 April 2005 at 11:46pm BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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opinion columns

In The Times Bishop Basil of Sergievo writes the Credo column: His presence in Man can make gods of us all.

Richard Chartres writes in the Guardian about Bonhoeffer: a martyr for our collective soul.

Two views on the Pope: in the Independent Catherine Pepinster editor of the Tablet asks Do we really need this spectacle of the dying? and in the Telegraph Christopher Howse has Warm embrace for Sister Death.

The Guardian also has Colin Morris on Jerry Springer - the Opera in Jerry’s last judgment.

Another Times column discusses the forthcoming memorial service for Gypsies: Shunned victims of the ‘forgotten Holocaust’.

Keith Ward writes in the Tablet about Resurrection and Science in The quantum leap.

The Church Times editorial this week reminds us about Jim Callaghan’s gift to the Church of England, but last week’s Easter leader. should also not be missed.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 April 2005 at 9:11am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 1 April 2005

Anglican Communion update

Updated thrice - see below

First, two items concerning the story reported earlier here about the Ugandan diocese of South Rwenzori.

The Church Times covered it in Ugandan diocese rejects US funds. This includes a reference to the Washington Post column reported earlier here, and discussed at some length by Andrew Brown in this week’s Press column, not yet online, but here are two quotes:

NO ONE seems to have reported Dr Williams’s complaint in Holy Week that the press was ignoring important things the Anglican Communion was up to. A story in the Washington Post should entirely justify the press’s bias…

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to over-estimate the damage that these stories do. One indicator is Stephen Bates’s largely hostile profile in The Guardian of Dr Williams, whose reputation on the paper seems never to have recovered from a lunch he attended there, where, every time he attempted to say something interesting, he allowed himself to be shushed by an aide. Versions of this story have come to me from several of the people present, on whom it made a lasting impression.

Meanwhile, the Living Church reports the response of Michael Creighton Bishop of Central Pennsylvania to all this in Bishop laments break with Ugandan companion diocese

In an interview with The Living Church, Bishop Creighton said “It felt like a Good Friday nail in the compassion of Christ.”…

Bishop Creighton said he was perplexed by the decision to break relations as the Windsor Report had encouraged “consultation” and not confrontation. “Our Gospel understanding,” he said, is “when people were labeled as ‘sinners and wrong doers,’ Jesus invited himself into relationship, not out of relationship.”

Bishop Creighton said he had written to Bishop Tembo noting “our dismay that our consent to the election of a bishop in New Hampshire appears to be more important than the compassionate ministry we have shown with his own people who are struggling with and dying of AIDS.

Since the diocese began its companion relationship with South Rwenzori in 2001, Central Pennsylvania purchased a truck for the diocese and provided tuition for medical students, medicines, and other funds to assist the diocese and the Bishop Masereka Foundation—a Ugandan NGO—to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, Bishop Creighton told The Living Church.

“The total of this support exceeds $65,000,” Bishop Creighton said, but he disputed that the Ugandan diocese had requested $352,941 as was stated in Bishop Tembo’s letter.

Update This further Statement from Bishop Jackson Nzerebende Tembo on the relationship of South Rwenzori Diocese, Uganda, to the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, USA has just appeared on titusonenine.

Further Update And shortly after that, two letters to the editor of the Washington Post, one of them from David Anderson of the AAC, also appeared on the web.

Another Update
This article in the Lancaster Sunday News Local, African churches split over gay issue contains further detail.

The same Church Times page also contains (scroll down) two other Communion stories: Bill Bowder on Griswold rounds on ‘evil’ detractors and a brief report on Scottish statement. The first of these includes:

TACTICS used by conservatives to influence the Primates’ Meeting in Newry in February have been branded as “evil” by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA), the Most Revd Frank Griswold.

At the US House of Bishops meeting before Easter ( News, 18 March), Bishop Griswold is reported to have named a group of US clergy, including the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt Revd Robert Duncan, accusing them of misrepresenting what was happening in ECUSA.

In an interview with Deborah Caldwell for Beliefnet website, the Presiding Bishop said that evil had been “pressing” on the meeting of the Primates in February.

“There were notices put on the tables in Ireland describing ‘acts of oppression’ within the Episcopal Church that were highly inaccurate. . . I said my sense is - and I don’t assign it to any particular people - I feel that there is evil pressing on this meeting.”

Bishop Griswold argued that overseas Primates had been recruited into ECUSA’ s internal struggles. “Various groups related to the Episcopal Church - well-funded, to be sure - have engaged the disapproval of the Primates around homosexuality in order to portray the Episcopal Church as grossly unfaithful and unbiblical, and in every way reprehensible…”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 April 2005 at 9:41pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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