Some 5,000 "Stand Up For Jesus"
SSC Celebrates 150 Years
"Anglicanism without Catholicism is unimaginable! Indeed it would simply not be what it is without its anglo-catholic tradition. We hold firm to the faith of the apostles once delivered to the saints." - Fr. David Houlding, Master General of the Society of the Holy Cross
It was a vivid reminder that classical Anglicanism is Catholic as well as Reformed, and that there is still an impressive number of clergy and laity around who are determined to maintain full Anglican identity.
Five thousand Anglo-Catholics from across the world gathered at London?s Royal Albert Hall April 9 to celebrate 150 years of the Society of the Holy Cross, known by its Latin initials, SSC.
In terms of recent history, the event was second in size only to the "Christ Our Future" Mass in 2000, which drew to a London arena some 10,000 traditionalists; it was the largest religious millennium event in England. Interestingly, as well, the SSC gathering overlapped a time of great transition in the wider Universal Church, with the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II.
The Society was established to promote Catholic priestly discipline, devotion, and brotherhood. Its membership numbers 1,100, 750 of whom work in the U.K. SSC priests minister mainly within the "official" Anglican Communion, of course, but a small percentage of them serve in the Continuing Church.
For the celebration, titled "Stand Up for Jesus," the Royal Albert Hall was transformed into a dramatic sanctuary for worship: a red-and-gold fronted altar supported six giant candles, behind which sat 24 bishops. Nearly 700 priests vested and concelebrated with the Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar. Wearing Bishop Edward King?s squat miter and matching gold vestments, Rowell was flanked by enormous photographs of the Society?s founding fathers, the slum priests Charles Lowder and Alexander Mackonochie. Fr. Mackonochie?s words in the face of persecution?"No desertion! No surrender!"?were recalled.
Participants had the previous day made a pilgrimage to Walsingham, and the image of Our Lady of Walsingham was brought from the Shrine. But the ceremonial apogee was when a 30-foot cross enshrining the Society?s relic of the True Cross, was raised above the altar, to the singing of Lift high the Cross.
Fr. Houlding urged the congregation to ensure that the Anglican Church remained a fully Catholic part of God?s one holy Church?a rallying cry taken up by London Bishop Richard Chartres.
Catholics should not be content to settle for being merely a party within the Church, said Fr. Houlding. "This is a shabby second best. The claim of the Oxford Movement was that the whole Church of England is Catholic by its very nature, and they started to behave like it."
The huge Mass was preceded by several days of events. The Society held a synod at St Alban?s, Holborn (linked to Fr. Mackonochie), on the previous Tuesday, during which Bishop Rowell gave a lecture on the Society?s history and role in the Catholic movement. That was followed by a two-day Christological conference, attended by 500 priests, at the Church of Christ the King, Gordon Square, London. The clergy were addressed, among others, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, before he left for Rome to attend the Pope?s funeral. Masses were of course held throughout the week, at different places and with different preachers.
"It is impossible to convey the positive spirit, the fellowship and communion of that large group [at the Albert Hall], the churchlike atmosphere even in so secular a setting, and the deeply moving sense of re-commitment on the part of all the clergy and bishops and laypeople present," wrote Canon Barry Swain of New York. "The Bishop of London, presiding at the Mass, led us all in a renewal of our vows: for bishops and priests of the Society our vows in it, and for laypeople, their vows in their baptismal covenant. There can be no doubt of the success of ?Stand Up For Jesus,? nor indeed that the Catholic Witness in Anglicanism is far from finished. The obituaries of the movement have often been written prematurely in the past, and this time is no exception." n
Sources: Report by Canon Barry Swain,Church Times
Nigeria Upholds Catholic Order
The Anglican Communion?s most populous province, Nigeria, will not start ordaining women, though the issue may be revisited in the future.
That was the message from Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola recently on an issue that divides conservative and traditional Anglicans in some provinces. It was conveyed in a pastoral letter from Akinola, written on behalf of his province?s Standing Committee, which met in Kaduna in March.
Akinola leads over 17 million faithful in his home province, and influences a much larger international flock: He is a prominent orthodox Anglican primate, and heads the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa. Moreover?as also noted in this issue?s "Special Report"?Akinola announced, within weeks of the late February Primates? Meeting, that he was implementing an initiative announced last fall, the "Convocation of Nigerian Churches in America," for expatriate Nigerians unable to find a doctrinally compatible home in the U.S. Episcopal Church.
There is no indication so far, however, that leadership by Akinola and his province on the women?s ordination question will help settle an issue that still impairs communion among those who are otherwise joined in an international conservative Anglican movement.
Ten New Bishops!
In his letter, Akinola also called on members of his province to approach the mission agenda of the church, Vision 1-1-3, with the spirit of obedience. Under Vision 1-1-3, the Nigerian Church hopes to double its present size of over 17 million by 2007, by planting more churches and places of worship.
The province is well on its way to meeting its expansion goals. The headline in a recent Anglican Communion News Service story pretty much said it all: "Ten new bishops consecrated for Church of Nigeria; Ninety-one dioceses and more are still coming."
Archbishop Akinola presided at the recent consecration service. Extra chairs had to be brought into the 3,500-seat Cathedral Church of the Advent, Abuja, to handle the numbers who turned out. The service was broadcast across the country on radio.
The new bishops and their dioceses are the Edafe Emamezi (Warri), Ezekiel Awosoga (Ijebu), Matthew Osunade (Ogbomosho) Adeyemi (Badagary), Duke Akamisoko (Zonkwa), Samuel Chukuka (Isikwuato), Joseph Musa (Idah), Solomon Gberegbara (Ogoni), Johnson Onuoha (Arochukwu/Ohafia), and Chigozirim Onyegbule (Ikwuano).
The consecration ceremony marked the beginning of nine new missionary dioceses in the 26 year-old Church of Nigeria, bringing the total number of dioceses to 91.
The creation of additional dioceses and self-sufficiency have been emphases of the Nigerian Church under Akinola. Since inheriting three internal provinces, 76 dioceses and 76 bishops from his predecessor, Archbishop Joseph Adetiloye, five years ago, Akinola has overseen the creation of an additional 14 dioceses, some of them in areas considered hostile and insecure for evangelism. Most of the new missionary dioceses are located in rural areas largely unreached by the gospel, where evangelizers must contend with "raw paganism, Islamization, syncretism and spiritual shallowness."n
Sources:Anglican Communion News Service, Church Times
Ugandan Bishop Makes Waves
With Refusal Of U.S. Funds
It should have come as no surprise, since African Anglican bishops said some time ago that they would cease accepting funding from western Anglican dioceses at odds with the Anglican Communion?s sexuality policy.
But a Ugandan bishop?s recent rejection of an Episcopal Church (ECUSA) diocese?s potential grant to fight Uganda?s serious HIV/AIDS problem really roiled gays and their supporters, even leading to critical articles in the British and American press: on March 26, The Washington Post?s Colbert King called the decision of the Bishop of South Rwenzori, Jackson Nzerebende Tembo, not to accept $352,941 in funding from the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania "a tragic tale of ignorance, bigotry and love unreturned."
Complicating matters was the fact that, while Central Pennsylvania has provided $65,000 in support to South Rwenzori since 2001, the diocese had no record of the some $350,000 funding request, which Tembo said he had made at diocesan AIDS Commission meeting in Pennsylvania in June/July 2004.
Nonetheless, the African diocese?s rejection "felt like a Good Friday nail in the compassion of Christ," said Central Pennsylvania Bishop Michael Creighton.
Bishop Tembo said his diocese?s request for funding from Central Pennsylvania was withdrawn and the companion relationship between the two jurisdictions suspended because of his recent discovery that Bishop Creighton was among Episcopal prelates who consented to the consecration of non-celibate homosexual V. Gene Robinson. Tembo also asked that a trip scheduled this summer of doctors and medical personnel from the U.S. diocese be canceled.
Creighton said he had responded to Tembo privately, expressing (inter alia) "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 and dying of AIDS."
Tembo reminded, though, that the Ugandan Church had broken communion with ECUSA in 2003 because the U.S. Church proceeded with the Robinson consecration despite Anglican leaders? clear and repeated warnings that the action would have devastating consequences.
He responded to liberals scoring the decision not to accept funding from ECUSA by recalling that liberals earlier castigated the Ugandan Church for continuing to accept funding for a time after it broke communion with ECUSA.
Tembo said his diocese and province would continue their 20-year collaboration with the Ugandan government to reduce the HIV/AIDS infection rate?Uganda is the only African nation to have seen a decline in that rate?and to care for victims of the virus, including children orphaned by it. He said he believes that "God will honor our commitment to His Word" and provide needed funds by other means.
"Just because we have withdrawn requests for Central Pennsylvania involvement and money does not mean we are abandoning our people," Tembo said.n
Sources:The Living Church, Church Times, The Washington Post, 365gay.com
"Connecticut Six" Draw
Strong Support, But
Bishop?s Threat Remains
What happened in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut May 12-13 had to be?for pro-gay Bishop Andrew Smith?an unintended consequence of his repeated threats to inhibit and depose six priests who asked for alternate episcopal oversight for their parishes.
On May 12, some 900 people?including nine bishops from the U.S., Canada, and Africa?crowded into Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church in Groton to pray and stand in solidarity with the "Connecticut Six," and their defense of biblical sexuality doctrine in the face of Smith?s departure from it. The service was followed the next day by a rally on the steps of the state capitol in Hartford, which drew several hundred persons.
On that Thursday evening in Groton, "the congregation sang, clapped and threw out their arms in an exuberant atmosphere that often resembled a revival meeting," said one report.
Anglican/Episcopal bishops present?each of whom gave a short testimony?included Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh), Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) within the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA); Jack Iker (Fort Worth); Daniel Herzog (Albany); David Bena (Suffragan-Albany); C. FitzSimons Allison (South Carolina-retired); James Adams (Western Kansas); Andrew Fairfield (North Dakota-retired); Donald Harvey (Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador), ACN Canadian Moderator; and William Rukirande of Uganda.
"The only political statement we want to make tonight is to proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord," the Rev. Ron Gauss of Bishop Seabury told the large congregation.
Gauss, a Jewish convert who has been a priest for 30 years, is one of the clergy that Smith threatens to toss out of ECUSA. Other clergy targeted are Allyn Benedict of Christ Church, Watertown; Gilbert Wilkes of Christ and The Epiphany, East Haven; Mark Hansen of St. John?s, Bristol: Christopher Leighton of St. Paul?s, Darien; and Donald Helmandollar of Trinity, Bristol. The six priests concelebrated the May 12 Eucharist.
THEIR DISPUTE with Bishop Smith began when the congregations started directing financial support away from the diocese to protest the 2003 consecration of practicing homosexual V. Gene Robinson as Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire?which Smith supported and attended. Smith has refused the clerics? calls to repent of that support, or of his ordinations of sexually active gay clergy (though he has barred same-sex blessings in his diocese).
Hence, the six priests also jointly asked Smith for alternate episcopal care. That is possible under the Episcopal bishops? DEPO (Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight) plan, but the provision is temporary and leaves the diocesan bishop in control of the parish and arrangements for it. The six parishes hoped for more, relying on the Anglican primates? (archbishops?) endorsement of "adequate" episcopal oversight for beleaguered faithful ("adequate" being something to be judged by the recipients); more recently they have also looked to the prospective Panel of Reference that the primates commissioned to address and monitor alternate bishop arrangements. Among the parishes? specific requests was for a common assigned bishop, and for that bishop to oversee the parishes? future succession of clergy and candidates for ordination. They also wanted to be released from an obligation to pay diocesan assessments.
But negotiations between the parties, which included meetings that Smith demanded with each of the clerics separately, did not produce a resolution. And, the bishop?s attempt to impose a February 15 deadline for the six clerics to accept his understanding of DEPO and pay their fair share to the diocese, failed.
With no advance notice, the bishop and his standing committee decided in a closed meeting in March to charge the six with having "abandoned the communion," invoking a canon usually applied to ECUSA clergy who join another denomination. Despite denials and protests by the accused, Smith and the committee declined to explain the bases for their action. But they did make reinstatement of the parishes? giving a pre-condition for any reconsideration; according to a recent report, the diocese is facing a $600,000 revenue shortfall. An April 15 deadline was set for the clergy to respond, with the implication that unsatisfactory response would result in inhibition.
As the deadline approached, major news outlets picked up the story, conservative ECUSA bishops spoke out, and complaints from across the nation poured into diocesan headquarters in Hartford. Church members launched open-air vigils, and some prominent conservative Episcopal clergy elsewhere in the U.S. came to preach at the six pulpits on the Sunday when they were due to be vacant. Some of the clerics and their allies noted that Smith failed to refer the dispute to the Panel of Reference then in view, or to acknowledge the culpability the primates had assigned to ECUSA supporters of Robinson?s consecration for imperiling the Anglican Communion, ECUSA?s standing within it, and the link of the six Connecticut parishes to that Communion.
April 15 came, but Smith did not lower the boom, instead asking the six priests to meet with him?for the first time as a group?on April 18, in the presence of a "neutral" bishop, Gordon Scruton of Western Massachusetts, who had abstained from voting on the Robinson consecration.
The parties remained divided, however: Smith wanted to retain hands-on involvement in the parishes; the six wanted the alternate-oversight bishop to assume that role.
Smith said afterward that he could not give the parishes what they wanted because of the "responsibilities I have for all the people and parishes of the diocese." The clerics? "requirements" would break their ties to the diocese, he said. The clergy said they had been clear from the start "that we seek oversight as called for by [Anglican Communion] primates...in their statements of October 2003 and February 2005."
Smith also said the clergy left the meeting without acceding to his request that they acknowledge his authority as their diocesan bishop. By doing so, they "placed themselves under threat of inhibition by refusing to live within their vows," he warned. The clerics said they had consistently maintained that they and their flocks hew to scriptural truth and "the teaching of Anglicanism" upheld by the vast majority of the Communion, and that it was "inconceivable" to them that they were facing a charge of "abandonment of communion."
Smith next sent an urgent e-mail summoning all diocesan clergy to a closed meeting in Hartford April 21 to discuss the matter. There, most of the 184 clerics present indicated they were not ready to support inhibitions of the six clergy. Many encouraged the parties to try harder to seek a compromise solution. Smith agreed to back off for the moment, but his April 18 warning stood.
The axe had not fallen on the six, but was hanging over their heads, at the time of May?s show of solidarity. The throng at Bishop Seabury Church, though, was standing strong.
Picking up on the gathering?s symbolic location?a church named for ECUSA?s first bishop, Samuel Seabury?the Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church, Fairfax, Virginia, noted that, ironically, Seabury also fought the legally established authorities of his time in order to preach the gospel. Now, more than 200 years later, the same issue had emerged.
"The Church of England was more concerned with right order than with offering the pastoral intervention and oversight that this struggling church so desperately needed, and today it feels like deja vu all over again," he said. "Seabury decided that the needs of the gospel trumped canonical niceties and so he was consecrated bishop by the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. was born."
"We have to make a choice," he said, as those first Connecticut Episcopalians did, and as Anglican primates did recently at their meeting in Ireland. "The primates stood boldly against those who would...re-interpret the faith," in turn giving the revisionists a clear choice: to walk with the rest of the Communion, following the Biblical witness and expressed Anglican doctrine on sexual morality, or to "walk apart" from it.
"We need to be on guard against false teachers. False teaching is a cancer in the body of Christ; left untreated it will kill us," Minns said.
"A gospel of inclusion without a gospel of transformation is no gospel at all," he declared. The congregation rose as one and applauded.
Bishop Rukirande, from Uganda?s Diocese of Kigezi, told the gathering: "You brought the gospel to Uganda in 1877, and today we have seven million Anglicans in Uganda. We know this is God?s church and we will always triumph, though it hasn?t been easy. Jesus was mistreated; we can expect the same."
But he said there was no turning back. God, he said, "is bigger than your enemies; don?t fear, always praise Him."
AT THE RALLY outside the Hartford capitol building May 13, attended by the same leaders as the previous evening, Bishop Duncan blasted revisionist Episcopal bishops for promoting a "counterfeit" religion, and lauded the "Connecticut Six" for standing for the "faith once delivered."
"Why are we here? We are here because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are here because of our faith in Jesus Christ," said Duncan. Echoing a note sounded the night before, he said, "A gospel of inclusion without a gospel of transformation is no gospel at all. We are here to warn the people of Connecticut [that] there is a counterfeit abroad in the land..."
Fr. Leighton, another speaker at the rally, said they were not there to stand against Bishop Smith or other diocesan officials, Bishop Robinson, or homosexual persons generally, but to stand for Jesus Christ and His Word, and an Anglican Communion that is centered on that Word. He called on ECUSA to abandon the "false teaching and practices" that separate it from the Communion.
Bishop Smith said at the time that he was "still considering all the possible options that are open for me and still hoping that the priests will return to full communion with their bishop."n
Sources:World, VirtueOnline, Episcopal News Service, Agape Press, The Bristol Press, The Living Church
The Anglican Crisis, Continued:
More Divisions And Departures
The following are selected recent news briefs on developments in the U.S. and wider Anglican Communion stemming mainly from the North American Churches? breach of global Anglican sexuality policy.
*IT WAS THE SECOND EPISCOPAL PARISH TO DEPART the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama in less than six months. The rector, an associate rector, and a large number of Montgomery?s 1,600-member Church of the Ascension decided in April to leave their high-priced facilities behind to form the new parish of Christchurch.
The decision came in the wake of the elevation of practicing homosexual cleric V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, but also after a recent threat by the Diocese of Alabama?s Standing Committee to discipline the rector, the Rev. John-Michael van Dyke, for aligning with the conservative Anglican Communion Network (ACN) in the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA); the ACN is strongly opposed by Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley (though he voted against Robinson?s consecration). Parsley also had ordered a month-long adult study class at Ascension on "Where do we go from here?" to be canceled.
Meeting temporarily at a local Presbyterian church, the new Christchurch "will be under the jurisdiction of an international Anglican archbishop, at the direction of an American bishop," said a parish release. Its late April inaugural services drew some 440 present and former members of Ascension, whose normal attendance was 300. Ascension?s departure followed that of the rector and nearly 90 percent of the members of Christ the Redeemer Episcopal Church in east Montgomery.
*WHEN THE EPISCOPAL GENERAL CONVENTION approved the consecration of a practicing homosexual and same-sex blessings in 2003, Northwest Texas Episcopal Bishop Wallis Ohl was among bishops who did not side with the majority.
Nevertheless, Ohl recently rejected requests by the clergy and people of the some 500-member St. Nicholas, Midland, to allow the congregation to stay together in its church, but apart from ECUSA, over the national church?s stand on those moral issues. Instead, Ohl asked those in the parish who no longer desired to be part of ECUSA?89 percent of those present at a recent parish vote?to vacate St. Nicholas? property by June 1. He offered no settlement by which the parish could buy the building it had already paid for, as Kansas? bishop recently did in a similar situation, instead pressing ECUSA?s canonical claim to all parish property.
St. Nicholas? leaders had sought the bishop?s help because the parish was losing members and money over the ECUSA affiliation. Ohl gave them a starker, but in the end simpler, choice than they expected. St. Nicholas members "love all of God?s people, no matter...their sexual preference," but the "overwhelming majority" of them "want to remain true to Biblical faith no matter what the cost, even if it means having to leave our church building," said St. Nicholas? rector, the Rev. Jon Stasney. It is not just the gay issue, but ECUSA?s "cultural accommodation at the expense of biblical Christianity," said the Rev. Jonathan Hartzer, associate rector.
So plans were to inaugurate the new Christ Church Midland (Anglican Communion) in rented space on June 1. "We have the support of most other churches in the city," who planned to make a demonstration at St. Nicholas? final service May 29, said a local layman. In fact, support for the ousted Midland faithful has come from all over the world, and a good number of believers from afar was expected to be at the full congregation?s last service.
*MARCH 27 WAS THE LAST SUNDAY in the Episcopal Church for the Rev. Keith Andrews, 51, and his some 400-member flock at St. James, Tempe, Arizona. He and the vast majority of the congregation quit a $3 million building that had been erected by the parish that Andrews started as a home church. Arizona?s Bishop, Kirk Stevan Smith, had refused the congregants? offer to buy the building from the diocese, but they left anyway.
Andrews said the problem was not just ECUSA?s consecration of a practicing homosexual bishop, but its "culture"?e.g., its inability to discipline its leaders, to be "scandalized by heresy," or to affirm its core beliefs?a reference to the 2003 General Convention?s defeat of Resolution B001, reaffirming the authority of scripture. "There is no outrage to provoke change or repentance at the deepest level of the church. The constraints and legal concerns were deadening to the spirit. We became increasingly weary of the effort required to rehabilitate a sick and dying church," said Andrews. Since he would not renounce his orders as Bishop Smith asked, Andrews expected to be inhibited and deposed from ECUSA.
Meanwhile, the new Living Faith Anglican Church, which aligned with the Anglican Communion through the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), is meeting in a chapel at Tempe Preparatory Academy, but already has been offered substantial sums by people eager to see the congregation purchase new property.
"There is tremendous excitement among our people," Andrews said. "As important as it was to preserve the property, we are ready to move on. I want to reach the unchurched and unsaved. We have a mission statement and we are very, very excited."
*THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS, Raleigh, North Carolina, has completed its separation from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, and is now under the authority of the Bishop of North Kigezi, Edward Muhima, in the Anglican Province of Uganda.
The congregation is remaining in its building after an interesting series of events. The parish, which purchased its property just over two years ago, still had a significant debt to pay, and told liberal North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry last fall that finances were down so much as a result of the diocese?s theological positions that the parish would likely default on its mortgage within a couple of months. Strategies suggested by the diocese to overcome the shortfall proved unsuccessful, and on November 4 the diocesan standing committee approved surrendering title in lieu of foreclosure to the mortgage holder, who was amenable to renting the building back to the congregation. Comments from the rector, the Rev. John Gibson, suggest that the property has since been resold to a tax exempt entity created by persons "interested in our future."
Curry said he would not have consented to the property transfer without an explanation, however, had he known that Holy Cross Anglican Church had already been chartered by the time it occurred. Parish representatives had given assurances that Holy Cross did not intend to leave ECUSA, Curry claimed. Not surprisingly, Fr. Gibson was informed?on Good Friday?that he had been inhibited from ECUSA ministry for abandonment of communion. It was another of the mounting incidences of liberal bishops using a canon meant for Episcopal clerics who have left the Anglican Communion against one who has not.
*A PARISH DISPUTE IN THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WASHINGTON, D.C. has led to a formal investigation into whether the canon for congregational development acted appropriately in allegedly excommunicating a woman who opposed the actions of the 2003 General Convention. In early January, Patrick Shaughness filed a complaint against Canon Carol Cole Flanagan and two other clergy for barring his wife, Linda, from receiving communion at St. David?s, Washington. "There is reason to believe their real motive is my wife?s orthodoxy and opposition to some of the decisions made at the 2003 General Convention. These are what one of the priests called her ?dissenting theological position(s),?" Mr. Shaughness said. The diocese?s disciplinary review committee requested the church attorney to investigate the charge of "conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy" against Flanagan and render to it a confidential report regarding the charge "as soon as practicable."
*THE DIOCESE OF SOUTH CAROLINA?S annual convention in March adopted several conservative resolutions by strong majorities. The resolutions endorsed the Windsor Report and its requested moratoria, and asked ECUSA?s Executive Council to abide by them; declared the diocese?s allegiance to the Anglican Communion; and expressed its own "repentance" for ECUSA?s approval of a non-celibate homosexual bishop and same-sex blessings "against the urgent counsel of the greater Anglican Communion."
*A RESPECTED THEOLOGIAN AND AUTHOR, the Rev. Alvin Kimel, submitted his resignation as rector of St. Mark?s Episcopal Church, Johnston, Pennsylvania, on May 18 and will be converting to Roman Catholicism. Kimel is perhaps best known as one of the drafters of the Baltimore Declaration. Published in 1991 by Kimel and five other Diocese of Maryland priests, it was an eight-page apologia on behalf of "the evangelical, apostolic and catholic witness" that it said was subject to a "thoroughgoing revision" in ECUSA. In the intervening years, Kimel has concluded that ECUSA has become a heretical sect into which he could no longer in conscience continue to call sinners. He determined to renounce his Episcopal ministry and?"for the sake of my salvation"?enter the Catholic Church, "the one true fold of Jesus Christ," he said. He plans to seek re-ordination as a Catholic priest through the "Pastoral Provision" made by Rome to aid the transfer of married Episcopal clergy. He said he was uncertain whether he would continue his online theological journal, Pontifications. However, he said he would soon write some articles for the weblog further explaining the reasons for his decision.
*ANOTHER RECENT CONVERT to Roman Catholicism is Russell R. Reno, associate professor of theology and ethics at Creighton University, author of The Ruins of the Church, and "a leading voice of post-liberalism" in ECUSA. "What my reception into the Catholic Church provided was deliverance from the temptation to navigate by the compass of a theory," Reno wrote in part. "The Catholic Church has countless failures, but of this I am certain: Catholic Christianity does not need to be underwritten by an idea...In the end, as an Episcopalian I needed a theory to stay put, and I came to realize that a theory is a thin thread easily broken. The Catholic Church needs no theories. She is the mother of theologies; she does not need to be propped up by theologies. As Newman put it in one of his Anglican essays, ?the Church of Rome preoccupies the ground.? She is a given, a primary substance within the economy of denominationalism."
*ENGLAND?S BISHOP OF CHELMSFORD, John Gladwin, was disinvited to visit the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies after the diocesan, Calvin Bess, learned that he was among a handful of U.K. bishops who declared continued sacramental fellowship with the pro-gay Anglican Churches in Canada and the U.S. Gladwin?s declaration also caused some of his own clergy to break sacramental ties with him. He had been due to visit Trinidad from May 23-June 6, during which time he was scheduled to preach at the Family Day observances on Corpus Christi and participate in other activities in the diocese. In withdrawing the invitation to Gladwin in an April 12 letter, Bess said that the Anglican province of the West Indies "has made its position on this issue very clear and has described its relationship with the churches of Canada and the [U.S.] as impaired." For his part, Gladwin has asserted that his solidarity with the U.S. and Canadian Churches was "entirely consonant" with the Anglican primates? February communiqu?. That document effectively suspended the North American Churches, but Gladwin countered that it "doesn?t require us to be out of communion with anyone."
*THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS AND STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE CHURCH OF THE WEST INDIES, led by prominent conservative, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, has also said it will not receive American and Canadian missionaries who support the blessing of same-sex unions or Bishop Robinson. Meeting in Barbados March 8-10, the two groups jointly endorsed a "policy statement requesting all bishops to ensure that permission to function will be restricted" to persons who accept the province?s "standard of teaching and practice," as expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Conference?s orthodox sexuality resolution.
*BOLIVIAN ANGLICAN BISHOP Frank Lyons has taken a few more ECUSA refugees under his wing. They include the Rev. Scott Woodstuff, an Ohio cleric who accepted a severance from St. Stephen?s, East Liverpool, and is now a missionary priest in Columbiana County, Ohio. There, he has started a church plant that is drawing people from three Episcopal congregations. Also in Ohio and under Lyons is the Rev. Dr. John Jorden, former rector of Grace Church, Mansfield. He is now involved with Good Shepherd Anglican Mission in Mansfield. He serves as well as adjunct professor of spiritual formation at Ashland Theological Seminary and teaches a doctoral class. n
Sources:The Living Church, The Associated Press, The Church of England Newspaper, VirtueOnline, Forward Now, Tuscaloosa News, Presbyterians Week, Anglican Outlook/Trinidad News, Midland Reporter-Telegram
Truce In South Carolina
At South Carolina?s All Saints?, Pawley?s Island?where the majority of members voted in 2004 to align themselves with the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA)?a Holy Week truce allowed members who remained in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina to use the old church for worship.
The minority remnant had been meeting in a school gymnasium while title to the property is adjudicated by the state courts. There, two cases are pending, involving three conservative parties?the diocese and All Saints? minority remnant, and the majority of All Saints?.
The two congregations agreed in Holy Week to an arrangement that allows them to function separately on the same property by dividing up use of the old church and the larger new church. The arrangement was to last through the 50-day Pentecost season, though there were hopes on both sides that it could be extended.
*THE 800-MEMBER ALL SAINTS?, PAWLEYS ISLAND is getting a new rector. AMiA?s Bishop Chuck Murphy, rector emeritus at All Saints?, will step down from more direct involvement with the parish later this year (while remaining its episcopal overseer). Succeeding him will be the Rev. Terrell L. Glenn, Jr. The new rector leaves behind the 400-member Church of the Apostles in Raleigh, North Carolina, which he started in 2000. Glenn left the Episcopal Church because of its "theological decay," and joined the AMiA, the U.S. mission overseen by the Anglican primates of Rwanda and South East Asia. All Saints? has been AMiA?s headquarters since its inception, and (as earlier noted) officially joined AMiA last year.n
Sources:Coastal Observer, VirtueOnline, Presbyterians Week
Diane Knippers, Defender Of
Christian Truth, Dies At 53
All believing Christians have lost an able "soldier" in the battle to defend the historic faith against potent challenges in mainline churches and society at large.
Diane LeMasters Knippers, a prominent Episcopalian who had led Washington?s Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) since 1993, died April 18 after a brave battle with colon cancer. She was 53.
Named by Time magazine as one of America?s 25 most influential Evangelicals, Mrs. Knippers rallied opposition to the liberal drift of mainline Protestant churches, supporting conservative renewal movements within them.
She was a member of the board of the American Anglican Council (AAC) and a key lay leader at Truro Church, Fairfax, a stalwart Evangelical parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. She also served on (among others) the Episcopal Church?s Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; the board of Five Talents, an Anglican micro-enterprise initiative; and the steering committee of the conservative Anglican Mainstream International.
Mrs. Knippers emerged as a respected voice in opposition to the U.S. Episcopal Church?s endorsement of homosexual practice, particularly the election and consecration of active homosexual V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, a development that turned an already-simmering conflict in the Anglican Communion into a crisis.
While she supported women?s ordination, she railed against radical feminist attempts to "re-imagine" Christianity by deconstructing basic doctrine.
Under her 12-year leadership, the IRD also continued its efforts to spotlight and end the persecution of Christians overseas, taking special interest in the suffering in the Sudan.
As well, the IRD reported what it saw as the leftist political activity of the National Council of Churches and the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, urging member churches to cease funding the ecumenical bodies.
In recent months, she had worked with the National Association of Evangelicals as co-editor (with Ron Sider) of Toward an Evangelical Public Policy, a political manifesto that urges conservative Christians to expand their policy agenda in Washington and beyond. The book?s March unveiling was Mrs. Knippers? last public appearance.
"She set an example of faithful Christian witness amidst church and political conflicts," said Alan Wisdom, IRD?s vice president. "She was firm in her conviction of God?s truth, and that firmness enabled her to show a great serenity and warmth toward others."
"Under her gentle but always brave leadership, IRD was very often the mouse that roared, terrifying the great grey elephants of national church bureaucracies into frantic panic," said Michael Novak, director of social and political studies at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and an IRD board member. "Calmly, Diane told the truth, and those who had been disguising suspect politics under cloaks of outward piety had to defend themselves in public, and often couldn?t."
In February, Mrs. Knippers was ranked by Time magazine as one of the nation?s "25 most influential evangelicals," alongside such personages as Billy Graham; James Dobson of Focus on the Family; prominent Christian commentator Charles Colson, the Watergate felon who founded a prison ministry; and the Rev. Rick Warren of The Purpose-Driven Life.
"IRD is starting to have the kind of impact that think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institution enjoy," Evangelical scholar Randall Balmer told Time in its February 7 cover story.
Born in Rushville, Indiana, and raised as the daughter of a United Methodist minister, Knippers graduated from Asbury College and the University of Tennessee. She joined IRD in 1982 after spending eight years at Good News, a conservative Methodist renewal group.
Mrs. Knippers fought for the historic faith right up until the last. Within weeks of her death, she traveled to Newry, Northern Ireland, to consult briefly with conservative primates (who in February took initial disciplinary steps against the Episcopal and Canadian Anglican Churches), even while those same leaders prayed for her health with the laying on of hands. When, in a speech to fellow U.S. bishops, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold likened Knippers and five other U.S. conservative leaders who visited Newry during the Primates? Meeting to "the Devil," Knippers wrote an article calling for Griswold?s resignation. Just days before she died, she had taken leave to write a book.
Doubtless at her own instruction, Mrs. Knippers? packed April 23 funeral service at Truro Church was saturated in word and music with the glorious Christian message of redemption, resurrection and eternal life through Jesus Christ.
"Death is not the last word" for a Christian, said Truro rector, the Rev. Martyn Minns, a belief he reminded is supported by the some 500 witnesses who saw the risen Christ, and by the unlikely existence of the Church itself.
It was therefore a time to mourn, but also to rejoice for, an extraordinary "soldier in the army of the Lord," one who also served as "standard-bearer" in the fight for Truth, said Minns.
In military tradition, he noted, when a standard-bearer falls, someone else must come to take it up. When he asked who among those present would now raise the standard in Diane?s stead, the whole congregation rose.
Mrs. Knippers is survived by her husband, Edward Knippers, an artist who has produced "striking paintings of Christ and other biblical figures," as one writer put it; her parents and a brother.n
Sources included IRD,Christianity Today, Baptist Press, The Washington Times
Veteran Anglican Reporter,
Dorothy Mills Parker, Called Home
Dorothy Mills Parker, a Washington journalist who reported on Anglican affairs for over three decades, died May 18 in Alexandria, Virginia.
Mrs. Parker, 94, had been injured in an attack at Goodwin House, the apartment house where she resided, on January 9, and had been in ill health since then.
Mrs. Parker was a correspondent for The Living Church Episcopal weekly magazine from the 1960s to 1995, and had also written for The Washington Post, The Washington Evening Star, The Washington Times, and THE CHRISTIAN CHALLENGE. She covered many major events at Washington National Cathedral?a venue for both national and religious functions?as well as in England. Among the latter were three decennial Lambeth Conferences of Anglican bishops, Church of England Synods, the investiture of Prince Charles in Wales, and a papal visit to Canterbury Cathedral.
Consequent to her work, Mrs. Parker had a vast knowledge of, and circle of acquaintances within, the Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion. She had a close friendship and correspondence with two Archbishops of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey and Robert Runcie. At the 1988 Lambeth Conference, Archbishop Runcie presented Mrs. Parker to the Queen.
She also worked on the staff of Coventry Cathedral for three summers, and as academic secretary to the dean of Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, for 12 years.
A devotee of choral music, she sang with the Cathedral Choral Society for 42 years from its inception in 1941. She also was the organization?s press officer, trustee, historian, and founder of its women?s board. She was a longtime member of Washington?s St. Paul?s, K Street.
In 1992, in light of Mrs. Parker?s long and faithful service in reporting on Anglican matters, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin.
She was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, where she was a member of St. John?s Cathedral. She was educated at Florida State University, then moved to Washington, D.C., where she spent the next 60 years. She moved to Goodwin House in 1998.
Mrs. Parker is survived by a sister, Elizabeth Mills Phillips; a nephew, and two great nieces, all of Pennsylvania.
At her May 25 funeral service at St. Paul?s, the rector, the Rev. Andrew Sloane, lauded Mrs. Parker as?above all?a participant in, and supporter and defender of, the Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Interment was to be in Jacksonville, where a memorial service was being planned at a date to be named.
Ed. Note: Dorothy was a dear friend and colleague, whose keen mind and interest in church affairs was never dulled by advancing age. May Light Perpetual shine upon her.n
Sources includedThe Living Church, The Washington Post
Conservative Leaders Meet With
Bush On Common Concerns
At the invitation of the White House, a group of 20 religious leaders, including four conservative Episcopal Church (ECUSA) bishops, met with President George W. Bush on May 3 in Washington, D.C.
In attendance were Bishops James Stanton of Dallas, Keith Ackerman of Quincy (IL), Peter Beckwith of Springfield (IL), and Daniel Herzog of Albany. Other Episcopalians present were: The Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council; Sharon Stockdale of the Episcopal Church Missionary Community; and Georgette Forney, president of NOEL, formerly known as the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life. Also present were leaders from the Methodist, United Church of Christ, Baptist and Lutheran denominations.
Bush led a discussion that addressed abortion, challenges in Iraq and the Middle East, Social Security, and the value of faith-based initiatives for the American people.
Stanton commended Bush for his work against AIDS in Africa.
Forney said, "As a woman who regrets her abortion and works with many others who feel the same, I worry about the emotional and spiritual consequences for those who choose euthanasia for a loved one or support the destruction of embryos. We especially need to help women so they can choose to have their babies and care for them."
As Marine One landed outside to take Bush to Air Force One for a commitment in Mississippi, Ackerman asked Bush if they could pray for him before he left. The President accepted his offer, and those one either side of him, Ackerman and Forney, laid their hands on him as all prayed.n
Sources: NOEL,Episcopal News Service
Williams Frames Issues In
Run-up To British Elections
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams seemed to be a very busy man in the lead-up to Britain?s recent general election, speaking out such subjects as the environment, economic polices, crime and recidivism, and marriage and family.
In an open letter, he urged party leaders to broaden their campaign focus beyond fear-generating topics like terrorism, asylum and immigration, and crime. He asked them to address:
? Practical initiatives to "halt and reverse our collective lack of international responsibility for the environment."
? What can be done about the "long-term effects of irresponsible international economic policies and priorities, which serve to reinforce the instability that feeds violence in poorer nations."
? Ways to reduce the "staggeringly high levels of re-offending" in Britain?s penal system. "Do we want punishment to change anything?" Williams asked. "Are we investing enough in the possibilities of ?restorative justice? and in first class education and rehabilitation facilities throughout the prison service?"
? Issues of marriage and family, with a focus on the link between family breakdown and crime. Dr. Williams said that there are "a growing number of young people who are severely emotionally undernourished and culturally alienated...The climate of chronic family instability, sexual chaos and exploitation, drug abuse and educational disadvantage is a lethal cocktail. To call for more public support for stable families and marriage is not in this context a bit of middle-class, Middle England nostalgia; it?s life and death."
IN RELATED REMARKS, Archbishop Williams condemned a culture of parenting that relies on the use of child care and putting children in front of videos, while parents get on with their busy lives.
He also said that the "haste to consumerize and sexualize children" had become "more and more hectic" over the past 20 or so years. He stressed that adults needed to make choices that allowed children to enjoy a childhood.
"If we want to give children a chance of experiencing childhood... as a time to learn, play, grow in an environment of stability and security, we have to face the demands of being adults ourselves," he added.n
Sources includedChurch Times, The Daily Telegraph
Allied Soldiers Lost In
Borneo Death March Honored
In SE Asian Church Window
By David W. Virtue
On January 28, 1945, when the Japanese realized that the war was lost and the Allies were closing in, some 2,400 emaciated Australian and British POWs were force-marched from Sandakan, Sabah, in three separate treks, to the village of Ranau in the jungle, 250 kilometers away, under the shadows of Mount Kinabalu on the northern tip of Borneo.
Those prisoners who were unable to walk were shot. The march route was through virgin jungle infested with crocodiles, snakes and wild pigs, and some of the prisoners had no boots. Rations were less than minimal. The march took nearly a year to complete.
Once the surviving prisoners arrived in Ranau, they were put to work carrying 20 kilogram sacks of flour over very hilly terrain to Paginatan, over 40 kilometers away.
By the end of July, 1945, there were no prisoners left in Ranau.
Only six survived what became known as the "death march." Of those who died, most were never found. The six that survived did so because they were able to escape from the camp into the jungle at Ranau and were cared for by local natives. No British prisoners survived.
Most historians consider this to be the worst atrocity ever suffered by Australian soldiers, comparing it to the atrocities of the Burma Railway, where fewer Australian POWs lost their lives.
IN APRIL THIS YEAR, at the 117-year old colonial St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in Sandakan, a beautiful, 1,000-piece stained glass window was dedicated to those who fell during that gruesome march. The dedication took place in a ceremony mixing Anglican liturgy, the national anthems of Sabah, Australia, Great Britain and Malaysia and a beautifully rendered anthem, We Have Won, that brought tears to the eyes of some 100 Australians, relatives of those who died in that long, terrible march.
In his sermon, the Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung, Anglican Archbishop of South East Asia, said the death march was a dark page in the history of World War II, and compared the cry of many of the Christians who suffered on that march to Jesus? cry of dereliction, "My God, my God why has thou forsaken me?"
"The deep cry of Jesus on the cross before he died was a message from the heart of God," he said. "[Over 2,400] men were made to march through hell, and at the end only six survived, all [of them] escapees. It was a dark and shameful record of the tyranny of human sin in human history. Many of those men were Christians, and in their darkest hours their faith sustained them. Their faith became stronger as their body weight shrunk, their faith rose in glorious strength. Many cried, my God why have you forsaken me? The only comfort comes from the Lord Jesus himself.
"Out of the deep cry of the cross came the glorious resurrection. Out of the death march in Sabah we have this testimony of these windows in St. Michael?s Church. This shows what is possible. [Though it was] so desperate at that time, we are here to celebrate God?s own victory. He can change and transform human life," said the visibly moved archbishop.
"We declare war is evil. All those who commit such atrocities against humanity are evil and we will have nothing to do with it and them. These windows are a testimony of the deep cry of the hearts of all those [who live] in all those regions. Our God is a loving God."
The Archbishop told the more than 500 assembled, who included a large Australian contingent and the Australian High Commissioner, that there was some human care, decency and love despite an impossible situation.
He cited the compassion of Kaingal Suman bin Gadalip, an aging Malay who carried the Flag of Malaysia in this historic ceremony. He was described as a patriot who hid, nursed and delivered to safety three of the six survivors of the death march.
The archbishop praised the talents of Australian artist Philip Handel, who crafted the Window of Remembrance from 1001 pieces of glass of different colors and hues.
In his peroration, Yong said, "We dedicate these Windows of Remembrance erected for the POWs who died in the death march in World War II, and give thanksgiving for the heroic acts of many locals who helped the POWs." He expressed appreciation for the generous gifts of many who made the project?s completion possible.
In another part of the city of Sandakan, an Australian memorial was erected at what was the Prisoner of War Camp in Taman Rimba. It honors the survivors, POWs, local civilians who helped by clandestinely feeding the prisoners, and soldiers who perished at Sandakan and during the death marches into the jungle.
At Labuan, Borneo, there is a war cemetery, containing the graves of the thousand men whose bodies were recovered. There is also a monument there with more than a thousand other names engraved on it?those who have no known grave. To some, the Sandakan death march is Australia?s "Holocaust."
When, in World War II, it became certain that Japan would have to surrender, extraordinary efforts were made to protect those responsible for Japan?s atrocities, including Emperor Hirohito.
On August 20, 1945, the senior Japanese officer in charge of prisoner of war and civilian internment camps ordered camp guards to destroy all incriminating evidence of atrocities or brutal treatment of prisoners of war and civilians, and advised guilty camp guards to transfer or flee.n
Ed. Note: The foregoing is among several articles Mr. Virtue wrote as a result of an extensive visit in April to the Anglican province of South East Asia. In upcoming issues,TCC hopes to present a few other of his interesting reports from the Asian province, whose four dioceses are "all vigorously Evangelical" and working creatively to preach the gospel in a religiously and ethnically pluralistic context. (The province also upholds catholic order: women may serve as non-eucharistic pastors/evangelists but are not ordained to the priesthood). While in the region, Mr. Virtue met with provincial leaders and witnessed church life and mission in the province in urban and rural situations.
Schiavo Case Unmasks
The Positivist Demon
Analysis By The Rev. Samuel L. Edwards
"If God does not exist, everything is permitted."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky,The Brothers Karamazov
On April 2, the most articulate spokesman for a "culture of life"?Pope John Paul II?passed quietly and with integrity through the gates to larger life. A few days earlier, in a hospice in central Florida, another catholic Christian had been forced through those same gates by a judicial system that appears largely to have lost its moorings to the classical and Christian foundations that gave birth to it.
For those with eyes to see, the judicially sanctioned (and enforced) starvation death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo has revealed the uncomfortable fact that legal positivism?the same philosophy that drove the corruption of justice in Nazi Germany?did not perish in the rubble of the "Thousand-Year Reich." It?unlike increasing numbers of its victims in abortuaries and nursing homes from Amsterdam to Anaheim?is alive and well in many of the courts, legal systems, and organs of culture in the western world.
That this should be so is not surprising. Though natural law jurisprudence can boast the most eloquent of advocates?among them Robert George of Princeton University and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia?it appears to have been reduced to minority status in the American legal and judicial community. In view of the historically verifiable fact that the American constitutional order only rests securely on its original foundation of natural law philosophy (largely mediated through such Christian luminaries as Locke, Blackstone, and Jonathan Edwards), it is no wonder that the legal and judicial system seems on the point of sliding irretrievably into inhuman monstrosity.
IT IS IMPORTANT at this point to pause and define some terms and concepts. To the question, "From where does the law originate?" there are essentially two answers: "From God?s goodness," or "from man?s will." The first is the classical Judeo-Christian answer. Regardless of the fact that there is more than one school of thought concerning natural and divine law and the relationship between them, it is an answer that commits the orthodox Christian to some form of natural law jurisprudence.
The second answer is that given by the two basic forms of humanist philosophy: utilitarianism, which defines justice as that which benefits the greatest number of people, and positivism, which?because it implicitly or explicitly denies the possibility of knowing objective truth?defines justice as that which is willed by the lawgiving authority, whether that be monarchic, democratic, aristocratic, or judicial. While both utilitarianism and positivism repose the authority of the law in the will of the lawgiver rather than in its conformity to the objective goodness of the Creator, it is positivism that has proved to be most dangerous, not least because of its ability to assume the more humane coloration of utilitarianism.
The fact remains, however, that the fundamental assumption of both positivism and utilitarianism is one that would have been recognized and endorsed by every blood-drenched tyrant of the centuries past: One of them, Mao Zedong, famously put it this way: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." In other words, might makes right.
The organs of American society in general and its legal system in particular have assumed what is often advertised as a "values-neutral" approach to the solution of policy difficulties, including those having to do with questions of life and death. The intent of such an approach is to make moral decisions without reference to any standards beyond those set by humanity itself. From this point of view, people are not supposed to allow their allegedly "private" convictions about the nature of reality to influence their decisions in the public arena. If they do, they are seen as a threat to the social and political order, as persons trying to "impose their values" on an unwilling body politic.
This is functional atheism: The existence of a transcendent and immanent God, even if real, is considered a matter for a privatized realm of values, which is held to have no genuine or desirable connection with the "real world" of facts. It is also an exercise in self-deception: Since man is in his nature meant to worship, if he denies and will not worship the true God?the God who was made man through whom alone genuine humanity is achieved?he will worship idols of his own devising. And as a consequence of his idolatry?for we become what we worship?he will become less than human.
Such a viewpoint produces what C.S. Lewis called "men without chests"?not only functionaries such as Judge Robert Greer of the Schiavo case, but Congressmen and Senators of both parties who are "personally opposed" to abortion, and a nominally Catholic Supreme Court Justice (Kennedy in Lawrence v. Texas) who can write nonsense about liberty in its most profound sense being "the right to define one?s own concept of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." At its worst, it produces nice men who love their wives, their dogs and their children but who, when at work, can condone or even order actions which violate the dignity and take the lives of innocents. (And when it is so much as suggested that the actions of such people might lead to disciplinary actions from the churches of which they are members, there is loud and plenteous indignation from their fellow secularists.)
All this the long agony of Terri Schindler-Schiavo brought into focus. At this stage, the awareness of it may be largely inchoate and more sensed than understood, but it is there. It is the task of catholic Christians and all others who stand with them to sharpen that awareness and carry it into socially transformative action.
It might just be that in God?s providence, the very public but very different passings of Terri Schindler-Schiavo and of John Paul II, followed by the election of a Pope no less orthodox, devout, and intellectually brilliant (even if initially he may seem to lack his predecessor?s rock-star charisma) will serve both as incentive and encouragement for Christians who are determined not simply to retain a toehold in contemporary American culture, but to actively effect its return to what the late Russell Kirk called the roots of American order. Those roots are sunk deep in a classical vision of justice and good government baptized with the biblical doctrine of man before God.
It is too soon, perhaps, to tell if this will happen. However, it is worth remembering that, while Ivan Karamazov was surely correct in his observation that "if God does not exist, everything is permitted," the Archangel Gabriel was more so when he told the Blessed Virgin Mary, "with God, nothing shall be impossible." The dry bones of American jurisprudence may yet live. n
THE REV. SAMUEL EDWARDS is the former executive director of Forward in Faith, North America, a priest of the Anglican Province of Christ the King, and the rector of Holy Comforter, Montevallo, Alabama.
UM High Court Review Awaited
On Reinstated Lesbian Cleric
Conservative U.S. United Methodists?stunned by a church appeals court?s recent reinstatement of a defrocked lesbian minister?now look to the Judicial Council, their church?s "supreme court," to reverse the decision.
Faithful Methodists breathed a sigh of relief when a church trial court last December upheld Methodist policy in the case of the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud, a self-admitted, active homosexual who was found guilty and stripped of her ministerial credentials. The UM Book of Discipline states that clergy must show "fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness," and that "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" may not serve as clergy. It also declares that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Christian teachings."
On April 29, however, the UM Church?s Northeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals voted 8-1 to restore the credentials of Stroud, an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
While admitting that evidence of Stroud?s active lesbianism was "uncontradicted and overwhelming," the committee reportedly based its reversal on its claim that the church had not defined what "practicing homosexual" means, though the Rev. Dr. James V. Heidinger II, president of the conservative UM group, Good News, easily pointed out the definition in the Discipline.
The committee also claimed that the church has never clearly defined the term "status." The word appears in the church?s constitution, which includes a broad pledge not to discriminate on the basis of "race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition."
As well, the appeals court asserted that the lower court erred by treating the church?s ban on gay ministers as an ethics rule for clergy rather than a matter of "doctrine."
The appellate ruling was "an ill-reasoned, obtuse and tortured attempt to avoid applying the plain, unequivocal meaning of the scriptures and church law," said Mark Tooley, a UM spokesman for Washington?s Institute on Religion and Democracy. "It represents the fading voice of a declining, elite minority within United Methodism that is still enthralled by the failed, revisionist theologies of the last century."
Stroud, 35, who has been serving as a lay employee of her Germantown parish since her defrocking, was cautiously hopeful after winning her appeal, but said she would not resume her ordained ministry until the Judicial Council reviews the appellate decision later this year. Conservative leaders believe the ruling will be rejected at that time. The high court has previously insisted on enforcing the church?s teachings about the sexual conduct of its clergy.
For the moment, however, Stroud has the spotlight, and took advantage of it. In a speech to hundreds of supporters at Philadelphia?s historic Christ Church on May 1, she called for an end to discrimination against gays.
"Other faith traditions out there have tried to shut us down and tell us we?re not worthy," Stroud told the crowd. "I pray for a day when no one will experience discrimination."
Her appearance at the interfaith service was part of a commemoration of a 1965 event in Philadelphia that some believe was the nation?s first gay rights demonstration.
Inevitably, the May 1 service also included a sermon by the Episcopal Church?s first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson. "We hear God?s voice and it says you are my beloved," he was quoted as saying in part.
*BISHOP ROBINSON also recently served as keynote speaker at an "interfaith prayer breakfast" sponsored by Planned Parenthood, the nation?s largest abortion provider. While saying that abortion should be limited to extreme situations, he said Planned Parenthood should target "people of faith" to promote abortion rights and comprehensive sex education. The defense against religious opponents of abortion must be "a religious defense...We must use people of faith to counter the faith-based arguments against us," he said.n
Sources: IRD, Good News,The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Associated Press
Oregon High Court Nullifies
3,000 Homosexual "Marriages"
Developments Seen In Five Other States
The Oregon Supreme Court has invalidated 3,000 homosexual "marriages" conducted a year ago in the county that includes most of the city of Portland, saying the county could not subvert state matrimonial law.
Multnomah County officials allowed the some 3,000 gay "marriages" around the same time that such ceremonies were taking place in San Francisco; those purported unions also have since been judicially nullified.
Multnomah County "did not have authority to issue the licenses for the marriages in question," said the unanimous opinion written by Oregon Supreme Court Justice W. Michael Gillette. The opinion reversed a lower court decision.
The high court sidestepped the issue of marital benefits for same-sex couples, which it said "is not properly before us."
But it ruled that Oregon?s new constitutional marriage amendment is legal and enforceable. The amendment, passed by voters in November, says that "only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage."
Still, this may not be the Oregon high court?s last word on the amendment. In January, the group Basic Rights Oregon filed a lawsuit challenging the amendment?s constitutionality.
IN MASSACHUSETTS, where some 5,000 same-sex "marriages" have already taken place, the leader of a traditional values group went before the state Supreme Judicial Court May 2 to ask that it halt such weddings until a public vote is taken on a marriage amendment.
State lawmakers were in the process of amending the state constitution to define marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman, said lawyer Chester Darling, head of Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights Inc. Darling represents C. Joseph Doyle, a leader of the Catholic Action League, in the lawsuit. The Massachusetts amendment must be passed a second time by lawmakers before it can go to voters in 2006. Legislative leaders say it may come up in the fall.
Massachusetts residents have the right to vote on marriage without having the high court "essentially declare the outcome before the vote," Darling said. "We?re asking the court to defer to our constitution and let it work."
This was the second time Darling presented similar arguments to the court that found a constitutional right to same-sex "marriage" in a 4-3 opinion in November 2003, but the first time those arguments were heard by the whole court.
*NEBRASKA?S SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN was declared unconstitutional May 12 by a federal judge, who contended that it was too broad. The Nebraska amendment, which state voters approved by 70 percent in 2000, prohibited not only same-sex "marriage" but domestic partnerships and civil unions. The decision was thought likely to fuel the drive for a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. constitution.
*KANSAS HAS BECOME THE 19TH STATE to adopt a state constitutional amendment defining marriage in traditional terms. Seventy percent of voters favored the amendment. A state law banning homosexual "marriage" has long been on the books. But because of recent court rulings where such laws have been challenged, legislators and their supporters pushed for a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage against activist judges.
*IN CALIFORNIA, a law banning same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional in March by a trial judge in San Francisco. The judge compared the law to archaic statutes that once blocked inter-racial marriage and promoted "separate but equal" segregation. If upheld on appeal, the decision could lead to California becoming the second state in the nation, after Massachusetts, in which gays and lesbians have the same access to marriage licenses as heterosexual couples. Gay rights advocates heralded the ruling as a milestone, but many on both sides of the issue agreed that the ruling probably will move the fight over same-sex marriage from the courts to another battlefield. An effort was already underway to amend the state?s constitution to ban homosexual "marriage." The measure is likely to have considerable support, since California voters reinforced state laws banning such marriages in a 2000 ballot initiative.
*CONNECTICUT?S LEGISLATURE has passed and Governor M. Jodi Rell (R) has signed a bill making the state the second to establish civil unions for same-sex couples, and the first to do so without being directed by a court.
*THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT gave initial approval in April to a new law allowing homosexual couples to "marry" in civil ceremonies, to the outrage of church authorities who say the move will harm society and who urged mayors not to perform the gay weddings. At least one mayor, Francisco Javier Leon de la Riva of Valladolid, has announced that he will refuse to apply the new law, and other mayors appeared poised to follow suit. But many conservative mayors of big cities, such as Madrid, said they would respect the law.n
Sources includedThe Washington Times, The Washington Post, Presbyterians Week, LifeSite News
First Signs Of Muslim
Nearly four years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it appears that a few Muslim clerics are finally starting to take a tougher stand against the bin Laden-type extremists who seem to have hijacked Islam.
In March, Muslim clerics in Spain issued what they say is the world?s first fatwa, or Islamic edict, condemning Osama bin Laden as an "apostate."
The pronouncement issued through the Islamic Commission of Spain came as Spaniards remembered the victims of multiple train bombings a year earlier. Muslim terrorists said the bombings, which killed 191 persons, were undertaken on al Qaeda?s behalf, in retaliation for Spanish troop deployments in Iraq. Clerics who supported the fatwa said they were acting with the support of Muslim leaders in other countries, such as Morocco, Algeria and Libya.
"The terrorist acts of Osama bin Laden and his organization al Qaeda...are totally banned and must be roundly condemned as part of Islam," the fatwa said, citing the Koran as its authority. "Inasmuch as Osama bin Laden and his organization defend terrorism as legal and try to base it on the Koran...they are committing the crime of ?istihlal? and thus become apostates that should not be considered Muslims or treated as such."
The Arabic word istihlal refers to the act of making up one?s own laws.
The Islamic Commission of Spain is the main body representing about three-fourths of the nation?s mosques.
Mansur Escudero, the Commission?s secretary-general, said that, after the fatwa was released, e-mail messages started flooding in immediately, numbering at least 1,000 shortly after the fact. He said: "The tone was nearly all the same: ?It?s about time someone did it. Bravo!?"
THE FATWA highlights "a wider, critical dialogue emerging across the Islamic world," said The Associated Press.
"The long and painful silence of moderate theologians and experts in Islam jurisprudence who had been bought off or intimidated into silence is finally started to break apart," said Khaled Abou El Fadl, an authority on Islamic law at the University of California, Los Angeles. "We are seeing signs of a counter-jihad."
"The long-simmering internal debate over political violence in Islamic cultures is swelling, with seminars...and a raft of newspaper columns breaking previous taboos by suggesting that the problem lies in the way Islam is being interpreted," The New York Times reported not long ago.
Any "counter-jihad" still faces plenty of resistance, of course. Notably, as well, response to the fatwa by Spain?s highest Muslim authority was dominated by those outside the Middle East, seemingly confirming assessments that the centers of moderate influence reside outside traditional Muslim areas. Still, Escudero thought the response provided evidence that "the Muslim world is tired of the harm that radicals and terrorists are doing to Islam."
This now-more-vocalized message, however, risks even more friction with Islam?s radical fringe, who have long used their own Koranic interpretations to justify attacks on non-Muslims and others.
A group calling itself al-Qaeda in Iraq mocked the Spanish fatwa. "Terrorizing enemies of God is our faith and religion, which is taught to us by our Koran," declared a statement purportedly posted by the group on an extremist Islamic website March 12.
Adding to the difficulty is that the Koran is open to interpretations on many levels, said AP. For example, on the subject of suicide attacks, most Islamic scholars denounce taking one?s life, citing the Koranic dictum: "Do not kill yourself."
But deep divisions occur over what constitutes justified "marytrdom," especially in light of Koranic statements hailing martyrs and calling non-Muslims "owners of hell fire." The debate is not at all new. But in recent decades, some moderates felt that publicly opposing radicals would harm Islamic unity, an opening that allowed the vocal militant minority to prevail.
"Radicals learned long ago the power of trying to interpret the Koran in their favor. Moderates are now rushing to do the same," said Azzaz Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London. "This battle gets down to the very essence of what it means to be Muslim."n
Sources:The Washington Times, The Associated Press
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