Monday, 31 January 2011

Church must make women bishops, say MPs

The Government is being asked to remove the Church of England's exemption from equality laws if it does not end the bar to women being made bishops.

A group of influential MPs will tomorrow call for Parliament to intervene over the historic reform as fears grow that the Church will reject plans allowing female bishops.

The cross-party group, including former ministers Frank Field and Stephen Timms, and Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, is concerned that the General Synod, the Church's parliament, may not pass legislation designed to end the glass ceiling for women clergy.

Traditionalists believe that a rise in the number of opponents of female priests to the Synod has improved their chances of blocking the law, which can only pass if it receives a two-thirds majority in the houses of laity, clergy and bishops.

Many of them feel that the current legislation does not provide sufficient concessions to those who cannot accept women as bishops.

However, Mr Field has tabled an early day motion, which could abolish the Church's current exemption from equality laws relating to gender discrimination and ultimately force it to consecrate women. Read more

Friday, 28 January 2011

Uganda Daily Monitor: Can we talk honestly about homosexuality?

David Kato, a gay rights activist who campaigned against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and who sued a local tabloid last year after it named him as being homosexual, was killed in his home this week.

Police say they are investigating the circumstances of his death and it is not yet clear whether this was a homophobic attack in which Mr Kato was targeted for his sexual orientation or his thoughts about the matter.
Whatever the motive behind the killing, this incident reminds us of the homophobia that is widespread in our country and society – and the deadly consequences of not dealing with it.

Homosexuality is illegal under Ugandan law and the Anti Homosexuality Bill prescribes harsher punishments, including the death penalty for sodomy.

While such legislation might serve as a deterrent, it will not eliminate homosexuality and might cement the discrimination of sexual minorities.

The homosexuality question in Uganda has two major flaws. First is that a lot of the debate is shouted down from extreme positions of moral self-righteousness; as a result there is little common understanding among those who oppose gay rights and those who advocate for them.

Secondly, a lot of the debate is carried out or influenced by foreign actors – both in favour of and against homosexuality. Read more

Archbishop condemns murder of Ugandan gay human rights activist

"The brutal murder of David Kato Kisule, a gay human rights activist, is profoundly shocking. Our prayers and deep sympathy go out for his family and friends - and for all who live in fear for their lives. Whatever the precise circumstances of his death, which have yet to be determined, we know that David Kato Kisule lived under the threat of violence and death. No one should have to live in such fear because of the bigotry of others." Read more

Can Christianity and Islam tolerate each other? A question of absolute truth...

Bookmark and Share

Can Christianity and Islam tolerate each other? A question of absolute truth...

Posted by Laurence, 07/01/2011
Christianity Islam Debate  

What happens when two different religions claim to know absolute truth about God?
What happens when these claims differ or oppose one another?
Can tolerance and acceptance happen successfully between the two religions?
You are invited to attend an exciting and live debate on Saturday 5th February at 7.30 pm at Gunnersbury Baptist Church.
Entrance is open to everyone and is free of charge.

Pair charged over 'gay excution leaflet' in first British 'sexual hatred' case

Two men are due to appear in court charged with stirring up hatred due to sexual orientation in the first such case in Britain.

Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, are to appear before magistrates in Derby accused of handing out leaflets calling for homosexuals to be executed.

It is the first prosecution since laws outlawing homophobia came into force last March.

The pair were yesterday charged with distributing the leaflet, titled “The Death Penalty?”, outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July last year.

They are also accused of placing the leaflets through local letterboxes during the same month, the Crown Prosecution Service said. Read more

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Anglican Communion Primates arrive in Dublin, Ireland for meeting

Primates from across the Anglican Communion arrived today at the Emmaus Retreat and Conference Centre in Dublin for the first day of their six-day Primates' Meeting.

The Primates, who are the senior bishops or archbishops of a province of the Anglican family of churches, were invited from all 38 Provinces. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, was also invited to allow the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to fulfil his role as the President of the meeting.

Several Primates, including Archbishop Maurício José Araújo de Andrade Primate of Brazil & Bishop of Brasilia, said they were looking forward to a positive meeting.

“It is important that in this meeting dialogue continues between the different parts of the Anglican Communion,” he said. “If it is possible to sit together with different ecumenical and interfaith partners, how much more do we need to continue to sit down and dialogue with bishops from other parts of the Communion.”

The Dean of the Province of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama* said he believed God would enable the Primates to remain in unity and to love one another as the body of Christ. Read more

WALTHAM FOREST: Churches tight-lipped over Catholic move

SECRECY surrounds three Anglican churches in the borough which have reportedly decided to join a new branch of Catholicism - but are yet to tell their superiors of the move.

This week the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood announced that six congregations in the UK - including one in Leytonstone and two in Walthamstow - were definitely going to join its 'Ordinariate' grouping.

The new branch, which was first announced in 2009, is being established for disillusioned Anglicans following rows over issues such as women bishops, gay clergy, and same-sex blessings.

But the Church of England says it is not aware of any decision having been made by the three churches and that no priests in Waltham Forest have yet resigned.

Meanwhile the diocese of Brentwood has refused to release the names of the churches or the clergymen who are involved. Read more

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Alien life deemed impossible by analysis of 500 planets

There is no hope of finding alien life in space because conditions on all other planets are too hostile, a leading astronomer has claimed.

Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard, made the claim that we are alone in the universe after an analysis of the 500 planets discovered so far showed all were hostile to life.

Dr Smith said the extreme conditions found so far on planets discovered outside out Solar System are likely to be the norm, and that the hospitable conditions on Earth could be unique. Read more

(Ed: But see here for somewhat 'off' astronomical reporting from the same paper!)

Frontline cop in Afghanistan reveals battle to bring law and order to badlands

AN officer policing the Afghanistan frontline has revealed a chilling epidemic of ruthless murders and sexual slavery in the country's tribal badlands.

Military policeman Billy Hayes was sent to the deadliest part of the ravaged nation to mould new recruits and build a new force to take on Taliban fanatics.

He discovered a crime-ridden wasteland littered by roadside bombs where warlords kidnapped boys for their sexual pleasures.

But his tour of duty scored a series of spectacular successes, including:

Capturing a serial killer who wiped out an entire family, including two girls aged just three and five years old. Read more

Chelmsford priests to join Catholic Church

Seven Anglican priests and 300 members of six congregations are to join a new section of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood says.

The move involves three parishes in Essex, and three in east London.

It is the largest influx to date into the Ordinariate, which Pope Benedict established for Church of England members unhappy over issues such as the ordination of women.

Three former Anglican bishops have been appointed to lead the Ordinariate. Read more

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Darlington church: We'll defect over women bishops

THE simmering row at the heart of the Church of England over women clergy boiled over last night as a North-East congregation announced it planned to defect to the Catholic church.

The congregation at St James the Great, in Darlington, is to hold a public meeting next month to discuss entering the Ordinariate – a special branch of the Catholic church for Anglicans who convert to Catholicism.

The meeting will be addressed by Father Keith Newton, former Anglican bishop of Richborough who, with two other ex-Church of England bishops, was ordained as a Catholic priest earlier this month and made head of the Ordinariate. Read more

Monday, 17 January 2011

New Bishop of Reading announced

He is the Right Reverend Andrew Proud, and is currently the area bishop of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

And on that issue, this is what he has written in the past:

[...] Having made a plea for openness, kindness and respect[lxvi] we still need to assert that the culture of the Church is different to the culture of the world. As the Latin American, Roman Catholic symposium on evangelisation put it, "The inculturation of faith and the evangelization of culture go together as an inseparable pair, in which there is no hint of syncretism: this is the genuine meaning of inculturation."[lxvii] The Church must not be afraid to reassert its core beliefs and values, for the sake of the Gospel, even if many in the North, watching news reports of the Lambeth Conference on their television screens, will understand it to be a debate about human rights and the right of individuals to pursue personal happiness.[lxviii] Increasingly, it looks to me, from here, that the promotion of same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly homosexual individuals, are both the desperate, last-ditch attempts by a sinking Church to stay afloat in an otherwise alien and hostile culture. That, it seems to me, quoting Christopher Clapham, is about seamanship rather than navigation; staying afloat rather than getting anywhere.[lxix] For me, his whole issue is about mission and experience has taught me that, to have an effective mission, we need to be faithful to our apostolic faith in all its fullness.

Thus, I believe that much more is at risk here than personal happiness and self-fulfilment. What is at stake is nothing less than the credibility of the Christian Gospel and of the Anglican Church itself, both of which impact upon the effectiveness of her mission. It is a simple matter of fact that the Anglican Communion is no longer the preserve of the global North. Historical precedence no longer gives those of us from the North the right to direct what the rest of the Communion shall believe or practice. The Anglican Communion is now as much their Church as ours. The voices of the global South[lxx] will make uncomfortable listening for many in the North, but we should all listen. For, as Kwame Bediako suggests, the global South might indeed be in a position to secure the future of Christianity in the North. Africa has changed my own discipleship and renewed within me the sense of call and commitment I felt as an ordinand. It is my prayer, for the sake of the land and people of my birth, that Bediako will be proved to have been right.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

It’s Broken. Fix it! The Anglican Communion Institute on the Primates' Meeting

... What is the truly serious area of concern is this: the claim that, given the character of e.g. the Archbishop of Canter bury, there is nothing that can be done about the Meeting. The Archbishop of Canterbury is held to be an immovable force, impregnable and beyond challenge. The effect of this is to give him an authority virtually beyond the scale of the Bishop of Rome. A council of the church, if we are right in holding that the Primates’ Meeting is such, is not really a council and cannot be, according to this view. The will of the Primates cannot, must not, be capable of expression. The iron hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury is beyond the reach of fellow Primates. If Hilary were to appear in Dublin as the Athanasius of the West, in the very nature of the case he would have to be defeated and sent packing.

It matters little in such an understanding of the situation whether ten, one, or twenty were not to appear. If the Primates Meeting is not really a Council of the Church and if the Archbishop of Canterbury has the power to defeat any influence from those fellow Bishops whose actual leadership and authority in the Provinces is not in question, then it must be renamed. It is The Archbishop of Canterbury Meeting. And if this is the true state of affairs, will the Primates as a total body accede to this? Read more

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Ex-Anglican bishops ordained as Catholics

Three former Anglican bishops, unhappy with the ordination of women, have been ordained as Roman Catholic priests at Westminster Cathedral.

Their ordination signals the inauguration of a special section of the Catholic Church for such Anglicans.

Keith Newton, Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst will take up roles in the section known as the Ordinariate.

Father Newton has been chosen as leader of what is to be known as the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Read more

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Joint Statement on the Ordinariate from the Bishops of Chelmsford and Brentwood

Dear friends in Christ,

As bishops charged with responsibility to uphold the unity of God’s church on earth
we are painfully aware of the divisions that still impair the unity that Christ longs for and for which he shed his blood. This is not just a unity within the church – though we long for this to be revealed – but a unity for all God’s people and between the families of the nations.

The church has a specific vocation to witness to this unity and it is always a cause for concern if it is threatened or damaged. Some have intimated that the introduction of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (Personal Ordinariate in England and Wales) may present just such a challenge. We do not see it this way. We recognise that in both our communities there have been times when individuals and groups have felt it right to move from one community to another.

At the moment there are some priests and people in the Church of England who for
reasons of conscience believe that their Christian journey can best continue within the Roman Catholic Community. We give thanks for their contribution to the life of the Church of England, and we pray for the new life they will have and the gifts they will bring to the Catholic Church. But the setting up of the Ordinariate does not in any way deter us from the ultimate goal of that visible unity within the church that is Christ’s prayer and which is shared by all Christian people. Nor do we think it will be helpful if in the setting up of the Ordinariate there is confusion between the different identities of the worshipping communities. We therefore expect congregations within the Ordinariate to meet and worship in the context of their local Roman Catholic Church and form a distinct new part of that community’s witness. The worship and witness of the Church of England in the parish they have left will also continue.

Ultimately we hope that these developments will draw us closer together. During his
visit to the United Kingdom in September, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was keen
to stress that the Ordinariate “…should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can
contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics.

It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the
restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange
of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also indicated his support for close co-operation
between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church as the Ordinariate
comes into being.

We therefore also take this opportunity to re-commit ourselves to working together
for the cause of the gospel in Essex and East London, and we urge priests and people
within the Church of England who are considering joining the Ordinariate - and we
think there may be five or six such groups - to make contact with us so that during this time of transition nothing could be seen to impede our friendship, unity and mission.

Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford
Rt Revd Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood

Former Bishop of Ebbsfleet interview with the Catholic Herald

On the Feast of the Epiphany, the former Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet Andrew Burnham spoke to me about his journey towards an ordinariate. He had only just been received into the Church. Today he will be ordained to the diaconate and on Saturday, he is ordained a priest. What follows is the full text of my interview with him over lunch at Brown’s, near the Oxford Oratory. Read more

Standing Committee of TEC developing resources for same-sex blessings

The 2009 General Convention of The Episcopal Church acknowledged the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church. In light of these circumstances, the General Convention directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships. At the same time, we were asked to invite theological reflection from throughout the Anglican communion. The Commission has begun its work by articulating Theological Principles and Liturgical Principles to guide the development of resources. Read more

Third of young Japanese men not interested in sex

More than a third of Japanese males aged between 16 and 19 have no interest in or are actively averse to sex, according to a government survey.

Japan's birth rate stands at 1.21 per family, far below the rate of 2.08 babies that is required for a stable population.

As of March 2009, Japan's total population stood at just over 127 million, but that figure is projected to decline to 95 million by 2050. And if more drastic measures fail to encourage people to have sex - and hence children - then there will be a mere 47.7 million Japanese at the turn of the next century.

According to the survey of 671 men and 869 women, issued by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 35.1 per cent of men aged 16 to 19 said they are not interested in or averse to sex, more than double the 17.5 per cent of men in the previous study in 2008. Read more

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Child gets Saw 3D advert banned

A TV trailer advertising the film Saw 3D has been banned after a 10-year-old complained that it was "distressing" and "inappropriately scheduled".

It began with a screaming man reaching towards the screen with a bloodied hand and featured images of saw blades.

The unnamed child saw the advert at 2029 in a break during The Gadget Show on Channel Five. Read more

The dam breaks in Portugal

... As Wolfgang Munchau wrote in the FT on Monday, the essential problem is that Spain and other Club Med states cannot both deflate to regain lost competitiveness within EMU and at the same grow fast enough to control debt dynamics. They can do one or the other, but not both at the same time.

The EU strategy is simply unworkable. It relies on hope and a prayer, and the misguided belief that the North-South imbalances are “self-correcting” to pinch from Wolfgang’s excellent column once again.

All we can do is stand back and watch in pain as the Euro-Hegelians ruin one country after another.

My sympathies to the Portuguese people who are not to blame for the foolish illusions of their governing elites. And remember, Cara Nação, this bail-out is not for you: it is for European banks exposed to Portuguese debt, just as the Irish and Greek bail-outs were in reality rescues for German, French, Belgian, Dutch, British, and Spanish lenders that ran amok during the credit bubble.
But you pay. Read more

Monday, 10 January 2011

Fury as Channel 4 teaches youngsters Kama Sutra positions in graphic 'Joy Of Teen Sex'

... Mediawach UK director Vivienne Pattison told MailOnline: 'This programme crosses the line into prurience, with graphic scenes of sex that can only be described as pornographic.

'The definition of porn is something that arouses the person watching it and the graphic nature of some scenes in this programme will doubtless do that for many viewers.'

She said another major concern was who would be watching the programme.

'The show claims to offer sex advice to under-18s but airs after the watershed. So who is going to watch it I don't know,' she said. Read more

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Dambisa Moyo: without change US will almost certainly become a socialist nation

Dambisa Moyo is that rare type of person – an economist who makes waves. Her first book, Dead Aid, angered many in the charity sector by arguing that foreign aid has harmed Africa and should be phased out.

Her second, which is published in London on Thursday, accuses America and other Western powers of squandering their world economic dominance through a sustained catalogue of fundamentally flawed policies.

How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices Ahead goes so far as to predict that the US will be a “bona fide socialist welfare state” by the latter part of this century.

“Indeed, if nothing else changes it from its current path,” writes Moyo, “it is almost certain that America will move from a fully-fledged capitalist society of entrepreneurs to a socialist nation in just a few decades.

“The trouble is, it won’t be just any socialist welfare state... the US is on a path to creating the worst and most venal form of welfare state [poorly developed and designed] – one born of desperation from many years of flawed economic policies and a society that rapaciously feeds on itself.” Read more

Anglicans heading to Rome told they can't stay in their churches

They have worshipped together for decades on the pews of their parish church. Generations of their loved ones have been baptised, married and buried there.

But now a Church of England congregation is being torn apart by the Pope's offer to welcome disaffected Anglican traditionalists into the Catholic Church.

In a vote which has split the local community and left long-standing friends on opposite sides of a growing divide, 54 parishioners at St Barnabas Tunbridge Wells have indicated that they intended to become Catholics while 18 said they would remain in the established Church.

While the Kentish churchgoers are among the first to take such a stand, congregations up and down the country will soon follow suit as worshippers and clergy weigh up whether to enter the Ordinariate, the structure set up by Pope Benedict XVI to embrace defectors from the established Church.

At St Barnabas the move towards Rome is being led by the vicar, Fr Ed Tomlinson. He believes that traditionalists who oppose the ordination of women have been badly let down by Church leaders. Read more

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Stranger in My Own Land

I have just returned to London, where, I have lived since I was 11. I have been away for four years, living as an ethnic minority in a monocultural part of the world, amassing a host of stories to tell to disbelieving friends. On the whole, I am glad to return. I shan't miss some locals' assumptions that, being a white woman, if I was outside after dark, as I occasionally was, usually to walk the few metres between my house and the church, I must be a prostitute eager to give them a blow job. I shan't miss the abuse my priest husband received: the daubing of "Dirty white dogs" in red paint on the church door, the barrage of stones thrown at him by children shouting "Satan". He was called a "f***ing white bastard" more than once, though, notably, never when in a cassock. I will also not miss the way our garden acted as the local rubbish dump, with items ranging from duvets and TV sets, to rats (dead or twitching) glued to cardboard strips, a popular local method of vermin control to stem the large numbers of them which scuttled between the rubbish piled in gardens and on pavements. Yes, I am very glad to have left Britain's second city. Read more