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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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A synod proposal to allow Anglican spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion has been rejected by the Archbishop of Birmingham.
The proposal, contained in the working document is due to be discussed at the synod next week.
If approved it would mean Anglicans being allowed to present themselves at Communion during Mass if they were married to a Catholic but unable to attend a service in their own denomination.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic), set up to further unity, has criticised the move, however, saying it did not meet the demands of either the Code of Canon Law or the Ecumenical Directory.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Sacramental Theology Eucharist
The Anglican and Methodist churches are in talks which could bring them closer than ever.
The two were working on equal recognition of each other's ordained clergy and a hui, held in Auckland in September, had kicked off the latest round of discussions which could see them more united in the future.
Of all the Christian denominations, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa and the Methodist Church of New Zealand had the most similarities.
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Last week’s meeting of the Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission in Hawarden, Wales, and the agreement on dropping the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed has moved the two families of churches “one step closer to as close as we can be”, a leading Orthodox bishop has said.
“For us, we saw [the filioque clause] as an addition to the Creed,” Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said. “One of the founders of our Church, Saint Athanasius, was instrumental in formulating it. As a church that has been persecuted for most of its existence, our faith and faith issues are exceptionally important.
“The relevance [of the agreement] is that we are one step closer to as close as we can be. There are things that we are not going to be able to agree on but that should not stop us resolving things that we can agree on.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Orthodox Church * Theology Christology The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
A new publication containing the Agreed Statement on Christology of the Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission 2014 was launched during Vespers in St Asaph Cathedral by the Co–Chairs of the commission, the Rt Revd Gregory K Cameron Bishop of St Asaph, and His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, in the presence of the Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, former Co–Chair of the Commission and co–signatory to the Statement.
The Commission completed its work on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, agreeing on the omission of the Filioque clause that had been appended to the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed in the Latin Western tradition. The Co–Chairs signed an Agreed Statement on the procession of the Holy Spirit, which is Part A of our ongoing work on our theological understanding of the Holy Spirit. A detailed discussion of the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church followed, including a discussion of the four marks of the Church, namely: oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity. The Commission has designated a drafting group which prepared a preliminary draft and will continue to work on Part B of our theological understanding of the Holy Spirit.
The Commission discussed the present situation of Christians in the Middle East and heard reports on the difficulties facing Churches, particularly in Syria and Iraq. There was a consideration of the most practical ways in which the Anglican Communion in its various countries could respond effectively to the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe.
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My parish is a short drive from the house. Every Sunday I see the same people at 8:30 a.m.: the older couples whose children are grown, the many young families with their children, the teenagers who came with their parents but who would rather be in bed. This is the Mass I almost always attend alone. There are a few others who are also alone, though not many.
I serve as an acolyte twice a month, and on these Sundays I sit up at the front beside the priest. On other Sundays, I sit near the front of the church with a family I know. Apart from them, I know the director of music and worship, the deacons and the priests. Others in the parish are mainly just familiar faces, although they are the people with whom I take Communion each and every week.
At the end of Mass, I drive home to pick up my wife, Kim, and our three boys for the 10 a.m. liturgy at the Episcopal parish we attend as a family. Like my Catholic parish, this church is thriving, filled with young and old from a variety of backgrounds. There are cradle Episcopalians, ex-evangelicals who found life in the beauty of Episcopal liturgy and disaffected Roman Catholics. Because this is my family’s parish, I know these parishioners more deeply than the ones at my Catholic parish. My children play with their children, and our families regularly hang out together. During the liturgy I sit with Kim and my oldest son while his two brothers are downstairs for Sunday school. When it comes time for the Communion, we process to the altar rail where my wife and my son take Communion together. I cross my arms and am blessed by the priest. Apart from a few children, I’m the only person who does this.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology
As Christians we have a responsibility, not only to give generously to address immediate social need, but to work with political leaders and the wider community to change the structures that are trapping people in cycles of poverty.
‘Local communities are ready to be active partners in tackling the root causes of social exclusion and are best placed to inform and shape this work. In community and faith–based organisations, volunteers are working quietly and effectively to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable and marginalised, including the basic necessities of food, shelter and much–needed emotional and psychological support. As demands continue to rise, charities are stretched beyond capacity and facing difficult decisions about the future.
‘The unacceptable level of child poverty, affecting over 100,000 children, roughly 6% of Northern Ireland’s population, constitutes a real crisis. Supports that have proved to be effective in recent years in addressing inequality and closing the gap in crucial areas such as educational disadvantage are now being withdrawn through lack of funding. The failure to invest adequately in the future leaders of our society is a cause of deep frustration among young people, leaving many feeling disconnected from political processes.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches
Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit formally welcomed the Commission to its meeting in his diocese. He offered praise and encouragement for the work of the dialogue. He stressed the urgent need for expressions of Christian unity in light of the deep challenges and crises before the global community, mindful of events unfolding even as the Commission undertook its deliberations.
The Commission brought to completion the first section of its work on the theological understanding of the human person, with the adoption of its agreed statement, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology. The report, shortly to be published, is the culmination of six years of study on what Anglicans and Orthodox can say together about the meaning of human personhood in the divine image.
This agreement lays the foundation for continuing dialogue on ethical decision-making in the light of this vision. At its future meetings the Commission will consider the practical consequences of this theological approach to personhood. The Commission anticipates ongoing study in areas such as bioethics and the sanctity of life, as well as human rights and ecological justice.
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Leaders from historically African-American Methodist churches have joined in Washington, D.C. to publicly call for the United States to confront racism and demand legal solutions to bring about racial equality.
Members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, AME Zion Church, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and Union American Methodist Episcopal Church held a Sept. 1 and 2 event entitled "Liberty and Justice for All."
"With the election of the first black president in the United States, many people may think that the country has entered an era in which racism has ended," said Bishop Reginald Jackson, ecumenical officer and chair of the social action commission of the AME Church.
The meeting convened by churches, many of which belong to the World Council of Churches, was called to discuss criminal justice reform, education, economic justice, gun reform and voting rights, the WCC said.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Australian bat makers are rejoicing after they were called upon to supply the Pope's cricket team.
The St Peter's XI — a team of Vatican priests — will play the Church of England in an exhibition match in Rome in October and they will be using Australian-made willow.
"They were beaten by the Archbishop of Canterbury's XI last year in England and I suggested that that was because they weren't using [Australian] timber," said Victorian bat-maker Ian Callen.
Mr Callen's advice was taken up by Australia's Ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who organised last year's inaugural match...
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An historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is "getting closer every day," a senior Orthodox prelate said in an interview published on 28 June.
The unprecedented meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054.
"Now such a meeting is getting closer every day but it must be well prepared," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
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Episcopalians are continuing calls for unity with other Christian churches despite actions that have had the effect of increasing divisions between Episcopalians, Global South Anglicans and other branches of historic Christianity.
A number of international bishops from smaller Anglican provinces are in attendance at the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a handful of ecumenical guests from other churches. None of the Anglican Communion’s larger provinces are represented, and there is no bishop representing the Church of England in an official capacity at General Convention this year. There are no bishops from the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. The headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) is one block from the convention center, but there is no delegation or representative from the Mormon faith at General Convention.
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The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches says Christians must grasp the “unique ecumenical momentum” created by Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment. He also believes it’s vital to respond in a more practical and pastoral way to migrants in Europe who are radically changing our “reflection about who is in communion with whom”.
Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was in Rome on Tuesday to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Joint Working Group of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. Set up just before the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Group is holding a plenary session in Rome this week to begin its tenth round of ecumenical conversations.
In a message to Rev Fykse Tveit to mark the occasion, Pope Francis said we should be encouraged by the collaboration the Group has promoted, “not only in ecumenical issues, but also in the areas of interreligious dialogue, peace and social justice, and works of charity and humanitarian aid”. But he stressed that despite the many ecumenical achievements, “Christian mission and witness still suffer due to our divisions”.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
So where does that leave us? Separated churches in themselves create a mindset, a separative one at its root, but in fact a similar one all across the board. And that is perhaps the thing we must confront. The question today is no longer, "What is a Christian?" This was the old question of the Reformation and its aftermath, and it focused precisely on doctrinal questions. Is a Christian one who believes this or that? Is a Christian one who follows this or that practice? Is a Christian one who is bound to this or that order or authority?
"What is a Christian?" was the old question. And it has left us with the shrivelled and unappealing answer: "A Christian is someone who separates from other Christians." But the new question, the question of today, is not, "What is a Christian?" but, "Who is a Christian?" This question must be answered in a new way, and with new tools theologically. It is a single question that, if answered rightly, offers a single counter-charge to the separative mindset that we all still share.
The question, "Who is a Christian?" emerges from a range of factors. Let me note two. First, there is the obvious point that, as people have shed their doctrinal clothing, in the course of the various developments I have already noted, one is left with, as it were, a "naked" religious figure - the one we call "Christian." But what is this naked Christian? "I am not really a Catholic or a Baptist or Lutheran or an Anglican or Presbyterian," someone might tell the Pew Forum survey. "So, what are you?" one might ask in response. Are you a Christian? What in the world is that?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * Theology Ecclesiology
Dear Ms. Eleanor Maxine and the Family, Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is with great sadness that we received the news of the passing of the Lay Canon Kodwo E. Ankrah of the Church of the Province of Uganda, a native of Anomabu, Ghana.
I write to express my sincere condolences as well as those of the World Council of Churches. The Canon was respected and beloved among you, the Church of the Province of Uganda and his childhood Methodist Church in Ghana but also within the ecumenical movement, through his leadership in the Christian Council of Ghana, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches. A true “sojourner” in his own words in transit from Ghana to Uganda from 1970s to the time he was called to the eternal home on Friday 29th May 2015.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Province of West Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary Africa Ghana * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations
On May 16, 2015, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland allowed ordination of gay people in civil partnership and on May 21 voted to continue the study of this matter aimed at an extension of the adopted decision. On May 17, the Synod of the United Protestant Church of France allowed a possibility of blessing the so called same-sex unions.
These decisions of the Protestant Churches of Scotland and France have deeply disappointed the Russian Orthodox Church as they seem incompatible with norms of Christian morality
We state with profound grief that today we have new divisions in the Christian world not only on theological problems, but also on the moral issues.
The Russian Orthodox Church holds the firm position based on Holy Scriptures and has repeatedly declared that the mentioned innovations were inadmissible for moral teaching and thus is ought to reconsider a format of her relations with the churches and associations which trample upon the principles of traditional Christian morality. In 2003, the Russian Orthodox Church suspended contacts with the Episcopal Church in the USA because this Church consecrated an open homosexual as bishop. Similar reasons have brought about the severance of relations with the Church of Sweden in 2005 when it decided to bless the same-sex unions.
During last years we have kept attentive watch over debates in the Churches of Scotland and France. In 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, sent a letter to the leadership of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in which he expressed his anxiety and disappointment over a possibility of ordaining gay people and expressed hope that the consideration of this issue in future would be based on the apostolic tradition. Regrettably, these hopes have not been justified, and the words of warning have not been heard.
Guided by the resolutions of the Bishops’ Council of 2008, saying that ‘the future of relations with many Protestant communities depends on their faithfulness to the norms of Gospel and apostolic morality kept by Christians over many centuries,’ and of the Bishops’ Council of 2013 saying that ‘a dialogue with confessions which openly defy the Biblical moral norms is impossible,’ the Department for External Church Relations does not see any prospects in maintaining official contacts with the Church of Scotland and with the United Protestant Church of France.
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A new chapter of the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan’s lifelong ecumenical engagement has begun with her installation as the new president of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) on 14 May.
The current Interim Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and its former Director for Unity, Faith and Order, she was unanimously elected to a three-year term as CCC president by the council’s Governing Board. She succeeds Lt. Col. Jim Champ of the Salvation Army.
A priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, for which she served several years as ecumenical officer, Canon Dr Barnett-Cowan had previously served a term as one of CCC’s vice-presidents. She brings with her a wealth of ecumenical experience, having been engaged with various inter-church dialogues and councils of churches at the local, regional, and international level.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * Theology
....Neuhaus had an extraordinary talent for bringing people together—to discuss, debate, and strategize. He regularly convened intellectually and theologically diverse groups to spend a couple of days discussing topics of interest. (In my own case the topics included, civil religion, multinational corporations, ecumenism, faith and politics, and “culture wars,” among others.)
But the most important of these projects was the 1990 founding of First Things. While Neuhaus had previously edited two similar journals, Worldview and This World, they had each been sponsored by larger foundations, the Carnegie and Rockford Institutes respectively. This time around the journal was Neuhaus’s own, to shape as he wished. And shaped it he did, with great talent and flair, bringing together like-minded writers representing Catholicism, evangelicalism, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism, along with fellow travelers from Judaism and Islam.
First Things was the flagship publication of Neuhaus’s Institute on Religion and Public Life, and the concept of “public life” was foundational to his efforts. Neuhaus always insisted that politics is only one aspect of a larger “public square”—one that makes room, as best it can, for a variety of religious, moral, and communal traditions. Boyagoda reminds us that Neuhaus and Berger actually coined the term “mediating structures,” now commonly used in social science, in their 1977 book To Empower People. That short book (just over 50 pages) showed how a wide range of smaller institutions—families, churches, professional associations, teams, guilds, neighborhood organizations, book clubs, schools—can offer a protective, nurturing space between individual and the power-hungry state.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Evangelicals Lutheran Roman Catholic * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology
Cynics would argue that the ecumenical blabfest is mere window dressing. One critic likened it to those endless rounds of détente during the Soviet era in which both sides shook hands and smiled for the cameras, but were really waiting to see which side would cave first.
Pope Francis thinks otherwise. While recognizing the “grave obstacles to unity” erected by the Anglicans, in his opening remarks he told the delegates not to give up hope.
“The cause of unity is not an optional undertaking and the differences which divide us must not be seen as inevitable …. Despite difficulties, we must not lose heart, but we must trust even more in the power of the Holy Spirit, who can heal and reconcile us, and accomplish what humanly does not seem possible.”Not only does unity seem impossible at this point, but movements within global Anglicanism itself are moving towards schism instead of unity. Earlier this month, the leaders of an organization named GAFCON met in London. GAFCON stands for Global Anglican Future Conference. Spearheaded by African Anglican bishops, GAFCON now includes representatives from North America, Australia, and South America.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Global South Churches & Primates * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology
Cardinal Vincent Nichols this week shared a platform with the Archbishop of Canterbury to take part in an interview with the pioneer of the Alpha Course, the Revd Nicky Gumbel.
Figures from Alpha show there has been an increase in the number of their courses – an introduction to Christianity – run in Catholic parishes and chaplaincies in the United Kingdom to 112 in 2014, compared with around 50 the year before. Ninety-five of the courses run last year were brand new.
The cardinal and Archbishop Justin Welby were interviewed as part of the Alpha Leadership Conference which took place this week in the Royal Albert Hall and the Hammersmith Apollo in London.
Among those attending were Catholic bishops from across the world. Alpha, based at the Anglican church of Holy Trinity Brompton in west London, is now run by more Catholic parishes worldwide than Anglican ones.
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With its African leadership, GAFCON represents the future of the Anglican Church. The Episcopal Church of the USA, under the leadership of presiding bishop Katherine Jeffers Schori, has suffered a disastrous decline. Using strong-arm tactics to bully disenchanted Episcopalians into line, Schori has overseen plummeting numbers and falling revenues. Meanwhile, the Church of England, following the Episcopalians’ enthusiasm for liberal causes, has shared the Episcopal Church’s drastic fall in worshippers. The Episcopal Church membership has dropped from 3.6 million in the 1960s to fewer than 1.4 million today; Church of England attendance has halved in the past 40 years.
Meanwhile, as John L. Allen Jr. reports in “The Future Church,” Christianity in Africa is burgeoning, and the Anglican Church accounts for a significant part of the growth. The Pew Forum reports that at the beginning of the 20th century, Anglicans from sub-Sahara Africa made up only 0.4 percent of Anglicans worldwide. Today they comprise more than 45 percent. When that is contrasted with the fact that the Episcopal Church makes up less than 4 percent, one can understand the disenchantment of African bishops at the hugely disproportionate presence that North American Anglicans have at the global Anglican table.
Unless there is some unexpected turnaround in the Church of England and the Anglican churches of the developed world, GAFCON is the Anglican Communion of the future. If so, what does this development mean for Anglican-Roman Catholic ecumenism?
First, it should be recognized that the old form of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue is finished.
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5 May 2015
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Meeting with the members of ARCIC III, Pope Francis noted the current session is studying the relationship between the universal Church and the local Church – a question central to his own reform programme - with particular reference to difficult decision making over moral and ethical questions.
These discussions, the Pope said, and the forthcoming publication of five jointly agreed statements from the previous phase of the dialogue, remind us that ecumenism is not a secondary element in the life of the Church and that the differences which divide us must not be seen as inevitable. Despite the seriousness of the challenges, he said we must trust even more in the power of the Spirit to heal and reconcile what may not seem possible to our human understanding.
Finally Pope Francis highlighted the powerful testimony of Christians from different Churches and traditions who have been victims of violence and persecution. The blood of these martyrs, he said, will nourish a new era of ecumenical commitment to fulfill the last will and testament of the Lord: that all may be one.
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The World Council of Churches (WCC) has joined over 30 leaders from major world religions and heads of global faith-based organizations today in launching a call to action to end extreme poverty by 2030, a goal shared with the World Bank Group.
The statement titled Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative notes that remarkable progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty. Over 25 years the world has gone from nearly 2 billion people to fewer than 1 billion living in extreme poverty. Now, for the first time in human history there exists both the capacity and recognition of the moral responsibility to ensure that no one has to live in extreme poverty’s grip.
“We have ample evidence from the World Bank Group and others showing that we can now end extreme poverty within fifteen years,” the Moral Imperative statement notes. “In 2015, our governments will be deciding upon a new global sustainable development agenda that has the potential to build on our shared values to finish the urgent task of ending extreme poverty.”
“We in the faith community embrace this moral imperative because we share the belief that the moral test of our society is how the weakest and most vulnerable are faring. Our sacred texts also call us to combat injustice and uplift the poorest in our midst.”
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November 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which established personal ordinariates for Anglican converts to Roman Catholicism “so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift…and as a treasure to be shared.” Anglicanorum Coetibus was not greeted with universal applause among former Anglicans already in communion with Rome, at least not among those of my acquaintance. These converts, who had left Anglicanism for what they had come to believe was the true Church, and who had been attending ordinary Novus Ordo parishes, sometimes for decades, wondered what substantial patrimony Anglicans could bring into the Church. To be sure, Anglicans have (or used to have) splendid liturgies, and their church music was incomparable, at least into the middle decades of the past century. But what do Anglicans have to give to the Church that is not of common inheritance from the pre-Reformation centuries or simply Protestant heresy?
A number of writers has tried to answer this question by taking an inventory of the strong and attractive characteristics of the Anglican heritage — for example, the Book of Common Prayer, the King James Bible, theologians like Richard Hooker and Jeremy Taylor, poets like John Donne and George Herbert, not to mention moderns like C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot. This method is useful, if only because it sets us thinking about what Anglicanism really is; but it does not arrive at the essence of Anglicanism.
The answer lies instead in the origins of Anglicanism at the beginning of modernity....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
In all of these tragedies, the religious and ethnic minorities continue to be the most vulnerable communities. Among them are the Christians, our sisters and brothers in the Lord. They face the present danger of extermination or exile from their own region, a catastrophic assault on Christian life and witness in those lands. Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change. Yet we know that we worship a God of hope, in whom there is always cross, always resurrection. As Christians we are called to live in the hope Christ gives us and make this our witness in times of deep pain and strife.
During this Lenten season, the World Council of Churches invites its member churches and Christians worldwide to offer special prayers on Sunday, March 29 for all people affected by these wars. We ask these prayers especially for the countries of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, where the indigenous Christian presence and witness have been continuous since the incarnation of our Lord, and from where the Good News has spread all over the world.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches
Calvinist-inclined Baptists and Presbyterians attending this year’s upcoming national conference of the Gospel Coalition are adding a place at the table for a new constituency: conservative Anglicans who have broken with the Episcopal Church.
Joining mainstays like Danny Akin, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler and Russell Moore scheduled to speak at the April 13-15 gathering in Orlando, Fla., is John Yates II, rector of The Falls Church Anglican in suburban Washington.
Other Anglican leaders are offering seminars and workshops at the Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, and there will be an informal gathering one evening for Anglicans to come together for fellowship and encouragement, Yates said in a Gospel Coalition blog titled “Who Are These Anglicans in TGC?”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Baptists Evangelicals Presbyterian * Theology
As the Commission suggests, no more introductions are needed to bring the two Churches together. Each has long exercised eucharistic hospitality, joint working on ethical and political matters is now the norm, and there are many more formal agreements in parishes around the country. The commitment made a few years ago not to do apart what could be done together has borne fruit. As a result, one of the final hurdles, the interchangeability of ministers, is once again the focus of debate.
The apostolic-succession question has sent the Methodists back down the garden path on more than one occasion, to their justifiable annoyance. In this report, however, the Anglican understanding of succession, and the problem it poses for the interchangeability of ministers, is explained fully and sympathetically.
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The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and World Methodist Vice President are to launch a publication that aims to overcome centuries of separate ministries of the two Christian traditions.
Archbishop Justin Welby and Gillian Kingston will be in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland—the home of St Patrick—on March 17, St Patrick’s Day, to launch Into All The World: Being and Becoming Apostolic Churches.
The report, written by members of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission on Unity and Mission (AMICUM), highlights how Methodists and Anglicans have understood mission. It surveys places around the world where there is already active cooperation, and goes on to provide Tool Kits with practical advice for ways to work together.
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In fact, during The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, April 13 to 15 in Orlando, a number of Anglican leaders are offering seminars and workshops, and there will be an informal gathering one evening for Anglicans to come together for fellowship and encouragement.
Let me explain a little of how we reached this point. Many evangelicals might not know that in 2009 the Anglican Church in North America was established, and there are already a thousand or more congregations with a vigorous church planting flavor. While many are former Episcopalians, believers from various other traditions have been drawn down the Canterbury Trail. Many have rediscovered the beauty of Anglican worship and been surprised by the strong Reformation doctrines that permeate the Book of Common Prayer and its Thirty-Nine Articles. The Anglican Reformers of the 16th century were closely linked with the continental Reformers, and Thomas Cranmer—martyr and author of the first Anglican prayer book—was not only greatly influenced by Calvin and Bucer, but also married the niece of Luther’s disciple Osiander.
While the Episcopal Church in the United States has gradually self-destructed over the last 40 years, a decidedly Reformed and evangelical movement has matured and found expression in parts of ACNA, Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh, and a growing number of congregations around North America.
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In 1534, Abbot Paul Bachmann published a virulent anti-Protestant booklet entitled “A Punch in the Mouth for the Lutheran Lying Wide-Gaping Throats.” Not to be outdone, the Protestant court chaplain, Jerome Rauscher, responded with a treatise of his own, titled “One Hundred Select, Great, Shameless, Fat, Well-Swilled, Stinking, Papistical Lies.” Such was the tenor of theological discourse among many of the formative shapers of classical Protestantism and resurgent Roman Catholicism in the sixteenth century. Such rhetoric was brought from the Old World to the New. Fueled by local prejudice and nativist traditions, it continued to deepen the divide between the heirs of the Reformation debates.
Imagine the surprise, then—in some circles the shock—when on March 29, 1994 the statement “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium” was released in New York. Here, the old hostility between Catholics and Evangelicals was replaced by a new awareness of their common Christian identity—a shared life in Jesus Christ. The core affirmation of the first ECT statement, and of the entire project, was this declaration: “All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have not chosen one another, just as we have not chosen Christ. He has chosen us, and He has chosen us to be his together.”
On the following day, the story of the new Evangelical and Catholic initiative was carried on the front page of The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and other newspapers across the country. The reaction was immediate and explosive. While some saw this new effort as a hopeful sign, others, especially some conservative evangelicals on the right, were disturbed and distraught. Best-selling author Dave Hunt wrote of the ECT statement: “I believe the document represents the most devastating blow against the gospel in at least one thousand years.” For their part, many left-leaning progressives, both Catholics and Protestants, dismissed the statement as a publicity stunt tied to conservative politics.
It seemed to me that both of these narratives had badly misjudged the situation.
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The World Council of Churches condemns the latest attacks and atrocities by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) most recently against Christian villages in the region of Khabour in the governorate of Hassake, Syria. According to reports received, in the early morning of 23 February large numbers of IS fighters attacked these villages, killing a number of civilians, taking approximately 100 people captive, and provoking a mass exodus from these communities. These attacks seem to be attempts at opening a new corridor towards the Turkish border that could facilitate the procurement of both weapons and mercenaries.
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Pope Francis is himself conservative enough to see that those problems, baffling as they may be to outsiders, run too deep to be solved overnight. But he is throwing out a challenge. People who cannot come together for a ritual of sacrifice in a church are being cast by circumstances into a single, dire community of fate. In one sense, that very fact renders their differences irrelevant. It also challenges people living in safer circumstances to work harder on tearing barriers down.
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Officials from the United Methodist Church and Episcopal Church have joined together at the Washington National Cathedral to mark an agreement bringing the two oldline Protestant denominations closer together.
“Today as Episcopalians and United Methodists, we remember who we are kin too. We celebrate our family tree and our common roots in the Lord Jesus Christ,” proclaimed the Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, General Secretary of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.
Cape gave the January 25 sermon at the Episcopal cathedral, declaring the day “historic” and that the two communities were acting “to mend a long division.”
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The Catholic archbishop of Birmingham says he wishes the Church of England’s first female bishop well in her ministry and will be remembering her in his prayers. Archbishop Bernard Longley is the Catholic co-chair of ARCIC, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. He told Vatican Radio that the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane on Monday was a “historic moment in the life of the Church of England” but noted that there has long been “the presence, the witness and the work of women” as bishops within the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Reverend Libby Lane was ordained in York Minister as the new Bishop of Stockport, after the Church of England voted to adopt legislation last November to allow women bishops. Archbishop Longley said that while the ordination of women presents challenges to the Anglican-Catholic dialogue, this latest development “shouldn’t affect the way in which the dialogue is continued”.
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Bishop [Kevin] Rhoades served as the main celebrant for the Vespers, asking that “the Lord bless us and the Church, that we may be united in our Baptism as brothers and sisters in Christ.” He acknowledged that true unity is only possible through the work of God. “By our own efforts, our own works, we cannot achieve peace. It is only through the gifts of the Holy Spirit that this will be possible; that is why we are here this evening.”
Throughout the service, cantor Alicia Nagy from St. Matthew Parish led Psalms and hymns of praise, in the hope of unity. A combined choir from St. Matthew and the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. James accompanied Nagy.
Bishop [Ed] Little offered the sermon for the event, first acknowledging both his gratitude to Bishop Rhoades and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for their hospitality and graciousness.
He exclaimed that “acknowledging this friendship provides a sound foundation to remind us that we come together in prayer so that the Lord will make us one. It also signifies that we have unfinished business, specifically to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed each of us — and to do so for the greater glory of God.”
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The terrorist attack in France that targeted a satirical weekly, killing 12 people, has seen an outpouring of solidarity, both in France and around the world, in defense of shared values of free speech and tolerance.
But at the same time, the attack has given new fodder to Europe's burgeoning populist movements – in a way that could prevent mainstream leaders from easing the tensions in their countries magnified by the assault on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Rising resentments across Europe call for leaders to act inclusively against Islamophobia, experts say. But the Continent's populist swing, already eating away at support for mainstream parties, could extract a greater political cost than European leaders are willing to make.
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And yet, in the midst of the raging of hunger, disease and want we continue to rejoice in the love of God seen in the helpless, unknown baby in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. In that birth we see God taking on humanity, living every aspect of human life from birth onwards. How can we not be captured by this news? People have been called to worship Jesus in their billions through the centuries, so that with them and the angels we rejoice at the presence of Christ, the promised Saviour, and the hope that he brings to the world.
He comes as the unique Saviour for the world and yet we find ourselves separated by history, creeds, cultures and habits into a church that does not respond to him with one voice. This is not lack of mutual love. In the past year, traveling to 26 countries, I have been overwhelmed by the ecumenical love I have received, as well as by my reception in the Anglican Communion. One of the most moving meetings of the year was that of Christians from all over the middle-east and the Levant coming together at Lambeth Palace to pray for the future of their communities and to testify to their suffering and yet to their hope in Christ. The impressions of that day will not leave me.
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The Anglican-Lutheran International Co-ordinating Committee (ALICC) held its second meeting at the Mariners’ Club, Hong Kong, 19 to 25 November 2014, under the leadership of the Rt Revd Dr Tim Harris of the Anglican Church of Australia (acting co-chair as Archbishop Mauricio was unable to attend), and of Bishop Michael Pryse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The meeting was hosted by the Anglican Communion and the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. The Committee warmly appreciated the generosity and the hospitality received from the Mission to Seafarers.
The Committee continued its work of mapping Anglican and Lutheran relationships around the world. In order to fulfill its role to be a catalyst for such relationships, it drew up a template of the differing patterns of relationships and the contexts in which they are lived out. For example, some are national churches meeting with other national churches, while others share the same geography. Some have relatively the same demographics, while in other places one church is much larger than the other. The Committee hopes to provide examples of the kinds of joint initiatives which might be appropriate for some rather than others.
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Archbishop Welby says while the event in the Vatican was a unique event, bringing together so many different religious leaders, it's also crucial to build on that momentum with a programme of implemention and he says he believes the Global Freedom Network has the ability to do that.....
In the Church of England, he says, two dioceses are already very involved in teaching and training people in awareness of this issue to help people ask questions of how they invest, where they buy things from and where those goods might be made.....
In the modern slavery bill currently going through the British parliament, he notes, there are obligations on retailers to look at their supply chains....the Anglican leader also says he's been involved in running ethical funds and has seen first hand the impact that they can have on pressuring retailers to stop the use of slavery in the manufacturing supply chains....
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Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, have signed a Joint Declaration reaffirming their desire to overcome the obstacles dividing their two churches.
The Catholic and Orthodox church leaders also deplored the dire situation facing Christians and all those suffering in the Middle East.
They called for an appropriate international community response, the Vatican news service said on November 30 on the third day of Pope Francis's visit to Turkey, where around 98 percent of the people are Muslims.
"We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox," the declaration said.
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Rev Engin Yildirim, from the Church of the Resurrection (a Turkish language parish in Istanbul) has sent details of a privileged meeting when he and other Christian clergy greeted Pope Francis on Saturday 30 November 2014 during his official visit to the country.
Read it all and make sure not to miss the picture. For those interested in the background of the parish you may read more here and the parish website is there.
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The WCC Executive Committee welcomes and supports the statement of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) and together with them reiterates a call in this time of serious tension for the city of Ferguson that its citizens, law enforcement officials, justice-seekers, and others respond in a non-violent manner. We also join the NCCCUSA in expressing appreciation to the churches and faith communities in St Louis, Missouri who have declared themselves to be “sanctuary churches” and “sacred spaces.”
The WCC Executive Committee believes that the current situation in Missouri underlines the deep-rooted problems of race relations and racial profiling in the United States of America. We stress that the human dignity of everyone must be respected regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture, and the critical importance of justice being seen to be done.
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Check it out and note the speakers included--Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
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Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, the Anglican Bishop of Wakefield, lit candles and prayed yesterday in St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds for the couple and their unborn daughter who were burned to death in Pakistan last week.
Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, who had three children, were attacked by a mob of 1,200 that had gathered after rumours they had desecrated the Koran. It is thought the mob burned them to death at the brick kiln where they worked.
Cardinal Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, said: “This is a horrific and tragic event which sullies the reputation of a great nation. Surely all people of true religious spirit will, in response, turn to God in prayer, seeking forgiveness for the violence and destruction of life, pleading for peace in our troubled world.
“For my part I pray for the repose of the souls of the couple and their unborn child.”
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When two global religious leaders embrace one another, someone is sure to turn the encounter into a photo opportunity.
The photo-op on Nov. 7 was symbolic and, for many, historic. The elder statesman was the Rev. Billy Graham, and rather than an evangelical superstar, the man who met with him at his North Carolina mountain home was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. This visit was linked to a Hilarion address to a Charlotte gathering of Protestant and Orthodox leaders, organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
After generations of work with organizations such as the Episcopal Church and the World Council of Churches, the archbishop said many Orthodox leaders now realize that -- on issues of sex, marriage, family life and moral theology -- some of their ecumenical partners will be found in evangelical pulpits and pews.
"In today's pluralistic world, the processes of liberalization have swept over some Christian communities. Many churches have diverted from biblical teaching ... even if this attitude is not endorsed by the majority of these communities' members," said Hilarion, who is the Moscow Patriarchate's chief ecumenical officer.
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On November 8th, 2014 Archbishop Foley Beach met with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Chairman of the Department of External Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.
The meeting, welcomed by Metropolitan Hilarion at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, was an opportunity to meet Archbishop Beach, as well as continue the ecumenical dialogue between faithful Anglicans in North America and the Orthodox Churches.
Bishop Ray Sutton, Provincial Dean and Dean of Ecumenical Affairs was also present at the meeting, and was encouraged by the extension of ecumenical continuity, “Metropolitan Hilarion was with us when we met together for dialogue at Nashotah House in 2012, at which time he expressed a desire to continue Anglican/Orthodox dialogue through the Anglican Church in North America, and this meeting tonight with Archbishop Beach further encourages the strengthening of ties between the Anglican Church in North America and Orthodox churches in this part of the world.”
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When Cardinals Donald Wuerl of the Washington Archdiocese and Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stopped by for a visit to the ordinariate community of St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, the cardinals and priests halted in the church on the way out to sing together the hymn Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy.
In a quiet way, it was a remarkable, unplanned scene: Fathers Mark Lewis and Richard Kramer, who had begun their ministries as Episcopal priests, singing a hymn to the Virgin Mary with two cardinals of the Catholic Church, Msgr. James Watkins, pastor of Immaculate Conception, and several priests from Rome, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of then-Pope Benedict XVI’s Anglicanorum Coetibus.
Issued Nov. 4, 2009, Anglicanorum Coetibus is an apostolic constitution that provided for personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. The document allows former Episcopalians and Anglicans to bring elements of their patrimony, including their distinctive liturgy, into the Catholic Church.
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The Vatican-sponsored gathering, on the "Complementarity of Man and Woman," will take place 17-19 November and feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries and various Christian churches, as well as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism.
The conference will aim to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society," according to organisers.
Speakers will include Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Great Britain, and Anglican Bishops N.T. Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali.
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Senior theologians in Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox Churches recently made history by signing an agreement on their mutual understanding of Christ's incarnation.
This was not just a minor point of theology, rather it was a subject that divided the Church following the Council of Chalcedon* in 451 AD, leaving the Oriental Orthodox Churches separated from the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Church of Rome.
The work to reconcile these branches of the Christian family on the question of how the two natures, human and divine, were united in one human being: Jesus Christ began in earnest in the 1990s.
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Among the 253 participants in the Synod on the Family which will conclude here in the Vatican on Sunday are eight delegates from different Christian Churches who are sharing insights from their own communities and traditions. Among them is the Anglican Bishop of Durham Paul Butler who has specialised in children and family ministry within the Church of England. As a husband and father of four children, Bishop Butler also brought his own experience to the Synod and especially to those working in one of the English language groups this week.
Bishop Butler sat down with Philippa Hitchen to talk about his impressions of the two-week meeting and about the struggle within the Anglican world of reaching out to people in same-sex relationships while upholding the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life
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Pope Francis has signalled his blessing to the breakaway traditionalist American church at the centre of the split which has divided the 80 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality.
He sent a message offering his “prayers and support” to Archbishop Foley Beach, the new leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the conservative movement which broke away from The Episcopal Church after the ordination of the first openly gay bishop.
His message underlines the pressure facing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, as he attempts to avert a formal schism in worldwide Anglicanism.
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The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut has been appointed to succeed the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan in March as Director for Unity, Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion.
Canon Gibaut is currently the Director of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order based in Geneva Switzerland. Faith and Order is the theological commission that resolves issues of Christian disunity, and promotes a vision of the Church as a communion of unity in diversty.
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Pope Francis has communicated his personal greetings and blessings for the new ministry of the Most Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA].
Speaking to the congregation of over 1500 gathered at the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta on 9 Oct 2014 for the installation of Archbishop Beach as leader of the ACNA, the Anglican Bishop of Argentina, the Rt. Rev. Gregory Venables stated that he had received a telephone call last week from "Fr Jorge", the former Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoglio -- now Pope Francis. Bishop Venables noted that he had long had a warm personal relationship with Pope Francis from his days as leader of the Argentine Catholic Church, and added Anglicans should rejoice in the current occupant of the chair of St Peter as he was a "Bible-believing, born again Christian."
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He urged the Catholic Church not to “capitulate to culture” nor to succumb to a weakening of discipline that he said had “caused havoc” within the Anglican Church. He said that he had watched the growth of the ordinariate with close interest.
“Allowing Anglican patrimony to flourish should not just be taken as an exception, but it could be a charter for the future,” he said.
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The prominent Anglican Bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, formerly the Bishop of Rochester, has spoken of the overriding importance of the Catholic Church's global voice for the future of Christianity in a world threatened by Islamic militancy and secularism. He said the Catholic Church potentially had "a great future and a huge opportunity" in the emerging world order and that it now had allies in upholding orthodoxy, even in unexpected quarters. However, he said that how effective it would be depended on how Rome viewed its own position and on its willingness to address its approach to certain issues. He identified these as culture and language and discipline.
Bishop Nazir Ali, who has both a Christian and a Muslim family background and is now President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue (OXTRAD), made his remarks to the clergy of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham - the structure set up by Pope Benedict to allow Anglicans to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them elements of their Anglican patrimony. He was speaking on the subject: "A Global Christianity in the Making" to the Ordinariate clergy's plenary session at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Soho Square, London
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This Synod is an opportunity to express timeless truths about marriage. Why do those truths matter? How do they represent true love, not “exclusion” or “prejudice,” or any of the other charges brought against marriage today? Men and women need desperately to hear the truth about why they should get married in the first place. And, once married, why Christ and the Church desire that they should remain faithful to each other throughout their lives on this earth. That, when marriage gets tough (as it does for most couples), the Church will be a source of support, not just for individual spouses, but for the marriage itself.
You have written so powerfully, Holy Father, of the importance of a new evangelization within the Church: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”
May we humbly suggest that in the context of marriage and family life your words are a call to personal responsibility, not only for our own spouses and children, but for the marriages of those God has put by our side: our relatives and friends, those in our churches and in our schools.
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The Commission discussed at length the draft of an agreed statement on the theological presuppositions of the Christian understanding of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. At its next meeting it intends to consider the practical implications and the ethical questions, of pressing concern in today’s world, that follow from these presuppositions.
As in previous meetings, daily prayer and worship strengthened and grounded the work of the Commission, both in the Anglican Cathedral of St George, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
An ecumenical reception hosted by Bishop Suheil provided an opportunity for fellowship with local Christian leaders. The Commission visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and met members of the Christian community, with whom it prayed for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land and in the whole world.
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The centenary celebration Sept. 24 of what is now known as the Montreal School of Theology will probably pass almost unnoticed, at a time when religion is often a topic of strife. But in its quiet way, the anniversary is also a reminder that religious strife and debate in Montreal, Quebec and the rest of Canada have been around for a while.
The three theological seminaries on the McGill University campus — Presbyterian, United Church and Anglican — will be celebrating 100 years of what is now known as ecumenism, a word hardly anyone used in that sense a century ago.
The celebration will be a modest affair....
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A briefing by Amnesty International, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, calls the ISIS offensive a genocide, citing several examples of mass killings along with a wave of abductions.
"The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq," says Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser. "The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims."
In more than 20 interviews conducted during three days by a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation that visited northern Iraq at the end of August, few people could imagine the possibility of returning to their homes. A fourteen-year-old Christian girl from a village on the Nineveh Plain, Iraq, when asked what she thought about the future, replies, "There is no future. Da'ish (ISIS) destroyed our future. We are scared to go back."
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A recent meeting of representatives from ecumenical, Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Strasbourg, France has promised to address more effectively discrimination, persecution and violence faced by Christians around the world. This theme will be explored in depth through an international consultation to be held in 2015.
The meeting in Strasbourg was convened by the Global Christian Forum (GCF) with participation from the representatives of the Vatican, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Evangelical Alliance and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. The meeting was held from 8 to 9 September.
The planned 2015 consultation will address the theme “Christian discrimination, persecution and martyrdom”. The event will bring together representatives of the churches and Christian communities who have faced discrimination and persecution in their local contexts.
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‘On behalf of the people of the Church of Ireland I ask God’s blessing and every happiness for Cardinal Seán Brady in his forthcoming retirement. He has been a good friend to successive Archbishops of Armagh and to the wider Church of Ireland throughout his archiepiscopate, and we are grateful to him for this unaffected generosity of spirit. And, on a personal note, I wish to thank Seán for real kindness and warm friendship over many years. We all hope that he will enjoy both true fulfilment and good health in the years ahead.
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The men in charge of Liverpool's two cathedrals have abseiled down the city's Anglican cathedral, to raise money for charity.
Cathedral Dean Rev Peter Wilcox and his Roman Catholic counterpart, Father Anthony O'Brien, joined an abseil down the cathedral on Saturday.
As part of a two-weekend event, the 150 ft (45m) leap has helped to raise about £48,000 for the cathedral,
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Pope Francis in a plea to prevent the ordination of women bishops from derailing plans for the eventual reunification between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.
The Most Rev Justin Welby acknowledged that the vote at the General Synod earlier this month would be a “further difficulty” on the tortuous road towards eventual unity between the two churches which formally separated in the 16th Century.
But in a letter to the Pope and other global church leaders including leading orthodox patriarchs, he asked for prayers for the Church of England, telling them: “We need each other.”
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The new legislation is simpler and based on Christian understandings of trust. Crucially, it includes a commitment for diocesan bishops to abide by five guiding principles, to take proper care of and provide oversight for dissenters, with recourse to an independent reviewer, or ombudsman, to resolve disputes. This was a concept introduced to steering-group discussions by Dr Philip Giddings, the leading conservative Evangelical, who specialised in politics and the work of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. His speech to synod, where he committed himself to vote in favour, coming as it did early in the debate, was influential in securing the result.
Even the Catholic group seemed happy, relatively speaking, with the result. Canon Simon Killwick, the chairman, remained deeply concerned for the wider unity of the whole Church but “pleased that the spirit of reconciliation continued to be displayed during the debate”. Archbishop Bernard Longley, chairman of dialogue and unity for the Catholic bishops, reiterated the goal of full ecclesial communion and acknowledged that the decision “sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us”. He affirmed the progress made in recent decades.
Whatever the theological and ecclesiological disagreements that remain, for the established Church to have once again rejected women bishops could well have spelled disaster for Christian mission in Britain. The signals from Rome and Canterbury give every appearance of grace in action – surely a prophecy of interesting times to come.
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The Catholic Church remains fully committed to its dialogue with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. For the Catholic Church, the goal of ecumenical dialogue continues to be full visible ecclesial communion.
Such full ecclesial communion embraces full communion in the episcopal office. The decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate therefore sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us. Nevertheless we are committed to continuing our ecumenical dialogue, seeking deeper mutual understanding and practical cooperation wherever possible.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Women * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic
We call upon all Kenyans;
To cease from spreading rumours, incitement and inflammatory and derogatory remarks of any kind that may spiral to ethnic violence due to the volatile atmosphere . The name calling, and ethnic profiling on social media and other public places should stop.
To obey the the rule of law, respect and uphold the Constitution of Kenya and all its instituions.
To exercise patriotism and seek to uphold national unity for the sake of development and the well-being of all. With the political, social, economic, religious and any other differences amongst us, we should acknowledge that we are united by one country- Kenya.
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...does this focus on joint action now take precedence over the two Churches seeking full, ecclesial unity by solving doctrinal disagreements?
“No,” the archbishop says when we meet at the “ceremoniale” in Rome’s Fiumicino airport, the executive lounge for visiting dignitaries, before he catches his plane back to London.
“I think we’re layering one thing on top of the other. There’s a very good theological foundation and there’s now joint action around what the Holy Father described as the three Ps: prayer, peace and poverty.”
He describes his meeting with the Pope, which included a 40-minute private discussion with just a translator present besides the two church leaders, as “a real engagement of love and not just a business connection”.
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The former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, and the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, were invited to give the keynote addresses at the inauguration of the Studies of Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (SRP) at the Nanyang Technological University, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore from 5-11 June 2014. During their visit to Singapore, they shared their Egyptian experience in "working together as a way of promoting national unity in Egypt."
The President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan, received Dr Ali and Bishop Mouneer and was keen to hear about the situation in Egypt, especially as their visit coincided with the installation of the new President of Egypt, el-Sisi. He assured both of them that Singapore will stand with Egypt at this very important time. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, also received them and wrote in his Facebook page, "I could see that Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa and Archbishop Dr Mouneer are good friends, working closely together to promote peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians there."
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[Lord Carey's] apprehension is reinforced by the change of personalities at the head of the two communions: the theologians Pope Benedict and Rowan Williams have been replaced by leaders whose overarching concern is social, for issues of justice and reconciliation. Accordingly, the visit to Rome by Archbishop Welby this Sunday and Monday will have, at its focus, the shared initiative on human trafficking and slavery, raised a year ago at his first meeting with Pope Francis, and formally launched in March this year with messages of support from both Pope and Archbishop.
Yet any shift in emphasis has to be understood within a broader context of the ecumenical situation. The Catholic partners in dialogue are mindful of the warning given by Pope Benedict in 2012 against reducing ecumenism “to a kind of social contract to be joined for a common interest, a praxeology for creating a better world.” The theology, no matter how difficult, has to be done. But theological dialogue has never been seen as an end in itself, an intellectual endeavour apart from real life. It is an axiom of ecumenical dialogue, going back to the origins of the ecumenical movement, that acting more like Christ together draws Christians together in belief. Archbishop Justin underlined this in his message at the launch of the human trafficking initiative: “The more we share the pain and oppression of the poor and suffering in the name of God, the more God will draw us closer to each other, because we will need each other’s strength and support to make the kind of difference that is needed.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis
Although they have not yet reached full unity, Roman Catholics and Anglicans continue their dialogue, come together in prayer and work side by side, including on a new project to combat human trafficking around the world.
"I thank God that, as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together with perseverance and determination in opposing this grave evil," Pope Francis told Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury June 16 during a meeting at the Vatican.
Archbishop Welby, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, was in Rome to hold his second meeting with Pope Francis, to visit Anglican communities in the city and to participate in a meeting of the Global Freedom Network, which they and other faith leaders founded to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrives in Rome on Saturday for a two day visit that will culminate on Monday in a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. On Sunday the Anglican leader will preach at Vespers at the church of St Gregory on the Caelian Hill, visit the two Anglican churches here in Rome and take part in a prayer service with the St Egidio community at St Bartholomew’s on the Tiber Island. During his packed programme, the Archbishop will also launch a new website for the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), showcasing ways in which members of the two communions are increasingly worshipping, working and witnessing side by side.
To find out more, Philippa Hitchen spoke with Canadian bishop Donald Bolen, co-chair of IARCCUM and Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion office in London and co-secretary of IARCCUM…
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Update: You may find a nice picture about this there.
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Read them both.
In their second meeting within eighteen months Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby today recommitted themselves resolutely to the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking.
Following their first meeting last year the two global leaders have continually spoken out to challenge this crime against humanity, and have acted decisively to support the foundation of the new faith based global freedom network. They both endorsed this network as a crucial force in the struggle to rid the world of a global evil.
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In his message Archbishop Justin hails the conference, which is organised by Fairfield University, USA, and Durham University, as "a sign of a rediscovery of the ecumenical spirit, which remains an important element for participation in the life of world Christianity."
Read it all and note the link to the pull pdf text.
...the specifics are still pretty fuzzy. Will it be a formal ecumenical council, with leaders from the two faiths earnestly trying to reconcile their theological differences? Or will it be just what Bartholomew said—a celebration, full of meaningful dialogue but little actual change? Hard to tell, says Rocco Palmo, the author of the blog Whispers in the Loggia.
"It's 12 years away," he pointed out. Trying to predict what will happen in 2025 is like an extreme version of confidently declaring who will be president of the United States in 2016—there's just no way to know. Plus, Francis and Bartholomew are both in their 70s. Bartholomew said the pair wanted to leave this council "as a legacy to ourselves and our successors," which seems like an acknowledgment that they could both be dead—or retired—11 years from now.
There's also the challenge of getting Catholics and Orthodox Christians on board for whatever they want to do. "If the pope wants to do this, the Catholic side will be lined up, but if the ecumenical patriarch wants to, some will come and some will not," Palmo said. Bartholomew is the archbishop of Constantinople, meaning that he is "the first among equals" in the Eastern Orthodox churches, but he doesn't have power over other patriarchs.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Orthodox Church Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ecclesiology
On his return from Jerusalem , where he met with Pope Francis at the Holy Sepulchre, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has revealed an important appointment for unity between Catholics and Orthodox: a gathering at Nicaea in 2025, where the first real ecumenical council of the undivided Church was celebrated.
Speaking exclusively with AsiaNews, Bartholomew says that together with Pope Francis "we agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries , the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated".
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will meet Pope Francis in Rome next month.
The visit, from 14th to 16th June, will focus on the joint modern slavery and human trafficking initiative launched by Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis earlier this year.
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The inaugural Ecumenical Bible Week takes place from June 8 to15, starting on Pentecost Sunday. This new initiative, involving all the main churches, is a different kind of celebration. It is not a congress or an assembly but a series of events which will move around Dublin and the wider area.
With a highly ecumenical engagement, this new initiative has great potential for the coming together of Christians from all backgrounds around the Word of God which we all share.
The Ecumenical Bible Week is a direct fruit of the International Eucharistic Congress of 2012. If it proves a success, it may become an annual event. The churches and movements involved so far are: Scripture Union, the Evangelical Alliance, the Orthodox Church, the Church of Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Theology: Scripture
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, have today issued a joint statement to their Churches.
The Most Revd Justin Welby, the Most Revd John Sentamu, the Revd Ruth Gee and Dr Daleep Mukarji have issued the statement in response to a report that will be debated by the Methodist Conference and General Synod this year.
The report, entitled The Challenge of the Covenant, recommends that both Churches take action to enhance unity between them, with the work being fully embedded in Church structures. The report also encourages the Church of England to address the question of interchangeability of ordained ministries between the two Churches, and the Methodist Church to consider the possibility of a form of episcopal ministry (such as a 'president bishop').
The statement from the Archbishops and Methodist Presidency welcomes the report, stating that:
"The time has now come for our churches to take further, significant steps to achieve that level of reconciliation between us and partnership in the gospel that will enhance our mission together in local communities and our shared witness to the whole of society."Read it all.
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Pope Francis travels this weekend to the Middle East, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and will meet with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders.
But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement.
Meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras set a milestone: They started the process of healing the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of the year 1054.
Moves toward closer understanding followed, but differences remain on issues such as married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican.
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Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has urged Roman Catholics attending a one-of-a-kind Catholic and Episcopal church to worship at a nearby parish because he has not been able to find a "suitable priest" to serve the blended congregation.
It was the latest round of adversity for a church that has battled to maintain its ecumenical mission in the face of flagging support in the Catholic hierarchy.
In a letter read Sunday to members of the Church of the Holy Apostles, DiLorenzo noted that the 36-year-old congregation's interim Catholic priest is in poor health and has been unable to serve consistently.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Pastoral Theology
As the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission meeting continues its work in Durban, South Africa, the head of Rome’s Anglican Centre says he expects “significant progress” at the 10 day meeting. Archbishop David Moxon, who serves as the Anglican co-chair of the ARCIC III talks that run from May 12th to 20th, also told Vatican Radio that new collaboration in mission has brought the dialogue to “the verge of something quite new which will bear real fruit”
The theme for this fourth phase of the current ARCIC talks is to explore the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how, together, they come to discern correct ethical teaching. Just before his departure for Durban, Archbishop Moxon sat down with Philippa Hitchen to talk about the goals of the meeting and his own hopes for the future of Anglican-Catholic relations....
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After a private meeting the Archbishops prayed together in the Crypt Chapel at Lambeth Palace.
In a greeting to Archbishop Chrysostomos, Archbishop Justin said: “Between our two churches there has always been more that unites us than that which divides us and so we can pray together and welcome all sincere efforts for peace in your country, in Europe and in the world. Certainly there is need for peacemakers today, and I pray that God’s love may move us beyond what we can hope for, that our endeavours in interfaith dialogues will create greater understanding for the world as one human family.”
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Most promising for such future conversation was the extent of common ground uncovered. All three interlocutors were willing to grant that the Church of Rome is a part of the body of Christ, a diseased part, perhaps, but still a part of us whose sufferings and triumphs we can share in, and whose healing we desire, not some alien entity to be scorned or ignored.
All three speakers granted that some kind of reunion with Rome (and with Orthodoxy) must be eventual goals for Protestantism, which could not think of itself as the sole bearer of the church’s future. All three insisted therefore that Protestantism should be characterized more by its positive witness than by a negative self-definition over against its enemies. All three also managed to agree that the content of this witness was largely set by the terms of the early Protestant confessions, that the solas of the Reformation constituted fundamental truths that must remain the ground of future Protestant ecumenical engagement. Finally, all agreed that the best forms of ecumenism, for the foreseeable future at least, should be local and ad hoc, involving such small but powerful gestures as learning to pray with and for local Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Before moving on to the inevitable frustrated question, “Well where do they disagree then?” we ought first to marvel at, and take encouragement from, this substantial common ground.
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Unexpectedly, and unforgettably, the Pope took the Metropolitan and myself, alone, down to the tomb of St Paul which is in the centre of the basilica. He held us by the elbows as he beckoned us to approach the grave, and then he indicated that we should bow, which we did for some minutes, the three of us, in that sacred space. Then we continued with Vespers.
At the end he took the two of us with him again and we greeted all the other Church representatives. After we had recessed together he embraced and kissed the two of us with a holy kiss. These actions of his were said to be unprecedented in recent memory in that liturgy and left a deep impression on the two of us. Surely these dramatic demonstrations of unexpected love are at the heart of the quest for unity.
Read it all (from March but still of interest).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Italy * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis
The National Council of Churches USA has joined in “urgent solidarity” with Christians and other faith groups around the world to call for the release of 234 Nigerian school girls kidnapped April 14 by the Boko Haram extremist sect.
Speaking out with special urgency is the Church of the Brethren, one of the NCC’s member communions. Leadership of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria—EYN) has reported that most of the girls are EYN.
“This act of cruel violence tears at the hearts of Brethren who are called as witnesses of God’s call to live in love and peace with our neighbors,” said Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren in the U.S.
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Despite the problems, the redoubtable Archbishop Fisher set out for the Vatican that morning. Only then did he and his party realize that they were being given special honors. The Swiss Guard was arrayed in full dress uniform, the red carpets were out, and he was received ceremoniously by the Chamberlain of Sword and Cape.
Archbishop Fisher was alone with Pope John for more than an hour. They spoke of the relations of all the churches. The pope grouped the Anglicans with other Protestants, and the archbishop suggested there was a difference. Pope John accepted special status for Anglicanism and said how delighted he was, as successor of Gregory the Great, to be meeting with the successor of Augustine of Canterbury.
During the meeting, Pope John made some observations on the Gospel. In his meditations, he thought of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. At the end, the gentle pope asked the archbishop when the Anglicans would come back, and Archbishop Fisher made his now-famous reply — that it was impossible to go back; instead, "we must go forward together."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic
At the invitation of The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis of the Episcopal / Anglican Church in Egypt, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark inaugurated an art exhibition “The Way of Salvation” curated by Dr. Farid Fadel at the All Saints Cathedral Hall in Zamalek.
“The visit is historical,” Bishop Mouneer said, “because it comes three days before we celebrate the Feast of St. Mark on which All Saints Cathedral was consecrated.
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The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States (ARC-USA) has concluded a six-year round of dialogue with the release of “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Seeking a Unified Moral Witness,” approved at the most recent meeting February 24-25, 2014, at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. The meeting was chaired by Bishop John Bauerschmidt of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee; the Roman Catholic co-chairman, Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana, was unable to attend for health reasons.
In 2008 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, asked the ARC-USA to address questions of ethics and the Christian life in the context of ecclesiology, in an effort to achieve greater clarity regarding areas of agreement and disagreement. They were aware that dialogue on these issues was also taking place between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion at the international level, and also in other bilateral dialogues between churches of various traditions.
The statement reflects on the way the two churches pursue the work of teaching and learning within the Christian moral life. It examines the extent to which their respective church structures influence the way they teach and what they teach on moral questions. Inquiries and discussions about moral formation and the teaching charism of the churches guided them in addressing this topic.
Read it all and please note the link to the full text pdf provided.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Reports & Communiques * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
An historic consultation took place between Anglicans and Pentecostals earlier this week at High Leigh in Hertfordshire.
Initiated by the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity, it took forward resolutions passed at successive Lambeth Conferences, and bore out Archbishop Justin Welby’s recent call for greater interaction between the two traditions.
Nine Anglicans and eight Pentecostals gathered for two days of dialogue, prayer and worship to explore their similarities and differences, and to chart a way forward for enhanced partnership in mission.
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A group of 16 prominent Anglican and Catholic theologians met for five days last week in Canterbury, England, to continue a set of informal dialogues between the two churches.
Although not officially sanctioned by either denomination, the gathering, known as the "Malines Conversations Group," has support from both the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and Anglican officials in London.
At one point last week, the 16 were received together at the Anglican church's London headquarters at Lambeth Palace where they met with both Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, and Vincent Nichols, the cardinal archbishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Westminster.
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On the first day of Archbishop Justin and Cardinal Nichols's week of prayer for the church's work serving the poor, watch Cardinal Nichols reflecting on today's prayer (Psalm 72) and Bible reading (John 13:2b-5, 12-15)
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Theology: Scripture
English Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are launching a joint initiative on Sunday to encourage Catholics and Anglicans to pray and work together in service of the poorest and most vulnerable people in their parishes.
On April 6th the Catholic and Anglican Church leaders will visit a project in London run by the Catholic Worker Movement, while on Palm Sunday April 13th, they will travel together to Kent on England’s South coast to visit a family care centre supported by the diocese of Canterbury.
Throughout the week, Catholics and Anglicans are encouraged to pray together and to share information about similar initiatives or ecumenical efforts in parishes and dioceses around the country. More details and prayer resources are available on both the website of the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales and that of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will meet with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The Queen, who’ll be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also have a private encounter with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the one day visit to Rome.
The audience with Pope Francis will mark the 87-year-old Queen’s fifth encounter with a Roman pontiff here in the Vatican, beginning with Pope Pius XII whom she met in 1951, the year before her accession to the throne. In 1982 she became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain during John Paul II’s pastoral visit to the country and in 2010 she also hosted Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.
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The National Council of Churches (NCC) has sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern about the plight of Christian communities in Syria, especially the depopulation of the Armenian community of Kessab, stating: “While Syrians of all religious communities are caught up in this horrible conflict, of particular concern to us are the Christian communities, which are often the most vulnerable.”
“One situation that has just come to our attention is the attack on the Armenian villages of Kessab. Though this attack comes in the wider context of the overall Syrian conflict, it nevertheless has brought death and destruction to the Christian communities there,” the NCC letter reads in part. The letter specifically urges the President to “safeguard the vulnerable Christian communities” and to “restore stability to the Armenian communities of Kessab.”
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The starting point and the guide for this journey is the one given to us by Pope Francis: “the beauty of the family and of marriage, the grandeur of a reality that is both simple and profound, a combination of joy, hope, burdens and suffering, just like the rest of life.” We will seek to deepen our understanding of the theology of the family and of the pastoral care that we must exercise in today’s world.” “All this we will do,” confirmed Pope Francis, “in depth and without tripping into that ‘casuistry’ that would inevitably diminish the value of our work.” The Holy Father emphasized that in today’s world the family is looked down on and treated badly and that what we are called on to do is make known how beautiful, and true and good it is to create a family, to be a family in today’s world, and how the world, and the future of all human kind, cannot do without the family. Our task is to show the world God’s shining plan for families, to help married couples live out that plan with joy, and to be there for them with a shepherd’s care that is wise, brave and full of love” (Pope Francis’ Opening Discourse to the Special Consistory on the Family, February twentieth, 2014)
This is what we will do as we look toward the Meeting in Philadelphia: we will be there for all the families of the world with a shepherd’s care that is “wise,” and “brave” and “full of love.” Wisdom in understanding what families face today, bravery in taking on today’s many and complex problems; and love in helping to resolve those problems in the light of the Gospel of the Family and of Life. We will deal with many issues in our wise, brave and loving work together: theology of the family, married spirituality and holiness, ecclesiology and pastoral care for families, the family in contemporary culture, immigration and the family, the family and ecumenism.
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The referendum will have done nothing to have diminished the risk of inter-ethnic violence.
Against this uncertain and volatile background, the Christian churches of Europe, through the Conference of European Churches, have been in contact with the All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations, a body that includes Jewish and Muslim representatives as well as Christian churches. A letter signed by the present CEC president, known to many Members of your Lordships’ House as the recently retired Bishop of Guildford, expresses solidarity and support, urges an end to further polarisation in Ukrainian society and assures them that churches elsewhere in Europe are urging a democratic and diplomatic solution to the problems facing Ukraine. I know that Bishop Christopher Hill will be talking later this week to other European church leaders about how this solidarity and support can be given more tangible shape through the Conference of European Churches.
Even if this crisis has cast a Cold War shadow over Europe, it is important that we remain in dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. That is not always an easy task given the Russian orthodox world view. I am encouraged that only last month the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London met representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church to discuss the theological education of students from the Russian Orthodox Church here in the UK. However this crisis plays out, and I pray as I am sure many of us do for a speedy and peaceful resolution, it is important that we do not sanction measures that put such dialogue at risk.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster have launched a joint initiative this Lent to encourage people to pray for the work churches do to support people in need in their parishes and beyond.
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A prayer service took place on Thursday morning at London’s Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to officially welcome four members of the Catholic ecumenical community Chemin Neuf.
An Anglican married couple, a Catholic sister and a Lutheran man training for ministry will form part of the resident Lambeth community to “share in the daily round of prayer” and to “further the ecumenical and international dimensions” of the Anglican leader’s ministry. The move was described by England’s Cardinal-elect Vincent Nichols as “a clear and bold sign of the importance of prayer in the search for visible Christian unity.”
To find out more Philippa Hitchen spoke first to Anglican Chemin Neuf member Alan Morley-Fletcher and then to the French founder of the community, Fr Laurent Fabre....
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