FaithWorld

First openly gay Episcopal bishop announces divorce from husband

(Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, delivers the invocation at the 'We Are One' Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

(Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson delivers the invocation at the ‘We Are One’ Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

The first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, whose election to lead the diocese of New Hampshire kicked off a firestorm of controversy a decade ago, said on Sunday he was divorcing his husband after four years of marriage.

Gene Robinson, who retired as a bishop in 2013, announced the split in a letter to the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire and in a personal essay published in the Daily Beast, where he wrote that his “belief in marriage is undiminished.”

“It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples,” he said.

Robinson’s election in 2003 as bishop of the New Hampshire diocese stirred protest in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Hundreds of parishes opposed to his consecration left the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church, saying it was becoming too liberal.

Dartmouth nixes hire of African bishop on past gay rights stance

(Dartmouth Hall at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, 7 June 2005/Urban)

Dartmouth College in New Hampshire has rescinded the appointment of Bishop James Tengatenga of Malawi as dean of a foundation at the Ivy League school over his past comments about homosexuality.

Reached by e-mail on Thursday, Tengatenga said he was “disappointed” by the decision.

Archbishop of Canterbury attacks UK government policies as radical

(Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Canterbury Cathedral, April 4, 2010/Toby Melville)

Britain’s coalition government has embarked on “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” causing anxiety and fear, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in an article on Thursday. The comments are his most outspoken against the year-old Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

“With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” the spiritual leader of the 80-million strong Anglican Communion wrote. “At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.”

Archbishop of Canterbury praises “unpretentious” Kate and William

(Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton watch a demonstration by students, during their visit to the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy (DACA), in Darwen, northern England April 11, 2011. A large crowd of well-wishers braved a downpour in northern England on Monday to cheer Prince William and Kate Middleton as they took part in their final official engagement before their wedding. REUTERS/Adrian Dennis)

(Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton in Darwen, northern England April 11, 2011/Adrian Dennis)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who will marry Prince William and Kate Middleton next week, said on Thursday he had been struck by their wedding preparations, describing the couple as courageous and unpretentious. Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the Church of England, praised the couple’s “simplicity” and the way they had dealt with the build-up to next Friday’s wedding, which is set to be watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide.

“I’ve been very struck by the way in which William and Catherine have approached this great event,” Williams said in a short film released by his Lambeth Palace office, adding it had been a “real pleasure” to get to know the couple. “They’ve thought through what they want for themselves, but also what they want to say. They’ve had a very simple, very direct picture of what really matters about this event.”

400-year-old King James Bible found in English church

king james bible 1611

(Frontispiece to the King James' Bible, 1611)

A printing error helped a 12th century English village church realise it owned a rare 400-year-old King James Bible, the book that changed the world. The edition that had been sitting on a ledge in the pretty Anglican church in Wiltshire, central England for the past 150 years, barely touched and much less read, is one of only a handful that still exists.

Although a sign above the book indicated it dated back to 1611, it was only after the parochial church council of St Laurence in Hilmarton decided to get it authenticated during the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible that they made their discovery.

“I noticed it like everyone who uses the church noticed it as an old Bible that was sort of there, but no one was sure about its origins until very recently,” council member Chris Mastin-Lee told Reuters.

Jerusalem bishop appeals Israel’s residency denial

jerusalem

( Jerusalem, September 14, 2010/Darren Whiteside )

Jerusalem’s Anglican bishop, a Palestinian, is engaged in a legal battle with Israel over its refusal to extend his residency permit. An Anglican official, who declined to be named, said Israel’s Interior Ministry had written to Bishop Suheil Dawani and accused him of improper land dealings on behalf of the church and the Palestinian Authority, allegations he denies. A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry declined to comment, citing an upcoming court hearing.

Dawani was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem in 2007, and as a non-Israeli was required by Israeli authorities to obtain temporary residency permits. These were granted to him in 2008 and 2009, but not last year.  Born in Nablus in the occupied West Bank,  Dawani lives with his family in East Jerusalem. Both areas were captured by Israel in a 1967 war. Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the conflict in a step that is not internationally recognized.

The church official said the church had petitioned an Israeli court to order the Interior Ministry to grant new residency permits and a hearing had been set for May 18. In the meantime, Dawani’s lawyer said, it appeared no moves were imminent to deport him.

Christchurch’s damaged cathedrals, photos before & after NZ earthquake

In addition to all the death and destruction we’ve been reporting in our news reports (see the latest here), the earthquake on Tuesday in Christchurch, New Zealand has caused significant damage to the city’s two cathedrals, especially to their trademark spires.

Here are pictures by Reuters photographer Simon Baker of the damage to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Roman Catholic) and Christchurch Cathedral (Anglican), with pre-quake pictures below them.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament: CC cathedral 1

(Rubble outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch February 24, 2011/Simon Baker)

New Catholic subdivision for ex-Anglicans will not be a ghetto

anglicans (Photo: Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, (C REAR) follows former Anglican bishops (L-R) John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton after their ordination as Roman Catholic priests at Westminster Cathedral in central London, January 15, 2011/Andrew Winning)

The new Roman Catholic Church body set up to house disaffected Anglicans would not become a ghetto within the Church, the priest appointed to lead the group said on Monday. The ordinariate, a special subdivision in the Church created by the Vatican to allow the converts to retain some of their Anglican customs, would also seek to evangelise while maintaining good relations with Anglicans, the former Church of England bishop Keith Newton told reporters.

The ordinariate, announced by Pope Benedict in 2009, allows those Anglicans opposed to women bishops, gay clergy and same-sex blessings to convert to Rome while keeping many of their traditions. Newton said there was a danger that people would think of it as an ex-Anglican ghetto within the Catholic Church, but “we want to make clear it is not.”

“There are no second-class Catholics,” he added.

Newton, who will be the ordinary or leader of the ordinariate, was ordained into the Catholic Church on Saturday along with two other former Church of England bishops, John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham.

UK envoy feared anti-Catholic violence after Vatican offer to Anglicans

vaticanLondon’s Vatican ambassador feared anti-Catholic violence in Britain after Pope Benedict offered to accept traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks. Catholic-Anglican relations faced their worst crisis in 150 years because of the offer, which undercut the authority of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the cable quoted Ambassador Francis Campbell as saying after the offer last year. (Photo: Pope Benedict and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at the Vatican, November 21, 2009/Osservatore Romano)

The cable, dated November 30, 2009 and published by The Guardian newspaper in London on Saturday, reflected concerns that have since eased. Tensions that it predicted for the pope’s visit to Britain in September this year did not materialise.

The confidential cable, signed by U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Miguel Diaz, said Campbell noted that England’s Catholics were a minority and mostly of Irish origin. “There is still latent anti-Catholicism in some parts of England and it may not take much to set it off,” it said, paraphrasing his words. “The outcome could be discrimination or in isolated cases even violence against this minority.”

Conservative bishops deliver blow to Anglican Covenant

rowan williamsConservative Anglicans have rejected a proposed landmark agreement designed to prevent splits in the worldwide Anglican Communion, just as the Church of England — the Communion’s mother church — moved a step closer to adopting it.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the 80 million Anglicans worldwide, has invested much personal authority in the proposed Anglican Covenant, which aims to prevent disputes over divisive issues such as gay bishops and same-sex unions. He has said the Anglican Communion faced a “piece-by-piece dissolution” if member churches failed to undertake to avoid actions that upset others. (Photo: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams opens the General Synod at Westminster Abbey in London November 23, 2010/Dan Kitwood)

The General Synod, the Church of England’s governing body, voted in favour of the deal, although it still has a number of stages to go before adoption, which would be no earlier than 2012.