FaithWorld

Offending priest handled “by the book” by Episcopal Church leader

The Episcopal Church’s diocese of Nevada sought to calm an uproar over a former Benedictine monk who admitted sexual indiscretions with a parishioner before he was ordained an Episcopal priest by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is now leader of the 2.3 million member U.S. church.

“It looks to me like she handled the situation by the book,” Bishop Dan Edwards said of Jefferts Schori’s actions regarding Fr. Bede Parry, a church organist and former Episcopal priest.

Jefferts Schori became the 450-year-old church’s first female leader when she was appointed presiding bishop in 2006.

Parry, 69, is a defendant in a Missouri lawsuit filed last month over his admitted sexual relationship with a male parishioner at a summer camp run by a Roman Catholic monastery. He has since resigned from the priesthood and from All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas, Edwards said.

Jefferts Schori ordained Parry in 2004, aware that he had offended while a Benedictine monk at Conception Abbey, which runs a large monastery in Northwest Missouri.

Latest Anglican bid to mediate gay dispute meets with skepticism

williamsThe Archbishop of Canterbury’s latest proposal to mediate a gay rights dispute splitting the worldwide Anglican Communion seems to be falling on deaf ears in the opposing camps he is trying to discipline. Archbishop Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, suggested last week that member churches approving gay bishops and same-sex unions and those actively opposing them be sidelined from official doctrinal committees.

The initiative was sparked by the consecration of an openly lesbian bishop in California last month. Williams also said conservative churches — mostly in Africa — that appoint bishops to serve in other countries would also be sidelined.

The proposal, if accepted in the Communion, would be the first time such sanctions would be imposed on dissident national churches. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism is a federation of churches whose head has no direct power over all members.

Church of England at loggerheads over women bishops

The Church of England said on Monday it would go ahead with installing women as bishops, but a delay in draft legislation has left liberals and traditionalists alike uncertain about how the plan will work in practice.

Together with homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages, the ordination of women is among the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.

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Church leaders at the General Synod, or parliament, were due to discuss women bishops at a week-long meeting in London this week, but the Revision Committee, assigned to draft legislation, failed to meet the deadline.

GUESTVIEW: No king, no bishop? American Anglicans revolt

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Reenactment of the Boston Tea Party, 13 Dec 1998/Brian Snyder

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Elizabeth E. Evans is a U.S. freelance journalist living in Glenmoore, PA who writes about religion.

By Elizabeth E. Evans

After King George III lowered the boom on Boston in the wake of the 1773 Tea Party rebellion, Virginian Theodore Bland wrote “The question is, whether the rights and liberties of America shall be contended for, or given up to arbitrary powers.” It didn’t take long at all for J. Jon Bruno, Episcopal bishop of the diocese of Los Angeles, to launch another, quintessentially American challenge towards Canterbury and other Anglican points anxious or angry about the election of the denomination’s first openly lesbian bishop on December 5.

“I would remind the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops they need to be conscientious about respecting the canons of the church and the baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being,” Bruno said.  “To not consent in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion is to capitulate to titular heads.”

Vatican-Anglican: where in the details will the devil be hiding?

tiber-and-st-peters1If “the devil is in the details” when two groups seek a merger, where will he be hiding when the Vatican talks with disaffected Anglicans who want to join the Roman church? Neither the agenda nor the schedule for these talks are clear, but some issues are starting to emerge as possible hurdles to a smooth switchover for Anglicans who want to “swim the Tiber.” (Photo: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Tiber River, 23 Dec 1999/Mario Laporta)

There is little clarity yet on either side. The Vatican has not spelled out the conditions of the “Apostolic Constitution” to accept Anglicans who want to join Catholicism while maintaining some of their own traditions. Additionally, there are varied faces of Anglicanism, which in its dogmas and practices stands somewhere between Roman Catholicism and Protestant traditions such as the Lutheran or Reformed churches. This will clearly take a while to work out.

The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, played down any problems when the offer was announced. But several reactions from Anglicans to Tuesday’s announcement, including from some inclined to make the switch, have begun to trace the outlines of the looming doctrinal debates among Anglicans worldwide and between the Vatican and Anglicans knocking at its door.

Episcopal Church moves to elect more gay bishops

Episcopal Church leaders in Los Angeles on Sunday nominated an openly gay priest and an openly lesbian priest as bishops in a move sure to ratchet up tensions in the global Anglican Communion.

The move follows an announcement on Saturday by the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota of three candidates identified to become the Bishop of Minnesota, including a partnered lesbian priest in Chicago.

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The nominations come just weeks after the 2 million-member Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, lifted a de facto ban on the consecration of gay bishops that was seen as a “ceasefire” between liberal and conservative factions in the American church and the wider communion. You can see our story here.

First ACNA archbishop strikes evangelical tone

Robert Duncan, installed on Wednesday night as the first archbishop of the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), struck a decidedly evangelical tone in the sermon he delivered at his installation service. (You can see our coverage of the ACNA’s initial assembly here and here.)

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The ACNA is mostly composed of conservative dissidents who have left the Episcopal Church — the main U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion — over thorny issues like gay clergy. It says it has 100,000 followers in 700 churches in Canada and the United States.

Like other mainline Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church — which is estimated to have more than 2 million members — has been shrinking while evangelical Protestant churches often have seen explosive growth (though some like the Southern Baptist Convention are also facing decline. We blogged on that issue earlier today). The ACNA seems to be in some ways emulating the evangelical movement by sticking to conservative principles (it would argue this means scriptural authority) and by stressing a renewed drive of evangelism.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obamas attend first Sunday church service in Washington

OBAMA/WASHINGTON - Barack Obama attended his first Sunday church service as president on Easter Sunday, greeted by hundreds of onlookers at an Episcopal church a block from the White House.

Obama, wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha sat about halfway down the first row in the packed but intimate St. John's, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Throngs of onlookers packed the streets around the church and behind police barricades, even though, according to a White House official, the location was not disclosed until Sunday.

GUESTVIEW: Amazing Grace — a rabbi’s view of the inaugural prayer service

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The author, Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, is a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and author of the novel A Delightful Compendium of Consolation.

By Burton L. Visotzky

On Wednesday, I went to church. It seemed right that on the morning after President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration as the 44th President of the United States I should pray for his and our success in the years ahead. We are a nation in crisis, depleted in so many ways by the last eight years. On the Tuesday of the inauguration, I stood with a million other Americans on the Mall in Washington, watching and cheering the transfer of power. The air was frigid, but filled with hope. We stood just behind the Capitol reflecting pool – far from the rostrum, but embedded in the great, diverse mass of people who make up America. Next to us were folks from Augusta, Georgia, who drawled their discomfort when George Bush was booed. On our other side were Washingtonians – African-Americans who proudly declared that on this day we were not black or white, but all of us were silver (the color of our tickets to the event). (Photo: National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral in Washington, 21 Jan 2009/Larry Downing)

Truth be told, the inaugural was better viewed in front of a television. But for the experience of being an American on this auspicious day, the Mall was the best place in the whole world. There is something extraordinary about standing among a million others, staring up at the jumbotron, striving to catch the words our new president was speaking. Sharing our food, our stories, ducking down so someone behind us could snap a photo, making sure that kids were in the sight-lines of their parents, breathing free; we huddled, massed against the cold, embodying the passions that Emma Lazarus’ poem emblazons on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

A new twist on the “Is Obama a Christian?” debate

The “Is Obama a Christian?” discussion is starting up again, this time not by people who suspect he’s a Muslim but those who think he’s a phony follower of Jesus Christ. The occasion for this is the posting on Beliefnet of an interview he gave to the Chicago Sun Times in 2004, while he was still an Illinois state senator. Conservative Christians have taken his religious views as proof he’s not a real Christian, but there’s support from a more liberal corner for his views.

That there is disagreement isn’t really a surprise. Theologians have been debating who is a Christian almost since the dawn of the faith and still dispute where the dividing lines lie. What is more interesting is that critics are picking apart his views — or purported views — on theological issues that have no obvious importance for his job as president. (Photo: Obama at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, June 15, 2008/John Gress)

Bloggers Joe Carter and Rod Dreher read in Obama’s interview a denial of the Nicene Creed since he called Jesus “a bridge between God and man” rather than clearly saying he is the Son of God (hat tip to Steve Waldman). “Unless Obama was being incredibly and uncharacteristically inarticulate, this is heterodox. You cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense and deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. You just can’t,” Dreher writes. Has Obama denied the divinity of Jesus Christ here? That’s not clear here. Another point that Carter notes is that he doesn’t believe that people who have not embraced Jesus as their personal saviour will automatically go to hell. “I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup,” he said.