FaithWorld

Excerpts from Archbishop Rowan Williams’ address at Lambeth Palace

lambeth 1 (Photo: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams welcomes Pope Benedict to Lambeth Palace, 17 Sept 2010/Stefan Wermuth)

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the head of the Church of England and spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, received Pope Benedict at Lambeth Palace in London on Friday and stressed the common goal both churches have in defending Christianity in the public sphere and working together as much as possible despite their differences.

Here are excerpts from the archbishop’s remarks to Pope Benedict:

“…Your consistent and penetrating analysis of the state of European society in general has been a major contribution to public debate on the relations between Church and culture, and we gratefully acknowledge our debt in this respect.

“Our task as bishops is to preach the Gospel and shepherd the flock of Christ; and this includes the responsibility not only to feed but also to protect it from harm.  Today, this involves a readiness to respond to the various trends in our cultural environment that seek to present Christian faith as both an obstacle to human freedom and a scandal to human intellect.  We need to be clear that the Gospel of the new creation in Jesus Christ is the door through which we enter into true liberty and true understanding: we are made free to be human as God intends us to be human; we are given the illumination that helps us see one another and all created things in the light of divine love and intelligence…

“Our presence together as British bishops here today is a sign of the way in which, in this country, we see our task as one and indivisible.  The International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission has set before us all the vital importance of our common calling as bishops to be agents of mission.  Our fervent prayer is that this visit will give us fresh energy and vision for working together in this context in the name of what a great Roman Catholic thinker of the last century called ‘true humanism’ – a passionate commitment to the dignity of all human beings, from the beginning to the end of life, and to a resistance to every tyranny that threatens to stifle or deny the place of the transcendent in human affairs.

“We do not as churches seek political power or control, or the dominance of Christian faith in the public sphere; but the opportunity to testify, to argue, sometimes to protest, sometimes to affirm – to play our part in the public debates of our societies…We shall be effective defenders or proclaimers of our faith when we can show what a holy life looks like, a life in which the joy of God is transparently present.  And this means that our ministry together as bishops across the still-surviving boundaries of our confessions is not only a search for how we best act together in the public arena; it is a quest together for holiness and transparency to God, a search for ways in which we may help each other to grow in the life of the Holy Spirit…

London protesters accuse pope of hypocrisy over sex abuse – report and photos

protest 2 (Photo: Protest as Pope Benedict XVI arrives by car at St Mary’s University College in London September 17, 2010/Peter Macdiarmid)

Pope Benedict reminded his Church on Friday that its first priority was to provide a safe environment for children as the pontiff was met by the first substantial protest of his delicate visit to Britain.  Several hundred people whistled and shouted “Pope must resign” and “shame” as the papal motorcade entered a Catholic school complex in Twickenham, southwest London.

They held placards reading “Hypocrisy and lies” and “Catholic paedophile cover up.”

The shouting of the protesters duelled with the singing of hymns from inside the school, where the pope held what was dubbed “the big assembly” of several thousand Catholic school children from throughout Britain.

Excerpts from pope speech at London interfaith meeting

pope and rabbi (Photo: Pope Benedict and Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, September 17, 2010/Toby Melville)

Pope Benedict met leaders of non-Christian faiths in London on Friday and stressed the need for dialogue among religions to foster peace. Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Khaled Azzam, director of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, also spoke.

Here are some excerpts from the pope’s speech:

“I would like to begin my remarks by expressing the Catholic Church’s appreciation for the important witness that all of you bear as spiritual men and women living at a time when religious convictions are not always understood or appreciated. The presence of committed believers in various fields of social and I would like to begin my remarks by expressing the Catholic Church’s appreciation for the important witness that all of you bear as spiritual men and women living at a time when religious convictions are not always understood or appreciated. The presence of committed believers in various fields of social and economic life speaks eloquently of the fact that the spiritual dimension of our lives is fundamental to our identity as human beings, that man, in other words, does not live by bread alone. As followers of different religious traditions working together for the good of the community at large, we attach great importance to this “side by side” dimension of our cooperation, which complements the “face to face” aspect of our continuing dialogue…

“Your presence and witness in the world points towards the fundamental importance for human life of this spiritual quest in which we are engaged. Within their own spheres of competence, the human and natural sciences provide us with an invaluable understanding of aspects of our existence and they deepen our grasp of the workings of the physical universe, which can then be harnessed in order to bring great benefit to the human family. Yet these disciplines do not and cannot answer the fundamental question, because they operate on another level altogether. They cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart, they cannot fully explain to us our origin and our destiny, why and for what purpose we exist, nor indeed can they provide us with an exhaustive answer to the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

Excerpts from pope’s London speech to Catholic teachers

twickenham 2 (Photo: Nuns waiting for Pope Benedict at a Catholic school in London, 17 Sept 2010/Kevin Coombs)

Visiting a Catholic school in London on Friday, Pope Benedict said teachers should give their pupils not only marketable skills but also wisdom, which he said was inseparable from knowledge of God. Catholic schools and Catholic religious teachers play an important part in transmitting this wisdom, he said. He also stressed the need to protect pupils from sexual predators.

Following are excerpts from his address to the teachers:

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution made by religious men and women in this land to the noble task of education… As you know, the task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training in skills intended to deliver some economic benefit to society; education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full – in short it is about imparting wisdom. And true wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of the Creator, for “both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts”.

“This transcendent dimension of study and teaching was clearly grasped by the monks who contributed so much to the evangelization of these islands … Since the search for God, which lies at the heart of the monastic vocation, requires active engagement with the means by which he makes himself known – his creation and his revealed word – it was only natural that the monastery should have a library and a school. It was the monks’ dedication to learning as the path on which to encounter the Incarnate Word of God that was to lay the foundations of our Western culture and civilization…

Pope must make amends, say British abuse victims

abuse (Photo: Mark Fabbro, Chris Daly, Sue Cox, Margaret Kennedy and Peter Saunders (L-R), who said they were survivors of abuse by Catholic priests, pose after a news conference in London September 15, 2010/Toby Melville)

Victims of abuse by Catholic priests urged the Vatican on the eve of Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain to hand over lists of suspected offenders to the police to prevent further cases of clerical sex crimes.

Speaking in London on Wednesday, a group of victims and activists said the Vatican should go beyond verbal apologies and offer concrete steps to make amends over clergy abuse.

“The pope is the boss. He has the capacity to do these things. Words must be backed up by actions,” said Peter Saunders, chief executive of a charity called the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. “We need the pope to say: ‘I will hand over all information I have about abusing priests, wherever they are in the world, to the authorities of the countries where these people are being protected’.”

“Ordain women,” London bus ads will urge Pope Benedict during September visit

CWO BUS

Pope Benedict will be confronted by posters on London’s famous red buses during his trip to the British capital next month which will call for the ordination of women priests.

One group of women, Catholic Women’s Ordination (CWO), will have its message plastered on the side of the buses as they travel along key routes, including past Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, where the pope is set to deliver a speech to Britain’s civic society on September 17.

The group has paid 15,000 pounds ($23,130) for 15 buses to carry the message “Pope Benedict – Ordain Women Now!” for a month. “We do not want to be disruptive, but I think the church has got to change or it will not survive,” CWO spokeswoman Pat Brown told Reuters. “I am quite hopeful at the moment because I think the church is in disarray.”

No musical instruments please, Vatican asks Britons

vuvuzelaPilgrims attending the large public events during Pope Benedict’s visit to England and Scotland next month have been issued a long list of do’s and don’ts including a ban on musical instruments and steel cutlery.

The list encourages worshipers to bring sunblock, flags and folding chairs for the events in Glasgow, London and Birmingham, but said alcohol, gazebos and lit candles should be left at home because they “could pose a threat.” (Photo: A fan blows a vuvuzela at the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, June 22, 2010/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

It did not specifically mention the vuvuzela, but the noisy World Cup trumpet could be considered out of bounds under the category of banned instruments and whistles. The trip from September 16 to 19 will be the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit in 1982 and is the first-ever official papal visit to Britain.

Pope UK visit costs soar, London concerned about protests, Paisley sees “mistake”

Pope  Benedict isn’t visiting Britain until September, but his trip is already making headlines there. Here are our latest reports:

pattenCampaigners planning to stage demonstrations during Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain should show restraint, the prime minister’s special representative for the papal visit, Chris Patten, said on Monday. (Photo: Chris Patten in London, July 5, 2010/Peter Macdiarmid)

Various protests are expected during the first papal state visit to the country in September, including by secularists, gay rights groups and those angry at the child-abuse scandal which has spread throughout the Roman Catholic church globally.

GUESTVIEW: Who is Jewish enough for Anglo-Jewish schools?

big benThe following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Heather Miller Rubens is a PhD candidate in History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School.*

By Heather Miller Rubens

On June 11, London’s Jewish Chronicle ran the provocative headline: “Jewish girl’s King David place goes to non-Jew.”  This breaking news is the latest incident in the Anglo-Jewish community’s struggle to establish a means of identifying their own that comports with British law.  Since the British High Court recently declared the Orthodox Jewish matrilineal lineage test in violation of England’s racial discrimination laws, Anglo-Jews have had difficulty determining who counts as Jewish for admissions to Orthodox Jewish schools. (Photo: Big Ben, 9 May 2010/Chris Helgren)

In England, religious schools are permitted to give admissions preference to applicants who share the school’s religious affiliation.  Usually this preference is a matter of mutual agreement between the students and the schools.  Until recently, the Office of the Chief Rabbi (OCR), the designated authority over Orthodox Judaism in England, instructed Orthodox Jewish schools that a child was considered Jewish if he or she was born to a Jewish mother, regardless of his or her level of religious observance.  Failing this, a child could also apply to undergo a conversion that would be recognized by the OCR.  However, in December of 2009 the OCR’s matrilineal test was declared illegal in R v The Governing Body of JFS.

“Definitely a God” poster tops UK ad complaints

christian party

A bus poster which claimed “There definitely is a God, so join the Christian Party and enjoy your life” attracted more complaints than any other advert last year, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday.

More than 1,200 people complained that the Christian Party‘s advert was offensive to atheists and could not be substantiated.

The poster was a response to an ad campaign last year by the British Humanist Association which stated “There’s probably no God — now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”  The ASA did not investigate either of the adverts, saying political party campaigns were outside its remit.