Saturday, August 30, 2008

50,000 Christians Flee Deadly Violence In India State, Bishop Says

BHUABENESWAR, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Tens of thousands of Christians, most of them Catholics, were hiding Saturday, August 30, in the jungles of India's eastern state of Orissa where anti-Christian violence killed at least 36 people, Catholic officials said.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, who leads the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese in Orissa, claimed more than 80 priests and nuns from his diocese were among 50,000 refugees who fled "for their lives" since last weekend, when Hindu militants began attacking Christians.

"There's a danger of [more] attacks and they are advised not to go home. They have gone into hiding into the forests," said Cheenath in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife. "Their houses have been totally destroyed," he added.

Earlier reports said 11 people died, but the influential advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians claimed at least 36 people were killed in Orissa's worst communal violence in a decade. The different figures could not immediately be reconciled as investigations continued Saturday, August 30, in remote areas of Orissa.

Read it all.

Friday, August 29, 2008

GAFCON Communiqué on establishment of Primates Council and Fellowship

Setting up the Council and the Fellowship

The first meeting of the GAFCON Primates’ Council has taken place in London on Wednesday 20th to Friday 22nd August. The twofold task of the Council is ‘to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.’ The Primates have therefore laid the basis for the future work of both the Council and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). The GAFCON movement continues its advance.

The Council will consist of Primates assisted by an Advisory Board which will work with them on fulfilling the aims of the movement. In addition, a Secretariat has been created. We are very grateful to God for his guidance and blessing on the Jerusalem Conference. We believe that the Jerusalem Declaration provides for a viable way of helping to deal with the crisis in the Anglican Communion brought about through the disobedience to Scripture by some in North America and elsewhere.

The present reality

We maintain that three new facts of the Anglican Communion must be faced. We are past the time when they can be reversed.

First, some Anglicans have sanctified sinful practices and will continue to do so whatever others may think. Second, churches and even dioceses affected by this disobedience have rightly withdrawn fellowship while wishing to remain authentic Anglicans. So-called ‘border-crossing’ is another way of describing the provision of recognition and care for those who have been faithful to the teachings of Holy Scripture. Third, there is widespread impaired and broken sacramental communion amongst Anglicans with far-reaching global implications. The hope that we may somehow return to the state of affairs before 2003 is an illusion.

Any sound strategy must accommodate itself to these facts.

Developing the GAFCON movement

GAFCON remains a gospel movement. It is far from saying that its membership are the only true Anglicans or the only gospel people in the Anglican Communion. We thank God that this is not the case. But the movement recognises the acute spiritual dangers of a compromised theology and aims to be a resource and inspiration for those who wish to defend and promote the biblical gospel.

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will function as a means of sharing in this great task. We invite individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces and parachurch organisations who assent to the Jerusalem Declaration to signify their desire to become members of the Fellowship via the GAFCON web-site or written communication with the Secretariat. The Fellowship will develop networks, commissions and publications intended to defend and promote the biblical gospel in ways which support one another.

At the same time, the Council and its Advisory Board will seek to deal with the problems of those who have confessed the biblical faith in the face of hostility and found the need on grounds of conscience and in matters of great significance to break the normal bonds of fellowship in the name of the gospel. For the sake of the Anglican Communion this is an effort to bring order out of the chaos of the present time and to make sure as far as possible that some of the most faithful Anglican Christians are not lost to the Communion. It is expected that priority will be given to the possible formation of a province in North America for the Common Cause Partnership.

Lambeth 2008

Noting the reference to building bridges with GAFCON in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s concluding Presidential Address at Lambeth, and that the Lambeth Conference itself made no decisions about the future of the Communion, we are grateful that there is an acknowledgement that Lambeth 1.10 of 1998 remains an authentic expression of the mind of the Communion. We also note the renewed call for moratoria on the consecration of bishops who are homosexually partnered and the blessing of same-sex unions as well so-called ‘border-crossing’. Likewise there is mention of the creation of a ‘Pastoral Forum’ to look after disaffected parishes or dioceses and continued work on an Anglican Covenant.

We hope in due course to offer a longer response to Lambeth. Meanwhile we are saddened that the Conference did not offer a more effective way forward than what is proposed. Our immediate difficulty is that the voice of Lambeth 2008 is seriously weakened because it merely repeated what has been said by the Primates’ Meeting (in Gramado early 2003, Lambeth October 2003, Dromantine, February 2005 and Dar es Salaam, February 2007) and which has proved to change nothing. Indeed the Windsor Continuation Group itself made the same point, ‘The three moratoria have been requested several times: Windsor (2004); Dromantine (2005); Dar es Salaam (2007) and the requests have been less than wholeheartedly embraced on all sides… The failure to respond presents us with a situation where if the three moratoria are not observed the Communion is likely to fracture.’

But the Communion fractured in 2003, when our fellowship was ‘torn at its deepest level. It seems that the facts which we have identified as the new reality have not yet been recognised as such, and we are therefore continually offered the same strategies which mean further delay and unlikely results. Indeed, delay itself seems to be a strategy employed by some in order to resolve the issue through weariness. The Anglican Covenant will take a long time to be widely accepted and may have no particular force when it does. The idea of ‘moratoria’ has never dealt with the underlying problem as is shown by the equivalence of cross-border care and protection with the sexual sins which have caused the problems.

In any case, some North American Bishops appear to have indicated already that they will not keep to them. It appears that people living in a homosexual unions continue to be ordained in some dioceses in contravention to Lambeth 1.10. In principle, this is no different from consecrating a bishop who adopts the same pattern of life, or indeed, of blessing same-sex unions. The idea of the Pastoral Forum has only now emerged but has never been discussed with those actually affected by the innovations which have created the problems with which we are trying to deal (see the appended letter ). If the Panel of Reference did not work, it is unclear how the Pastoral Forum will succeed.

Given that some esteemed colleagues from the Global South have strongly commended the Windsor Process to us, we are reluctant to say that it cannot work. But there is nothing new here such as to make us hesitate from the course we are taking, given the urgency of the situations with which we are dealing and the realities already on the ground. As they themselves remark, ‘the Anglican Communion as a communion of ordered churches is at the probable brink of collapse’. We warmly appreciate the good words which they have written about GAFCON and look forward to co-operation with them in the future as we ourselves try to avoid that collapse and renew the Communion.

The Most Rev Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria
The Most Rev Gregory Venables, Primate of The Southern Cone
The Most Rev Emmanuel Kolini, Primate of Rwanda
The Most Rev Valentino Mokiwa, Primate of Tanzania
The Most Rev Benjamin Nzmibi, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda

Monday, August 25, 2008

China arrests 'underground' bishop

From the Sydney Morning Herald

August 25, 2008 - 5:19PM

China has arrested a 73-year-old underground bishop, a US-based Catholic group said in a statement.

Julius Jia Zhiguo, bishop of the unregistered or "underground" Roman Catholic congregation of Zhengding village in northeast China's Heibei province, was arrested by Chinese officials on Sunday morning, the Cardinal Kung Foundation said.

It was the 12th time Jia has been arrested since 2004, the foundation said. He has spent 18 years in prison.

He was last arrested in August last year, and released again in December.

"We do not know where Bishop Jia is detained at this time. We also do not know why he was arrested again this time," said Joseph Kung, head of the foundation.

After his release in December, Jia was placed under house arrest, confined to the living quarters of his cathedral in Heibei and not allowed to receive any visitors except for a few rare occasions when the visits were supervised and accompanied by government officials, Kung said.

Jia was consecrated bishop of Zhengding in 1980, mandated by Pope John Paul II, and leads a Roman Catholic community with approximately 110,000 members.

Two Catholic churches exist in China. The official state-run church does not recognise the authority of the Pope.

Jia is one of approximately 40 underground bishops in China, every one of whom is either in prison, missing, under house arrest or under surveillance, Kung said.

"The persecution of religious believers is very much alive in China and ongoing regardless of the fact that the Olympic Games has just been held in China and closed," Kung said.

© 2008 AAP

Monday, August 11, 2008

Some Protestants find spiritual appeal in natural family planning

Taking a page from Catholic doctrine, Protestants are avoiding artificial contraception for religious reasons

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Phaedra Taylor abstained from sex until marriage. But she began researching birth control methods before she was even engaged, and by the time she married David Taylor, she was already charting her fertility.

Taylor, a fresh-faced 28-year-old who would blend in easily with South Austin bohemians, ruled out taking birth control pills after reading a book that claimed the pill could, in some cases, make the uterus uninhabitable after conception occurred. She viewed that as abortion, which she opposes.

"I just wasn't willing to risk it," she said.

Taylor wanted her faith to guide her sexual and reproductive decisions after marriage. Natural family planning felt like the best way to honor God, she said.

The Taylors are one of several couples at Hope Chapel — a nondenominational church where David Taylor, 36, was the arts minister for 12 years — who practice natural family planning. Christian scholars say they may reflect a growing trend among non-Catholic Christians who are increasingly seeking out natural alternatives to artificial contraception.

Natural family planning is frequently dismissed by Protestants as an outmoded Catholic practice that most Catholics don't even follow anymore. But 40 years after Pope Paul VI released Humanae Vitae, the document outlining the church's position on marital sex and procreation, the method and the theology behind it are earning respect among some young Protestants, according to Christian scholars.

Read it all.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dr Williams has made a split inevitable in the Anglican Church

From August 8, 2008

A split in the Anglican Church was inevitable, a leading conservative cleric said last night as he attacked Rowan Williams’s belief that gay relationships could be “comparable to marriage”.

After a successful Lambeth Conference for the Archbishop of Canterbury, where he avoided schism over the issue, Dr Williams faced a fresh furore over the strength of his liberal views.

The Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables, predicted the end of the communion, saying: “This is more evidence of the unravelling of Anglicanism. Without a clearly agreed biblical foundation, all the goodwill in the world cannot stop the inevitable break-up. Unity without truth is disunity.”

Bishop Venables, who has infuriated North American Anglicans by taking conservative defectors into his South American province, including the entire Diocese of San JoaquÍn in central California, was among the organisers of the recent Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem.

With Archbishop Henry Orombi, of Uganda, and Dr Peter Akinola, of Nigeria, he will be at the meeting of the Global Anglican primates in London this month, where Anglican bishops who boycotted Lambeth will discuss Dr Williams’s views.

Read the full article at The Times Online

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

San Joaquin to Bishop Lamb: We accept the recognition by the ABC of our Bishop and reject any purported authority of TEC

The Diocese of San Joaquin - Fresno, California

August 4, 2008

The Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb
P. O. Box 7606
Stockton, CA 95267

Dear Bishop Lamb:

We, the Bishop, Standing Committee and Diocesan Council of the Diocese of San Joaquin, receive with gladness the recognition of Bishop Schofield by the Archbishop of Canterbury "as a full member of the episcopal fellowship of the Province of the Southern Cone within the Anglican Communion, and as such [he] cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion."

We do not recognize the uncanonical actions of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in moving to depose Bishop John-David Schofield. Prior to this attempt that failed for lack of votes required by TEC's Canons, the Diocese of San Joaquin assembled at its Annual Convention on December 8, 2007, voted overwhelmingly to become a constituent Diocese of the Southern Cone of South America and as such remain a recognized Diocese within the Anglican Communion.

A subsequent action followed in which Bishop Schofield, a full member in the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, followed his diocese and was welcomed by Archbishop Gregory Venables and the Synod into full membership in the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone.

Therefore, as the lay and clergy leaders of the Diocese of San Joaquin, within the Province of the Southern Cone, we accept the recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury of our Bishop and reject any purported authority of The Episcopal Church, or Bishop Jerry Lamb, over any of our ministries. Our obligation is to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin
The Diocesan Council of the Diocese of San Joaquin

Five million quid down the drain as Lambeth Conference ends

From Damian Thompson,, Monday, August 4, 2008, 08:41 AM GMT

Well, that was a waste of everyone's time. The Archbishop of Canterbury's spin doctors may pretend that the £5 million Lambeth Conference was an unexpected success because the 650 bishops didn't actually come to blows. Oh, please.

Was the Lambeth Conference really a success?

I'll tell you what was an unexpected success: the Gafcon meeting of anti-gay conservatives in Jerusalem, which managed to keep well within the boundaries of the Anglican Communion even though 230 of its bishops boycotted Lambeth.

Gafcon put the wind up the Lambeth bishops so thoroughly that most of them were more than happy to shift the blame for the troubles of the Anglican Communion on to gay-ordaining American Episcopalians. And, in the absence of votes, they didn't have to put their hands up in order to do so. They just vaguely assented to a smorgasbord of "structures" dreamt up by Rowan and his allies which are targeted at liberals but which will take years to come into force – by which time the Episcopal Church will be marrying and consecrating every gay and lesbian it can lay its hands on.

Rowan's cheerleaders were ready to declare the conference a triumph of statesmanship when Jonathan Wynne-Jones broke the story in the Sunday Telegraph that two senior bishops – Winchester and Exeter – were asking Dr Williams to organise a peaceful separation between the "core Communion" and the liberal fringe. Indeed, Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt of Winchester explicitly said that Rowan's "covenant" scheme was unlikely to work.

Later on Sunday, Ruth Gledhill of the Times reported on her blog that "whispers of discontent" about Dr Williams were circulating among Church of England bishops. She talked about a "photogenic youngish evangelical" being talked up as a possible successor. That strikes me as an excessively flattering description of James Jones of Liverpool, but he's ambitious enough, that's for sure.

More "successes" at Lambeth: Cardinal Walter Kasper, normally keen on observing ecumenical niceties, dropped in to announce that any hope of Rome ever recognising Anglican orders was now extinguished.

And then there's the bill: £5 million, of which the Anglican Communion is probably going to have to borrow over £1 million from the Church Commissioners. And nothing to show for it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


There are visible divisions separating Christians, but we know that on a deeper lever we do share, in a real sense, membership in one Body. Its expression is incomplete, imperfect, but it is nonetheless a genuine reality. Therefore, I can as an Orthodox, worship with my sisters and brothers who share with me belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Saviour. But I would go further than that. I think of the words of St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, when one member of the body suffers, all the other members suffer with it; when one member rejoices, all the other members rejoice. As fellow Christians we share one another’s joys and sorrows. For me, as an Orthodox, coming to the Lambeth Conference is an opportunity to do precisely that – to share in your joys and your sorrows.

But, even more, I will go a further step and say that the questions that you are considering are also questions that are of concern to us. And if they are not particularly on our immediate agenda now, yet they are questions that we will need to consider increasingly in the future. So, yes, you have much here to discuss as Anglicans - specifically Anglican problems. But I see them also as questions that are posed to us Orthodox. For example, the question of women priests and bishops. Most Orthodox would say, we should not ordain women. But if you ask them why not, they will say that it has never been done; they will appeal to tradition. But you press them a little farther, and say that there must be a reason why women have never been ordained as priests. The argument from tradition merely tells you that they have never been ordained as priests, but it does not tell you why. Surely there must be some theological reason. On the one hand, the Orthodox are certain and clear in their answer. Most of us would say, no, we could not ever ordain women. Yet others would say, it is for us essentially an open question. We are not proposing to do so in the near future, but we need to reflect more deeply on it. If all we say is, “impossible, never,” we perhaps should ask ourselves, what are the implications for our understanding of human nature , of the difference between male and female, for our understanding of the priesthood and the relationship of the priest to Christ. That is an example of how your questions are perhaps to some extent also our questions.

Read it all.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, R.I.P.

From National Review Online:

"When 1999 turned into 2000, a lot of people asked, “Who was the Man of the Century?” And many answered, “Solzhenitsyn.” That was a very solid choice.

Born in 1918, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn became the voice and conscience of the Russian people. There was no greater or more effective foe of Communism, or of totalitarianism in general. His Gulag Archipelago was a crushing blow to the Soviet Union — after its publication in the mid-1970s, the USSR had no standing, morally. The book was effective because it was true.

Because he was such a great and important man, it is sometimes overlooked how great, versatile, and prolific a writer he was. He wrote novels, novellas, short stories, poems, memoirs, essays, speeches, and more. The Gulag Archipelago, he called “an experiment in literary investigation.”

The First Circle, a novel, is many people’s favorite book. So is another novel, Cancer Ward.

He wrote no more gripping or beautiful work than The Oak and the Calf, his literary memoir. The title refers to an old folk image of a calf butting its head up against an oak: This symbolizes futility. And that was a writer — a lone, persecuted, hounded writer — trying to bring down the Soviet state. Yet the oak fell.

With this memoir and The Gulag in mind, Norman Podhoretz once wrote, “[Solzhenitsyn] is returning [to the Russian people] their stolen or ‘amputated’ national memory, reopening the forcibly blocked channels of communication between the generations, between the past and the present . . .” Few writers have written under such pressure. He would receive mail saying, “Look after your health, Aleksandr Isayevich — we are all depending on you.”

In his later years — after age 50 or so — he had the support of a wonderful family, consisting of three boys and his wife, Natalia. Their exile home in Cavendish, Vt., was kind of Solzhenitsyn, Inc.: They all helped with the many tasks of writing and publishing. Out on the grounds of their home is a large rock — a boulder. Solzhenitsyn used to tell the boys, when they were little, that this was a magic horse, which would fly them back, when Russia was free.

Solzhenitsyn returned to his homeland in 1994.

Like everyone else, he had his critics: He was accused of being a megalomaniac, a Slavophile, a right-wing nationalist, an anti-Semite. He was too humane for any of that.

Read it all.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Alliee DeArmond - Diaspora: Word Shop Newsletter July 2008

From the Word Shop Newsletter, July 2008. Also, check out the Word shop online at and stop by next time you are on that edge of the continent!

"It's been ten years since I read Isaiah 49 and walked out of church, the wind slamming the door behind us; ten years since we left and walked into a church down the street just in time for the Gospel: "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world." Since then I have bounced around, sometimes feeling like a kid who's left home to go off to college, sometimes rejoicing in the unity of those beholding and sometimes experiencing the heart ripping anguish of divorce. "Great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart," Paul said in regards to his people.

"I grew up in a liberal, academic household. I remember my father refusing to sign the anti-communism loyalty oath demanded of professors in the 50's. We were pro civil rights, pro free speech, anti-war; nonconformists, effete intellectual snobs, hippies. What a shock it has been to watch so-called liberals move into behaviors I would have once attributed to "red-neck fundamentalists." I personally have experienced hate mail, book banning and up shutting from the liberal front. Those whom I'd expect to applaud a forum of freely exchanged ideas, suddenly can only tolerate ideas in agreement with theirs. Since when do liberals demand loyalty oaths like the Presiding Episcopal Bishop did while collecting delegates for her puppet diocese? Why have there been more priests and Bishops deposed in the last two years than in the previous 200 years of the American Episcopal Church? It is very odd.

Reading over a century of encyclicals on Social Justice, I was struck by how the church is unable to rest on the right or on the left. Instead she is always shifting, one foot in front of the other, arms swinging in opposite directions. The belly button insists that we should all just find middle ground, but the church is on the move, always has been. Right, left, right. Sometimes she looks quite drunk, staggering down the hall, bouncing off the walls. Sometimes she is drunk on the finest of wine. Meanwhile, some of us get bruised. This love stuff is not for the faint hearted."

"I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward." - Charlotte Bronte

Friday, August 1, 2008

Moscow Patriarchate laments over Anglican decision to install women bishops

Moscow, August 1, Interfax -

"The Russian Orthodox Church has to state with regret that the decision to install women bishops impedes the dialogue between Orthodox Christians and Anglicans developed for some decades," Communication service of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations' Communication Service says in its special statement spread in Moscow on Friday.

According to the document, this decision "alienates Anglicans from the Orthodox Church and contributes in further division of the Christian world."

The Moscow Patriarchate reminds the Orthodox Church has always been negative about women priests since some Protestant and Anglican Churches started to ordain them late in the 20th century.

"Such practice contradicts centuries-old Church tradition dating back to the first Christian community. Orthodox Christians consider women bishops even more unacceptable," the statement further says.

Christian tradition, the authors stress, has always considered bishops as "direct spiritual successors of apostles, who grant them a special blessing to lead God's people and a special responsibility to keep the purity of faith and be symbols and guarantors of Church unity."

Thus, the Moscow Patriarchate believes installing women-bishops contradicts "the course of Savior, holy apostles and ancient undivided Church."

In conviction that revision of the original church norms contradicts the Lord's idea on priestly ministry, the Moscow Patriarchate states "it is not a theological or practical church need that dictated this decision to the Anglican General Synod, but rather its strive to keep step with secular idea of sexual equality in all spheres of life."

The Russian Church reminds, "Secularization of Christianity makes many believers to abandon it as they strive to find spiritual support in secure Gospels and apostolic traditions introduced by Eternal and Unchangeable God."