V. Gene Robinson, New Hampshire bishop of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA), met Monday, April 5 with a congregation within his diocese who oppose his leadership because of his 15 year relationship with his male partner. Bishop Robinson met with members and lay leaders of the Church of the Redeemer in Rochester, NH, as the second of a series of meetings to see whether the church and Robinson can maintain an eccesiastical relationship even with their differences. Some Episcopal churches, including Redeemer, opposed to his ordination have joined the ad hoc American Anglican Council, a new network of conservative churches.
In the meeting with Redeemer members Robinson addressed their concerns over having him preside over certain parish activities, such as confirmations, by agreeing to provide them with a list of conservative bishops he would approve to substitute for him at those occasions, provided they and the congregation agree that as their confirmed bishop, he still retains the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese. Redeemer's Senior Warden, Jerry DeLemus, explained, "This church is part of the diocese and we do fall under diocesan authority of Bishop Robinson. It's Scriptural authority we're having trouble with." Earlier this year Robinson had assigned the Redeemer congregation a priest who agrees with their view that homosexuality is a sin.
Although Robinson said after Monday's meeting that "I feel we're on our way to repairing the rift," it remains that a signifcant portion of the congregation will only accept him if he repents of his sin and separates from his partner, something Robinson has said he does not feel God is calling to him do.
Ongoing talks include a commission of international Anglican leaders studying the issue.
Tuesday, April 06 2004 @ 08:39 AM EDT Contributed by: AIA
EXCLUSIVE! ORIGINAL ANSWERS IN ACTION ARTICLE
Answers In Action Director Gretchen Passantino and her team of researchers has posted four articles and a recommended reading list to respond to the strange collection of views concerning Jesus and Paul proposed in last night's ABC primetime special, Paul and Jesus: Word and Worship hosted by journalist Peter Jennings. Passantino said she was disappointed in the program, having expected better from the veteran newsman who spent nearly 2 years preparing the documentary, including interviewing such conservative scholars and experts as Paul Maier, N. T. Wright, Luke Timothy Johnson and Ben Witherington. She added, "I knew their list of scholars was top heavy on liberals, including some extreme liberals like Elaine Pagels and Robert Funk. But," she continued, "I hoped that the many fine critiques and analyses of his previous special, In Search of Jesus, would have educated him about the facts and made him a better journalist this time around. Sadly, it didn't appear to."
The Answers In Action articles include a summary critique of the program by Gretchen Passantino; a review of the Metaphorical Gospel view underlying the views of liberals like Funk, Crossan, and Spong; a summary of the biblical evidence that the teachings of the Old Testament, Jesus, the apostles and Paul were not contradictory; a quick review of the evidence that Jesus, the apostles and Paul were not expecting an any-moment end of world history; and a focused reading list of good resources covering all of the topics of the program. Passantino said that the four articles and reading list highlight some of the most glaring problems in the program. She regrets, she said, "that the program was so wrong in so many points that it would take more time than it is worth to answer everything. However," she added, "the glaring issues we addressed are representative of the whole. If Jennings was wrong in these obvious areas, he doesn't encourage us to trust him in the less obvious."
The Vatican issued a statement last week warning that governments that deny religion and religious people the right to state their principles in public life is a new kind of religious intolerance. The remarks were made by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See representative to the session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which met last week in Geneva, Switzerland.
Archbishop Tomasi referred to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. which articulates and promotes religious freedom. He quoted Article 18, which states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
According to Tomasi, "An emerging subtle form of religions intolerance is opposing the right of religion to speak publicly on issues concerning forms of behavior that are measured against principles of a moral and religious nature." Tomasi clarified that, "While respecting a healthy sense of the state's secular nature, the positive role of believers in public life should be recognized."
He concluded, "Religion cannot be relegated to a corner of the private sphere of life and in this way risk losing its social dimension and its charitable action toward vulnerable people it serves without any distinction."
The California state Supreme Court strengthened California's fetal-murder law today, delcaring the killing of a pregnant woman and her unborn child to be two murders, even if the perpetrator is unaware that the mother was pregnant.
The decision (6-1) overturns a lower court ruling that the killer must know the victim was pregnant in order to be convicted of killing two people. The California Legislature passed the fetal murder law in 1970. It is being applied in Scott Peterson's trial for the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Connor.
The issue came before the state Supreme Court because a man convicted of murdering his former lover and her unborn child (approximately 10 weeks in gestation) argued that he couldn't be convicted of two murders since he was unaware of his former lover's preganancy. A lower appeals court had overturned the man's double conviction. California state Supreme Justice Janice Rogers Brown argued that the man "did not need to be specifically aware how many potential victims his conscious disregard for life endangered."
San Francisco Catholics, led by Archbishop William J. Levada, Sunday held a prayer vigil and protest rally opposing same-sex marriage and urging federal legislation banning such unions. The nearly 1,000 member crowd celebrated mass first at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, then marched in a several block loop around the church. The Associated Press reported that the rally and march were sponsored by Your Catholic Voice, a national organization with reportedly 250,000 members. San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, is Catholic. According to his spokesman, Peter Ragone, the Catholic mayor has "respectful disagreements" with the church.
The leading Roman Catholic clergy in the Holy Land, Patriarch Michel Sabbah (an ethnic Palestinian), said in his annual Easter message, "We have to believe peace is possible, because when we say peace is impossible, that's the death for everyone." He says he remains hopeful that peace can come to the Middle East, and called on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to seek the road to peace.
Although Sabbah criticized both Israelis and Palestinians, his harshest criticism was for the Israelis: "This is the question: whether the Israelis are ready now to stop all violence." By contrast, he said, "The Palestinians are ready now to stop all violence." Israel says that Palestinian calls for peace are disingenuous and that their violent actions bely their calls for peace. Israel demands a complete crackdown on all Palestinian violence or sources of violence.
Sabbah presides over 400,000 Catholics in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jordan. He is the first ethnic Palestinian elected to the post in 1987. Predecessors were Italian. Sabbah concluded, "It is high time for the leaders to come back to reason and to consider what they have done in order to avoid for themselves and for their people the sin of more bloodshed, and the permanence of insecurity."
BBC 4 is scheduled to broadcast a program examining the pros and cons of abortion this month across the UK. The program, My Foetus, will show a vacuum abortion of a four-week developing child. The aborted child's body will then be viewed as it lies in a petrie dish. Additionally, the program will show aborted children at 10, 11, and 21 weeks. At 8 weeks gestation the human child possesses all of its major organs and body parts, brain wave activity and circulatory system (including heart) and can experience physical sensations such as pain.
The program was both commended and condemned by British pro-life organizations. The Pro-Life Alliance commended the BBC for being willing to show pictures of aborted children for the first time. Burno Quintavalle, legal advisor for Pro-Life Alliance, said the decision marked "the end of the line for politically-correct censorship by broadcasters" and speculated that the move would allow his own organization to air more visually challenging footage in its political activism campaigns during upcoming pre-election discussions. The Pro-Life Alliance tried to use such images in a party political broadcast made for the 1997 and 2001 election campaigns, but the footage was rejected by the BBC as too offensive to taste and decency guidelines. In contrast, the Pro-Life Alliance also condemned a portion of the forthcoming broadcast, the footage of the actual abortion, saying, "It's disgraceful to show a human being being killed on screen. They are going beyond what we were going to show, which was the aftermath."
A spokeswoman for BBC4 said the program uses the procedure and images in the context of a wider discussion about abortion than merely the arguments between the pro-abortion and anti-abortion sides. She continued that the images are "carefully conceptualized" within the wider discussion. She said viewers should be fully warned of what they are about to see. The program will air at 11 PM with warnings both before and during the program of potentially disturbing images and will recommed a support line for troubled viewers.
Goths -- young people whose alternative lifestyle choices run to black, occult, anti-social, and a brand of trash rock called "Goth" (from Gothic) will congregate from all over Europe and America in a first-time major festival to be held in Edinburgh this coming weekend. The Goth festival, called The Dark City festival, will include some of the biggest goth bands from across Europe and is expected to draw some 1500 out-of-towners to the four day celebration.
The festival is organized by promoters James and Julia Lile, with colleague Laurie Sinclair. According to Julia, whose company has been sponsoring Goth club nights in Edinburgh for several years, the choice of Edinburgh for the festival is a natural, even though it hasn't been done before. She noted, "There is understandably a lot of interest in what is the first major festival of its type in Scotland. We have people coming over from Germany and America who are fascinated by the occult history of the city and all the tales of ghosts and hauntings."
Julie also noted that most of the biggest goth bands bypass Scotland for other major cities in Europe and south of Scotland in England. "We don't really get the big bands coming here normally, most of them stick to venues in England, and a lot of my friends regularly find themselves having to travel south to see them." She hopes this festival will convince the most popular bands that venues in Scotland are on a par with their regular destinations.
Clergy in Edinburgh are generally supportive of the festival, at least publicly, noting that anything that gets the young Goths onto church property, even if in a hunt for graves and ghosts, brings them close enough to hear the message of the church. Rev. Charles Robertson, minister of Canongate Kirk, commented, "The cemetery is a public place and provided they behave responsibly and don't cause damage there would not be a problem."
Shopkeepers are a little more reticent, noting that in previous times Goths have done their share of vandalism and malicious loitering. Said record shop assistant manager Michael Kilkey, "We don't handle that kind of music, so it certainly won't boost business, but if they are hanging about on the streets outside being as abusive as normal then I think it will keep a lot of our customers away."
According to a new report from the Scottish government's Executive office, plans are underway to revise Scottish law on divorce, child custody, and child visitation to reflect "the way Scotland's people now live their lives." The report, Family Matters: Improving Family Law in Scotland, was unveiled by Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson in Edinburgh. Justice Jamieson explained, "Family life should, wherever possible, be an issue for families themselves. Government and other agencies should not intrude when things are going well. Where we can help is in providing the right kind of support when families hit a rocky patch."
The changes in law will reduce uncontested divorce waiting periods from 2 years to 1 and contested divorce waiting periods from 5 years to 2. Parental rights and responsibilities will be granted unmarried fathers who have signed their child(ren)'s birth certificates in an attempt to prevent children becoming neotiating points in settlement proceedings. The new laws will also enhance sharing of parental custody and access to grandchildren by grandparents. There are also provisions for unmarried couples who live together and step-parents.
The changes will undergo public review and criticism, debate, revision, and finally be submitted to the Scottish Parliament for adoption. According to Justice Jamieson, the changes in law are not meant to undercut traditional values, but to protect children in vulnerable households: "Some will see any change to the law in this area as a defeat for traditional values. They should not, for the reforms published today are based around a principle that is central to everything we stand for as a country and as a society -- the best interests of children."
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26