WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES STEPS IN TO BAIL OUT ROMAN CATHOLICS
In a move that echoes the actions taken by national governments in the wake of the banking crisis, the W.C.C. has agreed to underwrite all the losses incurred by the Vatican during the present sexual abuse scandal.
A W.C.C. spokesman told OCICBW... that, although it was totally the fault of the Vatican, the Roman Catholic hierarchy were far too important to have to suffer like ordinary people do when they act with complete irresponsibility.
"The crisis in faith that would almost certainly spread like wildfire around the world if the pope was found to be fallible would probably lead to a complete collapse in the religion market with religious book publishers, evangelical television stations, communion wine suppliers and US small weaponry manufacturers going out of business" he said.
The British prime minister, Mr Gordon Brown, has released a statement that, as he has absolutely no idea what to do in this crisis, he would just do exactly what the US president did but making sure that he spent a lot more of British taxpayers' money doing it than Barack Obama would ever think of committing to the rescue.
Cardinal Idza Kuvrup, of the Vatican press office, told our reporter in Rome that you can't go punishing the pope and the other directors of major religious organisations if they screw up because it would put the right sort of person off applying for the top jobs in faith management.
"It's like the homeland after the war, all over again," the pope is reported to have commented from his hide out in a bunker beneath St. Peter's. "We may have caused the destruction of untold lives but it looks like should come out of it as an even more influential player on the world stage. Especially if those stupid English pick up the tab again."
and I wonder what time of day. Rumour has it he dragged his cross through the street, eyes rolling up through thorns and blood. Now I raise my head and I beg for forgiveness as I pour another glass of red; and you have been gone exactly one day short of exactly one week on Good Friday. And I can feel it, I can feel it in the air. I can move it between my fingers. I can wave it, wave it like water and I can see it in the late afternoon, on Good Friday. And my eyes look up searching and my ears will bleed from listening. From you I'm asking forgiveness on Good Friday.
Yesterday, former children in a German orphanage submitted written statements that a German bishop habitually beat them. The Bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa, was a controversial conservative churchman appointed by Pope Benedict in 2005 and has been called his friend.
According to the statement, Mixa used to hit and degrade the children repeatedly during sessions of punishment. Among other details, Mixa is accused of using a carpet beater on the bare behinds of victims as he screamed: 'Satan is in you and I must drive him out.'
Mixa previously explained that the liberation movement deserved a 'significant' part of the blame for pedophilia scandals in the church.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus uses almost exactly the same symbolic action to indicate both his friends (the institution of communion) and his betrayer (the giving of dunked bread to Judas). Is this coincidence or are we being told that...
1) Jesus gives his body as freely to his enemies as his friends?
2) The gap between friendship and treachery is (forgive the pun) wafer thin?
According to DTK statistics, the number of dachshund puppies born in Germany has been shrinking for the last 40 years. Following the 1972 Munich Olympics, which were represented by plush dachshund mascot “Waldi,” the country saw a “Teckel boom” with more than 25,000 new puppies annually for several years. But that craze has long since subsided as other dog breeds became more popular.
German Kennel Club (VDH) numbers show that between 1999 and 2008 the number of dachshund puppies entered into the breed registry fell from 10,035 to 6,615 – a drop of 34 percent.
“We have the most beautiful male who has won many competitions,” said Günter Hunger, a jovial 73-year-old Brandenburg native at the show whose family has owned dachshunds for generations. “Ten years ago he would have been in high demand for breeding, but now there is very little interest.”
COMMENT: I don't know why there are less Dachshunds in Germany but the worldwide dearth in their numbers is most likely due to the disgusting habit of cooking them in pastry popular in the US, as this comment to the above post reveals:
Disgusting and also greedy. You only need one dachshund to make a perfectly decent pie - not two. But then Americans have to supersize all their meals.
A retired Presbyterian minister in Northern California is again facing charges she violated church law when she officiated at the weddings of gay couples. The Rev. Jane Spahr, 67, was acquitted two years ago of similar charges when the church's top court found that she did not violate denominational law because the ceremonies she performed were not real marriages. But this time, the same-sex marriages at issue were legal in California. The 16 weddings were performed in 2008 before voters banned the unions with the passage of Proposition 8.
Spahr's lawyer, Scott Clark, said it's unprecedented that the church is trying to sanction a minister for performing legal marriages.
The prosecution counters, however, that while the marriages may have been legal under state law, they were "expressly prohibited" by the church.
The case hinges on "a narrow issue of church law," said prosecutor JoAn Blackstone, who added that the local presbytery committee that investigated the Spahr case found it didn't have "any wiggle room" in deciding to press charges.
COMMENT: Oh, I see, the "No wriggle room" defence. If I remember rightly that's the one Pontius Pilate used in the "King of the Jews" case.
Former Miss California Carrie Prejean is being sued by a "Christian-focused" PR firm she hired to help spread her "biblically correct" message. The firm claims she owed them $64,000 for the "hundreds of hours" they logged trying to pitch her Christian word.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Texas, says they never received any payment for their work.
There's loads of stuff been put up over the last 24 hours at CHIN WAG @ OCICBW... that you should find interesting.
Allie attacks further education in verse.
KJ has posted loads of lovely pictures of the worship at his church.
Dah•Veed has put up a couple of worship songs for Easter and explains how he doesn't get to church because of the awful gang warfare in Mexico at the moment. At least, that's his excuse. Personally I think he's probably just been banned from his church because of his awful taste in music.
And JimB recommends a righteous piece of writing that should get people thinking.
Pop over there if you are a member. If you are not yet a member, details of how to join can be found in the sidebar on the right.
A bill intended to remove hate crime protections from gays and lesbians actually takes away rights from everyone else because of a “legislative error,” according to State Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice.
The bill states local law enforcement agencies should not enforce any sections of federal law under hate crimes statutes listed under Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245 unless they are in correlation with Oklahoma’s hate crimes laws. But the protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes, which passed Congress last year, are not listed under Section 245, but Section 249
“The bill in its current form doesn’t take away rights from gays and lesbians,” Rice said. “It takes away rights for religion and race.”
Referring to the bill, its author Sen. Steve Russell, told "The Tulsa World," “Before it gets to the House floor, it will be much amended."
COMMENT: Oklahoma - where they would vote in a pertater, as long as it was a white, God-fearing pertater that hated queers.
Destiny Church will investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against adult children of two of its New Plymouth Pastors. Joshua Edmonds will defend an allegation of indecency in May, while his sister Rebekah Edmonds is involved in another case.
Their parents Lee and Robyn (left) have stood down as New Plymouth pastors, with CYF investigations underway into the fostering of children by the Open Home Foundation, which has been run by Robyn Edmonds.
Destiny spokesman Richard Lewis says, "Whilst the matters giving rise to these two incidents in Taranaki are of great concern to us I believe it in no way reflects on the integrity and professionalism of the wider Destiny Church movement."
COMMENT: You think so, Richard? I'd have a word with Benny if I was you. He'll put you right on that one.
In an accompanying report The Winfield Daily Courier again scoops the world media by announcing that the pope is a catholic and, brace yourself everybody, the president of the United States of America is a black man (although that last item has not been independently corroborated as yet).
The following bloggers have been added my NEIGHBOURHOOD roll call.
They are nice people who don't deserve such infamy. But, heck, life isn't fair even for nice people.
Do check them out.
PROSPECT PARK DAYS: DitmasDeb is a wonderful, beautiful Jewish lady who appears to have taken it upon herself to personally make sure Prospect Park, Brooklyn remains litter free and safe to walk your dog in. Good on her - she's a brick.
MAGDALENE'S EGG: Another priest with sex on the brain. Nothing wrong with that.
"I have no authority whatsoever to speak for my Church, nor would I presume to do so. But as an Episcopal priest, I call on my ecclesiastical superiors to make a special overture to Roman Catholics who are disgruntled by the pedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church; scandals that increasingly point to the complicity of the man in charge of the Vatican, Benedict XVI."
Read the rest of the Reverend Randall Balmer's rousing call to action at RELIGION DISPATCHES- it'll make you feel good.
A church billboard decried as offensive, insensitive and blasphemous has been cleared by an advertising watchdog.
St Matthew in the City Anglican Church put up the hoarding in Auckland just before Christmas showing Mary and Joseph in bed with the caption "Poor Joseph, God is a hard act to follow". It drew international attention and was vandalised three times before it was taken down. Complaints made to the Advertising Standards Authority included that the billboard used sexual innuendo to promote the church's commercial and corporate objectives and was inappropriate for children.
The authority declined to uphold the complaints, saying the imagery was relatively innocuous.
During Holy Week I may not have time to check out all your blogs like I normally do each day. So please add your prayer requests to the comments sections of THE PRAYER LIST posts or email them in to me. Thank you.
Money raised so far for charity = $7.30. Don't forget it is up to you to give your part of this to the charity of your own choice whenever you feel like doing so.
"Gramophone," the world's premier, classical music magazine, has revamped its website and has made a lot more of its content free to view. It is particularly useful for its CD reviews especially if you are after comparisons between the various, available recordings of a particular work. CLICK HERE for full details.
Without referring directly to recent abuse scandals, Pope Benedict noted in his Palm Sunday homily that the Church would not be intimidated, saying Jesus Christ "leads us to the courage to not be intimidated by the chatter of prevailing opinions".
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on the weekend that Benedict would not be weakened by the scandals, which have prompted some commentators to suggest that the Pope could be forced to resign.
"The recent media attacks have without doubt caused damage. But the authority of the Pope and the commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith against sex abuse of minors will come out of this not weakened but strengthened," he said.
For an excellent commentary of the Vatican's attempt to put
the accusations against it to bed, and loads of "interesting" comments, go to TRUTHDIG. (Link provided by Ellie)
When Marie Meggs walked into Christ the Cornerstone Community Church in 2006, Pastor Otis Adams was surprised. Elderly white women don't drop by black churches often, and he assumed her first visit would be her last.
"It's just not normal," says the pastor of the DeSoto church. "Sunday is still the most segregated hour. ... Many times white people will come and once they recognize that it's a predominately African American church, then some won't even finish the service. And those who do, we never see them again."
But four years later Marie, 94, is such a cherished member of the congregation, the church is naming its new fellowship hall after her next month.
"She's become the mother of the church," says Adams, explaining the decision to honor Marie. "It's not just simply her age, it's not because she's of another race, but her impact on the church."
Marie began attending Christ the Cornerstone, a Baptist church, after her previous church sold its building and moved to Midlothian. She chose Christ the Cornerstone because she knew some members, including Adams' wife, from the time the two congregations shared a building.
"We would meet in the hallway sometime or in the parking lot on the way to our cars," Ann Adams says. When Meggs' church moved, "I was hoping and praying that she would seriously consider coming with us."
Marie was born in 1915 in a log cabin in Dexter, Texas, outside Gainesville. Racial segregation was the norm when she was younger, but, she says, "I have always loved people, no matter black, yellow, white whatever."
The worship style at Christ the Cornerstone includes guitar and drums, piano and a choir with tambourines. It's different from what she's accustomed to. She doesn't sway during hymns, but rhythmically taps the back of the chair in front of her. She doesn't shout the way some congregants do, but claps her hands and murmurs the occasional "Amen."
"The only thing against it is it's too loud," she says.
On April 9, the weekend Christ the Cornerstone celebrates its fifth anniversary, a short ceremony will be held dedicating the Marie Meggs fellowship hall.
"It surprised me so much, I can't begin to tell," Marie says. "Only God knows how much I love those people."
COMMENT: For getting it right so quickly and so easily, Marie, Pastor Adams and the good people of Christ the Cornerstone Community Church are our joint...
BRICKS OF THE DAY
Now, if God could just arrange for a gay couple to just wander into this church one Sunday morning...
A prominent refugee resettlement organization has enacted a policy that requires new employees to be Christian, triggering an exodus of Chicago staff members who denounce it as religious discrimination. The former director of the Chicago office of World Relief, a global evangelical Christian charity that receives federal funds to resettle refugees, said she was forced out in January because she disagreed with how the policy was implemented. The agency also has dismantled mental health services for refugees in Chicago after losing staff and funding because of the hiring rule, officials said.
"As a Christian, I feel it is my duty to advocate for the most vulnerable," said former legal specialist Trisha Teofilo, who also left because of the policy. "I believe Jesus would not promote a policy of discrimination."
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the hiring policy is legal. But opponents, including current and former employees, say it is hypocritical for an agency to discriminate when its mission is settling refugees — many of whom have fled religious intolerance in their home countries.
"It's legal, but it's ridiculously wrong and un-Christian," said Delia Seeburg, the director of immigrant legal services in World Relief's Chicago office. She plans to leave for a new job next month.
A social service agency's support for same-sex marriage has cost it local and national funding from the Catholic Church's anti-poverty program. Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Washington-based Catholic Campaign for Human Development say that Preble Street violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine's "No on 1" campaign last fall.
Homeless Voices for Justice, a statewide advocacy group, is led by people who have been homeless. It works on issues that affect the homeless, such as supporting affordable housing and preventing violence against the homeless. Portland-based Preble Street, which runs a dozen programs to provide housing and other services for the poor and the homeless, provides staff support for Homeless Voices for Justice.
Catholics for Marriage Equality has begun an effort to replace the lost funding by raising $17,400 for Homeless Voices for Justice. Anne Underwood, a co-founder of the group that advocates for same-sex marriage, said Bishop Richard Malone is punishing the homeless because of politics.
"This is petty vindictiveness," she said. "After the election is over, suddenly the money is revoked from poor people because of a political opinion held by the bishop."
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the national group, awarded $30,000 to Homeless Voices for Justice. It had already given half of the grant when it said in January that it would not provide the rest and asked for a refund of any unspent money. It had been funding Homeless Voices for Justice for 13 years.
Randy Keesler, a grants specialist for the group, said he was surprised that Preble Street took a position on Question 1 without informing him or anyone else on his staff.
"We liked Homeless Voices a great deal. I felt badly for having to cancel the grant," he said. "This was very difficult for us to do."
COMMENT: I wonder if a Roman Catholic working in the finance market would refuse to sell life insurance to a gay couple, with their adopted son named as the benefactor.
Thanks to Mike for sending the second news item into MadPriest Towers.
An investigative television report from the village of Bjästa near Örnsköldsvik in northern Sweden has detailed a case in which a 14-year-old girl, 'Linnea', was raped in a school toilet by a 15-year-old boy, 'Oskar'. The boy confessed to the crime and was suspended from school, but as rumours of his innocence began to circulate Linnea found herself the victim of a widespread smear campaign on the internet. Buoyed by the support, Oskar retracted his confession but was later found guilty of rape in both the district and appeals courts.
As thousands signed up to back Oskar on social networking site Facebook, the situation ultimately became untenable for Linnea and her family, and she was forced to move 500 kilometres to a new school. Furthermore when the end of the school term arrived, three months later, Oskar was allowed to attend a school awards ceremony in the local church service with the consent of the pastor, despite no longer attending Bjälsta school. The service ended in a vocal public demonstration in support of the 15-year-old. Film footage from the service posted to the internet by Oskar's mother showed him passing out flowers to his former schoolmates and receiving applause and hugs in return.
Later that day, Oskar joined up with the his schoolmates to celebrate the end of term at a nearby beach. During the evening the boy raped a 17-year-old girl, 'Jennifer'.
Despite a second conviction in the courts, the online campaign continued with Jennifer now taking Linnea's place at the centre of the community's ire and suspicions. Comments on the Facebook page, blog and other internet sites, which had collected 4,000 members, became more and more accusatory against the girls.
The programme reported that not one single adult at Bjästa school took a stand against either Oskar or the campaign or rumours that spread around the small community - neither before nor after the court convictions.
The case has shocked Sweden and has led to a massive outpouring of support for the girls across the country in recent days. The school principle and the village pastor have both been reported to the country's justice ombudsman for their alleged failure to support the victims.
Four American victims of clergy sexual abuse were detained and questioned by Italian police in Rome after showing photos of the pope during a news conference outside St. Peter's Square.
Barbara Blaine, one of the victims, said police told them they were detained because they didn't have a permit for the outdoor news conference. But she added that the police seemed most concerned because they displayed photos of Pope Benedict XVI and his top aide, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. She says police also confiscated posters with slogans like "Stop the secrecy."
COMMENT: Confiscating "stop the secrecy" posters is the police state at its most ironic. The Italian nation will never truly get rid of the legacy of Mussolini as long as the pope still calls the shots. But, with Italian abuse victims now coming out of the closet and daring to speak up about their experiences of "pastoral care," it might not be that long before the Italians join the Irish in wanting to distance themselves from their "special relationship" with the Vatican Nation.
The Episcopal Church invites questioning, varied viewpoints and diversity in leadership and lifestyle, and “We won't tell you what to think,” Katharine Zeta Schori told about 140 people at St. Martha Episcopal, Papillion, yesterday.
In a speech, a question-answer session and an interview Saturday, Jefferts Schori repeatedly described hers as a faith that is open and not dogmatic.
“I read the Gospel to say that Jesus invited everybody into His community,” she said in an interview. “He dealt with all the categories that were deemed unacceptable in His day, and He said, ‘There's a place for you at my table.'”
She said Pope Benedict XVI's invitation to disaffected Anglicans (or Episcopalians) to join the Roman Catholic Church wasn't directed at conflict in the United States over female or gay bishops. England currently has a greater conflict over those issues. The height of the conflict is behind us," she said.
Jefferts Schori, 56, studied squids and octopuses while obtaining a doctorate in oceanography.
I've just watched a TV documentary in which Cherie Blair investigated the decline of the Christian faith in Western Europe as opposed to the increasing influence of Christianity in the USA. She made the point that, in her opinion, the contemporary success of the churches in the USA is due, to a large extent, to the fact that so many US churches aligned themselves with the civil rights movement in the US during the 1960s and 1970s.
I think she may have a point. Furthermore, it seems to me that even the churches vocally and actively opposed to universal human rights during those decades have benefited from the fact that so many churches were aligned with those civil rights movements, especially in respect of racial matters.
If this is true then Rowan Williams, by being so hostile towards human rights issues, in particular that of gay, female and working class equality, has not only damaged a church already on its last legs in England but has also made sure it misses out on a bonanza similar to that experienced by the US churches. And what a stupid missiological decision he has made. We were going out of business. His conservatism was never going to stop that because the C. of E. was conservative to begin with and rapidly failing. If Williams had aligned his denomination with the civil rights movements of early 21st. Century England it may not have rescued the church from decline. But it was worth a shot as the "do nothing" option has already proved itself to be a policy only capable of destroying the church. Ironically, those homophobes, misogynists and snobs who have scared Williams into betraying his friends and his own integrity, will go down with the sinking ship. If their bigotry, bluster and blatant resort to blackmail and threats had, in stead of rendering Williams an impotent coward, infused him with a zeal to reform and a willingness to publicly stand along side the oppressed, they would, if the US is anything to go by, have had a brighter future in England along with the orthodox Anglicanism that Williams, if taking such a prophetic line, would have represented and truly led.
I was speaking to a musician during the week who worships and plays the organ at a local Roman Catholic church. He kindly offered to play at St Francis if we ever needed an organist on days such as Corpus Christi and Ascension Day. Evidently, English Roman Catholic priests are encouraged to hold their feast days on the nearest Sunday nowadays as nobody can be arsed to turn up for church more than once a week (and for many Roman Catholics that once is on Saturday evening so that they have the whole of Sunday to go shopping or to the football, that sort of stuff). Of course, that's the direction we're going in in the Church of England as well. Twenty years ago every Holy Week service would be packed with most of the Sunday congregation turning up on, at least, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Nowadays, if a fifth of our worshippers turn up on a day other than Sunday, we regard it as a good turnout.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for the emergent church principle of providing worship opportunities for people at times and in places that fit in with their working lives, family commitments and the like. But I believe such an attitude can go hand in hand with a proper respect for the liturgical calendar. If people can arrange their lives around the ancient patterns of worship in the church, they should. If they are unable to because of the demands of our capitalistic, secularist culture then the church should arrange services to fit in with them. What I don't think the Church should do is fit in with the social activities of contemporary life. Attending church on Sunday and on major festival days should be the number one social commitment in the lives of Christians, not somewhere near the bottom of a long list beneath such activities as football practice, shopping and having a lie in. Mission to non-Christians is a different thing. In mission we should go out of our way. But signed up members of the faith should put the commitments of their faith before all other social commitments most of the time.
As this is probably my last Easter as a priest and as there's not much anyone can now do to me if I upset them, I have decided to do Holy Week this year as I think it should be done and damn tradition. I started today by completely ditching the Passion bit of Palm Sunday and going back to the Book of Common Prayer's template of today concentrating on Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. I remember, when I was a kid, that Palm Sunday was a joyous day with lots of "Hosannas!" I also remember how intense the betrayal of Christ a few days later felt when shown up against the jubilation of Palm Sunday. The Catholic insistence on getting the entrance to Jerusalem over and done with before the service proper so that most of the time can be spent on the trial and crucifixion of Christ completely buggers up this stark contrast between joy and sorrow as you leave church on Palm Sunday feeling just sadness and guilt.
So there was no Passion Gospel at St. Francis this morning (if they want passion they shall have to turn out on Friday). We started off with the blessing of the palms and procession into the church. But we had no gospel at the palm blessing, in stead we had the Palm gospel at the usual gospel spot in the communion service. I preached the sermon that I posted here yesterday, said Palm Sunday prayers and used the Ambrosian Palm Sunday eucharistic preface that is based on Christ's entry into Jerusalem. It all went very well and the handful of people I'm still being civil to really appreciated it.
To top it all, and in an attempt to really upset the old fogeys in the congregation, I finished the service by getting the children to lead the congregation in singing the following:
I love the way it throws everything in together, linking Palm Sunday with easter morning. You've all, no doubt, heard of fusion cookery. Well, I'm into fusion liturgy.