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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

First woman bishop to celebrate the Eucharist at Llandaff Cathedral

Photo: Islam Times                                                           Bishop Geralyn Wolf

You couldn't dream up a story like this. Before women bishops are legal in the Church in Wales, the near bankrupt Llandaff Cathedral (where, as acting Dean, the Archbishop of Wales tore up the notion of twin integrity) is to host a celebration of the Eucharist where the President will be a converted Jewish, Episcopalian woman bishop who defrocked another female priest in the US Episcopal Church for being a 'Christian Muslim'. While the Archbishop himself is partial to a spot of clergy discipline he is more inclined to matters of the flesh than the spirit where more or less anything goes. Nevertheless he may have some explaining to do with his Muslim friends for welcoming a cleric who in their eyes will be guilty of Islamophobia because Jesus would be regarded as a lesser prophet in Islam.

In another step towards nonconformity the celebration is the culmination of  "Crossing the Threshold!", a "day conference to mark the opening of the Episcopate to women in the Church in Wales". Other participants are the Revd Dr Jenny Hurd, Chair Wales Synod Methodist Church and Jane Williams, "Theological writer and educator" - better known as Mrs Rowan Williams, now Lady Williams of Oystermouth, the sort of honour feminism still has to suffer.

The story appears as the very last item  in the Pentecost 2014 edition of the Monmouth Diocesan Newsletter [bottom of page 12]. Page 8 has a report on the April meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. Most prominent are Assisted dying [killing] and Same-sex marriage: "the Bench of Bishops asked the Standing Doctrinal Commission to look at the issue of blessing of civil partnerships". The Chairman of the Commission is the Reverend Canon Dr. Peter Sedgwick, Principal of the failed St Michael's College, Llandaff. His wife is the Revd Jan Gould, organiser of "Crossing the Threshold!", who tried to get a previous meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales to agree that no candidate could be presented for ordination if they opposed women’s ordained ministry.

Conspicuous for its absence from the Newsletter's GB report is any reference to the discussion on the Code of Practice. From Highlights:

4. In approving this Canon, the Governing 
Body entrusts the Bench of Bishops 
without delay to agree a Code of Practice 
which commits the Bench to making 
provisions such that all members of the 
Church in Wales, including those who in 
conscience dissent from the provisions 
of section 1, may have a sense of 
security in their accepted and valued 
place within the Church in Wales. 

The "Crossing the Threshold!" celebration takes place at St Michael’s College, Cardiff on 4th September 2014 ending with a Eucharist at 7.45pm in Llandaff Cathedral, a week BEFORE the 12 September 2014, the date from which it will be possible for women to be ordained as bishops (details here) and well before the next meeting of the Governing Body which takes place on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 September 2014 where further dissent is possible if the bishops renege on their pledge.

This is unacceptable in any democratic organisation and another example of how Barry and the Bench have used the Church for political ends.

As for the Governing Body, the Bishop of Monmouth was spot on when he wrote (page 5), "People seem to nod approval (or congregations are just too polite!)".

The message is clear: WAKE UP GB!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

UKIP if you want to, Dave, Ed and Nick are not for turning!

 Dave, Nick and Ed at Buckingham Palace in 2011                                                   Photo: Getty Images

In 1980 the Tory party faithful delighted in Mrs Thatcher's quip "The lady's not for turning". In 1981 David Steel delivered his even more memorable but fateful conference exhortation "Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government". What led up to that exhortation is explained here.

It could prove to be grim reading for Nigel Farage. The success of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) may not be all it appears. A majority of only one third of the electorate who bothered to vote does not necessarily extrapolate in the way he seems to think. People who simply decided not to vote as a protest cannot be counted as UKIP supporters and no doubt many who did will not necessarily vote the same way in a general election. But one thing is clear from conversations I have had with people which were borne out in media interviews after the elections. That is immigration and the blind eyes that are turned to the largely unspoken problem for fear of being branded racists:  "White Britons are now a minority in 4 towns and cities", read here.

Londoners did not follow the English pattern of voting UKIP but why would they when many white Britons have already left? (Read here).  As if to emphasise the lack of integration, in the London Borough of Newham it was being suggested in election leaflets that ‘Muslims should vote Tory’ with pledges: To listen to the Muslim community;  Two hours of free parking for all residents during Friday prayers; Respect for religious beliefs and needs when making planning decisions; To support the provision of a burial ground for Newham's Muslim community; Support for community Centres; ... oh, and Respect for all. No doubt any reference to the Respect party was purely coincidental! - Read here.

As with the gay marriage catastrophe the main political parties have been busy toadying to minorities for votes. The reckoning is nigh. Dave, Ed and Nick need to heed the message - quickly.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

"That all of them may be one"

From Vatican Radio (here). One of the highlights of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage to the Holy Land will be his meeting with Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, a meeting that will be followed by a joint ecumenical celebration at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. CTV coverage here.

There is an interesting background article "Pope and Patriarch prepare for historic encounter in Jerusalem" here

Pray for them and for Christians throughout the World as Christ prayed.

Common Declaration signed by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Details here.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Gathering of [a few of] God's People

Ecumenical Communion at The Gathering 2012               Credit: The Presbyterian Church of Wales

After posting my previous entry I was reminded by a reader that the Church in Wales had approved the rite of Holy Communion for Ecumenical use. The rite, "The Gathering of God's People", can be found here. But is it the Sacrament of Holy Communion for Anglicans or an Agape Feast?

The gathering together of Christians is to be welcomed but there is a heavy price to pay when so-called 'unity' puts the Church in Wales outside the greater gathering of the Orthodox and Catholic Church.

The "Ecumenical Communion" service begins with a passage of scripture which has been used  to justify just about every liberal departure from the historic Christian faith, in particular the ordination of women: "In Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith. There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female: [Response] We are all one in Christ Jesus.

What is unsaid is more alarming. Later in the service there is "An Affirmation of Faith" which replaces the Nicene Creed: "Let us proclaim our faith: 

We believe and trust in God the Father, 
who created all that is. 

We believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ, 
who redeemed the world. 

We believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, 
who gives life to the people of God. 

We believe and trust in one God, 
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

That is fine for Sunday School children but how can that be reconciled with The Constitution of the Church in Wales which, under the Formal statements of faith, states:

 "The Church in Wales is a fellowship of dioceses within the Holy Catholic Church, constituted as a Province of the Anglican Communion. It maintains the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons which it has received, and acknowledges as its supreme authority in matters of faith the Holy Scriptures as interpreted in the Catholic Creeds and the historic Anglican formularies, that is, the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons as published in 1662. Its calling is to nurture men and women in the faith of Jesus Christ and to aid them to grow in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, so that the good news of God’s grace may be clearly proclaimed in the world and that God’s Kingdom may be honoured and advanced."

The Catholic Creeds are central to our faith but the bishops of the Church in Wales skirt around them. Then in Holy Scripture: "We often see what we want to see ... We often use Scripture to reinforce viewpoints that we have already arrived at in other ways and for other reasons". – The Archbishop of Wales (here). That excludes Galatians 3:28 of course when it is wrongly used to justify the ordination of women.

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Revd Dr Gregory Cameron said: “We have been challenged by the Gathering of Churches in Wales to seek for unity among Christians. ... Jesus requires his followers to be one family: it’s time to take that command seriously.” Quite so Dr Cameron!

Back in 2008 Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity posed the question to Anglicans: "Are you Protestants or Catholics? He said it was time to decide: "Ultimately, it is a question of the identity of the Anglican Church. Where does it belong? Does it belong more to the churches of the first millennium, Catholic and Orthodox, or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the 16th century? At the moment it is somewhere in between, but it must clarify its identity now and that will not be possible without certain difficult decisions." See Fr Z's blog here.

Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church, a noted theologian and church historian, made a similar point when he blasted Anglicans for Renouncing the Faith here.

The response in Wales? "Chapels and churches from five denominations are being encouraged to think of themselves as The Church Uniting in Wales" - The Presbyterian Church of Wales (here).

Barry and his bishops are unable to spot the difference. Those who can are being ostracised for keeping the Catholic faith. Surely it should be the other way round if the Constitution continues to have any relevance in the Church in Wales.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Meetings to discuss Uniting Church in Wales

The Gathering                                                                                                                                                               Credit: The Church in Wales

From the Church in Wales:

Two special meetings will take place in the Diocese of St Asaph next week as the Anglican Church considers closer ties with other Christian denominations in Wales.

At the Governing Body meeting of the Church in Wales in April, there was a vote to continue with discussions of the proposals outlined in 2012 (pictured) for the future of the Covenanted Churches across Wales.  If approved, it could pave the way for one Uniting Church in Wales taking in people from Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and United Reformed traditions.

The meetings on Wednesday 21 May will gather together all the Christian denominations represented by the Covenanted Churches and allow everyone to discuss and respond to the plans for a Uniting Church in Wales.

A presentation will be made at each of the meetings by Sister Eluned Williams MBE, Chair of the Commission of the Covenanted Churches in Wales.

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Revd Dr Gregory K Cameron said:

“We have been challenged by the Gathering of Churches in Wales to seek for unity among Christians.

“These meetings will allow us to have an introduction to the proposals, and to give honest reactions.  Jesus requires his followers to be one family: it’s time to take that command seriously.”

The meetings will both take place on Wednesday 21 May.  The first is at the Council Chambers, Connah’s Quay at 2pm before a second at the Acton Community and Resources Centre, Wrexham at 7pm.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

No more excuses please

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is "a world-renowned scholar and head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS). Many scholars consider him to be one of the most reputable mujtahids of the modern age." - Apr. 13, 2006. Full account here.

This is the reality for one young pregnant woman found guilty of apostasy as reported by the MailOnline: Sudanese woman, 27, who is a doctor and eight months PREGNANT to be flogged to death for the 'crime' of marrying a Christian man. Read Amnesty International's account here.

There can be no excuses for such barbarism as those used to suggest that Islam cannot be blamed for the abduction of over 200 girls by Boko Harem. If this is not Islam let Muslims everywhere raise their voices and demand an end to such practices.

"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."
Article 18 - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Halal, another voluntary code!

 Religious leaders recently called for clearer labelling.                  Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

"Halal labelling could inflame prejudice, vets warn". 

"Labelling meat as halal or kosher will do nothing to improve animal welfare but could cause confusion and inflame prejudice, vets have warned as they urge political party leaders not to allow the issue to be "hijacked". The British Veterinary Association (BVA) appealed instead for consumers to be informed whether or not animals had been stunned before being killed by whatever method, insisting the controversy had nothing to do with religion." Story here.

According to a BBC report  MPs have rejected plans to make food outlets label meat from animals killed in accordance with religious practices, such as halal or kosher: "Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and the Co-op said their New Zealand lamb was halal, while Pizza Express had already revealed its chicken is killed according to Islamic tradition."

The consumer affairs minister Jenny Willott said the government "did not think regulation was the best approach". Why? Five leading supermarkets are saying that some of the meat they sell "could qualify as halal but is not labelled as such". The supermarkets said the animals were stunned before being killed and "the only difference" from standard meat was that they were blessed as they are killed. But for many that is precisely the point.

Conservative Philip Davies, who proposed the Commons debate, said there was a "huge public demand" to know more about where food came from. Referring to a Daily Mail article he quoted Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, who said halal meat was "covert religious extremism and creeping Islamic fundamentalism making its way into Britain by the backdoor".

An Office for National Statistics survey of 450,000 Britons in 2010 found that 71% are Christian, 4% are Muslim and 21% have no religious affiliation so why is the tail wagging the dog?

One has to question the motives of HM Government when the dietary requirements of 4% of the population are given precedence over the vast majority of people in this country. For the government Ms Willott said: "We want people to have the information they need to make informed choices about the food they buy. Many retailers or restaurants and fast food outlets already voluntarily provide information on whether meat is halal or kosher". Good for them but that is not the problem. It is the covert actions of the major players that are of concern.

Those of us who have been disillusioned by voluntary agreements will be wondering as elections approach if the motive behind the Government's response is gaining minority votes. If so they have learned nothing from the gay marriage debacle which saw party membership plummet.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Another Anglican step towards nonconformity

Dr Heather Morris, president of The Methodist Church in Ireland    Photo: Justin Kernaghan/Photopress

The latest news from Ireland, "Two Irish churches move closer together", will be right up Barry Morgan's street, going back to his nonconformist roots before his long overdue retirement. I have no quarrel with Methodism. I respect their tradition. Each to their own. But those of us who profess our belief in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and take it seriously rather than mouth it at the Eucharist are mindful that whilst "being one" has a Biblical resonance, the Church of Ireland and the Church in Wales are going in the wrong direction, increasing the gulf between Anglicanism and the Catholic and Orthodox Churches who have been showing encouraging signs of moving closer together.

From the "Overall Judgement" of the report from the Standing Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales (See 'Executive Summary' [- after item 11, Assisted Dying!]):
 “The proposals are a time of opportunity, and an invitation to take risks. The inherited structures of all churches in Wales are in our view both contingent and changeable, although Anglicans would always wish to assert the importance of the three- fold ministry in their ecclesiology.”

“It is also the case that there is much duplication both of structures, and of buildings, which could be pruned. However the experience of recent decades is that local experiments need facilitation from higher structures in order to flourish. We do not see the proposals as establishing a culture of uniformity, but rather affirming and enabling a variety of Christian traditions to flourish.”

Consequently the Church in Wales Working Group's Long-term Recommendations to their Governing Body were that:
"the Methodist jurisdiction, the Presbyterian jurisdiction and the URC/Covenanting Baptist jurisdiction each elect a bishop, the bishop will ordain all those who are to become ministers within that jurisdiction. That this bishop will be a bishop in the Church Uniting in Wales and will share collegiality and full interchangeability with all the other bishops of that Church".

As the Church of England continues to celebrate women rather than Christ, the Church in Wales continues to follow a policy designed to turn itself into protestant "congregational, presbyteral and episcopal" Church in Wales. Why Welsh nonconformists would want that after seeing what Dr Morgan has done already to the Church in Wales is a mystery.

Credit must be given to the Church of England for honouring their pledge towards traditionalists. Some may see that as a desperate move to allow women bishops at any cost but the mistakes of others in Wales, Ireland and the US are all too obvious to ignore. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

More of "The Class of ’94 celebrate 20 years since ordination"

Entrance: Priests ordained in 1994 processed into the cathedral through the west doors,
applauded by the congregation                  CREDIT: GRAHAM LACADO/Church Times
"There was a party atmosphere at St Paul's for the anniversary service."

So writes Madeleine Davies for the Church Times (here).  Among the usual heart-rending testimonies appear a couple of odd observations from clerics who should know better:

"Later, during intercessions, the Archdeacon of Westminster, the Ven. Dr Jane Hedges, prayed for "those who are unable to accept the ministry of women. . . Give us the desire to understand and respect difference." How very tolerant of her! Well Dr Hedges you should know that women have not been excluded from ministry, the majority just do not see the need to be ordained to carry it out. What was being celebrated was not ministry but ambition which was confirmed by this comment. "It was a very charged atmosphere," said the Revd Alison Morris, a non-stipendiary minister at St Michael and All Angels', Pelsall, who was ordained five years ago. "As they entered, they were clapping those who were clapping and affirming them. Some had tears in their eyes."

And this from Archbishop Welby. In his sermon he "paid tribute to those who had campaigned for women's ordination. The journey had required "much risk", he said, "from those women and men who long ago stepped out on a course which seemed unimaginable, their costly grind paving the way for those gathered here to step forward. In our celebrations - and let there be celebration - let us not overlook the cost, the bitterness of disappointment and rejection, the knee-jerk resistance of an institution facing change." That was bad enough but then this: I want to thank those here today whose costly loyalty, whose scars, make this celebration possible, and I want to say personally how I grieve that it cost so much, to apologise for my own part in that hurt."

The scars which made the celebration possible are not borne by the congregation but by those whose costly loyalty has seen them sidelined with any concessions constantly whittled away. But the expressions of joy continue in the Church Times. I see under "Train a Priest 2014" (TAP) Fund:  Since this year's grand total will not be announced until Pentecost, it is not too late to make a TAP thankoffering for the ordination of women, if you are so minded; or, indeed, to organise a special collection or fund-raising effort

I wonder if they do refunds?

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Censored or Censured?

Yesterday I commented (@ 07 May 2014 9:54pm) on a Guardian article under the heading "Which restaurant chains have gone halal – and why?" (here). I checked back twice. First I found a derogatory sub-comment about me heavily laced with references to excrement because of what I had written. The second time I found the comment and response replaced by "This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs."

What was my error? My comment drew a parallel between the ritual slaughter of animals by a Muslim who must precede the slaughter by invoking the name of Allah, most commonly by saying "Bismillah" ("In the name of God") and then three times "Allahu akbar" (God is the greatest) and the slaughter of humans in the name of Allah such as that highlighted in the MailOnline: "Boko Haram terror group slaughters hundreds in Nigeria as Britain joins France and US in hunt for 300 missing schoolgirls".

Whether I was censored or censured I don't know but expressing the view in a supposedly Christian country that the slaughter of humans in the name of Allah is unacceptable whether 'justified' in the Koran or not seems pretty reasonable to me so I assume that my comment was removed because it might be considered offensive to Muslims.

From the Telegraph - "Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders today issue a defence of the practice, insisting the ability of shops, restaurants and canteens to serve kosher and halal meat is a matter of “religious freedom”." That religious freedom must include not being unwittingly sold halal meat.

Much of the concern in the media has been centred on animal welfare but the religious freedom of consumers must not be overlooked. Muslims are free to believe what they like but that message should not be fed to others through ritual slaughter when it contradicts the Christian message which is succinctly summarised in the Greg Koukl's video above - "I am the way, the truth and the life."  

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A question of degree

What separates this

from this?

Only a question of degree. Read also the MailOnline article here.

There have been suggestions that the Islam Trojan Horse plot is a fake. Time will tell but Sharia is already here:

Armed jihad or cultural jihad, the aim is the same but people such as the bishop in the second video continue to make excuses about extremists while indigenous populations become the minority in major cities of the UK. As Islam spreads more demands are made making non-Muslims unwitting supporters of an alien ideology. Islam is Islam. It means submission. The message is the same. It is only a question of degree.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Spectacular own goal

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby welcomed female priests at St Paul's Cathedral

Today's march of ordained women from their picnic in Westminster to St Paul's Cathedral was no walk of witness to Christ. It was a triumphal march celebrating what has become an issue of so called equal rights for women. The Anglican Communion has no authority to ordain women other than that which Provinces have taken upon themselves, thus setting Anglicans apart from the rest of the Holy Catholic Church.

Archbishop Welby, who had been permitted to Deacon at the women's celebratory Eucharist, said "In 20 years we have come a long way". Indeed we have. Such a long way that men and women of conscience have to beg to be considered faithful Anglicans in this increasingly women's church. ++Welby added,  "How did we not see that women and men are equally icons, witnesses, vessels of Christ for the world?" - What?!! - There appears to be little hope for true Anglicanism outside Africa!

How to misapply the obvious!

Read also: Why are we celebrating 20 years of the ordination of women? From Susie Leafe, Director of Reform