London, England, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the highest-ranking cleric in the Church of England, has responded to the announcement of the Global Anglican Future Conference that it is setting up a Council of Primates to defend what it sees as Anglican orthodoxy. Archbishop Williams said the planned council would not be universally accepted throughout the Anglican Communion and would be abused by factions who use concerns about theological integrity as pretexts for ecclesiastical infighting.
The GAFCON meeting ended in Jerusalem on Sunday with the release of the “Jerusalem Declaration.” The meeting had been called to address controversies within the Anglican Communion over the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the authority of Scripture, and issues concerning sexual morality such as some Anglicans’ approval of homosexual acts. The declaration claims that most of the world’s practicing Anglicans have entered a “post-colonial” reality where the Archbishop of Canterbury is recognized for his historical role but is not seen as the only arbiter of what it means to be an Anglican.
The Jerusalem Declaration also states that GAFCON is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion.
In his statement responding to the declaration, Archbishop Williams said GAFCON’s final statement contained “much that is positive and encouraging” about the priorities of conference participants.
“The 'tenets of orthodoxy' spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues,” the archbishop said.
“I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON's deliberations,” he continued, speaking of the upcoming Lambeth Conference scheduled for mid-July. The conference is a meeting of global Anglican leaders which takes place every ten years.
“Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion,” Archbishop Williams stated.
The archbishop then criticized the GAFCON’s proposals for being “problematic in all sorts of ways,” urging GAFCON advocates to “think very carefully about the risks entailed.”
GAFCON’s planned “Primates’ Council,” Archbishop Williams argued, consists only of “a self-selected group” which “will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion.” The proposed council’s claim to operate across provincial boundaries, he said, is “fraught with difficulties” because of Anglicanism’s “historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion” and also because of the “obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides.”
He said both the source of the council’s authority and its likely effectiveness at disciplining prelates are questionable.
“How is a bishop or primate in another continent able to discriminate effectively between a genuine crisis of pastoral relationship and theological integrity, and a situation where there are underlying non-theological motivations at work?” the Archbishop of Canterbury asked. “We have seen instances of intervention in dioceses whose leadership is unquestionably orthodox simply because of local difficulties of a personal and administrative nature. We have also seen instances of clergy disciplined for scandalous behavior in one jurisdiction accepted in another, apparently without due process.”
The archbishop argued that problems in the Anglican Communion ought to be targets for renewal rather than replaced with “improvised solutions.”
Archbishop Williams also responded to the GAFCON declaration’s charge that some members of the Anglican Communion were preaching a “different Gospel.”
“I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel,” he stated. “This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ.”
Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, also responded to the GAFCON declaration, saying in a statement:
“Much of the Anglican world must be lamenting the latest emission from GAFCON. Anglicanism has always been broader than some find comfortable. This statement does not represent the end of Anglicanism, merely another chapter in a centuries-old struggle for dominance by those who consider themselves the only true believers. Anglicans will continue to worship God in their churches, serve the hungry and needy in their communities, and build missional relationships with others across the globe, despite the desire of a few leaders to narrow the influence of the gospel. We look forward to the opportunities of the Lambeth Conference for constructive conversation, inspired prayer, and relational encounters.”
The Episcopal Church’s decision to ordain an openly homosexual man as Bishop of New Hampshire helped contribute to the controversy within the global Anglican Communion.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - Laws introduced in the Australian state of New South Wales to prevent people from “causing annoyance” or inconvenience to participants in World Youth Day now face stiff criticism for their requirements that organizations have placards, banners and T-shirts pre-approved by authorities.
Protesting without police clearance could result in demonstrators being charged under new regulations which came into effect on Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald reveals.
Some protesters have said they will defy the regulations and risk a $5,500 fine.
One online retailer is selling T-shirts that say “$5500 - a small price to pay for annoying Catholics.”
New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the new laws were no different from police powers concerning sporting venues.
“Anyone engaging in behavior so as to prevent people from across the world participating in the event, or impacting on their ability to participate, will need to be dealt with,” a police statement said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
A statement from the Catholic Church said “neither the Catholic Church nor Cardinal Pell asked for the additional police powers” and added “we understand some people may want to protest and they have the right to do so peacefully and lawfully.”
Kristina Keneally, the Minister for World Youth Day, said the laws were framed based upon advice from police and after consulting with the Church. She stressed that the laws were not drafted at the behest of Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney.
Police have begun to schedule meetings with some possible protesters and pranksters, which include sex abuse victims’ groups, “anti-homophobia” and “pro-contraception” activists, and comedians.
CNA STAFF, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - The producers behind the documentary, “The Decency Gap,” have convinced YouTube to pull a video filmed by the Population Research Institute that unmasked the film as a pro-abortion initiative.
The video on YouTube entitled, “The Decency Gap/Eve Reinhardt,” shows a meeting between Carlos Polo, director for Latin America of the PRI, and film maker Eve Reinhardt, who hid the true nature of the project in order to get an interview with the pro-life leader.
“The Decency Gap,” which is intended to promote the legalization of abortion in the region, is financed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International and the Center for Reproductive Rights, as well as the Peruvian pro-abortion association PROMSEX.
It also includes pictures of the official website of “The Decency Gap” which confirm that it is being financed by transnational pro-abortion organizations and aims to regain access to U.S. tax money for the promotion of abortion in other countries. Once their motivations were exposed, the producers pulled the website off the internet.
In the past YouTube has bowed to pressure from the IPPF to remove pro-life videos by the American Life League but has never pulled videos by the IPPF which users complain are obscene.
“The video shows the true identity of Reinhardt, which she tried to cleverly hide. She was not mistreated in any way, but you can see the understandable discomfort of Reinhardt as she was caught trying to trick others. It is embarrassing, for certain, but in any case she was the one trying to trick me,” Polo told CNA. He also revealed that Reinhardt sent him several emails without saying who she really was. “To pull that video only favors Reinhardt in her intention to trick more people. I know of two other people in Peru who, thanks to that video, avoided being deceived by her,” Polo said. “Eve Reinhardt agreed to allow our conversation to be filmed and that can be easily seen in the video,” he added.
Until YouTube reposts the original video, CNA has posted it at http://video.google.es/videoplay?docid=-556659095465139765
Vatican City, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - Last Sunday, the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, marked the beginning of a year dedicated to the figure and teaching of the Apostle Paul. During today’s general audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall, Pope Benedict XVI began a new series of catecheses aimed at understanding more deeply the thought of Saint Paul and its continuing relevance.
The Holy Father said, "The apostle Paul … stands before us as an example of total dedication to the Lord and His Church, in addition to being an example of complete openness to humanity and culture.
In order "to understand what he has to say to we Christians of today, ... let us pause to consider the environment in which he lived and worked ... which in many ways ... is not so very different" from our own, said Benedict.
"The universal vision typical of the personality of Saint Paul, at least of the Christian Paul after the events on the way to Damascus, must certainly be founded on faith in Jesus Christ," Pope Benedict observed. "In fact, for the Apostle 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'"
The Pope noted how St. Paul has also been called "'the man of three cultures'.” "Paul, as we know, was a Jew, and consequently a member of a distinct cultural minority in the Roman Empire. At the same time, he spoke Greek, the language of the wider Hellenistic culture, and was a Roman citizen. Paul's proclamation of the Risen Christ, while grounded in Judaism, was marked by a universalistic vision and it was facilitated by his familiarity with three cultures. He was thus able to draw from the spiritual richness of contemporary philosophy, and Stoicism in particular, in his preaching of the Gospel."
"The crisis of traditional Greco-Roman religion in Paul's time had also fostered a greater concern for a personal experience of God," Pope Benedict XVI explained. "As we see from his sermon before the Areopagus in Athens, Paul was able to appeal to these currents of thought in his presentation of the Good News. Against this broad cultural background, Paul developed his teaching, which we will explore in the catecheses of this Pauline Year."
Bringing his address to a close, the Holy Father returned to the purpose of the Pauline Year. "This is the goal of the Pauline Year: to learn from Saint Paul, to learn the faith, to learn about Christ, finally to learn the way of upright life."
At the end of his public audience, the Holy Father greeted English-speaking pilgrims from different corners of the globe, including groups from the United States, Canada and The Bahamas, as well as England, Ireland and Norway.
Havana, Cuba, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - Laura Pollan Toledo, one of the most well-known leaders of the Women in White, said this week she has been the victim of harassment by Cuban state police.
Independent journalist Carlos Serpa Maciera, who writes for Miscelanea de Cuba, said Pollan Toledo, who is married to imprisoned journalist Hector Maseda, told her that every time she leaves her residence she is followed and watched by Cuban police agents.
“If I go to a store or to a mall, they follow me. They don’t hide from publicly watching me,” she said.
Police agents have installed a security camera and flood lights in front of Pollan Toledo’s home, which is also the main office for Women in White, a group of women whose spouses are political prisoners.
Pollan Toledo said the harassment became more intense after a peaceful protest carried out by a dozen members of Women in White on April 21 in Havana. State police agents broke up the protest and forced the women to leave the Plaza de la Revolucion.
Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has sent a video-taped message to the bishops of Colombia in which he calls for an end to the “violence, kidnapping and extortion” that is affecting so many in that country. The bishops are currently gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of their conference.
According to Vatican Radio, the video was played during the Colombian bishops’ General Assembly this week. The Pope said he was mindful of their effort to be "men of harmony" and of their "continual exhortations for an end to the violence, kidnapping, and extortion which affect so many sons and daughters of that beloved land.” “I fervently pray to God for an end to these situations which have caused so much suffering, and for a stable and just peace in Colombia, in a climate of hope and prosperity,” he said.
The Pontiff also said he joined the bishops in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of their conference, praising them for their “eloquent testimony of apostolic zeal.” The anniversary, the Pope said, is a “providential occasion for considering the testimony of those who came before us and for helping our brothers and sisters to strengthen their friendship with Jesus Christ, to receive his Word with purity of heart, to celebrate the sacraments with joy and to serve others with enthusiasm, especially those most in need, bringing them a message of peace, justice and reconciliation.”
Referring to the challenges facing the Church in Colombia, Benedict XVI assured the bishops of his "prayers and spiritual closeness in the efforts you are making to ensure the Gospel rings out in all parts of Colombian territory, through initiatives in the fields of pastoral care in education and in universities, and in the concern you show for the imprisoned, the sick, the elderly, indigenous peoples, workers, the displaced, the young and families."
"In the certainty that you are laying solid foundations for a promising future, and for the good of the whole Church", he continued, "I encourage your to redouble your attention towards priests, seminarians, missionaries and religious, and to give renewed impetus to the various formational programmes for catechists, lay people and pastoral care workers."
Rome, Italy, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of Moscow said that the right conditions are still not present for a trip to Russia by Pope Benedict XVI.
During his stay in Rome to receive the pallium on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul last Sunday, Archbishop Pezzi said about a papal visit to Russia, “It is difficult to foresee at this time but it should definitely be part of future plans.”
In the archbishop’s opinion, there are two reasons why a papal visit to Russia cannot be considered at this time. “The first is that a trip of such magnitude would mean, or should mean in my opinion, significant progress in relations between the Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate must be made to allow for an exchange of visits and/or a visit of the Pope. In addition, I don’t think the Pope wants to visit Moscow without an explicit invitation from the Orthodox Church,” he said.
Archbishop Pezzi said it was a “very personal opinion” of his that “a visit of this type would be more opportune after a meeting between the Patriarch and the Pope in a particular circumstance, perhaps in the course of some kind of ecumenical meeting, in any country of the world, to which both were invited to participate.”
He said a number of recent events signaled progress in the relations between the two Churches, including Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Rome and Benedict XVI’s visit to Constantinople.
Asked about his relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, the archbishop said, “We are also progressing in this sense. We are seeking a concrete form of collaboration between our churches, as well as sincere friendship. Above all we seek to journey in the same direction. There is definitely a certain desire to finally achieve full communion,” which he called a “gift for which we must pray to the Spirit of Christ.”
He went on to say that in his opinion, Benedict XVI sees the Russian Orthodox “in a very positive light, above all for two reasons: first of all, the passion of this Pope for the development of tradition in a healthy sense, his continual effort to renew, to use an expression by Pope John Paul II, the sources of Christianity. This is a much appreciated attitude.”
And secondly, he said, the clarity and sincerity with which the Pope affirms the Christian faith is “viewed very positively.” Such an attitude makes it easier to confront and overcome difficulties, the archbishop stated.
Vatican City, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - The director of the Vatican’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, expressed the joy of the Holy See upon learning of today’s successful military operation that led to the rescue of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other people who were abducted.
According to Father Lombardi, Pope Benedict "is delighted by this wonderful news that gives grounds for satisfaction and hope." The Holy Father also sees this as "a sign of hope for many others, bringing peace a sense of peace to a country that has suffered from violence."
In statements to the press, Fr. Lombardi recalled that the Pope has made numerous appeals for the release of the hostages held by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in particular Betancourt. The most recent appeal he issued was made just yesterday in a speech to the Colombian bishops.
Betancourt remained in the hands of the FARC for six years and a few months ago appeared in a video, which showed that she was alive but suffering from severe health problems.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Bishop Ubaldo Santana, denounced the dissident clerics that have used the name Catholic to form the new religious sect called the Reformed Catholic Church, with the backing of the Chavez government.
The Venezuelan daily El Universal published statements by Bishop Santana who said, “I will not give free propaganda to this organization. We must remain faithful to our faith, let us not grow weak.”
While each person can follow his own journey of faith, the bishop said, the dissident clerics of the new sect have “usurped” the title of Catholic, “and I find it strange that the Ministry of the Interior and of Justice has allowed a new denomination to be registered under this name.”
Bishop William Delgado of Cabimas told reporters the new sect lacks “idendity and honesty.” “The priests that are founding this Church are going to accomplish nothing. I hope that this does not create division in our Church. The founders should find their own followers and not involve those who already firmly profess their faith,” he said.
One of the leaders of the new sect is Father Jon Jen Siu, who until recently was pastor St. Lucy’s Parish in Cabimas. According to Bishop Delgado, Father Jen—who had been questioned for sexual misconduct—resigned from the priesthood a week ago, and the next day he told reporters he was the new bishop of the Reformed Catholic Church.
“At no time did I know about this priest’s plan. The new movement’s sacred orders lack identity and honesty. For sure it was never clear what he wanted as a priest,” Bishop Delgado said.
Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - Sen. Barack Obama’s support for homosexual marriage could lose him votes in California, the Campaign for Children and Families says.
In a public letter from the presumptive Democratic nominee read Sunday at the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club in San Francisco, Obama wrote:
“As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the ‘Don't Ask Don't Tell’ policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.”
News of Sen. Obama’s letter on homosexuality comes just after his wife Michelle explained her husband’s positions on marriage and gays serving in the military to the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus last Thursday.
In her speech, she compared homosexual advocacy groups with the civil rights movement, referring to events “from Selma to Stonewall” as a progression of justice.
According to Randy Thomasson, President of Campaign for Children and Families, a May 21 Los Angeles Times poll shows that 54 percent of California voters support Proposition 8, the California marriage amendment, and only 35 percent oppose it.
“Despite his claims that he believes marriage is only for a man and a woman, Barack Obama is promising to destroy marriage protection in our nation and to oppose protecting marriage licenses for a man and a woman in California," said Thomasson.
“Most Californians know deep in their hearts that the homosexual 'marriages' parading in the streets are not real marriages,” he continued.
Thomasson, who describes himself as a registered independent, said that there are “significant differences” on marriage between Obama and his opponent, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, citing McCain’s stated support for marriage amendments in California and in Arizona.
Last Thursday McCain said in a statement, “I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman, just as we did in my home state of Arizona. I do not believe judges should be making these decisions.”
Thomasson commented: “McCain supports and Obama opposes preserving marriage licenses for a man and a woman in California. In recent days, their positions for or against the mainstream values of American voters have become much more clear.”
Washington D.C., Jul 2, 2008 (CNA) - In what American organizers claim is the largest international delegation to World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, the U.S. will send 15,000 young people to the July event.
The pilgrims, most of whom are in their late teens and young adult years, are traveling to Australia in 1,140 groups of various sizes, with the largest being 520 people. They will be joined by 50 U.S. bishops, including Cardinal Francis George, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
For the first time at World Youth Day, the USCCB will sponsor a Mass for all U.S. groups in Sydney on Saturday morning July 19, in which Cardinal George will preside and deliver a homily. Other U.S. bishops will concelebrate the Mass, after which they will meet with pilgrims from their dioceses.
Several young people will have special roles during World Youth Day. Armando Cervantes, from the Diocese of Orange, will be one of twelve people from around the world selected to have lunch with Pope Benedict on July 18 in Sydney. Juan Martinez, from the Diocese of Austin, will be confirmed by Pope Benedict during the closing Mass on Sunday, July 20.
Leonardo Jaramillo from the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Annalee Moyer from the Archdiocese of Washington have been selected to be part of the two-hundred-member International Liturgy Group, which represents all World Youth Day pilgrims. Members take lead roles in World Youth Day events, including the papal ceremonies and liturgies.
“I am truly blessed by this opportunity to experience the universal Church in such a unique way with my peers from around the world,” said Moyer, according to a USCCB press release.
Organizers estimate about 100,000 young people from Australia and 125,000 people from abroad will attend the week-long event later this month.