Admiral of Morality: June 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Connecticut gets first female bishop today

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be the chief consecrator today when the Rev. Dr. Laura Ahrens becomes bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Ahrens, 44, was elected March 10 and is the first woman elected bishop in Connecticut. At the time, she became the 14th woman elected to the House of Bishops. Since then, she has been joined by the Ven. Mary Gray-Reeves who was elected bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real June 16.

Connecticut Bishop Andrew D. Smith, Connecticut Bishop Suffragan James E. Curry, New York Bishop Suffragan Catharine Roskam and Olympia Bishop Vincent Warner will join ++Katharine as consecrators during the service at Woolsey Hall, the auditorium at Yale.

Episcopal Life online has the story and there is alot more at the Diocese of Connecticut.

Archbishop of York: "The Qualifications of an Archbishop"

The Archbishop of York, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, is the Primate of England and Metropolitan, a member of the House of Lords and a Privy Councillor.

Next to the Archbishop of Canterbury (the Primate of All England), his office is the most storied and powerful in the Church of England. There was an Archbishop of York at the Council of Nicea in 325, and the seat has been in continuous succession since 735 A.D.

Sentamu made history at his installation in 2005 because he is the first black archbishop in the Church of England. (The interesting and varied achievements in his biography are at the York webpage.) Since his installation in 2005 he has been particularly present in the affairs of the Anglican Communion. He attended the primates meeting in Tanzania in the winter of 2007, the first for a Primate of England.

And of course, in the summer of 2006 he attended the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, addressing the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. He famously (some say infamously) took the step of addressing the Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion charged with crafting The Episcopal Church's responses to the Windsor Report, urging the committee to consider whether the proposed resolutions were “sufficient to cure this impaired friendship” and exhorting that, if not, “I suggest you must strengthen them.”

++York recently attended the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. He addressed the synod as they debated and discerned how best to proceed on the issue of same sex blessings, and preached at the installation of their new primate.

Despite the roundabout path, his sermon is in fact the topic of this comment.

The sermon was very fine. He urged all to "Train for Christ. Throw yourself into the race for Christ. Aim for Christ. Let your faith be ready for adventure -- ready to go into the unknown and forsaking the right to ask where you are going. May our Lord give you a reckless willingness to adventure. A venturesome faith -- like that of Abraham."

He also shared the necessary characteristics for an archbishop:

A few days before I was installed, a dear friend of mine sent me a card whose title was "The Qualifications of an Archbishop." He also wrote to say that he was praying that I will be given such qualities for I needed them all. And they are:

The wisdom of an owl
The strength of an ox
The tenacity of a bulldog
The daring of a lion
The industry of a beaver
The gentleness of a sheep
The versatility of a chameleon
The vision of an eagle
The hide of a rhinoceros (although, as a lawyer, think that this is a quality characteristic of lawyers -- thick-skinned, short-sighted and ready to charge!)
The endurance of a camel
The bounce of a kangaroo
The loyalty of a martyr
The faithfulness of a prophet
The tenderness of a shepherd
The devotion of a mother

And it ended by saying "And even then you wouldn't please everybody."
Enjoy the full sermon, kept at the Anglican Church of Canada homepage.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Diocese of Virginia on Covenant: No thank you

The Diocese of Virginia, which recently installed its new suffragan bishop Shannon S. Johnston, has issued its response to the proposed Anglican Covenant in a one page statement by the Standing Committee.

The Virginia response, calling the proposed covenant deeply flawed on both practical and theological grounds, is noteworthy for its plain and clear language in defense of historic Anglican relationships and structures. It strongly defends the Anglican Consultative Council against the proposals to change it and lend more authority to the Primates.
We particularly object to the clauses in the Draft Covenant that limit the authority of the Anglican Consultative Council, the only Instrument of Unity that includes lay people. We affirm that the full inclusion of the laity in decision making and leadership is a hallmark of The Episcopal Church and a particular charism of Anglicanism, and we object to any action that would diminish its vitality.

We also object to the disproportionate power given in the Draft Anglican Covenant to the Primates’ Meeting and oppose efforts to establish any body akin to the Roman Catholic Curia. The establishment of such a body is profoundly contrary to the historic spirit of Anglicanism. We are deeply concerned that the Meeting of Primates has already assumed improper and unprecedented authority to adjudicate genuine theological disagreements and to dictate what actions Provinces may or may not take without regard to the synodical structures of the Provinces, as evidenced in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué.

We conclude that the Draft Anglican Covenant is profoundly impaired by its disregard for the deep theological grounds on which we already belong together, the ecclesial history of Anglicanism as a family of interdependent yet autonomous churches that are both episcopally led and synodically governed, and by a rush to end the current disagreements in which we find ourselves.
The full text of the response is here.

The draft covenant was unveiled last winter at the primates meeting in Tanzania. The response to it by dioceses and other Church bodies, has been largely unfavorable. Responses to the covenant have been aided by the Church's Covenant Study Guide.

It is expected that the draft covenant and responses to it, will be presented and discussed at the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

The Blair Years

The Times of London is running a special series on Prime Minister Tony Blair, who stepped down this week after 10 years. It includes the well-crafted animation noted above, an interactive timeline, and plenty of photos, videos, and column inches.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Church official criticizes Carey

The Rev. Myra Blyth, the moderator of the Commission for Racial Justice of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, recently rebuked George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton, the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury and a gigantic purveyor of hot air.

On the BBC, Carey called for Britain to impose tighter controls on immigrants coming into the country. "The issue of immigration will not go away and I hope [the new prime minister] will impose stricter controls on those entering the United Kingdom," Carey said on Sunday.

The BBC News website reported that the former archbishop had added that there was a need to balance control with "clemency in the case of some people who need refugee status."

Blyth said she believed Carey was echoing the fears expressed in the media and public debate of those who felt they were being overrun.

Her commission is publishing a new report, "Migration Principles," drawn up by religious leaders and experts, and intended to offer positive suggestions for dealing with immigration.

She said she wished Carey had seen the report, to be launched officially on July 10, before making his comments.

This makes sense, naturally, but that has never stopped Carey before, and it likely never will, since his ego is regularly fanned by obsequious supporters and other low church lobbyists.

Blyth said her group's study "is an attempt by a group of church leaders and experts to offer suggestions to the government about how immigration policy can be run in a way which manages to draw more public confidence."

With her statement distancing herself from Carey, Blythe now joins a select group within the churches of England who have gone public in their criticisms of the former archbishop for conveying such large amounts of verbal waste.

Perhaps most prominent in the group is the Dean of Bangor Cathedral, who in an Anglican smackdown last year, banned Carey from placing one hot-air-conveying foot inside his Cathedral.

Duly Noted

Notes from the blogosphere

Since his site "That We May All be One" came online in January of this year, The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting, the retired Bishop of Iowa, and our Church's Bishop for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, has no doubt reassured many that our Church is very well represented before other religious bodies. His posts are faithful, insightful, and often offer compelling commentary on Scripture. The sense that we get when reading him is that here is a true servant of the Lord, who seeks to have Him in his heart and who does so humbly.

Bishop Epting's latest piece is called, "The Word of the Lord?" He notes Bishop Spong and his recent comments on the use of the concluding statement after a reading. Bishop Spong is not sure that the use of "The Word of the Lord" is always appropriate--or at least, not always the most comfortable response for him. Bishop Epting says,
I must say I have some sympathy with Jack’s position on this. I have no difficulty declaring that I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God. In fact, I have declared that publicly at least four times — once at each ordination and once by voting for a General Convention resolution attesting to the same.

But that is different from saying that every verse, story, and chapter of the Bible is “the Word of the Lord.” The Bible itself contains progressive revelation and is, in some sense, self-correcting within its very pages.
∞ ∞ ∞

The Rev. Tobias Haller also recently addressed (once more) the issue of Scriptural authority, in a sermon called "The Way." He says in part,
But if we look closely at our church, the church that survived the controversies, that was formed out of these tensions, the strange thing is that our surviving church quite often represents the forces of change and development, not the orthodox defenders of what they think of as the faith once given. Yesterday’s heresies become today’s orthodoxies, and presto chango: who is the heretic? If nothing else, none of us Gentiles would be here if the Circumcision Party had had their way. Even though they had scripture and tradition on their side, the church moved on.

As has a way of doing. Because the church is not so much about taking up a position as in being a way. The Spirit moves where it wills, leading a pilgrim people. And to follow the Spirit, and to follow Christ, means pulling that cross from the ground and carrying it every day of your life, not knowing where it will be planted next. If the church is to be true to its own best self, it must always be on the move, and follow the one who is the Way.

∞ ∞ ∞

Lisa Fox, a vestryperson instrumental in the founding and continued operation of "The Episcopal Majority," is a person of generous and kind spirit and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. Regular readers of her blog "My Manner of Life," know that she has a feline companion (her "big orange guy") who is sometimes in need of a vet's sure hand.

He is certainly a candidate for world's cutest cat. Get well soon!

Lisa also writes of the recent Pride event in St. Louis.
Friends who were there tell me we had over 240 Episcopalians marching in the parade -- by far the biggest turnout ever. A lot of us -- gay and straight -- felt it was especially important to get the word out that there is a church where gay folks are welcome and happy; I'm grateful for those who marched when I could not.

On the Web
That We May All be One
In a Godward Direction
My Manner of Life
The Episcopal Majority

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The latest issue of Trinity News, the faith-formation magazine of Trinity Church, Wall Street, is organized around the topic of transformation. The issue features excellent pieces on "Faith in Cinema," "Eight Ways to live the MDGs," and "The Death and Resurrection of St. Paul’s, Yonkers, one parish's bold resurrection life. Literally. As seen by the curate." Does this last one sound familiar? It should--it's by the Rev. Michael Moretz, curate of St. Paul's, and Fr. Matthew of YouTube's "Fr. Matthew presents."

There's also an excellent piece called "Who is my neighbor?" by Matthew Heyd, associate director of the Trinity Grants Program and chair of the Social Concerns Commission for the Episcopal Diocese of New York. He writes in part:
Incarnation not only defines who we are but requires us to act. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Great Commandment — proclaimed by Jesus — joins loving God to caring for our neighbors. In Luke, this declaration is followed by the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ clear point: God’s people are those who take action for their neighbors.

Parishes of any size, in any location, can tackle the hard work of nurturing transformational connections to their neighbors because relationships are transformation’s real core. There are few better examples than St. David’s Church in the South Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium. Where once there were only vacant lots and burned-out apartment blocks, the parish has organized with other congregations to build 2,000 single family homes — most bought by first-time homebuyers. The parish has also helped launch two high-performing high schools and run crack dealers out of doorways a stone's throw from their front steps. Changes are so dramatic that a community organizer friend recently wrote that leaders like St. David’s vicar, the Rev. Bert Bennett, deserve as much credit for turning around New York City as former mayors like Koch and Giuliani. This claim sounds presumptuous until you walk around St. David’s neighborhood.

How did St. David's do this? With huge grants, a large staff, a gigantic endowment, a 1,000 person congregation? Not exactly. Follow this link to read the rest of this story of amazing grace.

On the Web
Trinity News
St. David's Church, Bronx
St. Paul's, Yonkers
Fr. Matthew Presents--YouTube video series

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

California secessionists must hand over property

In a major defeat, three breakaway churches formerly part of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, have been ordered to return the properties and assets they have claimed as theirs, to the Episcopal Diocese.

The decision by the Court of Appeals, reported by The Daily Episcopalian, came down just yesterday, and it reverses the decision by the trial court, which in 2005 had concluded that the Diocese had no claim to the properties since the churches themselves held the deeds, and the deeds did not expressly state that the diocese had an interest in the properties.

The decision reaffirms the Episcopal Church's longstanding position that while individuals and even entire congregations may consider themselves no longer Episcopalian, properties and other assets identified as Episcopal may not be alienated, because they are held in trust for the mission of the Episcopal Church.

Many opposed to the Episcopal Church in California and around the country, had hailed the trial decision as a precedent for cases in other states, looking to it as a sign that if other congregations alienated property from the Church, they could do so successfully, or without challenge.

It was doubtful in any event, whether the trial decision could have been a precedent anywhere except possibly in the hearts and minds of disaffected parishioners, since each state has its own statutes and common law decisions governing the rights of religious organizations and California, unlike most otther states, had indicated that possession of the deed was only one, not the controlling, factor.

This factor has now been subsumed into and subordinated under the general principle governing hierarchical churches, so that as in other states, the General Convention through its dioceses, is held to have an implicit trust and interest in, parish properties. The California appellate decision expressly affirms this principle.

The breakaway churches had affiliated with a diocese of Uganda, and with the Anglican Communion Network in the USA, which has at various times claimed to be a sort of "parallel province in waiting," a lobbying and fellowship organization of like-minded churches, and a group formed with the express blessing and urging of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Whatever the breakaway churches in the case intend for their futures, they must now operate under the legal ruling that the properties they inhabit, are not theirs, or Uganda's, but active missions of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

On the Web
The Daily Episcopalian
The Diocese of Los Angeles
A Pastoral Letter from the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, discussing the parishes (in 2004)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lift high the Cross

The Church of Canada meeting in Synod this past weekend agreed with the St Michael Report that blessing sex same unions does not conflict with fundamental Christian doctrines, so allowing them would be appropriate pastoral responses to unions striving to live in holiness. But then, in a 21-19 vote, the Canadian House of Bishops blocked letting dioceses allow blessings.

(In Canada, in order to go into effect, Synod proposals must pass each order of the Church--lay, clergy, and bishop. The issue of same sex blessings was divided into two resolutions--one stating that blessing them did not conflict with the essentials of Christian faith as outlined in the Creeds, the second authorizing the bishops of the Canadian Church to allow blessings. The second was voted down only by the bishops.)

The effect of this outcome is to demonstrate quite clearly, that the people and clergy of the Anglican Church in Canada, a country where same sex marriage is established everywhere, already view same sex unions as normative paths to holy lives.

The bishops do not share this view, at least not enough to act on it positively as a body.

Their position has no doubt been partly arrived at, by the regular and intense lobbying of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, who have also urged the House of Bishops in the United States, to act in a similar way. The Episcopal bishops have indicated that they are not inclined to block blessings absent a clear directive from the General Convention, which will not meet again until 2009. And the General Convention, at least so far, is not inclined to issue such direction.

The Canadian bishops had already indicated in their May "pastoral statement to the delegates of Synod," that they would not approve blessings.

Some bishops, speaking to the Anglican Journal after the weekend's vote, indicated that this was because the "theological work" had not been done on blessings, or that it has been done "somewhat improperly," using the wrong words. Thankfully, the new Canadian presiding bishop, Bishop Hiltz of Halifax, does not share this view.

This sort of criticism against the Report, is certainly not credible. The Report, chaired by Bishop Matthews of Edmonton and representing views from across the Church, provides strong and clear theology. It is a model of synodical processes and discernment. Going forward, it is certainly a strong and persuasive model for any Church throughout the Communion.

The real issue, as the pastoral directive indicated, is the intense pressure the Canadian Church, especially the bishops preparing for Lambeth, are under to not make further waves.

It is the same pressure that has been brought to bear against the Episcopal Church for years, the same pressure that has exposed the fractures, divisions, and biases that too commonly make up our shared humanity and which, regrettably, we sometimes presume does not exist within the Body of Christ. Alas, our Churches are hospitals for sinners.

But they are more than this. Established by God Himself, they are the regular vehicles for the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the shaping of lives and communities of wholeness. They are the places where the oneness of all Creation because it has been brought into being by Him, is regularly affirmed. It is where we go to remember and celebrate that we have been brought into being specifically in order to share in His image and likeness, to acknowledge and bless the Lord because He came to remind us that we are not saved alone, but with each other.

This is the plain truth of His life and Resurrection. It cannot be contained or suspended. The fact of the matter is that this truth bursts forth from Him at all times everywhere. We regularly fail to grasp this truth, much less act on it.

In the end, the Synod was a clear victory for the authors of the St. Michael Report and for the findings of the Report itself. This is quite simply, because the Report attests to the truth of our natures, our oneness, and our Church, and calls us to reaffirm it in our lives and churches.

The Synod shows, once again, the clear disconnect not only with our discernment and actions, but with our people and bishops. Bishops are supposed to be symbols for and real keepers of, unity in the Church. This unity, however, cannot be had at the price of deception or by ignoring the beating of the Holy Spirit's wings. This type of unity is not real.

What is real, is that the people and clergy of the Anglican Church of Canada, like other true and faithful Christians around the world, hear the beating. They are already there. For this we can all offer our prayers and thanks.

But we are a Church where this is not enough. It is not enough to have the people and clergy do one thing, while the bishops do another. The impulse against this sort of dis-union helps to define us as Episcopalians and Anglicans.

The bishops of the Church must do better at listening--not only to each other, which they never seem to tire of doing, but to their flocks and to the Holy Spirit, which is guiding the Church in communicating to the bishops something that keeps surprising them.

We can only guess that this sort of surprise is always to be expected, for even the Apostles themselves had trouble believing who and what was before their very eyes.

But that is not where they stopped. They were surprised, then they believed again, and then they lifted high the Cross.

The bishops of our Church need to lift high the Cross. If they find themselves somewhat surprised at precisely what prompts them to lift it, they will be in good company. Who has not been surprised, to hear and live through, the beating of those wings calling us forward and helping us on?

For support, the bishops need only look to the people and clergy who are already lifting high the Cross and living in truth every day, sometimes at great personal cost.

God will find them there.

Grace and peace in the Name of the Lord.

On the Web
The Anglican Journal of Canada reports on Synod
The Daily Episcopalian reports on Synod

Secessionist church knows it has no claim, Colorado Episcopalians say

Episcopal Life online is carrying an interesting story on the ongoing dispute in the parish of Grace and St. Stephens, in Colorado Springs.

Most will recall that its rector, Don Armstrong, was inhibited, and eventually left the Church, during an investigation into his financial management of the church and its ministries, one of which was the self-styled "Anglican Communion Institute." Armstrong charged that the investigation was a personal attack by the bishop and without basis, but the full Standing Committee of the diocese voted unanimously to bring a presentment against him. Armstrong brought his charges and attacks against the bishop there and the Church, on the eve of the presentment. Then, he "joined" the Nigerian-sponsored secessionists in Virginia.

Armstrong also organized a "vote" at the parish, with returns claiming the entire parish wanted to leave the Episcopal Church. The diocese has filed for the return of all assets, and the law in Colorado is on the side of the national Church.

According to the Episcopal Life story, the secessionist parish thinks so, too.

The continuing Episcopal parish at Grace and St. Stephens, sent out a news release last week.

It includes a screen shot from the secessionist Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish website, headed with a plea for people to "please make a donation to help us establish a new legal precedent and overturn the Colorado Mott [sic] decision that is used as the basis for differing [sic] to hierarchal [sic] structures." The website includes a link to PayPal, an online credit-card payment system.

On June 21 the same website contains this request: "please help us establish new legal precedent to preserve parish buildings for the purposes and faith for which they were intended. Our eyes are on you -- 2 Chronicles 20:12."

This says quite a bit about that parish's discernment, its leadership, and the way they handled their responsibilities to their fellows and their Church. A legitimate and thorough investigation into one rector, was used to flame concerns and disagreements, into legal liability and troubles.

The full story is at Episcopal Life online.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

From the Sunday Readings

Galatians 3:23-29, "All of you are one in Christ Jesus"
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Barack Obama: The Hijacking of the Faith

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

“Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us,” the Illinois senator said.

“At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” according to an advance copy of his speech.

“There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich,” Obama said. “I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version.”

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups.

In 1972, the church was the first to ordain an openly gay man. Two years ago, the church endorsed same-sex marriage, the largest Christian denomination to do so. Obama believes that states should decide whether to allow gay marriage, and he opposes a constitutional amendment against it.

Besides the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ has been the most outspoken and resolute in its insistence that the Body of Christ include all persons.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Beating of Wings

By this afternoon, the Anglican Church in Canada will have elected its next primate, and it may be that the Anglican Communion suddenly finds itself with its second woman primate. What a wonderful development that would be.

The candidate who might take this step in history is the Bishop of Edmonton, The Right Reverend Victoria Matthews. She studied in the United States, receiving her M.Div from Yale. She has quite a bit of pastoral and other experience at all levels of her Church and in Anglican Communion bodies.

Perhaps her most interesting recent contribution to the life of her Church and our Communion, is the St. Michael's Report she chaired. The St. Michael's Report is a "graciously magnanimous" (to paraphrase the Archbishop of York) contribution to the ongoing discussion about human sexuality that has become so important to our lives as Christians and Episcopalians/Anglicans. If the Episcopal Church were to decide to initiate its own theological commission on same-sex blessings and human sexuality and how our liturgies and churches should respond, it could certainly look to the St. Michael's Report as a prayerful and deliberate model.

The Report lays out in plain language and with clear grounding in Scripture, the importance of the question of blessing same-sex unions and why this has become a question for the entire Church. The Report does so within a framework of careful and prayerful consideration, mindful that this and related issues, have become divisive and at times destructive ones.

The Report is the result of a theological commission formed after the last Canadian Synod in 2004; it was comprised of various points of view from the various theological colleges and positions throughout the Anglican Church in Canada. This in itself is a very positive development, ensuring a due process that has always been a hallmark of Anglicanism.

The Report itself is a step that many, inlcuding the Archibishops of Canterbury and York, complain the Episcopal Church has not taken prior to its own actions--a precise, reasoned, and reflectve presentation of the issues before the Church, within a theologically deliberative process incorporating the diverse voices within the Church.

Having allowed for this deliberation and voice, the Report does not call for more study or debate on whether this issue is significant or in need of even further debate. It calls for a vote on this matter. The Synod is expected to hold this vote sometime in the next few days.

In the end, the Report is a bold document with ringing language affirming the place of all persons in God's Kingdom and in His Church. It indicates quite strongly that the Anglican Church in Canada should move boldly and decisively to affirm this truth.

"It is commonly assumed that doctrinal certainty is required before pastoral actions can be taken," the Report says. "But history also demonstrates that clarity emerges when thought and action occur simultaneously."

This is a fine statement of integrity, discernment, faith, and process.

It's hard to say given the framework and approach of the Commission, what role the chair herself played in crafting this sort of language. But we can certainly be optimistic that if she becomes the next primate of her Church, Bishop Matthews will continue to work on this issue and others, with grace, integrity, and concern for all parties.

Can anyone doubt that the wings of the Holy Spirit are beating through the world in ways that we may not always discern until the wind is right upon us?

Grace and peace in the Name of the Lord.

On the Web
The Anglican Church of Canada
General Synod 2007
The St. Michael's Report
Biographies of the Canadian Primatial candidates

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rowan Williams: What is the Church?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has a new book out this month, called Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief. The book is a discussion about living the Christian faith, organized around a series of meditations on the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, the latter which is the full statement of the Christian faith in the catholic churches.

The work is obviously a timely contribution to the ongoing discussions and debates about the nature of our Church, our churches, our faith, and our relations with others inside and outside our communities of faith.

The Christian Century has kindly excerpted a bit of it at its website, which might be enough to pique our interest in adding the book to our summer reading lists.

Here is an interesting bit of it, where ++Rowan says that the one thing we do know is that we can trust God absolutely, and likewise, trust in His Church:
Just as we can trust God because God has no agenda that is not for our good, so we can trust the church because it is the sort of community it is, a community of active peacemaking and peacekeeping in which no one exists in isolation or grows up in isolation or suffers in isolation. The slogan of the church's life is "not without the other"; no I without a you, no I without a we. Yet that doesn't mean that the identity of the church is a herd identity, with everyone's individuality submerged in the collective. The difference between the I and the you remains real difference—otherwise there would be no challenge about it. You may have noticed that few churches are characterized by drab sameness; when people try to create a herd mentality in the church, whether in a local congregation or in a wider institution, sooner or later it tends to break down dramatically

Friday, June 01, 2007

Air in Rome has cocaine and marijuana

This explains alot, Vatican watchers say

Scientists have discovered particles of cocaine and marijuana, as well as caffeine and tobacco, in the air of Rome, researchers from Italy's National Research Councl reported on Thursday.

The concentration of drugs was heavy in the air around Rome's Sapienza university and even heavier directly above the Vatican, raising questions about the nature of the "incense" and "candles" being burned during masses there.

If the candles are made from hemp and the incense includes narcotics or other drugs, which some researchers believe may have been introduced at the directive of Pope Benedict, it may help explain why so many visitors to the Vatican during Benedict's tenure report liking him more than they first believed possible. It may also help to explain the exponential increase in candle sales at the Vatican gift shop.

The head of the group that conducted the study, the National Research Council's Dr. Angelo Cecinato, warned against drawing conclusions about students' recreational habits, or about the ability of prayer to deliver recreational drugs in a short time frame once supplies have been exhausted at 3 in the morning.

Calling their study "the first in the world to show the presence of particles of cocaine suspended in the atmosphere of the city", the researchers said they took samples in Rome, the southern city of Taranto, in Algiers in North Africa, and all around the Vatican.

Nicotine and caffeine were detected in all places, "showing how widespread consumption of these substances is and how they remain in the atmosphere."

Cocaine and marijuana concentratons were heaviest in the air around the Vatican, especially above the east window of Pope Benedict's bedroom and directly above the break area at the back of St. Peters, "showing how widespread consumption of these substances is and how they remain in the atmosphere."

The concentration of cocaine in Rome's atmosphere was only 0.1 nanograms (1 nanogram is one billionth of a gram) per cubic metre at its height during winter months, the researchers said. The levels spiked to 0.5 nanograms per cubic metre whenever Pope Benedict appeared at the balcony to wave at the crowds on St. Peters.

One possible solution to the rather unhealthy spikes was to confine Pope Benedict in windowless rooms more often or, when he travels outdoors, to encourage him to do so without first applying his "Pope makeup," which is painful to apply and is one reason he must use narcotics.

Vatican press officers concede that this may not be possible since traveling without his elaborate"Pope makeup" will reveal to faithful all around the world that Benedict is in fact a dark lord of the Sith.

This is no excuse, the scientists said.

"It is well documented that even small concentrations in the air of these pollutants can seriously damage health," said Dr. Ivo Allegrini of the CNR's Institute for Atmospheric Pollution.

The Vatican said it is aware of the findings and is preparing to form a committee of cardinals to examine the issue of whether it may be appropriate to reintroduce the "Pope mobile," so that when the Pope travels outdoors, the particles he ingests on a regular and heavy basis may collect around his person and not dissipate into the air.

On the Web:

The National Research Council of Italy: "La cocaina è anche nell’aria"
A Pope mobile timeline
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