Friday, March 26, 2010

Colleagues List, March 27th, 2010

Vol V. No. 31


Edited by Wayne A. Holst




In this issue:

Special Items -

"When Pentecostals Visited a United Church"
  Learning to Encounter Each Other Openly


My published review of:

"Jesus Wars" by Philip Jenkins
America Magazine, April 5th, 2010


Colleague Contributions:

Ola Mohajer
Ken Kuhl
Doug Koop
Kelly Johnson
Derek Evans
Ian Hunter
John Pentland


Net Notes:

Kairos Still Looking for Answers
Robert Frost Born March 26th, 1874
The Monk and the Cripple - Henri Nouwen
Calgary Bishop Cautions re "Body Worlds"
Pope Offers Apology for Sex Abuse Scandal
Against the Dying of the Light in Ireland
US House Approves Landmark Health Care Bill
Flock Grows Right at Home for Ukraine Priest
UK Grocer Gives $700 Million to Church Trust


Global Faith Potpourri:

Fourteen Stories from Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Week:

Patrick J. Kennedy
Henri J.M. Nouwen
Oscar Romero


On This Day (March 20th - March 26th)

March 20, 1995 - 12 Killed, Many Sick in Tokyo Poison Gas Attack
March 21, 1965 - M.L. King leads 3,000 marchers to Selma, Ala.
March 23, 1965 - Gemini 3 - Cape Kennedy - Grissom and Young
March 25, 1965 - M.L. King leads 25,000  to Montgomery, Ala.
March 26, 1979 - Camp David treaty signed by Isreal and Egypt


Closing Reflection: A Prayer for Shalom


Dear Friends:

We welcomed three guests from Calgary's Pentecostal
community to our Monday evening study this past week.

Colleagues Kelly Johnson and Glen Ryland, as well as
student Carissa Webster brought our "Future of Faith"
series, based on the new book by Harvey Cox, to a
fitting conclusion.

Pentecostalism plays an important part in Cox's view
of future global Christianity, and that is why we
decided to talk with Pentecostal people we have come
to respect and trust. Thank you Kelly for responding
to my invition to this event. Thanks, Glen and Carissa,
for making our time special!

I share my thoughts on what transpired, below. Then,
in the "Colleague Contributions" section of this blog
Kelly provides the link to a review of the study:

"Canadian Pentecostalism: Transition and Transformation"
Michael Wilkinson, ed. McGill-Queen's University Press.
2009, paperback, $21.00. (purchased via


This week, America Magazine published my review of
colleague Philip Jenkins' new book "Jesus Wars"
which is being released this month by HarperOne.

Any reviewer worth his/her salt appreciates the
work of a good editor and I want to express my
thanks to Pat Kossmann who is as good as they


Colleague Contributions:

Ola Mohajer - responded to my notes about her and
Tariq Ramadan in last week's Colleagues List. Ola
will be making a return visit to St. David's on
Monday, April 5th.

Ken Kuhl - continues tracing the abuse scandal that
is now snipping at the heels of Benedict XVI himself.

Doug Koop - editor of Christian Week, investigates the
role of religious organizations in Canadian society.
"Religious beliefs (should) have no privileged status in
a democratic society. Religions should have influence,
not power... In a free society, the religious voice should
persuade, not compel..."

Kelly Johnson - provides a link to the Pentecostal study
noted previously.

Derek Evans - has invested much of his life the past year
or so in a gathering of international religious and other
relief organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to
establish a coordinated effort to fight HIV/AIDS on a
global scale. Derek lives in Ottawa. The meeting was held
in Amsterdam. Thanks Derek for sending such good news.
(see another report in Global Faith Potpourri section)

Ian Hunter - jumped into the Ann Coulter debate that has
roiled Canada this past week. After she was barred from
speaking at the University of Ottawa, she spoke to a big
crowd at the University of Calgary.

John Pentland - minister of neighbour Hillhurst United
Church in Calgary was the subject of a recent newspaper
article on his sermons which feature modern film subjects.
Good work, John!


Net Notes:

"Kairos Still Looking for Answers" - continues our focus
on the government's planned defunding of an important
ecumenical agency supported by CIDA (Christian Week)

"Robert Frost Born, March 26th, 1874" - readers of CL
are aware of my love for the work of American poet
Robert Frost. I share his story (New York Times)

"The Monk and the Cripple" - Henri Nouwen is another
favourite author of mine. Here is an article he
published thirty years ago (America Magazine)

"Calgary Bishop Cautions re 'Body Worlds'" - Bp. Fred
Henry is not shy when it comes to giving his opinion.
Here he comments on an internationally acclaimed
exhibition on the human body and neuroscience,
coming to our city in late April (The Calgary Herald)

"Pope Offers Apology for Sex Abuse Scandal" - the
week began with a clear, strong, apology to the
people of Ireland from the pope. Not everyone was
satisfied with his efforts. Some, at least, want
heads to roll (New York Times)

"Against the Dying of the Light in Ireland" - using
the famous words from the poem by Dylan Thomas
- a reflection on the long-term impact of the scandal
in that country . I support this view (The Tablet)

"US House Approves Landmark Health Care Bill" - most
Canadians, among others, breathed a great sigh of
relief when the US congress approved President Obama's
health care bill this week. We still can't understand
why it took so long (New York Times, Sojourners)

"Flock Grows Right at Home for Ukraine Priest" - few
people seem to realize that there is a precedent for
married Roman Catholic priests - the Uniate church
of the Ukraine. There, many Catholic priests are
married, fruitful, and multiplying, with the blessing
of the Vatican (New York Times)

UK Grocer Gives $700 Million to Church Trust - founder
of the Kwik Save supermarket chain, Albert Gubay, has
placed most of his fortune in a trust. A war vet, he
promised God half his fortune if he would become a
millionaire (Cathnews)


Global Faith Potpourri:

Fourteen Stories from Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Week:

Patrick J. Kennedy, Henri J.M. Nouwen and Oscar Romero
share their wisdom with us this week.


On This Day (March 20th - March 26th)

12 Killed, Many Sick in Poison Gas Attack in Tokyo (1995)
M.L. King leads marchers to Selma, Montgomery, Ala (1965)
Gemini 3 leaves Cape Kennedy - Grissom and Young (1965)
Camp David treaty signed by Isreal and Egypt (1979)


The closing reflection this week is a prayer for shalom




Contact us at: (or)
St. David's Web Address -

Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -



Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish




We plan a 15-day tour of special Celtic sites
in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England -
April 26th - May 10th, 2011

A highlight of the tour will be a visit to
St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire.




Monday Night Study, January 18th - March 29th, 2010
An insightful description of where Christian faith
is moving in the twenty-first century.

Follow our class videos, power point presentations,
other notes and study resources. Bookmark this link:




Monday, April 5th, 2010 (7-9PM)

Ola Mohajer, Science Faculty Rep.
2010-2011 U. of C. Student Council
Biology and Religious Studies Major

"Q and A on the Meaning of Islam"



A collection of twenty-five+ studies conducted since 2000 can
quickly be found at:

This collection of study resources represents a decade of
Monday Night Studies at St. David's, plus extra courses too!

You are welcome to use our course outlines, class notes and
resource pages in your personal and group reflections.



My Thoughts:

Learning to Encounter Each Other Openly

They didn't come punching big floppy Bibles.
They didn't come with big hair or mascara.
They didn't jump up or roll around on the floor.
They didn't speak in strange noises...

They just came to talk about what Jesus meant to them.
They spoke about how they were led into various ministries.
They recalled transformative events in their lives.
They listened to, and responded to, our questions...

Last Monday evening, Kelly Johnson, Carissa Webster and
Glen Ryland spent more than two hours with the people
of St. David's United Church in Calgary. They were
invited to share their spiritual journeys with us and
to respond to queries from people who had varying
degrees of awareness of Pentecostalism today.

Some of us knew precious little about them.
Some had rather limited, stereotypical perceptions.
A few had friends or relatives who were Pentecostals.
Some were just inquisitive about what they would learn.

All of us were quite impressed with the encounter.

Kelly Johnson has been a member of the Inter-faith
Chaplaincy at the University of Calgary for 13 years.
Glen Ryland is a more recent member of a similar
chaplaincy at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
Carissa is from a Pentecostal family. Her father pastors
a multi-cultural church (with many Somalian members) on
the east side of our city.

Kelly spoke of his early experiences on a mission ship
that docked in many African ports before he returned to
Canada to take up the challenge of establishing the first
Pentecostal chaplaincy at the U. of C.

During his time on campus, he has led many house-building
ventures to Mexico with a variety of university groups -
involving faculty, staff and students. He even had a
vice-president join him for one of these projects!

Kelly has been a leading campus figure in helping to
develop the Campus Wellness Centre concept - emphasising
the integration of body/mind/spirit concerns. Medical care,
counselling and chaplaincy are part of this centre.

He is heavily involved in interfaith dialogues and justice issues
on campus. All this he does, in addition to his ministry among
Pentecostal faculty, staff and students.

Glen has a Norwegian Lutheran background. His father
came from rural Norway to prairie Canada. His pietist
Lutheran leanings found him engaged with Pentecostals
in Canada and his dad spent much of his life attempting
to integrate the best of both traditions.

Glen is a reflective, scholarly person who is completing
his doctorate in church history at Notre Dame University
in Indiana. He is warm and not intellectually distant.
He spoke knowlegeably of North American and global
Pentecostalism as a Christian renewal movement that
tends to ashew creeds and denominational structures.

Carissa is at university to prepare for a teaching career.
She has gone through her own struggles as a "PK" (preacher's
kid) and remembers the teasing she experienced because
of her family and religious affiliation.

"I've come to terms with that" she said, "I feel quite
resolved in my faith at this point in my life." She
has a natural interest in young people and faith.


Our guests handled good questions about the differences
between Pentecostals and Fundamentalists; Pentecostals
and Evangelical Christians, etc. Their responses were
well thought-out, to the point, appealing and never negative.

One questioner wondered if Pentecostals were concerned
about nuclear disarmament. This prompted questions about
whether they were more interested in "getting to heaven"
than "making this world a better place."

The general consensus seemed to be that - no, Pentecostals
are not as involved in such issues as they might be, - but
yes, more and more of them are recognizing the importance
of green and anti-war movements today. As they
become more established as professionals and leaders in
our society they will naturally want take up these issues
in partnership with other Christians.



We did not get into any contentious issues of doctrine.
This was an occasion to get to know each other better.

We hope to build on meetings like this - especially in
the area of inter-faith youth concerns linking the church
and the university. Glen Ryland is a student of Eboo Patel,
Director of the Inter-Faith Youth Core in Chicago. We
would like to bring Eboo to Calgary some time soon. It
would be a great way to link some of our common concerns.

While members of the United Church tend toward liberal
theological views and Pentecostals to more conservative ones,
we find common ground in our suspicion of liturgical-formalities,
rote-like creeds and distant ecclesiastical hierarchies.

We share a commitment to seeing God at work through local,
individual initiatives - in other words, we encourage
personal response to the promptings of the Spirit. We do
not wait for some human "authority" to tell us what needs
to be done.

At the same time, United Church people were struck by the
immediacy of God's calling as it was expressed by our
guests. For example, when one felt led to undertake a
ministry to work among the poor and the marginalized -
they did not wait for "official endorsement" or
"pre-requisite ministry funding."

They went, trusting in the Spirit's guidance and support.


I wondered, on reflection, about how much good we have left
undone because we did not trust the Spirit enough. We seem
so dependent on proper "forethought."

Some projects will inevitably crash, but that happens anyway!

We have been so worried about failure that we hesitate to begin.
We have been so concerned about how we will pay for it all,
that good ministries never got off the ground.

We miss the thrill of experiencing God on the cutting edge of things.

I suspect that both Pentecostals and United Church people,
together, could do a lot of good as we meet on the human level;
reflect on the needs out there; and pray for Spirit guidance
upon mutual, earnest endeavours.

Thanks for visiting us - Carissa, Glen and Kelly!


My Published Review of:

JESUS WARS, by Philip Jenkins
America Magazine, April 5th, 2010

Read the review:



Calgary, AB

March 22nd, 2010

Hi Wayne,

Thank you for sending this. It's quite useful.

I have some corrections for you when it comes to
the information about me:

I am currently an Academic commissioner (2009-2010).
I was recently elected to serve in a new position,
Science Faculty Representative, for the 2010/2011
academic year. The position that you have, "Science
commissioner" doesn't exist.

Also, I do connect with the religious community of my
parents. Generally, if I'm not busy with school, I
attend community events.

Holistically though, it's a great blog. Thank you for
writing such kind things about me too!

P.S. I might get to invite you to my own mosque after
all. A few members of my community just came back from
a meeting in Edmonton which was about getting a building
for us. I'm not sure of the details yet, but I'll keep
you posted.




Winnipeg, MB

Religious activity challenges liberal societies
Christian Week
March 23rd, 2010

Public spats involving religion are increasingly common in
Canada and other Western societies. In Great Britain, an
unholy foofaraw erupted over the rights of faith schools
to deliver sex education in accord with their religious
values and traditions. In the United States, World Vision
is facing litigation over its right to hire with like-minded
belief as a criterion. In Canada, secular organizations are
aggressively questioning the rights of Christian universities
and other faith-based schools to receive governmental support.

Money is typically the presenting issue. Should taxpayer
dollars be allocated to faith-based organizations to provide
specific social services? And if so, what strictures should
be put on those groups to ensure full value to the taxpayer
and to avoid providing special status to any particular
religion? Can faith-based agencies use public monies for
social good when they hew to moral positions that run
against the prevailing tide..?

Read the rest of the article:


Calgary, AB.


Here is a link to a review on my friend Michael's book on
Canadian Pentecostals:

March 23rd, 2010

Buy the book:


London, ON

Irish Times:
March 22nd, 2010

Pastoral letter strays far from facts but has merit
Opinion: Confronted with the greatest tragedy in Irish
Catholicism, the pope ignores the reality of decades of
abuse to blame secularism and moral relativism, writes
Patsy McGarry

... In his last homily as Dean of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith at the pre-conclave Mass in
St. Peter's Basilica on April 18th, 2005, he [Ratzinger]
told the cardinals who were about to elect him pope, "we
are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does
not recognise anything as definitive..."

Move on five years and not much has changed. Confronted
with the greatest tragedy in the history of Irish Catholicism,
he has an explanation - secularism/moral relativism!...

Read the entire article:


Ottawa, ON
March 24th, 2010

Dear Wayne::

As you may know, I was recently asked to lead a Global Summit
of High-Level Religious Leaders sponsored by the UN and to
negotiate their agreement to act together in support of the
campaign against HIV and AIDS.

The Summit, held in the Netherlands, has just ended. I am
utterly exhausted, but very gratified. The Summit has been
unique and breath-taking, and a huge success. The New York
Times today is referring to it as "an historic moment".

And they are right - the Summit has surpassed all hopes.
It agreed by consensus two agreements, including one that
each had to sign individually. The organizations of People
Living with HIV have declared it to be "a milestone", and
the UN "a sea change" - "unthinkable and even unimaginable
only five years ago." The agreement will now be extended
to some 10,000 religious leaders around the world to sign

So, hopefully this will translate into something meaningful
for real people around the world. It also may set a new
standard for the role and expectations of religious
institutions to work practically, together, in the service
of humanity and the world.



Read the article:

New York Times
March 23rd, 2010

The Hague, Netherlands
Religious groups from around the globe pledged Tuesday
to prevent the stigmatization of people living with HIV
and AIDS... Representatives of some 40 religious and
faith groups including Christianity, Judaism, Islam,
Hinduism and Buddhist ended a two day retreat... by
signing a personal commitment to action...

Here is the article:


St. Thomas, ON.

Universities are bastions of free speech? Not in Canada
Ann Coulter Comes to Canada

Read the article:


Calgary, AB

Calgary Herald
March 20th, 2010

Pentland Says Church Needs to Stop its War With Culture

A Calgary United Church minister believes his job is to
define for his church-goers a spiritual connection to
culture. "Faith is not about retreat from the world,"
he told the Calgary Herald, "but engagement in the real
-life issues of the day."

For that reason he bases his sermons on movies:

Read the article:




Christian Week
March 23rd, 2010

De-funding hints at government polict shift



His (1963) obituary from the New York Times



America Magazine
March 29th, 2010

America searches its archives for an article
first appearing on its pages March 15th, 1980
Read the article:



The New York Times
March 20, 2010

Confronting a sex abuse scandal spreading across Europe,
Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday apologized directly and
personally to victims and their families in Ireland,
expressing "shame and remorse" and saying "your trust
had been betrayed and your dignity has been violated."

His message, in a long-awaited, eight-page pastoral
letter to Irish Catholics, seemed couched in strong
and passionate language. But it did not refer directly
to immediate disciplinary action beyond sending a special
apostolic delegation to investigate unspecified dioceses
and religious congregations in Ireland. Moreover, it was,
as the Vatican said it would be, focused particularly on
the situation in Ireland, even as the crisis has widened

Read More:


New York Times
March 25th, 2010

Abuse Scandal's Ripples Spread Across Europe
by Katrin Bennhold, Nicholas Kulish and Rachel Donadio

German prosecutors are weighing criminal charges against
a priest suspected of molesting children, and a bishop
accused of mishandling abuse allegations in Ireland

Read the article:


New York Times
March 26th, 2010

Pope May Be at Crossroads on Abuse,
Forced to Reconcile Policy and Words
by RachelL Donadio

Even as Pope Benedict XVI has urged clerics to cooperate
with civil justice, those strong words are running up
against the complexities of his past.

Read the article:



The Tablet
March 20th, 2010
by Brendan McCarthy

The days when Ireland's identity was inseparable from its
religion may well be over, and the sexual-abuse crisis
delivered the coup de grace. But in the wake of the Pope's
unprecedented yet criticised apology to the Irish people
for the scandal, can there be any hope of renewal and a
change in its clerical culture?




Announcement of Calgary Body World Exhibition
Calgary Science Centre

CBC News
February 9th, 2010


Zenit News Rome
March 23rd, 2010

Says More Than Anatomy Should be Studied

CALGARY, Alberta, - There are ethical and moral issues to
be considered in putting real human bodies on display, says
Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary as that city prepares to
host the internationally renowned "Body Worlds" exhibit.

The prelate wrote about the exhibit in an article published
on the diocesan Web site. Body Worlds opens in Calgary on
April 30. It presents real human bodies that have been
subjected to plastination, thereby enabling viewers to
see the details of the bodies' anatomy.

Read the entire article:



The New York Times
March 21, 2010

Congress gave final approval on Sunday to legislation that
would provide medical coverage to tens of millions of
uninsured Americans and remake the nation's health care
system along the lines proposed by President Obama.

By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a
day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the
last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose
crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his

Democrats hailed the votes as historic, comparable to the
establishment of Medicare and Social Security and a long
overdue step forward in social justice.

Read More:


Sojourners Online
March 24th, 2010

A Significant Step Toward Health Reform
in Spite of Poisonous Politics



New York Times
March 22nd, 2010
by Clifford J. Levy

In western Ukraine, many Catholic priests are married,
fruitful and multiplying - with the Vatican's blessing.



March 24th, 2010

An English supermarket entrepreneur has put US$700M
- nearly all of his fortune - into a Catholic trust,
to fulfill a promise to God.




Ecumenical News International
News Highlights

22 March 2010

Victims criticise Pope's 'dramatic'
pastoral letter on Irish abuse

Dublin/Rome. (ENI). Ireland's leading prelates have welcomed
Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral letter to the Catholic Church in
Ireland, in which he apologised to Irish child abuse victims,
and strongly criticised the hierarchy's failure to deal with,
"these sinful and criminal acts". Those who suffered from
those abuses, however, are not so impressed. Colm O'Gorman,
a survivor of Irish clerical sexual abuse and a campaigner
on behalf of other victims, said that in the papal letter,
which he noted had been described as "unprecedented", the
Pope had failed to, "acknowledge the cover-up of the rape
and abuse of children by priests, to take responsibility for
it, and to show how he would ensure it never happened again".
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, said "I welcome the Pope's
expression of apology and his recognition of the suffering
and betrayal experienced by survivors." In a 21 March sermon
he said, "The Pope recognises the failures of church
authorities in how they dealt with sinful and criminal acts."


Haiti's prime minister tells ACT head, elections will go ahead

Port-au-Prince (ENI). Haitian Prime Minister Jean Bellerive has
said in a meeting with the head of a church-backed aid group that
elections planned for this year will take place, and that putting
them off is not an option. Bellerive gave his undertaking in a
meeting with John Nduna, the general secretary of the emergency
aid and development group, the ACT Alliance, who visited the
prime minister in his office earlier in March. Nduna said in
an interview after that meeting that Bellerive made it clear
the Haitian government would inform people of the election date
in due time, but there was no doubt that the election would be
held. The ACT Alliance formally launches on 24 March after an
amalgamation at the beginning of 2010 of two church-backed
humanitarian agencies. It is one of an estimated 5000 non-
governmental agencies offering assistance in Haiti since a
magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the country on 12 January.


Japan mission urges: Don't put economy first at all costs

Tokyo (ENI). Participants in a Japanese ecumenical urban-
rural mission meeting have warned against the distortions
of present-day societies, including in Japan, by policies
that put the economy first, whatever the cost. In a 16 March
statement, the missioners pointed out that such policies have
resulted in a worsening of safety standards at Japan's
nuclear power plants, and conditions for those working in
agriculture, or as migrant workers and day labourers, and
for those on U.S. military bases in the country's
southwestern islands of Okinawa. The Japan Times newspaper
in an editorial on 19 May 2009 warned, "Poverty is becoming
a major problem that is threatening the basic social fabric
of this nation."


23 March 2010

Charge or release former president,
urges Taiwan church official

Taipei (ENI). A senior official of Taiwan's largest Christian
denomination says the Taiwanese government should charge former
president Chen Shui-bian or release him from prison. Chen was
president of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008, but he has been held
without trial for more than a year in connection with
allegations of corruption against him. "If they have evidence
against him, then they must try him," said Lyim Hong-Tiong,
deputy general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan,
in an interview with Ecumenical News International. "Otherwise
it is an abuse of human rights."


Communists, KGB guided Bulgarian church role in WCC says book

Sofia (ENI). Bulgaria's communist-era regime guided the Bulgarian
Orthodox Church's participation in ecumenical organizations, such
as the World Council of Churches, the Christian Peace Conference
and the Conference of European Churches, a new book asserts. In
his book, "Between Faith and Compromise", Bulgarian historian
Momchil Metodiev, who has authored a previous book on his
country's communist-era State security apparatus, claims that
under communism the State sought to subvert the Church and, later,
to get it to co-operate in spreading propaganda for the communist
system. Metodiev argues in his book, which is said to be based
on extensive research in archives that the communist regime,
which took power in 1944 and lasted until 1989, wanted to
infiltrate the WCC to exploit it for propaganda purposes.


Canadian rights' commission weighs in on Muslim face veil

Toronto (ENI). A human rights body in Canada has ruled that
Muslim women who wear veils must show their faces when
applying for health cards in the province of Quebec.

Additionally, Muslim women may not demand to be served by
women at provincial health insurance board offices, the Quebec
human rights commission said in a decision released in mid-
March. The rulings are the latest in Canada to attempt to
balance the rights of minorities with religious rights and gender
equality, and they have sparked vigorous debate across
the country.


German Protestant church admits cases of sexual abuse

Trier, Germany (ENI). The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland,
the second biggest Protestant Church in Germany, is the latest
to apologise to victims of sexual abuse in their institutions.
The vice-president of the church, the Rev. Petra Bosse-Huber,
said on 22 March in Duesseldorf, "We are ashamed and upset that
such infringements apparently also happened in our church and
in our social welfare department. We ask the victims for
forgiveness." Her apology came just days after Pope Benedict
XVI apologised for abuses that had been carried out in Roman
Catholic institutions in Ireland and kept under wraps for


24 March 2010

Malawi churches won't 'bow to donor pressure' on gay issue

Blantyre (ENI). Malawi must not bow to pressure from donors
to legalise homosexuality, the Malawi Council of Churches
has said. The statement came shortly before a Malawi gay
couple was ordered to stand trial on 22 March on charges
of "buggery" and "indecency" after getting engaged to be
married in 2009. Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga,
who are being held in a maximum security jail, face a
prison sentence of up to 14 years. "In the balance of
probability the State has established a prima-facie case
against the two as charged," magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa
Usiwa said in the court and adjourned the case to April.


Church aid group ACT Alliance called 'agency of goodness'

Geneva (ENI). Norway's ambassador to the United Nations
in Geneva has praised the ACT Alliance, a new agency
bringing together 100 church relief and development groups
worldwide, as an "agent of goodness". Bente Angell-Hansen
said at the official launch of the ACT Alliance on 24
March, "The members of the ACT Alliance are agents of
goodness. You are close to the people in need. "You reach
tirelessly to reach out to victims of war, of poverty, of
hunger, of sexual violence," said the Norwegian envoy
speaking of ACT Alliance, one of the biggest church-based
humanitarian bodies. The general secretary of ACT Alliance,
John Nduna, a Zambian-born relief and development executive
said, "As a faith-based alliance, our member organisations
are local with their roots firmly implanted in the
communities they serve."


Architect of secular Nepal,
who eased life for Christians, dies

Kathmandu (ENI). Girija Prasad Koirala, a former prime
minister of Nepal and the architect of a secular republic
in what was once the world's only Hindu State, died after
a protracted illness in Kathmandu on 20 March. The 85-year
-old was one of the leaders of a pro-democracy struggle in
1990 that led to his appointment as prime minister in May
1991, and a government that relaxed its vigilance on the
church, and dropped legal cases against Christians accused
of proselytising. In 2005, Koirala led a new protest against
the Hindu king, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, who tried to
rule the country with the help of the military.

Bishops say abuse allegations in US
dropped dramatically in 2009

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). The number of sexual abuse
allegations against Roman Catholic clergy in the United
States declined dramatically in 2009, even as similar
accusations spread through Europe, according to a report
commissioned by the country's bishops. There were 513
allegations against 346 U.S. Catholic clergy last year,
both drops of more than 30 percent from 2008, and the
lowest totals since the church began taking a tally in
2004, according to figures released on 23 March by the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Religion News
Service reports.


25 March 2010

Science, religion like two windows on world
says Templeton winner

New York (ENI). A geneticist and molecular biologist, who
has argued that science and religion should be kept separate,
has won the Templeton Prize ? an award associated with
honouring those who advocate dialogue between the two
disciplines. The winner, Francisco J. Ayala, aged 76 and
a former Dominican priest, is a native of Spain and a
naturalised U.S. citizen. He now teaches biological science
at the University of California in Irvine. Ayala is known as
an opponent of religious intrusion into science, and argues
for the need to protect the teaching of evolutionary theory
in U.S. public schools. Still, he has also called for
discussions between religion and science, and claims that
they "are like two different windows through which we look
at the world". "I contend that science and religious
beliefs need not be in contradiction," Ayala said.


'Accountability crucial' when faith is funded to fight HIV

Den Dolder, Netherlands (ENI). A top official from a
major funding agency says faith communities are crucial
to combating the HIV pandemic, but they need to meet
international standards of accountability when funds
are channelled through them. Christoph Benn, director
of external relations and partnerships at the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said
relationships between major international funding
agencies and faith communities have, "a mixed history".
On the one hand, funding organizations regard the role
of faith communities as, "absolutely critical", said
Benn. "We want to work with you, [and] channel funds
through you, otherwise we often cannot make progress
against AIDS and other diseases." On the other hand, he
noted that one challenge in working with faith communities
is that of accountability. "You may be used to being
accountable to a higher authority," Benn told the
religious leaders but he added that for funding
organizations, "accountability! is about money".


Hong Kong Catholic Official Supports Google Decision re China

Hong Kong (ENI). A Hong Kong Roman Catholic diocesan official
has praised Google's decision to stop filtering the contents
in its search engine as it faces a backlash in the Chinese
mainland. "The action of Google is encouraging," Or Yan-yan,
project officer of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission,
told Ecumenical News International on 24 March. "It brings a
positive message in promoting the freedom of information."
Google shut its search engine in mainland China on 22 March,
after it refused to carry out filtering required by Chinese
laws. Church official Or acknowledged that many international
companies want to invest in China because the economy there
is booming. She noted that, "A successful deal may require
some compromises," adding, "but to uphold business ethics
is also important."


26 March 2010

Vatican newspaper defends Pope
as US accusations now assail him

Rome (ENI). The Vatican's newspaper on 26 March sprang
to the defence of Pope Benedict XVI, who is facing a new
barrage of accusations of failing to deal with church
child abusers, this time from the United States and
involving allegations of a sexual predator priest and
deaf children. The allegations were related to The New
York Times newspaper by 61-year-old Arthur Budzinski,
who said that when he was 12 years old, a priest molested
him while he was at a school for deaf children. Budzinski
told the newspaper that one priest, the Rev. Lawrence
Murphy, was asked to hear his confession but instead
sexually assaulted him after taking him into a closet.
In an editorial on 26 March, the Vatican newspaper
L'Osservatore Romano asserted, "There was no cover-up
in the case of Father Murphy. And this is confirmed
by the documentation that accompanies the article in


African religious leaders call
for strong arms trade treaty

Kigali (ENI). African religious leaders meeting in the
Rwandan capital of Kigali have called on their governments
to support calls for a strong and comprehensive treaty
against arms trading so that funds can be redirected into
development. After their 23-25 March meeting, Christian,
Hindu and Muslim leaders said such an agreement would
reduce the human cost associated with the proliferation
of small arms and light weapons, and control illegal
dealing. "When you manufacture guns, you have to find
a market. When you find a market, you cause trouble,
you cause conflict, so it becomes an endless cycle,"
Anglican Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda told
Ecumenical News International in Kigali on 24 March."
But now that has to stop, so that we can build a
peaceful Africa."


European churches join 'keep Sunday free of work' campaign

Geneva (ENI). More than 70 organizations including churches,
trade unions as well as civil society groups have met in the
European Parliament in Brussels for the first European
Conference on a work-free Sunday. More than 400 conference
participants on 24 March launched an appeal to the heads
of States and of governments who were meeting tomorrow in
the European Council. They are calling for a Sunday free
of work for all European citizens. "The protection of a
work-free Sunday is of paramount importance for workers?
health, for the reconciliation of work and family life as
well as for the life of civil society as a whole," they
said in a statement released by the Conference of European



The New York Times
March 22nd, 2010

"Health care is not only a civil right, it's a moral issue."
- Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island.


Sojourners Online
March 22nd, 2010

"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of
despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour
of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing
... not healing, not curing ... that is a friend who

- Henri J.M. Nouwen, from his book Out of Solitude


March 24th, 2010

"Even when they call us mad, when they call us subversives
and communists and all the epithets they put on us, we know
we only preach the subversive witness of the Beatitudes,
which have turned everything upside down."

- Archbishop Oscar Romero, an advocate for the poor and
  marginalized, was assassinated thirty years ago today
  while giving Mass in El Salvador



On March 20, 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed, more than
5,500 others sickened when packages containing the poisonous
gas sarin leaked on five separate subway trains.


On March 21, 1965, more than 3,000 civil rights demonstrators
led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began their march from
Selma to Montgomery, Ala.


On March 23, 1965, America's first two-person space flight
began as Gemini 3 blasted off from Cape Kennedy with astronauts
Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young aboard.


On March 25, 1965, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led 25,000
marchers to the state capitol in Montgomery, Ala., to protest
the denial of voting rights to blacks.


On March 26, 1979, the Camp David peace treaty was signed by
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President
Anwar Sadat at the White House.


Closing Reflection:

God of reconciliation, we pray for people around the
world who face conflict and violence on a daily basis.
In the midst of instability, insecurity, and the perpetual
risk of injury and death, we ask that you would strengthen
them. Bring peace to their regions and bring reconciliation
between enemies. With you all things are possible, and in
this truth we hope for shalom. Let it be, Lord.

- Sojourners Online


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