Vol. V. No. 37
Edited by Wayne A. Holst
Special Items -
Gandhi Weekend at St. David's
- Non-Violent Peace Force
My Summary Comments
"Letters From India 1932-1945"
by Mary Puxley and Molly Titus
Special Colleague Article:
Isabel Gibson on Abortion
"A Matter of Principle"
Diana Butler Bass
Let There Be Sex
Satan Goes Secular
Bonhoeffer Stood Fast
Update on the Catholic Crisis
When a Congregation Chooses Its Pastor
Pakistani Gets Death in Mumbai Attacks
Tiananmen leader embraces Christianity
Anglican Bishops in Secret Vatican Summit
Kerala Political Groups and Communist Support
Preacher Arrested Saying Homosexuality is a Sin
Global Faith Potpourri:
Thirteen Stories from
Ecumenical News International
Quotes of the Week:
On This Day (May 2nd - May 7th)
May 2, 1945 - Berlin falls; Nazis surrender Italy and Austria
May 4, 1970 - National Guards kill protesters at Kent State U
May 5, 1961 - Alan B. Shepard Jr. first American space traveler
May 6, 1937 - Dirigible Hindenburg crashes in Lakehurst, NJ
May 7, 1945 - Germany Surrenders, WWII Ends in Europe
Closing Reflection - Henri Nouwen
This weekend I offer you my reflections on
the Gandhi Weekend we have just celebrated
at St. David's United Church, my congregation
As a complement to that, my book notice is a
bit unusual - a locally published (Nova Scotia)
collection of letters by Mary and Herbert Puxley
(missionaries to India during the time that Gandhi
was formulating his techniques for what we now call
"peaceful non-violent revolution" (Satyagraha) and
his fight for India's independence from Great
Britain (Hind Swaraj).
Many people now know Gandhi's perspective on this
story. This book provides the perspective of
many Western Christians of the time, serving under
the English colonial system, known as the Raj.
I am pleased to share both perspectives with you
in light of more than half a century of hindsight.
In doing this, I am also re-introducing myself to
old friends, the Puxleys, from my own student days
in Toronto during the 1960s.
Colleague Isabel Gibson of Ottawa celebrates the work
of colleague Margaret Sommerville (Montreal) and shares
her own previously unpublished article on her ethical
struggles with abortion after many years of on-going
Thanks, Isabel for "A Matter of Principle."
Jim Taylor - offers "Adrift on an ocean of information"
from his weblog this week.
Ron Rolheiser - writes about "Living with our anger" - and
letting go of bitterness - found currently on his website.
Diana Butler Bass - writes about our failure to take faith
history seriously. This "broken memory" results in much grief,
she tells us this week (Sojourners Online)
Gary Nickel - shares an article from a new website he wants
to tell us about. "For Those With Ears to Hear" appears on
http://www.truthout.org/ - informing us of the denial of
profound violence still rampant in religious institutions.
(I have subscribed to this free service myself. Thanks Gary)
Harry Winter - Oblate priest friend serving in Minnesota
wants to remind us of co-operative ventures currently
being undertaken by Catholics and evangelical Protestants
in the USA (see Manhattan and Westminster Declarations)
"Let There Be Sex" - A not unsurprising development
is the emergence of shops in the UK, catering to the
sexual needs of religious couples (The Guardian, UK)
"Satan Goes Secular" - What happens when there is no
longer a need for God? Can Satan and the existence of
evil be similarly disposed of? (Wall Street Journal)
"Bonhoeffer Stood Fast" - a review of a new book on
the great German theologian entitled "Bonhoeffer:
Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy." The author says
Bonhoeffer submitted to nothing but the Word of God
"Update on the Catholic Crisis" - This week I bring
you articles on the Legionaries of Christ, Vatican
politics, faithful Catholics, Cardinal Wm. J. Lavada
and growing internal church conflict over the abuse
issue (New York Times, The Tablet, UK)
"When a Congregation Chooses Its Pastor" -
Presbyterian writer Bill Tammeus writes an article
on local congregations taking responsibility for
the selection and call of their own pastors - which
is common among Protestants but not in Roman
Catholic parishes (National Catholic Reporter)
"Pakistani Gets Death in Mumbai Attacks" - we now
have a verdict on the remaining perpetrator of the
terrorist bombing that rocked Mumbai India in 2008.
(New York Times)
"Tiananmen leader embraces Christianity" - Chai Ling,
the only woman leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square
protests was baptized a Christian on April 4th.
"Anglican Bishops in Secret Vatican Summit" - It
appears that more traditionalist Church of England
bishops are planning to affiliate with Rome
(The Telegraph, UK)
"Kerala Political Groups and Communist Support" -
Kerala State, South India has a communist government
but some Christian groups are no longer supporting
it and some of its leading officials are leaving
"Preacher Arrested Saying Homosexuality is a Sin" -
A Baptist preacher in Wokington, Cumbria was
recently arrested for including homosexuality with
a list of sins such as blasphemy and drunkeness.
(The Telegraph, UK)
Global Faith Potpourri:
Again this week I have collected more than a
dozen global faith stories, from Geneva-based
Ecumenical News International
Quotes of the Week:
Samir Selmanovic, Alan Canfora, Simone Weil
Rebecca Sweeney and Swami Sivananda offer
their wisdom from many cultures this week.
On This Day (May 2nd - May 7th)
Read these stories from the New York Times Archives:
Berlin falls; Nazis surrender in Italy and Austria (1945)
National Guards kill protesters at Kent State U (1970)
Alan B. Shepard Jr. was first American space traveler (1961)
Dirigible Hindenburg crashed to earth in Lakehurst, NJ (1937)
Germany Surrenders, WWII Ends in Europe (1945)
Closing Reflection - "Courage to be revolutionary"
A Prayer by Henri Nouwen
Here ends the latest introduction to Colleagues List.
SPECIAL ST. DAVID'S LINKS
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org (or) email@example.com
St. David's Web Address - http://sduc.ca/
Listen to audio recordings of Sunday services -
ST DAVID'S ACTS WEB PAGE
Created and maintained by Colleague Jock McTavish
ST. DAVID'S 50th ANNIVERSARY
TOUR OF CELTIC LANDS - 2011
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.
Tour reservations - $300. Sale opens May 2nd.
Call church office for details: 403-284-2276
ALL 36 PLACES ON THE TOUR HAVE BEEN SOLD OUT
(Possibility of a second tour in 2012)
THE FUTURE OF FAITH by Harvey Cox
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:
THIS PROGRAM IS NOW COMPLETED.
WATCH THIS SITE FOR CONCLUSIONS AND UPDATES.
A collection of twenty-five+ studies conducted since 2000 can
quickly be found at: http://bookstudies.stdavidscalgary.net/
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.
GANDHI WEEKEND AT ST. DAVID'S
May 1st-3rd, 2010
Shall and Pramila Sinha, born in India - now
Edmontonians and Canadian citizens for forty years -
brought a dimension of the Gandhi story and witness
to our congregation last weekend that I hope will
have a lasting impact.
During their time with us they were involved in four
Q and A after the showing of the Gandhi movie on
Saturday evening. A children's message and regular
reflection at Sunday morning worship. A Monday evening
presentation on their Non-Violent Peace Force missions
in Sri Lanka and Uganda.
Gandhi - (1982)
A descriptive site with links to related resources
Then click hot link: Gandhi (film)
Watch a Gandhi movie trailer, click:
It may take a minute to open this trailer
Following the movie both Shall and Pramila answered
questions about India in Gandhi's time and today and
from their perspectives as Indian ex-patriots.
We were interested in Gandhi's Hindu philosophy of peaceful
non-violent revolution in a setting where the colonial power
(Great Britain) had a high, established system of justice.
The genius of Gandhi was that he confronted the British Raj
by challenging it with its own laws and saying it was no
longer welcome in India.
If another colonial power had been there in the place of
the British Raj, would things have been different? Could
Gandhi have had the same impact on Adolph Hitler, for
example, that he had on the British? Shall said that he
could have, but would probably have used different tactics
and change might not have come as quickly as it did.
We asked about the Dalits, or untouchable castes, that
Gandhi was deeply committed to liberate. Pramila told us
that Dalits are not all the same, and many have been able
to find liberation through education. Indeed, this remains
a major challenge for India today, but education is the key
to freedom for growing numbers of Dalits.
Christianity has done much to bring education and freedom
to the Dalits. This has not always been welcomed by Indian
Sunday Morning Worship
On Sunday morning Pramila spoke with the children and
made two points based on her understanding of Gandhian
principles. "Come to know who you are," she said.
"Define and declare your space."
It was helpful to know that these insights transcend
eastern and western spiritualities and faith traditions.
Shall assumed the image and dress of Gandhi and presented
a number of the Mahatma's key principles. The "Great Soul"
of India, Gandhi spent his life experimenting with truth.
His autobiography focused on that very theme.
To experiment is to assume an open approach to life and
to allow experience and human reason to guide one's quest.
Gandhi was able to transcend sectarian truths and allowed
this to speak meaningfully to all citizens. He sought to
embody the truth that he himself sought to live.
We too need constantly to experiment with what we discover
to be true and to live that with integrity.
Pramila gave a power point presentation showing pictures
of her work in Sri Lanka with the Non-Violent Peace Force.
See Non-Violent Peace Force (International)
She spent the better part of three years working with an
international and inter-faith team to work with the Tamils
and Singhalese people seeking peace in local villages.
See Sri Lankan Civil War:
At the same time, Shall was engaged in similar efforts
in Uganda years after the Idi Amin dictatorship -
I had the opportunity to speak with both Shall and Pramila
at the end of their visit and I had strong need to tell her
You spoke of coming to Canada from India and - grounded in the
values of your Indian culture and faith traditions - you have
sought to establish yourself in this country.
But you have done more.
Using the freedom and support you have found in this country
you have gone to other parts of the world with a mission of
peacemaking to places where that has been much needed.
I have German/Irish cultural and Christian religious background.
Many people with my background have made Canada their home
over many generations. I know of a number who have also used
the freedom and support found in this country to go to other parts
of the world with a similar peacemaking mission.
We come from eastern and western cultures and faith traditions
but we share many common values. It is a wonderful thing to
be Canadians who are committed to global peace and justice!
Thank God for people like the Sinhas who express their values
in their deeds as well as with their words!
LETTERS FROM INDIA 1932-1945
by Mary Puxley and Molly Titus
Community Books: Lockeport, NS.
2009. 209 pages. $24. (incl. p&h).
(see order address below)
Mary Robertson Sedgewick marries Jimmy (H.L.) Puxley
in Toronto in 1932, a week after her 20th birthday,
and heads to India, where she lives and writes letters
for the next 13 years. In these letters she introduces
us to Ronald, Joyce, Gladys, Betty and Reg. as well as
Tula Ram, Hira, Ayah and Mahaj; and to Aryan Samajists,
rajahs, the low caste and the wealthy, big game hunters,
professors, Indian civil servants, and intrepid women.
She takes us from the dusty plains to the waterfalls and
heights of the Himalayas; from the city of Agra to the
"excitement of the real jungle."
An encounter with German sailors from a cruiser in
Bombay; Chamberlain's infamous speech on the wireless,
and English relatives plastering the nursery fireplace
against a gas attack foreshadow the upheaval to come.
With the words "don't worry" to her mother (and perhaps
to herself) Mary downplays the anti-imperial ferment
and the very real possibility of a Japanese invasion
of India. Set against a backdrop of momentous world
events, the letters - vivid, perceptive, compassionate,
witty and informative - draw the reader into a world
which remains forever fascinating.
Although we hear Jimmy's voice in one or two of his
surviving letters, most of the "Letters from India"
are Mary's. Many characters turn up on their pages,
not least of which is Mary, the letter writer herself.
The letters have been selected by Mary and Jimmy's
daughter, Molly Titus.
(One wintry afternoon... it was time to open an old
steamer trunk from the 1930s. It was a year after Mary
Puxley's death.) Out slid hundreds of letters written
by Mary to her parents in Toronto...
The parents with whom we had lived during their last
frail years were being revealed to us in the glow of
This book is an edited selection from more than 400
letters... written from India, mostly by Mary...
There have been times that I have been tempted to edit
out phrases and ideas which today we would find shocking
... but I changed my mind and left them as indicative
of the time and culture that Mary was part of - warts
and all. Mercifully she matured, as our culture has.
Jimmy is brought up as part of the "landed gentry"
in England. Sent to a "prep" school at a distressingly
young age, he then goes to Eton and Oxford. (It was
in Oxford, while studying economics, that he made his
first contacts with India.)
Jimmy wins a Commonwealth Fellowship to study at Yale.
On hs way from England to (America) Jimmy meets Mary
and her family (on the ship, of course.) They are on
their way home to Toronto from a trip "abroad."
(Mary too spent time in Oxford, but found it a rather
artificial existence for women in those days)
(After graduation) Jimmy turns down a position in an
English bank, one at Eton... and opts instead for a
position as professor of economics at St. John's
College, Agra, India - a position financed by the
Church of England Missionary Society.
Together they become missionaries.
Mary said later she had had no "orientation" at all.
The winter before her marriage she attended the School
of Missions in Toronto and learned about Hinduism,
linguistics, first aid, anthropology, bookkeeping and
birth control. In hindsight she must have felt that
this preparation was wanting.
Mary felt is necessary to take all the trappings
from the culture to which she belonged to an entirely
Mary is a Presbyterian, but she married a Church of
England man, and became C. of E. herself; but her
Presbyterian questioning outlook never left her.
Mary and Jimmy seem to move easily in the Indian Civil
Service... but their real centre is the missionary
community and the Indians with whom they work...
In this day of e-mail and quick response to any
situation, Mary's letters are a treasure. They are
well written, immediate and lively, and illuminate
a certain place and period - India towards the end
of empire - through the eyes of a young Canadian
woman. Her questioning, Presbyterian, democratic,
colonial make-up, perhaps allows her to see India
through eyes different from those of the run-of-the-
Mary is one of the proudest and most patriotic of
Canadians, born, brought up and educated in Toronto.
But the Canada to which her heart belongs is Nova
Scotia. (It was to Nova Scotia the Puxleys retired.)
It is sad that all of Jimmy's letters to his family
in England have disappeared. A few of the remaining
ones are included in this book.
He writes wonderfully...
- from the Introduction by Molly Titus
I met Jim (H.L.) Puxley - as did a number of other
readers of my Colleagues List - at the Ecumenical
Institute of Toronto on St. George Street (U of T
campus) during the mid-1960s.
"Pux" - as we called him - assembled the first
generation of Canadian students of ecumenism -
45 years ago.
Together we planned annual meetings of the Canadian
Theological Students' Association. For the first time
in Canadian history, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant
seminary students met regularly to discuss current
theological issues together. We came from across Canada -
a first. We also came from French as well as English
Canadian schools - also a first.
Pux was the initiative behind it all. He was the mind
and spirit prompting these heady activities for young
theologians from many traditions. I will never forget
his booming, jovial voice and raucous sense of humour.
For example, he was an Anglican canon and would laugh
at the fact that his son (a brother to Molly) considered
himself to be "a real son of a gun... yuk, yuk, yuk..."
I had come from Waterloo, Ontario and the Lutheran
seminary there. It was a joy to hob nob with the
"big city boys" from Trinity, Wycliffe, Emmanuel,
McMaster, Regis and St. Augustines.
I met "high" and "low" Anglicans, Jesuits and diocesan
priests in training, for the first time in my life.
We were all caught up with the new spirit of Vatican
II and I suspect many of those dreams have never
left us to this day.
Periodically, the Puxleys hosted parties for
us, and it was there I first met Mary. Together
they were charming hosts. Coming from strong
but rural German roots in SW Ontario, and meeting
these genuinely human but cultivated people was
quite an experience to be sure!
Herbert Puxley helped me to secure an international
student scholarship at the World Council of Churches
Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Bossey,
(near Geneva) Switzerland during 1967-8 - more
than forty years ago! It was my introduction to
a much broader Christianity than I had known.
Thanks again, my good friend.
More than any other individual, I credit "Pux"
with starting me on an inter-church and inter-
faith journey that profoundly shaped my life
and ministry to the present.
It is very significant for me to read these
letters from Mary, and the few from her husband.
They do a lot to help me understand how two
wonderful people were being transformed from
English colonials to Canadians of great
character and broad, generous spirits.
I do not expect that many of you my readers
will share my feelings about this book. Still,
there is one important aspect here that is
most important for any who would read these
letters. They convey the thoughts and feelings
of sensitive and human people in a land that
was changing profoundly due to the visionary
contribution of the English-trained, Indian
lawyer M.K. Gandhi.
Gandhi himself would have been pleased to come
to know these contemporaries Herbert and Mary.
And so will you.
Buy the Book:
c/o Kathleen Tudor
RR#1, Lockeport, NS. B0T 1L0
(902) 656-2223 (phone/fax)
Copies may also be obtained from:
Editor Molly Titus (daughter of Mary Puxley)
I was interested to see that Dr. Sommerville is to
receive an (additional) honour.
Our Ottawa Citizen carried her piece this week on
the flurry of intensity surrounding the government's
maternal/child health initiative and the inclusion/
exclusion of abortion funding. By (correctly, in my
view) labelling the pro-choice position as much of an
'ideological' position as the pro-life, she contributed
to the ongoing effort to encourage 'light, not heat',
per Woodrow Wilson, in our public discourse.
Copied below, a piece on this same general topic that
I wrote before the last US presidential election but
never got published.
As for me, my biggest problem these days is those
pesky squirrels, which like to lop the blooms off
my tulips. If this goes on much longer, I may
have to register with the squirrel-gun registry!
"A Matter of Principle"
by Isabel Gibson
Canadian conservatives are often appalled by what they
see as our Supreme Court making law as opposed to
interpreting it — as one example, the ruling that led to
legalized gay marriage. Their usual preferred solution
calls for a greater role for Parliament, our legislative
American conservatives were likely disappointed 18 months
ago when their Supreme Court ruled that it did not have
the authority to over-turn Doe v. Bolton, an abortion rights
case similar to Roe v. Wade. Will abortion opponents make
judicial power an issue in the coming presidential campaign?
Balancing judicial and legislative power appropriately is
tough. While scholars argue the constitutional principle,
interest groups are more pragmatic, supporting the party or
candidate more likely to uphold their own views. Nowhere
is this tendency more marked than in contentious public
policy issues - 'issues over which reasonable men may easily
and heatedly differ' as Justice White, a Roe v. Wade
dissenter, described them in 1973.
More than thirty years later, reasonable people still
heatedly differ on abortion. Principles, after all, are
not amenable to compromise. More, others' principles can
be hard to see.
When Roe v. Wade was first making headlines, I was baffled
by the apparent conflict between two stereotypically
conservative positions: against abortion because it was
murder, yet four-square for capital punishment. If a woman
didn't have a right to choose, why did the state? If
fertilized eggs and unborn babes had a right to life, why
not adults, albeit convicted murderers? As I opined to all
who would listen, there was clearly no principled position
Interrupting me in mid-rhetorical flourish, a friend proposed
principle to cover both positions: "one strike and you’re out."
Its full articulation was this: "From the moment of conception,
everyone deserves their chance at life. That prohibits abortion.
Mess up totally (say, by taking someone else's life), and you
forfeit your chance. That enables capital punishment."
It was a startling moment. Maybe anti-abortionists and capital
punishment proponents had principles that seemed obvious and
high-minded to them. Allowing for that possibility was a first
step to examining my own views more closely. What I saw was
more hairball than conceptual clarity. Thirty years later,
not much has changed.
On abortion, now as then, I'm no card-carrying 'right-to-lifer'
but neither do I think abortion is nothing more than a woman
determining the disposition of her own body. My views donÂ’t
accord with either camp’s extreme rhetoric; neither can they
be neatly explained by a single principle. Rather, they’re
distilled from a brew of competing principles, feelings, and
I want to protect the helpless, yet respect the mother's life
in all its dimensions. While recognizing the father's stake,
I am unwilling to require his consent, thereby bestowing a de
facto veto. Believing that moral choice belongs with
individuals, not committees, I am still disgusted by reports
of serial abortion. Determined not to return to the days of
desperate teens and back-alley butchers, I am nonetheless
sensitive to those doctors, nurses and administrators who
oppose abortion on moral grounds. Pro-life - I like to think
so, but not as it has come to be understood. Pro-choice -
yes, on balance, given the alternatives. Pro' - a world in
which abortion were never necessary - yes, that too.
Similarly, my anti-capital-punishment stance is an uneasy and
shifting truce among conflicting feelings and ideas. Valuing
each individual’s life equally in theory, in practice I
empathize with victim, not perpetrator. Because police work
and forensic technology are imperfect, and a good defence not
a given, I fear executing the wrongly convicted. My gut
screams to kill those who commit violent crimes against
children; my judgement doubts the noose's deterrence value.
Offended by arguments reducing human life to an economic
calculation, I nevertheless acknowledge that lifelong
incarceration siphons money from worthy purposes. Wanting
to believe in redemptive possibilities, I despair over
psychopaths’ prospects and wonder how to weigh one person's
second chance against another's lost chance.
A hairball indeed.
Abortion and capital punishment nicely illustrate what a
complex, messy world it is, and how poorly served we are
by slogans if what we want to do is think about, and talk
about, public policy. If we have the inclination, where
do we begin?
We start by critically examining our own positions. Most
likely, they will reflect a trade-off among several
principles, not to mention feelings, instinctive reactions,
pragmatic assessments, self-serving rationalizations and
untested assumptions. Faced with the real-world messiness
of our thought processes, the recognition that 'principles'
aren’t all that's in play, we might be ready to dial-down
our own rhetoric, ready to listen to what others have to say.
We might even be ready to follow Woodrow Wilson’s advice -
"The thing to do is to supply light and not heat”. If
principled positions are beyond us, principled processes
need not be.
May 5th, 2010
ADRIFT IN AN OCEAN OF INFORMATION
I have a set of encyclopedias sitting on the top shelf
of my office. I haven't looked up anything in them for
five years. Anything I need, I can find faster on the
Internet. Read the article...
San Antonio, TX
May 2nd, 2010
LIVING WITH OUR OWN ANGER
Letting go of anger and bitterness is a
non-negotiable condition to going to heaven...
DIANA BUTLER BASS
May 5th, 2010
DOES WESTERN CHRISTIANITY SUFFER
FROM SPIRITUAL AMNESIA?
Ft. Saskatchewan, AB
FOR THOSE WITH EARS TO HEAR
I found this article helpful...
April 30th, 2010
by Davidson Loehr
St. Paul, MN.
May 2nd, 2010
MANHATTAN AND WESTMINSTER DECLARATIONS
I've been very impressed by the websites for the
Manhattan Declaration of last November, and the
Westminster Declaration of this April.
Evangelicals and Catholics together have challenged
the entire English speaking world to protect life
and family and faith in the public square. Cardinal
Francis George OMI had a great deal to do with the
1994 statement which started it all (I have his
explanation of that on my page on the parish website:
<http://www.stcasimirchurch.org/> and our national
Oblate website will have his comments on the
Manhattan Declaration on it soon (OMIUSA).
Any chance of including info on the two Declarations
on your blog next week?
Here they are!
Manhattan Declaration link:
Westminster Declaration link:
LET THERE BE SEX
The Guardian UK
May 4th, 2010
by Cath Elliott
"Christian Sex Toys" Making an Appearance
SATAN GOES SECULAR
Wall Street Journal
May 7th, 2010
In a world without God as foil,
how do we account for evil?
BONHOEFFER STOOD FAST
May 4th, 2010
by Collin Hansen
Martyred German pastor showed
theology has consequences.
UPDATE ON THE CATHOLIC CRISIS
Pope Reins In Catholic Order Tied to Abuse
New York Times,
May 2nd, 2010
by Rachel Donadio
The moves against the Legionaries of Christ constituted
the most direct action on sexual abuse since the most
recent scandals have engulfed the church.
New York Times
May 3rd, 2010
Abuse Case Offers a View of the Vatican's Politics
by Daniel J. Wakin and James C. McKinley Jr.
The abuse case against one of the most powerful priests
in the Roman Catholic Church remained stalled for years.
Who can mock this Church?
New York Times
May 2nd, 2010
by Nicholas D. Kristof
Jesus wasn't known for pontificating from palaces, covering
up scandals, or issuing Paleolithic edicts on social issues.
Does anyone think he would have protected clergymen who raped
children? Read more...
New York Times
May 6th, 2010
Cardinal Has a Mixed Record on Abuse Cases
by Michael Luo
The record of Cardinal William J. Levada, whose Vatican
office oversees cases of sexual abuse, shows that he
often did not act as assertively as he could have.
The Tablet (UK)
May 8th, 2010
Schönborn attacks Sodano and urges reform
The head of the Austrian Church has launched an attack
of one of the most senior cardinals in the Vatican,
saying that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College
of Cardinals, "deeply wronged" the victims of sexual
abuse by Catholic clergy when he dismissed media reports
of the scandal.
In a meeting with editors of the main Austrian daily
newspapers last week, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the
Archbishop of Vienna, also said the Roman Curia was
"urgently in need of reform," and that lasting gay
relationships deserved respect. He reiterated his view
that the Church needs to reconsider its position on
re-married divorcees. Read more...
ANGLICAN BISHOPS IN SECRET VATICAN SUMMIT
The Telegraph, UK
May 2nd, 2010
Leading traditionalist bishops in the Anglican Church have
secretly told senior Vatican officials that they are ready
to defect to Rome, taking clergy with them.
WHEN A CONGREGATION CHOOSES ITS PASTOR
National Catholic Reporter
May 5th, 2010
by Bill Tammeus
For almost a year now, I've been doing something in my
Presbyterian church that Catholics don't get (or have)
I've been serving on a pastor nominating committee. Our
job is to search for a new senior pastor and, when we've
found one, recommend that our congregation vote to call
him or her (yes, Presbyterians have been ordaining women
since 1956 — and I even know that now-retired first
The congregational vote then needs to be matched by an
affirmative vote by our presbytery, the regional
governing body of the 100-plus Presbyterian churches
in our area.
There are, of course, advantages and drawbacks to this
system. One drawback is that it often takes 18 months
to two years after one senior pastor leaves before
another is installed. That also can be an advantage,
in that it gives a congregation a chance to reassess
its nature and future and to decide on the specific
skills it should look for in its next pastor.
Bishops in the Catholic church must make those
decisions, and usually there is little or no space
between one priest's last Sunday and a new priest's
It has always seemed to me that in that kind of
appointment system, there is more of a possibility of
winding up with a mismatch between priest and parish.
United Methodists use a similar system and this kind
of complaint is not uncommon among them.
There is no perfect system for training and hiring
clergy, but I've been thinking that both Protestants
and Catholics might benefit from something like the
system that some segments of the early church used —
one in which clergy in effect arise from the
community they ultimately serve.
This is not a new idea with me. Indeed, in his book,
"Like His Brothers and Sisters: Ordaining Community
Leaders" Bishop Fritz Lobinger, who before his
retirement served in South Africa, suggests something
quite like what I have in mind.
In a recent article describing his vision of homegrown
priests, Lobinger writes this:
"I know that if the church continues to admit only
celibate, university-trained candidates to ordination,
there will be no hope of ever overcoming the scarcity
of sacraments. I equally know that the early church
indeed did ordain local leaders who were married, had
received brief local training, were chosen by the local
community, and had proven their worthiness over some
time. I am not alone. There are hundreds of bishops
who feel that renewing this ancient tradition is the
only solution to the shortage of priests."
I'm not here to tell the Catholic church how to solve
its priest shortage problems. But I think there are
countless advantages to having clergy of all faiths
with close ties to the communities they serve.
Identifying members of one's own congregation or
diocese or presbytery who might serve as ordained
leaders could, in fact, lead to clergy who know in
a deep and profound way the heart of the people to
whom they minister. What a concept.
In any Presbyterian church there's always a starting
over that happens when a new pastor is called —
especially when, as often is the case, that pastor
comes from elsewhere. My congregation called our
previous senior pastor from Scotland, for instance,
and the one before that from Florida. The man from
Scotland worked out well. The Florida man was a
disaster. But in both cases it took a good year for
the pastor to have a good sense of who we were.
No doubt it will take a long time to change our
systems for training and ordaining clergy, but
surely we should be thinking now about how to do
As Philip Jenkins says in his new Christian history
book, Jesus Wars, "A religion that is not constantly
spawning alternatives and heresies has ceased to think
and has achieved only the peace of the grave."
Bill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder and former award-
winning Faith columnist for The Kansas City Star,
writes the daily "Faith Matters" blog for The Star's
Web site and a monthly column for The Presbyterian
Outlook. His latest book, co-authored with Rabbi
Jacques Cukierkorn, is "They Were Just People:
Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust"
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAKISTANI GUNMAN SENTENCED TO DEATH
FOR MUMBAI ATTACKS IN 2008
The New York Times
May 6TH, 2010
The lone surviving gunman from a 2008 terrorist attack
that killed over 160 was sentenced to death by hanging.
One of 10 attackers, Ajmal Kasab and an accomplice were
responsible for about 60 of the deaths, most of them at
a train station,where pictures and video footage showed
him firingindiscriminately at passengers in a waiting
Read More: http://tinyurl.com/23ohnjo
TIANANMEN LEADER EMBRACES CHRISTIANITY
May 7th, 2010
Chai Ling, the only woman leader of the 1989 Tiananmen
Square protests, was baptized on April 4th. She had asked
to become a Christian in December 2009. Read more...
KERALA POLITICAL GROUPS AND COMMUNIST SUPPORT
May 3rd, 2010
Church leaders in Kerala have hailed news of a Catholic-
dominated political faction ending its two-decade-long
support of communists and merging with another group...
CHRISTIAN PREACHER ARRESTED
SAYING HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN
The Telegraph UK
May 2nd, 2010
GLOBAL FAITH POTPOURRI
Ecumenical News International
3 May 2010
Tanzania Lutherans reject aid from
'pro-gay marriage' churches
Nairobi (ENI). The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
says it will not accept money or help from groups that allow
or support the legalisation of same-sex marriages. "Those in
same-sex marriages, and those who support the legitimacy of
such marriage, shall not be invited to work in the ELCT,"
says a statement posted to the church's Web site
"We further reject their influence in any form, as well as
their money and their support." The statement was posted on
the Internet after a meeting in the northern Tanzania city
of Moshi, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, on 27-28 April.
It comes in advance of the 70-million strong Lutheran World
Federation once-every-seven-years assembly in Stuttgart,
Germany, from 20 to 27 July and where homosexuality is
expected to be a divisive issue.
Conviction of rancher over killing
of US nun in Brazil, hailed
New York (ENI). Church officials have hailed the
conviction of a Brazilian rancher in plotting the murder
of Dorothy Stang, a U.S.-born Roman Catholic nun and land
rights' activist in Brazil who was killed in 2005. The
1 May conviction of Regivaldo GalvÃ£o, in the Brazilian city
of BelÃ©m, closes a chapter in a case that had drawn
international attention over the issue of land rights in
the Amazon rainforest. Stang, a member of the Sisters of
Notre Dame de Namur, a Catholic order founded in France,
which works in 20 countries, including Brazil, was killed
in 2005. She had been campaigning to preserve rainforest
land sought by wealthy ranchers. Stang had worked in Brazil
for 40 years.
Pope says Turin Shroud is 'icon written in blood'
Rome (ENI). Pope Benedict XVI has travelled to northern Italy
to venerate the Shroud of Turin, a piece of linen that some
people believe wrapped the body of Jesus after his crucifixion.
"The Shroud is an icon written in blood, the blood of a man
scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified and wounded in the
right side," Pope Benedict said during a meditation in Turin
cathedral. Earlier he visited the shroud, which shows images
of a man who appears to have been crucified. Church authorities
say that more than half-a-million people have visited the shroud,
on display in the cathedral for the first time since 2000. Some
Christians believe that the images on the shroud show Jesus and
that the marks on the cloth are a result of his resurrection
from the dead.
Panel faults Obama for lagging on religious freedom
Washington DC (ENI/RNS). The U.S. government is not doing enough
to protect religious freedoms abroad, the independent U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom has said Thursday
in its annual report to Congress and the White House. "The problems
are above and beyond what we saw last year, and the administration
must do more," said Leonard Leo, chair of the commission, which
was founded by Congress in 1998, Religion News Service reports.
04 May 2010
Russian church warns of extremism
as it remembers bomb victims
Moscow (ENI). Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have
called for increased efforts to denounce religious extremism
as they prepare to mark the 40 days since suicide bombers at
two metro stations in Moscow killed 40 commuters and injured
dozens. "I am convinced that Russia, through its participation
in international organizations Â… must strive for a ban on the
ideology of pseudo-religious extremism and for it to be
equivalent to the ban on Nazism," the Rev. Vsevolod Chaplin,
chairperson of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for Church
and Society Relations, told reporters in Moscow.
Critical theologian warns on
'wholesale' blame of church for abuse
Warsaw (ENI). Vatican critic Hans KÃ¼ng has warned against
"condemning the church and its priests wholesale" for the
current spate of sex abuse allegations. "It would be a bad
generalisation to place the whole clergy and Catholic Church
under suspicion," the Roman Catholic priest was quoted as
saying in an interview with The European, a Berlin-based
online news service. KÃ¼ng also said he still agrees with
Pope Benedict XVI on some key issues. The 83-year-old Swiss-
born theologian was speaking two weeks after criticising the
Pope in an "open letter" to Roman Catholic bishops worldwide
in which he said Benedict's papacy had "failed".
Christian leader 'alarmed' about threats
to Indonesia's pluralism
Manila (ENI). Life is becoming difficult and dangerous for
Christians in Indonesia because of outside extremists, the
head of a grouping of churches in the Muslim-majority nation
has warned. "For centuries, Muslims and Christians have been
living in harmony and have been coexisting peacefully, but
agents [from outside] of extremism and uniformity based on
Islamic Shariah law are threatening the peace and harmony of
our country," said the Rev. Gomar Gultom, general secretary
of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia.
05 May 2010
Religious leaders warn against votes
for 'racist' political parties
London (ENI). Religious leaders in the London district
of Barking have urged voters to shun "far right-wing"
political groups in an election where the leader of
the British National Party, which campaigns against
immigration, is seeking to be elected to the British
parliament. "Racist ideologies, seeking to divide
people on the grounds of ethnicity have no place in
mainstream British politics and I encourage people
to vote in such a way as to prevent racist political
parties making any electoral gains," said the Rev.
David Hawkins, the Anglican bishop of Barking. Hawkins
did not specifically mention the BNP. Britain votes in
parliamentary elections on 6 May.
US Southern Baptists make plans
to tackle declining baptisms
Washington DC (RNS/ENI). U.S. Southern Baptist leaders,
grappling with several years of declining baptisms, have
unveiled a proposal challenging members and mission leaders
to commit to new approaches to evangelism. The report calls
for individuals to increase financial support beyond the
current average of 2.5 percent of annual income, and for
its International Mission Board to evangelise foreign
populations within U.S. borders, Religion News Service
reported. "When the Southern Baptist Convention was founded,
the world was rather easily divided into `home' and `foreign'
missions," states the report released on 3 May from the
Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. "Now, with
revolutions in transportation and the movement of peoples,
the world has come to North America."
European churches' leader to take up
new post in England
Geneva (ENI). The Conference of European Churches has
announced that its general secretary, Archdeacon Colin
Williams, is to take up a new post in Britain. In a 5
May statement, the European church groupingsaid that
Williams, a Church of England cleric, would become a
team rector in Ludlow in central England. "The presidium
of the Conference of European Churches wishes Colin well
in his return to pastoral ministry and thanks him for
his service to the unity of the European churches through
his time as general secretary," Bishop Christopher
Hill, a vice-president of CEC, said in the statement.
06 May 2010
Indian churches study 'zero tolerance'
rules on sex abuse
Thrissur (ENI). Churches in India are responding to
allegations of sexual abuse by clergy around the world
by considering their own guidelines to deal with the
issue. "Our message should be crystal clear, that
churches will not tolerate anyone who is guilty,"
said the Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, executive secretary
of the National Council of Churches in India's commission
for justice, peace and creation.
The NCCI, which groups 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches,
is taking to the June meeting of its executive committee,
guidelines on dealing with sexual harassment that were set
out in April at the general assembly in Kuala Lumpur of
the Christian Conference of Asia.
Christian sworn in as Nigerian president
after death of Yar'Adua
Lagos (ENI). Nigeria's acting president, Goodluck Jonathan,
a Christian, has been sworn in as the country's president
following the death of his Muslim predecessor,
Jonathan is expected to serve as president until next year
when a general election will be held. There is widespread
speculation that Jonathan will seek to stand in that
election. Members of the ruling People's Democratic Party
from the north of the country are, however, insisting on
a Muslim northerner as a candidate.
Faith leaders in Sweden form council
to support religious freedom
Uppsala/Geneva (ENI). A national interfaith council has
been created in Sweden to highlight the role of faith
groups in creating understanding and to respond to those
who are hostile to religion. "We want to strengthen the
freedom to believe in and practise religion, both
individually and infellowship, but we also want to
be a voice for public discussion of ethics and
spirituality," said Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the
(Lutheran) Church of Sweden.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
May 3rd, 2010
"Our Scriptures have spoken to us, and our lives ought to
speak back. That's how we love our religions, challenge
them, care for them, transform them, and help them deliver
their promises to the world."
- Samir Selmanovic, from book "It's Really All About God"
May 4th, 2010
"We wanted to bring the war home. But we never expected that."
- Alan Canfora, one of nine students injured, along with four
who were killed, when National Guardsmen shot into a crowd of
protesting students at Kent State University, forty years ago
May 4th, 2010
"The lure of quantity is the most dangerous of all."
- Simone Weil, French philosopher/social activist
May 6th, 2010
When I was in high school I thought a vocation was a
particular calling. Here's a voice: "Come, follow me."
My idea of a calling now is not: "Come." It's... what
I'm doing right now, not what I'm going to be.
Life is a calling.
- Rebecca Sweeney, an American who held a variety
of jobs, including six years as a nun
May 7th, 2010
Work is the worship of the Lord. Do not make any
distinction between menial and respectable work.
- Swami Sivananda, Indian spiritual teacher/writer
ON THIS DAY
On May 2, 1945, the Soviet Union announced the fall of
Berlin and the Allies announced the surrender of Nazi
troops in Italy and parts of Austria.
On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on
anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing
four students and wounding nine others.
On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. became
America's first space traveller as he made a 15-minute
suborbital flight in a capsule launched from Cape
On May 6, 1937, the hydrogen-filled German dirigible
Hindenburg burned and crashed in Lakehurst, NJ, killing
36 of the 97 people on board.
On May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender
at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, to take effect
the following day, ending the European conflict of
World War II.
May 7th, 2010
Courage to be revolutionary
God, give me the courage to be revolutionary as
your Son Jesus Christ was. Give me the courage to
loosen myself from this world. Teach me to stand
up free and to shun no criticism. God, it is for
your kingdom. Make me free, make me poor in this
world; then will I be rich in the real world,
which this life is all about. God, thank you
for the vision of the future, but make it fact
and not just theory. Amen.
- Henri Nouwen, from "With Open Hands"