Friday, April 30, 2010

Colleagues List, May 1st, 2010

Vol. V.  No. 36


Edited by Wayne A. Holst




Special Item -

Loving Our Neighbour
in an Age of Globalization


Gandhi Weekend at St. David's
Join Us For Three Special Events


Colleague Contributions/Honours:

Jim Taylor
Lorna Dueck
Margaret Sommerville


Net Notes:

Kingdom Without Borders
Doubt Cast on Noah's Ark Find
Q and A With Stanley Hauwerwas
A Crisis for the Parsi Faithful
Christian Counsellor Loses Court Fight
Emmanuel College Begins Training Muslim Clergy
Update: The Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church
Too Little Balance Reporting on Catholic Crisis
Another Vatican II Moment for the Catholic Church?


Global Faith Potpourri:

Seventeen Stories from
Ecumenical News International


Quotes of the Week:

bell hooks
E.B. White
Dorothy Day
Rolando Tale-Yax
James H. Cone
Barbara Brown Taylor


On This Day (April 25th - April 30th)

April 25, 1945 - Early UN Conference Meets in San Francisco
April 26, 1986 - World's Worst Nuclear Accident at Chernobyl
April 28, 1947 - Expedition sails from Peru on the Kon-Tiki
April 30, 1975 - S. Vietnam capital Saigon falls to Viet Cong


Closing Reflection - Thomas Berry



Dear Friends:

Several weeks ago I read a review of the book "Compassion:
Loving Our Neighbour in an Age of Globalization" and was
struck by the breadth of personal and social meaning it

I decided to locate the book from Orbis and present an
introduction to it for you on Colleagues List.


Many guests to our country comment on the compassionate
nature of our people and society.

We in Canada pride ourselves as a compassionate people
and our long history of universal healthcare has often been
tauted as an admirable reflection of that. We also feel good
about our attention to international development.

Modern life has a way of reducing these long-established
cultural values. They were obviously shaped by our Judeo-
Christian heritage. Secularism, multi-culturalism and
religious pluralism have eaten away at them.

It is therefore important to be reminded that a value like
compassion needs constantly to be addressed as we evolve
as persons and a society into the future.

Are we really the compassionate individuals and people
we think we are?

I wish to thank American scholar Dr. Maureen O'Connell of
Fordham University, New York, for what I consider an
excellent contemporary re-visitation of a most important
spiritual precept from our Christian biblical-theological
heritage. Her work is both theoretical and pragmatic as
she suggests contemporary ways of living compassionate
values personally, locally, nationally and globally.


Final reminder for those who can attend:

The ACTS Ministry offers a Gandhi Weekend at St. David's,
May 1st through 3rd (Saturday - Monday) and we invite you
to join us for three special events. See details below.


Colleague Contributions/Honours:

Jim Taylor - revives the old theme of those who may consider
even Christ an unsuitable candidate for leadership today.

Lorna Dueck -  My father would say "It's an ill wind that
doesn't bring someone some good." Lorna reminds us that
even the Icelandic volcano offered something of value.

Margaret Sommerville - will be presented with an honourary
doctorate May 2nd from Corpus Christi/St. Mark's College
in Vancouver, BC. Congratulations, Margaret!


Net Notes:

"Kingdom Without Borders" - A whole new dimension of
global missions is unfolding as two-thirds world Christians
find intriguing ways to witness to the faith.
(Christianity Today)

"Doubt Cast on Noah's Ark Find" - explorers have been
searching for the lost ark of Noah for centuries. Here is the
latest story in a long series. Good luck with the quest!
(Christian Science Monitor)

"Q and A With Stanley Hauwerwas" - always insightful,
now read a brief Publishers Weekly interview with this
well-known and respected scholar. Hauwerwas will publish
his memoirs entitled "Hannah's Child" this May.
(Publishers Weekly Online)

"A Crisis for the Parsi Faithful" - you may not know they
exist, but the Parsis have long been part of Indian culture.
They are decendents of the religion known as Zoroastrianism
which influenced Jewish, and thus Christian,  traditions.
Read of some of the current problems they face.
(Wall Street Journal)

"Christian Counsellor Loses Court Fight" -  the former
archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey got himself into a
row with the courts and the press this week by defending an
evangelical Christian who refused to counsel a gay couple.
(The Guardian, UK)

"Emmanuel College Begins Training Muslim Clergy" -  this news
represents a truly noteable breakthrough in Canadian religious
history. A Christian seminary is offering a Certificate in
Muslim Studies to help prepare Islamic chaplains, counsellors
and imams for service in a Canadian context. Interestingly,
Toronto is home to sixty mosques of various Muslim traditions
and Canada-trained leaders are much needed today.
(Christian.Week Online)

"Update: The Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church" - my series
of articles continues. This week, I have selected them from
The New York Times, The Telegraph UK, New Catholic Times,, Ecumenical News International and The Tablet UK.

"Too Little Balanced Reporting re Catholic Crisis" - John
Longhurst a Canadian Christian journalist has a bone to
pick with journalists in general about the way they have been
presenting the Catholic abuse crisis story to the exclusion of
other news. There is much more to religion these days than
the bad news, he says. (

"Another Vatican II Moment for the Catholic Church?" -
in the spirit of the previous article, I conclude with
a piece by John Gehring who envisages a stronger church
emerging from the current Catholic crisis.
(Sojourners Online)


Global Faith Potpourri:

Find fourteen short new stories provided this week
from Ecumenical News International, Geneva.


Quotes of the Week:

bell hooks, E.B. White, Dorothy Day, Rolando Tale-Yax,
James H. Cone, and Barbara Brown Taylor share their
good words with us.


On This Day (April 25th - April 30th)

Read the following articles from the New York Times as
events happened

Early UN Conference Meets in San Francisco (1945)
World's Worst Nuclear Accident - Chernobyl (1986)
Expedition sails from Peru on the Kon-Tiki (1947)
S. Vietnam capital Saigon falls to Viet Cong  (1975)


Closing Reflection -

Thomas Berry, now deceased, has inspired me through his books
and personal retreats. I will not forget the hour of personal
discussion I had with him at a centre devoted to faith and
ecological concerns on the Ontario shores of Lake Erie. That
was in 1991, almost twenty years ago.

I share a brief comment on his trademark subject - a needed
paradigm shift to help us understand science and faith as


As May begins, a blessed season of new  ecological life for
many of you my readers in the Northern Hemisphere!




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.

Tour reservations - $300. Sale opens May 2nd.
Call church office for details: 403-284-2276




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:




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.


SPECIAL ITEM - Book notice

Loving Our Neighbour
in an Age of Globalization
by Maureen H. O'Connell.
Orbis Books: Maryknoll, NY
2009. 242 pages. $32.00 US
ISBN #978-1-57075-845-4.

Publisher's Promo:

This book is a theological exploration of the need
for Christian compassion in today's world.

Suffering dehumanizes people and demands that Christians
turn to compassion; that they learn to "suffer with another"
as the mark of their discipleship.

As members of the world's wealthiest nations, we possess
the moral imperative, the human and material resources,
and a luxury of freedom from want necessary to alleviate
the kind of suffering that happens at the hands of others.

The answer to the alleviation of suffering lies in naming
the signs of the times, understanding their causes, and
devising effective responses.

O'Connell presents a historical overview of the concept of
compassion and engages contemporary theologians like
Jon Sobrino, Johann Metz, Martha Nussbaum and Martin Luther
King Jr. to help us understand how compassion can alleviate
massive and unjust suffering and how it offers a road map to
a better human future.


Author's Words:

In this work, I present a simple but urgent premise:
dehumanizing suffering in our contemporary reality - both
in distant places around the globe and in more familiar
contexts within our own nations and... local communities -
demands that North American Christians embrace compassion,
or the ability to "suffer with another" as the definitive
characteristic of our discipleship...

We have lost sight of what it means to "suffer with" our
neighbours at a time when compassion has never been more
necessary or more possible.

The central thesis of this book is that privileged
Christians need to reexamine the virtue of compassion
exemplified by the Samaritan traveler on the road to
Jericho in the Lukan parable... we need to rediscover
the central lessons of that story (first told by Jesus)

Samaritanism requires our humility in taking active
responsibility for our contribution to others' misfortunes
and to do so in partnership with them...

We need to know compassion, therefore, that "confronts
ourselves with real things in their reality" that does
not just alleviate suffering, but rather transforms it.

The chapters of my book describe the signs of the times
which (demonstrate) Christians are increasingly responsible
for social inequality. I illuminate philosophical and
theological ethics that can contribute to a more
useful definition of compassion in our day. I try
to see this within a political and developmental frame
of reference and in situations of massively unjust

Upheavals and interuptions in the world like hurricane
Katrina (New Orleans) and (the Haitian earthquake) cause
us to stop, open our eyes, and to listen so that we might
have a more accurate and effective vision of what
might be, and some knowledge as to how to move toward
a new destination.

(from the Introduction)


My Comments:

Within hours of the devastating earthquake that rocked
Haiti a few months ago, the whole world knew about it.

Within days I was receiving messages from various relief
agencies to lend my support of people in that tragic

After a period of following the news and listening to
appeals for help Marlene and I decided to act. We made
an on-line donation to World Vision. It was the largest
we have given them. It suggested the pressure and the
moral struggling with which we were engaged in order to
"do something" in a situation that defied doing anything.

The same pressure affects us when - about once a month -
we get a notice from the Inn From the Cold co-ordinator
at church, informing us that "early next Sunday morning
it is our turn to help with the clean-up after 15-20
homeless people spent the night in the basement."

I readily admit that both of these activities are, in
a way, troublesome for me. One supports relief from
devastation far away, while the other deals with a
local concern. By offering a bit of our time and
money we ourselves seek relief from nagging fears
related to poverty. After all, it could happen to us...

I am inclined to "denial" and "getting on with life"
(in other words move past the distress and tension.)

Yet, it is growingly apparent that the tension is
not something to avoid. It is actually a good thing
because it allows me to not simply react, but to stop
and delve more deeply into the true meaning of the
compassionate person I seek to be. In addition, I
would like to live in a more compassionate world.

How do I move this big concern forward so that I am
not merely repeating band-aid work on myself, or with

When we donate money to World Vision, we hope that
it will make a difference. And, even though we do not
see our Inn From The Cold church guests (who have
already departed by the time we arrive to put away
beds and clean floors) we really do want to make
life better for them.

But how can these good intentions bring us a fuller
sense of "feeling with" other people?

Positive guilt, I suppose, is our main motivation.
But ultruism is there too.


Maureen O'Connell, who teaches theology at Fordham
University in New York City, suggests in her book
entitled "Compassion" that productive guilt is, in
itself, not a bad thing. Even if it is a kind of "suffering
by proxy."

It is also a good thing to want this world to be a
better place because of our being here.

In many ways, however, what we have been doing is
only the first step in a much more profound process
of personal transformation. That is, truly identifying
and suffering with our neighbour - whether close by
or on the other side of the world. It is a long journey.

O'Connell walks us through the parable of the Good
Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and poignantly describes
the dynamics of relating to one who was left for dead
by the side of a road after a robbery. The central
focus is about what happened when the victim was
encountered by a truly compassionate person.

This story stands at the very heart of a Christian
approach to compassion, she says, and she reflects
with us on its various dimensions.

(To add some reality to this, think of the report from
New York recently of the benevolent but unfortunate
street person who was attacked, ignored and left to
die as 20 people "passed by on the other side."
See news item below under "Quotes of the Week")

Compassion is complex and difficult. It is personal,
and also political. It is extremely frustrating at
times because it seems to cause more trouble than
what it is worth. Think of the missionaries who were
jailed in Haiti for trying to remove children from human
devastation to "safer ground" in the Dominican Republic.

Christians living in developed lands have much to
answer for in terms of the plight of people living in
under-developed countries.

The author's call for Christians to truly "suffer with"
others in today's world is a hard one. Moving beyond
supporting brand name relief services to embracing
larger Christian responsibility is a big challenge.
To transform social structures that cause injustice
is very difficult. The movement from personal awareness
to global change is a huge undertaking requiring much
time and effort.

O'Connell introduces us to a history of the meaning of
compassion - (which, by the way, is an important value
in all the great religions.) There are psychological,
social, political and developmental dimensions to it
as well as the theological and spiritual.

Compassion, we come to understand as we work through
this book, is at the same time deeply personal and
profoundly public.


I honour O'Connell for her effort, which is an attempt
to help transform a compassionate Christian ethic into
an effective universal reality.

I enourage you to read her book because it will help
to transform you from being a well-intentioned person
driven by productive guilt to a more compassionate

I will continue to support projects like World Vision
and our local Inn From The Cold. But I know I need to
be and do much more than that.

Thanks, Maureen, for helping me to start anew with
the meaning of compassion in my life.


Buy the Book:



Gandhi - the Movie, Saturday at 6:30 PM

Join us and watch the Oscar-winning film
of a generation ago, followed by a Q and A
with  Dr. Shall Sinha, Gandhi specialist.

Gandhi - at Worship, Sunday at 10:00 PM

Dr. Sinha comes from the area of India where
Gandhi first practiced Satyagraha - peaceful
non-violent resistence. Taking on Gandhi's
persona, Shall proclaims the Mahatma's timeless
message at our regular morning service.

Living Gandhi's Way - Monday at 7:00 PM

Pramila Sinha tells stories of her life and
work as a motivational speaker, family person,
Rotarian and member of the Nonviolent Peace
Force in Sri Lanka. She has been awarded,
along with husband Shall for "the advancement
of world understanding, goodwill and peace."

You are welcome to all events, or any that
are of particular interest to you.




April 29th, 2010

"Unsuitable Candidates"



Globe and Mail
April 29th, 2010

"Along with the ashes, a blessed silence"



BC Catholic
April 30th, 2010

Doctor Margaret Somerville will receive an
honourary doctorate from Corpus Christi/
St. Mark's College on May 2nd.



Christianity Today
April 27th, 2010

by Miriam Adeney

Stories can help us visualize
the new shape of world Christianity
Review by Soong-Chan Rah



Christian Science Monitor
April 29th, 2010



Publishers Weekly Online
April 29th, 2010

Stanley Hauerwas: Wonderful Uncertainty

In such books as Resident Aliens (Abingdon, 1989) and Living
Gently  in a Violent World (InterVarsity Press, 2008), Duke
University theologian Stanley Hauerwas has spent his career
challenging the Christian church to be true to its theologically
orthodox, socially radical roots. This May,  Wm. B. Eerdmans
releases a Hauerwas title in a new genre: "Hannah's Child:
A Theologian's Memoir" -



Wall Street Journal
April 30th, 2010
Meera Subramanian

Parsi Faith in India Undergoing Change



The Guardian UK
April 29th, 2010


Church Call for Religious Judges Rejected

The Independent
April 30th, 2010


April 27th, 2010



Future Pope Tried to Get Fuller Inquiriy in Abuse Case

New York Times
April 27th, 2010
by Katrin Bennhold

The man who would become Pope Benedict XVI had a complex
role in the investigation of a sexual abuse case
involving a cardinal in the 1990s.


An Open Letter to all Catholic Bishops

New Catholic Times
April 26th, 2010
by Hans Kung

Pope Benedict has made worse just about everything that
is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church and is directly
responsible for engineering the global cover-up of child
rape perpetrated by priests, according to this open letter
to all Catholic bishops.


UK Foreign Office Apologizes for Memo on
Pope's Visit to Britain

Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
26 April 2010

Edinburgh (ENI). The publication of a leaked internal
British Foreign Office memorandum mocking Pope Benedict
XVI triggered media speculation that the pontiff might
cancel his planned September visit to Britain, but the
conjecture was quashed by the Vatican. The Vatican
spokesperson, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the
Foreign Office had apologised and that the memo would
have "absolutely" no impact on the Pope's visit in
September, Italy's ANSA news agency reported. The memo
was circulated to the office of the British prime
minister and to three government  departments together
with a covering letter in which recipients were warned
that the contents "should not be shared externally"
because they included "even the most far-fetched of


Diplomat disciplined over Pope memo is named

The Telegraph UK
April 27th, 2010

The diplomat who has been disciplined over a Foreign
Office memomocking the Pope was accused last night of
being "clueless" about the Catholic faith.


Pope may apologize for abuse by priests
April 29th, 2010


 Beleaguered Castrillón implicates Pope

The Tablet
April 30th, 2010

CardinalL Dario Castrillón Hoyos has claimed that Pope
Benedict XVI, as cardinal prefect of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), was involved in a 2001
decision to praise a French bishop for protecting a priest
convicted of raping a boy and sexually assaulting 10 others.


April 27th, 2010



Sojourners Online
April 29th, 2010


Memo from Vatican City

New York Times
April 30th, 2010
by Rahel Donadio

In Abuse Crisis, a Church Is Pitted Against Society
and Itself. The Roman Catholic Church is undergoing
nothing less than an epochal shift as the sexual abuse
crisis continues to unfold.



Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
26 April 2010

Sudan churches' leader urges acceptance of poll result

Nairobi (ENI). The general secretary of the Sudan Council
of Churches has urged citizens in Africa's biggest country
to accept the outcome of an election that gave victory to
President Omar al-Bashir, who has been charged with crimes
against humanity by the International Criminal Court. "Our
perspective is, because voting went on peacefully, we would
also like the parties to accept the outcome of the elections
and move forward," the Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol, a Baptist,
told Ecumenical News International when in Nairobi.


German churches condemn right-wing party
wanting minaret ban

Trier, Germany (ENI). Protestant and Roman Catholic churches
in Germany have condemned a far-right party campaigning for
a ban on minarets in forthcoming elections in the country's
most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia. The Pro North
Rhine-Westphalia Party is campaigning on an anti-Islam
platform, and is calling for the banning of all minarets in
Europe. Its symbol is a mosque with a red line crossed through
it. "The positions taken by Pro-NRW are not compatible with
our Christian faith," the Protestant and Catholic churches in
the region said in a joint statement. The party's Web site
states that Islam is "at odds with Western European values".
North Rhine-Westphalia is home to Germany's biggest Muslim


Biblically-inspired traditional cakes spread across Japan

Tokyo (ENI). Traditional Japanese-style steamed manju cakes
marked with biblical words are attracting growing numbers of
customers throughout Japan and abroad. Fumiko Kataoka, a
Christian, produces the delicacies, which she calls
"Hallelujah Manju", at the Tokyo-based confectionery shop
named Eikoudou that she runs with her husband, Yoshio, his
family members and other staff. Eikou means glory in Japanese.
"Despite the fact that our sales have been going down due to
the recent depression, orders from Christians are growing,"
Kataoka told Ecumenical News International in an interview.


27 April 2010

S. African religious leaders offer support,
advice to soccer team

Cape Town (ENI). South African religious leaders have
expressed strong support for the national soccer team 40
days before the kick-off of the World Cup tournament on
11 June with one cleric calling on the players to be role
models for young people. The support came in the form of
remarks by Christian and Jewish leaders published in South
Africa's Sunday Times newspaper on 25 April. Roman Catholic
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said from Durban, "All we ask is
that their presence, behaviour and performance on and off
the field bear the qualities that will make them worthy
role models for our children and youth for generations to
come." Napier said, "May God bless Africa, may he nurture
and protect all who will be guests during the World Cup,
and may he ensure that the best and most sporting team be
the World Champions, and may that team be Bafana Bafana
[the nick-name of the South African team]."


Shell must do more on Niger Delta says church-linked group -

London (ENI). The oil giant Shell continues to face scrutiny
over its operations in Nigeria, with a British church-based
investor coalition saying the company needs to take longer-
term action to reduce the negative impact of oil exploitation
in the Niger Delta. "After years of unresolved community
tensions, Shell could reap benefits by making accountability
to local people a higher priority," said Miles Litvinoff,
coordinator of the Ecumenical Council for Corporate
Responsibility. It had released a report in February that
said the oil company's operations in the Niger Delta had
a negative social and environmental impact.


Hindu governor praises Christians at
India Presbyterian gathering

Mawngap, India (ENI). The Hindu governor of India's Meghalaya
state has at a mass gathering of Presbyterians hailed the role
of Christian missionaries in spreading a message of "love, trust
and peace in the turbulent tribal societies" of the country's
north-east. The presence of Governor Ranjit S. Mooshahary and
his sermon excited many delegates at the 39th general assembly
of the Presbyterian Church in India. Still, some church leaders
said they were angry because a non-Christian had been allowed
to address a solemn worship service. The Rev. S.S. Majaw, who
heads communication for the Presbyterian Church in India,
however, told Ecumenical News International that, "it should
have been treated as an honour that the head of the government
came to our worship service and addressed us".


Obama meets Billy Graham at evangelist's home

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). U.S. President Barack Obama and ailing
evangelist Billy Graham have exchanged prayers during their first
meeting at Graham's home in western North Carolina. Obama had
travelled to nearby Asheville, North Carolina, and requested the
visit - the first time a sitting president has visited Graham at
his residence, said Graham's longtime spokesperson, A. Larry Ross,
Religion News Service reports. Graham, who is aged 91, issued a
statement saying he was pleased with the 25 April visit and
encouraging "Christians everywhere to pray for our president."


28 April 2010

Clerics plead with US officials to
protect Iraq Christians

New York (ENI). U.S. National Council of Churches'
officials have asked their  national authorities to
take steps to protect Christians in Iraq as well as
members of other threatened minority groups due to
continuing violence and political uncertainty.

Leaders from the biggest ecumenical agency in the
United Sates sent a letter on 26 April to U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and to the U.S.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The NCC officials
asked Clinton and Gates to urge Iraqi authorities and
commanders of U.S.-led forces in Iraq to take steps to
minimise violence affecting the beleaguered Iraqi
Christian community and others who continue to face
threats and acts of violence. The letters urged the
United States to work with Iraqi authorities to help
protect Christians and other minority groups; provide
humanitarian assistance to those displaced; and
encourage the preservation of religious and ethnic
diversity in Iraq.


Nepal's Christians hold vigil
for new secular constitution

Kathmandu (ENI). Hundreds of Christians have held
their first public vigil in the Nepalese capital to
pressure the government into implementing a new,
secular constitution within a stipulated deadline.
Their vigil comes during a period of growing anxiety
that the country's political parties may bungle their
task on the basic law of the country and that Nepal
could become a Hindu State again. "This is our vigil
to ensure that the new constitution that is being
written by the people themselves for the first time,
protects secularism," said Pastor Ishwor Chandra Kafle,
a member of the Christian Recommendation Central
Committee. Though the country's parliament declared
Nepal secular in 2006, Christians say they are still
oppressed in what was once the only Hindu kingdom in
the world.


Palestinian professor unhappy about
Bethlehem to Jerusalem run

Jerusalem (ENI). A Bethlehem professor has expressed
distress at a sporting event organized in conjunction
with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, a Vatican pilgrimage
organization andthe Palestinian Ministry of Tourism. The
event saw hundredsof Italian, Israeli and Palestinian
athletes running fromthe Nativity Church in Bethlehem
to the Old City inJerusalem on 25 April. "We were
distressed to find thatthey had coordinated their visit
with the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and with the
Israeli Ministry ofTourism," said Bethlehem University
professor andactivist leader Mazin Qumsiyeh.


Brazilian Lutheran leader mourned after unexpected death

Geneva (ENI). The senior vice-president of the Evangelical
Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, the Rev. Homero
Severo Pinto,  who had been tipped as a future head of his
denomination, has died at the age of 58 after contracting
malaria in Africa."We will miss him for his support, his
friendship and his collegiality. Many people saw him as hope
for the future of our church," said the church's president,
the Rev. Walter Altmann in a 28 April statement issued by
the Gustav-Adolf-Werk, a German-based association that offers
support to Lutheran churches outside Germany. Pinto died on
23 April after contracting malaria while visiting Mozambique
at the end of February. He had been taken into hospital on
his return to Porto Alegre in southern Brazil where the
Lutheran church has its national headquarters.


29 April 2010

Kenya constitutional talks with church
collapse after clergy pull-out

Nairobi (ENI). Church leaders in Kenya have abandoned
constitutional talks with the government, announcing that
they will rally Christians to vote against the draft basic
law for the east African country when it is put to a
referendum. The leaders cited insincerity on the government
part when announcing their withdrawal on 28 April. "We will
instead focus energies on educating the people of Kenya on
the meaning of the cardinal issues and on campaigning for
the rejection of the draft," the Rev. Peter Karanja, the
general secretary of the National Council of Churches of
Kenya, told journalists in Nairobi.


New Vatican figures show Catholic growth is outside Europe

Rome (ENI). The number of baptised Roman Catholics in the world
increased from 1.045 billion in 2000 to 1.166 billion in 2008,
up by 11.55 percent, while the world's population grew by 10.77
percent, new statistics published by the Vatican show. The 2010
edition of the Vatican's statistical yearbook, with figures from
2008, shows that while Catholics in Europe grew by 1.17 percent,
in Africa the figure was 33.02 percent, in Asia, 15.61 percent
and in the Americas, 10.93 percent, in the eight year period
from 2000 to 2008. Catholics in Europe represent 24.31 percent
of all Catholics and 39.97 of the European population, while
Catholics in the Americas account for 49.53 percent of the
world's total, and 63.1 percent of the population there.


Catholic bishops in US slam 'draconian'
Arizona immigration law

Washington DC (ENI/RNS). The U.S. Catholic bishops have
denounced a new immigration law in the state of Arizona as
"draconian" and called on Congress to stop political
"gamesmanship" and pass immigration reform. Bishop John
Wester of Salt Lake City, head of the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops' migration committee, said on 27 April
that the Arizona law could lead to ethnic profiling and
adversely effect howimmigrants are treated nationwide,
Religion News Service reports.


30 April 2010

Lutherans see signs of convergence
with Catholics on Eucharist issue

Geneva/Helsinki (ENI). A German Protestant bishop has
urged Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches to draw up
a joint declaration on their shared beliefs about the
Eucharist, one of the issues that has divided them for
hundreds of years since the Reformation.

"Our understandings of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper
are no longer that far apart," said Lutheran Bishop
Friedrich Weber, who deals with relations between the
Catholic Church and the United Evangelical Lutheran
Church of Germany (VELKD), a grouping of eight German
regional Protestant churches. This follows a separate
initiative of a group set up by Lutheran and Catholic
churches in Sweden and Finland that has been discussing
ways in which the two church traditions might advance
the results of a 1999 joint Lutheran-Catholic
declaration on the doctrine of justification.


Russian Orthodox leader says
church will not interfere in politics

Warsaw (ENI). A leader in the Russian Orthodox Church has
insisted his church has no wish to be an official State
denomination and will never side with any single political
force. "The threat that the church will be used by
government doesn't exist today," said Metropolitan
Hilarion Alfeyev, chairperson of the Moscow Patriarchate's
Department for External Church Relations, Russia's Interfax
news agency has reported. "Far from giving precedence to
any political party or political power, the Russian church
upholds the principle of equidistance. It cannot interfere
in politics, support one party against another or identify
itself with any political power," said Hilarion, speaking
at a Moscow meeting with young Orthodox Christians. However,
the church also counted on the State to reciprocate by not
interfering in church affairs, he stated.


Thai church leaders say justice needed
to bring peace to crisis

Hong Kong (ENI). Two church leaders in Thailand they can see
no obvious way out of current political turmoil gripping the
southeast Asian nation, as they offered prayers for justice
and peace. "We in the Church of Christ in Thailand, along
with many others, are despairing at the situation. There
seems to be no obvious solution," the Rev. Sayam Muangsak,
the denomination's general secretary, said in a 27 April
letter circulated among ecumenical organizations in the



April 26th, 2010

"If we want a beloved community, we must stand
for justice, [and] have recognition for difference
without attaching difference to privilege."

- bell hooks, American writer and professor


April 27th, 2010

"If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy.
If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem.
But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to
improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or
savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."

- E.B. White, interview with The New York Times in 1969


April 29th, 2010

We need always to be thinking and writing about [poverty],
for if we are not among its victims its reality fades from us.

- Dorothy Day, from her book "Loaves and Fishes"


USA Today
April 29th, 2010

"Any animal that is hurt on the street, the city or
anybody walking by goes to rescue it. But in this case,
he saved this woman's life, and where was the conscience
of the people around him? They have to realize that it
could be a member of their family who is the next victim.…

- Rolando Tale-Yax, whose brother Hugo was stabbed while
attempting to rescue a woman from an attacker, and as he
lay dying on the New York City sidewalk, two dozen people
walked by without stopping or calling for help.


April 29th, 2010

"Today ecology is in vogue and many people are talking
about our endangered planet. I want to urge us to deepen
our conversation by linking the earth's crisis with the
crisis in the human family. If it is important to save
the habitats of birds and other species, then it is at
least equally important to save black lives in the
ghettoes and prisons of America."

- James H. Cone, from "Whose Earth Is It Anyway?"


April 30th, 2010

If I had to name my disability, I would call it an
unwillingness to fall ... This reluctance signals the
mistrust of the central truth of the Christian gospel:
life springs from death, not only at the last but
also in the many little deaths along the way. When
everything you count on for protection has failed, the
Divine presence does not fail. The hands are still there -
not promising to rescue, not promising to intervene -
promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall.

- Barbara Brown Taylor, from her book
"Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith"



On April 25, 1945, the United Nations Conference on
International Organization began in San Francisco.


On April 26, 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident
occurred at the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet Union.
An explosion and fire in the No. 4 reactor sent
radioactivity into the atmosphere; at least 31 Soviets
died immediately.


On April 28, 1947, a six-man expedition sailed from Peru
aboard a balsa wood raft named the Kon-Tiki on a 101-day
journey across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia.


On April 30, 1975, the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon
fell to Communist forces.



"The universe itself is the enduring reality and
the enduring value, even while it finds expression
in a continuing sequence of transformations."

- Through his books and lectures, Berry has urged us
to change nothing less than our cosmology -- for
the sake of the future of the earth (from the book
"Spiritual Leaders Who Changed the World," Rifkin)


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