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The Church Around the World
Anglicans divided over female bishops
The Times of London reported in June that the Anglican Church faced a new crisis with 500 priests threatening to leave if women are ordained bishops.
The priests have said they would leave the Church if the proposal were approved at the Lambeth Conference in July .
Many priests said they feel betrayed by the proposal, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Archbishop John Sentamu of York responded by saying they would work for a compromise rather than allow female bishops, even though both favour female clergy.
Fifteen provinces of the Anglican Communion have voted in favour of female bishops, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States.
Catholic News Agency
US Bishops disagree on Missal translation
The US bishops failed to approve a new set of liturgical translations, at a meeting on 12-14 June in Orlando, Florida.
The bishops were scheduled to vote on whether to approve a 700- page document containing the English-language translations of Proper prayers from the Roman Missal. Debate on the proposed translations was lengthy and sometimes heated, with some bishops charging that the translations - prepared in response to Vatican directives demanding greater respect for the Latin original - were at times awkward or stilted in their wording.
Bishop Arthur Seratelli, the chairman of the bishops' liturgy committee, which had supervised the translation process, defended his work, saying that the texts were a 'marked improvement' over the liturgical translations now in use.
Because of light attendance at the Orlando meeting, the bishops' final vote was inconclusive. Canon law requires a vote by two-thirds of the US bishops to approve the translation, or one-third to reject it. Roughly two-thirds of the bishops in attendance voted to accept the translation, but the total fell well short of the standard for final approval. Cardinal Francis George, the president of the US bishops' conference, announced that the vote would be completed by a mail ballot.
Catholic World News
Global warming and population control
A British Labour backbencher praised China's controversial one-child policy during a debate in Parliament in June, suggesting that population control should be considered in order to counteract global warming.
The remarks by Barry Gardiner came only days after a key Government adviser on the environment attacked the Catholic Church for its 'malign' teaching on contraception while arguing that the only way to stop global warming was to limit the world's population. Jonathon Porritt said he believed the Church was 'undermining the future prospects for humankind'.
Mr Porritt, who has been involved with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace and heads the Government's Sustainable Development Commission, argued that the only way to save the Earth was to have fewer children.
In a talk at the Science Festival entitled 'Too many people?' he suggested that a larger investment into 'fertility management' could reduce global warming.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Gardiner said that population control was one of three ways to face climate change: 'People are very keen to accuse China ... over their coal-fired power stations. Such people fail to commend the political initiative that has seen 400 million people not being born to create a carbon footprint in the first place. We need to take the issue of population seriously ... it should be incorporated into this Bill.'
Mr Gardiner's comments stunned pro-life activists and human rights campaigners. China's one-child policy has meant that couples who have more than one child are penalised both financially and socially. Putting the policy into practice has also led to forced abortions and sterilisations.
Catholic Herald (London)
Synod to focus on proper use of Scripture
At a Vatican press conference on 12 June, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, introduced the instrumentum laboris, the working document for the October meeting of the Synod Bishops, which is dedicated to a discussion of the Word of God.
The Archbishop explained that the Synod discussions will have 'a pastoral and missionary character,' with a focus on use of Scripture to spur Christian evangelisation.
The Church should combat widespread 'Biblical illiteracy' among the Catholic faithful, he said. At the same time, the Synod will discuss the challenge posed by fundamentalist sects that promote mis- leading interpretations of the Scrip- tures.
The instrumentum laboris focuses on a balanced approach to the Scriptures, reading the Bible carefully and relying on the authoritative guidance of the Church's magisterium.
The Bible, the instrumentum laboris emphasises, must be understood as the work of the Holy Spirit, a gift to Christ's Church. Reading the Scriptures in that light 'leads from the letter to the spirit and from the words to the Word of God.' This prayerful approach is essential to avoid misinterpretations: 'Indeed, the words often conceal their true meaning, especially when considered from the literary and cultural point of view of the inspired authors and their way of understanding the world and its laws.'
Catholic World News
Positive impact of Benedict XVI's US visit
American Catholics have changed their image of Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church after the Pope's April visit to the United States, according to the Vatican nuncio to the US, Archbishop Pietro Sambi. The Archbishop told L'Osservatore Romano that the American people 'discovered' the Holy Father during his visit, which they viewed in an overwhelmingly positive way.
'Benedict XVI was little and badly known in the United States,' Archbishop Sambi said. 'Those who expected an 'inflexible policeman of the Holy Office' have been conquered by the pastor, the father, the persuasive teacher ... Even the press, which normally makes no secret of its sharpness with the Catholic Church, has written of and transmitted the visit of the Pope with interest, respect and liking.'
Archbishop Sambi suggested that the Pope was able to connect with the American people because he spoke of hope. 'The success of the Pope can be explained by Benedict XVI's capacity to understand the motivations of the American people and to contribute, with humility, the answers they need.'
The nuncio said another effect of the trip was instilling new courage in American Catholics.
'On the Catholic radio of the Archdiocese of New York, the Pope said he had come to confirm them in their faith, 'but in reality it is you who have confirmed me, with your response, with your enthusiasm, with your affection.' These spontaneous words have touched the heart of American Catholics, and they have been perceived as appreciation and encouragement,' Archbishop Sambi said.
Following Benedict's visit, he added, 'the Catholic Church has been renewed in courage. We are getting reports from parishes that many of the faithful who had for some time abandoned their religious practices, have returned to confession and Sunday Mass.'
Zenit News Agency
First actively homosexual Lutheran bishop?
Horst Gorski, a senior Lutheran cleric from Hamburg, and an active homosexual, is being considered for the post of bishop of Schleswig in northern Germany against Gerhard Ulrich, a senior cleric from the Schleswig area, according to Reuters. The post will become vacant in September. Gorski is a widely respected theologian who helped set up a centre for gay and lesbian Lutheran pastors.
Critics of Gorski's candidacy argue his election would alienate many German Christians. 'Many members of the community would have little understanding for a bishop with this kind of lifestyle,' Ulrich Ruess, a pastor in the northern city of Hamburg, told Die Welt newspaper.
Election committee member, Bishop Maria Jepsen, the world's first female Lutheran bishop, defended Gorski's candidacy, saying both candidates were 'experienced provosts' who have 'excelled in their localities.'
The Lutheran World Federation, which represents nearly 69 million Christians in 140 church bodies in 78 countries, said it would not involve itself in the episcopal election because it has no common stand on homosexuality.
Last year the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest US Lutheran body, said it would allow homosexual clergy in same-sex relationships to serve as pastors.
Catholic News Agency
UK Catholic agency to defy 'gay' adoption rules
The Westminster Catholic Children's Society, supported by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, will defy new government non-discrimination rules requiring adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples, thus inviting a legal confrontation.
The Westminster agency decided to challenge the new rules after the Catholic dioceses of Southwark, Portsmouth, and Arundel chose a different reaction to the new guidelines, announcing that they would no longer offer adoption services.
The Catholic Children's Society, with which those dioceses were affiliated, will be reconstituted as the Cabrini Children's Society, offering adoption services under the new rules, without a formal connection to the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who is the ex officio president of the Westminster Catholic Children's Society, said he was fully in accord with the decision to challenge the new government policies, which come into effect next year.
Trustees of the society plan to amend their by-laws to stipulate that the group offers adoption services to married couples. If it survives legal challenge, that change would allow the agency to work only with heterosexual couples for as long as same-sex unions are not legally recognised as marriages.
Catholic World News
Archbishop Burke named to top Vatican post
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis, Missouri, an acknowledged expert on canon law, has been named by Benedict XVI as the new prefect of the supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the final court of appeal for annulments and other juridical matters under the Church's canon law.
Archbishop Burke was installed as head of the St Louis Archdiocese in January 2004. Since then he has exercised strong and fearless leadership, unfazed by resistance and public criticism as he sought to enforce the Church's norms.
He was criticised by a few US bishops in 2004 when he announced he would not administer the Eucharist to a Catholic politician who supported abortion. Although he did not single out any public figure by name, the Archbishop's statement clearly applied to Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate in that year's presidential election. His stand was upheld by the Vatican.
As head of the Apostolic Signatura, Archbishop Burke will hold one of the top canonical posts placing him near the top of the list of prelates likely to be named cardinals at the next consistory.
Catholic World News
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 7 (August 2008), p. 4
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