from elsewhere

USA

Ex-Episcopal bishop returns

A conservative former Episcopal bishop of Albany who left the church in 2007 to become a Roman Catholic has now returned to his former faith. Daniel W. Herzog became an outspoken national opponent of ordaining gay clergy after he retired from the ministry in 2007. He made news that year when he and two other diocesan bishops left The Episcopal Church to join the Roman Catholic Church.

The Episcopal Church, the American wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion, had been in turmoil following the consecration in 2003 of V. Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop.

Scott Waldman,
Times Union

Singapore

Anglican opportunity

South East Asia Archbishop John Chew would like to see a serious Anglican presence in China. In fact, he would like to see what happened in Africa with Anglicanism happen to his neighbour in the North. Africa has as many as 40 million plus Anglicans. There is not a firm Anglican presence as yet in China, which has more than one hundred million Chinese evangelicals in a population of 1.3 billion, the world’s largest and most populous country. Chew has visited China and seen opportunities for an Anglican presence there.

Two Chinese church leaders appeared at the Fourth Global South to South Encounter saying they wanted to deepen their relationship with the Anglican Communion. ‘I hope that the Chinese Church and the Anglican Global South can expand their cooperation,’ said Elder Fu Xianwei, one of two observers at the Fourth Global South to South Encounter in Singapore.

The Chairman of the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) was making his parting speech before leaving the Encounter. Opportunities for dialogue at the summit benefited him, said Elder Fu, ‘The Bible studies, talks and discussions have been helpful for my spiritual growth and for church management.’

Elder Fu told Anglican leaders that he has increased confidence in building his Church. Both the Anglican Communion and the Chinese Church face similar challenges of serving God in a multi-religious, globalized and secularized context. Because of this, dialogue has increased understanding and counsel between the two church bodies, he said. A‘ key way in which Christians can serve God in our context is by serving others.’

The TSPM, together with the China Christian Council, draws over 20m Chinese Christians in 55,000 churches, making it the fastest growing Christian community in the world today. The situation has changed with the rise of the Global South, he told the Christian Post.

Elder Fu Xianwei, the Chairman of the National Committee of the TSPM, spoke through a translator saying the Chinese emphasis is strong in Singapore. ‘Both the physical proximity and the number of Chinese nationals that live and work here make the use of the Chinese language normal. Christianity is emerging in China, due to the labours of many missionaries resident there for over 100 years, who laid the foundation for the explosion of the faithful in China today. Now that government restrictions have been eased there has been a new opportunity for Churches to begin and people to gather in Christ’s name without always facing the possibility of imprisonment. I held a Bible that contained both English (NIV) and Chinese Union Version, which is the most popular Chinese version. This morning, I held a Bible that was only Chinese. It was well worn and dog-eared. It is a new world here!

‘I would like to congratulate Archbishop John Chew for his kind invitation to this meeting and this historic conference. For me I am making new good friends in the Anglican Church worldwide.

‘The Chinese Church is set and ready for proclaiming the Gospel. We will deliver that promise. We are an independent church. In the meantime the Chinese Church will pass through ecumenical circles and form relations with other churches... I believe in my spirit this conference will help me to know more about the new world. It will be the Anglican Church that will expand my mind and knowledge so we can run our church better.’

David W. Virtue <www.virtueonline.org>

Germany

Sexual abuse allegations

The Vatican has become embroiled in new allegations about dealing with clergy sexual abuse after the Archbishop of Vienna was reported to have accused a senior member of the Curia of supporting a cover-up. At the same time, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany have confirmed that Walter Mixa, the former Bishop of Augsburg, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI on 8 May, is being investigated by the state attorney in Bavaria over sexual abuse allegations.

Italian newspapers reported that the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, accused Cardinal Angelo Sodano of blocking an inquiry into claims of sexual abuse by his predecessor as the head of the Catholic Church in Austria, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër. The comments were said to have been made by Schönborn at the end of April in an informal conversation with Austrian journalists and had been intended to remain confidential.

Schönborn was reported as saying that in 1995, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wanted a full-scale investigation of Groër but that this was opposed by Sodano, then the Vatican’s secretary of state, its second highest official. Groër stepped down as head of the Austrian church in 1995 after the first abuse allegations were made. He died in 2003. Sodano, who is now the dean of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals, was also accused by Schönborn of seeking to minimize the sexual abuse scandal now facing the Catholic Church worldwide by referring to it as ‘chattering’ noise.

In an editorial, the Rome-based La Repubblica newspaper praised Schönborn’s remarks for breaking with a tradition that shrouds the church hierarchy in a ‘fog of incense’. Another Vatican cardinal, however, criticized Schönborn, saying his comments gave the impression that the church is torn apart by ‘polemics’, La Repubblica reported on 10 May.

Portuguese Cardinal José Saraiva Martins said that while he agrees with Schönborn on ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse by clergy, ‘using the press to attack another cardinal is not the right way’. The Rome-based Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper described Schönborn’s words as ‘very courageous’. It noted that they became known in Germany on the same day that Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Walter Mixa as Bishop of Augsburg.

Luigi Sandri and Anli Serfontein

© Ecumenical News International

Zimbabwe

Anglican Church suffers in dispute

A Jesuit priest working in Zimbabwe speaks up on behalf of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, caught up in a dispute with supporters of the rebel former bishop Kunonga. Fr Oskar Wermter sj writes:

The Anglicans are still being politically abused by the party that continues to rule in contradiction to the General Political Agreement which promised to restore the rule of law. Most unfortunately, leaders of other Christian churches remain silent and do not declare their solidarity with suffering fellow Christians because they are under the erroneous impression that this is an internal affair of the Anglican Church in which they, naturally, should not get involved.

But the Anglican Church has settled the issue long ago. Nolbert Kunonga was removed from the Harare Diocese and excommunicated. There are not two factions within the Church of the Province of Central Africa: Kunonga, the clergy loyal to him and a few lay members are no longer part of the Anglican Communion. There is no dispute within the Anglican Church.

There is a High Court decision which must be adhered to for the time being: the members of the Anglican Church Province of Central Africa (CPCA, under Bishop Chad Gandiya) must have access to church assets just as the followers of Nolbert Kunonga until a final and definite decision is taken about who owns these assets. Kunonga, not being Anglican bishop of Harare any more, has no right to control the assets of the diocese (churches, church premises, etc). It is mischievous for government (through the ZRP) to support Kunonga and bar the Anglican Church proper from its churches and church premises.

Some churches, including Catholic parishes, are playing host to displaced Anglican congregations and associations when asked to do so. There is at least some quiet solidarity at ground level.

Fr Oskar Wermter sj

USA

Women bishops consecrated in LA

In what many Anglicans will view as an inflammatory act in the already shaky Anglican Communion’s house of cards, two women, one a lesbian, were consecrated the 16th and 17th female bishops in The Episcopal Church at the Long Beach Arena in Los Angeles last night.

According to a report in the Long Beach Press Telegram, a Gay Pride festival was being held in the same complex at the same time, prompting one observer to note that Bishop Jon Bruno and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori got a bigger crowd that way, enticing some to ‘come and see.’

Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool were declared bishops in ‘the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’

by Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori in a three-hour ceremony that was briefly disrupted by protestors both outside and inside the arena.

The procession began with a wild liturgical dance, gyrating Chinese dragon-like creatures, the banging of drums and the beating of noisemakers. Bright colours, muted hues and vivid shades combined to provide a river of motion, action and movement while the ears were assaulted with sounds, clatter and noise. It took more than half an hour for the various mini-processions to get all the visiting bishops, clergy, and dignitaries in and seated before the entrance of the bishops-elect.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori began the liturgy with the Easter Proclamation, ‘Alleluia. Christ is risen’, followed by the recitation of the Collect for Purity. A hush fell over the 3,000 who had gathered to witness the making of Bishop 1044 and Bishop 1045 in The Episcopal Church.

Then a cry from within the cavernous room went up, ‘Repent.’ A second male voice cried out, ‘Repent of the sin of the homosexual.’ As the Presiding Bishop sought to maintain order, the sign-carrying protestor was escorted out of the Long Beach Arena by ushers, but not before a similar shout was heard from a young boy waving a Bible high in the air.

‘There will be an opportunity later in the service to make yourselves known,’ the Presiding Bishop said in a measured voice as the assembled crowd started to agitate. One of the assembled bishops called for patience and tolerance as ushers cleared the makeshift sanctuary of the shouting demonstrators. After the dissenters were ejected, the crowd broke into applause.

Some thirty hard-line revisionist Episcopal bishops attended the consecration lending credence to the bellicose view that TEC has hardened its stance to the point of no return on pansexual behaviour and has no intention of heeding either the call of the Archbishop of Canterbury or orthodox Global South Anglican leaders to refrain from such ordinations.

Two separate groups of clergy and laity from the Diocese of Los Angeles each presented one of the candidates for consecration as bishop, asking the Presiding Bishop to lay hands on their bishop-elect and ‘consecrate her a bishop in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.’

The Diocesan Standing Committee and Convention also attested that the bishops had been duly elected by the diocesan convention, and were of sufficient schooling, and of sound faith and godly character as to exercise the office of bishop, the honour of God and the edification of the church as well as a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.

It was revealed that Bishop-elect Bruce received 93 confirming standing committee votes and 80 jurisdictional bishop nods; while Bishop-elect Glasspool garnered approval from 69 standing committees and 55 House of Bishop consents. A total of 56 consenting standing committee votes were needed.

The Presiding Bishop then asked if anyone present had any reason why the consecration service should not proceed. There were none. Following a period of silence, the Presiding Bishop asked the assembly if it was their will that Diane and Mary be ordained bishops. ‘That is our will,’ was the reply. She again asked if the assembly would uphold Diane and Mary as bishops. ‘We will.’ roared back the crowd.

The Liturgy of the Word was presented in numerous languages – English, Korean, chanted Spanish and Tagalog, a Filipino language. The Gospel acclamation was an African chant done to the beat of an African drum.

Bruno shed his cope and mitre and paced the stage as he spun his homey yarn. ‘I made the ridiculous request in my diocese that I might have one woman suffragan in my time here,’ the bishop noted. ‘Look what happens.’ His comment was met with laughter and applause.

‘It is important that we understand these women were called by the community of God. They were called by the people of God to take a place that no other women have taken in the Diocese of Los Angeles. They are called to be Apostles of the Church,’ he taught. ‘They are called to carry on the ministry of Jesus in this place in such a way that the world will be transformed and made fuller and richer and more vital.’

Bishop Bruno admitted that he was one of those who held his breath when the issue of objection to the planned consecrations was raised. ‘I don’t think there was one person in this place who was more nervous than I was about objections,’ he said. ‘But we didn’t have an objection today from anybody who was an Episcopalian.’ His statement was met with laughter and applause.

He explained that there were people in attendance who did not understand the inclusive nature of The Episcopal Church. ‘How much more inclusive can you get when you have a decorated Marine or two sitting in the audience in their dress blues and you have Malcolm Boyd sitting with my wife – a peace activist, but a great and holy man. We as bishops of the church are called to be the exemplar of Jesus’ Presence in this world.’

Bruno said that it was historic that the House of Deputies president is a woman, as is the Presiding Bishop. Two new female suffragan bishops and the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion were also in their presence. Massachusetts Suffragan Barbara Harris, attired in a vivid turquoise blue cope and mitre, received a loud extended standing ovation from the crowd.

The Presiding Bishop then reminded the ordinands that they are called to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the church; to celebrate the sacraments, to ordain deacons and priests and be faithful pastors and wholesome examples for Christ’s flock.

She then asked if the other co-consecrating bishops if they would be faithful to pray and boldly proclaim the Gospel, encourage and support the laity, guard the faith, share in the administration of the church and defend the poor. Each time the new bishops-to-be were queried, they answered individually, ‘I will.’

‘Diane and Mary, through these promised you have committed yourself to God to serve His Church in the Office of Bishop,’ the Presiding Bishop intoned. ‘We therefore call upon you to be guardians of the church’s faith to lead us in confessing that faith...’

‘We believe in one God,’ the twin voices said jointly. The two women then silently knelt before the Presiding Bishop as Veni Sancte Spiritus was chanted as a mantra in Latin. The Presiding Bishop’s voice dropped. With intensity she started the Prayer of Consecration: ‘Therefore, Father make Diane a bishop in your church...’

All the bishops present circled the two women reaching out to touch each head joining their voices in the rest of the consecration prayer: ‘Pour upon her the power of your princely Spirit...’

Tears flowed as the newly consecrated bishops were greeted with hugs by their fellow bishops. Greetings of ‘Welcome, Bishop’ and ‘Hi, Bishop’ were heard as the newly minted bishops embraced their fellow members of their order.

Stoles were placed around the necks of both women; then they were draped with a cope and matching mitres. Each was handed a crozier as a bishop’s ring was slipped on their ring fingers and a pectoral cross was placed around their necks. With the presentation of the symbol of their office completed, the crowd chanted and whistled.

The new bishops then concelebrated the Eucharist in a number of languages that included English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, reflecting the diversity of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the myriad languages spoken in California. Bishop Glasspool spoke in Spanish while Bishop Bruce spoke in Chinese.

Following their joint final blessing, cheers greeted the new bishops as they processed out of the arena to the sound of a Mariachi band.

David W. Virtue & Mary Ann Mueller <www.virtueonline.org> ND

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