Archive for June, 2011

Lawsuit charges US Presiding Bishop knowingly ordained a paedophile: The Church of England Newspaper, June 29, 2011

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

June  2011

Posted by geoconger 

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has declined to respond to questions concerning her ordination to the priesthood of a paedophile.  Her silence has prompted questions from liberals and conservatives in the church about what she knew of the Rev. Bede Parry’s confessed abuse of boys, and when she knew it.

Last week Fr. Parry resigned as an assistant priest on the staff of All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas.  On June 23 he was named as a sexual predator in a lawsuit filed by a Missouri man against Conception Abbey, a Roman Catholic monastery and seminary in Missouri.                         Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Fr. Parry admitted he had abused the victim in 1987 in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Kansas City Star, but told both newspapers he had not reoffended since that time.

The lawsuit, filed in Nodaway County Circuit Court in Missouri, alleges that Parry joined the Benedictine order in 1973, leaving the abbey from 1979 to 1982 to study at St. John’s University School of Theology in Collegeville, Minnesota.  Upon his return to the abbey, Br. Parry was appointed secretary to the abbot and director of the choir.  In 1983 he was ordained to the priesthood.

The lawsuit contends that between 1973 and 1979, Br. Parry confessed to abusing three boys, and in 1981 confessed to having had sexual contact with a student at St. John’s.  Br. Parry allegedly confessed his actions to his ecclesial superiors at Conception Abbey and St John’s College, but was permitted to remain in the order if he underwent psychological counseling.

The 1987 abuse case was the fifth reported to the abbey, the lawsuit said.  After learning of their son’s abuse at the hands of Fr. Parry, the parents of the choir boy demanded the abbot, Fr. Jerome Hanus, take action.

Fr. Hanus, who now serves as Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa, told the parents Fr. Parry had had a “mental breakdown” and would undergo psychiatric counseling.  The abbey sent Parry to church-run clinic for abusers at the Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico. After he completed his stay, he was suspended for three years and forbidden to return to the abbey.  Fr. Parry found work in the Southwest at Lutheran and Catholic parishes as a music director.

In 2000, the lawsuit states, Fr. Parry underwent psychological testing after he applied for admission to another monastery at the end of his suspension from the order.  “The results of this testing revealed that Fr. Parry was a sexual abuser who had the proclivity to reoffend with minors,” the lawsuit stated, adding this information was shared with the abbey, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada.

Fr. Parry acknowledged the truth of these allegations, but said the Episcopal Diocese had not been informed of his history in 2000, when he began working as music director  at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Las Vegas.

However, he told the Episcopal Bishop of Nevada, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori of the 1987 incident when he applied to be received as priest in the Episcopal Church in 2002.

In an interview with The Star, Fr. Parry stated the allegations in the lawsuit were true.  “When I left Conception Abbey in ’87, it was for sexual misconduct,” he said. “But that was all that was ever said or known.”

After serving as music director for two years at All Saints, Parry said he noticed “they needed clergy, and I felt called. I talked to the bishop, and she accepted me. And I told her at the time that there was an incident of sexual misconduct at Conception Abbey in ’87. The Episcopal Church doesn’t have a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy, so it didn’t seem like I was any particular threat. She said she’d have to check the canons, and she did.”

On June 23, members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, held a rally outside of All Saints Church to demand the Episcopal Church “come clean about why they hired [Parry] despite clear ‘red flags’ in his past,” and to “aggressively seek out others he hurt and prod them to call police and prosecutors.”

“The reason that this is so horrific is that the Episcopal Church authorities knew about Father Parry’s history, and yet they still allowed him to come and work here,” SNAP president Barbara Blaine told reporters.

Joelle Casteix, the western regional director of SNAP asked church officials not to “split hairs, make excuses, and be silent.”

“Shepherds have a duty to protect [their] flock, help law enforcement, warn unsuspecting families and work hard to find and help others who’ve been wounded,” she said.

Asked to comment on the allegations, a spokesman for the Presiding Bishop told The Church of England Newspaper, “We do not comment on lawsuits or allegations” and referred questions to the Diocese of Nevada.  The Diocese of Nevada did not respond to questions as of our going to press.

In comments on the initial press accounts of the lawsuit printed on the liberal church blog, Episcopal Café, hitherto stalwart supporters of the Presiding Bishop urged her to explain her actions.

The Bishop of Bethlehem, (Pennsylvania), the Rt. Rev. Paul Marshall, was not surprised by the church’s response.  When lawyers for the national church “threaten and cajole diocesan bishops not to reveal multiple sex-abuse cover-ups at the highest level lest former leaders be embarrassed, what can we expect?” he wrote on the Episcopal Café website.

“On paper, we are a one-strike church, but in reality, too many people are walked. [The national church] refused comment on this story with principled-sounding obfuscation, which essentially tells it all, doesn’t it?” Bishop Marshall said.

Homosexuality: Okoh urges FG to quit UN

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

On June 29, 2011 · In News

By CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA—The Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to pull out of the United Nations Organization, UNO, if it continued  in its recognition of gay marriage in the guise of promoting fundamental human rights.

The Primate, who made the call in Abuja at the human rights consultative forum to define the stance of the church on the issue of human rights and homosexuality, described as a wolf in sheep clothing those championing homosexuality under the guise of human rights advocacy.

His words: “In reaction to the role of the UN human rights groups who were using that platform to fight for the two Malawi boys who got married as homosexuals, I said that if the UNO is now an organ for the advancement of homosexual lifestyle, it was time Nigeria pulled out of that organisation in order to protect the moral health of our nation.

“That Malawi palaver raised many questions in my mind and I believe that many of our church leaders and those others involved in mobilisation and advocacy projects may be having the same problem, because many things are happening rightly or wrongly in the name of human rights.  It has become absolutely necessary to know more about it.

“People were using the UNO as a basis for campaign for general acceptance of homosexuality and we say if that is the situation, then, Nigeria has a moral right to protect its own people and, therefore, Nigeria should not subscribe to that type of tenet.”

“We live our life here; men marry women, women marry men, for anybody to come in the name of human right and begin to advocate that we live without regard to our moral standard is not a friend. This human right is not culturally conditioned.  Doesn’t it have a content?   What is acceptable in China, England, USA, does  it necessarily become acceptable in Nigeria? The Primate queried.

The guest speaker, Dr, Vinay Samuel, from UK in his keynote address, urged Nigerians to be carried away by the quest for human rights that will make them flourish rather than one that was contested, saying every human right must be shaped by the cultural understanding of each area.

He said:  “Nigeria as a much larger nation has to take leadership in seeking to relate human rights to Christian faith and to African culture.

“The church cannot be just defensive in this context. It is a struggle where it must be able to be active in shaping the outcome, not by numbers or moral posturing, but by careful reflection and by proposing substantial alternatives.

“The church is under pressure by the state to align its policies and activities to the view of rights set forth in the states policies and laws. This is very likely the way of the future as states develop policies and laws that are shaped by an understanding of rights that are promoted internationally and businesses, civil society institutions and religious bodies in particular will be forced to comply.

“It is not the universal nature of human personhood that we are contesting as Christian. It is how the rights within that personhood are embedded, defined and enforced. This is also true of cultures the Chinese have long contended that their cultural understanding must shape any set of human rights as any universal description of human rights is someone’s universal.”

How can Love be Wrong?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

June  2011

A friend of mine has been engaged in a discussion with someone who cannot understand why Christians oppose “marriage” between two people of the same sex. He’s been struggling with answers and asked me for my thoughts. I thought it might be helpful to post up what I wrote in response.


Dear _______

I’ll try to make this brief but I don’t know that I’ll be able too since your question does require providing some context before diving in.

Usually the conversation starts with a number of assumptions on the part of your discussion partner that you’ll want to challenge:

Here are some of them…

1. Since science has proven that some people are born with desires for people of the same sex. That means, therefore, that God must have “created” them that way.

2. The bible addresses manipulative and abusive same sex relationships. It does not address monogamous, loving, same sex relationships

3. God is love and all love is from God…so if two people love each other why would the church stand in the way of it?

Let’s deal with them in order:

It may well be, though the evidence is inconclusive, that some people are naturally drawn to others of the same sex through some biological/genetic factor. But that we may be born with an orientation toward a certain behavior does not mean that “God made us that way”. People are born with orientations toward all kinds of behaviors–alcoholism, pedophilia, and, of course, heterosexual promiscuity to name just a few. Many behaviors have been argued to have some biological or genetic basis but we would not want to “bless” all of them.

The truth is, human beings are “fallen” by nature. (You might want to read through Romans 1:18-33; Romans 3:10-18 and Eph 2:1-3 at this point). That means that we are not who God originally created us to be. We are all born with an “orientation” away from God and toward the self. The way that orientation plays out is different for everyone and we should not be surprised that some are born with biological/genetic predelections to all kinds of behaviors that are not healthy or right. The average human male is, by nature, oriented toward promiscuity. Does that mean that promiscuity is God’s will? Should men be permitted to sleep with whoever they want when they want because they were “born that way”?

No. The whole point of the gospel is that though we are fallen and enslaved by sinful orientations Jesus has come to give us new life and to redeem us. Not only to die in our place to pay the consequences for our sins but also to give us his own Holy Spirit to break free from the bondage to sin. So a Christian has the power, through Christ, to escape the bondage of sexual sin or alcoholism or any other enslaving orientation or addiction.

The question needs to be: is homosexual behavior something that God needs to heal and free people from or is it something that God wants to bless?

The answer to that question, Christians believe, is to be found in the bible. Here are some of the texts that address homosexuality directly:

Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Romans 1:24-27 (As a result of the disobedience of humanity) “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.”

There are others, but the above texts are the primary ones because they are most clear.

But it is here that assumption 2 (above) comes into play. Some suggest that long term loving homosexual relationships are not addressed in scripture; that the bible writers knew nothing of them. Even a cursory glance at ancient Greco/Roman culture and literature will demonstrate that homosexual behavior and homosexual relationships, loving and otherwise, were commonplace. If Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles who wrote the most clear NT

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Love and marriage in pre (sexual) revolutionary England

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011


Mariette Ulrich | Jun 2011 | comment

In the 1980’s, my hopelessly outdated mom counselled me not to kiss a boy on the first date. I tell my daughters not to kiss (or, for that matter, date) anyone they wouldn’t be prepared to marry. As someone who espouses values possibly more old-fashioned than those held by my pre-sexual-revolution era parents, I found this Mail Online item worthy of note.

Bel Mooney’s review discusses the recently published Sex Before the Sexual Revolution: Intimate life in England 1918-1963 — the work of University of Exeter historian Dr Kate Fisher and Professor Simon Szreter from the University of Cambridge.

The review begins by noting the unhappy, sometimes tragic consequences of “pre-revolution” sexual ignorance: everything from women being clueless and frightened on their wedding nights, to the tragic case of a teenage girl who was so terrified by her first menstrual period, and afraid to speak to anyone about it, that she committed suicide. We can be thankful, says Ms Mooney, that we live in a more enlightened age, but she quickly adds that there’s also a downside to our current liberal social attitudes. No kidding.

Unsurprisingly, the interviewees believe that the benefits of freedom and pleasure people enjoy today are outweighed by ‘a high divorce rate, marital infidelity, illegitimacy, sexually transmitted diseases, the pubic visibility of pornography, unrealistic expectations of sexual pleasure and the supposed lack of respect between men and women’.

She’s also willing to admit that we can continue to learn from previous generations, and while in some respects we may know ‘more’ today, we certainly don’t know it all.

This book made me reflect just how much the young patronise the older generation. I suggest that perhaps that generation were far more sensible about passion and partnerships than we give them credit for. They might not have had sex education, but that didn’t stop them learning how to love.

[…]

What struck me most powerfully on reading the detailed interviews was how happy and contented men and women could make each other — without all the openness about sex which can put so much pressure on young people today.

One older gentleman (Colin, a plumber, born 1923) who was interviewed for the book put it quite simply:

“Anybody can have sex, there’s not a lot of people can have love. And sex wi’out love is nowt.”

Amen to that.

One of our modern “relationship” problems is that, contrary to popular belief, love is not something you passively wait around hoping to fall into; it’s something you have to work for. While sex comes naturally, especially to our information-saturated and over-exposed youth, love does not.

As the saying went (in a marriage preparation course I took with my husband, a quarter-century ago), “Love is a decision, not a feeling.” It’s not an emotion; it’s a way of life. It involves nice feelings, certainly, but also commitment, sacrifice, and sometimes, hard work. Who is going to teach the current and coming generations how to do any of that?

Caveat: I cannot vouch for all the content and tone of the book. A brief description on the University of Exeter’s website says:

The research is based on vivid, compelling and frank testimonies from a socially and geographically diverse range of individuals.  It explores a spectrum of sexual experiences, from learning about sex and sexual practice in courtship, to attitudes to the body, marital ideals and birth control.

It could be quite a mixed bag.

Central Africa Anglican bishops support Zimbabweans at commemoration service

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011


Archbishop Albert Chama

ACNS: ACNS4897

By ACNS staff

Tens of thousands of people–including all the Central Africa bishops–flocked to the Bernard Mizeki celebrations in Zimbabwe this weekend, despite being denied access to the shrine itself by the authorities.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 people came to the Marondera Show Grounds to commemorate the life of Bernard Mizeki, a lay catechist and missionary to the Shona people from 1891 until his martyrdom in 1896.

The attendees included all 15 bishops of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa who con-celebrated the Eucharist on the Saturday morning. The Province’s Primate Archbishop Albert Chama preached what was described as “a moving and encouraging sermon”.

Following the Eucharist the day was filled with teaching on various topics by the clergy, drama based on the life of Bernard Mizeki, a programme led by the Mothers’ Union and then singing, worship and shared preaching by both clergy and laity. The celebrations finished after an early morning Eucharist service on Sunday and Harare’s Bp Chad D Gandiya presided at the Eucharist.

In a letter following the weekend’s celebrations, Bp Chad said it had been a truly blessed weekend: “I am writing to thank you all very much for your prayers. Our Bernard Mizeki celebrations at the Marondera Show Grounds went very well. Our theme for the weekend was, “Mukristu Usanete: Namata Urinde! Christian seek not yet repose: Watch and Pray!” We even had police protection which we appreciated very much.”

Pilgrims were hoping to visit the shrine after the main service, but police prevented them from doing so.

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been under attack from an ex-communicated bishop, Dr Nolbert Kunonga, a supporter of President Mugabe, who left the Anglican Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in 2007 to try and set up a rival church. Kunonga, with the support of police and henchmen, has seized CPCA church property and used violence to break up church services.

Course grooming women for top Church jobs unmasks rampant careerism

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011


June

By Julian Mann

Episcopal churches are not the only denominations to be marred by careerism. But they have a huge problem with it.

Nowhere is this illustrated more disturbingly than in Friday’s Church Times feature by Rebecca Paveley about a coaching course to groom selected women for the top jobs in the Church of England.

Run by the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, it is aimed at encouraging women to ‘imagine’ themselves in senior posts.

But the course does not just do imagining. A professional coach – Claire Pedrick who wrote a book about how to make ‘good’ ecclesiastical appointments – is laid on to guide the participants through the application process and give advice on interviewing technique.

According to Ms Paveley, Ms Pedrick also

touches on the tricky question of the social-interaction part of the interview process – otherwise known as “death by quiche”.

The course has funding from grant-making trust the Panacea Society but Ms Paveley reports ominously that the organisers hope that it might get central funding from the Church.

Certainly, the attendees display a strong sense of entitlement. One said:

We’re in the habit of not selling ourselves, aren’t we? But there are some here whose stars are going to fly very high indeed.

Another said:

I suppose most of us are called to senior leadership, or we wouldn’t be here.

Sadly, it would appear that this coaching course, fired by feminism, simply unmasks the rampant careerism that has long been a feature of the ‘preferment’ process.

Read here

Sacramento-area Presbyterian churches wrestle with gay ordination issue

Monday, June 27th, 2011

By Jennifer Garza
jgarza@sacbee.com
Published: Monday, Jun. 27, 2011

The mood Sunday morning at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church Sunday was upbeat – the pews were packed and many nodded as the pastor preached his message of forgiveness.

They showed no sign of the turmoil that led the congregation to leave the national denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). It was a closely watched decision, costing Fair Oaks congregants $1.2 million in March to settle property rights between the church and the national body.

Fair Oaks Presbyterian, with about 1,300 worshippers, became one of the first in the state to leave the national church, disagreeing with its direction and the new ordination standards that allow gay clergy.

“We were concerned about the lack of biblical authority,” said Fair Oaks Pastor Kirk Bottomly. “We felt that the line had been crossed and it was time to go.”

Now local Presbyterian church leaders wonder if other congregations will follow.

Next month, the Presbyterian Church begins allowing those who are openly gay to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons. The new rules, which were approved in May and take effect July 10, have provoked a wide range of responses from local church leaders.

They are holding town hall meetings with concerned members, sending letters explaining the rules and posting their opinions of the new ordination standards on their church websites.

“It is the biggest upheaval I have ever seen,” said the Rev. Donald Baird, of Fremont Presbyterian Church, the largest in the area. “This is my worst nightmare. What does it mean when those openly violating Scripture are ordained?”

Five churches in the area – including two of the largest, Roseville Presbyterian and Fair Oaks – have left the denomination in the past couple of years. About 100 congregations nationally have left the denomination in the last five years, according to the Presbyterian News Service. Many joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Association.

But supporters of the changes said some critics may not understand the new rules.

“This issue should not be a deal-breaker,” said the Rev. Mary Lynn Tobin, senior pastor of Davis Community Church. She also worked on the national board working to allow the ordination of gays. “Churches who do not want to ordain gays don’t have to. Nobody is forcing them.”

She doesn’t want anyone to leave the church and urges both sides to listen to each other.

“I am very sorry that they chose to leave the denomination,” she said of the churches that have left. “Our church didn’t leave when things were happening that were troubling to us. We need all perspectives in the church.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has about 2 million members. It joins other mainline Protestant groups, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church, in voting to allow gay church leaders.

The Sacramento Presbytery includes 38 churches and stretches from Elk Grove to the Oregon border. About 10,000 people attend churches in the region, according to the Rev. Jay Wilkins, of the Sacramento Presbytery, the region’s governing body.

“This is an opportunity to redefine ourselves, but I understand a number of people are trying to understand the nature of the changes,” Wilkins said.

In May, church leaders ratified an amendment to their constitution that removes language, according to Tobin, that prohibited gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals, as well as all other unmarried sexually active men and women, from serving as ordained officers of the church.

Under the new rules, local church leaders will have more flexibility in determining each candidate’s fitness for office, Tobin said. All other ordination standards stay the same.

“I think, first and foremost, the qualification is going to be what it has always been – a commitment to faith,” said Dan Roth, a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Sacramento.

He believes both viewpoints can coexist in the denomination but compares the problem to a troubled relationship.

“Sometimes if a relationship isn’t working, and has two different viewpoints, then it’s time to show grace and humility and discuss exiting so both sides can move forward.”

Tobin and Roth said they do not know of anyone locally planning to be ordained soon. “There are not hordes of GLBT trying to get into a Presbyterian church,” Tobin said. “We have done a good job of hurting and rejecting them. They have clearly gotten the message.”

Bottomly said his church welcomes and ministers to gay congregants. “The gay issues became the flash point, an example of the erosion of biblical authority in the larger denomination.”

Baird is not ready to leave. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were Presbyterian pastors. So are Baird’s two sons.

“This is not a theological discussion for me,” Baird said. “The only reason I can think of to stay is to be a beacon on the hill. But if I feel like I’m this voice in the wilderness and no one is listening, well, then, we’ll see.”

At Fair Oaks Presbyterian, members say they have put the conflict behind them and the church is now in the process of choosing a new name.

Cheryl Sewell, 66, has attended the Fair Oaks church with her husband, Jim, for 35 years. The two have seen many changes.

“It’s not always easy, but it’s part of the journey,” Sewell said. “No matter what, you have to move on.”

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/06/27/3729078/sacramento-area-presbyterian-churches.html#ixzz1QTZvh6Gm