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South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine

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Catholic News Service

South Sudan’s Catholic bishops asked for the world’s help to prevent mass starvation that threatens the lives of more than 5 million people.

A soldier walks past women carrying their belongings Feb. 11 near Bentiu, South Sudan. South Sudan's Catholic bishops have denounced government and rebel troops for attacking the civilian population and at times operating "scorched-earth" policies in defiance of international law. (CNS photo/Siegfried Modola, Reuters)

A soldier walks past women carrying their belongings Feb. 11 near Bentiu, South Sudan. South Sudan’s Catholic bishops have denounced government and rebel troops for attacking the civilian population and at times operating “scorched-earth” policies in defiance of international law. (CNS photo/Siegfried Modola, Reuters)

In a separate statement, they also said the looming famine was a man-made catastrophe. They denounced government and rebel troops for attacking the civilian population and at times operating “scorched-earth” policies in defiance of international law.

In a Feb. 23 appeal for humanitarian assistance, the bishops said farmers have fled lands without planting crops as civilians are targeted by both sides in the country’s increasingly bloody three-year civil war. Food shortages have been compounded by problems of unemployment, soaring inflation and poor rains, meaning that the country had now entered a critical time, the bishops said.

Citing government predictions, they estimated that about 4.9 million people would be facing famine by April and about 5.5 million people by July.

Among the most vulnerable are more than 3 million refugees and people internally displaced by fighting between the supporters of President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

“We anticipate difficult times ahead in 2017 as our people are likely to witness mass starvation by virtue of their multiple displacements, especially (because) the states that traditionally produced cereals in surplus will be missing the planting season, and that will, in turn, lead to further food insecurity in 2017,” the bishops said.

They called for “immediate and unconditional concrete intervention and action … before it is too late.”

In a message sent to churches around the world, the bishops asked Caritas Internationalis and the international community to press for “an immediate stop to the violence and (for) free movement of population.”

They also demanded safe access for aid agencies to reach people in remote areas and secure delivery of humanitarian aid to places where it was needed most urgently.

The bishops also collectively directly addressed the Catholics of the predominantly Christian country in a pastoral letter Feb. 23, telling them that any soldiers who killed, tortured and raped civilians were guilty of war crimes.

“There seems to be a perception that people in certain locations or from certain ethnic groups are with the other side, and thus they are targeted by armed forces,” the bishops said. “They are killed, raped, tortured, burned, beaten, looted, harassed, detained, displaced from their homes and prevented from harvesting their crops.”

“Some towns have become ghost towns, empty except for security forces and perhaps members of one faction or tribe,” they added. “Even when they have fled to our churches or to U.N. camps for protection, they are still harassed by security forces. Many have been forced to flee to neighboring countries for protection.”

The bishops said hatred had become so intense that the victims of such violence were being mutilated and burned even after they were killed.

“People have been herded into their houses, which were then set on fire to burn the occupants. Bodies have been dumped in sewage-filled septic tanks. There is a general lack of respect for human life,” the bishops said.

The church, they said, was increasingly being accused of taking sides in the conflict, but they stressed its neutrality.

“We are for all good things — peace, justice, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, dialogue, the rule of law, good governance — and we are against evil — violence, killing, rape, torture, looting, corruption, arbitrary detention, tribalism, discrimination, oppression — regardless of where they are and who is practicing them,” the bishops said.

They concluded their letter by expressing their joy at the prospect of a visit by Pope Francis to South Sudan in 2017, saying he was “deeply concerned” by the suffering in the country.

“It would draw the attention of the world to the situation here,” the bishops said.

On Feb. 22, Pope Francis used his general audience to appeal for food aid to Sudan, warning the international community that starvation might condemn to death “millions of people, including children.”

In a Feb. 23 statement emailed to Catholic News Service, Auxiliary Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham, England, said that “the world must wake up to this man-made humanitarian disaster.”

“The violence must stop and the international community must intervene,” said Bishop Kenney, a former president of Caritas Europa who has visited South Sudan on several occasions.

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Benedictine abbey in England displays St. Thomas More’s hair shirt

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Catholic News Service

BUCKFAST, England — The hair shirt worn by St. Thomas More as he contemplated a martyr’s death in the Tower of London has been enshrined for public veneration.

The folded garment made from goat’s hair was encased above an altar in Buckfast Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in southwest England.

St. Thomas, a former lord chancellor of England, wore the shirt while he was incarcerated in the Bell Tower of the Tower of London while awaiting execution for opposing the Protestant reforms of King Henry VIII.

He was beheaded July 6, 1535, after telling a crowd gathered on London’s Tower Hill that he was “always the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

An encasement of a hair shirt worn by St. Thomas More as he contemplated a martyr's death in the Tower of London, before his 1535 beheading, is on display at the altar of England's Buckfast Abbey Nov. 18 photo. (CNS photo/Luke Michael Davies, courtesy Buckfast Abbey Media Studios)

An encasement of a hair shirt worn by St. Thomas More as he contemplated a martyr’s death in the Tower of London, before his 1535 beheading, is on display at the altar of England’s Buckfast Abbey Nov. 18 photo. (CNS photo/Luke Michael Davies, courtesy Buckfast Abbey Media Studios)

Benedictine Abbot David Charlesworth told Catholic News Service Nov. 21 that the shirt had not been shown in public before.

He said that although the shirt was a secondary relic, he believed it was of greater significance than a body part, or primary relic, because it was directly linked to the religious convictions of the saint.

“What this relic represents is St. Thomas More’s faith,” Abbot Charlesworth said. “This relic says something about who Thomas More was as a Christian … it is a major relic. It is linked to his life of conversion and his identification with the sufferings of Christ.”

Abbot Charlesworth said St. Thomas was a man of conscience who was “standing up for freedom” against a tyranny that was trying to dictate to people what they could or could not think.

Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth, the diocese in which Buckfast is situated, said he hoped the shrine would become an international pilgrimage destination. He said there was a huge cult dedicated to St. Thomas in countries as diverse as Germany and South Korea.

The bishop noted that St. Thomas also had global significance as the patron of statesmen and politicians, a title bestowed on him by St. John Paul II in 2000, as well as patron saint of lawyers.

St. Thomas was a man who manifested “huge integrity” and faith at a time of crisis, Bishop O’Toole said. He “gives us a pattern of what individuals can do through personal integrity and through the living out of their faith in very concrete and practical ways.”

St. Thomas is recorded as wearing a hair shirt when he was testing a possible vocation to the monastic life at the London Charterhouse, a Carthusian monastery, when he was in his early 20s.

The rough uncomfortable cloth is meant to encourage self-control, to serve as a penance for past sins and to unite the wearer with the passion of Christ.

Although St. Thomas went on to marry and father four children, he continued to wear the shirt in private, sometimes beneath his robes of high office.

He gave up public office when King Henry asserted supremacy over the church in England so he could annul his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon and wed Anne Boleyn, his mistress.

St. Thomas was condemned for high treason after he refused to take an oath attached to the Act of Succession, which recognized any children of the marriage of Henry and Anne to be rightful heirs to the throne.

The day before his execution, the saint gave his hair shirt to Margaret Giggs, his adopted daughter, and it remained in her family until 1626, when it was bequeathed to a community of exiled English Augustinian nuns in Louvain, Belgium.

The nuns later relocated to Devon and, when their priory closed in 1983, they handed the shirt to the Diocese of Plymouth.

In 2011, now-retired Bishop Christopher Budd of Plymouth asked the monks of Buckfast to put the shirt on display so it could be venerated by the public. In October, the shirt was placed in a sealed case in a side chapel in the abbey church.

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Dutch cardinal says papal encyclical on gender theory might be needed

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Catholic News Service

 

OXFORD, England (CNS) — The spread of gender theory is misleading so many Catholics that a high-level document may be required to correct the errors of the ideology, a Dutch cardinal said.

            Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands, said a papal encyclical or other magisterial document “might appear to be necessary” to counter the spread of the new theory that gender can be determined by personal choice rather than by biology. Read more »

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English cardinal apologizes for past practice of coercing unmarried mothers to give up babies

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — An English cardinal has apologized for the “hurt caused” to young unmarried mothers pressured by church agencies in the mid-20th century to surrender their children for adoption.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster expressed regret for the actions of the church in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when about 500,000 British women were encouraged to give up their babies for adoption.

“The practices of all adoption agencies reflected the social values at that time and were sometimes lacking in care and sensitivity,” Cardinal Nichols said.

He added: “We apologize for the hurt caused by agencies acting in the name of the Catholic Church.”

The statement from Cardinal Nichols comes at the conclusion of an ITV documentary, scheduled to be broadcast in the U.K. Nov. 9.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, is seen at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. In a program to be aired on ITV, he apologized to unmarried women pressured by the church to hand over their children for adoption. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, is seen at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. In a program to be aired on ITV, he apologized to unmarried women pressured by the church to hand over their children for adoption. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The film, “Britain’s Adoption Scandal: Breaking The Silence,” examines the experiences of women who were urged to give up their babies because they were unmarried.

According to ITV, some women were told that if they truly loved their children, they should hand them to the care of married couples.

Most of the adoption agencies involved were overseen by the Catholic Church and Church of England while the Salvation Army, a Christian charity, ran hostels for mothers and babies.

Lawyers acting for some of the mothers are calling upon the government to investigate the practice of adoption in the 30-year postwar period.

Carolynn Gallwey of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors told ITV: “These women were told not to speak about what had happened to them.

“But now they’re entitled to have their experiences recognized, and the only way to do that is through a public inquiry,” she said.

Adoption in the U.K. reached a peak in 1968 when 16,000 babies born to unmarried mothers were sent to new families.

The 1967 Abortion Act came into force that same year, and the rates of adoption declined sharply in subsequent years as abortion became more prevalent.

From March 2014 to March 2015, 430 children under the age of 12 months were adopted in the U.K.

The role of the church in adoptions in the 1950s was examined in the 2013 movie “Philomena,” which tells the true story of the search by Philomena Lee for her son some 50 years after nuns in Ireland persuaded her to give him up for adoption.

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English bishops condemn rise in attacks on foreigners after Brexit vote

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — Catholic bishops condemned a sharp rise in xenophobic and racist attacks following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the “upsurge of racism, of hatred toward others is something we must not tolerate.”

“We have to say this is simply not acceptable in a humane society, and it should never be provoked or promoted,” he said.

Monika Cyrek, a Polish national who works in a grocery store that sells mostly Polish products, poses for a photograph June 18 in Walton-on-Thames, England. "If we're not wanted here, probably a lot of people will leave and try other places," said Cyrek. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

Monika Cyrek, a Polish national who works in a grocery store that sells mostly Polish products, poses for a photograph June 18 in Walton-on-Thames, England. “If we’re not wanted here, probably a lot of people will leave and try other places,” said Cyrek. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

The June 28 statement from Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, came a day after the National Police Chiefs’ Council revealed that of 85 complaints of hate crime were received between June 23, the day of the referendum on United Kingdom membership in the EU, and June 26.

The figure represented a 57 percent increase in such offenses in a similar period just a month earlier.

Xenophobic incidents included the vandalism of the buildings of a Polish social and cultural association in London and the verbal abuse of foreigners on a tram in Manchester, a film of which was sent to Channel 4 News June 28.

Far-right nationalists at a rally in Newcastle June 25 unfurled a banner that demanded: “Stop Immigration, Start Repatriation” and, on June 28, a German woman who has lived in Britain since the 1970s wept as she told LBC London radio that she was too scared to leave her house three days after dog excrement was thrown at her windows.

She said: “My neighbors told me that they don’t want me living in this road and that they are not friends with foreigners.”

“My friend … has a grandson who is 7 and who was beaten up because he has a foreign grandmother,” she added.

Britain has been a primary destination for many citizens of poorer EU countries, with annual net migration reaching 330,000 people a year. Many of the migrants to the U.K. are Catholics from Central Europe, Asia and Africa.

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said in a June 28 telephone interview that, in his diocese, there were “huge numbers of immigrants from Poland, Kerala (India), the Philippines and Nigeria.”

“I am extremely sad to think of violence against foreign people who are living here,” he said. “There is no justification whatsoever for that.

“Many of these immigrants are already beloved members of our communities. They have contributed to local life and organizations,” he said.

“Britain has always, through the centuries, been a country which has assimilated people from abroad, and they have taken on our values, and also they have made us proud because they have made a great success of it,” Bishop Egan said.

“Both materially and spiritually, the vast majority of people who are working here and in our diocese are making a wonderful contribution,” he added. “To think of violence against them is self-destructive. It is self-harm. We are harming ourselves as much as we are inflicting division and suffering on others.”

Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, the diocese based in Bristol, also issued a statement telling Catholics that it was important “to work for the common good and not create barriers of division and prejudice.”

“We should have a profound respect for one another, and this should be reflected in the way we speak and behave,” said the statement posted on the diocesan website June 27.

“We need to keep in mind the needs of all citizens, particularly those who may feel marginalized at this present moment, and continue to be a tolerant society, free of racial and religious prejudice,” he said.

Concerns over the phenomenon of mass migration, and the apparent inability of the U.K. to control its borders, had helped to fuel efforts to take Britain out of the EU in a referendum won by the “Leave” campaigners, with the public voting 52-48 percent to withdraw from the bloc.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had fought for the U.K. to remain inside the EU, announced his resignation June 24.

In the weeks before the referendum, national newspapers such as the Mail on Sunday had exposed how far-right nationalists, including neo-Nazis, had been actively campaigning on the Leave side.

Witold Sobkow, Poland’s ambassador to the U.K., expressed shock at the surge in xenophobic abuse.

Cameron told the House of Commons June 27 that such crimes must be stamped out. “We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks,” he said.

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English Cardinal welcomes Britain’s U-turn on resettling child refugees

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Catholic News Service

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has welcomed a U-turn by the British government over the resettlement of child refugees. Read more »

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A bus named Mercy: Lapsed Catholics queue up for a return journey to the faith

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Catholic News Service

BURNLEY, England — A diocese in England is using a double-decker bus as a venue for priests to hear the confessions of people who have stopped going to church.

The Mercy Bus is touring the Diocese of Salford during Lent in an attempt to reach out to lapsed Catholics.

People walk by the Mercy Bus in Burnley, England, Feb. 20. The double-decker bus is used for priests to hear the confessions of people who have stopped going to church. (CNS photo/Simon Caldwell)

People walk by the Mercy Bus in Burnley, England, Feb. 20. The double-decker bus is used for priests to hear the confessions of people who have stopped going to church. (CNS photo/Simon Caldwell)

Each Saturday, the bus parks in a busy area of Manchester or one of the outlying towns, and volunteers try to engage shoppers by offering miraculous medals blessed by Pope Francis as gifts.

If they receive a positive response, they are invited on the bus, where they can talk with a priest or receive a blessing — and also go to confession. Two priests offering the sacrament of reconciliation are stationed at the front and rear of the upper deck and one at the rear of the lower deck.

Visitors can also depart with information about the Catholic faith and about times of Masses in their local area.

Father Frankie Mulgrew, a Salford priest who helped to devise the project for the Year of Mercy, said interest from the public had exceeded expectations.

In the first two weeks, when the bus visited Salford, then Bolton, more than 400 people visited, he told CNS in a Feb. 20 interview in Burnley, on the morning of the bus’ third stop.

Priests later reported hearing the confessions of “significant numbers” of lapsed Catholics, some of whom had not been to church “for decades,” he said.

“We are meeting people where they are, we are parking up beside their lives,” said Father Mulgrew, 38, a former stand-up comedian who turned his back on a career in children’s television to become a priest after he said he personally experienced the mercy of God in confession.

“We are saying: ‘If you have got any burdens, come on the bus and be free from them. If you are going through any struggles right now — a family feud, financial problems, a broken relationship — come on board the bus and experience God’s mercy,’” he said.

“We are trying to reconnect people to faith and provide a place of welcome for them, and acceptance, and a place where they are going to encounter God’s mercy in a tangible way in their lives,” Father Mulgrew said.

“It is going out joyfully,” he added. “It’s trying to show the church in all its beauty and all its joy.”

Father Mulgrew said the initiative was inspired by the public ministry of Jesus “on the hilltops, in marketplaces and at the dinner tables” and also by the open-air Masses celebrated in the slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio before he became Pope Francis.

The initiative was conceived by a Salford diocesan Year of Mercy “outreach group” of which Father Mulgrew, a curate in Blackburn, is a member.

The bus was hired from an Accrington-based company called Moving People at the cost of $330 a day.

Initially, the plan was to use the bus on each Saturday in Lent, but the initiative is proving to be such a success that diocesan officials said they plan to retain the vehicle until the end of the holy year in November.

The front of the bus is emblazoned with the diocesan Year of Mercy logo with its destination entry designated as “#nextstopmercy.”

The sides of bus show images of Pope Francis and priests hearing confessions on either side of “Mercy Bus” in huge letters.

Pope Francis has given his personal blessing to the initiative and, according to Father Mulgrew, “laughed spontaneously” when he presented the pontiff with pictures of the Mercy Bus.

“He gave me this great beaming smile which I took as a great encouragement and affirmation of what I was working toward,” Father Mulgrew said.

Ahead of the launch, Bishop John Arnold of Salford announced in a press release that “the Mercy Bus is a way of reaching out to people who might not otherwise have contact with the church.”

“We are going out to them, rather than expecting them to come to us,” the bishop said.

The bus is accompanied by up to 40 volunteers and a band of musicians who play live music to draw the attention of the passing crowds.

Among the volunteers is Hannah Beckford who, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday, approaches shoppers with the offer of a miraculous medal.

“We say ‘Would you like a free gift from the Holy Father?’ and they often come back and ask a bit more about it,” said Beckford, 25, who also serves as a chaplain in St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, Horwich.

“It has caused a lot of interest, especially from people who haven’t been to church for a long time,” she said.

“The amazing thing about it is that it has thrown open the doors of the church,” she said. “People are coming off the bus smiling and expressing sincere thanks.

“It is what the church should be doing. For a long time I have wanted it to go out, and it’s wonderful that in Salford that’s what the church is doing,” she continued. “It is a joy to be a part of it. I love it.”

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Philadelphia priest says church’s ministry to gays is expanding

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Catholic News Service

WARRINGTON, England — The Catholic Church’s pastoral ministry to gays is rapidly developing and expanding as Western societies become more secular, said a U.S. priest at the forefront of working with gay people.

Father Philip Bochanski, associate director of Courage International, is pictured in a Feb. 2 photo. The Catholic Church's pastoral ministry to gays is rapidly developing and expanding as Western societies become more secular, said Father Bochanski. (CNS photo/Simon Caldwell)

Father Philip Bochanski, associate director of Courage International, is pictured in a Feb. 2 photo. The Catholic Church’s pastoral ministry to gays is rapidly developing and expanding as Western societies become more secular, said Father Bochanski. (CNS photo/Simon Caldwell)

Father Philip Bochanski, a Philadelphia priest who serves as associate director of Courage International, said increasing numbers of people who “experience same-sex attraction” but who wished to live chaste lives were turning to the church for help. Read more »

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Anglican leaders suspend U.S. Episcopalians from world body over same-sex marriage

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Catholic News Service

Because of the U.S. Episcopal Church’s moves to unilaterally change canon law to allow same-sex marriage, Anglican leaders voted to suspend Episcopalians from positions representing the Anglican Communion and from participating in some Anglican bodies.

Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, speaks with protestors on the grounds of England's Canterbury Cathedral, which was closed for a meeting of primates of the Anglican Church. At the meeting, Anglican leaders sanctioned Episcopalians over same-sex marriage. (CNS photo/Toby Melville, Reuters)

Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, speaks with protestors on the grounds of England’s Canterbury Cathedral, which was closed for a meeting of primates of the Anglican Church. At the meeting, Anglican leaders sanctioned Episcopalians over same-sex marriage. (CNS photo/Toby Melville, Reuters)

Primates meeting in Canterbury, England, said that for three years, members of the Episcopal Church will be barred sitting on Anglican bodies making decisions on doctrine and polity and from representing the Communion on ecumenical and interfaith bodies.

The move comes in response to a policy allowing gay marriages, adopted last year by the General Convention, or governing body, of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in the United States.

The change in canon law in the U.S. has been strongly opposed by many of the theologically conservative African churches, some of whose leaders had threatened to walk out of the five-day primate meeting if the Episcopal Church was not penalized for its actions.

The suspension was announced in a statement issued by the primates Jan. 14, a day earlier than planned because of leaks to the media.

It said the changes in teaching on marriage in the Episcopal Church represent a “fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our provinces on the doctrine of marriage,” which it defined as a lifelong union between a man and a woman.

The change had caused “deep pain,” impaired the Anglican Communion by placing “huge strains” on its unity, and created “deeper mistrust between us,” the statement said.

The policy set a precedent that could be copied by other provinces, such as Canada, where Anglicans will vote on same-sex marriage in July, and this “could further exacerbate this situation,” the statement said.

It added that the primates had expressed a “unanimous commitment to walk together” and had asked Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, to appoint a task group to work toward dialogue, trust and healing among the provinces.

The Jan. 11-15 meeting brought together 39 Anglican primates to reflect on the challenges posed to the unity of their communion.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry addressed his fellow bishops before they voted for suspension, telling them that Episcopalians were committed to creating “an inclusive church.”

“This decision will bring real pain,” he said in comments he later released to the Episcopal News Service. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain.

“For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope,” he continued. “This will add pain on top of pain.”

The Global Anglican Future Conference, a coalition of conservative Anglican leaders from around the world, welcomed the suspension, adding that “this action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning.” The suspension infuriated gay rights activists, however, with some traveling to Canterbury Jan. 15 to demonstrate at a “vigil” outside the meeting.

Paulist Father Ron Roberson, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said he doubted the suspension would have an impact on ARCUSA, the 50-year-old dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the USCCB Committee on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs.

He told Catholic News Service Jan. 14 that while “the statement of the primates could be open to different interpretations,” in the bilateral dialogue, “the Episcopal Church never claimed to represent the other Anglican provinces.”

Each province of the Anglican Communion is independent and runs its own affairs; even the Archbishop of Canterbury has no authority over an individual province like the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Vatican Radio Jan. 15 that he hopes the next three years “will be used to find deeper unity within the Anglican Communion.”

The cardinal noted that the official Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the official body for Catholic-Anglican theological dialogue, is discussing on a general level what the Anglican primates were dealing with at their meeting.

“On the one hand, there is the relationship between the local church and the universal church,” while on the other hand there is a need “to find greater unity” in dealing with ethical questions. “These are the principal themes of our dialogue and have become visible now in the Anglican Communion. It would be beautiful if our dialogue was able to be of help to the Anglican Communion so that it would find its unity again.”

The Episcopal Church, which has about 2 million members, is among the most liberal of Anglican provinces in the world and has continuously divided opinion among Anglicans with its policies.

Tensions came to the fore in 2003 when Canon Gene Robinson, who was openly gay, was elected an Episcopal bishop. Soon afterward, then-Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury asked the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to halt any future such ordinations and to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council.

After Mary Douglas Glasspool, a lesbian, was ordained as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles in 2010, Archbishop Williams barred members of the Episcopal Church from representing the Anglican Communion on international ecumenical dialogue commissions.

 

Contributing to this story were Barb Fraze in Washington and Cindy Wooden at the Vatican.

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Syrian nun describes bombing of family, pleads ‘Pray for Aleppo’

May 19th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — A religious sister in Syria described how the members of one Christian family were blown to bits during a bombardment of the northern city of Aleppo.

Sister Annie Demerjian, an Armenian Catholic members of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, described how shells fired by either Islamic State or Nusra Front rebels killed two adult sons and their mother. Read more »

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