Welby plans provincial pilgrimage of prayer

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Preparation: Archbishop Welby will spend the first afternoon of his journey in prayer in Norwich Cathedral

THE Archbishop of Canterbury is inviting “as many people as possible” to join him on a pilgrimage around the province of Canterbury in the days leading up to his enthronement in Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March.

The Archbishop’s website calls the pilgrimage a “Journey in Prayer”, and says: “The Archbishop will visit one city on each day of the journey, and spend that day in prayer. Those who join the Archbishop in prayer will be able to pray in ways that reflect the broad traditions of Anglican spirituality, and which welcome all ages.”

The pilgrimage will begin in Norwich on 14 March, after a celebration of the eucharist with the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, and the Bishop’s staff.

Archbishop Welby will lead prayers at 11.45 a.m. at the Forum, a community building in the centre of Norwich, and then walk to Norwich Cathedral, giving out candles to members of the public along the way. He will pray in the cathedral from noon to 5.30 p.m. at several different “stations”, a statement from Norwich diocese said. These include “a children’s prayer space, which schools will be invited to visit; a prayer tree where prayers can be written, prayed, and hung on the tree; a prayer map and globe to include prayers for the world-wide Anglican Communion; prayer through text messages; icons and candles, and music”.

Bishop James said: “It will be very good to pray with and for Archbishop Justin, and to ask God to bless and strengthen him in his new responsibilities. . . Nothing quite like it has happened before, and we are busily preparing to make it special. Everyone who wants to support our new Archbishop will be very welcome.”

After visiting Norwich, Archbishop Welby will visit Coventry diocese, on 15 March; London and Southwark dioceses, on 16 March; Truro diocese, on 18 March; and Chichester diocese, on 19 March.

Further details of his pilgrimage will be available in due course on his website (www.archbishopofcanterbury.org).

The Devil, You Say

Hardly had the shooting stopped at Sandy Hook Elementary School before the national commentary machine cranked up. Everyone and his dog seemingly had something to say: Most of it, as events would show, centered on the compelling need, or lack of it, for gun control.

To the Rev. Dr. Bill Dickson, it seemed the time had come for a metaphorically deeper treatment, focused on the seething, slithering abode of evil itself, and the inhabitants thereof.

“Something shocking is going on in the world,” Dr. Dickson, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, told me the other day. “It’s not explained in human nature. We need to realize we are in a spiritual battle, facing an evil opposition that wants to destroy us.”

What figure would we be talking about here if not the Devil: same red-suited gent rumored for centuries to be abroad in human affairs; reduced in our present scientific/high tech age to an exclamation or a Hallowe’en costume? To return the Prince of Darkness to something like his oldtime prominence, Dr. Dickson organized at St. Andrew’s a Lenten season series of teachings entitled, “Evil— the Diabolical Spirit Which Haunts the Wilderness.”

How do you like topics such as “Satan as the Corruptor of Governmental, Societal Systems,” “Satan as the Inspiration and the Ultimate Object of False Religion,” and “Satan as the Enemy of Truth, the Deceiver”? It strikes me we ought to like them a lot – as occasions for renewing forgotten understandings of a power who should be in the forefront of our worst apprehensions.

The world of today, as I have remarked, takes the Devil lightly, if it takes him at all, despite his traditional portrayal as the avowed enemy of God. The Devil – fallen angel as he is – wants the reverse of whatever God wants: Contentment, love, joy. It becomes his own joy (by traditional account) to work through God’s own creatures – men, women, children – to frustrate the whole heavenly enterprise. We find it written in the Gospels that he sought for that identical purpose to work his will on God’s son.

Was Adam Lanza, the Newtown gunman, the Devil’s agent? To put it another way, can the possibility be foreclosed? Because if it can be, the Prince of Darkness is off the hook, and we turn, necessarily, to the examination of purely human causes and motives.

The guy, you say, was nuts and got his hands on guns he shouldn’t have had access to? That could suggest, as many do, the need to tighten up gun controls and maybe better oversee the mental health system.

On the other hand, what if hatred, malice, the dark wish to inflict harm on innocent others – what if these were the primary driving forces in Lanza’s makeup? Would that realization not color the discussion in useful ways? And, yes, if it did, would it or would it not prove that evil somehow lurked around Newtown, Conn., on that stomach-churning day last December?

Prove or disprove it how? – that would be next question. Merely asking it conjures up mysteries and wonders more familiar to our forebears than to us. Among these: The presence among us of malice and wickedness.

Is it really possible, outside theology, to address the question of how a mere boy – never mind where he got the guns – could murder the woman who gave him life, then slaughter children on whom he never before had set eyes? And if (as many would contend) you can’t talk about such a thing without theology, does the world not owe itself the duty of asking whether our forbears knew some theology it wouldn’t hurt us to recall?

Disbelief in the Devil, whether as blackened angel, symbol of perverted love, or both things at the same time – would strike our ancestors as a huge favor to the old boy, letting him retreat into the shadows while humans sort out their sorrows. He won’t get that kind of surcease at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, I venture to predict.

The Scandal of the Cardinals. The Disgrace of Episcopal Bishops

The Episcopal Church embraces what Rome calls “intrinsically disordered”

Sociologist and culture analyst Dr. Os Guinness is on record as stating that inclusivity is indifference to truth which he calls “profoundly dangerous”.

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

Leading Episcopal gay and lesbian clergy and laity are publicly gloating over revelations that more leading Roman Catholic leaders have been quietly practicing what they themselves openly practice and preach.

In the name of transparency, integrity, openness, inclusion and diversity, the Episcopal Church has rolled over to the zeitgeist and embraced pansexuality, even as leading Catholic prelates have been exposed for their sexual behavior paralleling a number of Episcopal bishops. Four of them have publicly outed themselves including Gene Robinson, Mary Glasspool, Otis Charles and Tom Shaw, while other Episcopal bishops clandestinely practice sodomy but have chosen not to “come out” preferring to remain closeted with their sexual practices.

Who is surprised to learn that there are gay priests in the Vatican, asked Jim Naughton in a headline at his liberal blog Episcopal Café? “It is common knowledge that punitive attitudes about sexuality and the pressure to keep one’s identity hidden can lead to unhealthy behavior. People who hide their identities and engage in these behaviors are open to blackmail. So this news is less shocking than it is predictable. The church’s repressive teaching and the subterfuge it engenders–from officials of all sexual orientations–is what is undermining the church.”

Or this:

“Perhaps we need to add to the list of known knowns and unknown unknowns, the “known but not acknowledged.” One of the principal facts of scandal is that there is a fact, a reality that is revealed publicly. So I would not automatically dismiss this as a possibility. After all, in addition to being Bishop of Rome, one might well observe that the pontiff is to some extent Prisoner of the Vatican… and many are the secrets held in pectore…”

Not surprisingly Britain’s leading homosexual rights advocate, Peter Tatchell called Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic a hypocrite following revelations of accusations of inappropriate behavior with male priests. “He appears to have preached one thing in public while doing something different in private.” Cardinal O’Brien has condemned homosexuality as “a grave sin”. He has now apologized to those he had offended for “failures” during his ministry and announced in a statement that he will be standing down as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church. Resigning Monday from the College of Cardinals, he will not take part in electing a new pope, even though he is only 74, thus leaving Britain unrepresented. leaving Britain unrepresented.

An ignominious end not unlike that of Bernard Francis Cardinal Law of Boston who resigned as Archbishop of Boston in 2002, in response to the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal after church documents were revealed suggesting he had covered up sexual abuse committed by priests in his archdiocese. Many believe he fled to Rome to escape prosecution in 2004. Pope John Paul II appointed Law as Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, who retired as head of the L.A. Archdiocese last year, was stripped of his remaining diocesan duties last month over his handling of priest sex abuse cases. He has repeatedly apologized for past mistakes. No criminal charges have been filed against him and he is still expected to participate in the upcoming Conclave despite a growing ground swell clamoring for him to recuse himself from helping to elect the next pope.

Ireland’s Sean Brady, Belgium’s Godfried Danneels, and Philadelphia’s late Cardinal Justin Rigali have all been pilloried in the press over allegations they failed to protect children from pedophiles. Both Brady and Danneels are, by age, eligible to enter into the conclave. The Irish cardinal is 73 and Danneels will turn 80 in June.

Recent revelations in Italy have alleged the existence of a gay mafia within the Vatican, including senior Cardinals and other Vatican officials, and their alleged participation in gay bars, clubs, saunas, chat rooms and escort services.

Several press reports now suggest that Pope Benedict’s stepping down might be over the tension of his knowing about the widespread, deeply entrenched “gay mafia” in the Vatican that only a new pope can root out.

Catholic theologian Larry Chapp noted in Benedict’s statement that the reason why the Church needs someone with more physical strength at the helm is because the faith of the Church is facing what he calls a “grave crisis.” I think he is saying there is something uniquely dangerous in the current situation of the Church and that unique thing is the de facto apostasy of so many within the Church, up to, and perhaps especially including, many members of the clergy and religious.

In his book “Light of the World” Benedict says, “The greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church.” The retiring pontiff seems to have found this out through sad experience.

That homosexuality has become the lightning rod issue of our times for nearly all the major Christian denominations is a horrific story which is still unfolding and to which we may now only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Charges of hypocrisy notwithstanding, the Roman Catholic Church has stood by its claim that while its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained, based on Sacred Scripture which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Even if Tatchell’s claim that around 40% of Catholic priests in Britain are gay and nearly half of all Cardinals worldwide are thought to be gay, (an unprovable assertion) this will not change the church’s teaching nor does it negate Scripture’s clear prohibition against any sort of sexual behavior outside marriage between a man and a woman.

The Roman Catholic Church will hold firm to Scripture, history and tradition to maintain its position regardless of how many priests, bishops and cardinals are living double lives and broken the moral law.

The Episcopal Church on the other hand, has embraced the entire panoply of sexualities – LGBTQI – with devastating consequences to its future. The Roman Catholic Church can still claim a billion souls, even as the West broadly continues its decline away from organized (or even disorganized) religion.

Sociologist and culture analyst Dr. Os Guinness is on record as stating that inclusivity is indifference to truth which he calls “profoundly dangerous”. In a conversation with a Roman Catholic cardinal, he noted that while the Borgia popes, one of whom fathered children with his own daughter, never denied a single issue of the creed, Episcopal leaders in The Episcopal Church deny much of the creed and remain in post.

Guinness argues that the Church has always made distinctions because truth matters. “Inclusivity is indifference to truth. There is respectful tolerance (based on freedom of conscience) and sloppy tolerance, which is muddle headed, ethically folly and a slipway to real evil.”

Hypocrisy over sexuality issues, including gay marriage, may well drive many out of the Roman Catholic Church, but still and all, that branch of Christendom survives and in some geographical instances still thrives. The rise of Catholicism and, of course, Anglicanism in Africa gives the lie that the Hawkins and Dawkins of this world are winning the God no-God debate. Post modernism is running its course to nowhere.

Interestingly enough, even as the Roman Catholic Church searches about for a new leader, one possible candidate is Ghana Cardinal Peter Turkson, tipped to become first black pope in modern times. He publicly blames gay priests for abuse scandals facing the Catholic Church and said sex scandals would not happen in African churches. He has faced a predictable backlash after blaming gay priests for the clerical abuse crisis. He said that similar sex scandals would never convulse churches in Africa because the culture was inimical to homosexuality.

The Roman Catholic Church will survive, even though Evangelical Anglicans, who number in the tens of millions, will never bow the knee to Rome and liberal Protestant Christianity will continue its gadarene slide to oblivion.

END

Homosexuality is only one symptom of the real sin of Sodom

Most people have heard of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities we are told were destroyed for their sexual immorality in the 19th chapter of Genesis (See John Martin’s famous 1852 painting left).

Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with impenitent sin, and their fall with a proverbial manifestation of God’s wrath. sodam
The story has therefore given rise to the English word ‘sodomy’ to  describe a sexual ‘crime against nature’ and specifically homosexuality.
Recently I was on a tour of the British Library with Jay Smith when he mentioned that a tablet discovered in the library of the ancient city of Ebla, in modern day Syria, had listed the five ‘cities of the plain’ (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela) in the same order as in Genesis 14:1-3, 8-10.
William Shea pointed out in 1983 that on the ‘Eblaite Geographical Atlas’ [TM.75.G.2231], ad-mu-ut and sa-dam correspond to Admah and Sodom, and are contained in a list of cities that traces a route along the shores of the Dead Sea.
sodon1Rabbi Leibel Reznick, a senior lecturer in Talmudic studies in New York, makes a strong and highly plausible case for these cities being the five cities of Bab Edh-Dhra, Numeira, Safi, Feifa and Khanazir which are located at the southern end of the Dead Sea in modern day Jordan. This view is shared by Michael Sanders on the ‘Mysteries of the Bible’ website.
Reznick summarises the evidence as follows (but his whole article is well worth reading):
1. The Bible refers to a metropolis of five cities in the Dead Sea area. Five, and only five cities, have been found there (see map).
2. The Bible refers to a conquest by the Mesopotamians and the artifacts found in the Dead Sea area show a Mesopotamian influence.
3. The Midrash describes the metropolis as a thriving population. The enormous number of burials in the large cemeteries (over 1.5 million in three cities alone) attests to a great population.
4. The Talmud and the Midrash describe the area as an agricultural wonderland. The great diversity of agricultural products found in the ruins verify the lush produce enjoyed by the area’s inhabitants.
5. According to the Talmud, there was a span of only 26 years between a war in the area and the ultimate destruction. Devastation levels found in Numeira (Sodom) are consistent with the Talmud’s assertion.
6. The Talmud states that Sodom, unlike other cities in the area, only existed for 52 years. The ruins in Numeira (Sodom) indicate that the city lasted less than 100 years.
7. The Bible attributes the destruction of the cities to a fiery storm that rained down from above and thick layers of burnt material covering sodom1the remains of the cities in the area bear this out.
Whether or not Numeira will indeed turn out to be the biblical Sodom is yet to be finally confirmed, but Sodom nonetheless remains crucially important in biblical history and theology.
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, according to the Bible (Genesis 18 and 19), were destroyed by fire and brimstone for their immorality. Abraham’s nephew Lot escaped the devastation and later, by his daughters (!), became the father of the ancient nations of Ammon and Moab, which engaged in centuries of conflict with the Israelites.
Sodom is mentioned 46 times in the Bible: 20 in Genesis, 17 in the rest of the Old Testament, and 9 in the New Testament, including five mentions by Jesus himself.
The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1:9-10, 3:9 and 13:19-22) accuses the people of Israel as being like Sodom and Gomorrah in their sinning and warns that Babylon will end like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:14, 49:17-18, 50:39-40 and Lamentations 4:6) associates Sodom and Gomorrah with adultery and lies and prophesies the fate of Edom and Babylon using Sodom as a comparison.
In Ezekiel 16:48-50 God compares Jerusalem to Sodom, saying that Jerusalem was worse:
‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.’

In Amos 4:1-11 God tells the Israelites he had warned them and treated them like Sodom and Gomorrah and yet still they did not repent. And in Zephaniah 2:9 the prophet tells Moab and Ammon, southeast and northeast of the Dead Sea, that they will end up like Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Is marriage now just a middle-class institution?

By Amanda Williams, Mailonline

Today less than half of working class people wed but rates rise among high income earners

Marriage is in sharp decline among the working classes but on the rise among high income earners, new analysis has revealed.

The proportion of people in the highest social class who are married has increased to more than two-thirds in the past ten years.

It marks a reverse of an earlier decline in marriage rates. But among those defined as working class fewer than 45 per cent are married.

Marriage is in sharp decline among the working classes but on the rise among high income earners, new analysis has revealed.

The figures were prepared for The Sunday Times by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Anastasia de Waal, deputy director of think-tank Civitas, said the analysis showed a clear class divide which needed studying.

She said lower economic groups might be avoiding marriage because they were not economically secure enough to commit, rather then because of principled reasons.

The ONS figures reveal that in 2001 64.8 per cent of around four million people in social class 1 – such as professionals – were married. By last year that had risen 66.3 per cent of 5.1 million.

But in social class 7 – which includes dustmen and cleaners – the figures fell from 52 per cent of 4.3million in 2001, to 44.5 per cent of 5 million last year.

Among those defined as working class fewer than 45 per cent are married

Professor Les Mayhew of Cass Business School said stable married households tended to accumulate more wealth, which ‘could be a factor in wealth passing between generations’.

The Church of England said marriage was the ‘gold standard’ for human relationships.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns as Archbishop

By Robert Piggott, BBC News

Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is stepping down as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church.
It follows allegations – which he contests – of inappropriate behaviour towards priests dating from the 1980s.
In a statement, he apologised to those he had offended during his ministry.
The cardinal confirmed he would not take part in the election for a successor to the Pope – leaving Britain unrepresented in the election.
He said Pope Benedict has accepted his resignation as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
Cardinal O’Brien said in a statement he had already tendered his resignation, due to take effect when he turned 75 next month, but that Pope Benedict “has now decided that my resignation will take effect today”.
He said the pontiff would appoint an apostolic administrator to govern the archdiocese in his place until his successor is appointed.