From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopal News Service Briefs

Date 02 Feb 2001 13:19:16


News Briefs

Anglican bishops continue their discussions on issue of sexuality

     (ACNS) At the invitation of Archbishop of Canterbury George L. Carey, a 
dozen Anglican bishops, representing a wide range of backgrounds and 
perspectives, met at Alton Abbey in Hampshire, England, in mid-December 2000 to 
continue conversations on sexuality. A similar group met in a New York monastery 
in November 1999. The December meeting noted events in the Anglican Communion in 
the year between conversations, including consecration of two "missionary" 
bishops in Singapore, the meeting of Anglican Primates in Portugal and the 
General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the USA. According to a communiqué 
released by the Anglican Communion Office in London on January 30, "Trust and 
respect continued to grow as the group practiced the disciplines of 'interpretive 
charity.' The bishops also recognized the priority of maintaining and deepening 
the unity of the Anglican Communion in the truth and love of Jesus Christ as a 
witness to him."

     The communiqué said that the conversations dealt with specific biblical 
texts and that "a variety of understandings emerged which brought differences 
into focus. It also revealed each person's profound commitment to seeking God's 
will as discerned in the Scriptures."

     (Text of communiqué and list of participants available at


Washington host to ecumenical service of prayer for Holy Land Christians

     (ENS) Christians in the metropolitan Washington, DC, area are being invited 
to a service of prayer for Christian communities in the Holy Land, for all who 
are suffering in the area, and for peace in the Middle East. The service is 
scheduled at Church of the Pilgrims on Thursday, February 22, at 7:30 p.m. 
Prayers will be led by Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson of the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church in America and other church leaders. Father Thomas Keating will 
offer reflections at the service. He is a member of the International Committee 
for Peace Council, which fosters dialogue and cooperation among the religions of 
the world.

     The ecumenical service is the second of monthly gatherings in Washington. 
Churches in the District and Maryland will continue to hold special services for 
peace on the 22nd of each month until the violence ends and a just and lasting 
peace agreement is reached between Israelis and Palestinians. The services are 
part of prayer vigils taking place across the country, with each area centering 
on a specific date. For details about the Prayer Vigil visit


Crime against clergy and church workers in the UK on the rise

     (ENI) Instances of violence against church workers and clergy in England and 
Wales have climbed to more than one assault every day of the year.

     A 1999 survey reported 462 attacks but the British government has said this 
is greatly understated because many attacks go unreported. A sample survey by 
researchers at London University found that 12% of Anglican clergy in England--
1,300 priests--were attacked in 2000.

     Vandalism of churches, including arson and theft, are also increasing, 
averaging 10 Anglican churches targeted every day.

     Information from Churchwatch, security specialists, and Ecclesiastical, a 
church insurance group, point to Britain's growing problem of drug abuse as a 
major contributor to the rise in crime, with addicts seeing clergy as easy 
targets to help fund their habit.

     "Many clergy find the hardest thing is to shut the front door. Our advice is 
never give money. But also never just say no. Provide alternatives, like giving 
food from the house," said Nick Tolson, national coordinator of Churchwatch.

     Tolson, a former police officer, travels around the United Kingdom teaching 
security courses for clergy and church workers that explains ways to prevent 
encounters before they reach the stage of physical violence. More than 100 people 
attended his January 11 course in Bournemouth, England after hearing of an attack 
three months earlier on a Church of England priest.

     Toby Barker, of Ecclesiastical, said the reason for the increase in church 
crime is unknown, but "we're putting a lot of effort into raising security 
consciousness in churches."


El Salvador government criticized for relief effort

     (ENI) Relief agencies, including some linked to churches, have criticized 
the El Salvador government's response to the January 13 earthquake that 
devastated the Central American nation.

     In a January 22 update on the effects of the disaster, the Lutheran World 
Federation's (LWF) office in El Salvador criticized the "inefficient, publicity-
oriented, preferential and political manner in which bilateral government [aid] 
has been received, coordinated and distributed."

     "While seismic aftershocks following the earthquake of January 13 have 
become less frequent, the political aftershocks promise to increase in intensity 
for some time to come," the report said.

     "The situation here is one of polarization," said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, 
LWF's representative in El Salvador. Because of understaffing and an inability to 
reach some communities, the government was relying on help from aid agencies.

     Bueno said that despite "good intentions," the government had poor disaster-
response systems in place. A week and a half after the earthquake, some 
communities had not received any assistance. This prompted the National Emergency 
Committee (COEN) to change distribution systems and begin channeling aid through 
local government bodies. "The government cannot respond to a disaster of this 
magnitude," said Bueno.

     The government has also been sharply criticized for its failure to implement 
a national emergency plan before the earthquake. The region is particularly 
susceptible to natural disasters.

     Jose Rodriguez, of the Anglican-based ecumenical group CREDHO, pointed out 
that widespread poverty made a country much more susceptible to the effects of a 
natural disaster. "The challenge is: how do we make sense out of it and how do we 
now focus attention on the issue of poverty?" He added, "Unfortunately, natural 
disasters are one of the few times that any attention is paid to the poor."

Latin American council elects a new president

     (ENI) The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) has elected Bishop Julio 
Holguin of the Episcopal Church's Diocese of the Dominican Republic (Iglesia 
Episcopal Dominicana) as its president for the next six years.

     Although Holguin's January 17 election means that control of CLAI remains in 
the hands of the region's historic Protestant churches, he supports opening the 
ecumenical group further to bring in the region's swiftly growing Pentecostal 

     "We Anglicans are ecumenical by vocation," Holguin said. "We've often been a 
bridge allowing other groups to come together. I'd like to help close the gaps, 
build mutual understanding, and work for a unity of the churches that empowers 
them to serve their communities in a more adequate fashion."

     Holguin said he hoped CLAI could "become a meeting place for the churches in 
Latin America." The organization has already succeeded in bringing together 
people not only from different denominations, but from different corners of the 

House of Lords legalizes human embryo cloning

     (ENI) The British parliament voted on January 22 to allow the cloning of 
human embryos, despite a united appeal by the country's religious leaders urging 

     The move will allow the "therapeutic cloning" of embryos up to 14 days old. 
The technique involves creating genetically identical embryos from which will be 
taken stem cells for research into diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, 
diabetes and cancer.

     The technique is similar to that used in 1997 by the Roslin Institute in 
Scotland to create Dolly, the world's first cloned mammal.

     In a letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the two most senior 
Roman Catholic archbishops, an Orthodox archbishop, Protestant officials and 
leaders of the Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities in the UK, warned that the 
issue of cloning had not been fully addressed and that "one slight 
miscalculation" could lead to irreversible implications for future generations.

     According to the Catholic Herald newspaper, the religious leaders wrote 
their letter "after Prime Minister Tony Blair refused four separate requests to 
meet them to discuss the moral implications of human cloning." Blair said that 
"diary commitments" made a meeting impossible.

     The House of Lords approved the measure to allow human cloning by 212 to 92, 
a majority of 120. It was a "free vote"--peers were not compelled to vote along 
party lines--but the government had made it clear that in its view Britain's 
world leadership in the field of embryo research depended on the measure being 

Female Episcopal theologian at Catholic university may not lose teaching position

     (ENS) The Rev. Moni McIntyre, a former nun and tenured professor at Roman 
Catholic Duquesne University, lost her teaching position when it was learned that she 
had recently been ordained an Episcopal priest. But now it looks as though officials 
at the university in Pittsburgh might reassign her to teach in other departments. The 
Catholic Church does not ordain women and President John Murray said that the 
ordination constituted a public repudiation of Catholic doctrine--also making it impossible
for her to teach doctrine.

     "She is now a publicly proclaimed, official teacher of Anglican doctrine, which differs
from Roman Catholic doctrine in very important areas," Murray said. McIntyre's lawyer 
had argued that her client believed her membership in a different denomination would not 
preclude her from being able to teach Catholic beliefs.

     The president disagreed. "To present her as a teacher of Roman Catholic theology 
under these circumstances is a contradiction which is not in keeping with the mission of 
the department of theology, the university or the Roman Catholic Church," Murray said. 
     He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he hoped "we can put something together 
very rapidly."

     The action comes as American bishops are preparing to implement a Vatican call for 
Catholic schools to strengthen their religious identity, including certification or licensing by 
local bishops.

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