From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Mon, 2 Dec 2002 16:37:40 -0500

December 2, 2002


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Violence breaks out between Muslims and Christians in northern 

(ENS) Dozens of Christians have been killed and hundreds injured 
by Muslim youth during a fresh outbreak of violence in the city 
of Kaduna in heavily Islamic northern Nigeria--and Muslims were 
killed when Christians retaliated.

The violence began November 20 as a reaction to a Nigerian 
newspaper article that said the Prophet Muhammad might have 
considered marrying one of the contestants in the Miss Word 
contest that was supposed to be held in Abuja. Muslim rioters 
burned down the offices of This Day, barricaded the streets with 
burning tires, and began to loot homes and businesses.

According to reports, the rioters then turned on the local 
Christians. "Our people had nothing whatsoever to do with either 
the article or this contest but we have been victimised by 
Muslim rioters for political ends," said Anglican Bishop Josiah 
Fearon of Kaduna. Over 20 churches were desecrated, looted, 
vandalised and burned and Christians have been stabbed and some 
beaten to death. Reports also said that Muslim youths operated 
roadblocks, checking the religious identity of motorists and 
attacking Christians.

As Christian youths began to fight back, Muslims were killed 
and some mosques were destroyed. Estimates say over 400 have 
died and more than 1,200 have been injured with about 12,000 
driven from their homes. 

"The violence has nothing to do with religion--it is entirely 
political," said Bishop Fearon in a release distributed by the 
Barnabas Fund, a British-based organization that monitors human 
rights in the Islamic world. 

One of the underlying causes for the tension is the 
implementation of Islamic law (Shari'ah) in many of the northern 
states of Nigeria in the last three years, pressuring the 
Christian minorities in those states. In Kaduna, however, where 
Christians and Muslims are equal, the governor has resisted 
demands for full implementation, limiting it to Muslims.

"Religious leaders in the city, both Muslim and Christian, 
have appealed for calm," Bishop Josiah said. But he added that 
"the same Islamic religious leaders have been deeply implicated 
in instigating the violence in the first place."

Earlier this year religious leaders from both sides signed an 
agreement committing them to work for peace and reconciliation 
between Muslims and Christians.

FBI says anti-Muslim hate crimes are up in the U.S.

(ENI) Despite on-going calls for tolerance from church leaders, 
hate crimes against Muslims or those thought to be of Middle 
Eastern descent rose dramatically in the United States in 2001, 
according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The 
report said that the number of cases rose from 28 in 2000 to 481 
in 2001 but the report did not indicate how many incidents 
occurred after the September 11 terrorist attacks against the 
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Almost 10,000 allegations of hate crimes were reported with 
Muslims trailing behind African Americans, homosexuals and Jews 
in the number of cases reported. Hate crimes can range from 
verbal abuse to assault or murder.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations 
(CAIR), a civil rights and advocacy group, welcomed the report 
but said that the figures did not present the whole picture 
since many Muslims did not report the crimes to authorities. 
"They swallow the incident and move on," said Ibrahim Hooper. 
"People have a natural reluctance to report these to the FBI," 
due largely to s feeling shared by Muslims that in the 
post-September 11 climate "Muslims are guilty until proven 

CAIR said that Muslims in the country had reported more than 
1,700 incidents to the council following the terrorist attacks. 
Referring to anti-Islam comments by evangelicals like Franklin 
Graham, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, Hooper said, 
"Unfortunately, the population that is hostile to Islam in the 
United States is increasing, parroting the line of Graham, 
Falwell and Robertson."

New archbishop of Canterbury says Anglicans too interested in 

(The Independent) During an interview on the British 
Broadcasting Corporation, the new archbishop of Canterbury, 
Rowan Williams of Wales, took a swipe at the church's 
"anti-Christian" obsession with the trappings of power and 

In the BBC documentary, "An Archbishop Like This," Williams 
was asked about the Anglican hierarchy and he responded that it 
had "bought very deeply" into a cult of status. "It's one of the 
most ambiguous things in the whole of that culture--the concern 
with titles, the concern with little differentiations, the 
different coloured buttons."

He added, "There's something profoundly--I'll say 
it--anti-Christian in all of that. It's about guarding position, 
about fencing yourself in. And that is not quite what the Gospel 

Describing himself in the interview as a "gloomy Celt," 
Williams acknowledged the possibility of schism because of 
persistent disagreements over issues. He said that the Bible, 
for example, is very clear in condemning a heterosexual who 
indulged in homosexual acts for gratification but he added, 
"Does that automatically say that that is the only sort of 
homosexuality activity there could ever be? What about those 
people who 'with prayer and thought and seriousness and 
adulthood say I've never known anything different? What are we 
to say to them?"

While clearly not ready to endorse the concept of gay 
marriages, calling that language "not appropriate," Williams 
said, "I can see a case for acknowledging faithful same-sex 
relationships." He added, "It seems to me rather sad, and rather 
revealing, that when it comes to sex we suddenly become much 
less intelligent about our reading of the Bible."

Williams was officially confirmed at a December 1 ceremony in 
St. Paul's Cathedral in London, taking an oath of allegiance to 
the Queen and declaring his assent to the historic "formularies" 
of the Church of England. He asked for "God's guidance as I seek 
to meet this new challenge--a challenge I face with a sense of 
inadequacy but also with hope, with joy and enthusiasm." He will 
not assume his public duties until after his enthronement in 

Affirming Catholicism sets day of prayer and thanksgiving for 
new archbishop of Canterbury

(ENS) Affirming Catholicism--a renewal and spirituality movement 
in the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Church of 
Ireland and the Scottish Episcopal Church as well as the wider 
Anglican Communion--has called for a day of prayer and 
thanksgiving December 6 for Archbishop Rowan Williams, the new 
archbishop of Canterbury.

"We are increasingly aware of the vast ministry portfolio 
that the archbishop carries on behalf of Anglicans and 
Episcopalians around the world," said the Rev. Stephen Conway, 
chair of the organization. "If we take our faith and practice 
seriously we need to give thanks for those called to such an 
important office and to keep them in our prayers."

December 6 is the feast day for the third century bishop, St. 
Nicholas of Myra, "traditionally a time of gifts, which makes it 
an excellent day to celebrate what a gift from God Rowan is to 
the whole church," Conway said. 

"Such a day of prayer and thanksgiving for one of its 
founding members is a most appropriate thing for the movement 
known as Affirming Catholicism to encourage," said Bishop 
Christopher Epting, deputy for ecumenical and interfaith 
relations. He noted that Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold is 
American Patron of the organization and he is a co-patron. "We 
strive to live disciplined lives of prayer, worship and study 
and this will be an opportunity to be bound together in that 

Affirming Catholicism offers sample prayers on its web site 

Anglican-Roman Catholic consultation continues discussion of 

(ENS) At its mid-September meeting, the official theological 
consultation in the United States between Roman Catholics and 
Anglicans concluded an in-depth discussion of "The Gift of 
Authority," the third major agreed statement on authority in the 
church released by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International 
Commission. The statement suggests 11 points on which agreement 
has been deepened or extended, naming a number of specific 
issues related to authority facing the two churches and 
recommending ways for them to make more visible the communion 
they already share.

The Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States 
(ARC-USA) began a paragraph by paragraph review of "The Gift of 
Authority" at its March meeting and members spent a day at their 
September meeting summarizing their views and making plans for a 
draft response by the Rev. Robert Imbelli and Dr. William 
Franklin to be discussed at its meeting next March. 

ARC-USA is also conducting its own study and in 1999 released 
an "Agreed Report on the Local/Universal Church," taking a look 
at how authority is used in the independent provinces of the 
Anglican Communion and the role of episcopal conferences in the 
Roman Catholic Church. 

Two members of the consultation, the Rev. Ruth Meyers and 
Professor Joanne Pierce, are drafting a study guide on the 
agreements on Eucharist and ministry that have already been 
received by the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic 

German bishops suggest Protestants form global alliance

(ENI) Two leading German Protestant bishops are proposing the 
creation of a global alliance that they believe would strengthen 
the voice of worldwide Protestantism.

Bishop Margot Kaessmann of Hanover and Bishop Wolfgang-Huber 
of Berlin made the call at a meeting of the synod of the 
Evangelical Church in Germany in November. At present the 
world's Protestant churches do not have their own umbrella body 
to represent their views, although many belong to the World 
Council of Churches (WCC) that has Protestant, Orthodox, 
Anglican and independent member churches.

Kaessmann resigned from the WCC Central Committee in 
September to protest key proposals intended to help 
participation by Orthodox churches which have been highly 
critical of the organization and what they perceive as a 
political agenda. "I want the WCC to continue to be the 
locomotive of the ecumenical train rather than pulling on the 
brakes so that the wagons fall off the track," she said after 
the synod meeting.

She said that if the WCC ended up as "a forum for the various 
confessions to talk about their differences," then she is 
convinced that "a world alliance of Reformation churches would 
make more sense."

In response, WCC General Secretary Konrad Raiser said that 
"it is not a case of the WCC bowing to Orthodox pressure, nor 
has it accepted a compromise in order to smooth over the 
difficulties. "Never before have the WCC and its member churches 
faced up to the fundamental issues in their relations with the 
Orthodox so honestly and seriously."

The alliance Kaessmann envisions would allow Protestant 
churches in the Lutheran, Reformed and United churches that 
trace their roots back to the 16th century Reformation "to 
represent common positions in dialogues with the Orthodox and 
Roman Catholic churches as well as to be able to speak in common 
in a world that is becoming globalised."


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