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Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Tue, 10 Dec 2002 15:55:10 -0500

December 10, 2002


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Massachusetts bishops warn of increase in hate crimes because of 
Vatican's anti-gay statements

(Boston Globe) The Episcopal bishops of the Diocese of 
Massachusetts have publicly warned of an increase in hate crimes 
because of statements by Vatican officials about gays in the 

Bishops M. Thomas Shaw and Roy Cederholm Jr., as well as 
bishop-elect Gayle Harris, all said that the danger to gays and 
lesbians is so great that they felt compelled to speak out, 
despite reservations about commenting on controversies in 
another church. Shaw said that he was particularly upset by a 
report that Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez said that gays 
are "not suitable to receive the sacrament of holy orders." 

Shaw said that the bishops are also expressing alarm because 
of news reports that the Vatican is preparing a document that 
would propose a ban on gay seminarians. "I'm really concerned 
about hate crimes and homophobia that comes from supposedly 
responsible people making statements like this," he said. The 
bishops expressed their concern in an opinion piece in the 
December 10 Boston Globe. "Suggestions that gays molest 
children lead to homophobia and create a dangerous atmosphere in 
which hate crimes flourish," the bishops said. Shaw said that he 
was aware of only two instances of priests in his diocese 
abusing minors in recent years and that both were heterosexuals.

The statement was welcomed by Dignity USA, a ministry with 
gay and lesbian Roman Catholics. "We have long said that this 
focus on gay priests as a cause for the sexual abuse scandal is 
nothing more than a smokescreen to deflect attention away from 
the complicity of the hierarchy in creating this scandal," said 
executive director Marianne Duddy. "I applaud the Episcopal 
bishops for speaking out on a matter of justice that is 
important to the vital ministry of any Christian Church."

But Deal Hudson, editor of the conservative Catholic magazine 
Crisis, said "there is credible research that suggests 
the homosexuals are three times more likely to be pedophiles 
than the general population."

Holloway of Scotland says church should ordain gays, lesbians 
and celibate women 

(Independent) Bishop Richard Holloway, retired bishop of 
Edinburgh and primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church, has 
publicly said that celibate women should be ordained in the 
Roman Catholic Church -- and Anglicans should endorse the 
ordination of gays and lesbians.

Holloway argued that the biblical argument against ordaining 
women has been removed. "If you go against the express word of 
Scripture in order to do justice to women, you have already 
broken down the walls that protect the unchanging authority of 
Church and Bible," he wrote in a Scottish newspaper. 

"You have tacitly admitted that many of the church's 
traditional attitudes are obsolete," he added. "Having swallowed 
the camel of female emancipation, it should not be too difficult 
for the church to take the next gulp and swallow the gnat of 
justice for homosexuals as well. This is why the evangelical 
tendency is so afraid of the advent" of Rowan Williams as the 
new archbishop of Canterbury.

Holloway called Williams "probably the most gifted religious 
leader there has been in Britain for centuries" and said that he 
has liberal views on homosexuality but has agreed to maintain 
the church's traditional practices in his new office.

The Roman Catholics can circumvent the thorny issue of gay 
clergy, according to Holloway. "By allowing its clergy to marry 
it would end up as bourgeois an institution as the Protestant 
churches," he said. "The Holy Father could solve both the sexual 
and manpower crisis of the Catholic Church by ordaining celibate 
women. One of the greatest strengths of the Catholic Church is 
the quality of its religious sisters. They make splendid pastors 
and seem to find sexual abstinence easier to cope with than 
their male counterparts." 

Holloway concluded that "maintaining a celibate priesthood 
would outflank the gay and lesbian issue and solve the grave 
shortage of priests."

Dutch theologians urging Protestants to share Eucharist with 

(ENI) In the face of an increasing disregard by Dutch Roman 
Catholics and Protestants of rules against inter-communion, a 
group of Dutch theologians is urging Protestants to renounce 
their historic condemnation of the Catholic Eucharist in hopes 
that the action might spur a response from Roman Catholics.

Dutch Catholics are officially forbidden from taking Holy 
Communion in Protestant churches and the Vatican rules also 
forbid Protestants from receiving in Roman Catholic churches but 
the rules on both sides are routinely ignored.

One of the most celebrated instances of inter-communion was 
when Dutch Prince Maurits, a Protestant, married a Catholic in 
1998 and during the televised service a number of Protestants -- 
including Queen Beatrix's mother Juliana -- took communion from 
a Catholic priest.

Although in practice the Protestant churches are relaxed 
about inter-communion, the theologians argue that a formal 
declaration would have great symbolic value -- especially since 
the Heidelberg Catechism of 1562, one of the best known Reformed 
confessions of faith, describes the Catholic Eucharist as 
"idolatry to be condemned."

In a lecture earlier this year, Roman Catholic Cardinal 
Adrianus Simonis of Utrecht referred to inter-communion as "one 
of the greatest sources of pain" in ecumenical relations in the 
Netherlands. In a letter to the joint synod of the Protestant 
churches, the theologians said that the official recognition of 
the Catholic Eucharist would be an "important ecumenical step 

Powell urges ambassadors to make AIDS a policy priority

(ENS) During a reception on December's World AIDS Day, 
Secretary of State Colin Powell urged ambassadors from 86 
nations to promote awareness and to make combating the disease a 
worldwide priority.

"In the global fight against AIDS every nation, large or 
small, developed or developing, must be a leader," he said. "I 
have made this a priority for every one of our ambassadors 
overseas," he added. "In the fight against AIDS, each of your 
countries will find a strong and willing partner in the United 
States of America."

The Bush administration has pledged $1.3 billion this fiscal 
year for international AIDS efforts. The United Nations recently 
issued a report that the disease will kill 3.1 million people 
this year and, for the first time, half of the 39 million adults 
living with AIDS or the virus that causes it are women.

Powell said that the U.S. is the largest single contributor 
to the global fund to combat AIDS, pledging $500 million over 
the next two years. But the United Nations said that a "full 
prevention package" of programs costing over $10 billion was 
needed within the next three years to stem the spread of the 

Thomas Hart, director of the Episcopal Church's Office for 
Government Relations in Washington, DC, said that the Bush 
administration should shore more political leadership on 
combating AIDS. "What this administration needs is a plan to 
address the pandemic globally and to provide the sort of 
political leadership they have been able to show on other 
issues," he said. 

Hart said that it is misleading for the administration to 
claim that the U.S. has donated more to the effort than other 
countries because it has so much more money to contribute. "It's 
a little like me and Bill Gates walking by a homeless guy and I 
give $10 and he gives $20," Hart said. Gates, the founder of 
Microsoft, has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to 
AIDS efforts and recently pledged $100 million to prevention 
efforts in India.

Indian Christians pay tribute to pioneering Irish 

(ENI) Christians in the Indian state of Gujarat have paid 
tribute to India's first Irish Protestant missionaries at the 
place where they started their work over 160 years ago.

"The church here is a child of the Irish missionaries," said 
Bishop Vinod Kumar Malaviya of the Church of North India at the 
November 28 ceremony in Rajkot attended by nearly a thousand 
church members from the region.

James Glasgow and Alexander Kerr were sent by the 
Presbyterian Church of Ireland in 1841 and were soon followed by 
another 55 missionaries who founded many schools throughout the 
state. Philip McDonagh, Ireland's ambassador to India, said that 
his presence at the celebration was "an acknowledgment of the 
strong link between the Irish Presbyterian Church and Gujarat." 
He pointed out that the decision to send the missionaries was 
one of the first decisions of the church's General Assembly 
after its founding in 1840.

Nigel Eves, the Presbyterian Church's Asia desk secretary, 
said that the church had raised 710,000 pounds sterling to 
support the relief and rehabilitation work of the Church of 
North India, a 1970 merger of Anglicans and other Protestants as 
one of four United Churches in the region. "I cannot remember 
another time when there has been such an overwhelming response," 
he said. At least 20,000 people were killed and another million 
made homeless by the earthquake, according to government 

Episcopal institutions elect new leadership

(ENS) A number of prominent institutions of the Episcopal 
Church have elected new leadership. 

The Rev. Titus Presler was recently installed as the sixth 
dean and president of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. 
Incorporating an international flavor -- Presler was born in 
India to missionary parents and is a former missionary and 
teacher in Zimbabwe -- a Festival Eucharist for the Mission of 
the Church featured five languages: Spanish, Dakota, Shona, 
Bengali and English. Bishop Mano Rumalshah, a Pakistani who is 
general secretary of the London-based United Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel, preached and Bishop Claude Paine, 
chair of the seminary's board of trustees, presided at the 
installation. (Sermon and photos are on the seminary web site at

The Rev. Jean Smith has been appointed executive director of 
Seamen's Church Institute (SCI) of New York and New Jersey, 
succeeding the Rev. Peter Larom who will become a special 
advisor. Smith becomes the first woman to lead the 169-year-old 
maritime institution. SCI provides pastoral care along 2,200 
miles of America's inland waterways, as well as training centers 
in New York, Kentucky, and Texas. It also operates a Center for 
Seafarer's Rights, internationally renowned for its legal 
advocacy work. 

Smith has been with the institute since 1990, supervising a 
seafarer's center, an international training program, and an 
innovative inland maritime ministry that stretches from 
Pittsburgh to Houston. Under Larom the institute, located in 
lower Manhattan, played a key role in supporting emergency 
workers in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the 
nearby World Trade Center. (Details on the institute web site at

The board of trustees of the Episcopal Media Center has 
elected Bishop Charles Duvall, who retired last year after 20 
years as bishop of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, to 
chair the board. Duvall established a reputation as an engaging 
storyteller, recording "Biblical Stories Retold to Tickle the 
Ear and Touch the Heart" on audiocassette. While a parish priest 
in South Carolina, he helped place media center's "One Reach 
One" on local television stations. He has also preached on "The 
Protestant Hour" radio program. "His leadership will be pivotal 
as we broaden our relationship with the whole Episcopal Church," 
said the Rev. Louis Schueddig, president and executive director 
of the media center. (For more information go to the center's 
web site at


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