From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Mon, 3 Feb 2003 14:06:19 -0500

February 3, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

TV spot features Methodist bishop questioning war on Iraq

(UMNS) United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, appearing in a 
30-second commercial for cable television, asserts that an 
attack on Iraq "violates God's law."

As the ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of 
Bishops, Talbert's remarks questioning Iraq's war policies are 
aimed at U.S. policymakers. The commercial is expected to air on 
CNN and Fox cable news in New York and Washington and during 
CNN's "Larry King Live" program. Talbert appears with actress 
and political activist Janeane Garafalo.

The bishop says there is no need for an attack on Iraq and that 
the United States has no authority to remove dictator Saddam 
Hussein from power. "No nation under God has that right," 
Talbert says. "It violates international law. It violates God's 
law and the teachings of Jesus Christ."

Sponsored by the National Council of Churches, the commercial is 
one in a series developed by a group of religious and civic 
groups questioning the need for war. "Iraq hasn't wronged us. 
War will only create more terrorists," Talbert said. The bishop 
has a long history of advocacy for peace and the innocent 
victims of war. He visited Iraq in 1991, before the Persian Gulf 
War, and more recently participated in an ecumenical peace 
mission there. On that December 29-January 3 trip, he witnessed 
the impact that years of sanctions have had on Iraq's citizens.

"I don't see that small nation as being the kind of threat to 
our nation that the media portrays," he said. "War will result 
in the suffering of masses of children, among others. And what 
will happen to the rest of the Arab world? Waging war will 
remove the influence of the more moderate element and put the 
future in the hands of the more radical elements."

Further, he says, the Arab world will associate U.S. military 
action with Christianity in general, undermining ecumenical 
efforts like the peace mission, coordinated by the National 
Council of Churches and hosted by the Middle East Council of 

US religious leaders want to meet Bush face-to-face to warn 
about war 

(ENI) Forty-six US religious leaders have urged caution about a 
US war with Iraq and are seeking a face-to-face meeting with 
President George W. Bush to press their case.

"War is not only--or even primarily--a military matter," the 
Protestant and Orthodox leaders said in a January 30 letter to 
the president, who in recent weeks has argued that there may be 
a need for war with Iraq if its leader, Saddam Hussein, refuses 
to fully disarm his country. "It is a moral and ethical matter 
of the highest order," said the signatories, who came from 11 
denominations and four organizations.

Acknowledging their activities "to slow the rush to war and our 
continuing uneasiness about the moral justification for war on 
Iraq," the leaders said they wanted, "with the utmost urgency," 
to meet with Bush, a member of the United Methodist Church, and 
to have a "pastoral opportunity" to bring their message to him 
in person. The leaders said they were seeking "a way toward 
peace that is both prophetic and practical."

In their letter, the leaders said they were in touch with their 
counterparts "in Europe and elsewhere around the globe." 
Christian leaders from all over the world in recent months have 
warned against war with Iraq.

The letter, circulated by Robert Edgar, general secretary of the 
National Council of Churches who is a former US Democratic 
congressman, is one of a series of public pronouncements in 
recent weeks by mainstream Protestant leaders urging a cautious 
approach toward Iraq.

Edgar returned from a visit to Iraq after Christmas and urged 
Bush "to slow this rush to war." The US administration had not 
yet made the case for war with Iraq, Edgar said then. In 
announcing the current letter, Edgar said he and other church 
leaders have "become all the more alarmed as US military 
activity keeps escalating." He said: "We want to meet with the 
president before he decides to go to war with Iraq."

Besides Edgar, signatories to the letter included Clifton 
Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA); 
Richard Hamm, president of the Christian Church (Disciples of 
Christ); Archbishop Dimitrios, the primate of the Greek Orthodox 
Archdiocese of America; and Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop 
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). 

Welsh Anglican Bishops issue statement on Iraq

(ACNS) The bishops of the Church in Wales, along with the 
bishop-elect of Monmouth, submitted a statement to the British 
House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on January 31, 
in which they argue that the justifications suggested so far by 
the US and UK administrations in support of war against Iraq 
remain 'far from convincing.' A copy was also sent to Prime 
Minister Tony Blair ahead of his meeting with President George 
W. Bush.

In their statement, the bishops emphasize that, despite the 
report of chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to the United 
Nations, they are still not convinced that "there is sufficient 
evidence of Iraqi intent, or threat to use whatever weapons of 
mass destruction (WMD) it has in its possession. Until such 
evidence is produced, we have to oppose the idea of such a war. 
In Christian terms the moral case for a just war are very strict 

The principles of a just war are:

- There must be a just cause

- The use of force is the only way left of effecting change

- There must be a properly constituted authority to pursue the 

- There must be a clear and achievable goal

- The amount of force used must be no more than is strictly 

- Reconciliation and the establishing of a just peace must be 
the ultimate end of the conflict and not conquest and 

The bishops continued, "Even if possession and intent could be 
proved, there would still be issues to address from within these 
criteria, not least how pre-emption can be proportionate. 
Despite the claims of smart technology for limiting civilian 
casualties, we are concerned that the loss of innocent life in 
Iraq would be excessive. If 'regime change' is a war aim as well 
as the destruction of WMD capacity, this 'collateral' damage is 
likely to be particularly severe.

"We urge members of the British Government and the American 
administration, along with other members of the Security 
Council, to draw back now at the last minute from military 
intervention, unless and until substantial new evidence of 
intent as well as possession is available or it can be shown 
that such a war would improve regional and international 
security rather than undermine it, particularly with the risk of 
more terrorism."

Third Gray to be recognized as bishop of Mississippi

(ENS) The Rt. Rev. Alfred Clark Marble Jr., eighth Bishop of the 
Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, will pass his crozier to the 
Rt. Rev. Duncan Montgomery Gray III during a service of 
recognition and investiture at the conclusion of the 176th 
Annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, Sunday, 
February 9, 2003. Gray assumes his duties as the third 
generation in his family to lead the Episcopal church in 
Mississippi. While other dioceses of the Episcopal Church have 
seen father-son successions in the lines of the episcopate, no 
other diocese can claim such a unique group of clergymen. 

Gray III succeeds Marble, who has served as diocesan since 1993. 
Marble succeeded Duncan M. Gray Jr., who served as diocesan from 
1974 until 1993. Gray Jr., succeeded John Maury Allin, who was 
elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in 1973. Allin 
succeeded Duncan M. Gray, who served as bishop from 1943 until 

All three Bishops Gray have deep ties to Mississippi. Gray Jr., 
Gray III, and Gray Sr.'s father-in-law, the Rev. Edward McCrady, 
all served St. Peter's, Oxford. The Duncan M. Gray Camp and 
Conference Center (popularly known as Camp Bratton-Green and 
simply, "Gray Center") flourished under their leadership. 

And all three Bishops Gray have worked in the diocese towards 
racial reconciliation. "God made us for these times and God made 
these times for us," were the words of Gray Sr. at the 135th 
Annual Council in January, 1962. Shortly thereafter, Gray Jr., 
then rector of St. Peter's, Oxford, lived out these words as he 
and his chaplain, the Rev. Wofford Smith, attempted to bring 
peace and reason to the riots on the campus of the University of 
Mississippi--"Ole Miss"--on September 30 of that year. Most 
recently, Gray III has worked closely with Marble and a diocesan 
task force on racial reconciliation to plan a series of 
homecomings and celebrations at the four historically black 
Episcopal churches in Mississippi. 

Royal seal of approval awaits new female bishop in Norway

(ENI) Norway's second female Lutheran bishop, a trained 
scientist, is to be consecrated on February 9 at a ceremony 
attended by Norway's King Harald V.

Laila Riksaasen Dahl will be ordained as bishop of the Diocese 
of Tunsberg, in southeastern Norway. The king is the 
constitutional head of the church, and his attendance at the 
ceremony is seen as a sign of the royal family's continuing 
support for female church leaders.

"The consecration will be a big day for the church as well as 
for the people. All the guests from far and near will show the 
general public that we are a part of a big family of churches," 
said David Gjerp, who is acting bishop of the diocese until 
Riksaasen Dahl takes over.

Scandinavia's first female bishop, Rosemarie Kohn, also from 
Norway, was consecrated in 1993. Kohn will also take part in the 
festivities to mark Riksaasen Dahl's consecration.

Today most Nordic countries have female bishops. In addition to 
Norway, Sweden has two, Denmark has one, and the Lutheran bishop 
of Greenland, a self-governing Danish territory, is also a 
woman. However, Iceland and Finland do not have women bishops.

Riksaasen Dahl was appointed to the Tunsberg diocese in 
September last year to succeed Bishop Sigurd Osberg, who retired 
in December after 12 years at the head of the diocese.

Riksaasen Dahl has served as a parish priest since 1995. She has 
university degrees in mathematics and chemistry, and has been a 
school teacher as well as a lecturer at the Norwegian Lutheran 
School of Theology.

The Church of Norway has 11 dioceses, each headed by a bishop. 
Today, about 15 per cent of the Church of Norway's pastors are 
women, but more than half of the theological students are 
female, Lutheran World Information reported. Women make up 40 
per cent of the Church of Norway's national council.  

African Church leaders share concerns on AIDS

(CAPA) More than 35 Anglican Church leaders from across Africa 
converged in Uganda last month for a crucial workshop on 
strengthening church leadership for HIV/AIDS prevention and 

The meeting, which was the first of its kind in bringing 
together representation from all Anglican provinces in Africa, 
was aimed at enhancing the capacity of church leaders to plan 
and implement effective HIV/AIDS activities in their churches 
and communities.

Among the key points of deliberation were how to remove stigma 
facing HIV-positive people, encouraging home-based care and 
reduction of HIV prevalence through behavior change.

The workshop was officially opened on January 27 by the Prime 
Minister of Uganda, Apollo Nsibambi, who underscored the 
critical role of church leadership in the fight against AIDS.

"We as governments of Africa urge you, religious leaders, to 
continue playing your traditional and divine role of caring and 
providing spiritual support to those infected and affected by 
AIDS," he said.

He also called on the church to take a proactive approach in 
advocating HIV/AIDS preventive measures.

Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo of the Church of Uganda 
commended the government for working closely with the Anglican 
Church and other faith-based organizations, saying the church 
has the benefit of a good grassroots network and a captive 

The workshop was organized by the Council of Anglican Provinces 
of Africa (CAPA) and drew resource people from Africa, America 
and Europe. All the Anglican provinces in Africa were 
represented in the workshop.

As the host nation, Uganda provided participants with a rich 
showcase for the progress it has made in addressing stigma, 
reducing HIV transmissions and promoting family based care. 

The workshop deliberated ways of realizing the vision of the 
Anglican Church in Africa, which is to see future generations 
born and living in a world free from AIDS. 


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