From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: News Briefs
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
(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
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
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
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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