From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Wed, 19 Feb 2003 16:51:04 -0500
February 19, 2003
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Church leaders meet Blair in third NCC-led peace delegation
(NCC/ACNS) U.S. Christian leaders spent 50 minutes with British
Prime Minister Tony Blair February 18 to convey a message of
widespread opposition to war with Iraq and to explore
alternatives. The visit was the third of five meetings with
European leaders by delegations organized by the National
Council of Churches, based in New York City.
The ecumenical delegations are finding strong support among
European church leaders for the "Win Without War" approach
advocated by most major U.S. faith groups. A February 5 visit to
Berlin included a meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder. In Paris (February 10-11), the delegation met with
the French Foreign Ministry. Upcoming are visits to Moscow
(March 3-5), including a meeting with President Vladimir Putin,
and a multi-faith visit to Rome (February 25-27).
The Rev. Jim Wallis, editor and executive director of Sojourners
in Washington, DC, described the meeting with Blair as a crucial
step towards promoting "collective international efforts" when
it comes to resolving situations such as the current conflict
with Iraq. He said, "The British government is in a better
position to shape the decision, more so than any other leaders
in the world."
Bishop John Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
reiterated Wallis' remarks, saying that Blair is a key person in
resolving the issue and that they had not been able to engage in
similar conversations with the Bush administration.
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town in South Africa
reported thousands protesting on the streets. He said that "the
repercussions of war in Iraq would influence the distribution of
resources to Africa," creating an adverse affect on poverty and
the critical HIV/AIDS crisis throughout the continent.
The discussion was not only limited to Iraq. Anxieties were also
expressed about the continuing hostilities between Israel and
Palestine. Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal of the Episcopal Diocese of
Jerusalem (which includes Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) said that
the war in the Middle East is viewed as "another crusade" and
that "if we don't address the cause then it could be
catastrophic to the faithful flock throughout the entire
When asked whether the delegation would support a war if the UN
emerged with a resolution allowing disarmament by force, the
Anglican Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Price, responded, "It
is a very thorny question. What we are attempting to do is offer
as many peaceful alternatives as we can in order to avoid that
Peace still possible, says pope's envoy amid global anti-war
(ENI) A special envoy of Pope John Paul II on a mission to Iraq
left Baghdad on February 17 saying that "peace is still possible
in Iraq and for Iraq," after weekend protesters around the globe
resoundingly rejected military conflict. Cardinal Roger
Etchegaray met with President Saddam Hussein on February 15 and
then briefed the pope before a meeting between the pontiff and
UN secretary general Kofi Annan in the Vatican.
Prominent religious leaders and ordinary people of faith made
their presence known at rallies and demonstrations held around
the world to oppose a possible US-led war against Iraq. In about
600 cities around the world, and dozens in the United States,
demonstrators marched, chanted and carried banners against armed
conflict over Iraq.
In New York, Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of
Cape Town, implored the US government to give United Nations
inspectors more time to complete their search for possible Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction and chemical armaments. Speaking at
a multi-faith service prior to a rally that attracted at least
400,000 people, Tutu said a rush to war would be a grave
mistake, saying "God is weeping" at the prospect of war.
The protests began in Asia and the Pacific where Australians
turned out in the thousands for the largest protest since
anti-Vietnam War marches 30 years ago. One of the world's
biggest demonstrations was in London where crowds estimated at
between 750,000 and 2 million people took part.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined other speakers at the London
demonstration to warn that war on Iraq could trigger a long and
bloody conflict. "It is not too late to stop this war. Prime
Minister Tony Blair, please take a stand back from war," he
said, referring to Blair's support for possible military action
In Glasgow, thousands gathered for a rally supported by the
Church of Scotland just hours after Blair had addressed a
conference of the governing Labor Party in Scotland's largest
city, telling delegates he wanted to use the United Nations to
resolve the situation in Iraq. "The moral case against war has a
moral answer: it is the moral case for removing Saddam," said
Blair. "Ridding the world of Saddam would be an act of humanity.
It is leaving him there that is in truth inhumane."
In Italy, where crowds estimated at between 600,000 and 2
million demonstrated in Rome against war with Iraq, Tariq Aziz,
Iraq's deputy prime minister, took part in a silent vigil at the
tomb of St. Francis of Assisi after a meeting the preceding day
with the pope. Speaking to journalists, the Vatican
spokesperson, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said the Holy See had told
Aziz, a Chaledean Christian, of the need for Iraq "to respect
faithfully, with concrete commitments, the resolutions of the
United Nations Security Council."
Church activists welcome US Navy plan to leave Vieques
(ENI) The announced departure of a US Navy military base from
the small Puerto Rican island of Vieques has been hailed by
church leaders and others who have for years protested against
the base's bombing range. "Thanks to the religious leaders who
knew how to be authentic pastors walking with their people and
defending their people, David has once again overcome Goliath,"
said the Rev. German Acevedo-Delgado, a United Methodist
The US Navy began its last training operations on Vieques at the
beginning of February, and has promised to leave by May 1,
having used the eastern third of the Caribbean island for
military maneuvers since 1947. The navy, which is moving its
maneuvers to Florida and other areas on the US mainland, has
said it will turn the Vieques base over to the US Department of
the Interior for use as a wildlife refuge.
A widespread coalition of Puerto Ricans from all walks of life,
including church ministers, nuns, bishops and the general
secretary of the Puerto Rican Bible Society, as well as US
Congressmen, had steadfastly opposed the naval base on the
37-kilometer-long island, which has a population of about 9,000.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken part in
demonstrations against the base, and about 1500 have been
arrested in the past four years. Protesters often occupied the
bombing beaches until US marshals and troops dragged them off.
On one occasion, an ecumenical chapel was built on the bombing
range, only to be torn down when military forces retook the
Residents of the island, part of the United States Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico, are worried the navy is leaving them to deal
with an environmental mess, and have demanded that the US
government clean up any toxic remnants of military exercises.
Decades of bombing have left islanders with elevated cancer
rates, say the residents, who are concerned that the military's
legacy of depleted uranium shells and heavy metals will leave
them suffering for years. A Pentagon report has confirmed that
the navy also tested chemical weapons simulants on the island in
the 1960s, news agencies reported on Wednesday.
After six decades of vicious feuds with the navy, Vieques
residents are skeptical about the military's exit. "We do not
trust the navy or the federal government, so we will be
steadfast in our struggle, attentive to any plan to continue
using and abusing Vieques," said Nilda Medina, spokesperson for
the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, which
has been campaigning against the military exercises.
World Council of Churches, IMF and World Bank discuss
(ENI) The World Council of Churches (WCC), noted in the past for
its criticism of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
World Bank, invited officials of the two institutions to its
Geneva headquarters to start a discussion on development
"For both sides it was not self-evident to begin a dialogue,"
said WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser in a message read on
his behalf February 13 at the opening of a two-day seminar
between representatives of the WCC, the IMF and the World Bank.
"The World Council of Churches has been known for having
articulated critical views of the international financial system
and the policies pursued by the two leading international
institutions," said Raiser.
The seminar was intended to be the first in a series to discuss
fundamental matters concerning development and may lead to a
meeting between leaders of the three organizations. One of the
main objectives, said the WCC in a statement, was to enable
participants to review the role their institutions have played
in shaping the world's economy and improving the lives of people
in poor countries. It dealt with issues such as the creation of
wealth, social justice and the privatization of public goods,
with special emphasis on the subject of drinking water.
Encounters between the three bodies are expected to question the
consequences of the dominant economic system in the world today,
while enabling the WCC to have a clearer understanding of
development practice as seen by the World Bank and the IMF,
noted Rogate Mshana, who coordinates the WCC economic justice
program. The next seminar of the three groups is expected
towards the end of the year in Washington.
Raiser said in 2000 that the WCC was "hesitant" about
participating in an initiative launched by the World Bank to
promote dialogue with religious communities, explaining that he
was concerned such dialogue might legitimize World Bank
policies, although he did "not necessarily think that this is an
explicit intention" on the part of the bank.
Row erupts as Zimbabwe church official censures pro-Mugabe
(ENI) The Anglican bishop of Harare, Norbert Kunonga, is facing
increasing public confrontation with church leaders over his
controversial support for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
A long-simmering row burst into the open again February 16 when
prominent lawyer and Anglican chancellor of the Harare diocese,
Bob Stumbles, publicly accused Kunonga of acting "contrary to
the laws of the church" and of falsely accusing members of his
congregation of plotting his assassination.
In a 20-page letter to Kunonga made public, Stumbles enumerated
a long list of complaints against the bishop. Among them was the
banning of Harare Cathedral's Shona choir and Kunonga's court
action against 12 Anglican councilors and two churchwardens who
had, said Stumbles, "been elected legitimately."
"This is contrary to the laws of the church," wrote Stumbles,
adding, "Enquiries reveal that the diocesan board gave no
permission to you to institute these proceedings."
Kunonga, who is close to Mugabe, is condoning the violent
seizure of white-owned farms by supporters of Mugabe's Zanu-PF
political party. He is banned from travel in the United States
under sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his closest associates.
Stumbles said in his letter that the bishop last year told
police that some members of the Harare congregation were
"plotting his assassination." The church chancellor also
complained that Kunonga had removed "colonial relics" from the
Anglican cathedral, apparently without seeking the church's
permission. Kunonga had also refused to recognize the elections
of churchwardens, an issue that had erupted late last year. "I
must strongly register my protest in this connection," said
Stumbles. "You are now saying in effect that you refuse to
accept what was carried out in accordance with the laws and you
will not comply with them."
Kunonga had also appointed the former dean of the Harare
diocese, Godfrey Tawonezvi, as bishop of Masvingo in southeast
of Zimbabwe, even though Anglican authorities had twice passed
votes of no confidence in him.
Canadian Anglican dioceses approve agreement on residential
(Anglican Church of Canada) All 30 dioceses of the Anglican
Church of Canada unanimously have now ratified an agreement with
the government that caps the church's liability in litigation
over its operation of residential schools for indigenous youth
at $25 million (Canadian).
The terms of the agreement require the dioceses to contribute to
the settlement fund it creates. The church announced the
creation of a separate corporation, called the Anglican Church
of Canada Resolution Corp., that will administer the settlement
fund. Under the agreement, 30 percent of compensation will be
paid from the fund to former residential school students who
have proven claims of sexual or physical abuse. The remaining 70
percent will be paid by the government.
If compensation for the claims exceeds the $25 million the
government will pay the rest and, if the awards fall short of
that amount, the money will be returned to the dioceses. The
dioceses made individual decisions on how they would find the
money to contribute their share to the settlement fund.
In the Diocese of Toronto, for example, Archbishop Terry Finlay
asked each church member to contribute $100 in an effort to
raise a total of $5 million (Canadian). Anglicans in Alberta
will sell a church residence to raise money. Other dioceses
dipped into reserves or decided to mount campaigns to cover both
contributions and to fund local projects.
The agreement was intended to move litigation out of the courts
and into a form of alternate dispute resolution. Thousands of
lawsuits have been stressing the legal system and costing a
great deal of money, threatening to bankrupt the General Synod.
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, general secretary of General Synod and
chief negotiator with the government, said that he was "very
pleased with the way dioceses have responded so quickly and so
positively to the agreement. It shows the strength of the
Anglican family in Canada." He said that the formal documents
will now be sent to dioceses for signatures and that national
church leaders and government officials could sign the agreement
by March 11.
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