Protestants and Catholic Row in Germany

As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches.

A fierce row between Catholics and Protestants in Germany is the result of a misunderstanding, a German theologian has claimed.

Lutheran leaders had invited the Catholic Church to join them in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther published his 95 theses.

Luther was opposed to the sale of indulgences, to the Bible not being in the vernacular and to the Church’s doctrinal position on justification through faith – all issues which have seen significant changes over the years.

In 1999 the Catholic and Lutheran Churches issued a joint declaration on the doctrine of justification which set out “a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ”. The declaration was widely seen as important in establishing common doctrinal ground between the Churches.

But when the German Evangelical church (EKD) issued a position paper “Justification and Liberty” in May it did not explicitly mention of the declaration.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said: “I could hardly believe it. That really hurt me”.

He said the EKD should “not forget what we have already formulated together”.

Now the row has escalated. According to the Tablet, Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen, deputy chairman of the German bishops’ conference’s ecumenical commission, said earlier this month that he was “incensed and disappointed” by the position paper.

“I really cannot actually see a reason for celebrating anything together any longer,” he said, calling the position paper “destructive”. Bishop Algermissen was quoted as saying that the Catholic Church had been given “one slap in the face after the other recently”, and that “the cat has now been let out of the bag”.

Professor Volker Leppin, a member of the group which drafted the EKD paper, told The Catholic Herald that “the EKD takes the protest of Cardinal Kasper very seriously” and that “we are willing to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with our Catholic sisters and brethren”. He said the position paper “expresses exactly this. It ends with the vision of a jubilee celebrated together with Catholics. And it starts with the statement that Protestants are able to find formulations of the doctrine of justification together with the Roman Catholic Church – an evident allusion to the joint declaration on justification of 1999.”

He continued: “The criticisms of Cardinal Kasper and Bishop Algermissen, regrettable as they are, are consequences of a misunderstanding of the text, and the EKD will do all the best to clarify these irritations. The clear will of the EKD is to celebrate the reformation jubilee in a peaceful, ecumenical context.”

On Monday the Bavarian EKD Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said he was “saddened by the sharpness of the discussion.
“You rub your eyes and ask yourself: what is happening?” he wrote, adding that he hoped “the waves flatten again in this case” and that the 2017 event is celebrated ecumenically as a “great Christ festival … as Luther would have wished, in my opinion”.

 

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Israel Has A New President: Reuven Rivlin

Haaretz:

Israel's 10th president, Reuven Rivlin, center, at his swearing in ceremony.

Israel’s 10th president, Reuven Rivlin, took the oath of office in a small ceremony at the Knesset on Thursday evening, while fighting continued between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Due to the ongoing Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and the dozens of Israeli civilian and military casualties, Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein decided to limit the guard of honor and to cancel the cocktail party in the Chagall State Hall, which traditionally follows the swearing-in.

Rivlin will begin his term on Monday, but the ceremony was brought forward so it would not be held during the first days of the Hebrew month of Av, a traditional time of mourning.

The guests of honor at Thursday’s ceremony were mayors and local council heads from areas bordering the Gaza Strip. Contrary to normal protocol, they sat in the plenum hall itself, alongside Knesset members.

Knesset Members of Arab parties did not attend the ceremony. They announced that they were boycotting the official event not in protest of Rivlin personally, but of the fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and the deaths of Palestinian civilians there.

After Rivlin was sworn in, two shofars was blown…

Rest here.

 

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Iraq, militanti prendono controllo di sede governo provincia a Mosul

UCA News:

Apart from praying and lamenting, is there anything else that concerned outsiders, such as the Western churches, should be doing to help Christians and other religious minorities in northern Iraq? That is a real question, not least because Iraqi Christian leaders are in a quandary themselves.

Until a few weeks ago, Mosul and its environs remained a bastion, however depleted, of ancient Christian communities whose collective memory goes back to the faith’s earliest years. To understand the varieties of Iraqi Christian, you have to study theology. Some have roots in Nestorianism, which stressed the difference between the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. Some have their origins in the Miaphysite doctrine, holding that Christ had only one, divine nature. Within both categories, some have reconciled with the church of Rome, others haven’t.

Some (like most mainstream Christian churches) hew to the teaching laid down in 451 that Christ had both a divine nature and a human one but was a single person. All this helps to explain why a single Iraqi town can have several Christian bishops, each with his own sonorous titles. Chaldean Catholics (Christians with Nestorian roots who have been reconciled with Rome for 500 years) are the biggest group.

Exact figures about Iraqi Christianity are hard to come by. It is often asserted that about 400,000 to 500,000 Christians live in the country, down from a total before the 2003 war of perhaps 1.5m. Other observers think as few as 200,000 may be left. The majority of the remaining Christians live in the far north of the country.

Read more here.

 

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Holy Land Deserted by Tourists as Fighting Empties Hotels

From Bloomberg News: 

Omer Benjoya took a job this summer selling drinks, snacks and postcards on a hill that offers one of the most breathtaking panoramic views of Jerusalem.

Now all the 17-year-old needs are customers. Since hostilities flared this month between Israel’s army and Palestinian militants in Gaza, tourists have been scarce.

U.S. aviation regulators delivered a further blow this week, temporarily banning flights to Tel Aviv by American carriers for the first time since 1991, while their European counterparts also recommended a suspension after a rocket fired from Gaza landed about a mile from the city’s airport. The decisions came just days after a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down in Ukraine’s war zone.

“Look around, see how empty it is,” Benjoya said next to the bright red truck his employer uses as a refreshment kiosk. “Normally, there’d be one or two hundred people standing here,” he said, gesturing to the near-empty stone-paved promenade that overlooks the walls of the Old City, the Dome of the Rock and the Mount of Olives.

While Jerusalem is calm, fighting that has left hundreds of Palestinian and more than two dozen Israeli families grieving their dead is threatening the livelihoods of many more. Almost a third of foreign visitors expected in Israel in July have canceled, according to a top trade association. An industry that welcomed a record 3.5 million overseas visitors last year is facing substantial damage.

Read on here.

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400-Year-Old Crucifix Found

By a Canadian student:

It is tiny in size — measuring only 1.1 inches in width — and its top is broken, but a 400- year-old copper crucifix found at Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula earlier in July has big historical significance, according to historians. It symbolizes an early dream of religious freedom in North America.

The artifact is clearly a Catholic item, featuring a simple representation of Christ on the front and the Virgin Mary and Christ Child on the back. Yet it was found in a predominantly English settlement.

Back in England, its owner would could be fined, imprisoned or put to death for practicing Catholic faith, according to Barry Gaulton, Field Director of the Colony of Avalon and Associate Professor of Archaeology at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

“The Catholic iconography is unmistakable. As with all archaeological discoveries, the context in which the artifact was found tells us its story,” Gaulton said in a release.

The story the crucifix tells is that of the dream of the Newfoundland’s settler, Sir George Calvert. Calvert was an English lord who helped settle the colony around 1628. His vision was to create a community where all Christians could enjoy freedom of religion without fear of persecution. He was one of the early pioneers of religious freedom in North America.

Just the presence of the Catholic crucifix reveals that Calvert’s vision had started to take shape. The small cross was found by Anna Sparrow, an undergraduate student at Memorial University in St. John’s.

As for who the crucifix belonged to, the archaeologists are not sure. They say it could have belonged to one of the craftsmen working on Calvert’s house, or the colony’s second governor, the Catholic gentleman Sir Arthur Aston, or even George Calvert himself.

An archaeologist’s job can be painstaking, tedious work, involving careful excavation, delicate sifting and gentle brushing. For Sparrow, the thrill of finding such a significant artifact, made all the hard work worthwhile.

As she said in a press release, “There is so much time, effort and patience involved in excavation, that to find something with such historical significance is incredible.”

 

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Israel Opens Airport in Negev as Alternative to Ben-Gurion

Ovda, a military airfield, has opened after the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency temporarily canceled all flights to Israel due to a Hamas rocket attack on Tuesday.

Haaretz is reporting:

Ben-Gurion flight cancellations

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced on Wednesday that Israel would be opening the Ovda Airport as an alternative to Ben-Gurion Airport. In practical terms, this means that foreign airlines that wish to land there instead of at Ben-Gurion Airport will be able to do so. No airline that operates at Ben-Gurion Airport has given its approval or agreement to move its flights to Ovda Airport as yet.

A military airfield, Ovda Airport also serves civilian flights whose passengers are bound for Eilat. Although the airfield is open, if it is to be used for civilian purposes, more civilian flight controllers need to be added to the control tower, as well as emergency firefighting and rescue crews, which are required for civilian airports. These crews are usually brought in from Eilat in accordance with ongoing need.

Ovda Airport’s ability to take in civilian flights is limited, and it is usually not prepared for landings of wide-body aircraft. The new airport in Timna, which is to be opened in 2016, will replace both Ovda Airport and the airport in Eilat.

Starting today, Minister Katz will increase the staff at the airport on an ongoing basis for however long the airport should require Airports Authority personnel, and also increase the number of firefighting and rescue crews there.

According to the plan, passengers who land at Ovda will be taken to the center of the country by bus, though this matter has not been settled yet.

Rest here.

 

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Atheism Gets Its Own TV Channel in the USA

For the godless.

 

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Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible

We spoke about Study Bibles yesterday, and here is yet another one for the Reformed (Anglican?) folk coming out this year: Reformation Heritage KJV (King James Version) Study.



The sampler is here. The notes – as would be expected – seem to be copious.

It should be ready in Fall, which for the rest of us (i.e. those who are not American or Canadian) means Autumn; and if, like me, you reside in the Southern Hemisphere, it means that it’ll be out in the Spring.

 

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Ten Tips for a Better Confession

Ten Tips for a Better Confession.

shutterstock_72284989

 

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Pope Francis Prays for Success of Initiative to Convert Anglicans

The above heading caught my attention on the inimitable Fr Z’s blog:

In the wake of the decision of the State tethered Church of England to have wyshyps (female bishops), the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham set up a “Exploration Day”.

You know that the Ordinariate was created according to the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, for Anglicans who want to be Catholic and want to retain their customs, liturgy, etc.

Benedict XVI is, of course, the Pope of Christian Unity.

Anglicans have a true home in the Catholic Church.

I just read this press release from the Ordinariate:

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE PERSONAL ORDINARIATE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27.07.2014

Pope Francis Prays For Success of Ordinariate’s Exploration Day

Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham’s forthcoming “Called To Be One” exploration day, which it has planned with the aim of increasing understanding of the Ordinariate’s purpose and reaching out to those who may feel called to join it.

The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate.

The full text of Archbishop Mennini’s letter reads as follows:

“At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that  the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled “Called to be One”, organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain”.

The Nuncio ends with his own prayerful good wishes for a very successful day.

Pope Francis’ blessing on the exploration day and Archbishop Mennini’s words of support for it follow a statement of welcome for the initiative from Cardinal Vincent Nichols. In his capacity as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Cardinal said: “the Ordinariate both enriches the Catholic Church with Catholic aspects of the beautiful heritage and culture of Anglican patrimony and advances the cause of unity which must be the ultimate aim of all ecumenical activity… I wish you every success with this initiative. I hope it will attract many interested enquirers”.

Last week Mgr Newton warmly invited all those who are interested in the Ordinariate to attend the exploration day “whether because they are considering their future or just because they would like to see more of what we are and what we do” . Mgr Newton’s invitation came in his response to the Church of England General Synod’s decision to allow women to be ordained as bishops. In the same statement Mgr Newton said that, though that decision was a very happy one for many within the Church of England, it made the position undeniably harder for those within the Anglican Church who still longed for unity with Rome.

The Ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict in 2011 to make it possible for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church to do so, bringing with them much of the heritage and traditions of Anglicanism. Pope Benedict described these as “treasures to be shared”. On the exploration day, each of the 40 or so Ordinariate groups across the country will host a different event, with the common theme of the vision for Christian unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate.

I am glad to hear of Pope Francis’ prayers for the success of this initiative to help Anglicans come into the Catholic Church.

As Benedict, so Francis.

There is also a comment (with a link) which will be of interest to readers of this blog on the status of the Church of Torres Strait here.

 

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