Scandal, Still More…

Why is it when the words ‘scandal’ and ‘Anglican’ pop-up together in the news, you can be sure it’s your regular customers? (And don’t blame me, I don’t make the news.)

Membership in the Episcopal Church continues to slide amidst wrangling over gay bishops, women bishops, and purse-string scandals, the most recent debacle erupting in the high desert sands of New Mexico.

In Albuquerque the Cathedral Church of St. John was seen headed toward eventual bankruptcy as its members deserted to other less-ornate, smaller Episcopal churches. Then the cathedral accountant sounded an alarm. In effect, he accused the church leadership of complacency in the sloppy way the cathedral was run. Immediately the area’s bishop rushed to quash the bad mouthing with an apparent cover-up.

Membership had spiraled down, a decline proportionately similar to the national loss in recent decades. A 2010 national headcount revealed 1,951,907 defectors from what had been 3.6 million members, church records show. Membership in 2011 held at 2,006,343, down 2.48 percent, according to the National Council of Churches.

According to disciplinary records of both faiths, bishops for both the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches in the United States do have a record of covering up scandals, at least temporarily. Of reported cases, Catholic bishops tend to hide sexual abuse. Episcopal bishops tend to offer a mixed bag, according to published cases.

This most recent attempt to hide wrong doing has come with the muted ferocity of a mountain thunderstorm in the peaceful valley of the Rio Grande, where the largest wildfires in New Mexico history have roared practically unabated for months.

Under a blanket of smoke and ashes, Bishop Michael L. Vono has spent months digging into allegations that the dean of his territorial cathedral misused Sunday collection money from parishioners for his personal enjoyment, including lots of expensive wine, which he was accused of imbibing to the extreme…

You can read more about this here. And then a little further on (and closer home):

… The back and forth of wrong-doing charges emerged in the midst of the on-going worldwide conflict among Episcopalians about gays, women bishops, and same-sex marriage. About 400,000 former parishioners have split to what’s called the Traditional Anglican Communion formed in 1991. Reuters reports only about 2,500 members in the United States; the rest are in India and African nations. But all is not peaceful on that front either, according to London-based The Guardian.

The former Archbishop of that same Traditional Anglican Communion, John Hepworth has been served papers alleging that he misappropriated church funds while he was the Archbishop in Australia. Hepworth had sought, in vain, acceptance into the Roman Catholic Church via the Pope’s invitation. Hepworth had applied for and been rejected for the Pope’s open offer to traditionalist Anglicans. At one time Hepworth had claimed that he had been raped by three Roman Catholic priests four decades ago. The accusation apparently didn’t sit well in Rome.

The Pope has not been “hands off” all traditionalist Anglicans, however, according to The Guardian. In addition to setting up ex-bishop Steenson in the United States to recruit disaffected Episcopalians, the Pope has, according to The Guardian, donated $250,000 to a similar effort in Great Britain. But that effort so far has yielded only 1,200 members, including 60 priests. The Guardian speculated that number may change when the Church of England welcomes women bishops. In the United States, the head of the Episcopal Church is a woman, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. She’s on record as not wanting to discuss membership numbers; “I don’t play the numbers game,” she has said.

Meanwhile, quiet negotiations continue between the disaffected traditionalist Anglicans and the gay and women bishops supporters in the church, seeking a compromise…

On that sad note, it’s 23:39 so I’m off to bed… Do feel free to comment while I enjoy that naturally recurring state of suspended consciousness and inactivity, far far removed from all the confabulation.



Kenyan Churches Hit by Deadly Grenade Attacks

It seems as if these attacks happen now every Sunday, somwhere in Africa:

Ten people have been killed and 40 wounded in simultaneous attacks on two churches in north-eastern Kenya near the Somali border, according to a police official.

Police commander Philip Ndolo said gunmen threw grenades during the attacks on Sunday.

The bloodiest attack was on the African Inland church in Garissa, a town 120 miles west of the Somali border. Attackers threw two grenades inside the church, one of which exploded, Ndolo said.

As the congregation attempted to escape, the gunmen opened fire. Ten people were killed, including two police officers guarding the church, and about 37 wounded.  Militants from Somalia were immediately suspected.

At a second Catholic church in Garissa another grenade was thrown, wounding three people.

Garissa is one of two major towns near the Somali border. It lies to the west of the Dadaab refugee camp, which houses nearly 500,000 Somali refugees.

On Friday armed attackers kidnapped four international aid workers with the Norwegian Refugee Council and are believed to have taken them to Somalia.

Northern and eastern Kenya have suffered a series of attacks over the past year. Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October to hunt al-Shabaab fighters. The militants, who are allied with al-Qaida, have threatened repeatedly to carry out revenge attacks for the invasion.



Revd Dr Geoffrey Kirk Joins the Ordinariate

More intellectual heavyweights on their way:

To which Fr Ed Tomlinson says on his blog: Welcome Fr. Kirk!

I was delighted to hear that Father Geoffrey Kirk, during a special farewell service at the church of St. Stephen’s in Lewisham (which he has served for many years) announced his intention to join the Catholic Church and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Fr. Kirk was a leading light of the Anglo- Catholic movement over many years, offering a powerful intellect and sparkling sense of humour. He will be a great asset to the Catholic church.

UPDATE:   Former National Secretary of Forward in Faith Received into the Catholic Church here.



The Ordinariate in California

Writes (Fr) Andrew Bartus:

I ask your prayers for Tuesday, July 3, as thirty-six members composing the entirety of the new Ordinariate community of St. Augustine of Canterbury in Oceanside, California, and twelve members (with two more intending to be confirmed as soon as possible later on), a part of Bl. John’s, Orange County, will be received into full communion and confirmed Catholics! Please pray for these fifty people and their families as they become the first members of the Ordinariate here in California!

(Fr. George Ortiz-Guzman during a Maundy Thursday service.)

Please also pray for George Ortiz-Guzman, who is the administrator of St. Augustine’s, and for William Ledbetter, who are in the ordination process, and being received on the third also…

Take note also:

… At this same service, I will also be ordained a priest, Deo volente, to serve the new community of Bl. John’s. To say that building a parish from scratch in Orange County, and rebuilding a parish in San Diego County, are monumental understakings, is just hardly accurately describing this scenario! But we are composed of very dedicated and faithful people who are putting their all into seeing this happen. And everyone knows that the purpose of this endeavor is the salvation of souls, and the unique way in which the Ordinariate can help faciliate this.

If you live in California and can schedule some time away from work on Tuesday at 11:00am, please join us at the Mission Basilica.

Bishop Brown of Orange, Bishop Flores of San Diego, and Msgr. Steenson of the Ordinariate will be present for this momentous occasion.