Church

Largest Church Denominations in the World

Bible Press, out today:

Catholicism – 1.2 billion

  • Roman Catholic Church – 1,147 million[1]
    • Roman Catholic Church (Latin Rite) – 1,125.5 million
    • Eastern Catholic Churches (Eastern Rite) – 21.5 million
      • Alexandrian
        • Ethiopian Catholic Church – 0.21 million
        • Coptic Catholic Church – 0.17 million
      • Antiochian (Antiochene or West Syrian)
        • Maronite Catholic Church – 3.1 million
        • Syro-Malankara Catholic Church – 0.5 million
        • Syriac Catholic Church – 0.17 million
      • Armenian
        • Armenian Catholic Church – 0.54 million
      • Chaldean (Eastern Syrian)
        • Syro-Malabar Catholic Church – 4.0 million
        • Chaldean Catholic Church – 0.65 million
      • Byzantine (Constantinopolitan)
        • Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – 4.3 million
        • Melkite Greek Catholic Church – 1.6 million
        • Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic – 0.8 million
        • Ruthenian Catholic Church – 0.65 million
        • Slovak Greek Catholic Church – 0.37 million
        • Hungarian Greek Catholic Church – 0.27 million
        • Italo-Greek Catholic Church – 0.07 million
        • Croatian Greek Catholic Church – 0.06 million
        • Belarusian Greek Catholic Church – 0.01 million
        • Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church – 0.01 million
        • Georgian Byzantine Catholic Church – 0.01 million[2]
        • Macedonian Greek Catholic Church – 0.01 million
        • Albanian Greek-Catholic Church – 0.01 million
        • Greek Byzantine Catholic Church – 0.01 million
        • Russian Catholic Church – 0.01 million
  • Breakaway Catholic Churches – 28 million
    • Apostolic Catholic Church – 5 million
    • Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association – 4 million[3]
    • Philippine Independent Church – 3 million
    • Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church – 1 million
    • Old Catholic Church – 0.6 million
    • Mariavite Church – 0.03 million

Protestantism – 670 million

  • Historical Protestantism – 350 million
    • Baptist churches – 105 million[4]
      • Southern Baptist Convention – 16.3 million[5]
      • National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. – 7.5 million[6]
      • National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. – 5 million[7]
      • Nigerian Baptist Convention – 3 million[8]
      • Progressive National Baptist Convention – 2.5 million[9]
      • American Baptist Churches USA – 1.4 million
      • Brazilian Baptist Convention – 1.4 million
      • Baptist Bible Fellowship International – 1.2 million[10]
      • Myanmar Baptist Convention – 1.1 million[11]
      • Baptist Community of the Congo River – 1 million[11]
      • National Baptist Convention, Brazil – 1 million
      • National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. – 1 million[10]
      • National Missionary Baptist Convention of America – 1 million
      • Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Churches – 0.8 million[12]
      • Baptist Convention of Kenya – 0.7 million[11]
      • Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia – 0.6 million
    • Methodism – 75 million
      • United Methodist Church – 12 million
      • African Methodist Episcopal Church – 3 million
      • Methodist Church Nigeria – 2 million[13]
      • African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – 1.5 million
      • Church of the Nazarene – 1.8 million
      • Methodist Church of Southern Africa – 1.7 million[14]
      • Korean Methodist Church – 1.5 million[15]
      • United Methodist Church of Ivory Coast[16]
      • Christian Methodist Episcopal Church – 0.9 million
      • Methodist Church Ghana – 0.8 million[17]
      • Free Methodist Church – 0.7 million
      • Methodist Church in India – 0.6 million[18]
    • Lutheranism – 87 million[19]
      • Evangelical Church in Germany – 26.9 million[20]
      • Church of Sweden – 6.9 million
      • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – 4.8 million
      • Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus – 4.7 million
      • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania – 4.6 million[21]
      • Danish National Church – 4.5 million
      • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland – 4.3 million[22]
      • Batak Christian Protestant Church – 4 million[23]
      • Church of Norway – 3.9 million
      • Malagasy Lutheran Church – 3 million
      • Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod – 2 million
      • Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria – 1.7 million[24]
      • United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India – 1.5 million[25]
      • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea – 0.9 million[26]
      • Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church – 0.8 million[27]
      • Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil – 0.7 million[28]
      • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia – 0.6 million[29]
      • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa – 0.6 million[30]
    • Reformed churches – 75 million
      • Presbyterianism – 40 million
        • Presbyterian Church of East Africa – 4 million[31]
        • Presbyterian Church of Africa – 3.4 million[32]
        • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – 3.0 million
        • United Church of Canada – 2.5 million
        • Church of Christ in Congo-Presbyterian Community of Congo – 2.5 million[33]
        • Presbyterian Church of Korea – 2.4 million[34]
        • Presbyterian Church of Cameroon – 1.8 million[35]
        • Church of Scotland – 1.1 million[36]
        • Presbyterian Church of the Sudan – 1 million[37]
        • Presbyterian Church in Cameroon – 0.7 million[38]
        • Presbyterian Church of Ghana – 0.6 million[39]
        • Presbyterian Church of Nigeria – 0.5 million[40]
        • Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa – 0.5 million[41]
      • Continental Reformed churches – 30 million
        • Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar – 3.5 million[42]
        • United Church of Zambia – 3.0 million[43]
        • Protestant Church in the Netherlands – 2.5 million[44]
        • Swiss Reformed Church – 2.4 million
        • Evangelical Church of Cameroon – 2 million[45]
        • Protestant Evangelical Church in Timor – 2 million[46]
        • Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa – 0.7 million[47]
        • United Church in Papua New Guinea – 0.6 million[48]
        • United Church of Christ in the Philippines – 0.6 million[49]
        • Protestant Church in Western Indonesia – 0.6 million[50]
        • Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua – 0.6 million[51]
        • Protestant Church in the Moluccas – 0.6 million[52]
        • Reformed Church in Hungary – 0.6 million[53]
        • Reformed Church in Romania – 0.6 million[54]
        • Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa – 0.5 million[55]
      • Congregationalism – 5 million
        • United Church of Christ – 1.2 million
        • Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola – 0.9 million[56]
        • United Congregational Church of Southern Africa – 0.5 million[57]
    • Anabaptism and Free churches – 5 million
      • Brethren – 1.5 million[58]
      • Mennonites – 1.5 million
      • Plymouth Brethren – 1 million[59]
      • Moravians – 0.7 million[60]
      • Amish – 0.2 million
      • Hutterites – 0.2 million
    • Quakers – 0.4 million
    • Waldensians – 0.05 million
  • Modern Christian movements – 588 million[61]
    • Pentecostalism – 130 million
      • Assemblies of God – 60 million
      • New Apostolic Church – 11 million
      • International Circle of Faith – 11 million[62]
      • The Pentecostal Mission – 10 million
      • Church of God (Cleveland) – 9 million
      • International Church of the Foursquare Gospel – 8 million
      • Church of God in Christ – 5.5 million
      • Apostolic Church – 6 million
      • Christian Congregation of Brazil – 2.5 million
      • Universal Church of the Kingdom of God – 2 million
      • Church of God of Prophecy – 1 million
      • God is Love Pentecostal Church – 0.8 million
      • Indian Pentecostal Church of God – NA
    • Non-denominational evangelicalism – 80 million
      • Calvary Chapel – 25 million
      • Born Again Movement – 20 million
      • Association of Vineyard Churches – 15 million
      • New Life Fellowship – 10 million[citation needed]
      • True Jesus Church – 2.5 million
      • Charismatic Episcopal Church – NA
    • African initiated churches – 40 million
      • Zion Christian Church – 15 million
      • Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim – 10 million
      • Kimbanguist Church – 5.5 million
      • Church of the Lord (Aladura) – 3.6 million[63]
      • Council of African Instituted Churches – 3 million[64]
      • Church of Christ Light of the Holy Spirit – 1.4 million[65]
      • African Church of the Holy Spirit – 0.7 million[66]
      • African Israel Niniveh Church[67]
    • Seventh-day Adventist Church – 17 million
    • Restoration Movement – 7 million
      • Churches of Christ – 5 million
      • Christian Churches and Churches of Christ – 1.1 million[10]
      • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – 0.7 million

Eastern Orthodoxy – 210 million

  • Autocephalous churches
    • Russian Orthodox Church – 125 million
    • Romanian Orthodox Church – 18 million
    • Serbian Orthodox Church – 15 million
    • Church of Greece – 11 million
    • Bulgarian Orthodox Church – 10 million
    • Georgian Orthodox Church – 5 million
    • Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople – 3.5 million
    • Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch – 2.5 million
    • Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria – 1.5 million
    • Orthodox Church in America – 1.2 million
    • Polish Orthodox Church – 1 million
    • Albanian Orthodox Church – 0.8 million
    • Cypriot Orthodox Church – 0.7 million
    • Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem – 0.14 million
    • Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church – 0.07 million
  • Autonomous churches
    • Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) – 7.2 million[68]
    • Moldovan Orthodox Church – 3.2 million
    • Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia – 1.25 million
    • Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia – 0.62 million
    • Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric – 0.34 million
    • Estonian Orthodox Church – 0.3 million
    • Patriarchal Exarchate in Western Europe – 0.15 million
    • Finnish Orthodox Church – 0.08 million
    • Chinese Orthodox Church – 0.03 million
    • Japanese Orthodox Church – 0.02 million
    • Latvian Orthodox Church – 0.02 million
  • Non-universally recognized churches
    • Ukranian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) – 5.5 million[68]
    • Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church – 2.4 million
    • Macedonian Orthodox Church – 2 million
    • Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod in Resistance) – 0.75 million
    • Old Calendar Romanian Orthodox Church – 0.50 million
    • Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church – 0.45 million
    • Croatian Orthodox Church – 0.36 million
    • Montenegrin Orthodox Church – 0.05 million
    • Orthodox Church in Italy – 0.12 million
  • Other separated Orthodox groups
    • Old Believers – 1.8 million
    • Greek Old Calendarists – 0.86 million
    • Russian True Orthodox Church – 0.85 million

Oriental Orthodoxy – 75 million

  • Autocephalous churches in communion
    • Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church – 45 million
    • Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria – 15.5 million
    • Syriac Orthodox Church – 10 million
    • Armenian Orthodox Church – 8 million
    • Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church – 2.5 million
    • Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church – 2 million[69]
    • Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia – 1.5 million
  • Autonomous churches in communion
    • Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church – 2.5 million
    • Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople – 0.42 million
    • Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem – 0.34 million
    • French Coptic Orthodox Church – 0.01 million
    • British Orthodox Church – 0.01 million
  • Churches not in communion
    • Malabar Independent Syrian Church – 0.06 million

Anglicanism – 82 million

  • Anglican Communion – 80 million[70]
    • Church of Nigeria – 18 million
    • Church of England – 13.4 million
    • Church of Uganda – 8.8 million
    • Church of South India – 3.8 million
    • Anglican Church of Australia – 3.7 million
    • Episcopal Church in the Philippines – 3.0 million
    • Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia – 2.5 million
    • Anglican Church of Tanzania – 2.5 million
    • Anglican Church of Southern Africa – 2.4 million
    • Episcopal Church of the United States – 2.2 million
    • Anglican Church of Canada – 2.0 million
    • Anglican Church of Kenya – 1.5 million
    • Church of North India – 1.3 million
    • Church of the Province of Rwanda – 1 million
    • Church of Pakistan – 0.8 million
    • Anglican Church of Burundi – 0.8 million[71]
    • Church of the Province of Central Africa – 0.6 million
    • Church of Christ in Congo-Anglican Community of Congo – 0.5 million[72]
    • Scottish Episcopal Church – 0.4 million
    • Church of Ireland – 0.4 million
  • Continuing Anglican movement – 1.5 million
    • Traditional Anglican Communion – 0.5 million
    • Anglican Church in North America – 0.1 million

Nontrinitarianism – 27 million

  • Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism) – 14 million
    • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 13.5[73]
    • Community of Christ – 0.25 million[74]
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses – 7.1 million
  • Iglesia ni Cristo – 6 million[75]
  • Oneness Pentecostalism – 6 million
    • United Pentecostal Church International – 4 million
    • Pentecostal Assemblies of the World – 1.5 million
  • Church of Christ, Scientist – 0.4 million
  • Friends of Man – 0.07 million
  • Christadelphians – 0.05 million

Nestorianism – 1 million

  • Assyrian Church of the East – 0.5 million
  • Ancient Church of the East – 0.3 million

The TAC is mentioned at 0.5 million. No Ordinariate stats yet though.

 

 

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Church

Very Rev Harry Entwistle: Coats of Arms

Church heraldist Fr Guy Selvester:

Above we see the coat of arms of the Very Rev. Harry Entwistle, recently appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia for former Anglicans who are now coming into union with the Roman Catholic Church.

These coats of arms were designed by Richard d’Apice of the Australian heraldry Society in consultation with me and rendered by Sandy Turnbull also of the Australian Heraldry Society.

The top image shows the personal arms of Fr. Entwistle which are composed of a hand grasping a fleur de lis taken from a personal crest of a family with the same name and from the same part of England and, on a red chief the cross of St. Chad because he attended St. Chad’s College in Durham for his formation. This is ensigned with a crozier as an indication of his rank as Ordinary of the jurisdiction. In fact, he will also be granted the use of pontifical insignia despite not being promoted to the rank of bishop in the Catholic Church. Just as Abbot’s also ensign their coats of arms with a veiled crozier as a sign of their jurisdiction as Ordinary of the their monastery so here we have employed the same symbol but without the sudarium (veil) attached as this is primarily a monastic symbol and would erroneously give the arms the appearance of those of an abbot. In addition, at the moment Fr. Entwistle, although empowered to exercise Ordinary jurisdiction still holds the rank of simple priest.

Following the precedent of the coats of arms of Vicars General and Episcopal in the Catholic Church who also exercise Ordinary jurisdiction but may not possess any rank higher than simple priest the arms are decorated with a black galero that has black cords and 12 tassels. As in the case of Vicars General and Episcopal who constitute a kind of “black prothonotary” by virtue of their jurisdiction the hat is black as befits a priests but has 12 tassels like other prelates. This is also the same kind of galero used by abbots as well.

The bottom image shows the arms of Fr. Entwistle impaled (i.e. joined together on one shield) with those of the Ordinariate (also designed by the same team mentioned above).

In the case of the other two Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans in the world, The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for the UK and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for the USA, the Ordinary was promoted to the rank of Prothonotary Apostolic (i.e. the highest level of prelate addressed as “Reverend Monsignor”) shortly after being named Ordinary. If this happens for Fr. Entwistle then the galero would then be purple and the cords and 12 tassels red. The motto ”Par ce signe” (in French) is a dual allusion to the Entwistle family motto and the (St. Chad’s) cross as representative of the symbol which appeared to Constantine in the sky just before the Battle of Milvian Bridge against Maxentius on 28 October 312 and “in hoc signo” from the legend.

 

Church

SSJC and the Traditional Anglican Communion: Cooperation?!

Very, very interesting… The Society of the Cross and the Traditional Anglican Communion (the emphasis mine):

From the Office of the Superior General
Lancashire, United Kingdom
23 July 2012

Dearest Faithful:

Recently I have been in warm communication with both counterparts and superiors of the Traditional Anglican Communion. It has been my stated intention never to be a party to the appearance of division in that wing of the Catholic Church which holds Christ alone as the exclusive means and Saviour of Humanity, through whom a public and genuine faith will bring salvation.

Clearly, due to our nature as a faithful religious society and no more, the 1917 Code of Canon Law prevents us from juridically establishing formal ecclesial relationships. We can nonetheless serve one another as needs may require.

However, for the good of the Body of Christ, and after much reflection, the SSJC is committed henceforth to cooperating to the utmost with the hierarchy and members of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

To borrow from the incisive summary of the realities on the ground by Vicar General for the UK, the Rev. Fr. Ian Gray, with which we entirely agree and whose motives we endorse and in action support, “We all share the very same foundation of Faith that binds us as one in Christ Jesus. I am certain that we can work together in these difficult, challenging and dangerous times. The enemy is at the gate and seeks to devour by exploiting division and dissent.”

If there are any questions, please contact my office directly.

Yours Forever in Christ

V. Rev. Gregory. Bellarmine, SSJC+
Superior General, Secundus

Now if you, like me, are wondering just what the Society of St John of the Cross is?

The Society of St. John of the Cross (SSJC) is a clerical society professing pre-Vatican II beliefs and practices, but who condemns no other traditional catholic group for their views of the changes. They are in no way associated with the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.

When Lawrence Miller was a young man, he witnessed the changes in the Church during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In turn he approached the North American Old Roman Catholic Church under Archbishop Marchenna and was later ordained to the priesthood, so he could continue with his pre-Vatican II practices while he pastored St. Michael the Archangel’s Mission.

After Archbishop Marchenna’s death, the NAORC splintered into separate jurisdictions, and shortly thereafter, Fr. Lawrence’s parish diminished. But Bishop Robert Bowman of the United Catholic Church approached Fr. Lawrence and consecrated him a Bishop on July 22, 2002 with the Costa and Old Catholic lines of apostolic succession. A lifelong dream to establish a traditional order, he later broke with the UCC and established the SSJC as a Traditional Catholic priestly fraternity.

Thus together Bishop Lawrence and the new priest repudiated their ties with the UCC and founded the Society of St. John of the Cross – with a province in Canada and the United States.

Both the young priest and Bishop Lawrence made the Oath Against Modernism as well as the Profession of Faith before the Blessed Sacrament. Additionally they posted a formal abjuration of error on the internet for all to read.

November 18, 2002, Bishop Miller publicly resigned from the Society. On this date he handed over the office of Superior General to Fr. Gregory Bellarmine, saying “With your dedication to the Tridentine Mass and the old ways of the pre-Vatican II church, you are ideally suited to be Superior General. I look forward to hearing great things concerning the Society as you take the reins.”

Since that time the SSJC has expanded to the UK and continues to concentrate on spiritual means rather than political ones to deal with the crisis of conscience for many tradition-oriented Catholics.

The SSJC are the only Traditional Catholic Society publicly to condemn the SSPX Bishop Williamson for his deplorable stance on the holocaust.

The special charism of the SSJC is a reliance on the Pre Vatican II Code of Canon Law, such that the Church requires the protection of the Jewish people.

Further:

Latin Rite Priests who are openly affiliated with the Society are listed in Fr. Morrisson’s Worldwide Latin Mass Directory. However, the majority of others are either retired or inactive due to laicization due to factors other than moral laxity…

Our position is that although the Chair of Peter is materially occupied, an unrepentant heretic is automatically suspended from his or her Office in the Church. This is true according to Canon Law, the declarations of Church Councils and a brilliant letter by one of the Holy Fathers.

We cannot disobey what isn’t there. We conclude as with others that the Vatican and its hierarchs are no longer allowed to act as though they represent the Catholic Church. They may have the buildings but we have the Faith, and thus they are outside and we still within until they repent of Assisi 1, 2 and 3 as well as a variety of local ecumenical activities that caused their “suspension a divinis.” Thus we remain in obedience to the Faith. This is why we were active during the reign of Paul II and why we chose to become inactive during the first part of the reign of Pope Benedict XVI but have restarted out ministry…

Please, someone, tell me: What is the TAC doing with this Old Roman Catholic group, when the possibility of union with the One Holy Catholic Church proper was (is) open?!

We believe that the Chair of Peter remains occupied, but that the last truly loyal Pope was Pius XII, and that the rest have departed dramatically from the Traditional faith given to Peter by Christ. Their illicity commands ought to be resisted: attendance at the new mass, teachings that non-Catholics are saved, that dogma can change etc…

Good grief!

And just let me add here, in conclusion, something that Msgr Jeffrey Steenson once said, that seems to keep coming up in my mind:

“I don’t have any interest at all in the extraordinary rite,” the Latin liturgy often referred to as the Tridentine rite, “or in any move of retrenchment against the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II is the reason I was able to become a Catholic.”

“I am extremely happy with the church as I find it,” he said.

Instead, we are now unhappily told there is cooperation with pre-Vatican II schismatics who have separated themselves from the One Holy Catholic Church? And learn of it over on their blog? Unacceptable.

UPDATE:   Fr Bellarmine writes:

Gentlemen,

Fr Bellarmine here. Permit me please to offer a response.

Correct, we in no way support the behaviours of the Vatican hierarchy, nor could we be in communion with their clergy given the multifaith Assisi events 1, 2 & 3. Christ is the only way to salvation. Full stop. And no, we cannot help build up or support any group that works against this public faith. But the TAC expresses our faith on this cornerstone belief, which many large modernist churches in practise do not.

We also are NOT in communion with ANY group but are open to all Catholics, including the TAC. What we are doing is cooperating and yes I initiated contact, because I believed that working together to build the Church locally would be better for Christendom in a hostile secular age than working apart.

So we are “traditionally-ecumenical.” This position is clearly stated on our website.

That means when we come across Anglo-Catholic faithful the TAC have graciously offered to supply sacramental services such as confirmations. The order of communication was the Rt Rev Michael Gill, after which Bishop Botterill and finally Fr. Ian Gray.

By cooperation the sense is similar to that of “Churches Together” but for the conservative Catholic, Roman, Anglo, etc

I fail to see the storm this cooperative relationship has raised? Should we not work together?

V. Rev. Gregory Bellarmine SSJC+

fregregory@latinmass.org.uk

V. Rev. Gregory Bellarmine

http://www.latinmass.org.uk

I have nothing more to say.

Bible Archaeology

Discovery at Hazor: Wheat – The Silent Witness to History

Dr Jim West:

Tweets the American Friends of Hebrew University-

Excavations led by @HebrewU‘s Prof Amnon Ben-Tor reveal 3,400-year-old clues to the reason for the destruction of Hazor.

Unfortunately they don’t link to further news so I had to go looking for it.

Traces of burnt wheat found in Israel’s Upper Galilee are evidence of the 13th-century-BCE Israelite conquest of the Promised Land, an archeologist said. …

This season, the excavation, which is being conducted under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, uncovered a storage room in the castle. In the room were 14 large clay jugs containing seeds of burnt wheat.

Professor Amnon Ben-Tur of the Hebrew University has been in charge of the Hazor excavations since 1990. In an interview with Ynet, Ben-Tur said that the jugs were destroyed around the 13th century BCE, a period, he said, which coincided with the biblical account of Joshua’s capture of Hazor. According to Chapter 11 in the Book of Joshua, Hazor was the only city in the Land of Israel that was destroyed by fire during the conquest.

Ben-Tur’s assessment regarding the destruction of Hazor is far from being a foregone conclusion in the archaeological world. Scholars are at odds as to when Hazor was destroyed and by whom. While the most widely accepted school of thought accepts the theory that Hazor was destroyed by the Israelites in or around the 13th century BCE, there are many scholars who hold that Hazor was destroyed by either the Egyptians, the Sea Peoples, or nomadic tribes that wandered the region at the time.

Ben-Tur disagreed, noting that Hazor was not included in any of the lists of Israelite cities destroyed by the Pharaohs. Furthermore, Ben-Tur holds that the Sea Peoples traditionally stayed close to the coastline, and would not have conquered a city as far inland as Hazor.

Ben-Tur said that the recent discovery at Hazor “sheds even more light on Israelite history.”

Doubtless there will be loads of discussion about this. As is right.

It felt a little weird reading this. I had an opportunity to go and excavate at Tel Hazor this year, but things never quite fell into place. But then again, there is a reason for everything, now isn’t there?

 

Church

Urbanisation and the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town

Some population dynamics in Cape Town (where I stay) via The Southern Cross.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town occupies an area of 30 842 square kms, but almost 90% of the population in this area live in the Cape Metropolitan Area (CMA), 2 159 square kms, or 7% of the geographic area. There is much diversity in population density. The average population density in the diocese is 1 460 people per square km, rising to 7 000/sq. km in townships and even to over 10 000/sq. km in the informal settlements. 

Of the CMA population of 2.9 million in 2001, 1.39m (48%) were people of colour, 0.9m blacks (31%), 0.54m whites (19%) and 0.06m Asian (1%) (SA national census figures). Population growth is high, because there is steady immigration, especially from the Eastern Cape, which is very poor.

The side of Cape Town the tourists know. Look behind it for different realities. (Photo: Günther Simmermacher)

Cape Town is experiencing the full effects of urbanization, a universal phenomenon which has gained momentum in Africa and South America, where the bulk of the population still live in the rural areas. Before the Industrial Revolution inEurope, it took 8 out of 10 people to produce enough food for society, now it tales less than 2. Small farmers cannot compete with the large commercial farms and tend to sell up or just leave and go to the cities. Even if a person ends up in a shack in the CMA, if they can get a job for 2 or 3 days a week, they are better off.

The CMA, part of theWestern Cape Province, is far more attractive in terms of a richer economy, better schools, better hospitals, more infrastructure, more jobs, and so on. Hence the huge inflow, especially from blacks from the Eastern Cape, which together with people of colour also coming in from the country areas, and whites from Gauteng, has now put unbearable strains on the Western Province, especially the CMA, in terms of competition for jobs, housing, schooling and general utilities. This is mirrored in many other African cities and South American cities.Lima, inPeru, for example, has people flowing into the city, there are land invasions, mini-bus taxis, serious unemployment, gangs, drug problems…sounds familiar? It is economic forces that have caused huge strains on all cities.

In the once fairestCape, however the situation is aggravated by political factors. In 2001 the Catholic population by the old population definitions was as follows: black 30 000 (2012 40 000), coloured 114 000 (now 150 000), white 50 000 (now 60 000), Asian 1 233 (now 1 635). Thus the 2012 Catholic population, in the Archdiocese, is now about 250 000 (195 200 in2001) and about 45 000 actually attend Mass on Sundays.

It seems that under apartheid, the people of colour were taught to be wary of blacks, and feel that they were in the Cape first, so that they should be in the front of the queue in terms of housing, jobs, schools, general amenities. People who fall into the Western category, tend to favour the DA political party, and the blacks the ANC, so there is further cause for tensions. In Grabouw, outside of the CMA, where there has also been a large influx from the Eastern Cape, the newer school, attended mainly by blacks, became over-crowded and this led to civil unrest and protests.

It is important to realize that the unemployment, crowded conditions, competition for scarce necessities, is primarily a problem of economics and the current recession. But there are political and historic complications in theCape, as we can see. It is maintained by some that the ANC is encouraging blacks to migrate to the Western Cape, with the promises of houses. This may be the case, but in my opinion the main reason for migration is financial/economic. Many of the blacks set up permanent residence in the CMA (and in outlying areas such as Grabouw), and the evidence is that the children of the migrants prefer to stay in the city. The persistent delivery protests are evidence of cities taking strain, of people struggling in an economic system which must seem to be quite inequitable towards those trying to obtain the basic necessities of life.

There is a need in the Archdiocese for the former groupings to do their best to live in harmony, to share, to cooperate, to use the graces of the Eucharist in terms of which we can live in Christian unity. There is, it seems, to be too little mixing at Archdiocesan functions, too much separation, and too many of the old tensions, to a large extent, a legacy of the past. This is part of our reality, and we need to think of means of fostering genuine unity and a healthy appreciation of our differences as well as our commonality, especially as children of our Father, who cares for all. For example, the Eastern Deanery held a reconciliation service a few years ago, in which parishioners from other parishes came for the first time to a black township, namely Gugulethu.

I am not convinced that the newer generations have lost entirely the biases learned by the older generation, and there is some evidence that parents are handing down negative attitudes to their children. When we think of the very diverse personalities of the first Apostles, it seems clear that the constant presence of Jesus enabled them to live in harmony. We, hopefully, can do the same.

 

Church

Church of England Targets Israel

Virtue Online:

Earlier this month the Church of England’s General Synod endorsed the World Council of Churches’ “Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).” Essentially this program enlists anti-Israel church activists from the West to “accompany” Palestinian activists so as to “experience life under occupation.” The church ignored pleas from British Jews, including Britain’s chief rabbi.

Why would anyone want to endorse a program of the marginalized and far-left Swiss-based World Council of Churches (WCC), still best and infamously known for largely siding with the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War’s final decades? During the 1970s and 1980s, the WCC strenuously denounced right-wing dictatorships while ignoring the crimes of leftist tyrannies, often even embracing them, including the tormentors of churches. Even the Soviet Union itself was largely immune to criticism from the WCC, which merrily cooperated with Soviet front groups like the Helsinki-based Christian Peace Conference.

Nearly all the world’s rightist dictatorships are long since gone, so for years the WCC has imagined that Israel is the moral equivalent of Apartheid South Africa circa 1970. Israel is virtually the only nation meriting the WCC’s extensive human rights critique, which includes the ongoing EAPPI that the Church of England has now endorsed. Why the specific endorsement was necessary must be asked, since the church, by virtue of its membership and fees, already amply supports the WCC. So evidently the endorsement was for amplification of its moral solidarity with the WCC and Palestinian liberation.

Apparently the anti-Israel vote was not even that controversial within the church’s General Synod. The total vote was 201 votes to 54, with 93 abstentions. Clergy voted 4 to 1 in favor, while the laity voted 3 to 1. Twenty-one bishops supported it while just 3 voted against. The many abstentions maybe indicate many Anglicans were just too befuddled or morally confused to decide or go on record.

Even Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, now cruising towards early retirement, could not help but pile on verbally though himself characteristically abstaining in the vote after supporting an effort to dilute the statement. He shared his “respect and gratitude for the immense courage and dedication of the volunteers” in the WCC anti-Israel program. And he sardonically observed: “There are some people, in their uncritical assumption that the government of Israel can do no wrong, who are clearly going to be very irritated by information being disseminated of the kind that EAPPI does.”

Remarkably, Archbishop Williams even seemed to discern moral equivalence between the Holocaust and the Palestinians’ situation. “Half an hour at Yad Vashem will persuade you, if you need persuading, why the state of Israel needs to exist securely,” he noted of Israel’s memorial to Holocaust victims. “Half an hour at a check-point will persuade you, if you need persuading, that there are forms of security that are indefensible and unsustainable.”

The Israeli Embassy in Britain responded to the Church of England motion by citing the obvious: “Christians face rising persecution across the region and yet, by supporting this group, the Church of England has chosen to amplify one-sided voices and to single out Israel-the only country [in the Middle East and North Africa] where Christian rights are enshrined and the Christian population is growing.”

The WCC does not have any “accompaniment” programs for solidarity with Christians in Egypt, Syria or Iraq, whose plight does not typically distress the WCC. Archbishop Williams himself has at least occasionally mentioned persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Volunteers in the anti-Israel “accompaniment” program escort aggrieved Palestinians through Israeli checkpoints, help monitor purported Israeli human rights abuses, and then return to the West to speak and agitate as pro-Palestinian activists operating under the cover of churches. They are similar to what many Western church leftist groups like the WCC did to help the Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua during the 1980s.

A prominent Anglican clergy serving in Baghdad, Iraq preemptively opposed his church’s support for the WCC program. “It neglects the wars against Israel’s very right to exist,” Canon Andrew White told the Jerusalem Post. “It overlooks the persecution of Jews in the Middle East that preceded the establishment of the modern State of Israel.” He also cited the silence about Christians in the region persecuted by Islamists, which he of course has witnessed firsthand.

The British Jewish community’s Board of Deputies is weighing whether to sever interfaith ties with the Church of England. And they complained about the synod’s rhetoric: “To hear the debate at the Synod littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies,’ the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust,’ is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind this motion.”

Indeed. The Church of England has previously endorsed anti-Israel divestment and then retracted after enormous controversy. Hopefully it will similarly backtrack after its latest misstep. But why the irrational preoccupation with the real and imagined sins of one small nation while silent about so much else globally? Spiritually discerning minds would like to know.

We’ve mentioned the above on this blog before.

 

Church

Married Man Forges Path to Catholic Priesthood

KEYC has the report:

As the Pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waconia, Father Larry Blake says the weekly children’s mass is one of his favorites.

“I thought to myself this is great to be able to do this with them,” said Fr. Blake.

We caught up with him at a service was earlier this summer. It was back in 1993 that then–Lutheran Pastor Larry Blake left that faith and became a Catholic.

Blake said, “That started a whole new life for us. Now all of a sudden I wasn’t a member of the clergy. I was a lay person again going to mass again every Sunday with my family.”

All the while, he felt the calling to return to the clergy.

It was not going to be a simple thing because Pastor Larry Blake was married and becoming Father Larry Blake would normally require celibacy. But there was a way and Blake found it.

He began a long process. Encouraged by friends in the priesthood and supported by then Archbishop John Roach, the next year meant theological training, not only learning about the Catholic faith and what it means to be a priest, but petitioning the Pope himself for the right to become a priest.

“Not even the Archbishop could promise it would happen because it was beyond him,” Fr. Blake said.

That ordination did happen in December of 1999, three years after a formal request went to Rome.

Fr. Blake said, “When it finally came through it was just such a joy for me that day.”

Father Andrew Cozzens with the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity said, “Well it’s actually a sign of how important the Church sees it that only the Pope can give this permission.”

Fr. Cozzens says this exception should be viewed as a positive ecumenical statement rather than a statement about what church discipline should be.

He adds while certain things in the church remain unchanged, exceptions can be made for disciplinary norms, including celibacy.

“So what we’re saying is Fr. Larry Blake was already a minister in his Christian congregation. When he becomes a Catholic it makes sense to let him continue that ministerial role as a Catholic priest. So ecumenically we want to respect what he was versus to say it makes sense to have married Catholic priests in general. We still believe that it makes sense priests would be celibate,” Fr. Cozzens said.

The Catholic Church’s history with celibacy goes back as far as church scholars know, but before the 12th Century there were married priests. Those men were required to takes vows of continence, meaning they were not allowed to live as husband and wife. Since the year 1139 only celibate men were ordained. In 1999 when Larry Blake became Fr. Larry Blake he joined a group of about 70 or so married men who came to the priesthood from other denominations.

Fr. Blake’s been a priest for 12 years now and a married man all throughout with three children. His most recent Christmas card looking like any family man’s.

Fr. Blake said, “Does my married life make me better? Again, I would hesitate to answer that. I have had people tell me, they say, ‘Father, I really want to talk to you about my family because I know you’ll understand.’ So that comes up quite a bit; so people will say that. I have such a high regard for my fellow priests too who are celibate and have made a different decision. So I’m hesitant to say this is better than another way.”

So Fr. Larry Blake has two vocations.

“The people of the parish have been supportive of my family life and my family understands the demands and commitment that a priest makes to the parish,” Blake said.

In fact, Fr. Blake says Archbishop Harry Flynn made it clear that the priesthood comes after his first vocation: his family. Something Fr. Blake says his wife never forgot.

“She enjoyed that and has reminded me from time to time.”

An affirmation of his place and his family’s place in the Catholic Church, with a prominent place in Church history.

“I look back on the last 12 years and indeed it has been a privilege…I love it….The joy is in my heart.”

After six years Fr. Blake has moved on from St. Joseph’s Church in Waconia as of this summer.

Right now he’s on another tour of duty serving as a military chaplain in Southwest Asia.

HT