More Anglicans Cross the Tiber

Introibo ad altare Dei has this short post, with a point:

Four new priests were ordained last weekend to serve in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in Great Britain. One of them was Fr Brian Gill who had served as Vicar General the Traditional Anglican Church (TTAC), a part of the Traditional Anglican Communion in the United Kingdom, from 2003 to 2009. Mgr Robert Mercer, who had been ‘Bishop’ of this break-away Anglican group joined the Catholic Church at the end of March. The Traditional Anglican Communion of which the TTAC has had a vision of corporate union with the Holy See for several years, long before the well-known converts from the Church of England.



How to Welcome People to your Church

I wish every church said what this church says in their bulletin

It’s easy to poke fun at some of the things churches say on their welcome sign. It’s easy to question some of the things that make it inside a church bulletin.

It’s easy to say “this is bad,” but it’s a lot harder to say “this is good.” Anyone can critique, but creating is a lot more difficult.

So what does a great welcome message look like? What does an awesome welcome message look like?

It looks exactly like what “Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community” has in their church.

My friend attended there recently, and I got a copy of what they hand out. I posted a photo of it below so you could see what it looks like, but the image got cut off so here’s what it says:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.

If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!

Bravo to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community! That should be made into a poster and hung in church offices around the world.

I love the thought that a few members of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community getting together and saying, “Let’s invite everyone to come meet Jesus!” And then they started writing their list.

And it got long. Why?

Because everyone needs Jesus.

Everyone changes when they meet Jesus.

And they wanted to make sure everyone knew they were invited to meet him.



Topless Protester Aims at Russian Patriarch Kirill

The Huffington Post reports:

Kiev, Ukraine — A bare-breasted feminist activist bearing a threatening message on her body tried to attack the Russian Orthodox Church’s leader Thursday to protest alleged anti-Ukrainian policies by the church and the Kremlin.

The protester with the controversial Ukrainian women’s rights movement Femen managed to get a meter (yard) within Patriarch Kirill at Kiev’s airport, but was stopped by a security guard and a priest.

The woman, identified by Femen as Yana Zhdanova, had the words “Kill Kirill” written on her back in large black letters and shouted a phrase from a religious ritual that aims to expel demons, roughly translated as “Kirill, go to hell.”

Police said the activist was being held at the airport and will soon be taken to court, where she may face a fine or several days in custody.

The commotion highlighted the tension between Moscow and Kiev as Ukraine tries to move out of Russia’s shadow politically, economically and spiritually.

Ukraine’s main Orthodox Church still answers to Kirill’s Moscow Patriarchate, and two smaller but increasingly popular independent churches are not recognized by world’s Orthodox leaders. But there is a growing movement to create a strong, unified Ukrainian Orthodox church that would be Moscow’s equal.

The incident also underlined the relative freedom and democracy of Ukrainian society compared to Russia, where three members of the feminist rock band Pussy Riot have spent months in prison and face up to 7 years in jail for performing a “punk prayer” against Russian President Vladimir Putin from a pulpit of Moscow’s main cathedral.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said it will not press charges against Zhdanova.

“The girl has been shamed and lectured and I think this is quite enough,” church spokesman Vasily Anisimov told The Associated Press. “If we put a policeman next to every sin … what will our life become?”

Kirill did not react to the incident, proceeding to talk about his visit to a group of reporters. He is in Ukraine on an annual worshipping trip.

Femen has gained prominence for staging topless protests against all kinds of political and social problems – from the shortage of hot water to women’s rights in the Muslim world to domestic pension reforms. But critics say Femen members are more interested in self-promotion than real reform, and that their antics are often tacky and undermine the cause of their protests.

The Moscow Times has more and a photo:



Further Ordinariate Developments in Canada

On June 8th our parish administrator, Mr. James Tilley and his assistant, David Garrett went to Ottawa and met Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson. Also present at the meeting was Carl Reid, former ACCC bishop, Kipling Cooper and Doug Hayman. 

The main purpose of the Ordinary’s visit to Canada was to meet with Cardinal Collins of Toronto, the Papal Nuncio to Canada and Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa to discuss liturgical matters and the process of setting up the Canadian Deanery under the patronage of St. John the Baptist. 

Carl Reid has made assurances that all is proceeding well for our various sodalities to join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Most importantly the Ordinary indicated that he hopes the process of priestly formation for former ACCC priests will begin late in August with anticipated ordinations prior to Christmas. This is the best case scenarion.

The rest of Carl Reid’s remarks can be read in the July issue of “the Annunciator” at this link

Please pray for our sodality and the other sodalities as we move forward in this process.

In Christ

Source:  Oshawa Ordinariate Blog 

The newsletter mentioned above is in pdf. hereHT: Continental Catholic in a comment here.



Only Traditionalist Archbishop of Canterbury Can Save Anglican Church, Warn Primates

The worldwide Anglican Church risks a permanent split unless someone committed to traditional values is chosen as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the leaders of 55 million churchgoers have warned.

The Telegraph:

In a major intervention in the selection process, an alliance of archbishops and bishops from four continents has written directly to the selection committee urging them to choose someone prepared to halt a drift towards liberal values on issues such as homosexuality.

The next Archbishop must be willing to “uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian faith” in order to secure the “future and unity” of the church “at a foundational level”, they say in a letter seen by The Daily Telegraph.

Only someone with an understanding of the more traditional views of Anglicans in Africa and elsewhere and the ability to gain their “respect” would be acceptable they add.

The warning comes in a letter to Lord Luce, the chairman of the Crown Nominations Commission, which is selecting the next Archbishop, by the leaders of the Church in the so-called “Global South”, who met earlier this week in Singapore.

Their intervention is likely to be viewed as a boost to the chances of the Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, being selected for Canterbury, as a figure well-regarded in Africa and elsewhere.

In addition to being the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the titular head of the estimated 80-million strong Anglican Church worldwide.

Despite its historic ties to England, it is increasingly dominated by the fast-growing churches primarily in southern hemisphere.

Most southern provinces still hold firmly to more traditional doctrines but some branches of the Church elsewhere, particularly in North America, have steered a more liberal course in recent years.

The splits were laid bare four years ago when a third of the bishops boycotted the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference in London in protest at the American church’s decision to ordain its first openly homosexual bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Since then the split has only become more entrenched. Earlier this year an attempted unity pact on which Dr Rowan Williams staked his authority was rejected in the Church of England itself.

Following the announcement of Dr Williams’s retirement, leaders of African and Asian churches have privately voiced fears that their views are being ignored in a selection committee dominated by white, liberal-leaning Britons.

Earlier this month Bishop Mouneer Anis, the leader of the Church in the Middle East and North Africa, warned of a “colonial” approach to choosing the new Archbishop.

In the letter, signed by 17 primates, they make clear that, as leaders of what is now the majority of the Anglican church, they “expect to be consulted”.

“At a time when the Christian faith faces challenges from other religions as well as secular worldviews, the new Archbishop of Canterbury must be committed to uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian ‘faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’,” they write, quoting a phrase from the New Testament.

In order to act as “Guardian of the faith” the new Archbishop must be able to enforce unity “especially on issues that have led to the present crisis in the Communion”, they add.

“The new Archbishop of Canterbury should have the experience and cross-cultural sensitivity to understand the concerns and conflicts in the worldwide Communion,” they add.

“He has to be able to communicate effectively and gain the respect and confidence of, his fellow primates in the Global South.”

But last night one senior figure in the Church of England warned that the global split could now be too deep for the new Archbishop to bridge.

“Whoever it is I don’t think one man can achieve it really because the splits are so deep,” he said.


Bible Archaeology

Philistine Digs Define David and Solomon

Early Israelite dig helps define David and Solomon.

Christianity Today:

Two small portable shrines are giving Bible scholars new clues about Israelite religious practices during the time of David and Solomon. They also indicate a pendulum swing in the world of biblical archaeology.

Hebrew University archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel showcased the shrines at a news conference in May. They were discovered during last summer’s excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a ruin overlooking Israel’s Elah Valley dated to 1020-980 B.C.

The Elah Valley was where David brought down the giant Goliath, signaling the beginning of the end of Philistine hegemony over the Israelites. Similarly, the discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa herald the diminishing influence of minimalist Bible critics who have discounted the importance of the biblical kings.

John Monson, an archaeologist at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, is excavating at Khirbet Qeiyafa this summer. He believes Garfinkel’s excavations are revealing a fortress built to defend one of the most important routes between the Israelites in the Judean hills and the Philistines on the coastal plain.

“This is a front-row seat to what transpired in that ebb and flow between Israel and the Philistines, as we see it recorded in 1 and 2 Samuel,” he said.

Archaeologists have been arguing for decades over whether David and Solomon had the kingly stature described in the Bible or were more like tribal chieftains. Garfinkel is helping clear up the dispute.

More archaeologists are now focusing on this border region. “I see a gold rush mentality now in the lowlands of Judah,” Monson said.

This summer, archaeologists are beginning a new excavation at nearby Azekah. Socoh, another site overlooking the Elah Valley, will open up soon. These will join ongoing excavations at nearby Tel Burna, Tel es-Safi (Gath), and Tel Zayit.

Steve Ortiz, professor of archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, thinks Khirbet Qeiyafa may predate both David and Solomon. “As early as the time of King Saul,” he said. “[It] represents that change from a tribal society to one with centralized cooperation.”

Ortiz excavated with Garfinkel at Tel Mikne-Ekron, a Philistine site, and now co-directs excavations at Tel Gezer, another border site.

Both Ortiz and Monson note the lack of iconography on the two shrines and the absence of idols with them. That would seem to conform to Scripture’s admonition against graven images.

Also intrigued is Wheaton College archaeologist Daniel Master, who directs the ongoing excavations at Ashkelon, a coastal Philistine city.

“We will be trying to understand Garfinkel’s finds for some time to come,” Master said. “Since this period is not well understood in Judah, it is somewhat difficult to know how representative these finds are for the highlands as a whole.”



Christians Flee from Rebels in Syria

By Ulrike Putz in Qa, Lebanon

Thousands of Syrians are fleeing into neighboring Lebanon — not entirely due to fear of the Assad regime. The country’s minority Christian population is suffering under attacks waged by rebel troops. In the Beqaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, Christian families are finding temporary refuge, but they are still terrified.

There had been many warnings that the Khouri* family wouldn’t talk. “They won’t say a word — they’re too scared,” predicted the mayor of Qa, a small market town in northeastern Lebanon where the Khouris are staying. “They won’t even open their door for journalists,” said another person, who had contacted the family on behalf of a non-governmental organization.

Somehow, though, the interview was arranged in the end. Reserved and halting, the women described what happened to their husbands, brothers and nephews back in their hometown of Qusayr in Syria. They were killed by Syrian rebel fighters, the women said — murdered because they were Christians, people who in the eyes of radical Islamist freedom fighters have no place in the new Syria.

In the past year and a half, since the beginning of the uprising against Syria’s authoritarian President Bashar Assad, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled their homes and sought safe haven abroad. Inside the country, the United Nations estimates that 1 million people have left their homes to escape violence and are now internally displaced. The majority are likely to have fled to escape the brutality of Assad’s troops. Indeed, as was the case at the start of the Syrian civil war, most of the violence is still being perpetrated by the army, the secret services and groups of thugs steered by the state.

With fighting ongoing, however, the rebels have also committed excesses. And some factions within the patchwork of disparate groups that together comprise the Free Syrian Army have radicalized at a very rapid clip in recent months. A few are even being influenced by foreign jihadists who have traveled to Syria to advise them. That, at least, is what witnesses on the ground are reporting in Qusayr, where fierce fighting has raged for months. Control of the town has passed back and forth between the two sides, at times falling into the hands of the regime and at others of the rebels. Currently, fighters with the Free Syrian Army have the upper hand, and they have also made the city of 40,000 residents a place where the country’s Christian minority no longer feels safe.

Campaigns against Christians

“There were always Christians in Qusayr — there were around 10,000 before the war,” says Leila, the matriarch of the Khouri clan. Currently, 11 members of the clan are sharing two rooms. They include the grandmother, grandfather, three daughters, one husband and five children. “Despite the fact that many of our husbands had jobs in the civil service, we still got along well with the rebels during the first months of the insurgency.” The rebels left the Christians alone. The Christians, meanwhile, were keen to preserve their neutrality in the escalating power struggle. But the situation began deteriorating last summer, Leila says, murmuring a bit more before going silent.

“We’re too frightened to talk,” her daughter Rim explained, before mustering the courage to continue. “Last summer Salafists came to Qusayr, foreigners. They stirred the local rebels against us,” she says. Soon, an outright campaign against the Christians in Qusayr took shape. “They sermonized on Fridays in the mosques that it was a sacred duty to drive us away,” she says. “We were constantly accused of working for the regime. And Christians had to pay bribes to the jihadists repeatedly in order to avoid getting killed.”

Grandmother Leila made the sign of the cross. “Anyone who believes in this cross suffers,” she says.

Foreign Jihadists in Combat in Qusayr

It is not possible to independently corroborate the Khouri’s version of events, but the basic information seems consistent with what is already known. On April 20, Abdel Ghani Jawhar involuntarily provided proof that foreign jihadists are engaged in combat in Qusayr. Jawhar, a Lebanese national and commander with the terrorist group Fatah al Islam, died that day in the Syrian city. An explosives expert, Jawhar had been in Qusayr to teach rebels how to build bombs and accidentally blew himself up while trying to assemble one. Until his death, Jawhar had been the most wanted man in Lebanon, where he is implicated in the deaths of 200 people. Lebanese authorities confirmed his death in Syria. The fact that the rebels had worked together with a man like Jawhar fomented fears after his death that the ranks of insurgents are increasingly becoming infiltrated by international terrorists.

The Khouris’ decision to flee Syria last year is partly attributable to the almost daily threats that they, as well as other Christians in town, began receiving. And yet it was also a product of the fact that fighting in the city had simply become unbearable. “The bombs were falling right in the middle of our neighborhood. We can’t say who was firing them — the rebels or the army,” a family member says. During a break in the firing on one bitterly cold winter day, the family finally left. “We arranged a car and drove to Lebanon. It’s only a 45-minute trip.”

Rim’s husband also fled with them. His fate was sealed when he drove back to Qusayr on Feb. 9. He had owned a mini-market in his hometown and he wanted to go back and get food to take back to his family in exile. His family only knows what happened to him because of the stories relatives and friends who remained in Qusayr have shared. “He was stopped at a rebel checkpoint near the state-run bakery,” says Rim. “The rebels knew he was a Christian. They took him and then threw his dead body in front of the door of his parent’s house four or five hours later.”

Grandmother Leila makes the sign of the cross again. It wasn’t only her son-in-law who got killed. Her brother and two nephews were also killed. “They shot one of my nephews, a pharmacist, in his apartment because he supported the regime,” she says.

Fear of Syrian Compatriots

Thirty-two Christian families have found shelter and asylum in Qa, which is located only 12 kilometers away from the Syrian border. Although the city is also Christian and looks out for those who have fled the rebels for this reason, the Khouris and their fellow victims nevertheless live in a state of constant fear. For one, they can hear the muffled hum of artillery being fired in nearby Syria. The sound travels well beyond the border and serves as a constant reminder of what is happening in their country. On the day of the interview, a column of smoke could be seen rising above the next mountain range. A day earlier, a shell hit a gas station on the Syrian side of the border and it had been smouldering ever since. Four weeks ago, the Khouris learned that their home in Qusayr had been completely destroyed after being struck by a rocket.

But the family’s greatest fear is that of their own Syrian compatriots. As a border town, Qa is a magnet for two types of refugees, says Mansour Saad. “On the one hand, you have the Christians who are fleeing from the rebels,” he says. “And then you have the refugee families of men who are fighting within the ranks of the FSA.” The two enemy groups sometimes clash in Lebanese exile. “There is a lot of tension between them,” says Saad. “We do our best to keep the two groups apart.”

Like many Lebanese and Syrian Christians, Saad is also a supporter of the Assad regime. As a religious minority in the Middle East, Christians don’t have much choice other than to align themselves with a strong leader who can protect them, Saad says. “The rebels haven’t managed to convince me they are fighting for more democracy,” the mayor says.

And while there may be a number of open questions about the Assad regime, like the fact that “there is certainly no freedom of expression in Syria,” he says the rebels aren’t one bit better. There may have been respectable aims at the start of the uprising, but the insurgency has since been hijacked by Islamists, the mayor argues. “And we know the types of Muslims who have emerged at the head of the rebellion: The ones who would like to lead the people back into the Stone Age.”

* The names in this story have been changed in order to protect the identity of the interview subjects.