Patriarch Kirill Sorts Out the Holy Sepulcher’s Debt

The Russian Patriarch is a powerful and influential man, make no doubt about it…

The conflict over unpaid water bills of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been resolved, the spokesman for Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said.

“The Holy Sepulchre Church’s water debts have been written off, not without the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Kirill met with Israeli President Shimon Peres,” Deacon Alexander Volkov said on Wednesday while summing up the five-day visit by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to the region.

Volkov, who heads the Patriarch’s press service, added that the news was announced by Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov at his meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Russian Church’s Department of External Church Relations.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has for centuries been one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for millions of Christians as the purported site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, earlier in November threatened to close its doors as its bank account was frozen over a debt to an Israeli water company.

The church had been exempt from water charges in a tacit agreement with Jerusalem authorities for decades but the Hagihon company, which took over water supply to Jerusalem in the late 1990s, recently demanded payment of a $2.3 million bill dating back 15 years, including interest.

Volkov said the Israeli authorities have written off the Holy Sepulchre Church’s water debt for the past seven years…

Patriarch Kirill arrived in Jerusalem on November 9. It was his first visit to the Holy Land since he was elected to head the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009. During his stay, the Patriarch visited Christian holy sites in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. He also met with Peres and Jordanian King Abdullah II.



Australia: Anglican Parishes Facing Closure as they Continue to Battle Debt

In Adelaide:

The Adelaide diocese of the Anglican Church must change radically as it faces the tough choice of closing at least a third of its parishes within the next five years.

This was the blunt message from Archbishop Jeffrey Driver to the church last night as he opened its senior decision-making forum, the diocesan synod.

Resources had been drained and the church had endured nine years of turmoil from dealing with the hurt caused by abuse perpetuated by its own ranks.

This was overlaid with falling church attendance, the ageing of faithful parishioners and difficulty in retaining young adults.
The trajectory had now reached the point where parishes were not in gradual decline but in rapid collapse.

“A rough analysis of our parishes at this time suggests to me that about a third  something like 20 parishes  are relatively secure,” he said.

“Another 20 are fragile and another 20 are really struggling.

“The trajectory and demography of many of those parishes tells me that in five years’ time, or even less, a number of those communities of faith will be at a point from which recovery will be difficult”…

Res here.



Could Italy Be Next?

Italy has begun crisis talks with the European Union:

Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti has begun crisis talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the Eurogroup of finance ministers from the 17 eurozone countries.

The talks come as yields on Italian bonds have reached euro-era record levels.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to address parliament on the economy later on Wednesday.

The yields on Spanish bonds have also been rising.

In early trading on Wednesday, the yield on Italian 10-year bonds rose 0.19 percentage points to 6.21%, while the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds was at 6.34%, just below Tuesday’s record of 6.45%.

A cost of borrowing above 6% is considered unsustainable by many economists.

“The upward march in Spanish and Italian bond yields is evidence of the relentlessness of the sovereign debt crisis,” said Jane Foley, an analyst at Rabobank International.

The problems come less than two weeks after eurozone leaders agreed a second bailout for Greece, which was partly aimed at preventing the sovereign debt problems spreading to other countries.

Portugal and the Republic of Ireland have also received bailouts to help them cope with their debt problems.

Italy, which is the eurozone’s third-largest economy, has so far managed to avoid sovereign debt problems, despite having one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the eurozone at 120%.

But Italy’s economy is twice as big as Greece, Portugal and the Irish Republic combined, so a bailout would probably be unaffordable…

Oh dear! Things are getting worse and worse.


Americans Are More Indebted Than the US Government

Yahoo Finance reports:

… Strangely, as the U.S. citizenry passionately criticizes their government for running up the budget deficit, a greater irony is afoot: When it comes to debt management, Americans are sadly worse than their government.

While government debt sits at 94 percent of national revenue, U.S. household debt sits at a whopping 107 percent of personal income. The household balance sheets of Americans are in worse condition than anytime since the Great Depression. The ratio of household debt-to-GDP is greater than anytime since 1929. And while we all are trying to comprehend a poorer nation, many American’s have not yet comprehended their own personal poverty…

Read on here.

… Criticizing government fiscal irresponsibility should in turn lead us to honest self examination…


Catholic Bishops Urge House Against Steep Budget Cuts

In America.

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops are urging the GOP-led House to reject a cuts-only approach to the budget as Washington tries to avert an unprecedented government default on its multi-trillion-dollar debts.

“A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons,” wrote Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Calif., and Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., in a Tuesday (July 26) letter to House members.

The bishops said balancing the budget “requires shared sacrifice by all,” and called for raising revenues, eliminating unneeded military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.

Blaire heads the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Hubbard the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The bishops’ call for balancing spending cuts with new revenues tends to echo the approach of President Obama and other Democrats.

That stance has been rejected by the House, including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., both of whom are Catholic.

In their two-page letter, the bishops also write that the bill being considered by the House requires “massive cuts” in international assistance to the poor that they find unacceptable.

The bishops say they recognize “the difficult challenges” of getting the nation’s financial house in order, but they echo the arguments of many other religious groups by declaring that the budget is a moral document.

“The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first,” the bishops said.

Matters financial are getting out of control in the US it would seem…

Reuters tries to make sense of the debt crisis with a snapshot of what is actually going on here.