Church of England Should Consider Opening Doors to Muslims and Hindus

Good grief! Inspired lunacy:

The Church of England should consider opening its doors to congregations from other faiths including Muslims and Hindus, the head of the Countryside Alliance has said.

Sir Barney White-Spunner said he was concerned that churches in villages and towns were falling into disrepair and not being used enough.

He said he was “hugely excited” about opening up churches to other Christian denominations and, in the longer term, other faiths.

Sir Barney, a Roman Catholic, said: “Personally I think it would be hugely exciting, it would restore life and vigour to these incredibly important buildings.

“The poor old Church of England is faced with an enormous bill to maintain these wonderful structures. I happen to be a Roman Catholic…

Oh dear. The rest – if you can bear it – here.



South Africa Launches New Mandela Bank Notes

Reuters reports:

South Africa immortalised former president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday in a set of new banknotes bearing the image of the anti-apartheid leader, who remains a rare unifying force in a country still scarred by its racially divided past.

The government announced the new notes earlier this year on the 22nd anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison after serving 27 years for his opposition to white-minority rule.

The 94-year-old, who became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, rarely appears in public now but is still revered both at home and abroad and held up as a symbol of freedom, human rights and democracy.

Popularly known by his clan name “Madiba”, Mandela has lent his name to roads, buildings and universities, and a giant bronze statue of him in Johannesburg’s swanky Sandton City mall is a daily attraction for tourists.

“Madiba does represent something special not just in South Africa but in the world,” Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus said after using the new notes for the first time at her neighbourhood fruit market in Pretoria.

“He is really an extraordinary man and this is a way in which we pay tribute to him.”

The notes also feature South Africa’s “big five” wild animals – rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard.

The new notes will be used in conjunction with the existing currency, which will be gradually phased out, Marcus said.



Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Row Over Water Bill

And their bank account blocked:

Standoff over unpaid water bill could result in closure of revered church believed to be site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.

The Guardian:

One of the most venerated sites in the Christian faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried and resurrected, is facing a financial crisis over an unpaid water bill in a row that could result in its closure.

The church, which attracts more than 1 million pilgrims each year, has been issued with a 9m shekel (£1.5m) water bill, backdated 15 years to when the supply was taken over by a new company, Hagihon.

As a result of the church’s failure to pay, Hagihon has secured the freezing of the bank account of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is jointly responsible for the church’s administration.

The standoff was confirmed by the spokesman for Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, following a report in the Israeli paper Maariv. “It is completely true,” Issa Musaleh told the Guardian. “They have frozen our account. This is a flagrant act against the church.”

According to Maariv, the move has resulted in standing orders being rejected and cheques bouncing. Services which have been affected include telephones, internet and electricity, as well as companies supplying food.

“The church is completely paralysed. We can’t pay for toilet paper. Nothing. Hagihon has declared war on us,” a Patriarchate official told Maariv…

Read on here.

Thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists jostle each day inside the gloomily lit spaces beneath the church’s dome. Despite the chaotic queues for the most revered sites within the church and the cacophony of chanting priests, tour guides and camera-clicking tourists, for many it is a deeply emotional and spiritual experience.

The original church was built on the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, which was then outside the city walls, in the fourth century.



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.



Price of New Missal

This does make one think:

I am a 70-year-old pensioner and a staunch Catholic. I have a week-day missal and a Sunday missal which I have been using for years.

“I can’t afford the new missals!”

Now it was decided to change the wording in the Mass to suit whoever, I must buy new missals at such a high price for a pensioner. I cannot afford the missals.

How many other Catholics can afford new missals? What are we doing to our faith?

On the other hand, our BCP’s are out of print and date. Date? Yes, well just think of present and future Saints for one. And you also only ever find them lying around under dust in second-hand book shops.



Financially Troubled Parts of Europe Consider Taxing Church Properties

Alcala de Henares, Spain — Cash-strapped officials in Europe are looking for a way to ease their financial burden by upending centuries of tradition and seeking to tap one of the last untouched sources of wealth: the Catholic Church.

Thousands of public officials who have seen the financial crisis hit their budgets are chipping away at the various tax breaks and privileges the church has enjoyed for centuries.

But the church is facing its own money troubles. Offerings from parishioners have nosedived, and it has been accused of using shady bank accounts and hiding suspect transactions.

Now, along come officials like Ricardo Rubio.

Rubio, a city council member in Alcala, is leading an effort to impose a tax on all church property used for non-religious purposes. The financial impact on the Catholic Church could be devastating. As one of the largest landowners in Spain — with holdings that include schools, homes, parks, sports fields and restaurants — the church could owe up to 3 billion euros in taxes each year.

“We want to make a statement that the costs of the crisis should be borne equally by every person and institution,” said Rubio, a 36-year-old former accountant in his first term in office.

Similar efforts that target church coffers or powers are underway in neighboring countries. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Monti has called for a tax on church properties or on those portions of properties that have a commercial purpose. In Ireland, the minister of education is fighting to end church control of many of the country’s primary schools, and the government has slashed in half the grants it gives poor families for first Communions. More than half the city councils in Britain have eliminated state subsidies for transportation to faith-based schools, leading to a precipitous drop in enrollment…

Read more from what is a generally negative article in The Washington Post here. All doom and gloom…



Chaplains Are Needed

Newsday with a letter that makes so much sense. Pity those who should hear the plea, will care precious little…

The letter “Why the need for SCPD chaplain?” [Aug. 5] questioned the need for a Suffolk County police chaplain in this time of fiscal crisis.

Government must scale back spending, but I would not begin by eliminating police or fire chaplains so long as their compensation, if any, is not unreasonable.

Officers can find themselves in very negative situations. Over time, these difficult encounters can affect the psyche of the responders, making them hardened and callous.

Unhealthy means of coping include drug or alcohol abuse, aggressive behavior or isolation. The result can be depression, divorce or suicide. A chaplain can keep officers from becoming jaded. A chaplain is not only good for the officer, but for the public the officer protects.

A chaplain also provides support to relatives of an injured officer as they anxiously wait news in a crisis, and a chaplain provides comfort when a family learns that a loved one will never return home.

A chaplain is perhaps the best example of responsible government spending.

Timothy J. Gleason, East Meadow