Sunday, April 06, 2014

This was the processional hymn at St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin this morning and, except as the choir processed past me, I felt like I was singing a solo.
However I needed this to restore some faith in why I, for the time being, remain committed to Anglicanism.
In searching on Youtube I began to believe it might be a Catholic hymn. There are hundreds of versions there, many as part of Catholic services, but this one, although posted by a Baptist church with obviously US spelling, is sung by the choir of Norwich Cathedral and I was pleased to learn it was composed by an Anglican, George W. Hitchin and sung in Winchester Cathedral in 1887.
It lends itself to Cathedral processions with the cross held high at the front.

Oh how I wish I could be in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin next Sunday when I am sure it will be packed.  Present will be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and I was offered a ticket. Sadly, several months ago I chose next weekend for our hikers' camp in the Catlins and as I am the chief organiser I can hardly absent myself.

A number of events in the past week have caused me to wonder if I want to be associated with any church anymore.

First a matter that does not really concern me, except for a number years I found consolation in a Catholic environment. When Sydney Anglicanism had me in despair, I found acceptance among the Catholic brothers and lay teachers with whom I worked.  I knew then that the hierarchy were not supportive and that Cardinal Pell in particular was abhorrent.

Earlier this year there was a newspaper article writen by a previous Premier of NSW, Kristina Kenneally.
Some excerpts were very apt.

He's a product of a particular time and culture in the Catholic Church. I can't imagine he was overjoyed as Bishop of Sydney to have me, a theologically-trained Catholic feminist Premier on his hands.
Some people swear the Cardinal has a great sense of humour. I suspect those people are men. In my interactions with him, I never saw evidence of it. pleased for Cardinal Pell as he takes up a significant promotion to oversee the Vatican administration and financial operations. It's a serious job that will place him at the centre of the Church's operations.
But I am more pleased with Pope Francis for making such a clever choice.
The Pope has likely tapped the right man for the job. But the Pope has also given Australian Catholics a reason to breathe a sigh of relief as their local Cardinal now heads off to Rome.
Since coming to Sydney in 2001, Cardinal Pell tried to force the Australian Catholic Church into the shape he wanted it to be: conservative, doctrinaire, and authority-based. If Mass attendance is any indicator, Australian Catholics voted with their feet – or perhaps, their knees – and rejected Pell's approach.

he has not responded well as a pastor, and that he lacks evident compassion and humility in the face of story after story of failure in the Catholic Church to deal with the sexual abuse of children. Unfortunately, his public statements indicate an inclination to protect the institution rather than the vulnerable.

Then this week came this bombshell.

George Pell wants to insure priests against being sued for child sexual abuse. My head is still rotating on its axis. Our man in purple, our alpha priest, moral paragon. Our Vatican princeling, just days from taking up his dauphindom in Rome: he said that? He dropped this fissile solipsism on our public debate and left, smacking the dust from his hands like, we're done now, right?
Does he think child sex is some unavoidable occupational hazard? Something a priest will sooner or later fall to? An accident? If you wanted to maximise the damage already done to countless children, you'd be hard put to find a surer way, or crueller.

I think Pope Francis is very wise in burying Pell in some dusty Vatican office where he can be out of sight, out of mind and perhaps achieve some good for the Vatican finances. He is a disaster out in the real world.

However idiotic statements are not the prerogative of Catholic Archbishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is giving Pell a run for his money.

I have stated before that I found his predecessor, Rowan Williams, a great disappointment.  I actually thought Justin Welby, although an evangelical, might be better.   I have been proved wrong.
He has stated that if the Church of England were to accept gay marriages, it could lead to "catastrophic" consequences for Christians elsewhere, particularly in Africa. He implies that the advances in acceptance of homosexuality in the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican church in Canada have led to massacres that have already occurred.

I have been unable to put into words my utter disgust with this man who is suppose to be the leader of my church although I regularly try to make it clear that he has no authority in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia or other provinces, Thank God.
I can only print the comment I find online to express my outrage.

I find the ethics of this very straightforward. It seems to me that the ethics of the Anglican Communion, of the churches in the UK, of the churches in North America, of the governments of the nations in which we live – these cannot be determined by those who bear the bullet and the bomb. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have been suggesting that our policies should be dictated by murderers.
The trouble is, it is an attempt to deal with the reality and horror of violence by appeasing the violent. It is giving those who murder, a moral authority that they can never be allowed to hold.
If that is true then the only Christian response is to condemn the violence and do so publicly, loudly and endlessly. You don’t keep your mouth shut and try to turn the clock back on progressive attitudes on the other side of the world as a response to it. The claim is that these people were killed because their opponents believed that if they left Christians alive then they would be “made gay”. If this is true then those people were killed as a result of homophobia.  It is homophobia of the worst, most violent sort that killed the people in the Archbishop’s story.
You condemn it, Archbishop. That’s what you are called to do.

and then Malcom French, a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, who, like me, would be less polite.

There is no denying that there is sectarian violence in many parts of the world. The causes are generally complex and go back several generations. It has to do with religious extremists who want to establish theocratic states. It has to do with previous ethnic rivalries now cast in religious form. It has to do with local demagogues - both religious and political - who divert attention from massive corruption by inciting violence against LGBTQTS. It has to do with cycles of violence where religious communities attack each other. It has to do with the particular sociopolitical pathologies of particular countries. Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa kill Christians (and Christians kill Muslims) for a constellation of reasons. But the suggestion that Muslims kill Christians because North Americans treat LGBTQTS like human beings is a lie from the pit of hell.

Oh, I have no doubt that, at some point, some Muslim rabble rouser has used endemic cultural homophobia to incite listeners to violence. So have Christian rabble rousers. They may even have referred to the advance of LGBTQTS rights in the West.

But if it hadn't been homosexuals, it would have been something else. To the limited degree that bullies and terrorists need a reason to bully and terrorize, they can always find one. After all, violence between Christians and Muslims in most of Africa predates Gene Robinson's 2003 consecration by some decades.

Archbishop Welby reminds me of the people who tell victims of domestic violence that they must have done something to provoke their abuser. He is scapegoating, pure and simple. His comments are utterly disgusting and without any moral credibility. 

Finally there is the publication of the Me Whea Report yesterday but I have written enough today so that will have to wait while I digest it more fully.

Meanwhile as I despair of Church leaders, I can only sing "Lift High the Cross" and pray that the Love of Christ will be proclaimed (for all people whatever their race, ethnicity, sex or sexuality) until all the world adore His sacred Name.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Marvellous News from The Hague

The UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling programme in the Antarctic.
It agreed with Australia, which brought the case in May 2010, that the programme was not for scientific research as claimed by Tokyo.
Japan said it would abide by the decision but added it "regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision".
Australia argued that the programme was commercial whaling in disguise.
The court's decision is considered legally binding.
Japan had argued that the suit brought by Australia was an attempt to impose its cultural norms on Japan.
Science 'myth' Reading out the judgement on Monday, Presiding Judge Peter Tomka said the court had decided, by 12 votes to four, that Japan should withdraw all permits and licenses for whaling in the Antarctic and refrain from issuing any new ones.
It said Japan had caught some 3,600 minke whales since its current programme began in 2005, but the scientific output was limited.
Japan signed up to a moratorium on whaling in 1986, but continued whaling in the north and south Pacific under provisions that allowed for scientific research. Norway and Iceland rejected the provision and continued commercial whaling.
Nori Shikata, political minister at Japan's UK embassy, said Tokyo would abide by the ICJ decision The meat from the slaughtered whales is sold commercially in Japan.Japan has clashed repeatedly with Australia and some other western countries, which strongly oppose whaling on conservation grounds. Japan has argued that minke whales and a number of other species are plentiful and that its whaling activities are sustainable.A spokesman for Greenpeace UK, Willie MacKenzie, welcomed the ICJ's decision."The myth that this hunt was in any way scientific can now be dismissed once and for all," he said.