ENI news highlights – February 1996

 — Feb. 29, 199629 févr. 1996

US nun calls for ‘responsible dissent’ on Vatican doctrine
New York (ENI). A leading Roman Catholic nun and theologian in the United States has called for “responsible dissent” to the Vatican statement that Pope John Paul II’s teaching against the ordination of women is infallible. [ENI-96-0070, 476 words]

Bahrain’s Christians urged to pray for end to violence
Manama, Bahrain (ENI). A leading member of the Anglican Church in Bahrain has called on local Christians to join in a week of prayers – beginning today – for peace in the island nation after recent outbreaks of violence. On 18 January a homemade bomb exploded in the Royal Meridien Hotel during an international oil conference. In the week following the explosion, more than 2000 people were arrested in police raids and during protests. [ENI-96-0071, 219 words]

Crisis forces Peru’s Protestant Council to suspend activities
Lima, Peru (ENI). The president of the National Protestant Council of Peru (CONEP), has announced the temporary suspension of the council’s activities. He said the council faced a serious structural and administrative crisis. Recent financial reports show that church contributions covered less than 30 per cent of CONEP’s budget. Twenty of the country’s biggest Protestant denominations – with total membership of 1.5 million faithful – are members of CONEP. Another 15 church-related organisations are also affiliated with CONEP. [ENI-96-0072, 265 words]

Zambian church council leader claims she is under threat
Lusaka (ENI). A leading Zambian clergywoman and official of the Christian Council of Zambia (CCZ), has claimed she is being intimidated because of her attacks on government corruption. She alleged that some of the intimidation came from within her own organisation. “I know within my organisation there are people working with big outside forces to eliminate me because they consider me a very loudmouthed person, especially on issues affecting the nation,” she said. [ENI-96-0073, 412 words]

Banja Luka’s Muslim leader says church ‘failed to react’
Warsaw (ENI). Muslim and Roman Catholic leaders from Banja Luka in Bosnia have praised “the many Serbs” who tried to help Muslims and Croats during successive waves of ethnic cleansing. But the religious leaders said that representatives of the local Orthodox Church had failed to react to atrocities perpetrated in the city during the Bosnian war. [ENI-96-0074, 900 words]

Hungary’s biggest churches claim new media law is unfair
Budapest (ENI). A controversial new media law in Hungary has prompted claims by the country’s main Protestant and Roman Catholic churches that it discriminates against historic religious communities in favour of smaller religious groups. [ENI-96-0075, 412 words]

As Americans gamble US$400 bn, Christians coordinate opposition
New York (ENI). Church opposition to gambling in the United States – whose citizens now gamble US$400 billion a year – has led to the formation of one of the broadest ecumenical alliances ever seen in the nation. “It is our view that gambling in any form contributes nothing positive to society,” said Mary Anderson Cooper, an official in the National Council of Churches. “It offers no service, creates nothing of value and does not improve the lives of those who participate.” [ENI-96-0078, 434 words]

300 church officials worldwide speak out for gay Christians
London (ENI). Some of the world’s best known church leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have given a major boost to gay Christians by adding their names to a public advertisement congratulating a British gay Christian group on its 20th anniversary. [ENI-96-0079, 1135 words]

St Petersburg receives its new church leader
Moscow (ENI). The appointment of a new bishop in the Russian Orthodox diocese of St Petersburg, to succeed a controversial conservative bishop – who died last year – seems likely to signal a change of direction. The new Metropolitan is a person of wide international experience, who served as an observer at the Second Vatican Council and was the first representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches. [ENI-96-0080, 520 words]

New post shows better relations between monarchy and Catholicism
London (ENI). In a move reflecting the more relaxed relationship between the British crown and Roman Catholicism, Queen Elizabeth II has appointed a Roman Catholic as an honorary chaplain. [ENI-96-0081, 318 words]

Pope urges Guatemalan Catholics to resist evangelical inroads
Guatemala City (ENI). The visit of Pope John Paul II to Guatemala – on the first leg of his visit to Central America – has given an emotional boost to Roman Catholics who feel threatened by the growth of evangelical groups. During his address in Guatemala City, the Pope described indigenous people and peasants as being “the most affected by the penetration of the sects and new religious groups that plant confusion and uncertainty among Catholics” and called on pastoral workers to engage in a “new evangelisation,” utilising not just “new methods and new expressions” but also “new fervour.” [ENI-96-0082, 700 words]

Bulgarian Protestants dismayed at ‘animosity’ to churches
Sofia, Bulgaria (ENI). Several Protestant churches in Bulgaria have publicly complained about “unfavourable” treatment, claiming that they face widespread prejudice, both from government officials and from the media. [ENI-96-0086, 689 words]

Ecumenism must seek unity of all beings, says Chung Hyun Kyung
New York (ENI). A prominent Korean theologian, Chung Hyun Kyung, declared yesterday that the ecumenical vision – which began with a desire for church unity – had grown into a concern for the unity of all humanity, and should now expand into work for “the unity of all beings.” Chung became famous overnight in 1991 when she addressed the assembly of the World Council of Churches. Her address – which evoked the spirits of people martyred and murdered, and linked them to the Holy Spirit – was welcomed by some delegates to the assembly, but sharply criticised by others, who accused her of paganism and syncretism. [ENI-96-0088, 535 words]

Baptist leader tells Argentina end subsidy to Catholic Church
Buenos Aires (ENI). A Baptist Church leader in Argentina has called on the government to halt its subsidies to the Roman Catholic Church. The payments were a legacy of the colonial past, he said. This year the government subsidy for the Catholic Church is 8.5 million pesos (1 peso = US$1). [ENI-96-0089, 225 words]

Russian church fears Chechen abductions may provoke hostility
Moscow (ENI). The Russian Orthodox Church today expressed deep concern for two Russian Orthodox priests kidnapped on 29 January in the predominantly Muslim breakaway republic of Chechenya. The church’s synod and its leader declared that unless the priests were released quickly, their abduction could have serious consequences for the relationship between religions in Russia. [ENI-96-0090, 332 words]

Archbishop’s remarks may ‘poison’ Latin American relations
Quito, Ecuador (ENI). A Protestant leader in Latin America strongly criticised remarks made by the Archbishop of Guatemala City, Prospero Penados del Barrio, in advance of the visit of John Paul II to Central America earlier this month. The Archbishop had described evangelical churches as “the opiate of the people, at the service of foreign powers” and as provoking “hatred toward other Christian expressions.” The general secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches said that Archbishop Penados del Barrio’s remarks “can only contribute to poisoning further the relationships which are already delicate and difficult.” [ENI-96-0091, 450 words]

Christians unite to consider problems of unified Germany
Berlin (ENI). Amid continued soul-searching in Germany about the country’s economic downturn, increasing unemployment and the wisdom of German unity, the two main German churches have launched a nationwide discussion about the country’s economic and social policies. [ENI-96-0093, 640 words]

France’s Catholic bishops approve condoms to prevent AIDS
Paris (ENI). France’s Roman Catholic bishops have given approval to the condom as a means of preventing transmission of the HIV virus. A statement by French bishops yesterday caused immediate controversy as the statement is at odds with declarations by the Vatican, which is opposed to all use of condoms. [ENI-96-0094, 400 words]

Christians recall disenchanted monk who reformed Christianity
Germany (ENI). Germany’s great and good – led by President Roman Herzog – will descend this weekend (17-18 February) on the small east German town of Eisleben for ceremonies to mark the 450th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther – the Roman Catholic monk whose disenchantment with the church set in train the events of the Protestant Reformation. [ENI-96-0095, 1514 words]

After apartheid, South African churches find a new common enemy
East London (South Africa) (ENI). Now that they no longer need to spend their time battling apartheid, South Africa’s churches have found another common enemy – the nation’s spiralling crime rate. Crime has overtaken political violence as the major preoccupation of both politicians and the general public. According to official figures, a murder is committed every three minutes in South Africa, compared to one every hour 110 years ago. [ENI-96-0098, 547 words]

Episcopal official tells court she stole $1.5 million from church
New York (ENI). The former national treasurer of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the United States has admitted stealing more than US$1.5 million from the church. She admitted in court that she had used her position to transfer church funds into her own bank accounts and to pay expenses for her family. She also admitted that she had failed to pay tax on US$310,000 that she stole from the church in 1993. [ENI-96-0099, 384 words]

Church leaders in Ireland call for end to violence
Belfast (ENI). As tension mounts in Northern Ireland following the end of the IRA cease-fire, church leaders have called on paramilitary groups to refrain from further violence. [ENI-96-0100, 513 words]

Some underground Czech priests may ‘return to the catacombs’
Warsaw (ENI). A bishop who claims he was secretly consecrated in communist-ruled Czechoslovakia has warned that members of the Czech Republic’s “underground Catholic church” will go back to ministering clandestinely unless the Czech Bishops’ Conference shows a greater willingness to resolve the problem of those ordained in secret during the communist period. [ENI-96-0101, 572 words]

‘Tai-Chi can help us to understand Luther’
Geneva (ENI). There is the need for a “positive encounter” between the thought of the Protestant reformer Martin Luther, and the insights of Eastern philosophical traditions, including Tai-Chi martial arts, according to a prominent Korean theologian and Luther scholar. [ENI-96-0102, 322 words]

German Roman Catholics and Protestants unite in praise for Luther
Geneva (ENI). Roman Catholic and Protestant bishops and leaders in the German L nder (states) of Thuringia and Saxony- Anhalt have issued a joint declaration praising the Protestant reformer Martin Luther to mark the 450th anniversary (on 18 February) of his death. [ENI-96-0103, 414 words]

Beijing tells Lutherans to ‘defer’ Hong Kong assembly
Geneva (ENI). The Beijing government has said that a major international church assembly, due to take place in Hong Kong in 1997, one week after the territory comes under Chinese control, should be “deferred” to a later date. The Lutheran World Federation, which has 122 member churches world wide, was planning to hold its next assembly – the organisation’s highest- decision making body – in Hong Kong from 8 to 16 July 1997. [ENI- 96-0104, 207 words]

Clergy say ‘worship’ of dead footballers prompted divine wrath
Lusaka (ENI). The Zambian national football team’s defeat – by Tunisia – in the 1996 African Nations Cup has prompted an intense debate among religious leaders and sports experts about sports and idolatry. At the heart of the controversy are the actions of football supporters who “prayed” for football victory at the graves of an 18-member team of Zambian footballers killed in an air crash in April 1993. Some church leaders have accused the football fans of idolatry. A Christian nation like Zambia must recognise God’s supremacy “in all things including football,” one church leader said. [ENI-96-0105, 725 words]

Menno Simons’ radical church salutes his 500th birthday
Utrecht (ENI). This year a million Mennonites around the worldwide are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of their founding father, the Dutch reformer Menno Simons. It is commonly believed that Menno Simons was born in January 1496 in the Friesian hamlet of Witmarsum. Though he had little knowledge of the Bible, Simons became a Roman Catholic priest. But, after studying a copy of the New Testament he had bought – a rare occurrence at the time – Simons developed religious ideas which brought him into conflict with the Catholic Church. [ENI-96- 0109, 795 words]

German Lutherans and Mennonites announce agreement on eucharist
Hanover, Germany (ENI). One of Germany’s biggest protestant churches and one of its smallest have announced a significant ecumenical agreement. [ENI-96-0110, 279 words]

Unity, not rivalry, urged for Christ’s 2000th birthday
Rome (ENI). The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, has urged churches to look upon the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ as an occasion for cooperation and unity – rather than competition for visibility. He warned that there was reason to fear that the churches might engage in “an unholy competition about the maximum degree of visibility and impact.” [ENI-96-0111, 487 words]

Protestants and Catholics should reunite, says theologian
Speyer, Germany (ENI). A prominent German Roman Catholic theologian has called for the “institutional reunification” of the Catholic and Protestant churches. The theologian, a professor at Tuebingen University, said that “the fundamental differences that created the Reformation and which have influenced the past 500 years, have now theologically run their course.” The two main Christian traditions – Roman Catholic and Protestant – needed to work together ecumenically on issues such as that of creating a new world order, he said. Meanwhile, a leading German Lutheran theologian has said that Protestants should be ready to accept the role of the Bishop of Rome as “first among equals.” [ENI-96- 0112, 464 words]

Lutherans refuse Beijing ‘request’ to delay major church meeting
Geneva (ENI). The Lutheran World Federation will not postpone its next assembly, scheduled to take place in Hong Kong after the territory comes under Chinese control, despite a request from the Beijing authorities that the gathering be “deferred” to a later date. The LWF has already made arrangements for its next assembly – the organisation’s highest decision-making body – to be held in Hong Kong from 8 to 16 July 1997, one week after the British crown colony reverts to Chinese control. [ENI-96-0113, 448 words]

Latvian Lutheran synod bans homosexuals from receiving communion
Geneva (ENI). The Lutheran Church of Latvia has approved a declaration excluding practising homosexuals from receiving the Eucharist. [ENI-96-0114, 119 words]

Bishop warns against ‘prejudging’ pop singer’s performance
Buenos Aires (ENI). A Roman Catholic bishop in Argentina has stepped into a national argument about the portrayal, by the controversial singer Madonna, of Eva Peron in the film “Evita.” [ENI-96-0116, 298 words]

Anglican bishop finds Vatican’s Millennium plans too ambitious
London (ENI). A bishop who is spearheading the Church of England’s celebrations for the year 2000 has expressed concern that Vatican plans for the Millennium are far too ambitious. [ENI-96-0117, 234 words]

Interchurch agreement ‘points to greater hope for church unity’
London (ENI). An historic agreement in Europe between Anglicans and Lutherans clears the way for unity between Methodists and the Church of England, according to one of Britain’s leading Methodists. [ENI-96-0118, 887 words]

World Baptist leader may try to win Brazilian presidency
Porto Alegre, Brazil (ENI). As Brazil’s press and public begin to speculate about their next general elections – due in 1998 – a prominent church leader is emerging as a possible candidate for the presidency. [ENI-96-0119, 304 words]

Rome sees Wilde, Pasolini and Verlaine in a new light
Rome (ENI). Some of literature’s most famous and controversial figures have been “rehabilitated” by the Roman Catholic Church. [ENI-96-0120, 198 words]

Estonia dispute may cause split between Orthodox leaders
Moscow (ENI). The Russian Orthodox Church announced today that – for the first time in its 1008-year history – the name of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople had been omitted from prayers during the Eucharist in Moscow. For Patriarch Alexei II, leader of the Russian church, and 50 priests who celebrated the liturgy with him at Moscow’s Cathedral of the Epiphany, today’s service “was clouded by tragic news.” [ENI-96-0122, 226 words]

Serbian church leader calls for a vision beyond factionalism
Belgrade (ENI). Patriarch Pavle, the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has called for a willingness for people to see beyond “narrow political [and] factional criteria” as the republics of the former Yugoslavia try to attain peaceful co- existence. [ENI-96-0123, 659 words]

India’s Catholic bishops call for united action against violence
Thiruvananthapuram, India (ENI). India’s Roman Catholic bishops have expressed “grave concern” over the growing number of acts of violence against Christian social workers and missionaries in different parts of the country. [ENI-96-0124, 200 words]

Scottish Protestants look to uniting their churches
Edinburgh (ENI). Scotland’s major Protestant churches have taken a major step on the path to church union. [ENI-96-0125, 174 words]

Social policy ‘should be priority’ in Maastricht revisions
Brussels (ENI). European Union governments should give greater priority to social policy in their negotiations this year to revise the Maastricht Treaty, according to representatives of European churches, meeting this month in Brussels. [ENI-96-0126, 221 words]

Six years later, Romania’s orphans are still in crisis
Warsaw (ENI). Six years after the world was first alerted to the problem of thousands of abandoned children in Romania, an Orthodox Church organisation has warned that agencies are still “overwhelmed” by the numbers of homeless children in the country. [ENI-96-0127, 477 words]

‘Negative signal’ for future of religion in Hong Kong
Hong Kong (ENI). A senior Hong Kong government official has expressed concern about religious freedom in the territory after it comes under the control of Beijing in 1997. The official’s comments follow a call by the Beijing authorities for an international church assembly in Hong Kong next year to be deferred. [ENI-96-0128, 435 words]

Estonia conflict threatens unity of Orthodox churches
Moscow (ENI). A bitter conflict between two of the world’s most influential church bodies – the Russian Orthodox Church led by Patriarch Alexei II, in Moscow, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople led by Bartholomeos I, based in Istanbul – has taken on the proportions of a national crisis in Russia. Dmitry Pospielovsky, a historian at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, said in today’s Moscow Times newspaper that the conflict could “constitute the most serious division of the Christian church since the split between Rome and Constantinople” in the 11th century. [ENI-96-0129, 1323 words]

Church workers threatened by death squads
Guatemala City (ENI). Protestant church activists in Guatemala are again facing death threats because of their work on behalf of Guatemala’s indigenous majority. A Presbyterian pastor received a typewritten note on the windscreen of his car in Chimaltenango late on 26 February. The note stated: .”.. with or without bodyguards, you will fall into our hands.” [ENI-96- 0130, 580 words]

Orthodox church split ‘could threaten’ ecumenical relations
Geneva (ENI). The general secretary of the World Council of Churches has warned that unless a conflict between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is settled speedily, pressure would mount on other churches to “take sides” between the two Orthodox churches. At issue between the two churches is the question of which of them has jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians in Estonia. [ENI-96-0133, 753 words]

Church concern as Latin American poverty and violence soar
Caracas, Venezuela (ENI). Churches and societies in Latin America are being paralysed by the “neo-liberal” economic system adopted by a majority of governments in the region, according to the general secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). CLAI’s board members have also expressed “serious concern” about statements referring to “evangelical proselytism” by Pope John Paul II and other Roman Catholic leaders during the Pope’s visit in February to Central America and Venezuela. [ENI- 96-0134, 415 words]

Zimbabwe’s president urges churches to condemn homosexuality
Harare (ENI). Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has called on his country’s churches to support his public condemnations of homosexuals. Homosexuality should be condemned in the same way as alcoholism, drug abuse and prostitution, he said. [ENI-96-0135, 173 words]

Gulf War service ‘failed to recognise scale of Iraqi casualties’
London (ENI). Senior British church representatives have criticised a church service involving Queen Elizabeth II to honour Britain’s 47 Gulf War dead, saying that the service failed to recognise the scale of Iraqi casualties in the war and warning that it might adversely affect the position of Iraqi Christians. [ENI-96-0136, 625 words]

Posted: Feb. 29, 1996 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=8552
Categories: ENI
Transmis : 29 févr. 1996 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=8552
Catégorie : ENI

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