Another catch-up on the news…

I’ve been too busy to blog of late. I’ll try to write more, but it’s all about finding the time.

Catching up on a few things:

1. Father Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who faces dismissal from the order because of his support for women’s ordination, is not going quietly. He led a march to the Vatican a few days back to press his cause and was briefly detained by police. Bourgeois either has been excommunicated or soon will be because of his public stand, depending on which report you read.

Bourgeois’ ongoing, very pubic struggle with the church is surely causing anguish for many at Ossining-based Maryknoll, where many love Bourgeois but can’t support him openly.

2. The Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is starting a “strategic planning process” for its future.

They’re asking congregants to fill out on-line surveys by the end of the year that ask for the main strength of one’s congregation, the most significant issue facing one’s congregation and one’s “dream” or vision for their congregation.

It’s hard for me to see how such a survey will produce any new information or surprises. You can pretty much predict what the most common responses will be.

3. As Mitt Romney holds on as one of the top contenders for the GOP nomination, we are hearing more and more about his Mormon faith and what it means to non-Mormon Republicans (just as we did four years ago).

If you don’t really get, I strongly suggest that you read a recent explainer by Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the country’s best religion writers. She offers a terrific primer on Mormon belief that offers just enough theology. Give it a try.

4. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom since 1991 and one of the world’s most prominent rabbis and Jewish thinkers, will speak next Saturday night, Oct. 29, at 8 at Young Israel of Scarsdale.

You can see a sampling of numerous writings and speeches and “thoughts of the day” on his website.

NY’s mainline Protestant leaders support proposed downtown Islamic center

It’s taken a while, but New York’s mainline Protestant leaders have issued statements about the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero.

No great surprises here. The NY bishops of the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church all gently support the project, while acknowledging the pain still felt by so many.

I’ll paste their full statements below.

United Methodist Bishop Jeremiah Park declares his support for the project, writing that “denying the fundamental right of a religious community, as long as it fulfills the same legal requirements applied to all other religious communities, by singling it out for the wrong reasons, compromises the integrity of who we are at our core.”

He also writes: “Our hearts break over the sacrifice of the dead from 9/11 and the pains and sufferings of their loved ones and our country. However, to truly honor them, to truly preserve the historic significance of the Ground Zero, and to truly triumph over the evil force of 9/11, it is necessary to stand firm on what America believes in and be willing to pay whatever the price to protect and preserve freedom and equality for all.”

ELCA Bishop Robert Rimbo doesn’t offer the same outright pledge of support, but concludes with this: “There is much pain very near the surface of our emotions with regard to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. But how will preventing this center from being constructed help us to deal with that pain? There is great fear driving our lives today. How do persons of faith respond to that fear? We commend ourselves to the reliable and merciful arms of the God of Abraham, the God whom Jesus calls Abba, the God whom Muslims and Christians in various parts of the world call Allah. This God promises a reign in which all shall be well. Our faith is bigger and stronger than all our fears.”

Italics mine. Sure sounds like he is in favor getting beyond the fear and building the place.

Finally, Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk, as I noted last week, wrote a public letter supporting the Islamic center. It includes this: “The plan to build this center is, without doubt, an emotionally highly-charged issue. But as a nation with tolerance and religious freedom at its very foundation, we must not let our emotions lead us into the error of persecuting or condemning an entire religion for the sins of its most misguided adherents.”

Of course, Archbishop Tim Dolan has offered to be a conciliatory voice, but has stopped short of taking a position. In a recent blog post, he wrote: “Although I have no strong sentiment about what should be decided about the eventual where of the Islamic Center, I do have strong convictions about how such a discussion should be reached: civilly and charitably.  The hot-heads on either side must not dominate.”

Here are the full UMC, ELCA and Episcopal Church statements… Continue reading