March 1, 2023 // National

News Briefs: March 5, 2023

Anglicans in Global South are ‘Heartbroken’ by Church of England Decision to Bless Same-Sex Marriages

NAIROBI, Kenya (OSV News) — Anglican leaders in the Global South say the decision by the Church of England to allow clergy to bless same-sex unions has strengthened their resolve to reset, reform, and renew the worldwide Communion. The leaders also reject the authority of Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury after he led the General Synod of the Church of England in allowing the clergy to bless same-sex civil marriages and offer additional prayers for such occasions. The General Synod did not allow same-sex church marriages however. The move has since triggered sharp reactions from traditionalists within the communion and widened an existing split within the church. “What the Church of England has done is the ‘last nail in the coffin.’ Therefore, we do not recognize Canterbury and the authority of the archbishop of Canterbury,” Archbishop Laurent Mbanda, the Primate of Rwanda, told OSV News in a telephone interview. “It is unbiblical and the archbishop of Canterbury does not have the authority to lead anymore. He cannot lead the synod into a heresy.” The Global African Future Conference, “a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion,” said in a Feb. 9 statement that the archbishop of Canterbury is “shredding the last remaining fragile fabric of the Anglican Communion.”

‘We are Children of the Resurrection,’ say Participants in Middle East Continental Synodal Assembly

BEIRUT (OSV News) — As the continental phase of the synod travels across the globe in February and March, with sessions in Europe, Oceania, North America, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the Middle East encounter fell during a time of grief following the tragic earthquake on Feb. 6 in Syria and Turkey. Reflecting the richness and diversity of its apostolic churches, the Continental Synodal Assembly for the Middle East gathered from Feb. 13 to Feb. 17 in Lebanon. Representatives from Eastern Catholic Churches — Maronite, Melkite, Syriac, Chaldean, Coptic, Armenian — as well as from the Latin Church — were present. In their closing statement, the Middle East assembly’s participants said their meeting “comes in difficult circumstances for our region,” especially economic and humanitarian, in particular “the devastating earthquake that struck our brothers in Syria and Turkey.” Participants “raised daily prayers for the intention of the victims, the wounded, and the displaced in the stricken areas.” During the assembly, participants broke off into working groups where patriarchs and laypeople from all Eastern rites worked together. “I think this is a great beginning. It’s a new day in the life of the universal church,” Lebanese Maronite laywoman Suzy El Hage told OSV News. “I think the sun is rising on all of us and the Holy Spirit is very happy … We are from different countries and many churches (rites), but we have many things in common.”

Judge Orders Release of Redacted Report on Child Sex Abuse in Baltimore Archdiocese

BALTIMORE (OSV News) — Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor Jr. ruled on Feb. 24 that a redacted version of the Maryland Attorney General Office’s report on child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore must be released publicly. The judge ordered the attorney general’s office to redact more than 200 names from the report and submit it to the court by mid-March. Christian Kendzierski, Archdiocesan Spokesman, said in a written statement issued in response to Taylor’s ruling, “As we said publicly last year, we respect the court’s decisions in this matter and will continue to cooperate with the court and the Maryland attorney general’s office. The archdiocese continues to pray this report brings some measure of healing of the deep wounds caused by the scourge of child sexual abuse in the life of the church.” In a letter sent to Catholics in the archdiocese on Nov. 17, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori acknowledged information in the report would be a source of renewed pain for many, “most especially those harmed by representatives of the church.” The report investigates 80 years of allegations of sexual abuse and the response by the archdiocese to those allegations.

Pope Francis Will Travel to Hungary at End of April

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will travel to Hungary April 28-30 where he will meet with government officials, refugees, academic scholars, and young people in Budapest, the Vatican announced on Feb. 27. The pope will arrive in Budapest on April 28 and will meet with Katalin Novák, President of Hungary, and the country’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, as well as local bishops, priests, and other members of Hungary’s Catholic community. Novák, who is Hungary’s first female head of state, invited Pope Francis to visit Hungary during her visit to the Vatican on Aug. 26, 2022. The pope will only spend one full day in the country on April 29, during which he will meet privately with children from a local school, speak with refugees and people in need, address young people in Hungary, and meet with the local Jesuit community. Before returning to Rome on April 30, he will celebrate Mass before the Hungarian Parliament and meet with scholars from Budapest’s Pázmány Péter Catholic University.

Bush Marks 20 Years of PEPFAR, Joining Catholic Leaders in Calling for Its Renewal in HIV/AIDS Fight

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — Former President George W. Bush marked the 20th anniversary of the PEPFAR program at a Feb. 24 event in the nation’s capital, casting the program as an example of the global leadership the United States can provide. PEPFAR, or the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, was authorized by Congress and Bush in 2003, as the U.S. government’s global effort to combat HIV/AIDS. The program is the largest global health program devoted to a single disease, and is credited with saving 25 million lives and scaling back the trajectory of the epidemic. The program, in part, distributes antiretrovirals in countries where as many as one-third of adults were impacted. Congress will consider the program’s reauthorization this year. Catholic groups including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services have backed the program’s lifesaving efforts. Bush quipped to the audience that he was not in Washington, D.C because he misses it, but to advocate for PEPFAR. “We’re asking for the program to be refunded,” Bush said.

‘Pilgrimage Road’ Reveals Archaeologists’ Race Against Time in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (OSV News) — One of Israel’s leading archaeologists working on the Pilgrimage Road excavation near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount said that with so much new construction underway around the Holy City, the rush is on to document and preserve the past before it’s too late. “Right now in Jerusalem, we have about 14 excavations running — and we have 30,000 registered antiquity sites in all of Israel,” said Yehiel Zelinger, a Jerusalem Region archeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority with some 30 years-experience in the field here. “We have to catch as much as we can right now because otherwise, we won’t have the data,” he told OSV News. One of the major projects getting a lot of attention throughout the last decade is the discovery of what is believed to be a 2,000-year-old pilgrim walking path, or stepped street, in Jerusalem’s City of David National Park area. It connects the Pool of Siloam in east Jerusalem to the foot of the Temple Mount, and was likely familiar to Jesus Christ as well as the millions of Jewish pilgrims here during their ascent to the Temple. “The most important thing is to publish (findings) for the scientific community and for the public,” said Zelinger, who also teaches archaeology at a local university. “It has to be built on facts and once more we are trying to work with facts — coins, poetry, carbon footing, magnetic fields — all those things are methods that build up the story.”

Debris is seen is seen on the beach from a shipwreck in Cutro, Italy, Feb. 27, 2023. Officials feared that more than 100 people, including children, died after their boat sank in rough seas off southern Italy Feb. 26. (OSV News photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

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