Ecumenical News International News Highlights

Indian forum says state agencies colluded in anti-Christian violence
New Delhi (ENI 25.8.10). A "people's tribunal" that heard testimonies from victims of anti-Christian violence in India's eastern Orissa state in 2008 has criticised state agencies for aggravating the suffering of those caught up in the attacks. "There is a shocking level of institutional bias on the part of state agencies (including police) leading to their collusion in the violence, connivance in efforts to block the subsequent process of justice and accountability," declared the jury in New Delhi at the end of the unofficial 22-24 August National People's Tribunal on the violence in Orissa's Kandhamal jungles.
Italian Protestant denominations approve same-sex blessings
Rome (ENI 30.8.10). The joint synod of Italy's Waldensian and Methodist Protestant churches has, as the denominations' highest governing body, agreed to authorise the blessing of same-sex couples in church under certain conditions. Synod president Marco Bouchard described the 26 August decision as "a clear and firm step forward that needs to be placed into a context that will be better defined, especially the relationship between churches and homosexual couples". The synod statement said, "The words and practice of Jesus, as seen in the Gospel, call us to welcome each experience and each choice marked by God's love, freely and consciously chosen." Before the synod, a group of Waldensians including a member of the Italian parliament, Lucio Malan, took out a paid advertisement in the Protestant weekly newspaper Riforma, warning that same-sex blessings risked splitting the churches, and affecting ecumenical relationships.
US Presbyterian cleric plans to appeal same-sex marriage ruling
New York (ENI 30.8.10). A retired California Presbyterian minister, rebuked on charges that she violated her ordination vows by marrying same-sex couples, plans to appeal against a ruling that she said sent contradictory messages about the church's support of gay rights. "Who does the Presbyterian Church think we are?" said the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, who is a lesbian. "We are they, they are us." The 27 August ruling by a court of the Redwoods Presbytery, a church district of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Napa, California, rebuked Spahr for violating church policy on same-sex marriage by conducting marriage ceremonies for couples between June and November 2008. Same-sex marriage was already legal in California then. Still, the court commended Spahr for "her prophetic ministry that for 35 years has extended support to 'people who seek the dignity, freedom and respect that they have been denied'". The court called upon the Presbyterian Church "to re-examine our own fear and ignorance that continues to reject … inclusiveness" and it noted that the denomination's own rules offer "conflicting and even contradictory rules and regulations that are against the Gospel".
Previously on this blog 2.10.07, 23.6.08, 18.8.10.
Trust is needed, says Finland's first female Lutheran bishop
Helsinki (ENI 13.9.10). Finland's first female Lutheran bishop has been consecrated at a service in Helsinki Cathedral at which she said that both Church and society need to strengthen trust. "People long for trust," Bishop Irja Askola said in a sermon at her 12 September consecration. "If … we cannot get into good terms in order to be able to communicate with those with different opinions, backgrounds or ways of life, we are on the way to destruction. Different opinions will not destroy us."
Previously on Karl's comments 3.9.10.

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