Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday a.m. posts

Father Joseph Fessio on the controversy surrounding Pope Benedict’s recent comments

September 21st, 2006 posted by kendall at 8:28 am

Stephen Crittenden:…Is there any doubt that in that extract the Pope is saying that Islam is totalitarian and incompatible with a pluralist Western society?

Joseph Fessio: He’s a man of principles who sees deeply into things, and he recognises that the Qur’an first of all is presented as the unmediated and uncreated word of God which cannot be changed for which there’s no majesterium to interpret it, and that therefore if you try and see what society will be, if it’s going to be consistent with the Qur’an, then you end up with this principle of political life as you’ve enunciated, as you’ve said. And you cannot have a society based on that principle integrated into Western pluralism which is antithetical to that principle.

Stephen Crittenden: What do you think about the Pope’s comments of last week? Do you think he has anything to apologise about?

Joseph Fessio: Well he did apologise for the fact that people reacted the way they did; he was sorry, he regretted that. He also did say that the opinions which he quoted of Paleologos about only evil and inhuman things were the new things that Muhammad brought, he doesn’t subscribe to that position, at least in its entirety. So that was fair enough, but the point is he made it very clear in that lecture, which I think was a defining lecture and perhaps will be one of the great documents of his pontificate, he says the decisive statement is that not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature.

Stephen Crittenden: God is rational?

Joseph Fessio: God is love, and God is rational. And the challenge to Islam that he’s posing is ‘Look, is God so transcendent, that he transcends irrationality, or not?’ And I haven’t seen any response which addresses that question. In fact most of the responses are an implicit denial of the freedom of God, of the rationality of God, because the responses have been violence.

Stephen Crittenden: Would you say in fact that the Pope has in some senses, successfully demonstrated the problem he was talking about?

Joseph Fessio: Absolutely. Yes.

Stephen Crittenden: One other issue that you raised just there that I suspect is important to emphasise, is the academic context in which this speech was made, raising the questions of whether Muslims accept freedom of speech in relation to any issue of importance to Islam.

Read it all and there is more here, here, there and there.

New South Carolina Bishop likely to extend Episcopal church’s traditions

September 21st, 2006 posted by kendall at 8:19 am

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has been …[near the top] in numerical growth and financial giving over the last 25 years, said the Rev. Robert “Bob” Caswell of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection. Caswell said folks migrating to South Carolina contributed to that growth, but he also believes the message has attracted people. Membership in the state’s diocese, which includes coastal areas from Hilton Head to North Myrtle Beach, is approaching 30,000, Caswell said.

Controversies over sexuality and other issues, however, have caused some people to leave the Church and that is a fact Caswell wishes wasn’t so.

“If people are seeking God, they can come and find him here,” said Caswell, who has been at the Episcopal Church of Resurrection for more than eight years. “It doesn’t matter how they dress or who they are sleeping with. They are welcome here. The church is not made up of perfect people. We come as we are, and the power of the Holy Spirit transforms us. I want us to be a church that is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”

Carole Bradley, a member for four years at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection said she believes eventually Episcopalians will narrow the gap and stand stronger together.

Nationally, there are 2.3 million Episcopalians in the Church, down from 3.6 million in 1968.

“We are in a dark place right now,” Bradley said. “But the Lord is in control, and this, too, shall pass.”

Read it all.


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