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Sex Scandals Break out in UK, Australia * LA Bishop Bruno faces Ecclesiastical Trial * Western Mass. Diocese Appoints Rabbi * Anglican mission agency United Society will reclaim USPG * ACC and APA talk Unity

The key to the New Testament. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God' (2 Cor. 5:21). It is surely one of the most startling statements in the Bible, yet we must not on that account evade it. James Denney was not exaggerating when he wrote of it: 'Mysterious and awful as this thought is, it is the key to the whole of the New Testament.' For our sake God actually made the sinless Christ to be sin with our sins. The God who refused to reckon our sins to us reckoned them to Christ instead. Indeed, his personal sinlessness uniquely qualified him to bear our sins in our place. -- John R. W. Stott

It is a heavily scripted, tightly choreographed, star-studded, ratings-driven, mass-marketed, costly exercise in how to sell a product--in this case, a presidential candidate--to dazzled consumers who will choose image over substance almost every time. --- John Whitehead Constitutional lawyer

Evangelical Christianity has long been known for its emphasis on theological orthodoxy, a high view of Scripture, and an adherence to sound doctrine. Indeed, one of the defining distinctions between evangelicals and theological liberals over the past few centuries was the fact that evangelicals took the Bible seriously and saw sound doctrine as essential for the Christian life. These were distinguishing features of evangelicalism and unashamedly so. But all that is now being undone. For various reasons many evangelicals are caving in and capitulating to the surrounding culture. That includes buying into relativism, subjectivism, and worldly notions of tolerance, acceptance and the like. Truth is no longer championed. Doctrine has been abandoned and feelings have been put on a pedestal. Personal preference now reigns supreme in many church circles, and those who stand strong on biblical doctrine are dissed as being narrow-minded, judgmental and unloving. -- Bill Muehlenberg

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
July 29, 2016

SEX, SEX, SEX...it never ends. From Australia to the UK, scandals involving priests seducing young boys continue to haunt the Anglican Communion. It's not just the Roman Catholic Church anymore. This week the scandals broke out big time among Anglicans in Australia and the UK.

The headlines usually scream about cabals of pedophile priests sexually abusing children. Not true. They are ephebophiles, homosexual men preying on vulnerable teenage boys for their own pleasure. These are men who now get a pass in the Church, sodomizing other men roughly their own age or slightly younger.

Distinctions are important. Hebephilia is the strong and persistent adult sexual interest in pubescent (early adolescent) individuals, typically ages 11--14. It differs from ephebophilia, which is the strong and persistent sexual interest in those in later adolescence, approximately 15--19 years old, and from pedophilia, which is the primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.

This week word came from the Church of England that rose to the second highest cleric in the land -- the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. The Archbishop, and four serving bishops, have been accused of misconduct by a Church of England priest who claims they failed to act on allegations he was repeatedly raped by another vicar when he was 16.

The priest says none of the five senior clergy properly responded to his disclosures, made verbally and in writing, of the rapes which he alleged took place in 1984.

"Michael" -- whose identity is known to the Guardian, but who wishes to remain anonymous -- filed the complaints under the CofE's clergy disciplinary measure (CDM) against John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York and second highest-ranking figure in the church; Peter Burrows, the Bishop of Doncaster; Steven Croft, a former Bishop of Sheffield, and now Bishop of Oxford; Martyn Snow, the Bishop of Leicester; and Glyn Webster, the Bishop of Beverley.

All five have contested the complaints because they were made after the church's required one-year limit.

Spokespersons for Sentamu and the four bishops said they could not comment on a matter that was the subject of an internal church process and a police investigation.

One real option, if proven true, is that they should all resign, but that probably won't happen because the Church knows better than anyone else how to cover this stuff up and make it all go away with a large check and a quiet reprimand. No one's career is ruined. You can read the full story in today's digest.

THEN came this word of yet another vicar who was embroiled sexually with young men. A young clergymen who claims he was sexually assaulted by a vicar, accused the Church of England of a "massive cover up" in their handling of his original complaint, a court heard.

He said he then felt he was "forced out" of his post in the Church in the months after complaining to the then Bishop of Durham about the activities of Granville Gibson.

The allegations were made as the complainant, now an associate priest, was giving evidence during the trial of retired clergyman, formerly known as the Venerable Granville Gibson. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

Then VOL's trusty researcher and scribe Mary Ann Mueller uncovered a pedophile sex ring scandal ring in the Anglican Church of Australia that recounted how a future Newcastle bishop was not even immune to abuse.

The latest revelation of the Anglican Church of Australia's sexual wrong doing comes from sitting Bishop Greg Thompson (XIII Newcastle). When the current Newcastle bishop was a teenager, during the mid-1970's, and showing interest in the Anglican priesthood, he was, himself, sexually molested by two Anglican clergy, one being his own bishop -- the Rt. Rev. Ian Shevill, then the IX Bishop of Newcastle (circa 1973-1977). Bishop Thompson is not very forth coming right now with details ... it's too personal ... too haunting. He said he will reveal all to the Royal Commission when asked for particulars.

Fed up with the dark secrets, deceptions and cover up by high ranking Anglican officials, Bishop Thompson became one of several whistleblowers to knock the lid off of a culture steeped in deceit, which has kept sexual misconduct secrets and fostered an atmosphere where several well-organized pedophile rings could be developed, grow and flourish. The various clandestine, interconnected pedophile networks reportedly included Catholic and Anglican priests -- including bishops -- politicians, physicians, attorneys, businessmen, community leaders and children's homes management, who interlaced with each other and remained silent to provide harrowing houses of horror, spreading terror in the region including Wallsend and Hunter Valley. Before St. Alban's finally closed in 1986, it had operated in at least four locations in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales (NSW).

In Australia, "7.30", a hard-hitting current affairs program on the Australian Broadcasting Company, is now shining the spotlight on the Diocese of Newcastle-based Anglican pedophile ring and bringing it to the light of day. Last week in an exclusive report, "7.30" interviewed Bishop Thompson and his two fellow whistle blowers: John Cleary, the Diocese of Newcastle business manager & the CEO of Newcastle Anglican Schools Corporation; and Michael Elliott, the director of Professional Standards for the diocese.

All three men are drawing fire for their public openness, their stance and their determination to root out evil, as well as revealing decades of lies and deceptions which allowed such a scandal to continue.

You can read her full report in today's digest.

So the lesson here is this. If you are 19 or over and have consensual, homogenital sex, the church will fawn all over you, make you a priest if you want to be one, marry you, tell you how wonderful you are, possibly make you a bishop, and then tell the whole wide world what an inclusive church we are, richly diverse and open to all. It's just a matter of age, dear boy. So a year makes a difference? One wonders how soon it will be before the age of consent is lowered to appease sodomists bent on further twisting the church into a permanent sexual pretzel.

*****

Long overdue, but it has finally come to pass, the bully bishop of Los Angeles, Jon Bruno, will face trial for his ecclesiastical crimes. A bitter standoff between a displaced California congregation and the bishop, who evicted them from a $15 million church property last year, is culminating in a rare event: the public trial of an accused bishop, according to The Living Church.

Bruno, will be only the third Episcopal Church bishop known to have faced an ecclesiastical trial since 2000. His trial is believed to be the first under a public hearing process that took effect in 2011, said Mark Duffy, canonical archivist and director of the Episcopal Church Archives. Bruno received his notice in July. The start date and location will be announced soon.

Bruno stands accused of three canonical violations: conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; conduct unbecoming a bishop; and attempting to dispose of property without the standing committee's consent. When asked to comment on the charges, Bob Williams of the Diocese of Los Angeles, referred to a July 21 statement.

The property in question is St. James, Newport Beach. Now the irony here is so deep you could scrape it off sanctuary walls. The woman and parish suing Bruno, one Cindy Voorhees, is theologically not so far apart from Bruno, but it is not about what they believe or don't believe, it is about a property battle and charges she laid at the feet of Bruno, not unlike charges laid at the feet of Charles Bennison, former Bishop of Pennsylvania.

She is gunning for him, accusing him of dishonesty, deceit, fraud and the standard saw 'conduct unbecoming a bishop'. We saw this in Philadelphia, where Bennison was found guilty and then got off with a statute of limitations find. Later, a resolution was introduced into the House of Bishops which enabled Jefferts Schori to ease Bennison out. If Bruno is found guilty, he could be tossed out of the Church...now that would be a first. So a liberal woman priest is going after a revisionist bishop! But that's not all.

This battle began long before Ms. Voorhees got her clutches on the parish and into Bruno. This parish was once the home of an evangelical parish priest by the name of Richard Crocker when he was senior pastor. He and his people overwhelmingly elected to leave the Episcopal Church in August, 2004, due solely to long-standing theological differences, specifically regarding the authority of Holy Scripture and the Lordship of Christ.

He and his people elected to walk away rather than fight for the property, and they are doing quite nicely, thank you. So now we have a real ecclesiastical donnybrook initiated by a liberal woman priest against a revisionist Bruno. Oh, what delicious irony.

One wonders if a jury of his peers - bishops -- will find him guilty and then, by some ecclesiastical sleight of hand, pardon him. Just ask Bennison.

Just how many dumb, venal Episcopal bishops can you cram into a telephone booth? The answer, of course, is that there aren't enough telephone booths.

You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

The Bishop of Western Massachusetts has appointed a Rabbi in Residence for the diocese's Christ Church Cathedral. Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro will take adult education classes and will also "preach periodically in the Sunday liturgy."

The announcement was made by Bishop Doug Fisher and Canon Tom Callard, the cathedral's Priest-in-Charge. In addition to preaching and teaching, Bishop Fisher said that Rabbi Shapiro would "offer his wisdom on a host of social justice concerns."

Speaking to the same website, Bishop Fisher explained the thinking behind the appointment: "Christians and Jews share so much -- a common father in Abraham, the Hebrew scriptures, belief in a God who is both transcendent and within us, and a common challenge from the Prophets."

Really. Perhaps the bishop needs to be reminded of what St. Paul said of his unbelieving Jewish friends found in 2 Corinthians 3:14-17 (NIV) "But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

*****

The Anglican mission agency United Society will reclaim USPG, its more familiar identity of 56 years. The agency is not returning to its former full name of United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, but will become United Society Partners in the Gospel.

The agency has played a long and important role in the history of international Christian missionary activity and in the spread of Anglicanism across the globe.

The agency was formed by Royal Charter in 1701, as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). In 1965, the agency merged with the Universities' Mission to Central Africa to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

It adopted United Society in 2012 "with a reinvigorated desire to participate in God's global mission." But many people found the abbreviated form of the society's name, Us, confusing on a global stage, where it ran the risk of confusion with the United States.

"During 2015, we undertook some research to discover how our new brand had been received," said the agency's chief executive, Janette O'Neill. "We learned that, while our partners in Britain and Ireland and around the world greatly appreciated the energy, values, and practical work embodied in the Us brand, many remained saddened that we were no longer referring to the gospel in our name.

"As well as reintroducing 'gospel' into our name, the new meaning of USPG emphasizes our focus on working in partnership with the world church, while also encouraging the Anglican Churches of Britain and Ireland to participate more deeply in that partnership."

The agency will renew its USPG name and unveil a new logo at Greenbelt, in August.

*****

By contrast, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, called on Christians in the north of the country to remain faithful despite an onslaught of persecution. Speaking at a service of consecration of three new bishops and the presentation of the new provincial Dean, and the new Archbishop of Lagos, Archbishop Okoh urged Christians to follow the biblical example and defend their faith, even against threats of death.

"It was so in the Bible time. If you read Revelation, you will find out that it is not new," Archbishop Okoh told the Vanguard newspaper. "What we charge them is to be diligent in prayer, monitor their environment and stand firm in the Lord. Those in the volatile areas should pray and wait on the Lord, follow the examples of Christian leaders of old, some of them even died in order to defend their faith. They should not sell out but be strong and defend their faith."

What a contrast, considering that a lot of the murdering being done by these thugs is precisely because the West is promoting sodomy and ISIS, and Boko Haran are killing Christians because they despise this behavior.

One wonders if Archbishop Justin Welby will ever come out and say that, or is he too frightened to offend a small group of homosexual men who are bullying the church into accepting their behavior!

*****

The Diocese of Montreal needs $8 million to repair its cathedral, writes David of Samizdat. The diocese is launching into a fundraising campaign, with all the energy that a church less preoccupied with the temporal, might devote to the saving of souls. No matter, this is the interesting part: "The cathedral had no spire from then until 1940, when a new one of aluminum panels mounted on a steel structure replicated the previous stone spire. That structure lasted through 1987-88, when the whole cathedral was, for a time, on a concrete slab supported by piles during construction of a shopping mall underneath the cathedral."

"The foundations of the cathedral are resting on an altar dedicated to the consumer god of a decaying civilization: a shopping mall. A perfect metaphor for the Diocese and, indeed, the entire Western Anglican edifice."

*****

The British government has announced a £2.4 million fund to help secure places of worship in England and Wales. Churches, mosques and temples have been invited to bid for grants if they can show that they are at risk of attack from religious hate crimes. Synagogues are excluded from the scheme because the government has provided a separate grant to the Community Security Trust, a charity that provides protection services to Britain's Jewish communities.

The scheme was launched today (Tuesday) by Britain's senior home affairs minister, Amber Rudd, as she outlined a Hate Crime Action Plan. This will include a study into how the different police forces in the country understand and respond to hate crimes; and a commitment from the government to "give young people and teachers the tools they need to tackle hatred and prejudice, including through a new program to equip teachers to facilitate conversations around international events and the impact they have on communities here in the UK."

The action plan was launched following a rise in racist incidents since the UK voted to withdraw from the European Union. This has led, in particular, to an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has frequently spoken out against the rise in racist incidents since the EU referendum. Earlier this month, at the Church of England's General Synod in York, he said: "It is perfectly clear that the result and the referendum campaign had "exposed deep divisions in our society, of which we were aware already" and he called on the Church to "respond with a fresh effort in integration."

"The result [of the referendum] has released a latent racism and xenophobia in all sectors, and challenges the prevailing consensus of tolerance and acceptance, thus threatening other areas of welcome liberalization," he said.

*****

Will Europe finally face up to the threat of Islamism? Maybe, maybe not. Yet another priest, this time an elderly 84-year old Roman Catholic priest, was murdered, his throat cut as he was saying mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. One writer opined that he had pretty well a perfect ending in Christian terms: celebrating the Eucharist and targeted precisely because he was a priest. Two men took him hostage during mass, along with a couple of nuns and a couple of members of the congregation and they slit his throat -- not quite the decapitation favored by Islamic State in its own territory, but not for want of trying. By one account, one of the men shouted Daesh during the attack, which is odd, because this is the euphemistic term used by those who wish to call IS by a pejorative name without any obvious Muslim associations. Anyway, being murdered for your faith counts as martyrdom, so as far as the priest was concerned, he ended his life giving witness to the faith, involuntarily or not.

The reason for the attack seems perfectly clear -- an attack on Christians at mass by Muslim jihadists hardly needs parsing, does it? -- as indeed the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, observed when he said on Twitter that the 'barbaric' attack was a blow to Catholics and the whole of France. 'We will stand together,' he said. How, exactly? Yet most of the reports at this point, led by the French interior minister, Pierre-Henry Brandet, say the motivation for the hostage taking was 'unclear'... but it's all too clear, surely?

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued a joint statement with the other five Presidents of the ecumenical group Churches, including the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster.

In their statement, the Church leaders say: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the brutal murder of our brother. . . That a man of peace who had dedicated his life to serving people could be killed during Mass is testimony to the evil that drives the actions of those who commit such a crime.

"We offer our deepest sympathy to his family, friends and parishioners. We pray for the wellbeing of those who were taken hostage, their families and the entire community served by Fr Jacques; indeed we pray for the peace of France, Europe, the Middle East and the world for which Jesus, the Prince of Peace, gave his own life."

You can read a couple of fine commentaries about his murderous attack in today's digest.

IN OTHER NEWS: A terrorist attack in the UK is "highly likely", following attacks in other parts of Europe, a five-judge tribunal has heard, as churches in Britain are told to tighten security after the murder of an 85-year-old priest in Normandy.

The heightened state of security comes as images threatening attacks in London and other major world capitals were reportedly posted on Telegram, a messaging app used by jihadis.

Despite there being no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community in the UK, the National Police Chiefs' Council is urging the community to be alert, but not alarmed, report concerns and review their security as a precaution.

Neil Basu, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: "There is no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community in the UK.

"However, as we have seen, Daesh and other terrorist groups have targeted Christian as well as Jewish and other faith groups in the West and beyond.

"Following recent events in France, we are reiterating our protective security advice to Christian places of worship and have circulated specific advice today. We are also taking this opportunity to remind them to review their security arrangements as a precaution.

"While the threat from terrorism remains unchanged at severe, we urge the public to be vigilant."

*****

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, announced the appointment, this week, of Sarah Snyder, as his new advisor for reconciliation. She takes over from Canon David Porter, who moved into his new role as chief of staff and strategy to the Archbishop, at the beginning of May.

Snyder will take up the role in September. She will be part of the senior team at Lambeth Palace, while also being based at Coventry Cathedral, where Archbishop Justin's reconciliation ministry has been established since its inception. Her role will have a particular emphasis on supporting the Church in contexts of violent conflict or post-conflict and helping the Church to be an agent of reconciliation and conflict-transformation.

Do you think there's a chance she might be able to reconcile Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh with U.S. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry over sexuality issues? Don't hold your breath. These 'agents of reconciliation' are largely fictional attempts to find unity where there is none.

*****

The times, they are a changing, writes Archbishop Mark Haverland, primate of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) in the latest issue of The Trinitarian. "The older Continuing Churches are getting their act together at last." He reports that that the ACC and the Anglican Province of America (APA) are merging their work in the Philippines and healing old wounds. He is still not very happy with the ACNA, and calls them a "para-church coalition of independent dioceses." He does call for cultivating relationships with members of Forward in Faith who are full members of the ACNA.

*****

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