Episcopal ordination tomorrow
Holy days move not popular
War heroism honoured on Rescuers Wall
SA leader calls for marriage law fair to all 
New Middle East forum to unite efforts for peace

Episcopal ordination tomorrow

ADELAIDE:  Church leaders and dignitaries from around Australia will join an estimated 5000 people at the Adelaide Convention Centre tomorrow night (Thursday, September 14) for the Episcopal ordination of Greg O’Kelly SJ.   Principal consecrator will be Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson with co-consecrators, Emeritus Archbishop of Adelaide Leonard Faulkner and Bishop of Port Pirie Eugene Hurley. The Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, and Bishop of Darwin Ted Collins will concelebrate the Mass.   The ceremony will begin at 7pm.  Bishop-elect O’Kelly has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

Holy days move not popular

LONDON:  The majority of practising Catholics in England and Wales are opposed to the Bishops' decision to move three holy days of obligation - the Epiphany, the Ascension and Corpus Christi  -  to Sundays, according to the results of a Tablet survey that attracted 700 respondents.  The survey found that nearly 60 per cent of English and Welsh Catholics who took part disagreed with the move, with many complaining that it showed that the Church is giving into secularism and no longer takes major feast days seriously.

War heroism honoured on Rescuers Wall

WASHINGTON (RNS):   Unitarian minister and his wife who left their family, church, and community to help rescue victims of Nazi persecution will be honoured posthumously by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

Tomorrow, Thursday, September 14, the Rev. Waitstill Sharp and his wife, Martha, will become only the second and third Americans to be memorialised with a plaque on the Rescuers Wall in the museum’s Permanent Exhibition. Martha Sharp will be the first American woman.

The extraordinary work of the Sharps in rescuing hundreds of Jews and other Nazi dissidents led to the founding of what is today the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, an international human rights organisation based in Cambridge, Mass. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution late last week paying tribute to the courageous work of the Sharps celebrating them as “genuine American heroes”.

The recognition by the museum follows a similar ceremony on June 13 when the Sharps were honoured posthumously as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel. More than 21,000 have been so honoured since the memorial was established in 1963, the vast majority from European countries.  (further information is available on the UUSC website.)

South African church leader calls for marriage law fair to all 

Cape Town (ENI): The general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Eddie Makue, has urged the national government to quickly end discrimination which exists in the country's current Marriage Act. As it stands now, the law recognises only marriage between a man and a woman, and has been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, which has given the government until December to amend it.

New Middle East forum to unite efforts for peace

GENEVA:   In a major new initiative, the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has endorsed proposals to establish a comprehensive ecumenical advocacy initiative for peace in the Middle East.   It also has reiterated its alarm at the dramatic humanitarian consequences and alleged violations of international law during the recent war in Lebanon and northern Israel.

In a "statement on the war in Lebanon and northern Israel, and ecumenical action for Middle East peace," central committee members approved the creation of a Palestine/Israel Ecumenical Forum under the auspices of the WCC, which would "catalyse and co-ordinate" new and existing church advocacy for peace, aim at ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in accordance with UN resolutions, and would "demonstrate its commitment to inter-religious action for peace and to justice that serves all peoples of the region”.

The statement was issued following the report to central committee of an ecumenical delegation that visited Beirut and Jerusalem in early August, and an address by Lebanese government minister Dr Tarek Mitri, which gave evidence of the devastating consequences of the conflict.

The statement urges the United Nations to establish an international inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law during the recent conflict, and insists on the release or trial according to international norms of all detainees held by parties to the conflict.

In other actions related to the Middle East region, the public issues committee expressed concern at the failure of the government of Israel to ratify the election of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, Patriarch Theophilos III, thereby obstructing the church from carrying out regular legal functions.

 (Full text of the statement on the war in Lebanon and Northern Israel, and ecumenical action for Middle East peace; the full texts of recent WCC statements on the Middle East)

In other news from the WCC Central Committee:

The WCC Central Committee has called on the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam to respect the terms and conditions of the 2002 cease-fire agreement, put an immediate end to all hostilities and resume peace negotiations without future delay.

It expressed its "deep concern at the widening rift between the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities and the lethal escalation of armed violence between the security forces of the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam and the activities of the paramilitary groups".

Churches in Sri Lanka have provided cautious and critical support to the peace process, among other things through inter-religious cooperative endeavours to mobilise people for peace and national reconciliation.   (full text of the statement)


The WCC Central Committee has condemned extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and called on the government of the Philippines to disband "death squads", private militias and paramilitary forces operating with impunity in the country.  It also challenged the concept of a global war on terror as pretext for the violation of human rights in the Philippines.

In expressing its condolences to the families of the victims of the killings, the Central Committee called on the Philippines Government to hold accountable any members of the military found to be involved in extrajudicial killings; to instruct the military to cease listing churches and church workers as "enemies of the state"; and to reverse the national security policy of making no distinction between combatants and non-combatants within the current counter-insurgency campaign.  (full text of the statement)



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