World briefs

Published January 1, 1999

Bishop’s wife killed

Berta Sengulane, the wife of Bishop Dinis Sengulane of Mozambique, was killed in a car accident in November.

Mrs. Sengulane was in the car with her husband and two sons, travelling to Beira, a major city in Mozambique. The bishop and his sons survived the crash. Prior to the accident, the bishop had been ill but said he felt well enough to make the trip to Beira.

This is the second car crash in Africa in the last few months that killed a prominent Anglican. Last fall, the primate of Sudan was killed in an accident in Uganda.

Gay/lesbian Web site

The Alliance of Lesbian and Gay Anglicans (ALGA) has launched its own Web site following calls from the Archbishop of Canterbury to have more dialogue on the issue of homosexuality.

Organizers of the Web site said the launch was also linked to widespread concerns about the violent deaths of Matthew Shepard, a gay Episcopalian who was murdered in Wyoming last fall, and James Byrd Jr., who was killed in Texas.

ALGA is working toward the full integration of practising homosexuals in the church throughout the Anglican Communion.

Priest wants reform

(ENI) A former Roman Catholic priest in Poland has vowed to be a “thorn in the side” of the Roman Catholic Church in his country.

Roman Kotlinski, a former priest from central Poland’s Lodz archdiocese, said the Polish church is “ruled by money, self-obsession, the pursuit of power and property.” He wants to support other priests who have quit by setting up Poland’s first association for married ex-priests. The association will campaign for major reforms in the church.

Mr. Kotlinski said the Catholic church, to which 95 per cent of Poland’s 38 million citizens belong, unfairly forces priests to be celibate. He said celibacy contradicts “nature and the Gospel.” He also wants to help the children and female partners of priests who have been “harmed by the church.”

Mr. Kotlinski quit the priesthood in 1993, three months after being ordained. He said the church hierarchy had failed to respond to his requests for reforms.

More hurricane relief

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund is sending another $35,000 to Central American countries still coping with the aftermath of hurricane Mitch.

The devastating hurricane killed more than 11,000 people and rendered thousands homeless.

PWRDF already sent $35,000 last November which was distributed by Action by Churches Together, an ecumenical network providing help to the victims of the hurricane.

Church leaders said the money is badly needed because the level of suffering is staggering. The money will fund food, water, blankets, shelter, and rehabilitation projects.

Churches criticized

(ENI) – Churches in South Africa have been criticized in the final report ofthe Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission has been investigating human rights violations and crimes committed on both sides of the dispute during the apartheid era.

The commission states that Christianity, the dominant religion in South Africa, promoted the ideology of apartheid in different ways, including through biblical and theological teachings.

Most churches, including the dominant English-speaking churches, practised “ecclesial apartheid” by appointing ministers to congregations on the basis of race and by the payment of unequal stipends, said the report.

Religious communities also failed to support dissenting clergy and lay people in conflict with the state. But the report also gave credit to faith communities that opposed the former state policy of racial segregation.

“Some within the religious communities boldly resisted apartheid and paid a heavy price for doing so,” said the committee, which was headed by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Church floats

(ENI) – Russians who live in remote areas in the southern part of the countryare now able to experience Orthodox religion, thanks to a new floating church.

It floats with the help of a barge 27 metres long that’s pushed by a tugboat, and makes stops in communities along the Volga-Don Canal and the Don River.

Since last May, thousands of Russians, many of whom had never seen an Orthodox church in operation, attended services, were baptized and even married in the floating church.

The church is now docked at a village where it will be used for services during the winter. Next spring it will continue its journey, mooring for a few days in each village that has no Orthodox church.

Gay activist fined

(ENI) – A gay rights activist in England who interrupted Archbishop George Carey’sEaster Sunday sermon last year has been fined by an English court.

Peter Tatchell, 46, confronted Archbishop Carey in the pulpit at Canterbury Cathedral, shouting protests about the primate’s views on homosexuality.

Mr. Tatchell is a well known member of Outrage!, a gay and lesbian lobby group. Dr. Carey, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, opposes the ordination of practising homosexuals and lesbians and this year spoke out against the lowering of the age of consent for gays in the U.K. to 16 from 18.

Mr. Tatchell was fined £18.60 (CDN$48) by Canterbury magistrates’ court, after being convicted of indecent behaviour under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act. He was also ordered to pay court costs of £320 (CDN$840).

After the court case Mr. Tatchell told reporters, “I do not regard myself as morally guilty of any crime. My actions in Canterbury Cathedral were in defence of human rights. I claim a moral victory (with the) derisory fine.”

He said he would confront the Archbishop again.

A statement released from the Archbishop’s office said he is “satisfied that by convicting Mr. Tatchell the court has recognized unequivocally that his behaviour cannot be condoned.”

Bishop linked to fraud

(ENI) – A bishop from Cyprus has resigned after reports of a huge international fraud scheme.

Bishop Chrysanthos of Limassol, a leading Orthodox church figure, resigned after media reports of investigations by police in several counties of fraud involving millions of dollars.

Bishop Chrysanthos, also a member of the outgoing central committee of the World Council of Churches, denies all allegations and insists he stepped down for the good of the church. The Church of Cyprus synod has suspended him from taking part “in every holy duty” for two years.

The fraud allegedly involves operations in Cyprus, Yugoslavia, the U.K., the U.S., Latin America, and Australia, connected with high-risk investments promising large profits. Complainants say they lost their money.


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