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International briefing

[Episcopal News Service]   
  • ENGLAND: Church says marriage can only be founded on consent
  • ENGLAND: New attendance figures show mixed picture for church-going
  • MIDDLE EAST: Suheil Dawani consecrated Jerusalem's coadjutor bishop
  • NIGERIA: Anglican Church, Changing Attitude in dispute over allegations
  • RWANDA: Rice project inaugurated in Kibungo diocese to fight poverty

ENGLAND: Church says marriage can only be founded on consent

[ENS, SOURCE: Church of England] The Church of England has supported moves to create a specific criminal offence of "forcing someone to marry" in its submission to a Home Office review on the issue.
        In the Church's submission, Bishop Tom Butler of Southwark says: "We strongly affirm the principle reflected in the consultation that forced marriages are wrong legally and morally. The idea of consent is key for the Christian understanding of marriage, and the very foundation of the concept of marriage in English law."
        The consultation was organized to identify whether the longer-term benefits of introducing primary legislation would help change ingrained attitudes to the issue and aid young people who face the prospect of entering a marriage against their wishes.
        The Church's response is founded on the principle that non-consensual marriage should be dealt with on the same basis as non-consensual sexual relations, as an issue of fundamental human rights.
        Rejecting the idea that existing legislation and protective measures are sufficient to prevent forced marriages, the Church's response points to the experiences of around 250 cases dealt with by the Government's Forced Marriage Unit each year -- and many more such abuses which take place without being brought to the attention of the authorities.
        The submission also highlights the importance of an integrated communications campaign to support the introduction of any future legislation in this area, to help alleviate concerns that new legal powers could be misinterpreted as an attack on one section of the community.
        "It is also important that marriage based on consent, whether arranged or chosen by the couple, is not unintentionally undermined by legislation in this area," Butler concludes.

ENGLAND: New attendance figures show mixed picture for church-going

[ENS, SOURCE: Church of England] Figures just released by the Church of England for 2004 show a mixed picture for trends in church attendance.
        Regular Sunday church attendance fell by one percent -- largely offsetting a similar increase the previous year. But weekly and monthly churchgoing held steady and the number of children and young people at services rose by two percent.
        The new statistics confirm that more than 1.7 million people attend Church of England church and cathedral worship each month while around 1.2 million attend each week -- on Sunday or during the week -- and just over one million each Sunday. The total population of England is approximately 60 million.

The figures for 2004 can be found online at:

MIDDLE EAST: Suheil Dawani consecrated Jerusalem's coadjutor bishop

[ENS] The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani was consecrated coadjutor bishop for the Diocese of Jerusalem January 6 in a colorful two-hour ceremony, attended by more than 800 people, at St. George's Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem.
        Formerly priest at St. Andrew's Church in Ramallah, Dawani will, little by little, assume the responsibilities of the diocese, before succeeding Jerusalem's current Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El-Assal, in approximately two years.
        Representing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold at the service were his wife, Phoebe Griswold, who read a letter of greeting on his behalf, and the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director for Peace and Justice Ministries.
        "The high turnout demonstrates much excitement and vitality in the diocese and that is good to see, given the difficult context of a Church deeply affected by the ongoing conflict," Grieves said. "Bishop Dawani expressed his commitment to the Church's role in peacemaking in his brief remarks to the congregation."
        Joining El-Assal as chief consecrators were Bishop Clive Handford, Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Brian Castle of Tonbridge, England, and Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan.
        Also attending the service was Massachusetts Bishop Thomas Shaw, who was already in Jerusalem related to other ministry travel. Attired in his monk's habit as a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Shaw attended the service in support of the new bishop coadjutor, but did not serve as a consecrating bishop.
        In an interview with ENS October 24, Dawani outlined his mission priorities as working with youth, women and families, as well as enhancing the work of the diocesan institutions.
        "Public relations are very important also and I am looking to strengthen our ties with the Anglican Communion, the central synod and with our partners in the U.S., in Britain, and anywhere we have an Anglican presence," he said. "Of course I would like to strengthen the work of St. George's Cathedral, because it is the mother church of the Anglican Communion, so I hope that we will have more people coming there and having direct contacts with the community in Jerusalem and other parts of the diocese."
        Another priority, Dawani explained, is the centrality of Jerusalem. "Jerusalem is very important and I will work to promote peace and justice in the city and to be sure that the city is open for all believers," he said.
        Born in Nablus, West Bank, in 1951, Dawani is married to Shafeeqa Fu'ad Massad and they have three daughters, Sama, Tala and Luban.

[Full text of the ENS interview with Dawani can be found online]

NIGERIA: Anglican Church, Changing Attitude in dispute over allegations

[ENS, SOURCES: Anglican Church of Nigeria, Changing Attitude Nigeria] The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN), an organization that challenges the church's conservative stance on homosexuality, have been at loggerheads over claims that CAN leader, Davis Mac-Iyalla, has been involved in fraudulent activity.
        In a press release dated December 28, 2005, the Rev. Canon AkinTunde Popoola, director of communications for the Church of Nigeria, announced that Mac-Iyalla has "been traced to be the same person who defrauded the then dying Bishop of Otukpo under the guise of marrying his daughter," while also claiming that he is not a member of the Anglican Church -- accusations that CAN vehemently denies.
        In response, CAN announced in a December 31 press release that MacIyalla is registered as a member of St. Phillips Anglican Church, Kermo FCT, Abuja, and St. Andrews Anglican Church, Bakana, Degema LGA in Rivers State, while rebuffing claims that he was involved in any sort of fraudulent activity.
        Changing Attitude (England) has stated that it is taking legal advice about the matter and calling on Popoola to "put verifiable evidence into the public domain."

The full text of the Church of Nigeria's press release can be found online at:

The full text of Changing Attitude Nigeria's press release can be found online at:

A press release from Changing Attitude (England) can be found online at:

RWANDA: Rice project inaugurated in Kibungo diocese to fight poverty

[ENS, SOURCE: L'Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda] Local government officials and religious leaders on launched a rice project January 7 in Rwakazuzi Village in the province of Kibungo, Rwanda.
        A function was held which marked the installation of a rice machine worth 6 million Rwandan francs (US$10,830). The project was put in place by the Anglican Diocese of Kibungo in an attempt to fight poverty in the area.
        Bishop Josias Sendegeya of Kibungo told more than 500 peasants who came for the function that the project was in their hands and that they should strive hard to make the rice paddy a model in the region.
        "We as a Christian organization decided to install a rice machine after we had learned that the peasants have the potential to grow various cash crops aimed at uplifting their standards of living," he said. "And our dream of installing the rice machine in the area has become true; therefore, we hope and believe that the people of God will attain holistic development."
        Sendegeya added that the church was set to stick to government's developmental programs aimed at fighting poverty with in the region.

Full story by Grace Mugabe: