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International briefing


ACNS Rosenthal
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold greeted Lady Runcie, wife of the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, outside Lambeth Palace before a special Solemn Mass in Canterbury Cathedral April 20 (St. Anselm's Day) to mark the consecration of a new altar in St. Anselm's Chapel.   (ACNS Rosenthal)

[Episcopal News Service] 
  • AFRICA: Episcopal Relief and Development recognizes Africa Malaria Day 2006
  • AUSTRALIA: Government to assist with completion of Brisbane Cathedral
  • BURUNDI: Anglican youth meet to focus on peace building and justice
  • CANADA: Anglican Primate announces retirement
  • ENGLAND: Presiding Bishop joins St. Anselm's Day celebrations at Canterbury Cathedral
  • ENGLAND: Queen's 80th birthday honored by 'Lords Spiritual'
  • ETHIOPIA: Civil society group urges religious bodies to mediate in election crisis
  • INDIA: Christians stage three-day march in schools protest
  • NIGERIA: Bishop criticizes police handling of assassination attempt
  • SOUTH AFRICA: Tutu says churches found it easier to speak out under apartheid

AFRICA: Episcopal Relief and Development recognizes Africa Malaria Day 2006

[Source: Episcopal Relief and Development] Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) recognized Africa Malaria Day 2006 on April 25, with a pledge to expand its malaria program in Africa to work in 10 countries and provide education and training, long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and access to effective drug therapy to more than 300,000 people.

The program will expand to 16 countries over the next three years. ERD's malaria program targets the most vulnerable rural communities, particularly pregnant women and children under five. In sub-Saharan Africa where malaria is the leading cause of death, ERD is working in Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia to improve the long-term health of local communities.

Each year in Africa, 300 million people contract malaria and one in 20 children under the age of five die from the disease.

"Malaria is a curable and preventable disease that kills between 1 and 1.5 million people in Africa each year," said Robert W. Radtke, ERD's president. "ERD and Anglican partners in sub-Saharan Africa are becoming a critical force in malaria education and prevention, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands most susceptible to contracting this disease,"

For more information on ERD's malaria program, visit

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AUSTRALIA: Government to assist with completion of Brisbane Cathedral

[Source: Anglican Church of Australia] The Australian Government has announced that it will provide a further AUS$2 million (US$1.5 million) to assist with the completion of St. John's Cathedral in Brisbane, taking its total contribution to AUS$6 million (US$4.5 million).

Work on the cathedral commenced on April 20, 1906, and a commemorative service marked the 100-year anniversary of that day.

St. John's Cathedral is a landmark in the city of Brisbane and the last internationally significant gothic style cathedral being completed in the world. The Australian Government's contribution will assist St. John's to utilize the services of United Kingdom-based master mason Peter Dare, whose skills and expertise as a craftsman would be difficult to replace if lost to this project.

The original plans for St. John's Cathedral were drawn up by John Loughborough Pearson in the late 19th century. The foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Cornwall and York in 1901 but building was halted in both 1910 and 1968 due to lack of funds.

The present program to complete the cathedral to the vision of John Loughborough Pearson commenced in 1989 and has to date raised more than AUS$24 million (US$18 million).

Completion of St. John's in 2009 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Brisbane Anglican Diocese.

BURUNDI: Anglican youth meet to focus on peace building and justice

[Source: Anglican Church of Burundi] Youth representing the six dioceses of the Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi met April 17–21 for training in peace building, justice, and truth and reconciliation in a post-conflict context.

Supported financially by the World Council of Churches, the training was part of an on-going project to rebuild respect and mutual trust among the youth of Burundi in order to see the nation transformed. It was also designed to encourage them to commit themselves to be agents of peace individually and on behalf of their communities.

Meeting in the Lycée in Matana, the young people, aged 15-25, had occasion to consider and discuss some of the critical issues facing Burundians at this point in their history.

The main speakers were the Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, the bishops of the dioceses of Bujumbura and Makamba, the former Provincial Secretary, a lay person from the Church with experience in politics in Burundi, and a Human Rights activist.

Full story and photo

CANADA: Anglican Primate announces retirement

[Source: Anglican Church of Canada] Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has announced that he will retire in 2007 following General Synod and the election of a successor.

Hutchison, who was elected Primate at the last General Synod in St. Catharines, Ontario, in 2004, made the announcement at a meeting of the Canadian House of Bishops in Niagara Falls, Ontario, after privately notifying the four Canadian Metropolitan Archbishops of his decision.

He reminded the bishops that he had said right after his election in June, 2004, that his would be a one-triennium primacy (General Synod meets every three years). Since then, he said, there have been discussions about whether or not that term of office should be extended. But "despite a good deal of urging for me to do so, I believe the best answer is for me to stick to my original statement," he said.

Full story

Letter to the Church from Archbishop Andrew Hutchison

ENGLAND: Presiding Bishop joins St. Anselm's Day celebrations at Canterbury Cathedral

[ENS] Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold greeted Lady Runcie, wife of the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, at a special Solemn Mass in Canterbury Cathedral April 20 (St. Anselm's Day) to mark the consecration of a new altar in St. Anselm's Chapel. The names of the late Archbishops, Lord Runcie and Lord Coggan, have also been inscribed in the stone step near the altar itself.

Hundreds of Roman Catholic pilgrims joined in the liturgy from Anselm's hometown of Aosta in Italy. The altar was the gift from the people of Aosta, presented to the cathedral by their president. The mass was offered in English, French, and Italian, with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as celebrant and the Bishop of Aosta preaching.

Griswold preached on St. George's Day (April 23) in Southwark Cathedral, London. He is the first of several primates who will be speaking in the cathedral from around the Communion. The Diocese of Southwark and its cathedral have supported many global Anglican initiatives.

ENGLAND: Queen's 80th birthday honored by Lords Spiritual

[Source: Church of England] Bishop Richard Harries of Oxford, England, paid tribute to HM The Queen on the occasion of her 80th birthday, on behalf of the Lords Spiritual.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: "My Lords, from these Benches, I am also glad to support the Motion, to pay tribute to Her Majesty and to wish her a happy birthday, while reaffirming wholeheartedly what has been said from all sides of the House.

"In a period of truly unprecedented change, Her Majesty has been an example of continuity and, more than that, of constancy and stability. Those values have been shown in her to have real solidity and substance, for behind them lies the example of her late father, His Majesty King George VI. Like him, she has carried out her responsibilities and duties in a way that has been utterly straightforward and totally exemplary. In a world dominated by the transient and the fashionable, where so-called celebrities come and go overnight, she has shown us what is of lasting and abiding value.

"Finally, it is perhaps appropriate for us on these Benches to pay particular tribute to the special relationship that Her Majesty has with the Church of England, not in any narrow or partisan way, but as a symbol for the spiritual dimension of the life of the nation as a whole and of all people in it -- we are all valuable, and we are responsible to and for one another. We are all, ultimately, accountable. We too wish her a happy birthday, and may she long reign over us."

The remarks can be seen in context at:

ETHIOPIA: Civil society group urges religious bodies to mediate in election crisis
By Fredrick Nzwili

[Source: Ecumenical News International] A pan-African delegation of religious and civic leaders is urging churches and governments to help promote a peaceful solution to a crisis in Ethiopia where thousands of people are reported imprisoned after a disputed general election in May 2005.

"We are asking the church, and the faith-based movement to come to the aid of Ethiopia and be able to provide leadership in mediating and providing peaceful transition towards an open civic and political space," said Henry Malumo, a Zambian member of the delegation from the Global Call to Action against Poverty coalition.

The April 4-7 delegation led by South African Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane visited Ethiopia where they met Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and religious leaders including the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Abune Paulos.

"When you move to Addis Ababa, it is clear there is no space for dialogue," Malumo had told an April 10 press conference in Nairobi. "There is so much intimidation and fear, that the civil society is concentrating on humanitarian activities only."

Malumo said Ndungane was willing to promote dialogue between all sections of society in Ethiopia, including political parties, civil society and the church.

"The church was finding it a challenge to open up the space and open up the dialogue," said Malumo. "Ndungane has offered, with other eminent religious leaders in Africa, to provide the mediation role beginning some time in May."

Hellen Tombo, a Kenyan member of the poverty coalition, said speedy action was needed by countries neighboring Ethiopia such as Kenya. "If our neighbor go to a crisis, as it is about to erupt, we will have an inflow of refugees, who will put a strain on economy and the resources," she said.

INDIA: Christians stage three-day march in schools protest
By Anto Akkara

[Source: Ecumenical News International] More than 600 members of the Church of South India (CSI) have staged a three-day protest march to Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, in a campaign to return control of four Christian colleges to the church.

"The missionaries started these colleges for the benefit of the entire community," said Chennai's CSI bishop Vedanayagam Devasahayam. "Unfortunately, the administration of these colleges has gone into the hands of individuals who treat these as their private property."

The march concluded on April 23, having started in Madhurantakam, 43 miles away. It is the second protest in recent weeks by church members in outlying parts of the diocese complaining that rural students are unable to gain entrance to the Christian institutions.

Founded by Scottish and other missionaries from 1830 onwards, the Chennai-based Madras Christian College, Women's Christian College, Meston College and St Christopher's College were managed by church nominees until the early 1980s.

In 1981, the members of the Madras Christian College's governing body voted an amendment whereby they became life members of the board, thereby sidelining the church, said Devasahayam. In following years, new members of the governing body were co-opted without church consultation. There were similar constitutional changes in the boards of other three colleges.

Devasahayam said the actions of the governors meant it had become difficult for needy students from rural areas, especially low-caste dalits who account for more than two-thirds of the denomination's members, to gain admission to the colleges.

However, the present chairperson of the Madras Christian College, Besant Raj, rejected the complaints of the bishop.

"The changes were made in the meeting presided over by the then bishop and nobody objected to this for years," Raj, a CSI member, told Ecumenical News International.

Raj said that the college was being administered in the "most professional manner" and adhered to standards and to the quotas for the Christian community set down by the government.

Inaugurated in 1947 by the union of the South India United Church (itself a union of Congregational and Presbyterian/Reformed traditions), the southern Anglican diocese of the Church of India, Burma, Ceylon, and the Methodist Church in South India, the CSI is one of the four United Churches in the Anglican Communion.

NIGERIA: Bishop criticizes police handling of assassination attempt
By Peter Onwubuariri

[Source: Church of Nigeria] An Anglican bishop who escaped assassination last month in Wusasa, Zaria, in Kaduna state after his residence was attacked by armed men, has criticized police handling of the incident, saying nothing has come out of the investigations made so far.

In an interview in Abuja, shortly before a meeting of some Anglican bishops, Bishop Ali Baba Lamido of Wusasa described the attack on his residence, four times within 12 months, as worrisome and coordinated.

He spoke critically on the security situation in the country, urging the federal and state government to act urgently concerning security around the country.

"It doesn't seem people are safe in this country. People are attacked on the highways and in their homes," he said. "Government should not only address these attacks, they should look at the cause of these crimes and address them."

Lamido, who lost one of his workers in the attack by some 20 armed men last month, remarked that not much has been achieved on the security situation in the country.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Tutu says churches found it easier to speak out under apartheid
By Frank Jomo

[Source: Ecumenical News International] South African Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu says the church in his country finds it difficult to speak out about the suffering of underprivileged people for fear of being accused of not helping the government in its nation-building process.

"It's not easy when you want to speak out against people who are really on your side and you are wondering whether it will upset the process of nation-building," South African media quoted Tutu saying at an Easter service near Cape Town, on April 16.

Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, highlighted issues such as unemployment, poverty and the lack of housing as ones on which churches were afraid of challenging the government.

He said it had been easier for churches to speak out during the apartheid era when South Africa was ruled by a white-minority government.

A 2004 survey found that South Africans ranked unemployment -- estimated at 27.8 percent -- as the country's most serious problem.

Lutheran Bishop Nganga Phaswana was quoted by The Citizen newspaper as saying that the process of nation-building in South Africa needed the voices of people such as Tutu.

"True prophets like Archbishop Tutu should not be muffled because their God-inspired prophecy is essentially part of nation-building," said Phaswana.

In 2004, Tutu criticized South Africa's Black Empowerment program, saying it enriched only a small elite and not the vast majority of people, and he has stated there is a lack of internal democracy within the ruling African National Congress (ANC). He was subsequently criticized by South African President Thabo Mbeki.