Religion and law round up – 6th October

A week of events and announcements but few legal developments

IPPC Climate Change Report

Readers of this blog and David’s column in Environmental Law and Management will be aware of  a continuing theme expressing concern at the inaction on global warming.  On Monday this week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC), released its new report “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis”, the work of “209 Lead Authors and 50 Review Editors from 39 countries, and more than 600 Contributing Authors from 32 countries”.  The 36-page Summary for Policy Makers has been condensed to a 2-page Headline from Summary for Policy Makers.  The main message from the report is summarized in the unambiguous statement in the Press Release:

“Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident in most regions of the globe … It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.”

The chairman of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, Philip Fletcher, is quoted as saying that the report made it “clearer than ever that climate change is happening; that we, the human race, are largely or completely responsible for that; and that we really ought to proceed on that basis rather than just hoping that it will all turn out to be wrong.”  Commenting on the performance of the Church of England, he continued:

“[t[here are things we do well, and things we do badly, but we have been seeking to work at shrinking our own footprint for some time. We know that we should be doing more … We are taking it seriously, and we know we are part of the problem.”

Religious circumcision – yet again

On Tuesday the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution 1952 (2013) which expressed the Assembly’s concern about

“… a category of violation of the physical integrity of children, which supporters of the procedures tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite clear evidence to the contrary. This includes, amongst others, female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons…”.

Paragraph 7.5.2. of the Resolution calls upon member states, inter alia, to

“… clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices which are today widely carried out in certain religious communities, such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys…”.

We have been here before: readers may remember the court decision in Germany that caused so much embarrassment to Angela Merkel’s Government; and only last week the Swedish Children’s Ombudsman [Barnombudsman], Fredrik Malmberg, co-signed a piece in Dagens Nyheter which stated that “Circumcising a child without medical justification nor his consent contravenes this child’s human rights”.

Needless to say, the wording of the Resolution has caused considerable consternation in the Jewish community; and JTA (from which Frank picked up the lead) reported that

“Large majorities rejected five amendments that sought to remove or alter references to the circumcision of boys. An amendment that removed a reference to the ‘religious rights of parents and families’ was supported by a large majority of members”.

Our suspicion is that the Council of Ministers will simply duck the issue on the grounds that it is too hot a potato.

Anglican Liturgy for the Ordinariate

A new text of the Mass has been devised for use by Ordinariates throughout the English-speaking world “as a way of putting into practice Pope Benedict XVI’s vision of allowing former Anglicans who wish to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church to do so whilst retaining aspects of their spiritual and liturgical traditions”.  The Ordinariate explains:

“[t]he Roman Rite in both its ordinary and extraordinary forms remains available for use by Ordinariate priests and there will be no requirement for them to adopt the Ordinariate Use. However, all Ordinariate clergy will be expected to familiarise themselves with it. Some priests are expected to use it regularly, while others – especially in parishes with a large concentration of “cradle” Catholics in the congregation – may only wish to use it from time to time.”

The new liturgy, the work of a special commission established by Rome and approved by the Holy See, includes text from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1662) as well as the Roman Rite. It will be first celebrated on Wednesday 10 October as a Votive Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman, and followed by a media launch at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho.

The Mass will be celebrated by the Ordinary Ordinariate, Monsignor Keith Newton, and the preacher will be Monsignor Andrew Burnham, who was a member of the commission which devised the liturgy, known as the Ordinariate Use.  The music used will be drawn from the English tradition with Howells’ Collegium Regale as the ordinary, and other music by Elgar and Bairstow.

This is significant, given the general discontent with the standard of post-Vatican II music that is periodically aired in the Roman Catholic press and blogs.  A recent feature in the Catholic Herald stating:

“Music in the Catholic Church in Britain is in a serious and difficult situation. The origins of many of the problems stem from the varied interpretations of the decision of the Second Vatican Council (now fifty years ago), to permit the use of the vernacular in the liturgy”.

We will explore this theme further in a subsequent post.

John Paul II and John XXIII to be proclaimed saints next year

This week Pope Francis announced that Karol Wojtyła and Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli – the former popes Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII – would be proclaimed saints on the same day – Divine Mercy Sunday, 27 April 2014, a worldwide celebration that was instituted by Pope John Paul.  Pope Francis held the Ordinary Public Consistory for the canonization during the course of an Ordinary Public Consistory on 30 September.  As is traditional, the announcement was made in Latin.

Of blogging

There was a thought-provoking piece from Dame Catherine Wybourne entitled “What we don’t blog about, and what it says about us” with which to start the month.  An indication of our current thinking regarding this blog may be deduced from our recent “100,000 page view” post, but comparing this with earlier “landmark” posts – at 50,000 page views/250 posts, here,  and at a mere 3 months/100 posts, here – suggests that this is changing as the blog develops.  In common with ibenedictines, we rarely comment on what is going on in other Churches, although we certainly discuss current legal issues as objectively as possible, or at least try to make it clear to readers when we are being opinionated.  We also stray beyond what we euphemistically refer to as our “comfort zone”, i.e. our current knowledge/experience, in the knowledge/hope that there will be someone “out there” to put the record straight.

We estimate that at present rates of publication and readership, the “next milestone” at which we might again review the blog will be in ~12 months’ time, when we expect to have published over 750 posts in total, and achieved 200,000 page views.

And finally . . . . . . . . .

The Church Times reports that to mark his 50th birthday, Stuart Whatton, whom it describes as “a church musician”, made a bid for entry into Guinness World Records after “taking just 22 days to complete a pilgrimage around all 61 Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals in England, “attending a service in each of the 42 Anglican and lighting a candle in all 19 Roman Catholic ones.  Ironically, it will take significantly longer to have his attempt verified, or not: using the free record application service takes up to 6 weeks to process applications for existing records and up to 12 weeks to assess proposals for new record categories, although the Fast Track service guarantees a response to an application in three working days, but costs £450/$700.

Very much like the setting of “SMART targets” in the business world, a Guinness World Record must satisfy the criteria of being: measurable; based on a single variable; verifiable; and breakable.  Perhaps as a musician Mr Whatton gained some insights into the choral traditions at each venue.  When David’s choir sang in all of the Oxford college chapels in a single day, as well as being fund-raising event, it provided a good comparison of their acoustics. Any guesses for which came out best?

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