Mexican primate dies
(ENS)–The first primate of the Anglican Church of Mexico has died at the age of 73.
Retired Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Saucedo guided the church from a single missionary diocese of the United States to independence. He was the last missionary bishop to be appointed by the Episcopal Church.
Archbishop Saucedo was instrumental in developing the church from one diocese in 1958 to five dioceses that in 1995 formed a newly autonomous province of the Anglican Communion.
In 1983, he was jailed for two months for alleged fraud. He was released after an international outcry and exonerated of all charges.
The archbishop died on Aug. 6.
Old rift is healing
(ENS)–The governing body of the Lutheran World Federation has voted unanimously to lift condemnations of the Pope and Roman Catholicism.
“It’s a big day for the Lutheran world,” said Swedish Archbishop K.G. Hammar, chairman of the federation’s standing committee for ecumenical affairs. “The reasons for the rift of the 16th century are no longer applicable…”
Federation officials expect the Vatican to respond positively to its Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. They say Vatican approval could allow discussion of remaining issues, such as the role of the bishop of Rome and the ordination of women.
A few Lutheran churches voted against the statement, however. In Germany 140 prominent theologians called on that country’s Lutheran churches to reject the joint declaration.
Orthodox plan protest
(ENS)–The Orthodox members of the World Council of Churches plan to shun some aspects of the council’s next assembly, scheduled for Zimbabwe in December.
At a meeting of the 15 self-governing churches of Eastern Orthodoxy in Greece at the end of April, representatives recommended the Orthodox churches “express their concern” about the council by shunning certain parts, especially the worship services and common prayers. Delegates are told to raise Orthodox concerns and vote only in “cases of particular interest.”
The council celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Part of the celebration is a service in which the 332 Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant members will be asked to recommit themselves to the ecumenical movement.
Methodists pursue unity with C of E
Methodists have agreed to pursue unity talks with the Church of England although some are unhappy with the Anglican church’s continuing obstacles to women’s ministry, accusing it of “institutionalized sexism.”
The Church of England’s General Synod voted for talks with the Methodists last November, after an invitation from the Methodist Conference in 1995. This year’s Methodist conference confirmed their interest in unity, though stopping short of a merger.
The secretary of this summer’s conference said the United Reformed Church must also be part of the talks and the Baptists, Moravians and Roman Catholics should be encouraged to participate.
Griswold explains RC communion
The presiding bishop of the Episcopalian Church in the United States has explained publicly why he received communion in a Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan in late April.
Bishop Frank Griswold stated that, exhausted after a day of presiding and preaching at an ordination in a cathedral, he wanted to spend his Sunday morning anonymously in a church.
“I just wanted to sneak off and be by myself and Jesus … and just not have to deal with the sort of public face of being the presiding bishop and all that entails,” he told an executive council meeting of the church.
He and his wife visited a small nearby Roman Catholic Church on April 28. Bishop Griswold said he didn’t think taking communion would cause any scandal since he was not in clerical dress. But an Episcopalian apparently recognized and followed him and the story hit the papers.
The bishop says he now realizes “there are no off-stage moments, and I’m in a way grateful for that learning.”
Coincidentally, the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, pleaded with the Roman Catholic Church to lift its ban on intercommunion when he preached April 26 in Luxembourg.
A memory for the Gospels
An Englishman has astounded his fellow parishioners by reciting the Four Gospels from memory.
It took David Bathurst, a 38-year-old magistrates’ clerk, 10 hours to perform the feat in Boxgrove Priory Church in Chichester in July. He took 10-minute breaks between Gospels and a half hour for lunch. Mr. Bathurst recited the Gospels without a single mistake, using hand gestures and pausing for effect.
“I wanted to put as much expression into it as I could, and to present the gospels in a novel and exciting way,” he said. His achievement also raised more than $3,000 for a local hospice.
Mr. Bathurst memorized Mark in 1993, Luke in 1996, John in 1997 and Matthew this year. It takes him 40 minutes to memorize 20 verses.
He had a few restless nights leading up to the performance. “I dreamed that I got to the end and realized that there was a new bit of the Gospels that I’d completely missed.” His next goal is to memorize the Acts of the Apostles.