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I missed this news, too.  Forward in Faith Australia voted UNANIMOUSLY to explore conversion to the Catholic Church.  CNA has a good report:

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 18, 2010 / 05:34 am (CNA).- By a unanimous vote, the Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith Australia has established a working party guided by a Catholic bishop to explore how its followers can convert to Roman Catholicism.

The group, which also has members in Britain and the United States, is believed to be the first within the Anglican Church to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s offer to create an Anglican Ordinariate, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The Ordinariate, a form of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, will enable Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining parts of their spiritual heritage.

Bishop David Robarts, chairman of Forward in Faith Australia (FIFA), said members felt excluded by the Anglican Church in Australia, which had not provided them with a bishop to represent their views on homosexuality and women bishops.

“In Australia we have tried for a quarter of a decade to get some form of episcopal oversight but we have failed,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “We’re not really wanted any more, our conscience is not being respected.”

Bishop Robarts, 77, said it had become clear Anglicans who did not believe in same-sex partnerships or the consecration of women as bishops had no place in the “broader Anglican spectrum.”

“We’re not shifting the furniture, we’re simply saying that we have been faithful Anglicans upholding what Anglicans have always believed,” he continued. “We’re not wanting to change anything, but we have been marginalized by people who want to introduce innovations.”

“We need to have bishops that believe what we believe,” he added, saying that converting to Rome would allow the group to retain their Anglican culture without sacrificing their beliefs.

The unanimous vote to investigate the establishment of an Ordinariate was held last Saturday at a Special General Meeting of FIFA at All Saints Kooyong in Melbourne.

The meeting issued a statement saying it received with “great gratitude” Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution proposing the Ordinariate. It also expressed commitment to care and support those who feel unable to be received into the Ordinariate.

The FIFA meeting “warmly welcomed” the appointment of Bishop Peter Elliott as a delegate of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. It also established a working group called Friends of the Australian Ordinariate, inviting FIFA members and other interested persons to provide their names and addresses to the group.

Bishop Robarts said his group was the first Forward In Faith branch to embrace Pope Benedict’s offer so strongly. Other Anglo-Catholics are waiting to see if the Anglican Church will allow them significant concessions on the introduction of women bishops, such as a male-only diocese.

The Traditional Anglican Communion, which has already broken away from the Anglican Communion, is another group to have declared that its members will become Catholic under the Apostolic Constitution.

In other Anglo-Catholic news, Telegraph reporter Damian Thompson reported on Feb. 17 that the former assistant Anglican Bishop of Newcastle Paul Richardson was received into full communion with the Church in January. He served as an Anglican bishop in Papua New Guinea and was diocesan bishop of Wangaratta in Australia.

Richardson said he was not planning to join the Ordinariate but has not ruled out ordination as a Catholic priest.

Copyright © CNA
(http://www.catholicnewsagency.com)

To say that the current Anglican Community is “marginalizing” the Traditionalists is a gross understatement.  It seems to this independent observer that the Communion has de facto booted them.  They have no say at all, and are not even given lip service. 

If Forward in Faith Australia wishes to join our Holy Mother Church, then let me be the first to welcome them.

Australian Anglo-Catholic group votes to explore conversion to Catholicism :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

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Death and tragedy.  So common and yet, we are seemingly unprepared to handle it, or help others handle it.  How are we dealing with grief these days?   This news article from the Globe and Mail (reproduced below) raises questions about the predominance of ‘grief counseling’ in our modern world.  I think it is thought-provoking, or at least it was for me.  It brought to mind a couple experiences I’ve had, and I wanted to share the article with you.

Do you remember the Love is Kind article from Catholic Exchange that I made a page last fall?  Well, I was reminded of the story that author Christi Derr related about the shoe-shining minister’s wife in the article.   The story goes–when there was a death in a church family, the minister’s wife visited the house to shine the shoes for the grieving family to help them prepare for the funeral.  Her reasoning was that it probably needed to be done, but her ulterior motive was that it gave her an excuse to be on hand as a presence for the spouse and family in their grief. (Read Love is Kind is you haven’t–click the tab at the top of the blog!)
 
The Globe and Mail article on grief counseling also puts me in mind of one of the best movies I have seen in recent years, Lars and the Real Girl (a quirky independent movie that may not be everyone’s cup of tea but is the only movie I know in which the phrase “what would Jesus do?” is asked sincerely).  In a quiet scene showing the main character Lars dealing with tragedy, several older church women come over and sit with him.  They bring casseroles, place themselves around on the chairs, and calmly knit while quietly waiting with him.  He wants to do something for them but they assure him–this is what people do when tragedy strikes: they come over, and sit.  It’s a comforting thought, and a very touching scene, and like the whole movie makes important points about the meaning of community, Christian love,  acceptance and kindness.

In a wider sense, I believe modern Western people and especially Americans are losing our Christian values.  We are opting to be “nice” instead of choosing to be “kind.”  What is the difference? As individuals, we no longer reach out to people who need, are hurting, are poor or homeless.     Instead, we look to the government and say, you should be doing something about that!  We assume that the Red Cross, or FEMA, or Catholic Charities or the mental health community will “do something” for our hurting neighbors.  We are diffusing our responsibilities to each other by handing them off to the greater body.  Let’s reconnect with the our individual responsibility to alleviate sickness, poverty, and grief in the lives of the people around us; Christ calls us as his followers to do just that.

I am repeating myself but remember:  Jesus didn’t teach us to “go vote for the politicians who will go vote for projects to do good on your behalf with your tax dollars.”  Jesus didn’t say, “Come to me, all you who labor and are weary and I will send you Social Security and Fair Labor laws. He didn’t say, when I was sick, you asked casually if I was seeing a mental health professional.  When I was hungry, you donated to a food bank from time to time.  When I was thirsty, you thought it was a real shame that the United Nations hadn’t gotten clean wells built in my part of the world.

There are people in each of our lives that is hurting.  Family, friends and neighbors.  What a shame it is that we do not see it.  What a sin that we do not respond personally.  Most likely our parents or grandparents did, at least in times of grief and tragedy, with casseroles and their comforting company.   If we can’t quite live up to WWJD?…why not try asking, What Would Grandma Have Done

January 15, 2010

Grief industry to the rescue

By Margaret Wente
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

Not long ago, we had other ways to cope with loss: community and casseroles

Help is finally trickling into Haiti, the scene of such unfathomable suffering that the TV news reports are almost unbearable to watch. The people need everything – water, food, medicine, shelter, doctors, rescue specialists and, of course, psychologists. Many of the medical teams sent to Haiti include psychologists. Perhaps they plan to hold group counselling sessions so mothers who have lost five children will be facilitated to freely express their emotions in a safe and nurturing environment.

Psychologists everywhere are offering their insights into what Haitians are likely going through. “In every moment, the level of emotional anguish ratchets up,” says Russell Friedman, who ought to know. He is the director of the Grief Recovery Institute, a counselling organization in California that helps people deal with death and natural disasters. It offers “the highest level of training in the area of helping grievers complete the pain caused by significant emotional losses” – whatever that means.

The idea that crisis counsellors have anything to offer Haiti strikes me as the most astounding hubris. Yet, the underlying assumption of their trade – that anyone who goes through trauma needs a therapist – has become conventional wisdom. There’s even help for us. Are you traumatized by the news from Haiti? The American Psychological Association offers this advice: Maintain your daily routines. Get plenty of exercise and rest. And turn off the TV. If symptoms persist, consult a licensed health professional.

The grief industry is bigger than ever, even though it’s taken lots of knocks lately. A new study by researchers from Dalhousie University concludes that psychological debriefing after a traumatic event does little good and, in fact, can do harm. “When people are put into a situation and then asked to relive, remember and sometimes even re-enact their feelings and thoughts, it actually makes things worse for them,” says Stan Kutcher, co-author of the study.

Yet, the ethos of therapism is so embedded in our culture that psychological counselling is routinely recommended for disaster survivors, for students who have lost a classmate, even for people whose dogs have died. Psychologist Sally Satel says that, days after the tsunami struck Sri Lanka in 2004, U.S. mental health workers were dispatched to the scene. “Psychological scarring needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible,” one psychologist told The Washington Post. “The longer we wait, the more danger.” Sri Lankan health officials disagreed. “We believe the most important thing is to strengthen local coping mechanisms rather than imposing counselling,” said one.

The foundation of the grief industry is something called Critical Incident Stress Management, a technique that was developed in the early 1970s for paramedics, firefighters and other professionals who regularly witnessed traumatic events. It was thought that, if they talked out their feelings and reactions immediately after the event, they’d be less likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder later on.

This thoroughly unscientific idea soon spread to ordinary people, including people who had only heard of (not witnessed) traumatic events. Soon the grief professionals began descending on schools any time a child died in some awful way. In the workplace, onsite debriefing services became a standard feature of employee assistance programs. Today, tens of thousands of people are trained in Critical Incident Stress Management and related techniques. Because of the spread of “war, terrorism, school shootings, and natural disasters,” says the CISM Foundation, “the need for trained crisis responders has never been greater.”

Obviously, some people are unhinged by trauma and loss, to the point where they permanently lose the ability to cope. But most of us are actually quite resilient. The grief industry is built on the premise that human beings are much frailer than they really are. On top of that, it assumes that trained professionals are much better than untrained ones – friends, neighbours, colleagues, family – at helping people cope with terrible events, including those that will eventually affect us all.

Here’s part of the career profile for a bereavement counsellor, a profession that now has its own academic degrees, associations, conferences and licensing bodies: “Often when people die, the feelings of grief, anger and dismay of those they have left behind become overwhelming. Individuals or whole families can fall apart as a result of a death, and it requires an outside party to come along and see them through this difficult time.”

Not long ago, we had other ways to cope with tragedy and loss. We had community and casseroles. We had friends to sit with through the night. They weren’t experts and they didn’t have degrees. They didn’t pester us to talk about how much it hurt, or how bad we felt. But they kept us company, and they allowed us to share what we wanted with people we knew and trusted.

“Tincture of time,” my grandma would counsel when someone had suffered a terrible loss. But what did she know anyway?

As British writer Frank Furedi has observed, the relentlessly expanding role of expertise into the private sphere conveys the message that individuals are unable to manage important aspects of their lives without professional guidance. This holds true not only for grief and trauma, but for parenting (especially parenting!) and relationships in general. “Today every aspect of life from birth [actually, from well before birth] through to school and career to marriage and mourning is subject to professional counselling,” he writes. “We live in an age of personal trainers, mentors and facilitators.” Some of what they tell us is nonsense, and some is painfully self-evident (see American Psychological Association). But we’re supposed to trust it all because it’s scientifically based.

A wonderful New Yorker cartoon from 10 years ago shows two cowboys gazing across a canyon, looking at some tiny dots in the distant sky. “Could be buzzards, could be grief counsellors,” says one. “Can’t tell from here.”

As we rush to help the Haitian people, perhaps we ought to keep in mind our limits. We can treat the trauma to their bodies. The trauma to their lives is another matter. Their pain and loss are unimaginable. Yet, despite their devastating losses, they may be more resilient than we think.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/grief-industry-to-the-rescue/article1433336/

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[My friend mentioned that his new business would include a ministry component and that they hoped to expand it into two week mission trips “around the world.”  This got me thinking (never a good idea).  Although I bit my tongue, I wanted to ask why the mission trip had to be to some foreign (and probably exotic) locale.  Isn’t there good to be done locally?  (Yes.)  Aren’t there men, women and children who need Jesus locally?  (Yes.)  Wouldn’t all the raised money spent on travel be better spent on the actual charity receivers?  (Yes.)    I bit my tongue but have been finding it hard to keep my opinion to myself. Then I distractedly picked up the local paper in the coney today, and smiled.  I am always relieved when someone else agrees with me.]

From the editorial pages of The Oakland Press, wise advice to all who lead, organize or participate in missions groups:  STAY CLOSE TO HOME!    This is — of course– my opinion.  I think too many Christians use “mission work” as an excuse to go to unusual places, either from a genuinely perceived calling or through self-deluded ideas of “world charity.”  However, there are real things to be done right at home, whether that home be downtown Detroit, the plains of North Dakota, the tundras of northern Canada or the barrios of Arizona.  Take, for example, The Covenant House mentioned in this article.  It does really fantastic and necessary work with homeless kids in the SE Michigan area.  These are kids who ‘timed’ out of foster care, who have no place, no family to go to.  At the Covenant House, they can sleep safely, get educated, get job training, career clothes, counseling, and intervention programs.  Imagine, mission leaders, taking your teen youth group to work with peers who look just like they do, talk pretty much like they do, are the same age, and live lives of quiet desperation only 30 minutes from where your teenagers live.  Imagine what impact it would have for them to realize that for teens just like them, ‘tragedy’ is  not defined as ‘having your RAZR taken away for racking up 3000 texts in one month.’  Tragedy for their peers might mean having no place to sleep on a cold January night in Detroit.   What a lesson.

Anyway…the editorial:

(more…)

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