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ENI News: June 18, 2009

June 18th, 2009
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I subscribe to Ecumenical News International, one of the largest aggregating services for protestant church news and information, mostly/mainly from the protestant mainline. I’ll start posting the day’s stories and you can read them, or not, but there are often interesting insights into what’s happening here and there. I’ll not print the full stories out on the top page of my blog. You can read the full story by clicking through the “Read More” link at the bottom of this note. Here is a summary of today’s ENI stories. Sometimes I don’t get the complete text of a story, but just a headline and summary, so, here you go:

Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
18 June 2009

Iran must respond to discontent, says German pastor in Tehran

Frankfurt/Tehran (ENI-epd). Iran’s leadership needs to respond to the mass demonstrations against disputed presidential elections or face greater problems in the future, says a German Protestant pastor based in Tehran. “Politicians must deal with the discontent or they will find themselves sitting on a pressure cooker,” the Rev. Karl Jacobi, pastor of the German-speaking Protestant congregation in the Iranian capital, said in an interview from Tehran with the Frankfurt-based German Protestant news agency epd. [536 words, ENI-09-0486]

Faith leaders tell G8 nations that economy needs ‘moral principles’

Rome (ENI). Global faith leaders meeting in Italy in advance of a July summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations have called for a “new financial pact” that acknowledges basic moral principles to address the global economic predicament.  “The current financial and economic crisis weights most heavily upon the poor,” said the 130 religious leaders drawn from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Parsi and Shinto faiths in a joint statement at the end of their meeting in Rome. “Africa is already hard hit by the world financial crisis and it runs the risk of being seriously damaged in its efforts against poverty with a negative impact on the economic growth of its countries,” they warned in their statement addressed to the G8 leaders, who are to meet in Italy in July. [503 words, ENI-09-0487]

Nun heading Presbyterian seminary shows ‘Reformed ecumenism’

Geneva (ENI). The appointment of a Roman Catholic nun as dean of San Francisco Theological Seminary illustrates the truth of the saying “to be Reformed is to be ecumenical”, says the general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Earlier in June Elizabeth Liebert became the first Catholic sister to be named as dean of a Presbyterian seminary in the United States. San Francisco Theological Seminary is a school of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). [261 words, ENI-09-0488]

Faith groups urge action on laws that impede HIV fight

Geneva (ENI). Civil society and faith groups campaigning on HIV and AIDS have urged United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to step up efforts to combat discrimination and criminalisation that prevent access to information and services. The call, supported by more than 20 faith-based organizations, was presented to Ban at a 16 June meeting in New York with members of the global steering committee of the World AIDS Campaign. “The secretary-general spoke passionately of his encounters with people living with HIV, the unacceptable laws and practices of some governments that violate the rights of people living with or affected by HIV,” said Linda Hartke, coordinator of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.  [492 words, ENI-09-0489]

ENI News Highlights contain summaries of ENI articles published today.

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
18 June 2009

Iran must respond to discontent, says German pastor in Tehran
ENI-09-0486

Frankfurt/Tehran, 18 June (ENI-epd)–Iran’s leadership needs to respond to the mass demonstrations against disputed presidential elections or face greater problems in the future, says a German Protestant pastor based in Tehran.

“Politicians must deal with the discontent or they will find themselves sitting on a pressure cooker,” the Rev. Karl Jacobi, pastor of the German-speaking Protestant congregation in the Iranian capital, said in an interview from Tehran with the Frankfurt-based German Protestant news agency epd.

As many as  32 people are reported to have been killed since the demonstrations broke out after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of 12 June presidential elections. Protesters charged that the election had been rigged in favour of Ahmadinejad, who was given about 63 percent of the vote compared to 34 percent for his closest rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The deaths were a “bad sign”, Jacobi said in his 17 June interview with epd, but he added that it was good that young people were ready to stand up for freedom and for their rights.

The pastor described the youth as representing “an enormous potential as far as the desire for renewal is concerned”. Still, any assault on the foundations of the Islamic Republic of Iran might provoke a severe reaction from the country’s leaders, he warned.

Mousavi on 18 June called for further street protests, urging his supporters to wear black to mourn those killed in clashes, while the BBC reported that Iran’s Guardian Council had said it is investigating 646 complaints from the three defeated presidential candidates.

Jacobi, who came to Tehran from Germany in 2005, said he did not believe that the official election results were completely inaccurate, though there may have been some irregularities.

“A lead of nine million votes for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still significant,” said Jacobi, adding that he believed it was possible that Ahmadinejad might offer a number of concessions.

“The question is whether that this will be enough, because both sides are digging in,” while the strategy of the regime appears to be to allow demonstrators some latitude in order to “let off steam,” said Jacobi.

The German-speaking Protestant congregation in Tehran was established in 1957 and is made up mainly of economic experts, German-speaking women married to Iranians, and embassy personnel.

Overall, the 3000 western foreigners in Iran appeared very nervous, Jacobi reported. He said that at a time when things were unstable, the congregation was trying to remain as normal a place as possible, offering space for dialogue, and praying for peace and justice.

Jacobi said he was pessimistic about the situation of Christians in the country, whose numbers have fallen from about 200 000 in the 1980s to 85 000 today.

“This is not just to do with politics, but because of economic conditions,” and is a problem that affects the whole of the Middle East, Jacobi added.

He said that even if presidential challenger Mousavi wants to see a greater separation of State and religion, it is questionable whether this is actually possible in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Jacobi said, “Iran has no interest as a state to maintain the Christian community.” [536 words]
ENI News Headlines and Featured Articles are now available by RSS feed.
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All articles (c) Ecumenical News International
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.

Ecumenical News International
PO Box 2100
CH – 1211 Geneva 2
Switzerland

Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111
Fax: (41-22) 788 7244
Email: eni@eni.ch

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
18 June 2009

Faith leaders tell G8 nations that economy needs ‘moral principles’
ENI-09-0487

By Luigi Sandri
Rome, 18 June (ENI)–Global faith leaders meeting in Italy in advance of a July summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations have called for a “new financial pact” that acknowledges basic moral principles to address the global economic predicament.

“The current financial and economic crisis weights most heavily upon the poor,” said the 130 religious leaders drawn from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Parsi and Shinto faiths in a joint statement at the end of their 16-17 June meeting in Rome.

“Africa is already hard hit by the world financial crisis and it runs the risk of being seriously damaged in its efforts against poverty with a negative impact on the economic growth of its countries,” they warned in their statement addressed to the G8 leaders, who are to meet in Italy in July.

The faith leaders said the new financial pact needed to address the causes of the economic crisis should include all stakeholders in discussions, make funding for development a priority, and acknowledge the need for moral principles in the economy.

In advance of their discussions in Rome, the religious leaders first visited the city of L’Aquila, 100 kilometres (about 60 miles) from the Italian capital, which in April was hit by an earthquake that killed 300 people and led to extensive damage.

The G8 meeting, hosted by Italy, is to take place in there from 8 to 10 July. The gathering was to have been held on La Maddalena, a small island near Sardinia, but after the earthquake the Italian government moved the location to L’Aquila as a sign of solidarity with the city.

The religious leaders’ meeting was the fourth such gathering in advance of a G8 meeting, after Moscow, Russia (2006), Cologne, Germany (2007) and Sapporo, Japan (2008).

“We speak from the heart of the great majority of the human family who are members of religions or spiritual traditions. In a time of economic crisis when many securities are crumbling, we feel even more acutely the need for spiritual orientation,” continued the statement.

Meeting the participants, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano told them, “It is very important to re-establish spiritual and moral values which were absent in the choices of many political and economic subjects of the world in the last years.”

In a statement at the end of his 17 June general audience, Pope Benedict XVI said, “I am confident that the summit [of faith leaders] will do much to draw the attention of world political leaders to the importance of religions within the social fabric of every society and to the grave duty to ensure that their deliberations and policies support and uphold the common good.”

:: The G8 consists of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States and each year on a rotating basis it holds a summit in one of its member nations to which leaders from other nations and global institutions can be invited. [503 words]
ENI News Headlines and Featured Articles are now available by RSS feed.
See http://www.eni.ch/rss/
All articles (c) Ecumenical News International
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.

Ecumenical News International
PO Box 2100
CH – 1211 Geneva 2
Switzerland

Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111
Fax: (41-22) 788 7244
Email: eni@eni.ch

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
18 June 2009

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
18 June 2009

Nun heading Presbyterian seminary shows ‘Reformed ecumenism’
ENI-09-0488

By Peter Kenny
Geneva, 18 June (ENI)–The appointment of a Roman Catholic nun as dean of San Francisco Theological Seminary illustrates the truth of the saying “to be Reformed is to be ecumenical”, says the general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Earlier in June Elizabeth Liebert became the first Catholic sister to be named as dean of a Presbyterian seminary in the United States. San Francisco Theological Seminary is a school of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The Rev. Setri Nyomi, the general secretary of the Geneva-based WARC, told Ecumenical News International, “In April this year, while on an official visit to San Francisco Theological Seminary, I was impressed by the way in which SFTS is committed to ecumenical engagement and justice.”

The WARC general secretary said, “This appointment indicates how the SFTS understands the truth of the common saying ‘To be Reformed is to be ecumenical’. It will continue to strengthen the formation of a new generation of church leaders and church agents to understand the need to appreciate the gifts of all women and men from the different Christian traditions.”

Liebert has spent more than two decades teaching at the 138-year-old seminary in San Anselmo, California, and she will replace the Rev. Jana Childers, who will step down on 30 June after nearly eight years as dean.

“We are particularly pleased to be attaining a historic ecumenical milestone,” SFTS President Phil Butin said. “Dr Liebert’s deanship is a sterling example of SFTS’s thoroughgoing commitment to ecumenical theological education.” [261 words]
ENI News Headlines and Featured Articles are now available by RSS feed.
See http://www.eni.ch/rss/
All articles (c) Ecumenical News International
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.

Ecumenical News International
PO Box 2100
CH – 1211 Geneva 2
Switzerland

Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111
Fax: (41-22) 788 7244
Email: eni@eni.ch
Faith groups urge action on laws that impede HIV fight
ENI-09-0489

By Stephen Brown
Geneva, 18 June (ENI)–Civil society and faith groups campaigning on HIV and AIDS have urged United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to step up efforts to combat discrimination and criminalisation that prevent access to information and services.

The call, supported by more than 20 faith-based organizations, was presented to Ban at a 16 June meeting in New York with members of the global steering committee of the World AIDS Campaign.

“The secretary-general spoke passionately of his encounters with people living with HIV, the unacceptable laws and practices of some governments that violate the rights of people living with or affected by HIV,” said Linda Hartke, coordinator of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

The meeting with Ban took place as “Universal Access and Human Rights” was announced as the 2009 and 2010 theme for World AIDS Day, which falls on 1 December. The theme is set by the World AIDS Campaign, which brings together civil society groups including EAA.

The Geneva-based alliance is an international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food issues, and HIV and AIDS.

Hartke said she welcomed a statement by the U.N. secretary-general that, “The fight against AIDS also requires us to attack diseases of the human spirit: prejudice, discrimination, stigma.”

EAA said on 18 June that its new campaign framework on HIV and AIDS, “places a priority on upholding the value, life and dignity of all persons and calls for actions that recognise and protect internationally-accepted human rights”.

In a statement announcing the World AIDS Day theme, the World AIDS Campaign and the United Nations AIDS agency UNAIDS noted that many countries still have laws and  policies that impede access to HIV services and criminalise those most vulnerable to HIV. Included are laws that criminalise men who have sex with men, transgendered people, lesbians, sex workers and people who use drugs.

More than 80 countries have reported that they have laws and policies that act as obstacles to effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for vulnerable populations, the statement reported. Around 59 countries have laws that restrict the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV based on their positive HIV status only.

At the same time, laws and regulations protecting people with HIV from discrimination and women from gender inequality and sexual violence are not fully implemented or enforced.

“Respecting, upholding and protecting human rights and I mean human rights, especially those of children and women, will no doubt contribute to fewer infections, fewer deaths, and even less demand for treatment,” said Chabu Kangale, executive director of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV or AIDS. “We must work for a more human and just society for all. That is the right direction for all of us.”

:: Photos of the meeting with the U.N. secretary-general, to be credited, “UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe”:
http://downloads.unmultimedia.org/public/photo/aids.zip?save [492 words]
ENI News Headlines and Featured Articles are now available by RSS feed.
See http://www.eni.ch/rss/
All articles (c) Ecumenical News International
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.

Ecumenical News International
PO Box 2100
CH – 1211 Geneva 2
Switzerland

Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111
Fax: (41-22) 788 7244
Email: eni@eni.ch

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