Monday, September 27, 2010

Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet on her appointment as head of the U.N. Women

The Lutheran World Federation has congratulated former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet on her appointment as head of the new United Nations agency, U.N. Women, saying it gives gender equality a high profile.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Bachelet to the post on 14 September. She was the first female president of Chile, and she is well known for her commitment to the pursuit of gender justice.

"The Lutheran World Federation welcomes your appointment, both because it shows what a high profile is being given to this newly-created office, and because we are convinced of the high quality contribution you will bring toward the office's success," said the Rev. Martin Junge, LWF acting general secretary, in a 16 September letter to Bachelet.

U.N. Women becomes operational in January, merging four offices and agencies: the UN Development Fund for Women; the Division for the Advancement of Women; the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women; and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.

Junge, a Chilean pastor and the LWF general secretary-elect, reiterated the organization's support for U.N. Women's objectives. "Within our own Lutheran theological understanding, enhancing women's role and contribution in decision-making processes including leadership remains a key priority," he said.

He noted that most of the 77-million strong LWF grouping's churches around the world have ordained women as pastors, and many have women serving as bishops or presidents. "Our churches have been immeasurably blessed by our women pastors and leaders," added Junge, who assumes the position of LWF general secretary on 1 November.

Still, Junge acknowledged the significant challenges Lutherans face in their quest for gender equality, a fact highlighted by the organization's highest decision making body at its last meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, where its progress on gender equality was criticised by outgoing general secretary, the Rev. Ishmael Noko.

"We believe that in order to be a legitimate and credible voice for gender justice in society, the church must first achieve gender justice within its own structures and practices," said Junge, citing the message of the LWF's 11th assembly, held in Stuttgart in July.

His letter referred to the LWF's commitment to overcoming the "sin of violence against women".

Bachelet has been quoted as saying that she is a religious agnostic. When she was president, however, she signed into law a measure to make 31 October a new annual public holiday called "The National Day of Evangelical and Protestant Churches". The date marks the 1517 posting by Martin Luther of his 95 theses in Wittenberg, Germany, a turning point in the Protestant Reformation, setting out critical points about Roman Catholicism.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

UK taxpayers to pay for Pope visit

BBC News - Archbishop says UK taxpayer should help fund Pope visit

Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Scotland on 16 September for first papal visit since Pope John Paul II in 1982.
This trip, which will also include events in London and Birmingham, will be the first ever official state visit to Britain by a serving Pontiff, 'Spiritual leader'
An online poll of 2,005 people, published this week, found 79% had "no personal interest" in the visit.
The survey, by think tank Theos, also found 77% thought taxpayers should not help pay for it.