Saturday, November 19, 2005


Swiss Santa Clauses have been banned from sitting children on their laps because of the risk that they might be accused of paedophilia. The Society of St Nicholases issued the ruling to its 100 professional members after parents expressed concern about close contact between their children and the men. In Switzerland, as in much of mainland Europe, it is St Nicholas, rather than Father Christmas, who delivers presents to children's homes.

"Samiklaus," as he is known in Swiss German, turns up on Dec 6 rather than the night of the 24th. Large groups of St Nicholases parade through the streets that day before visiting children. They traditionally sit them on their laps before asking if they have been well-behaved. "We want to counteract any possible accusations of paedophilia involving our members," the Society of St Nicholas said in a statement. "We regret having to do this, but the public has become very sensitive about child abuse."

Walter Furrer, president of Zurich's Society of Nicholases, said the rule had been introduced after a flurry of calls to the society from parents. "This measure is above all to protect our Nicholases," he said, adding that the decision had provoked heated debate in the usually sedate world of Swiss Santa Clauses.



Some Anglicans still take Bible teachings seriously

Nearly half of the Church of England's top bishops have strongly criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for his views on gay clergy. Seventeen archbishops signed a letter urging him to act against "unrepented sexual immorality" in the Church.

It was published hours after Dr Rowan Williams called for reconciliation in a speech to the General Synod in London. Dr Williams had warned against tensions in the Church over homosexuality and the ordination of women priests.

The Times newspaper reported that the opposition came from "Global South" primates headed by the ultra-conservative Nigerian archbishop, Dr Peter Akinola. The letter, published on the Global South Anglican website on Wednesday night, urged Dr Williams to rethink his personal liberal views on homosexuality, it reported. The letter said his "personal dissent" from the consensus of the wider Church that "same-sex sex is unacceptable" had stopped him from taking necessary steps to confront the US and Canadian churches. The archbishops wrote: "The essence of libertinism is the severing of the grace of Christ from His moral commandments", it said. They said they believed this "was at the heart of our present divisions".

They also said they were troubled by Dr William's reluctance to challenge the US Episcopal Church and the Canadian Anglican Church to call for the cessation of ordinations of active homosexuals and of same-sex blessings. The archbishops demanded he should issue these churches with a warning and threaten them with exclusion from the bishops' 10-yearly gathering, the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Times reported. The letter also said the Church of England should have sought exemption from the Civil Partnership Act, which comes into force next month and will allow gay couples to legally register their relationships.

Dr Williams had told synod members they should beware of "poisoning the wells" and should conduct their debates without hostility. He had urged opponents in the gay debate to communicate and pray with each other to resolve divisions.


No comments: