Thursday, 31 July 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks about Gaza

Lambeth Palace has published this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Gaza.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls on leaders in Israel and Gaza to immediately end the violence, and urges Anglican churches both to pray and offer support to all victims of the conflict.

Following a recent update from staff at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly (after many private contacts) of his concern for the deteriorating situation in Gaza….

Follow the link above to read the full statement.

At the end, there is also a link to the Emergency appeal from the Diocese of Jerusalem for the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. This page contains numerous further links including to pages which give details about how to donate.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 11:59am BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Discussions in the House of Lords on same-sex marriage

The BBC reported on a Question that was asked in the House of Lords yesterday as follows: Stop Church sacking gay vicars who marry, says senior Tory.

The Independent has this: Government should stop gay vicars being sacked by Church of England, says Conservative Lord Fowler.

There is a very detailed explanation of what was actually said, and by whom, at Law & Religion UK in Lords probe Church on same-sex marriage clergy. Read this to find out more.

This article also discusses (scroll down) a question that was asked yesterday concerning the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage. An earlier article explained that the regulations for this, which were due to be debated the previous day were instead withdrawn. See Civil partnership conversion to same sex marriage – Update.

The Hansard report of the debate yesterday starts here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 8:00am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Core Issues Trust loses again in the London bus adverts case

This case was previously reported in January: Court of Appeal rules on London bus adverts case.

Further judgement was given today, here is the full text.

Media reports:

Press Association Christians LOSE High Court Bid Claiming Boris Banned Anti-Gay Bus Advert For Political Purposes

BBC Christian activists lose gay bus advert challenge

Christian activists have lost a High Court bid for a ruling that London Mayor Boris Johnson was personally responsible for an improper and “politically-motivated” ban on a controversial gay advert on buses. Campaign group Core Issues Trust (CIT) accused him of an abuse of power and imposing the ban for “the nakedly political purpose of currying favour with gay lobby groups” and boosting his re-election campaign in 2012.

The Trust advert that never made it to the sides of buses in the capital read: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” It was meant to be a response to posters promoted by lesbian and gay campaigners Stonewall that said: “Some people are gay. Get over it!”. Those did appear on buses.

But CIT’s judicial review action, brought over Transport for London’s April 2012 decision not to allow the group’s advertisment to appear on the outside of its buses, was dismissed by a judge in London today. Announcing her conclusions, Mrs Justice Lang declared: “Mr Johnson was not motivated by an improper purpose, namely, to advance his Mayoral election campaign.”

Press releases and commentary from the losing side:

High Court judgment in ‘London Bus Ad’ case

Core Issues Trust statement on High Court ruling in ‘London Bus Ad’ case

Which is it? Did Boris mislead the media or the High Court?

Big Boris: Doublespeaking on the London buses.

Christian Legal Centre Client Libby Powell comments on High Court judgment in ‘London Bus Ad’ case

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 at 11:05pm BST
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Categorised as: equality legislation

Sunday, 27 July 2014

About the "outing" of Church of England bishops

There have been several media reports that Peter Tatchell is again considering “outing” some Church of England bishops who are believed to be partnered homosexuals, this time in connection with the issue of clergy who enter same-sex marriages.

This story began when Kelvin Holdsworth interviewed Peter Tatchell on this topic and reported on his blog: Peter Tatchell on Outing Bishops. (Tatchell had come to St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow to deliver a lecture on human rights which you can see in full here.)

Media reports have ensued:
Pink News Peter Tatchell: I am considering outing bishops who discipline married gay clergy

Independent Peter Tatchell threatens to ‘out’ bishops he believes are gay after hospital chaplain Jeremy Pemberton has his license to preach revoked

Now, Paul Johnson has written a lengthy analysis in answer to the question: Do Church of England ‘gay bishops’ have a human right not to be ‘outed’?

…This subject will no doubt be discussed in detail by those learned folk over at Thinking Anglicans and Law and Religion, but one aspect that caught my attention was Tatchell’s interpretation of the bishops’ ‘right to privacy’:

Peter Tatchell: […] we are amassing the evidence right now. I’m not saying that we will use it, but we are certainly thinking about it – because people have a right to privacy so long as they are not using their own power and authority to harm other people and when other people are being caused harm and suffering we have a duty to try and stop it. If this is the only way, it is certainly not the preferable way, it’s not the first option but as a last resort I think it is morally and ethically justifiable.

This made me think: how would Tatchell’s interpretation of the ‘right to privacy’ stand up in the context of ECHR jurisprudence?

Could Article 8 protect Bishops from the practice of ‘outing’?

And he ends his analysis (which should be read in full) with this:

…Conclusion

From the Court’s existing case law it would appear that any complaint to the Court from a Church of England bishop about any failure of the UK to fulfil its positive obligations under Article 8 to prevent discussion of his private life would likely be unsuccessful.

This is because such a discussion would likely be judged to involve a public figure and to be an issue of general debate to which the public had a right to be informed. In short, it would be regarded as necessary in a democratic society to ‘override’ the rights of the individual subject to discussion.

The use of photographic ‘evidence’, however, would raise separate issues and any regulation of it by UK authorities may not be judged to violate Article 10.

As such, aside from its moral or ethical legitimacy, Peter Tatchell’s ‘outing’ of ‘gay bishops’ may be on safe legal grounds in respect of any complaint to the Court by an ‘outed’ bishop under Article 8 of the Convention.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 July 2014 at 7:12pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 26 July 2014

opinion

Yasmine Hafiz Huffington Post ‘Bibliotheca’ Bible Project Blows Up On Kickstarter With Chapterless Bible

Jonathan Aigner 15 Reasons Why We Should Still Be Using Hymnals
[Many of these reasons do not apply in the Church of England, where hymnbooks are normally words-only.]

Linda Woodhead OUP blog The vote for women bishops

J John has been interviewing Justin Welby for God & Politics in the UK “I just knew that Jesus was there and I had met him” – interviewing Justin Welby.

On Religion has been speaking to Professor Linda Woodhead about the challenges and opportunities facing religious studies in Higher Education: Expert Interview: Professor Linda Woodhead.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 26 July 2014 at 11:00am BST
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 25 July 2014

Women bishops measure - changes by the laity

The legislation to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England failed at final approval in 2012 because it did not achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. A different measure was passed in 2014, primarily because of laity who voted against in 2012, but in favour in 2014.

I have published the detailed voting results on final approval of the 2012 measure here and of the 2014 measure here.

From these spreadsheets I have calculated that of the laity who voted against the 2012 measure:

45 voted against in 2014
20 voted in favour in 2014
4 abstained in 2014
2 were absent in 2014
3 were no longer members of Synod in 2014

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and in favour of the 2014 measure were:

Glynn Harrison (Bristol)
Anne Williams (Durham)
Peter Bruinvels (Guildford)
Keith Malcouronne (Guildford)
Adrian Vincent (Guildford)
Anne Bloor (Leicester)
Christopher Corbet (Lichfield)
Debra Walker (Liverpool)
Philip Rice (London)
John Barber (Manchester)
Peter Capon (Manchester)
Philip Giddings (Oxford)
John Beal (Ripon & Leeds/West Yorks & the Dales)
Thomas Sutcliffe (Southwark)
Mary Judkins (Wakefield/West Yorks & the Dales)
John Davies (Winchester)
Priscilla Hungerford (Winchester)
David Robilliard (Winchester)
Jennifer Barton (Worcester)
Martin Dales (York)

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and abstained in 2014 were:

Peter Collard (Derby)
Ann Turner (Europe)
Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
Victoria Russell (Oxford)

Nobody who voted for the 2012 measure voted against or abstained in 2014.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 July 2014 at 9:30pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Women Bishops - detailed voting results

The detailed results for the electronic votes at this months’ meeting of General Synod are now available.

The two relating to the ordination and consecration of women are:

Item 503 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Ordination and Consecration of Women) Measure
Item 504 - Draft Amending Canon No.33

These are pdf files arranged by house, by vote (for, against, abstain) and then by name. I have rearranged them by house and then by synod number, so that members from the same diocese are grouped together. I have also added the names of the absentees. These results are in this spreadsheet.

A very small number of lay and clergy members voted differently for the measure and the canon.

Clergy
1 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
2 abstained on the measure and voted for the canon.

Laity
2 voted against the measure and for the canon.
3 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
1 voted for the measure but was absent for the vote on the canon.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 July 2014 at 4:53pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Further news and comment on women bishops

Update Wednesday morning
Frank Field MP tweeted at 6.02 pm on Tuesday that “Ecclesiastical Committee, of which I am a Member, has just unanimously approved the women bishops measure. Hurrah!”

Update Wednesday afternoon
The agenda of yesterday’s meeting of the Ecclesiastical Committee, originally linked below, is no longer available.
A transcript of the Archbishop’s opening speech to the Committee is here.

The Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament met today (Tuesday) to consider the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. There is a recording of the public part of their meeting here [1 hour 16 minutes].

John Bingham of The Telegraph reports on the meeting: Church of England to use positive discrimination to boost women bishops.

We have reported news and comments on last Monday’s votes at General Synod here, here, here and here. There is more.

Linda Woodhead The Conversation Yes vote for women bishops challenges the Church of England to embed equality

WATCH Synod Voted Yes!

The Ordinariate in England and Wales: Statement from the Ordinary - Women Bishops

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Women in the episcopate: legislation and its adoption

The Primate of Uganda Church of Uganda applauds CoE women bishops vote

Moses Talemwa The Observer (Uganda) Uganda Hails Vote On Women Bishops

Ian Paul asks What are (women) bishops for?

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 9:38pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages

This roundup has been somewhat delayed due to the distractions of General Synod, but here it is now. Our previous report was on 9 July, and is here.

Madeleine Davies wrote in the Church Times on 11 July: Chaplain is blocked from new post after same-sex marriage. She included this:

…Canon Pemberton said that he had mentioned his application for the new job during his meeting with Bishop Inwood on 29 May, and that he was “not surprised, but disappointed”, to learn that the Bishop had subsequently refused to issue a licence.

“The unequal position that I find myself in is that I have a licence now, and am working in a trust in Lincolnshire; so I am a suitable person to work in the NHS; but if I attempt to move 30 miles away, I become unemployable, apparently.”

He went on: “It needs to be considered that the NHS is bound by the Equality Act 2010, and it does seem odd that, if this offer is withdrawn, it is because the Church has obliged the NHS to act in an unequal way. Is that proper or legal?

“My action has exposed a faultline here with an NHS that acts strictly under the rules of equality according to the law, and a Church that does not.”

Chaplains are appointed by NHS trusts. The UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy, with whom Canon Pemberton is registered, states that: “It is usual for job descriptions and person specifications for chaplaincy posts that include a religious function to specify that a chaplain will have the endorsement of their faith community, often referred to as ‘being in good standing’.”

It continues: “The situation may arise that the standing of a chaplain in relation to her or his faith community or belief group changes during the term of employment. Whilst this may affect the official status of the chaplain as a ‘minister of religion’ or ‘office holder’ of a belief group, it may have no consequences in relation to their terms of employment so long as they continue to practise ethically and professionally.”

NHS Employers was contacted but was unable to comment at the time of going to press.

On Wednesday, the Revd Justin Gau, a barrister specialising in both employment and ecclesiastical law, and Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol, said that the removal of Canon Pemberton’s licence was, in his opinion, “unlawful, as there has been no breach of canon law”.

And Hugh Muir in the Guardian had this tidbit:

Battle lines are drawn in the Church of England after the first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner was blocked from taking up a promotion within the NHS. Canon Jeremy Pemberton works as a chaplain for an NHS trust in Lincolnshire. The Right Rev Richard Inwood, acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said he is “unable” to issue a licence for Pemberton to work for the NHS in Nottinghamshire “in light of the pastoral guidance and for reasons of consistency”. A number of people have expressed outrage. Add to their number Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, the Oxford historian of the church. “I trust that you realise what an appalling impression of pastoral insensitivity you and your fellow bishops are providing to the nation,” he tells the acting bishop. “None of you seem to understand the widespread contempt that your stance provokes, particularly among the young.” They can’t even claim to have history on side.

Changing Attitude has had several articles relating to this action:

At the press conference in York on the evening of 14 July, after the vote on women in the episcopate, the journalists Rachel Younger for Sky News and David Sanderson for The Times both asked the archbishops how soon there would also be bishops who were in same-sex marriages. Needless to say the answers predicted no timescale for this. There is an audio recording of this press conference available here. The Sky News questions come at the very beginning of the conference, and The Times questions come at the very end (about 24 minutes in). A transcript of part of the latter is included here, below the fold.

Continue reading "Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 6:15pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Bishop of Edmonton to retire

Updated

Peter Wheatley, the area bishop of Edmonton in the diocese of London has announced that he will retire at the end of the year.

There is nothing about this as yet on the London diocesan website, but we have seen a copy of the letter sent by the bishop to clergy in the Edmonton Area announcing his retirement.

Update 23 July

An announcement of the bishop’s retirement was posted on the diocesan website today: The Bishop of Edmonton announces his retirement.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 12:24pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

More news and comment on women bishops

Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod delivers a confident vote for women bishops

Church Times leader comment The morning after

Nick Baines Bishops

David Keen Women Bishops: The Morning After

Janet Henderson Women Bishops, Malala and Mary Robinson

Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops

Methodist Church in Britain welcomes ‘yes’ vote on women bishops

The United Reformed Church welcomes women bishops

The Baptist Times Baptist welcome for General Synod vote

Statement from the Russian Orthodox Church

Ephraim Radner What Women Bishops Mean For Christian Unity

Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, was asked a question about women bishops in the House of Commons on Thursday. The answer is copied below the fold. He indicated that the Measure was likely to complete its passage through Parliament by early October, so that General Synod could promulge the Canon in November.

A letter from Rod Thomas to Reform members: Rod writes in response to the York General Synod

Continue reading "More news and comment on women bishops"
Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 11:25am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

opinion

Yasmine Hafiz in The Huffington Post presents 23 photographs of The Most Breathtaking Church Ceilings In The World.

Peter Stanford The Telegraph The women who helped shape Christianity

Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today What about women who don’t want to be bishops?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 11:00am BST
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 18 July 2014

Assisted Dying Bill

The House of Lords is today debating Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill.

Today’s Guardian carries these three articles

John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, My wife knew she was dying – but she chose life
Andrew Brown Legalising assisted dying will put too much pressure on people, says bishop
editorial The Guardian view on assisted dying: safeguard life

But not all clergy oppose the bill.

John Bingham The Telegraph Bishop: uphold sanctity of life by allowing assisted dying
Patrick Sawer The Telegraph Anglican leadership accused of “scaremongering” over assisted dying

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 11:08am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Women priests in Australia

Muriel Porter reports in the Brisbane Times that Conservative Anglicans have women priests in their sights.

…Australian Anglicans need not be complacent, however. The stark reality is that if votes even for women priests were now required in the Anglican Church here, let alone for women bishops, it is highly likely they would not succeed.

That was the take home message from our own General Synod held earlier this month in Adelaide. Mercifully, votes for women were not on the agenda at that meeting.

Over the 22 years since women priests were approved in Australia, the dominance of the conservative Diocese of Sydney has grown exponentially. And it has become even more conservative…

So could we see the unthinkable happen in this country, the legislation for women priests repealed? It happened in the Presbyterian Church. Could it happen here, even though there are now close to 500 women priests in Australia? It is believed some conservatives have a repeal in their sights…

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 10:51am BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Church of Australia

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Faith leaders unite to condemn assisted dying law

Twenty four British faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have today called for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.

From the Archbishop’s website

Assisted Dying Bill: Archbishop signs faith leaders’ statement

Wednesday 16th July 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today joins over 20 British faith leaders calling for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.

In a joint statement ahead of the House of Lords debate on Friday, the faith leaders said that if passed the bill would have “a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.”

This is followed by the full text of the statement and a list of all the signatories.

Press reports on opinions about the bill include:

John Bingham The Telegraph Religious leaders unite to condemn assisted dying law

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England split over assisted dying as debate looms

Denis Campbell and Dominic Smith The Guardian Assisted dying: leading doctors call on Lords to back legalisation

We reported earlier on the views of George Carey and Justin Welby.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 11:11am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | News