Thinking Anglicans

GS: Senior Church Appointments

The afternoon session started with a presentation by Sir Joseph Pilling (chair of the Senior Church Appointments Review Group) about the group’s report Talent and Calling (GS 1650).

As we have already reported the proposed consideration of the report was overtaken by the Government’s green paper The Governance of Britain (online here and here) proposing that the Prime Minister should no longer play an active role in the selection of diocesan bishops. As a result the debate and motion were extended to include this.

The Bishop of Leicester moved

That this Synod, noting that proposals in the Government’s Green Paper of 3 July (attached to GS 1650A) will necessitate further discussion with the Church:

(a) welcome the prospect of the Church achieving the ‘decisive voice in the appointment of bishops’ for which Synod voted in 1974;

(b) affirm its willingness for the Church to have the decisive voice in the selection of cathedral deans and canons appointed by the Crown, given the Prime Minister’s wish no longer to play an active role in the selection of individual candidates;

(c) invite the Archbishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops, to oversee the necessary consequential discussions with the Government and to report to the February group of sessions, including on the implications for those matters covered by chapter 8 of GS 1650; and

(d) endorse the recommendations in chapter 10 of GS 1650, with the exception of recommendations 20-30, invite those responsible to give effect to them and invite the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation.

Several amendments to the motion were proposed, two of which were carried, so that the final wording of the motion became

That this Synod, noting that proposals in the Government’s Green Paper of 3 July (attached to GS 1650A) will necessitate further discussion with the Church:

(a) welcome the prospect of the Church achieving the ‘decisive voice in the appointment of bishops’ for which Synod voted in 1974;

(b) affirm its willingness for the Church to have the decisive voice in the selection of cathedral deans and canons appointed by the Crown, given the Prime Minister’s “commitment to a process of constructive engagement between the Government and the Church” (The Governance of Britain Green Paper, CM7170);

(c) invite the Archbishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops, to oversee the necessary consequential discussions with the Government and to report to the February group of sessions, including on the implications for those matters covered by chapter 8 of GS 1650; and

(d) subject to the above, endorse the recommendations in chapter 10 of GS 1650, invite those responsible to give effect to them and invite the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation.

At the end of the debate the amended motion was carried by 297 votes to one.

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4May1535+Pluralistkieran crichtonettuAlaninLondon Recent comment authors
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4May1535
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4May1535

As seen from across the Atlantic, this development seems to put the (general) debate about the proposed Covenant in an interesting historical light. Much has been said and written about the tendency of some of us Americans to stress polity whilst others, here and abroad, are discussing the interpretation of Scripture. On the face of it, the appeal to Scripture might seem to trump everything else (always granting that well-meaning people may still not agree on what Scripture says): but the proposed changes in the method of senior appointments remind us that the English reformation was not, per se, about… Read more »

Malcolm+
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Malcolm+

Right on, 4May1535. You’ve nailed it. The Covenant, in fact, overturns the very nature of Anglicanism, replacing it with a form of autocracy which makes Tridentine Rome seem like a veritable democracy by comparison. At least Rome could be (and frequently was) constrained by the political machinations of the major powers – admittedly, not always for the best, but still. What constrains this committee of foreign prelates? Even if the secular authorities attempt to constrain one or two of them, there is no meaningful way to constrain the collective. The laity are left out. The clergy are left out. The… Read more »

Curtis
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Curtis

I have to wholeheartedly agree with what’s been posted here. I picked the Episcopal church NOT because it was a conformist group of mindless religionists but because there was a FREEDOM to pursue God. That sense of freedom God is threatened by dictate from ambiguous sources in the hierarchy. Well, what’s special about a religion that does that? Any old thug can imagine a set of burdens for timid conformists to carry and institute it in “covenant.” What kind of christianity is that, though? That isn’t a pursuit of God. It’s conformity to a regulation society. And in this case… Read more »

AlaninLondon
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AlaninLondon

The historical points raised above are very interesting – particulary on the point of ‘polity’. Whilst the Church of England remains established that ‘polity’ remains in place. Ultimately it will still be the Prime Minister who will pass on the Chucrch’s nomination for bishoprics to the Queen and so it will still be the Prime Minister who is ultimately answerable to Parliament for any choice that is made. Having said that, I can’t ever envisage a Prime Minister having to resign because the choice turned out to be a disaster or a government falling because of it! For that reason… Read more »

ettu
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ettu

Well where is the nearest exit? Seriously,I hope TEC remains a refuge for those who choose not to be ruled by the Primates – I labor under the belief (hope? delusion?) that TEC will remain steadfast and a courageous witness to love and inclusiveness

kieran crichton
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kieran crichton

Well, this is really bringing the Church of England closer to the so-called *communion partners* (does this imply something involving dance cards and ladies dropping perfumed hankerchiefs?). The reality is that everywhere else in the world outside England the national government has no say over the appointment of bishops and cathedral deans. The idea is that, somehow, the Church can take good care of itself. Of course, other factors are out there and ready to contribute to institutional inertia, as many of us would know. Here are two examples. My parish back in Australia is between vicars, and this time… Read more »

Pluralist
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Some people blogging say TEC should keep in touch with those it helps protect, like gays and lesbians elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, and a little compromise might be a good idea to keep the contact. What is a good idea is to keep in contact long enough to let the sectarians do the walking. There is obviously a trust that TEC cannot break, but short of that showing willing lets Akinola and crew either marching to the top of the hill and down again or actually doing what he keeps threatening – and when he does, good, because that… Read more »

4May1535+
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4May1535+

Thanks, Alaninlondon: your account of the sovereign authority of the Queen in Parliament is what I wojld have thought, but it’s good to have it confirmed by someone in the UK. I’ve heard people say that, in theory, under the British constitution, a majority in Parliament could decide tomorrow that the CofE should be, say, Lutheran, and replace Dr. Williams with an appropriate cleric. Here’s a thought experiment: if the PM _had_ advised the Crown to appoint a gay man living in a committed relationship to a see, and other dioceses had objected, and the Primates had set up a… Read more »