Thinking Anglicans

General Synod Answers to Questions

Answers to written Questions have been posted on the Church of England website.
See press release Synod members put questions to church bodies.

The original PDF file is here.

TA has provided an html copy of the file here.

Here are some particularly interesting questions and answers. In addition the answers to questions 19 and 24-26 have interesting information on the contributions of the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners to the cost of the Lambeth Conference.

Mr Justin Brett (Oxford) to ask the Secretary General:

Q2. What research has been undertaken to establish the effect of the Church of England’s participation in an Anglican Communion Covenant upon the relationship between the Church of England and the Crown, given the Queen’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and the consequent tension between her prerogative and the potential demands of a disciplinary process within the proposed Covenant?

Mr William Fittall to reply as Secretary General:

A. The Church of England response of 19 December 2007 to the initial draft Covenant noted on page 13 that ‘it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take.’ The same would be true in relation to delegation to any other body of the Anglican Communion. Since as a matter of law the Church of England could not submit itself to any such external power of direction, any separate possible difficulties in relation to the Royal Prerogative could not in practice arise.

Mr Andrew Presland (Peterborough) to ask the Chairman of the Clergy Discipline Commission:

Q12. What are the current best estimates of the total costs incurred in carrying out each of the tribunal hearings that have taken place so far under the Clergy Discipline Measure?

His Honour Judge John Bullimore to reply as Deputy Chairman of the Clergy Discipline Commission:

A. Seven cases so far have had full tribunal hearings. The current best estimate of the total costs for those cases from referral to the tribunal to final determination is approximately £194,000. Within that total, costs vary from case to case depending on a number of different factors. The lowest cost total for a tribunal case is estimated to be £8,300, and the highest cost total was £66,087. There has been one appeal; the total additional cost for that appeal is estimated to be £11,400.

The Revd Hugh Lee (Oxford) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:

Q27. Will the House of Bishops assure the General Synod that neither it nor the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group is seeking to go back on any part of the motion passed in the General Synod in July 2008 and that they are not questioning the manner of the debate, the use of electronic voting, the results of the votes on each of the amendments and the final motion, or the competence of General Synod to decide upon having women as bishops?

The Bishop of Manchester to reply as Chairman of the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group:

A. The Group has met a number of times since the Synod debate in July. The motion required consultation with the House: it considered material from the Group in October and will do so again in December. The Group will complete its work later that month. The draft Measure, amending canon and code of practice will therefore be available for Synod to debate in February and to commit to a Revision Committee. Both the Group and the House will continue to work consistently with the mandate given by Synod.

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Father Ron SmithTobias HallerMalcolm+Martin ReynoldsNom de Plume Recent comment authors
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poppy tupper
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poppy tupper

Would you buy a used car from the Bishop of Manchester?

EPfizH
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EPfizH

On the issue of whether or not the CofE can take direction from the primates….This is an issue that has long been of interest to me going back to praemunire and later Elizabeth. I believe that TEC faces a similar concern, “off-shore” control being given to an external body. The question is one of voluntary participation in an association or confederation vs granting actual power to some sort of suzerain. I have wondered if the Church of Nigeria or Kenya or Tanzania would be equally disposed. Nigeria has removed from its constitution (2005) any reference to Canterbury but a reference… Read more »

bobinswpa
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bobinswpa

Thank God for the Crown.

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

Mr William Fittall’s answer is both illuminating and disturbing. For some time I have wondered about what it would take to give the C of E the power to sign an Anglican Covenant, assuming all along that it would have legal difficulty doing so. The key issue here is that of Provincial Autonomy, which is an essential feature of Anglicanism, and stems directly from Article 37. The trouble in the case of the Church of England is that autonomy is guaranteed, not as a principle in itself, but because the Established Church is subject to royal authority and to the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“For it is evident that a Covenant which provides for the coercive “discipline” of Provinces of “restraint” of their otherwise autonomous actions is a non-starter for the Church of England, and I daresay for a number of other Provinces, including TEC, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, Scotland for starters. But a Covenant without such elements is a non-starter for the Global South, who clearly demand the power to coerce the Western Provinces. (What they will do when this power is turned on them is another question)”. – Nom de plume – Clearly, this assertion by Nom-de-plume here must surely be… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Nom de Plume said “Why exactly are we spending so much effort, not to mention money, on designing a Covenant when the C of E simply cannot sign, and the willingness of other Provinces to sign will depend on details which will of necessity make it impossible for half the Provinces to agree, either way?” The psychologists have a word for it- a displacement activity. Defined as “In animal behaviour, an action that is performed out of its normal context, while the animal is in a state of stress, frustration, or uncertainty. Birds, for example, often peck at grass when… Read more »

bobinswpa
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bobinswpa

Simon

We call it busy work (in education). Liked the post.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

When asked how the CofE will sign-up to the Covenant. Officials say: “Where there is a will ……” I realise this doesn’t take this discussion any further on – but I have posed the dilemma to those involved in the Design Group – and that was the response. At the time the Covenant was first mentioned there was some talk of changing the Constitution of the ACC to include the provisions of the Covenant as a way of avoiding certain problems – and I have heard it suggested that an Act of Parliament will be neccessary and (again) if there… Read more »

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

Simon: Agreed. Thank you for your analysis. Martin: The key question is the will, and I think that the issue of whether the C of E has such a will is being evaded by raising the vires. Sure, an Act of Parliament (or a Measure, which has the same force) could create the power for the C of E to sign, but then they would have to debate the substantive question. So much easier to hide behind the skirts of Royal Supremacy. Part of what bothers me is that I don’t see much official debate on the substantive issues. The… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Yes, I agree there is something rather empty in all the work I have been doing on the Covenant – It feels so insubstantial. Take the matter of the statistics recently reported to the Design Group on the responses from Lambeth. There were 670 questionnaires issued at the Lambeth conference – only 370 bothered to fill them in and only 343 of these find their way into the statistical survey! So though they claim some 64% approval for the idea of a Covenant – in fact only 37% of those polled at Lambeth registered their contentment and only just over… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Cont. In the Lambeth Bishops & Design Group’s Lambeth Commentary http://www.aco.org/commission/covenant/docs/a_lambeth_commentary.pdf on the Covenant (where much of the above information can be found) there are many points that make me smile and sometimes break into laughter. Just one is the laboured points made in response to question 12 – What if a Church does not sign the covenant? The response fails to grasp that many Churches have been in covenanted relationships with other Churches for decades. These relationships are often very strong and sometimes more tangible and real than those within the Anglican Communion. There is also now the Jerusalem… Read more »

Malcolm+
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Martin raises the results of the Lambeth survey on the Covenant. It is worth remembering that the survey results showed widespread discomfort with the role of the primates.

(Spontaneously recalled a reference from the cartoon Madagascar, where a certain primate – ie, a chimpanzee, but still, a primate – says, “If you have any poo, fling it now.” I am overwhelmed by a new metaphor for the primates’ meeting.)

Tobias Haller
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Thanks, Nom de Plume, for this excellent summary of the difficulties, based on the Articles of Religion, and the whole idea of the National Church, which lies at the heart of Anglican self-understanding. My suspicion is this is an aspect of Anglicanism towards which some, most especially perhaps the ABoC himself, is not warm, as he looks towards the AC being more like the RCC, a world-church. Recall as well his early opinions on disestablishment. But the idea of the monarch as a check to outside interference has equally “catholic” roots, if one applies it to the concept of the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

One can be hopeful that, during this week of meetings of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, attended by Lay Clerical and Episcopal members, there will be some straight talking about the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed ‘Covenant”.

Also, there might be some discussion of the shenanigans to be enacted shortly in the Illinois proclamation of a ‘Third Province’ of the Communion. It is hoped that some sort of message will be sent to the re-Asserters, that such schismatic behaviour will render them no longer part of the official Anglican Communion.