Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Church Commissioners Questions

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry, MP for Banbury) answered questions on behalf of the Church Commissioners in the House of Commons yesterday.

first batch
second batch
written answer

Here are two of the questions and answers.

Appointment of Bishops

1. Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): What recent representations the Church Commissioners have received on the criteria for the appointment of bishops in the Church of England; and if he will make a statement.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): The canons require that anyone to be considered and consecrated as a bishop at present has to be male and over 30.

Natascha Engel: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that answer. The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently written a newspaper article saying that it is okay to be a gay bishop as long as one is celibate. Where does the Church of England stand on people in civil partnerships? If they are celibate, are they okay to be bishops too?

Tony Baldry: There is no Church of England rule that prevents a celibate person in a civil partnership from being considered for appointment as a bishop. The issue is whether someone in that position could act as a focus for unity in a diocese. That would have to be considered by those responsible for making any episcopal appointment.

Partners of Vicars

8. Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): What training and support the Church of England provides to those who become partners of Church of England vicars after their ordination.

Tony Baldry: When undertaking parish ministry, a curate and their family are able to access support from a number of people, including their bishop and their director of curate training.

Dr Huppert: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a massive asymmetry between the treatment of those who become partners pre-ordination and post-ordination? If the Church expects such partners to play an active role, it should try to ensure that those who join their partner post-ordination get at least equivalent training.

Tony Baldry: I think everyone recognises that being a vicar is not an easy job. Betjeman succinctly observed:

“When things go wrong it’s rather tame
To find we are ourselves to blame.
It gets the trouble over quicker
To go and blame things on the Vicar.”

Every clergyman deserves our full support for what they do in the community, and their spouses - whether pre-ordination or post-ordination - deserve our support, because they are often on the front line of helping parishioners in the community. I very much hope that if any clergy spouse does not feel that she is getting full support, she will get in touch with me and I will make jolly sure that her diocesan bishops and others ensure that she gets the support that she deserves.

Other questions were about gift aid, ethical criteria for investments, VAT on church repairs, and heritage grants for churches

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 8:10pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Has parliament asked any question about the impact of section 4 of the proposed covenant on the Royal prerogative? Should it?

Posted by: Bishop Alan Wilson on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 8:45pm BST

Clergy spouse - the support 'SHE' needs ?

What planet is he on ?

This must be a spoof.

(Or are things in the C of E anachronism-wise far worse than one had feared?).

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 8:53pm BST

Perhaps someone should tell the Commissioner that some clergy are women now, and therefore have male spouses?

Posted by: Charlie Peer on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 8:55pm BST

'If any clergy spouse feels that SHE....'!!!!! What century is it? No wonder the church is in such a mess!!!

Posted by: ShockedofLondon on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 9:00pm BST

"I very much hope that if any clergy spouse does not feel that she is getting full support, she will get in touch with me and I will make jolly sure that her diocesan bishops and others ensure that she gets the support that she deserves."

And if the spouse is male?

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 9:27pm BST

Perhaps someone should tell the Commissioner that some male ministers have male partners --

some of them have even tied a knot (if not quite -yet- the knot!) down at the Town Hall !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 11:44pm BST

Alan, it is ESSENTIAL that someone ask the Church Commissioners how the Covenant would affect the Royal Perogative. Indeed, the Covenant overthrows all of the Acts of Henry VIII and since regarding the Church of England.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 12:33am BST

I was going to post a comment - but every question and every answer is just full of lunacy - so I won't.

Posted by: Peter Edwards on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 12:56am BST

I have emailed Tony Baldry about his faux pas and would urge all contributers to this thread to do the same. Just google his name to access an email form.

Posted by: Terence Dear on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 8:53am BST

I am a clergyman and a clergy spouse. Should I get double support?

On the covenant and the Royal Prerogative: something like the covenant CANNOT affect the royal prerogative or parliamentary supremacy. A decision to do so by the General Synod would be ultra vires (ie outside of the powers of the synod given to it by the Church Assembly (Powers) Act) and would simply be ineffective.

S 4 of the covenant draft makes clear that the covenant does not affect provincial autonomy. In our case it simply cannot. Action taken by any of the instruments of communion under s 4 would have no effect on the internal workings of the C of E and no effect in England.

I'm not arguing for the covenant. In England it is entirely pointless.

Posted by: Wilf on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 10:28am BST

Me culpa, I accept that the wording in the second part of my answer should have made it clear that, of course, there are now many male spouses.

From the question that had been tabled, it was not immediately clear why my colleague, Dr. Huppert, was asking this question, so not surprisingly, I asked him what was his concern, not least so I could investigate any difficulties with colleagues at Church House and Lambeth, etc. Dr. Huppert explained to me that his question was motivated by the experiences of a woman friend/constituent of his, married to a clergyman, who had expressed strong concerns that whilst women who married clergymen preordination seemed to get a lot of support during the training and ordination process, those who married clergymen who had already been ordained, didn't seem to get similar support.

So, mea culpa, I had been somewhat focused on his particular constituent's concerns, as a clergyman's wife.

But you are absolutely right. I should have made it clear, simply so that friends such as you wouldn't feel the need to write in the way in which you have, but of course, there are now many women priests in the Church.

I think if you read what I had to say to General Synod in York on the matter of women in the Episcopate, I am in absolutely no doubt as to the enormous contribution made by women clergy and women in the Church generally.

Best wishes

Tony Baldry


PS. If you want to read what I said at York, if you go to my website, www.tonybaldry.co.uk and type in "women bishops" in the search box, it will take you to the relevant part of the archive.

Posted by: tony baldry on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 12:24pm BST

'seemed to get a lot of support during the training and ordination process'

'Seemed' being the operative word. Many many of us can testify to the appalling lack of support 'the Church of England' gives to its ministers and their families. As an institution it makes no concerted effort at it at all.

Places that have tried have met derision (talk of psychobabble) and oppostion at times. A wonderful trail-blazing support programme and network set up in Mervyn Stockwood's time, was not supported by Tom Butler leading to the resignation of its one paid worker- a committed Christian and psychotherapist - and the demise of the programme after decades. Butler himself spoke publicly of the need for ministers to stand on their own two feet and not be wimps. Not much encouragement there; and clearly he himself was uncomfortable with feelings, though they will out, as I believe he eventually discovered.

At this very moment ministers are languishing under suspension and little support for marrying too many people, some of whom it turns out deceived the minister. The diocese failed to support them too, in its public statement on the matter.

Pleeease don't get me started.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 5:05pm BST

"Action taken by any of the instruments of communion under s 4 would have no effect on the internal workings of the C of E and no effect in England.

I'm not arguing for the covenant. In England it is entirely pointless."

If what Wilf says is true, that may explain much of the indifference to the Anglican Covenant in England. As the Covenant can and will affect sister churches in the Anglican Communion, which are not established churches, the only reason for those in the Church of England to care would be for the sake of the rest of us.

Posted by: Grandmère Mimi on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 7:02pm BST

Wilf, while of course the Church of England - like any other province - could carry on despite punitive measures by the Standing Committee, if this Committee were to declare that a C of E decision was incompatible with the Covenant and imposed penalties, e.g. non-attendance at an international Anglican gathering, would that not create an awkward situation? This would not happen now, but could happen in a few years' time if the composition of the SC changed enough. And what if a breakaway church were recognised by the SC?

Posted by: Savi H on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 11:42pm BST

The Covenant certainly pretends to have no effect on the internal functionings of any province. In moral theology, this is known as a lie.

The Criminal Code of Canada does not have any effect on the internal decision making process of any citizen, nor in the citizen chooses to undertake an action which may be forbidden by the Criminal Code of Canada. However, the Criminal Code of Canada also sets out certain consequences should one choose to do that.

There is aa very good argument that it would be beyond the constitutional competence of the Church of England General Synod to adopt the Anglican Covenant. Apparently some particularly jesuitical members of Synod (or perhaps merely intellectually lazy members of synod) believe that there is therefore no reason to bother voting it down. If so, the are either dishonest or daft - neither of which is particularly admirable.

The constraints of the Covenant would be effectively operative until and unless the UK courts were to rule that it was ultra vires. Much damage can be done.

Better, surely, to do the right thing off the top and defeat this Abominable Covenant on 24 Nov.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 29 October 2010 at 12:38am BST

I'm surprised that Malcolm is so concerned for the survival of the Acts of Henry VIII!

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Friday, 29 October 2010 at 2:33am BST

;-)

That was Acts of Henry VIII and since. I'm rather a fan of the Acts of Henry VIII (and reaffirmed since) that say the Church of England is not subject to the authority of foreign prelates. Overturning them would undermine the principle that the Anglican Church of Canada should not be subject to the authority of foreign prelates.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 29 October 2010 at 10:54pm BST

Whatever may be said about the proposed Anglican Covenant - both pro and anti - one wonders whether the present independence of individual Provinces will be undermined by its acceptance. This is a matter which should concern not only the Church of England, but each and every province

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 30 October 2010 at 12:56am BST
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