Thursday, 31 March 2005

a little Scottish Episcopal history

David McCarthy has been quoted as saying:

“We see ourselves as being in the long-standing tradition of Scottish Episcopalianism…”

Today’s Glasgow Herald has this letter to the editor hidden away (see next page link at the bottom, go to page 3):

The congregation of St Silas Church, Glasgow, are in dispute with their Scottish Episcopal Bishops. It would appear history repeats itself. St Silas was opened in November, 1864, by a group of dissenters: Mr George Burns, Mr William Frederick Burnley and Sir Archibald Campbell – ”all being men of peace, though prepared, at considerable self-sacrifice, to contend for the maintenance of the Protestant and Evangelical principles of the Church of England, felt it better to set aside their interest in St Jude’s and built St Silas Church”.

At that time the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church were intent on changing the protestant nature of the 36 39 articles of religion of the Church of England, to embrace Tractarianism and the Oxford Anglo-Catholic movement.

St Silas was readmitted to the fold under the concordat of 1906. In 1987, St Silas became a private chapel within the Scottish Episcopal Church.

John McPhail, 23 Lochlibo Crescent, Barrhead.

You can read about the history of the English Episcopal Church in Scotland in Gavin White’s book The Scottish Episcopal Church, A New History.

By the way, as the link is currently broken on the official SEC site, here is the correct URL for the 24 Feb news item on that site: The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Bruce Cameron, shares his initial reflection on the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 31 March 2005 at 12:21pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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archbishop writes to British political leaders

A Lambeth Palace press release says:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has issued a pre-election open letter, urging party leaders to avoid political campaigns based on the exploitation of fear.

Dr Williams argues that although negative campaign strategies may make headlines they do not determine the outcome of elections and that politicians should focus instead on offering long-term solutions to deep-rooted challenges.

Dr Williams goes on to identify four such issues: the environment, international development and the arms trade, youth and family policy, and criminal justice reform.

The letter can be read in full here.

Update The BBC has a report which includes a link to a video clip including an interview with RW.
The Church Times has a report on its website, not in the paper edition: Campaign fairly, Archbishop tells party leaders
Stephen Bates in the Guardian has Fear must not be a campaign tool, says Williams
and there is also Attacks on Tory politics of fear
Jonathan Petre interprets the letter a different way in the Telegraph Archbishop says make marriage election issue
The Independent had Archbishop warns party leaders not to exploit voters’ fears.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 31 March 2005 at 12:06pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Scotland: an update

David McCarthy of St Silas Church in Glasgow is indefatigible in his efforts to make a big issue of all this.

He has created a website at www.scottishanglican.org.uk to promote the conservative cause. This contains the text of a press release, and also the text of an email sent to the bishops. Both are in PDF format on that site, but can be found in accessible format below the fold here.
The following further press coverage has resulted:

Scotsman Backing for gay priests could split Scottish Episcopals
Glasgow Evening Times Church split threat over gay priests
Glasgow Herald Retract gay minister stance, church urged
BBC Scotland Church divides over gay priests
Guardian Gay issue divides Scottish Anglicans

Meanwhile, over at www.changingattitudescotland.org.uk a press release says:

Members of Changing Attitude Scotland are surprised that the small, new grouping calling itself the “Scottish Anglican Network” have spent so much time o­n Easter Day debating homosexuality. Most of the Scottish Episcopal Church spent the day rejoicing in the news of Christ’s Resurrection.

The statement of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s bishops of 4 March 2005 does not represent a new innovation - it simply states what has always been the case.

Referring to the Bishops’ Statement, the Convener of Changing Attitude Scotland, the Rev Kelvin Holdsworth said,

“There has been a huge expression of support for the Scottish Bishops from within Scotland and all around the world. It is a joy and a delight that the Bishops have spoken warmly of their gay clergy colleagues. In making their statement, the Bishops have witnessed to a generous orthodoxy which is the norm for the Scottish Episcopal Church. The good news of Easter is for everyone in the church - gay or straight.”

“The Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church have called for discussion amongst those with different views. Those who are calling for the Bishops to withdraw their statement appear to be frightened of that discussion taking place. Members of Changing Attitude Scotland are looking forward to engaging in the dialogue which the bishops propose. We particularly enjoy discussing the authority of scripture and the ways in which we understand the Bible to be consonant with the view that gay people in relationships can live open godly lives within the Christian faith.”

Anyone moved to write to any of the Scottish bishops about all this will find all their contact details here.

For Immediate Release
Easter Sunday 2005
From the Scottish Anglican Network
A growing group of Anglicans in Scotland, concerned by the news that the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church are now publicly stating that homosexual practice is not a bar to ordained ministry, today announced the setting up of a website as part of the attempt by their network of churches and individuals to continue orthodox and mainstream doctrine on sexuality as the public teaching of the Church.
For more visit http://www.scottishanglican.org.uk
They hope that the bishops will choose to withdraw their statement of the 4th March 2005, thus returning the Scottish Episcopal Church to the orthodox teaching of most of the Anglican Communion.
Contact: Revd David McCarthy at david@stsilas.org.uk or on 0141 954 9368
—-ENDS—-

Public copy of letter to the bishops, sent by email 27 March 2005.

Dear Brothers in Christ,

Thank you for your willingness to meet with us on the 7th April. We continue to humbly pray for you and our church.
Having consulted with others who have shown great concern as to the present situation, (as widely as possible in the time scale), at our meeting on the 7th, we respectfully propose the following as our contribution to the agenda:

1. Do you feel able to withdraw your statement, and make it clear that it is not acceptable for clergy to be in a sexual relationship, outside that of a man and a woman in marriage?

2. If you are able to do this, how do you then propose to take discussions forward? We neither need nor desire protracted discussions. Both the Church and the world needs clarity on our position.

3. If you are not able to do this, how do you propose to organise the church in such a way that those holding orthodox and mainstream views on this matter, are able to remain, be cared for, and not be compromised?

4. What are the consequences of no change in your position?

We realise that this is a busy time for all of us but it would be most helpful and constructive if you could give us your considered response to these questions at this meeting. We too have been meeting with urgency this Holy Week, so that we can give you our responses quickly and clearly.

You can expect strong reaction from around the Anglican Communion in the weeks to come, and no doubt will have to publicly respond to this as well.
We pray that you will be courageous, for we know that if you now respond with orthodox teaching, there will be a backlash from other parts of the church.
However, in that event, you can be assured of our wholehearted love and support.
With loving concern in Christ,
Revd David McCarthy, Revd Canon Philip Noble, Revd Mike Parker

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 29 March 2005 at 4:07pm BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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women bishops - study programme

The Church of England has published a Study Programme, see this press release:
Women Bishops in the Church of England? Study Programme published on the web..

The downloadable material mentioned is in fact an MS Word file. An accessible copy of the same material is now available here.

The material includes a chart which shows the process that is likely to be followed to achieve the objective:

The timing of the various stages outlined in this table is necessarily contingent on the outcome of Synod motions etc. At the time of writing in March 2005 stages A & B have passed and stage C is likely to be reached in July 2005. The House of Bishops expects that moving from D to P would take at least four years (not least because 18 months would need to be allowed for the referral to dioceses outlined in J & K).

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Sunday, 27 March 2005

weekend news items

The Guardian published this Rowan Williams profile by Stephen Bates on Good Friday.

…With the American and Canadian churches invited to withdraw from international meetings last month until they had repented of their liberal line in appointing an openly gay bishop and blessing same-sex partnerships (and they may yet decline to do this); with the Scottish Episcopal Church saying it is happy with its gay clergy; and with internecine fighting breaking out again in the Church of England, there is little fellowship, brotherhood or charity to go round.

When 35 of the 38 Anglican primates - archbishops and presiding bishops - met in Northern Ireland a month ago under Dr Williams’s chairmanship to deal with the fissures caused by the gay issue, the Archbishop of Canterbury struggled to win respect.

When he mildly remonstrated with some of his colleagues for leaving the meeting to confer with American conservative episcopalians lobbying outside, he was essentially told to mind his own business. When he pleaded with the primates to attend a communion service that he was conducting at the end of the meeting, 14 did not turn up.

One fellow primate heard others saying that the Archbishop of Canterbury would “do what we tell him to”…

Saturday’s Washington Post carried A Tainted Easter Message by Colbert King.

…Last week Bishop Tembo suspended all activities with the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. He withdrew his request for $352,941 to support his HIV-AIDS program, including money for orphans’ education, and he postponed the visit of the medical team. What, pray tell, could have led the bishop to refuse this help for people in need?

In every large organization, there’s always that 5 percent who never get the word. The Anglican Communion is no exception. In a March 8 “Dear Friends” letter, Bishop Tembo said he had just learned the week before that the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania had voted “yes” to the election of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. The election, by the way, took place two years ago.

Asserting that the South Rwenzori Diocese “upholds the Holy Scriptures as the true word of God,” and implying that the Pennsylvanian diocese — by supporting a gay bishop — does not, Bishop Tembo proclaimed the two dioceses to be in “theological conflict,” thus leading him to reject all ties to his brothers and sisters in Christ living in and around Harrisburg.

Apparently it matters less to the good Bishop Tembo — who does not have AIDS — that it is the suffering men, women and children in his diocese who may pay with their lives for his action, not the Central Pennsylvania Diocese. What’s more, Bishop Tembo and his wife, Dorothy Nzerebende, are the proud parents of five children who don’t have to fend for themselves. So when he turns down money for the education of orphans, it’s no skin off the teeth of his kids.

Yes, Kasese has only 15 trained physicians to treat more than 500,000 residents. Which, however, is better? Thumbing one’s nose at Episcopalians in the United States or bringing more doctors into the midst of Kasese’s human suffering? Bishop Tembo made it known where he stands.

All this he did in the name of God.

Sadly, Bishop Tembo is being cheered by conservative Episcopalians in this country. Some of them believe that the Episcopal Church of the United States, by consecrating a gay bishop, is, as one of them put it on a conservative Web site, “sending people to hell by the boatload, by presenting a false gospel.” Thus, the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania’s money is tainted.

So here we are this Easter, the day that Bishop Michael Creighton of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania described in this month’s message as representing “the victory of God’s love and life.” What a victory. What an Easter moment.

Sunday’s Telegraph had Traditional songs beat the ‘happy clappers’ hands down in search for Britain’s best hymns.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 March 2005 at 10:18pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Easter weekend roundup

Two columns from Saturday’s The Times

Geoffrey Rowell on Story which transforms both living and dying

…The Christian Church dares to proclaim that here, in this life and this death, we encounter God, the source and the sustainer of all life and being, emptying Himself, coming down to the lowest part of our need. Today, Holy Saturday, is the most paradoxical day of the Christian year, a day when indeed God is dead. In love He chooses freely to know our dying, and Christian devotion and imagination speak of Christ descending to the place of the departed, shattering the imprisoning gates and chains and bars of Hades. Tomorrow, Easter Day, the nothingness of today explodes into a fullness of life, which is a new creation, blowing history open. The horizon of our human life is no longer death, but risen life in Christ.

This is the overarching story, “the one story only which will prove worth your telling”; for it is the story of the God who made us, and loved us, and in thirsting love has re-made us. Easter is indeed about the resurrection of Christ — which is neither a descent from or denial of the cross, nor a resurrection of relics, but a new creation, a transfiguration of human life and history. Easter touches us with eternal life, and the Lord who breathes on His disciples on the first Easter evening, is the Lord who is still the Lord and Giver of life, making of His Church an Easter people. This indeed is a love and a life which will never let us down and will never let us go, an overarching story which transforms both our living and our dying. “Christ is risen and the demons” — the dark, imprisoning powers of every kind — “are indeed fallen!”

Richard Harries on From cold, rolled stone to blood-streaked man

…The Christian West gradually lost its earlier reluctance to depict Jesus rising from the tomb. And there have been some very remarkable depictions, not least Piero della Francesca’s mural in the town museum in Sansepolcro. Aldous Huxley described it, without qualification, as “the best picture in the world”. For him it expressed the humanist ideal. He saw in the Christ figure, with its beautiful, muscled body, like a Greek athlete, a Resurrection of classical reality. More haunting than this is the resurrected Christ by Bramantino, now in Madrid. This Christ, still partially swathed in his white winding sheet and bathed in moonlight, has an unearthly pallor, except for the wounds and eyes, bloodshot with tears, staring directly at the viewer. This is a Christ that still bears the marks of death. By contrast, as Huxley observed, Piero’s Christ looks all set to live a fully human life on the human stage.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, 20th-century Christian art was dominated by depictions of Christ tortured on the cross. There is of course the sheer difficulty of depicting the resurrected Christ in a way that is not crass and literalistic. No less significant is our scepticism about any suggestion of a happy ending. Iris Murdoch once wrote that “all that consoles is fake” summing up the attitude of a culture soaked in Freud. Some of the most successful depictions focus on the relationship of the risen Christ with one of His followers, as in Graham Sutherland’s Noli Me Tangere in Chichester Cathedral. Equally good is the supper at Emmaus by Ceri Richards, above the altar at St Edmund Hall in Oxford. It is a fine picture, and avoids over-literalism by having Christ at the table against the background of a great cross of yellow light, emerging from it but not fully tangible. One of the disciples looks startled, the other slow and sceptical…

The Guardian on Saturday had Geza Vermes give his view of the passion chronology in Death in the afternoon.

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse had Embracing in a watery grave.

Paul Handley wrote in the Independent about The Christian gift is to convert despair into humour

…The oddness of today takes on a greater significance if we adopt the argument of those who say that, in essence, we live permanently in Holy Saturday. We are sinful, and yet saved; saved, yet sinful. The act that rescued us from evil has taken place, and yet evil persists, and we are caught up in it. On a spiritual level (whatever that is), we must confront our complicity in the murder of Christ. The biblical record suggests that Jesus allowed himself to hope that death was not inevitable. After all, a palm-waving crowd had cheered him into Jerusalem when he arrived to confront the religious authorities. We have seen plenty of examples from Eastern Europe in recent months of the power that can be wielded by an unarmed opposition leader if he has the active support of the masses. But, although the orange-waving crowds took courage from each other, the decision to camp out in a draughty square had to be taken by each frightened individual. And this is us. We are not, as a rule, the psychopaths who bang in the nails; we are members of the crowd of followers who stand around and watch the tragedy unfold.

Our sins aren’t even bold, or Faustian. We are simply the ones who melt away; who, when Jesus is taken, suddenly find other things that need our attention. Freedom Square, the Martyrs’ Square are empty, when all that was needed to turn tragedy to triumph was our presence.

Living in Holy Saturday is to live with this raw knowledge of ourselves. We work hard, partly to distract ourselves, partly because we feel the need to atone. And yet, as we work, a miracle is happening, has happened (tenses have little meaning here). The more we know ourselves, the more we know ourselves to be forgiven. The Christian gift is this: to turn despair into humour. In classical theatre, the technical definition of a tragedy is a drama in which the hero dies. If he doesn’t, then it’s a comedy. Because the resurrection has happened/will happen, we are living in a unique, divine comedy. Instead of being depressed about our failings, we are invited to see them as absurd, comic; and to laugh at ourselves is to accept forgiveness…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 March 2005 at 10:00pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Rowan Williams: Good Friday and Easter

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the Good Friday Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4
Audio recording (3 minutes - Real Audio required) and Transcript is now available.

The archbishop’s Easter Message to the Anglican Communion

The full text of his Easter sermon is below the fold. And is now available on his own website.

This report from the BBC links to a video clip of part of the sermon (Real Player required)

Text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter sermon
Canterbury Cathedral 1100hrs BST

Death, says St Paul, is our enemy; and Christians are the most pitiable of all people if their hope is confined to this life. To many modern ears, these statements sound a bit suspect Isn’t this the kind of religion we have learned to be wary of, a religion that justifies suffering and frustration here and now by the promise of compensation somewhere else? And as for regarding death as an enemy - is this more than the childish resentment of human beings who haven’t yet accepted their limitations? One of the great books of the twentieth century, by a man who had read Freud more intelligently than most, was called The Denial of Death, and it spelled out the evil consequences of this refusal to face our limits, the anxiety and unreality and psychological fragility that could distort lives lived in this state of denial.

The longing for everlasting life takes strange forms. There are people who obsessively investigate the evidence for spiritualist phenomena, people who have their bodies cryogenically frozen in the hope of resuscitation, people who claim that their diet and lifestyle is slowing down the ageing process. And of course when you think of things like this, you realise that it isn’t simply certain kinds of religion that produce odd and unhealthy attitudes to ageing or limitation or death.

Quite a lot of our contemporary culture is actually shot through with a resentment of limits and the passage of time, anger at what we can’t do, fear or even disgust at growing old. Ernest Becker’s book, referred to a moment ago, was directed not against religion as such but against a climate of fantasy encouraged by cheap psychology (‘you can be anything you choose to be’) and a childlike faith in technology.

Now St Paul doesn’t show too many obvious signs of resenting human limitations or indeed wanting not to die - after all, he tells us in all kinds of ways in the course of his letters that we have to let our self-protective instincts ‘die’ as we grow into the full scope of love for God and each other; so he can hardly be recommending to us the kind of attitude that gave Freud and Nietzsche so much material for criticism. What then is he saying here? And how do we hear it now as good news?

The first thing to notice is something that has been said countless times, yet we still miss it. Paul does not say that we shall live for ever; he says that we shall die and that we shall be raised as Jesus was raised. Forget spiritualism and cryogenics; forget supposed evidence for ‘survival’. Paul doesn’t think we are going to survive but that we are going to live again because of God’s action. Here and now, we must indeed once to terms with the reality of death, and we must put to death all in us that binds us to our narrow self-interest. Indeed, you could rightly say that Paul’s teaching is really that we must put to death our refusal to die, because that refusal to die, that fearful denial of our limits, is the root of our selfish and self-paralysing habits of sin. A healthy human environment is one in which we try to make sense of our limits, of the accidents that can always befall us and the passage of time which inexorably changes us. An unhealthy environment is one in which we always look for someone to blame and someone to compensate us, and struggle to maintain fictions of our invulnerability to time and change.

Societies as well as individuals fall victim to these diseases. We react so often with panic and hostility to the presence of persons and cultures who are different and blame them for our own dysfunctions. We maintain a ludicrous confidence in technology to solve the environmental problems it has itself intensified because we can’t believe that our capacity to generate wealth and comfort for ourselves is anything other than infinite. We fantasise about a state of security so complete that nothing and no-one will ever threaten us. We need to hear that all this is really the denial of death - that it is what Paul elsewhere calls ‘the works of the flesh’, the closing up of ourselves in the face of a reality we can’t fully control.

What Paul is telling us is this. If your hope is that this life will be protected and prolonged, that your comfort zone as you understand it will never be challenged, that you will never have to face the reality of being mortal and limited, God help you. It’s a recipe for illusion, terror and the killing of the soul. But that doesn’t mean that your ‘real’ life only begins on the far side of death. Rather it means that here and now you learn to live not by self-defence but by opening up to what God gives.

Because that is the essence of belief in the resurrection. It is not a matter of natural survival, not a right we can demand from God, but a gift. God has promised to be our God, he has promised to hold us in relationship with himself whatever happens to us. Remember the end of Romans chapter 8? ‘There is nothing in death or life…nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’. He has committed himself to be there for us by his own gracious decision; we face death knowing that his promise has been given - but not knowing (as St Paul goes on to say) just how the promise will be honoured. All we can guess is that our present life has the same relation to the future as the seed has to the full-grown plant. Not survival, but growth into an unimaginably greater dimension. If we now begin to live in a way that gives priority to God’s promise and gift, to live in trust and generosity, we shall not be haunted and imprisoned by fear of death. We have begun to live the kind of life that can cope with death because it simply looks for God’s gift at every point.

So the importance of Jesus’ resurrection is not that it somehow proves there is life after death in a general sort of way. What it proves is that God keeps his promises: the commitment of God the Father to Jesus his beloved son is absolute and eternal; so the cross does not separate Father and Son, and life is restored on the far side of the cross, life that both is and isn’t like the ordinary physical life Jesus had in Galilee. And the divine promise Jesus, God among us, makes to his friends, the promise of mercy and renewal, is absolute; not even the unfaithfulness of the disciples can destroy it. Jesus’ life is there for them once more, the source of their joy and hope. The violent and terrible death of Jesus does not stop God from giving what he wants to give, giving consistently and steadily. If Jesus is raised, we can count on the faithfulness of God.

And perhaps we can dimly see why death can be called an enemy. Death seems to challenge the idea of an eternally faithful God; and it poses an obvious difficulty for any belief that God wants to develop with us a relationship that is always growing and developing. It looks as though death means that our relation with God comes to a halt, as if God eventually treats us as disposable. But if we see in Jesus’ resurrection the confirmation that God is faithful, we can face death differently - not because it has stopped mattering or even hurting, not because we have assurance that we shall carry on as before (we shan’t), but because God has not finished with us. We have more to receive from him, and he will create the conditions that will make it possible for us to receive.

Death will be the last enemy to be overcome, says Paul. At the end of everything, death will be behind us, death will be history. We shall have become what we have become because we have lived with death and learned how to love realistically and humbly, within the compass of a limited life. Death the enemy of our confidence has been a friend to us after all - an enemy we learn to love, as Christ tells us to love our enemies; and at the end of everything its work is done. What remains is only growth in love, as we stand with and in Jesus Christ looking into the inexhaustible depths of God’s reality - the sea we must learn to swim in but will never cross over, as the Welsh poet Ann Griffiths put it in one of her hymns.

And here and now we are called on to challenge the denial of death that locks us into folly and fear; the pride and arrogance, the desperation and brittleness of our hopes. Easter proclaims to individuals and economic systems and governments alike that we shall not find life by refusing to let go of our precious, protected selves. Let go with Christ, die into his love; and rise with Christ, opening yourself to the eternal gift of the Father.

© Rowan Williams 2005
ENDS
Lambeth Palace Press Office

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 March 2005 at 12:00pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 26 March 2005

An Easter beginning

I had a sudden flashback to my childhood, this week. I was standing in front of a schoolteacher, defending myself against an accusation of wrongdoing. There was no point in denial, so I tried to throw the blame, “I only did what Michael was doing”, I bleated. The riposte was instant; no doubt she had used it many times before. “Would you follow him into his grave as quickly?”

Three of the four gospel accounts of Easter morning place someone inside Jesus’ tomb. Matthew and Luke tell us the women enter; John says that it is Peter followed by the beloved disciple. Only Mark has the entire action take place outside. It’s traditional to use these passages to illustrate the emptiness of the grave and to contrast Jesus’ absence from his burial place with his appearances elsewhere over the hours and days that follow.

I’ve no problem with any of that, but it feels as though there is another dimension that has got squeezed out of the picture. Matthew, Mark and John all tell us that the visitors to the tomb hurry or even run away. There is a dynamism, vitality and urgency here that we too easily overlook. Luke expresses the same thing slightly differently by having the first resurrection appearance being to two disciples on a journey to Emmaus.

If we have made the most of these last few days of Holy Week we will indeed have followed Jesus into his grave. And now we need to follow him as quickly out of it! Ironically of course this is the moment when many clergy and laypeople heave a great sigh of relief that the rush of services has come to an end and head off for a few days well earned rest. I’m not begrudging anyone their holidays, but simply noting that whatever momentum we have built up over the previous week will, if we are not alert to the danger, have dissipated by the time we emerge from our post-Easter break.

Whether it is full or empty, the grave is too obvious and natural an ending place. It imparts an inaccurate sense of finality to the Easter story. For the disciples it isn’t the end but the beginning. A new relationship with Jesus beckons them forward. As Matthew puts it, Christ is “going on ahead of them to Galilee”. And Galilee itself is no safe place of rest. It is border country; where unpredictable encounters are always likely; where Jewish traditions vie with outside influences; where the Good News they bring will have to engage seriously with cultures and lifestyles outside of their own.

As they hurry along their journey they will encounter Jesus on the way, in both likely and unlikely places. Their meetings will strengthen them and revive them. So my prayer for us all this Easter Day is that we who have followed Jesus into his grave will continue to follow him out and onwards. And that such rest as we take from our labours will not cost us the momentum that Holy Week has granted us.

Posted by David Walker on Saturday, 26 March 2005 at 10:58pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 24 March 2005

Facing Good Friday

Our Lent group this year was partly based on the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. In the first session we watched the sequence where the protagonist spends his first night in prison, and one of the other new arrivals is beaten so badly that he dies. It’s an intentionally shocking sequence (though comparatively mild by contemporary cinematic standards) and it provoked a discussion about watching violence. Not suprisingly, given the constituency of Lent groups, a number of people said that would not have chosen to watch it, that normally they shy away from portrayals of any sort of violence.

The depictions are there in abundance, whether fictional or the real thing in news coverage. But we have an option, we can decide not to look, to cocoon ourselves, knowing but not knowing. Films come with category labels, TV programmes are shown before or after ‘the divide’, and the reliable characters telling us about today’s news will warn us when there might be something too nasty to watch: yesterday, the warning came in the context of a report on vivisection.

I’m one of the opters-out. Every time I go to a performance of ‘King Lear’, I look away during the blinding of Gloucester; I scarcely ever go to films which I know to be bloodthirsty; I salve my conscience by paying my subscription to Amnesty International, but I can rarely bring myself to read the stories which come in its magazine.

And then Holy Week brings me up short. From Palm Sunday, with its reading of the passion, through to Good Friday’s Stations of the Cross, I am compelled to look, to follow the story of betrayal, and torture, and death. I can remember, as a teenager, hearing Bach’s St Matthew Passion, and wanting to stop listening, but needing to go on.

A year on from the opening of Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion’, I still have questions about its particular theology, its way of telling the story, and its implicit claim to a physical suffering beyond that of other human beings, just as I did when it first came out. But on reflection, I respect the need to make us accept the reality of suffering.

Tomorrow I will find my mind filled, as it is every year, by unwanted, undesired images of the world’s major and minor cruelties. Tomorrow, I cannot tuck myself inside the cocoon of film-ratings and warnings to the viewer. Tomorrow, I must look, and know that there will be no easy comfort; for that we must wait.

Posted by Jane Freeman on Thursday, 24 March 2005 at 10:36am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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more about Canada and the USA

We carried our own correspondent’s account of a recent Toronto meeting. Now the Diocese of Toronto has published this account by Carolyn Purden. Here’s a portion:

The Primate painted a picture of deep division at the gathering in Northern Ireland. Among the 38 Primates attending the gathering, a group of about a dozen from the global South shunned the North Americans (Archbishop Hutchison and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.).

These Primates, who were primarily from Africa and Latin America (the Southern Cone), petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, not to hold a daily eucharist at the gathering. When the eucharist was held with a chaplain presiding, they would not attend. When the Archbishop of Canterbury invited all to attend the final eucharist at which he would preside, they refused to attend.

The same group was also involved in leaking information from the Primates’ sessions, which are held “in camera,” to the media. The final report of the meeting was released a day early because an earlier and erroneous version had appeared in the press.

Archbishop Hutchison spoke with anger and passion about these same bishops who, without notice, suddenly abandoned the Primates’ meeting for an afternoon and evening. “The Archbishop of Canterbury left the chair,” he said. “The Africans had decided to meet off site and had taken others with them.” The 16 bishops remaining had received no prior notice from Archbishop Williams or the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion that this was taking place. “It seemed our agenda was hijacked and put in the hands of others,” the Primate said.

Today Bill Bowder in the Church Times reports that English can’t throw stones - Hutchison:

THE CANADIAN PRIMATE, the Most Revd Andrew Hutchison, has suggested that the blessing of same-sex relationships is much more prevalent in England than in Canada.

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Archbishop Hutchison said: “There are many priests conducting same-sex blessings sub rosa with the full knowledge of the bishops, but without any sanctions. This is going on in the Church of England, unannounced, all the time.

“I know of one report from one bishop in England that this is now done in 14 dioceses. From a report by the English House of Bishops, it is quite clear that they know this.

“For the Church of England to do any posturing about Canada being out of order is frankly ridiculous.”

By contrast, he said, “In Canada, if a priest gives an informal blessing, and I know of two instances, that priest is disciplined by his bishop immediately. That does not happen in England, where you have a much bigger problem. A little transparency would be helpful.”

This story also reports the opinions of Nigel McCulloch on the ECUSA HoB:

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, attended the US House of Bishops’ meeting in Texas ( News, 18 March). He said this week that he was “realistically optimistic” about the chances that the Anglican Communion would hold together.

He said that the US bishops had been “stunned” by the Primates’ reaction in February. He said he had received a standing ovation, after telling the bishops of the seriousness of the issue. “I said that this decision would have its knock-on effect on other churches, including the Church of England.”

Bishop McCulloch felt that the US bishops at their meeting had a very deep sense of communion with Anglicans across the world. “They also valued their sense of personal communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

The bishops’ agreement not to consecrate any more bishops for 18 months was “a costly thing”, he said.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 24 March 2005 at 9:42am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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more on Scotland

The Scottish Episcopal Church has itself issued a press release Statement regarding today’s media reports - 23rd March 2005.

There has today been wide reporting of a statement issued by the College of Bishops in response to the Anglican Communion’s Windsor Report and the meeting of the Anglican Primates in February. Press interest has focused on one small part of the overall statement.

The statement was in fact issued on 4 March. It acknowledges the difficulties currently faced by the Anglican Communion and expresses the Bishops’ commitment to work to preserve the unity of the Communion. In particular, the Bishops commit themselves to facilitating discussion “across difference”, recognising that within the Scottish Episcopal Church there are both those of gay and lesbian orientation and those whose theology and stance would be critical of attitudes to sexuality other than abstinence outside marriage. The Bishops “rejoice in both” and express the hope that the energy of both groups can be harnessed to serve the Church and the proclamation of the gospel.

In referring to the fact that there is no current bar to ordination for someone who might be in a close relationship with a member of the same sex, the Bishops were simply stating the present position as it applies in Scotland where, unlike some other provinces, no motion discouraging such ordinations has ever been passed by our General Synod. Consequently, the statement earlier this month does not represent any change in policy on the part of the Bishops.

The Glasgow Herald continues with Split in Anglican community over gay priests.

The Scotsman has Evangelicals warn of ‘battle for Church’s soul’ in gay row.

Cedric Pulford of ENI filed Anglican bishops in Scotland say gays not barred from priesthood.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph has Scottish bishops declare support for gay priests.

Ruth Gledhill in The Times has Scottish bishops risk split by supporting gay priests and there is a second article ‘I feel proud of my Church today’.

In the Guardian Stephen Bates has Scottish church reignites gay row which follows a late afternoon report on the website yesterday: Scottish church declares support for gay priests.

The CEN reported Scots on collision course with Communion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 24 March 2005 at 8:58am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Scotland in the news

There’s a flurry of reports about the Scottish Episcopal Church. These relate to a statement by its College of Bishops that was published on 4 March. It was belatedly reported here on 16 March.

Yesterday, the first newspaper report was in the Herald and late last night the Scottish Press Association caught up.

Today we have all these:
BBC Scottish church backs gay priests and Can Anglican rift be resolved? (public comments invited) and Church risks censure over gay priests by Robert Pigott

The Times Scottish bishops back gay clergy and Timeline: gay clergy row and Ruth Gledhill on Analysis: Anglican disarray.

Telegraph Scottish church gives backing to gay priests

Press Association via the Independent Gays can be priests, say Scottish bishops (this is a fuller report than earlier versions by Jude Sheerin)

Reuters Scottish church backs gay priests

And here is the radio segment ( 7.5 minutes Real Audio required) from the BBC Today Programme in which

The Bishop of Aberdeen, Bruce Cameron, and the Rector of St Silas, Glasgow, Reverend David McCarthy, discuss homosexuals becoming priests.

Here also is an earlier radio report on the same programme by Robert Pigott (2 minutes)

Update
Here is a later Scottish Press Association report Scottish Stance on Gay Priests Divides Church

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 March 2005 at 4:38pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Uganda report

Following up on the interview with Henry Orombi mentioned in the previous item, the Guardian reports today that African bishop spurns Aids cash from pro-gay diocese. This involves the Diocese of South Rwenzori and Bishop Jackson Nzerebende Tembo.

The letter referenced in the article is here.

Correspondents on the US website were divided over whether the bishop’s action was in accordance with Christian principles.

But that’s not all.

You will recall what Henry Orombi said recently in No debate on gays, says Orombi

By Jude Etyang and Jude Katende

THE Church of Uganda (COU) yesterday announced that it upholds the biblical position on sexuality, with no room for homosexuality.

The Archbishop of the COU, Henry Luke Orombi, ruled out any debate with homosexuals, saying they either repent and adopt the biblical teaching of sex or go their way.

“I do not think there is a debate. When God gives his word, you either take it or leave it. We either agree with God or go our own way,” Orombi told journalists he called to brief on the Anglican leaders’ meeting which resolved to suspend the American and Canadian Churches from the Anglican communion because of consecrating gay Church leaders.

Orombi said, “The Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The Episcopal Church of America hasn’t followed the biblical teachings on sexuality and that’s why we’re against them.”

Then New Vision carried this letter Church Should Listen to Homosexuals

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo
Kampala

On March 1 your paper reported that the Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi likened the views of both proponents and opponents of homosexuality to views of any other people and said the Church could only find a solution by listening to them.

Let the Church of Uganda follow the Archbishop’s vision. The Church should listen to the silenced, perplexed, intimidated, abused and marginalised homosexuals in our midst. They are not only in institutions of learning but are everywhere (though in minority) rubbing shoulders with the heterosexuals.

Dialoguing with them is in agreement with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And today, we have Church Warns Bishop Senyonjo of Arraignment:

Jude Etyang
Kampala

THE Church of Uganda will arraign gay sympathiser Bishop Christopher Senyonjo before the provincial tribunal if he continues to ask the church to soften its position on homosexuality.

The Provincial Secretary Church of Uganda, the Rev. Aaron Mwesigye Kafundizeki, sounded the warning after Senyonjo wrote in the New Vision saying, “the Church should listen to the silenced, perplexed, intimidated, abused and marginalised homosexuals.”

Senyonjo suggested that the church should have dialogue with homosexuals.

“Bishop Senyonjo and company will soon face a Church of Uganda Provincial tribunal if he continues to provoke the Church of Uganda leadership and the entire Anglican Communion,” Kafundizeki said.

Update
According to titusonenine on Thursday, this story has been denied by Church of Uganda Provincial Secretary, the Rev. Aaron Mwesigye Kafundizeki who issued this statement:

In the 21st March 2005 issue of The New Vision newspaper (p. 3), reporter Jude Etyang incorrectly reported that the Church of Uganda “will arraign gay sympathiser Bishop Christopher Senyonjo before the provincial tribunal if he continues to ask the church to soften its position on homosexuality.” The Church of Uganda has not initiated any ecclesiastical discipline against Senyonjo and calls upon The New Vision to publicly apologize to the Church of Uganda and Senyonjo for implying that it has.

The Church of Uganda continues to be distressed that a retired bishop, namely, Christopher Senyonjo, persists in openly misrepresenting the teachings of Scripture. In so doing, he is misleading the public on the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the historic teaching of the church on human sexuality that the Church of Uganda upholds. When he speaks, he speaks only for himself, and has no authority to speak on behalf of the church.

On human sexuality, the Bible is very clear and, as Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi has previously stated, the good news that we in the Church of Uganda joyfully proclaim is this: “Sexual intimacy is reserved for a husband and wife in a lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous marriage. We are committed to offering the gospel to those struggling with homosexuality. For us in Uganda pastoral care means leading people into the fully transformed life that Jesus promises to those who call upon his name.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 March 2005 at 3:04pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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views around the Communion

Each of these articles deserves reading in full.

Beliefnet’s Deborah Caldwell has an interview with Frank Griswold which you can read at The Battle Rages On.

In some of the Episcopal Church-related blogs you were quoted last week as singling out six Americans for having “detrimentally influenced” church proceedings. What did you say?

What I said was that there were notices put on the tables in Ireland describing “acts of oppression” within the Episcopal church that were highly inaccurate and I got up and said, “This kind of information is untrue. It’s taking facts and slanting things from a particular perspective. And I said, ‘In scripture Jesus tells us the devil is the father of lies, and lying is his nature.’” Therefore this kind of material is really evil. And I said my sense is—and I didn’t assign it to any particular people—I feel that there is evil pressing on this meeting. And I said that any one of us can be caught in patterns of evil. Any one of us can misrepresent things to our own advantage.

I repeated it last week in Texas to the House of Bishops when I described my participation in the primates meeting. And I said there were several Americans in the hotel in Newry, including [Pittsburgh Bishop Robert William] Duncan—but I made no connection between those people and the piece of paper I was describing, and the misrepresentations on it…

Do you think the liberal movement within the Anglican Communion will win this battle?

Yes. When I look at the history of the church, I can see all kinds of dreadful moments when something was trying to happen, and it was just too much for the system at that moment. I look at Galileo. Teachings that supposedly were heretical and contrary to what everyone “knew was true” over time shifted or reversed themselves—and our truth was enlarged.

The other thing I would say is, if I may quote Jesus in the Gospel of John: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now; however, when the spirit of truth comes, the spirit will take from what is mine and reveal it to you.” This says to me that the truth in some way is always unfolding and being enlarged.

I find it curious that with no strain or difficulty we accept the fact that we’re learning more about the world we live in; we’re learning more about the human person—physiology, psychology, all of it. Why is it that we can expand our consciousness in every area other than sexuality, but when we come to sexuality everything has to be fully revealed and contained in scripture by one particular reading? You might ask why God didn’t just tell us in the beginning? For some reason God didn’t, and we have to grow into truth. And I think we’re always growing into truth. I look at the ordination of women in the Episcopal tradition; that was a break if you looked at it in terms of the past, but if you accept truth as organic and ongoing then you can say, “This is an enlargement of our understanding of ministry rather than a hideous break with what has been.”

Anglicans Online has an article by Pierre Whalon entitled The Ghost of Bishop Pike, Revisited.

…Furthermore, we are talking about the General Convention. Our system of government looks like the American secular politics we are so familiar with, but in fact, it differs significantly. The Constitution of the United States calls for a strong central government, while the Episcopal Church Constitution explicitly prevents one. We are a confederation of dioceses, essentially the same structure since Bishop William White designed our polity in the 18th century.

As a result, legislation is rarely binding upon all the dioceses. General Convention’s resolutions are non-binding, unless they change the constitution or canons, including revising the Prayer Book. Using the General Convention to effect change in the church is an ungainly process at best, not only because the balance of the Houses of Deputies and Bishops is not offset by a strong president and independent judiciary, but also because of the problems inherent to a body of nearly one thousand voting members.

And when it comes about, change by legislation creates a division between winners and losers. As a result, following a trend in secular politics, lots of interest groups have formed to influence the Convention in one direction or another. As the decisions of Convention have evolved, so have these groups, clustering together along the political spectrum.

These clusters of groups at either end of the spectrum curiously resemble each other. Their rhetorical style is similar, inventing lexicons of invective like “heterosexist” and “homoerotic.” They organize fundraisers to pay for campaigns to lobby Convention. Each, sadly, has invited the other to leave the church. Now since Lambeth 1998, both are involved in a struggle to persuade the larger Communion that theirs has the right to be considered the “real” American Anglican province. Our side must win and the other side must lose, even if we must involve the whole world. In style, at least, they are so similar…

Dale Rye who is a lawyer in Texas has written On Thinking with the Church.

…That brings us to the crucial reason: my personal opinion is irrelevant

In the case of Anglicanism, such matters are traditionally decided through the painstaking process of collective discernment described by Hooker, among others. This method expresses the Anglican doctrine of the church, our ecclesiology. Decisions are not imposed from outside or above. Instead, we engage in a Socratic dialogue that incorporates persons from every order of ministry and every jurisdiction (both all those linked vertically in a hierarchy and all those linked horizontally in communion). We ground our discussions on scripture, but we also give a role to common sense, both the historical common sense we call tradition and the contemporary common sense we call the consent of the faithful. Eventually, we either come to an agreement that defines the Anglican position on an issue and that forces those who cannot conscientiously live with the agreement out, like the 17th century Recusants and Separatists, or we agree to disagree while remaining in fellowship, like the Puritans and Arminians.

Some of the differences that Anglicans have agreed to live with hardly qualify as unimportant. The discrepancy since the 1840s between High and Low Church dogmas on the means of grace goes well outside the historical scope of tolerable adiaphora; they diverge as widely as Luther or Calvin and the Council of Trent. Except that both sides agree that the question is essential to salvation, their answers are incompatible and cannot both be true. Nevertheless, since the Church (my church, which is neither Lutheran nor Roman Catholic) has declined to condemn either view, my personal opinion that one side or the other is a heterodox betrayal of the Gospel is irrelevant. In this, as in all things, a loyal Christian submits his judgment to the authority of the Church.

That is why the process issue and the question of polity are so important to those of us who find ourselves in the middle of the sexuality dispute. We are anxious to believe as the Church teaches, but who has the human authority under God to teach in the name of the Church? What are we to do when our rector says “yes,” our bishop says “no,” our national church says “yes,” and the Primates’ Meeting says “no?” Anglicans have been lucky enough for 450 years to avoid this sort of divided loyalty (except perhaps during the English Civil War). That luck has enabled us to “muddle through” without ever facing the issue of who has the final authority to speak for our church during a dispute between two—or more—organs of the body, all of whose oversight we would normally heed.

The original Art. XXXVII declared that national churches should be free of foreign jurisdiction. Whatever Henry VIII’s motivation, subsequent Anglicans made this a theological principle. Men like Jewel and Hooker argued from the New Testament that each distinct cultural and political society should have its own church under native leadership responsive to their community’s needs. That is why the Church of Scotland could choose to be Presbyterian, while the Church of England remained Episcopalian, and why everyone took it for granted that there would be an autonomous Episcopal Church in the USA. As John Henry Newman insisted—both before and after his conversion—if the Anglican divines were wrong on this point there is no excuse for separation from Rome. The long-standing consensus was plainly stated by all the Lambeth Conferences from 1868 to 1988: any structures beyond the national churches (barring a genuinely ecumenical council) were only consultative, not authoritative.

Andrew Hutchison was interviewed in the Canadian Anglican Journal Primates call for breathing space.

In a candid interview with Anglican Journal, Archbishop Hutchison said he was disappointed with the boycott of the eucharist by some primates as well as with a “failure of leadership” on the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury. On one occasion some delegates were not informed that a number of primates would not be able to attend the meeting because they were having a dinner party with some conservative U.S. Episcopalians who had been monitoring the meeting from the nearby village of Newry. “I think when primates come together to do their business they should be permitted to do that, without outside interference,” he said. “There was a feeling that we (primates) were not fully in control of our agenda.”
Archbishop Williams had known about the party but did not try to stop it, he said. “Virtually nothing was done about it except that following the exodus of those people, (he) did apologize to the whole plenary session and did state how inappropriate that had been.”
There were also moments, he said, when he was profoundly disappointed as some primates glossed over their own provinces’ struggles with the issue of homosexuality. Fourteen dioceses in the Church of England regularly allow blessings, he said, and “in one diocese alone, I suspect there have been more blessings than have ever occurred in Canada,” he said. “But it’s all done unofficially, in the shadows rather than out in the light of day. So there is a profound sort of hypocrisy here.”

The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Henry Orombi in African Anglicans flex their conservative muscle.

“The language is flowery, the meaning is … we suspend you,” Orombi told the Herald yesterday. “But it’s put in the most beautiful language that the English would like to put it. It’s a polite way of saying, ‘please leave the room’.”

Orombi speaks from a position of growing influence, having helped channel discontent among conservative dioceses mainly in Africa and Asia into action against the US church that even the Archbishop of Canterbury was forced to accept with an air of resignation.

He also comes from a position of numerical strength, with the Anglican churches of Uganda and Nigeria making up almost 50 per cent of the world’s Anglicans.

As Orombi views it, it’s the US church and other Anglican liberals that are on the outside looking in. Anglican conservatives are mobilising worldwide, marking a return to the purity of biblical teaching and breaking free of the strictures of denominational consensus…

But there can be no reconciliation without the liberal North Americans repenting - and that means abandoning the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson.

“If Gene Robinson is going to the next Lambeth [conference] then we aren’t going, and if we don’t go there is no Lambeth.”

Robinson’s sin is to be openly gay. While progressives argue a church tradition of inclusiveness, Orombi has taken a hard line on gay issues. In Uganda, homosexuality is a crime punishable by life imprisonment.

Homosexuality, the archbishop says, contravenes Biblical teachings that go back to the first God-sanctified man-and-woman union of Adam and Eve, and are reinforced in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the words of the apostle Paul. It was a “misuse of sexual organs” as God designed them, and society’s “stamp of approval doesn’t make it normal”.

But a Melbourne Anglican, Dr Muriel Porter, said yesterday that the “second-order” issue of homosexuality should not govern who is acceptable to the worldwide Anglican faith and it was time for “good people” in the church to speak out…

“I would like to ask the Archbishop of Uganda and his church if they have launched an all-out offensive against his Government to change the law so that homosexual people are not facing life imprisonment,” Porter says. “That is the very least they should be doing if they are requiring the US church to take action against Gene Robinson.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 March 2005 at 12:53pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Monday, 21 March 2005

Updating the Sex Discrimination Act

On 7 March the Department of Trade and Industry published a consultation document and draft regulations to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) in order to bring it into line with the Equal Treatment Directive which comes into force in October. Amongst many other changes the proposals will alter the circumstances in which sex discrimination is legal in the Church of England.

The most important consultation documents can be downloaded from the website of the DTI’s Women and Equality Unit.

consultation document
executive summary
draft regulations

These and other documents are linked from here including the response form. Unfortunately this Word document uses the font Univers55; if you do not have this font installed on your computer you might find the document unintelligible. The consultation period ends on 31 May 2005.

The proposed changes include the repeal of section 6 of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993. The DTI view is that this section is too widely drawn. In its place a new section 19 of the SDA would still allow discrimination in certain circumstances, and would be applied equally to all religious bodies.

General Synod members have been sent a paper outlining how the proposed changes will affect the Church of England, and giving the text of the proposed new section 19 of the SDA. I have copied this paper below the fold.

GS Misc 777

UPDATING THE SEX DISCRIMINATION ACT

On 7 March the Department of Trade and Industry published a consultation document and draft regulations to amend sex discrimination legislation in order to bring it in line with the Equal Treatment Directive which comes into force in October. With the consent of the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops the draft regulations include the proposed repeal of section 6 of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993.

The background is that when the 1993 Measure was being prepared there was some doubt whether the ‘mixed economy’ which the Church of England proposed to put in place in relation to women priests would be compatible with the exemption provided by section 19 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Under that section employment, authorisation or qualification for purposes of religion can be limited to one sex ‘to comply with the doctrines of the religion or avoid offending the religious susceptibilities of a significant number of its followers’.

As a result, with the agreement of the Synod and Parliament, section 6 was included in the 1993 Measure. It is very widely drafted and effectively provides that women cannot in any circumstances bring a case under the Sex Discrimination Act in relation to ordination, licensing or appointment within the Church of England. The view of the DTI is that such a widely drawn exemption would not be compatible with European law once the Equal Treatment Directive came into effect this October.

The proposals that the DTI published on 7 March involve both the repeal of section 6 of the 1993 Measure and the substitution of a new section 19 of the Sex Discrimination Act. The net effect will be to extend protection against discrimination while ensuring that the measure of freedom that all churches and faiths need when matters of doctrine and religious belief are engaged is not unreasonably circumscribed. The welcome consequence is that we shall return to the situation which obtained between 1975 and 1993 when all churches and faiths were subject to the same provisions of the law of the land: there will no longer be a special Church of England exemption.

The proposed new section 19 is of particular importance because the new regulations will, for the first time, make express provision to bring office holders within the protection against discrimination provided by the 1975 Act Since clergy in most denominations and faiths are not employed it has, up to now, been the authorisation and qualification provisions of the Act which have been most relevant, for example in relation to the selection of individuals for the ordained ministry. The express extension of the anti-discrimination provisions from employment to office holders will make all churches and faiths groups vulnerable to challenge in relation to appointment decisions in a much wider range of circumstances, save where the section 19 exemption applies.

I attach a copy of the proposed new section 19. It defines in relation to gender, gender reassignment, marital status and history and civil partnership the circumstances in which churches and other faiths may apply requirements which would otherwise be contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act.

A full copy of the consultation document - ’Updating the Sex Discrimination Act’ - and the draft regulations (which cover a wide range of other matters) is available on the DTI website. The consultation periods ends on 31 May and the expectation is that Parliament will be invited to approve regulations before the summer recess.

If Synod members require further clarification Stephen Slack or I will do our best to help.

William Fittall
Secretary General

Church House
Westminster SW1P 3NZ
16 March 2005

Proposed new section 19 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975

19.—(1) Nothing in this Part shall make it unlawful to apply a requirement in relation to employment where -

(a) the employment is for purposes of an organised religion;
(b) the requirement is one to which subsection (3) applies; and
(c) the requirement is applied –
(i) so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion, or
(ii)because of the nature of the employment and the context in which it is carried out, so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly-held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.

(2) Nothing in section 13 shall make it unlawful to apply a requirement in relation to an authorisation or qualification (as defined in that section) where -

(a)the authorisation or qualification is for purposes of an organised religion;
(b) the requirement is one to which subsection (3) applies; and
(c) the requirement -
(i) is applied so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion, or
(ii)is applied by the authority or body concerned, or by the person by whom the authority or body acts in a particular case, so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly-held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.

(3) This subsection applies to -

(a) a requirement to be of a particular sex;
(b) a requirement not to be undergoing or to have undergone gender reassignment;
(c) a requirement relating to not being married or to not being a civil partner;
(d) a requirement, applied in relation to a person who is married, or is a civil partner, that relates—
(i) to the person, or the person’s spouse or civil partner, not having a living former spouse or a living former civil partner, or
(ii) to how the person, or the person’s spouse or civil partner, has at any time ceased to be married or ceased to be a civil partner.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 21 March 2005 at 4:30pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 20 March 2005

Ugley Puritans - update

A correspondent reports from the Chelmsford diocesan synod meeting held last Saturday:

Answering questions at the Diocesan Synod, John Gladwin told the dissidents who have declared themselves to be “out of communion with him”, that theirs was the only letter of complaint that he had received, but that he had also received 130 letters and messages of appreciation and support.

In reply to their complaint that he had signed the letter as Bishop of Chelmsford without any synodical support for doing so, he answered to the effect that he is the Bishop of Chelmsford and people really have to come to terms with that - to loud and prolonged applause from the synod, thereby signifying that he did have the synod’s support should he have needed it. He also said that the Six Bishops’ letter was entirely in accord with the Dromantine Communiqué and that had been checked at the highest level.

After the spontaneous applause following his robust defence of his position as Bishop of the Diocese, a synod member even cheekily asked in a supplementary - would it be appropriate for this synod to further demonstrate its support for the Bishop with another round of applause – to more applause.

The dissidents had a rather poor time of it, the more so as the Bishop kept saying that he welcomed dialogue with the group, would be replying to their letter and would continue to meet with them.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 March 2005 at 5:00pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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religion and politics

Rowan Williams expresses his opinion on abortion today in the Sunday Times: People are starting to realise we can’t go on as we are and a related news story is Williams calls for abortion review.

There is also a BBC report about this Williams urges debate on abortion. The original article begins:

For a large majority of Christians — not only Roman Catholics, and including this writer — it is impossible to regard abortion as anything other than the deliberate termination of a human life. Whatever other issues enter into the often anguished decisions concerning particular cases, they want this dimension to be taken seriously.

Equally, though, for a large majority of Christians this is a view which they know they have to persuade others about, and recognise is not taken for granted in our society. The idea that raising the issues here is the first step towards a theocratic tyranny or a capitulation to some neanderthal Christian right is alarmist nonsense.

One of the confusions that has arisen in the past week is the idea that we are somehow going to be swept up into a British rerun of the US election of 2004, with a moral conservative panic dictating votes. It’s far from clear that this is what happened in America; and even if it were, we are a long way from any comparable situation here…

Last Friday in the Guardian Giles Fraser and William Whyte wrote Don’t hand religion to the right.

For decades, the political class on this side of the Atlantic has prided itself on the absence of religious culture wars. The obsession with abortion, gay marriage and obscenity, the alliance between the secular and religious right - these are peculiarly American pathologies. It couldn’t happen here. After all, we’re just not religious enough.

Except it does seem to be happening here. In making abortion an election issue, Michael Howard has prompted the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, pointedly to warn against assuming “that Catholics would be more in support of the Labour party”. Elsewhere, the Christian right targets the BBC, and the Church of England is being colonised by homophobic evangelicals with broad smiles and loads of PR savvy. No wonder the cogs are whirring at Conservative central office on how best to exploit the voting power of religion…

The Observer today has a Focus: The religious right feature which includes this article by Jamie Doward and Gaby Hinsliff Who would Jesus vote for? with the strapline:

As abortion and religious censorship move up the pre-election agenda, evangelical pressure groups are seizing the chance to exercise increasing influence over mainstream British politics

Related news story Blair seeks the Christian vote

And yesterday the Independent carried a report about Tony Blair, Blair: ‘Within my milieu, being gay was not a problem’ and an accompanying news story First the grey vote, now the gay vote which includes this:

The Prime Minister insists there is no conflict between his religious views and his pro-gay stance. Urging the Church of England to resolve its differences over homosexual bishops, he says many people in the Church share his view that the fundamental Christian principle is one of equality. “But there are those that passionately disagree,” he says.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 March 2005 at 8:12am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 19 March 2005

report from Toronto

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison Primate of Canada spoke in Toronto about the primates meeting in Dromantine. Below the fold is a first-hand account of the event held on Wednesday evening in Toronto, as sent by a local correspondent.

This meeting has also caused Anglican Essentials to issue J.I. Packer Comments on Recent Developments as well as this earlier report.

Also, Reuters apparently didn’t attend the meeting but did file this report after speaking to Hutchison by phone: Homosexuality Could Split Church-Canadian Anglican.

Report from Toronto

I was at a meeting tonight at which the Canadian Primate was the primary participant, along with a panel that included the Secretary of the Canadian RCC Conference of Bishops (a layman) and a cradle Anglican who is now an active layperson in MCC.

The meeting was held in St James Cathedral and had been organized on short notice by the Dean, The Very Reverend Douglas Stoute who acted as moderator. The crowd was large and diverse, so all voices were represented. The atmosphere was attentive, relaxed and civil.

The Primate described in some detail some of the activities of the most vocal, so-called, Global South Primates. About 14 of them absented themselves from Mass every day. At the conclusion of the morning’s programme they would receive by car from Newry a bundle of papers, and while the others went to Mass, they would gather to strategize. In Newry was a large group of the usual suspects from the USA, who amongst other things had supplied “their” Primates with cell phones.

One afternoon, as the meeting was to re-assemble, all 14 or so, and the ABC were absent. A secretary announced that the afternoon’s meeting had been delayed. No advance warning had been given to the others. In other words, the agenda had been hi-jacked.

When asked directly about the leadership role of the ABC, +Andrew praised him to the skies for his intellectual ability, his pastoral gifts and his role as a husband and father, but left us in no doubt that he was not so enthusiastic about his leadership skills.

+Andrew confessed to having been left angry by the way in which he had been treated.

He also noted that the conservatives had a press group, but that he and Griswold had decided in advance that they would not go that route. The result of course was that the conservatives were pumping their message out, including a skewed version of the communique that was leaked to Ruth Gledhill of The Times. She was of course embarrassed by reporting innacuracies.

The Primate said that it was by no means a foregone conclusion that we would not send our reps to ACC or that the ACC would itself would support the absence of the North Americans. Apparently a goodly number of the ACC types believe the Primates overstepped their authority in making such a request and wish to prevent the step from being seen as a precedent.

Incidentally, +Andrew noted that there is no curia in the Anglican Communion. The response of the Roman Catholic was to say that if we wanted one, he thought he knew where we could get a good deal on one. He made it clear that in his opinion, our ecumenical work with the RCC might be complicated but that it certainly wouldn’t be stopped, and that there was a good deal of admiration at high levels in the RCC for the honest and transparent way in which Anglicans are handling these issues. Obviously they are also occupying a good deal of attention amongst the Canadian RCC bishops.

The Primate credited Robin Eames with crafting the terms of the agreement in an all-nighter, when it appeared that the meeting was going to break up with schism an agreed fait accompli.

When asked if schism had just been delayed, +Andrew said that he cannot see an alternative but lives in hope. He refused to be drawn out when asked if he had a “game plan.” The “Global South” leadership appears to be intransigently intent on all or nothing at this time.

The Primate received a standing ovation at the end, which came an hour after the scheduled time (7:30-10:00 approx).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 19 March 2005 at 10:32am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 March 2005

Object Lessons

While watching Bremner, Bird and Fortune on Channel 4, I suddenly realised what it was like to have them shoot at me; or at least shoot at something I care about.

I love the show, if for no other reason than it gives some of our MPs an object lesson in being an effective Opposition. Last week it turned to the subject of God speaking: Mr Blair finds it hard to hear what God says, so he asks Mr Bush who does hear God clearly. So we learn from Mr Bush that God says they should bomb Iraq, and Bremner wishes God would learn from the Archbishop of Canterbury whose practice, apparently, is to say nothing.

I was on board until we got to the Archbishop.

It took me back to a Daily Mail article I was shown a year ago asking what the point was of an Archbishop who did not feel the need to speak on every subject in the public eye. Of course Dr Williams has and does speak on key issues in public life, it is just that he does not do so to order.

It’s a strange feature of our national life that while so few of us attend Church of England services, and yet we expect its most senior figure to come out with a defining word from God to solve a particularly thorny public debate.

It happens personally as well. I was called to visit some old friends last autumn. They had lived perfectly contented lives without any need for dialogue with the Christian faith. They were now in crisis as the husband was dying a nasty and lingering death. They were clearly disappointed that I didn’t come out with a tidy phrase which would have been a ready source of supernatural comfort in their distress.

I know colleagues who do have a stock of tidy phrases for these occasions, but I have never believed you have to take people back to a world of Santa or the Tooth Fairy to be able to talk about God. Losing a lifetime’s love to death is too serious for that. I didn’t do a quick and easy sound bite, because you can’t give a shallow, ready response to profound pain. (Neither can you leave them empty-handed.)

Newspapers are in business to boost their circulations, so that they can charge more for their advertising space. Demanding a comment from a prelate, then and there, is newsworthy. Whether the comment is worth hearing, or whether it is absurd, it makes no difference to the journalist as it will still sell papers. Tomorrow it will be someone and something else, which will be required to be just as instant.

To be expected to respond to complex national issues with deadline-driven instant insight is unreasonable. Just as no course in faith, which will do a dying man or his wife the slightest bit of good, can be delivered in one visit over afternoon tea. But both are possible, all they need is time, consideration, prayer, and silence.

Above all they each need an understanding that any insight about anything, national or personal, is about being committed to a journey of discovery, in which things about ourselves are revealed, some of which will be assuring, some of which will not. Journeys are not all of a fixed length, and the outcome is not always foreseen. Whatever else they are, they are not usually responsive to instant demands for pithy comment.

I’m sorry Mr Bremner, an Archbishop who doesn’t always speak on demand is not a national liability. If anything, he is an object lesson to our representatives of how to manage grave and weighty issues. He does speak, however. As I write this, he is addressing a gathering in East London on the subject of who is raising our children. Whether I will agree with him or not, he will be worth hearing because what he says will be the fruits of a considered and prayerful journey, in a way that a lot of what is passing through Parliament is not.

Silence to a demand is not to say nothing, it may be that the question is the wrong one, or that silence may be an invitation to take a longer and more prayerful look.

Posted by Andrew Spurr on Friday, 18 March 2005 at 8:31am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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more on the Ugley Puritans

Several stories relating to this protest against writing letters to The Times:

Gladwin faces Ugley scenes over gays is the headline over the story in the Church Times (not on the public website yet), which says in part:

One of the clergy’s number, the Revd John Richardson, Assistant Curate of Henham, and Elsenham with Ugley, said on Tuesday: “He cannot be in sacramental fellowship with us and Churches in North America at the same time.”

…The Chelmsford group insists that, by opting for sacramental fellowship with those “who have gone against mainstream Anglicanism”, Bishop Gladwin has opted out of sacramental fellowship with others in his diocese.

…The group’s concern was not to add numbers to its list, but to make a point, he said.

Meanwhile Andrew Brown writes in the weekly Church Times Press column (also not on the public website) that:

ANOTHER EXAMPLE of a story that was made by its timing came in Saturday’s Telegraph, where the parish of Elsenham, Henham and Ugley in Essex announced that it was out of communion with the Bishop of Chelmsford because he had signed a letter to The Times in support of the North American Churches.

Again, this should have been a non-story. The benefice has made the papers before for throwing a yoga class out of the parish hall for a while (the class finally settled in Ugley village hall, which is controlled by a churchwarden of the neighbouring benefice); and for witholding its quota for a while in protest against the diocese’s interfaith policy. This stirring announcement, then, shouldn’t have been aroused too much excitement.

But, to journalists who are coming to believe that the Church of England as we have known it is doomed, and that a fractious congregationalism is the inevitable future, these gestures matter.

The CEN has Bishop rebukes opponents over Communion debate

The Guardian has Bishop hits back over gay row

And the GetReligion blog has Broken Communion story rolls on — in England.
while Fr Jake has Table Fellowship; the New Weapon

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 March 2005 at 2:11am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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ECUSA HoB followup - Friday

Updated Friday evening see below

The Church Times reports the story as US dons sackcloth and bans all new bishops

and also has a sidebar (though not yet on the public website) Canadians defiant on the committee report which was first reported here.

The BBC published US Church moves to avoid splits. This story starts:

The US Anglican Church says it will not appoint new bishops or bless same-sex relationships for at least one year.

But other reports from the USA indicate that when the House of Bishops said (emphasis added):

Nevertheless, we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006

some of them were making a personal commitment not to bless such unions and were not speaking for all their clergy.

Episcopal News Service has a further report on the meeting, Episcopal bishops begin ‘new day’ of collegiality. Kendall Harmon says the information about the Diocese of South Carolina in this report is inaccurate.

Another news report was Episcopal leaders to hold up bishop ordinations—gay or not from the Chicago Tribune.

The Times website has No gay bishops? Then no bishops at all by Ruth Gledhill who concludes the article with:

My question is why they could not, for the sake of peace, simply go as far as the primates and Windsor requested, and no further. If, as Dr Williams has posited, unity is inseparable from truth, then for the sake of unity surely even the lesbian and gay lobby could have put their purple ambitions on hold for a couple of years while everyone tries to sort out the mess.

The public is invited to comment.

The Church of England Newspaper has this report:
US Church puts moratorium on consecrating all bishops

The NACDAP has published a statement from Bishop Duncan and the AAC has published A Statement from the President of the American Anglican Council on Communications Issued by the Episcopal Church House of Bishops. This claims that:

The Covenant Statement and the Word to the Church issued by the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops is insulting to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. While it aims at specific requests of the 2004 Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué, it fails to fulfill clear expectations outlined therein. The House claimed to affirm the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral 1888, and yet they failed to repent of their decisions and subsequent actions contrary to Scripture as well as Anglican faith and order. Note there is no affirmation of the authority of Scripture or Lambeth 1.10, which were upheld by the primates. Are there not two mutually exclusive views presented in this covenant?

Reuters published Conservative U.S. Anglicans Attack Bishops’ Move.

Update
GetReligion has Everybody loves to see justice done — on somebody else
Fr Jake has A Closer Look at the Attempted Coup

Further Update
Ruth Gledhill has this report in The Times ‘These are apostolic leaders behaving like lawyers’
George Conger has this report in the Living Church Bishops’ Support of Covenant Statement Not Unanimous

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 March 2005 at 1:00am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 17 March 2005

ECUSA HoB - Thursday morning reports

Telegraph Jonathan Petre Liberals delay appointing new bishops

Washington Post Alan Cooperman Episcopalians Halt Ordaining of Bishops

New York Times Laurie Goodstein Episcopal Dispute Over Gay Policies Halts All U.S. Bishop Appointments

Religion News Service via Beliefnet Episcopal Church to Freeze Same-Sex Blessings, Elections of All Bishops

Houston Chronicle Episcopalians ban consecration of new bishops

and the latest writethrough of the Associated Press report by Rachel Zoll Episcopalians ban OK of new bishops

From Canada, so focused on Dromatine rather than Camp Allen:
Canadian Press Anglican Church ‘broken’ over same-sex debate

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 17 March 2005 at 8:22am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 16 March 2005

ECUSA HoB - more news

Further statements are promised later today.
Update From the House of Bishops: ‘A Word to the Church’ has now been issued. Key paragraphs are:

At our meeting in Salt Lake City in January 2005 we said that we would “commit ourselves to a more thorough consideration of the range of concrete actions identified in the [Windsor] Report at our House of Bishops meeting in March 2005.” We also said we believe it is extremely important to take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to show us the way to deepen our communion together.

We believe that the Covenant Statement we have made has been achieved under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our Covenant expresses remarkable convergences among us during these days and emerged from our mutual desire to speak as one House embracing widely divergent points of view. We sensed a profound solidarity and willingness to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

We pray that this Covenant Statement will be seen by brother and sister Anglicans as responding to some of their concerns. We pray that our overwhelming support for the Covenant may be a sign to them of our unwavering commitment to life in communion.

We pray as well that our Covenant will be useful for us all in healing relationships and opening the way for renewed solidarity in the service of Christ’s work of reconciliation. We believe our Covenant Statement is a reflection of a fresh spirit of mutual forbearance and reconciliation among us. We faced into our deep divisions with an openness that has not characterized our recent past. We believe this marks the beginning of a new day in our life together as bishops and as the Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, The Living Church has published this report:
Presiding Bishop: Primates “Out for Blood” at Meeting which says that:

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold identified by name six Episcopalians for having detrimentally influenced the course of the primates’ meeting in remarks to the House of Bishops at their March 11-17 spring retreat at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas.

The devil is a liar and the father of lies and the devil was certainly moving about Dromantine, the site of the primates’ meeting in Northern Ireland, the presiding Bishop said, according to accounts from several bishops who spoke to THE LIVING CHURCH on the condition that their names not be revealed. The primates were “out for blood,” Bishop Griswold told them.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh; the Rev. Canon Bill Atwood, general secretary of the Ekklesia Society; the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Parish, Fairfax, Va.; the Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council; the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina; and Diane Knippers, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, were singled out for opprobrium by the Presiding Bishop for their behind-the-scenes roles at Dromantine…

Picture of all six available here

Update
A further report from George Conger is posted at the website of The Living Church: Bishops Declare ‘Time for Healing’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has welcomed the Covenant statement issued yesterday by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA), during their spring meeting in Camp Allen in Texas.

“I welcome this constructive response from ECUSA’s House of Bishops. They have clearly sought to respond positively to the requests made of them in the Windsor Report and in the Communiqué issued after the recent Primates Meeting. It is clear that there has been a real willingness to engage with the challenges posed.”

First press reports on last night’s statement:

Larry Stammer Los Angeles Times Clash Over Gay Episcopal Bishops Delays New Ordinations
Reuters U.S. Anglicans set moratorium on gay bishops
Rachel Zoll Associated Press No Episcopal bishops confirmed for a year

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 16 March 2005 at 5:58pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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ECUSA bishops respond to Windsor/primates

Episcopal News Service reports that:

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church adopted, by nearly unanimous vote late this afternoon, “A Covenant Statement” that includes “a provisional measure to contribute to a time for healing and for the educational process called for in the Windsor Report” (full text of Covenant Statement is here).

The Covenant Statement includes the following items:

Relating to the WR request for an expression of regret:

2. We express our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions at the General Convention of 2003 and we offer our sincerest apology and repentance for having breached our bonds of affection by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking those actions.

Relating to a moratorium on episcopal elections:

3. The Windsor Report has invited the Episcopal Church “to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges” (Windsor Report, para. 134). Our polity, as affirmed both in the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Communiqué, does not give us the authority to impose on the dioceses of our church moratoria based on matters of suitability beyond the well-articulated criteria of our canons and ordinal. Nevertheless, this extraordinary moment in our common life offers the opportunity for extraordinary action. In order to make the fullest possible response to the larger communion and to re-claim and strengthen our common bonds of affection, this House of Bishops takes the following provisional measure to contribute to a time for healing and for the educational process called for in the Windsor Report. Those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate after the date hereof until the General Convention of 2006, and we encourage the dioceses of our church to delay episcopal elections accordingly. We believe that Christian community requires us to share the burdens of such forbearance; thus it must pertain to all elections of bishops in the Episcopal Church. We recognize that this will cause hardship in some dioceses, and we commit to making ourselves available to those dioceses needing episcopal ministry.

Relating to a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same sex unions:

4. In response to the invitation in the Windsor Report that we effect a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same sex unions, it is important that we clarify that the Episcopal Church has not authorized any such liturgies, nor has General Convention requested the development of such rites. The Primates, in their communiqué “assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship” (Primates’ Communiqué, para. 6). Some in our church hold such “pastoral care” to include the blessing of same sex relationships. Others hold that it does not. Nevertheless, we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006.

Relating to participation (or otherwise) in the Anglican Consultative Council:

6. As a body, we recognize the intentionality and seriousness of the Primates’ invitation to the Episcopal Church to refrain voluntarily from having its delegates participate in the Anglican Consultative Council meetings until the Lambeth Conference of 2008. Although we lack the authority in our polity to make such a decision, we defer to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to deliberate seriously on that issue.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 16 March 2005 at 1:30am GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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WR/primates: Scottish bishops response

The Windsor Report/Primates’ Communiqué: A response from the College of Bishops has been published on the official SEC website.

Part of the response discusses homosexuality. The bishops say:

On the matters of sexuality which occasioned the Report we are conscious that, like any province within the Anglican Communion, there is in our life significant diversity of view on both the matter of the consecration of Gene Robinson and the authorisation of liturgies for the blessing of same sex unions.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has never regarded the fact that someone was in a close relationship with a member of the same sex as in itself constituting a bar to the exercise of an ordained ministry. Indeed, the Windsor Report itself in suggesting that a moratorium be placed on such persons being consecrated bishops, itself acknowledges the existence of many such relationships within the Church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has, even before the 1998 Lambeth Conference, sought to be welcoming and open to persons of homosexual orientation in our congregations, and to listen to their experiences. This has on occasion led clergy to respond to requests to give a blessing to persons who were struggling with elements in their relationship, and who asked for such a prayer. We were glad to note that the concern of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Communiqué was not with such informal pastoral responses to individual situations, and was about the official authorisation of a liturgical text for the blessing of such unions.

We do agree that the whole area of debate in this matter is of such a fluidity, within which many different understandings exist, that it would certainly be premature to move formally to authorise such a liturgy.

The College of Bishops is conscious that the pressures within the debate on matters of sexuality vary from one province to another. Within our Province the debate tends to focus on matters to do with scriptural authority and human rights and justice. We sense that we are privileged in that we are a small province, and discussion across differences may be more easily achieved in our life than in other parts of the Communion. We hope that as a result of the publication of the report discussion across difference will take place, rather than a consolidation of opinion among the like minded. We welcome therefore the commitment of the Communiqué “to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process” and each of us will seek to facilitate discussion across differences within his diocese as recommended in Lambeth 1:10.

Members of the College indicated to the Primus that while acknowledging the significant pressures the Primates were under to arrive at a statement that would preserve the Communion, they personally regret the decision in the Communiqué to request the voluntary withdrawal of ACC members of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference.

We are conscious that as a Church we are much indebted in our life both to a significant presence of persons of homosexual (lesbian and gay) orientation, and also to those whose theology and stance would be critical of attitudes to sexuality other than abstinence outside marriage. We rejoice in both, and it must be our prayer that discussion following the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Meeting will enable the energy of both to be harnessed to serve the Church and the proclamation of the gospel.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 16 March 2005 at 12:08am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Canada committee report

The motion shown below was passed unanimously by the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee (a Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of Canada) at its recent meeting. It goes now as a recommendation to the governing body of the Canadian church - the Council of General Synod - that will meet in May to determine Canada’s response to the Primates’ communique.

Motion FWM 03.05.#6
Moved by Patricia Bays
Seconded by Richard Leggett

That, while acknowledging the sincere concern of Anglicans throughout the world for the unity of the Communion and recognizing the pain of Anglicans of all persuasions caused by recent events, this Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee reluctantly but firmly recommends to the Council of General Synod the following resolution:

1. That the Council of General Synod confirm the membership of the Anglican Church of Canada in the Anglican Consultative Council with the expectation that the duly elected members attend and participate in the June 2005 meeting of the Council in the UK.

2. That the Council of General Synod welcome the invitation to explain at the June 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council the current situation, the steps that were taken by Dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada and the General Synod and the underlying theological and biblical rationale with respect to the decision to bless committed same sex unions.

3. That the Council of General Synod, in response to the second part of Paragraph 14 of the Primates’ Statement of February 24 2005, commend the Windsor Report to the Anglican Church of Canada for study.

Explanatory Notes

Part 1 of the Motion

  • The Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee is concerned that existing ecclesiological and synodical structures, in dioceses and Provinces and within the Communion, are being pre-empted in their processes, and in the appropriate exercise of the checks and balances already available to them. Authority is being extended to bodies that goes beyond that constitutionally allocated to them. One principle of the evolution of church law is that we create new mechanisms only when all existing mechanisms have been exhausted.
  • In light of the above, we believe that the request to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council is an inappropriate action at this time for the following reasons:
    • The Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council states that the Anglican Church of Canada is a member of the Council, entitled to send three delegates to its meetings.
    • Article 3.A of the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council clearly states that questions of membership are initiated by the Anglican Consultative Council.
    • The roles of the Instruments of Unity as proposed by the Virginia and Windsor Reports have not been formally received by the Communion.
    • The Primates’ Statement of February 24 2005 contributes to further confusion regarding the interconnection of the Instruments of Unity.
    • If the request issued by the Primates (Section 14 of the Primates’ Statement of February 24) were to be honoured, it would set a precedent for dealing with other issues.

Part 2 of the Motion

  • The Windsor Report commends dialogue and study, and representatives of the Canadian church need to be present to keep communication open. At the heart of the Anglican Communion is the principle that we meet. For this reason we believe it is important to accept the invitation to make a presentation to the Anglican Consultative Council.
  • The Anglican Church of Canada is still in a process of discernment and is not at present of one mind. Its Primate’s Theological Commission is reflecting on whether same sex blessings are a matter of doctrine or not. A decision on the substantive question has been deferred to the General Synod of 2007.

Part 3 of the Motion

  • We welcome the opportunity to engage in further study as requested by the Anglican Consultative Council at the time of the release of The Windsor Report. The Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee reviewed the Response to the Windsor Report from the Canadian Church, compiled at our Primate’s request. We believe that further study of both the Windsor Report and our Church’s Response to it is important for all Canadian Anglicans.

Carried unanimously

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 March 2005 at 10:10pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 12 March 2005

Ugley Puritans

The Telegraph reports today in Clergymen refuse communion with bishop in row over gays that

…at least eight conservative clerics have told the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, that they will refuse to share Holy Communion with him. They are furious that the bishop and five of his colleagues sent a letter to a national newspaper earlier this week announcing their determined support for liberal Anglicans in North America…

That would be a reference to this letter in The Times in which the bishops merely said:

…We remain in full sacramental fellowship with all the churches of the Anglican Communion, including those of Canada and the US, and we seek to remain in full communion with all of them…

which is of course a simple statement of fact that applies to every single member of the Church of England at the present time, whether they like it or not, including those objectors in Chelmsford. Clearly that favourite term of conservative evangelicals the plain meaning of the words has escaped them. Individual members of Anglican Communion churches do not have the luxury of deciding for themselves who they are in communion with.

The newspaper list among the eight people the clergy of the Henham, Elsenham, & Ugley benefice, John Richardson and Richard Farr. Mr Farr is best known for his refusal to allow the use of his church hall for a yoga class. His own account of this event can be read here.

Update
The extent to which conservatives are upset by the bishops’ letter is quite remarkable:see this Mainstream - Letter to London Times so far not published by the paper, and see also this Statement on Sacramental Fellowship with the Bishop of Chelmsford by Messrs Farr and Richardson.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 12 March 2005 at 5:22pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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primates: links to responses

Two very helpful lists of responses to the Dromantine communiqué are these:

Episcopal News Service Primates Meeting 2005 - News & Resources
which includes, among much else, links to statements by a number of American bishops.

Stand Firm Various Responses to the Primates’ Dromantine Meeting Communique which includes links to very many people, bishops and otherwise, who have written responses.

A further ENS resource on another page contains An interview with Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold which is an audio recording of an interview conducted by Kevin Eckstrom of RNS.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 12 March 2005 at 5:04pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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some Saturday reading

Starting close to home, Christopher Rowland has written a column in today’s Guardian The best of enemies which starts:

The issue of the Anglican Church and homosexuality has brought home to me how central it has become to the identity of Christianity for Christians to vilify their enemies, especially those who profess the same faith but hold to different expressions of “the truth of the gospel”.

In many ways, church history is a tale of intolerance and lack of charity. The difficult thing is that such attitudes are not some aberration, but are deeply rooted in the primary sources of orthodox Christianity and, at times, in the Bible itself.

From Ireland, ‘Church needs to celebrate, not just tolerate, all human sexuality’ says Church of Ireland minister

In his new book, The Right True End of Love: Sexuality and the Contemporary Church, the Dean of Killaloe, Very Rev Stephen R. White looks at the issue of sexuality, especially homosexuality, and maintains that the time has now come for the church to change its attitude from one of toleration to one of celebration. He says ‘the Church’s efforts to address issues of sexuality are ‘eminently ignorable’, ‘unimaginative’ and ‘un-theologically based’.

The book is particularly timely given recent controversies over homosexual clergy in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican primates, who met recently at Newry, discussed and broadly welcomed the Windsor Report on the matter.

Dean White looks at the church’s inherently negative attitudes towards sexuality, exemplified in the wording of the marriage vows in the Church of Ireland, where marriage first and foremost exists ‘for the due ordering of families and households’ and secondly for the hallowing of the union betwixt man and woman, and for the avoidance of sin’. He looks at the contentious issue of homosexuality and how the most charitable response from within the church is toleration. This, he says, is not acceptable. Toleration of difference is not a celebration of difference, and such an attitude is inclined to become ‘a favour graciously conferred by the “normal” majority on a somehow “inadequate” minority’.

As the American House of Bishops is currently meeting, several American newspapers have columns about them:

Chicago Tribune Episcopal bishops seeking to avoid schism on gay issues

Houston Chronicle A house of cards

Dallas Fort Worth Star-Telegram For Episcopalians, this might be the big one

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 12 March 2005 at 4:44pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Friday, 11 March 2005

primates: more news and views

Today’s Church Times editorial Who wants to be an Anglican now? expresses the views of many who seriously doubt the sincerity of our supposedly Christian leaders:

…The communiqué, with its assurance that the Primates met “with Christian charity and abundant goodwill”, already looks fanciful. In the past week, the Primates of Uganda and Rwanda have made statements to the effect that no new debate is needed on the subject of homosexuality. The Primate of the Southern Cone flew straight to a rally of dissenting parishes in New Westminster, Canada. Another Primate reported that conservative colleagues had been boasting of their ability to make Dr Williams do as they wanted.

What continues to shock churchpeople most, however, is the account of how the Primates from the global South were unwilling to attend eucharistic celebrations with the North Americans. Their stance was consistent with having announced themselves out of communion with the US and Canadian provinces after the consecration of an openly gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions. Nevertheless, their decision calls into question the very use of the term “Communion” for the Anglican Churches.

Eucharistic hospitality is at the core of Anglicanism. The Thirty-Nine Articles tell us not to be perturbed by the unworthiness of the ministers. If, as the Primates seem to have done, we start to calculate the unworthiness of our fellow communicants, altar rails around the world would be empty (unless, of course, we also calculate our own unworthiness). When we consider the Primates’ representative function, and their task of uniting the Church, the implications seem graver still.

All this has had a profoundly depressing effect on those committed to the Anglican enterprise…

The Church Times news columns proceed to report various related developments, including the actions of two Global South primates, in this article: My trip was ill-timed, Venables admits. Scroll down the article for yet another copy of the text of Henry Orombi’s own words as reported in the New Vision newspaper of Kampala, here headlined as Ugandan: ‘Repent or depart’.

The feature articles from last week’s Church Times have become available to non-subscribers earlier than expected:
Suddenly, an end to Western arrogance by Gregory Venables
Still together, thanks to a generous spirit by Barry Morgan
The need for restraint by Stephen Sykes

Here also are some letters to the editor.

Meanwhile the Church of England Newspaper has Liberals turn on Williams and US Church considers action.

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Wednesday, 9 March 2005

The Church and Europe

The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Christopher Herbert, who chairs the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel has written today to all senior Anglican clergy encouraging them to contribute to a more informed debate on Europe.
See this CofE press release Bishop calls for informed debate on Europe.
The text of the bishop’s letter is also below the fold here.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Guide to the EU can be found here.

The House of Bishops’ Europe Panel is a sub-committee of the House of Bishops. The Panel acts as a point of reference for items affecting the Church of England’s relations with Europe and the European Union institutions which arise in the House of Bishops and General Synod. The Panel is committed both to promoting and shaping an open and transparent Europe close to its citizens and to monitoring the EU institutions in so far as they affect Church life and practice.

The text of the Bishop of St Albans’ letter

Dear Colleague,

REF: Guide to the EU

You will know of my involvement with the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel. In the course of this work, I have met with the Minister for Europe, Dr Denis MacShane, and his colleagues at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. As a result of that meeting, I agreed to send key Church contacts a copy of the recent Foreign and Commonwealth’s Office compact Guide to the EU. This is enclosed. Please contact the Foreign Office directly, either in writing or via the order form at www.europe.gov.uk if you would like further copies.

The subject of the European Union, and the issues around the EU Constitutional Treaty can cause confusion and misunderstanding, and have been the focus of intense debate. There are clearly a wide range of views on the proposed European constitution as illustrated by the array of competing organisations such as Britain in Europe and the Campaign for an Independent Britain. Since the results of the EU Constitutional debate will have profound implications, one way or another, not only for Europe’s development but also for Britain’s role in Europe, it is crucial that this debate is well informed.

The new Constitutional Treaty is a Treaty under international law. Its purpose is to ensure that the diverse needs of the EU’s 25 members will be catered for democratically and efficiently. It contains new provisions obliging the EU to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and non-confessional organisations, as well as other representative associations and civil society.

As was observed during the July 2004 General Synod debate on Europe, it is important to ensure that Christian voices are heard in this debate. Yet, for Christians and others to contribute effectively to this debate it is important to have a working grasp of the issues involved. The enclosed Guide to the EU provides a helpful introduction to Europe which we hope will be of interest to you and your colleagues.

Yours sincerely,
Bishop of St Albans

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Tuesday, 8 March 2005

recent news

First, the The Rt Revd John Paterson, former primate of New Zealand, has issued a Statement from the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council:

As Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, I have received the requests of the Primates Meeting to the ACC. Inevitably such requests raise questions about the inter-relationship between the various Instruments of Unity which will need to be examined in the light of the Windsor Report at our next meeting.

The Primates Meeting asked the ACC to provide at its next meeting in June an opportunity for the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces in accordance with paragraph 141 of the Windsor Report; and also to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.

Accordingly I have asked the Design Group to include in our programme an opportunity for a Consultation at which the major input will come from members of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, and it is hoped that delegates from other parts of the Communion will contribute also. We will also continue to work on the request from Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 which the ACC began at its meeting in Dundee Scotland in 1999. The aim will be to initiate a listening and study process which will review what has already taken place and co-ordinate further work in this area.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Journal reports that Canterbury snubs North American churches:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has rejected an invitation to attend a joint meeting in April of U.S. and Canadian bishops next month in a move that the Canadian primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, said is clearly linked to the turmoil over homosexuality.

This follows close on the heels of the following press release from the Canadian primate: A statement by the Most Rev. Andrew S. Hutchison:

Now that several days have passed since the end of the Primates’ Meeting in Belfast and the issuance of a communiqué that has received wide publicity, I thought that Canadian Anglicans might want to hear a bit more about the meeting, about the decisions that were made and about what those decisions will mean for the Canadian church in both the short and the long term. Where, in short, do we now find ourselves and where do we go from here?

Let’s start by looking at where we are and where we are not. We still, today, have an Anglican Communion of which the Canadian and American churches are a part, and I have to say that prior to going to Belfast, I did not for a moment take this outcome for granted. There was, I believe, a real possibility that the Primates might disagree to such an extent that I would not be able to say today that we still have a communion. The fact that this did not happen is something we can be grateful for. It is also evidence that there may yet be truth to the notion that despite our difficulties in the Anglican Communion there is still more that unites us than there is that separates us. This is not to minimize the difficulties of the meeting nor the deep divisions that clearly exist in the Communion. But it is certainly worth noting that after these very difficult five days, the will emerged to find a way for us to stay together.

Meanwhile in Kansas, Church, Episcopal diocese split:

Worldwide divisions over homosexuality in the Anglican Church burst open in Kansas on Sunday, as the Episcopal diocese announced a separation with a large Overland Park church.

The Rev. Dean Wolfe, Episcopal bishop of eastern Kansas, said that Christ Church Episcopal at 91st Street and Nall Avenue had agreed in principal to sever ties with the diocese and the national Episcopal Church.

Full details are on the diocesan website.

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Windsor/Primates - various views

A number of comment items that should really have been posted here earlier.

Last Saturday in the Telegraph the regular Christopher Howse column was titled Wilder shores of Anglicanism.
Several recent articles in GetReligion are of interest, in particular Reporting vs. fear-mongering
and earlier items can be found via the Anglicanism archive page.

Reverting to the earlier report here concerning Henry Orombi, his press conference statement was thought worthy of reproducing in full on the NACDAP site and Peter Toon commented that Ugandan Archbishop commended the Communiqué but apparently had not carefully read it!

From the other end of the spectrum, Mark Harris has a blog on which he wrote about Why the so called crisis in the Anglican Communion is no crisis of mine.

And finally, this report, via Confessing Evangelical of what Private Eye had to say about Schismatic liturgy.

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Sunday, 6 March 2005

English bishops speak up

Update
related news story by Ruth Gledhill Break-away bishops could undermine truce on gays

One of the signatories, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Right Rev John Packer, said: “This is a strong statement of support for listening to the experience of lesbian and gay Christians.

“Many lesbian and gay Christians, rightly or wrongly, feel that the primates’ statement did not emphasise the need to emphasise them in the same way that the bishops of the Church of England did at our recent General Synod. We wanted to make it clear that we had in no way reneged on that promise. Sometimes I feel that people are saying they want to listen, when in fact they have already made their minds up.”

The following letter appears in Monday’s edition of The Times, signed by the bishops of Salisbury, Chelmsford, Leicester, Ripon & Leeds, St Albans and Truro.

The Church and homosexuality

Sir, We are encouraged by the commitment of the primates of the Anglican Communion to “the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity” whilst engaging in dialogue and listening, in relation to the issues which have “obscured” that communion. The communiqué issued at the end of their week-long meeting in Newry (report and leading article, February 26) recommends actions which will allow that dialogue to continue and articulates the deep bonds of affection which continue to unite us.

We do not believe that the different responses of our sister churches to lesbian and gay people are of such significance that we should break the bonds of communion. We welcome the positive steps which will now be taken to engage in dialogue with lesbian and gay people. This call has been repeated by successive Lambeth conferences and we will do all that we can to facilitate that mutual listening throughout the Communion. We assure lesbian and gay Christians of our commitment to the principle of the Lambeth conference that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.

We remain in full sacramental fellowship with all the churches of the Anglican Communion, including those of Canada and the US, and we seek to remain in full communion with all of them. We also clearly state our continuing solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the global south.In a world ravaged by the effects of poverty, war and disease our communion must seek to serve the whole human family.

We assure the Archbishop of Canterbury of our support for him in the ministry with which he has been entrusted and we offer him our love, our fellowship and prayers.

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other weekend news

Bishop David Sheppard has died. Many newspaper stories on this:
Observer Former bishop of Liverpool dies and Appreciation: David Sheppard, 1929-2005
Sunday Times Sheppard the cricketing bishop dies after cancer battle, aged 75
BBC Online Cricketing bishop dies of cancer and Obituary: Lord Sheppard
Telegraph Former Bishop of Liverpool David Sheppard dies

David Hope has started his new job as a parish priest at St Margaret’s Ilkley
Sunday Times From palace to bin duty: an archbishop downsizes
This follows an earlier story in The Times Former Archbishop starts new life at grass roots

Yesterday, The Times editorialised that Richard Chartres was the best person to become Archbishop of York: Balanced ticket and there was an accompanying news story New favourite emerges for York archbishopric. As no sources are cited in the latter, it is unclear whether the editorial came first or the other way around.
Nor were any sources at all cited in this article: Liberal and weak clergy blamed for empty pews but for those who want to know where this comes from the answer is http://www.churchsurvey.co.uk/. Readers can judge the validity of the survey for themselves.
Addition a helpful comment about the survey by Dale Rye is here on titusonenine.

And the Church Times reports that Clerics second happiest at work but they do provide a clue as to the source of this claim which is to be found at Hairdressers are cutting it in the league table happiest jobs

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Saturday, 5 March 2005

art and religion meet

Today, the Observer carries a report by Jamie Doward that fills page 3 of the paper:
Anti-gay millionaire bankrolls Caravaggio spectacular
This concerns a current special exhibition at the National Gallery in London, but is concerned not with the content of the exhibition but with the identity of the financial sponsor who is Howard Ahmanson. The illustrations for the article include a picture of him. An excerpt:

But it is clear Rushdoony’s influence - and the legacy bequeathed by Ahmanson’s generosity - lives on at the foundation which continues to argue homosexuality is sinful. Ortiz said: ‘I would categorise homosexuality, as the Bible does, with necrophilia and bestiality and bigamy and the rest of it. It’s obviously not the way, physically, things were designed to work and morally it’s not what God has permitted.’

And though Ahmanson may distance himself from the foundation his money continues to fund anti-gay causes. In 2000, Ahmanson gave at least $310,000 to the Knight Initiative, for its campaign against the granting to homosexuals in California of the same legal rights as heterosexuals.

And he is a generous supporter of the conservative American Anglican Council (AAC) which has unleashed chaos upon the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, by threatening to break away from the 70-million strong Anglican Communion over the ordination of gay bishops.

Liberals in the Anglican church in Britain said there was an absurd paradox that the National Gallery had to seek funding for an exhibition of a painter, whose work scandalised the church, from the deeply religious Ahmansons.

‘It’s ironic that one of the major funders of the exhibition - about which there has been such interesting comment about Caravaggio’s realism, use of real life models and homo-erotic content - should also be one of the major funders of the AAC,’ said Reverend Nicholas Holtam, vicar at St Martin-in-the-Fields church next to the National Gallery.

History, suggested Holtam, was repeating itself. ‘Ahmanson’s support seems to be an example of Caravaggio drawing the contemporary conservative church into a reality they want officially to deny - just as he did in his own day.’

Sidebar to the article:
Howard F Ahmanson Jr: the man and the money

Born: Los Angeles 1950. Inherited a fortune from his father’s savings and loans company.

Funds: a number of right wing causes and charities through his own private company Fieldstead and Company Inc, which describes itself as ‘a private philanthropy working in national and international relief and development, education, the arts, family and children’s concerns’. Gave financial backing to RJ Rushdoony, high priest of a religious movement known as ‘reconstructionism’ which calls for government based on the literal word of God. Has given millions to the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based centre which attempts to prove Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong and the Claremont Institute, a right wing think-tank which promotes family values. Has additionally given money to right-wing intellectual Marvin Olasky, credited by Newt Gingrich as the intellectual author of ‘compassionate conservatism’, the ideology espoused by George W Bush.

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Friday, 4 March 2005

Bishop Duncan reports to his diocese

Episcopal Church to Decide Whether to “Walk Apart” from Communion
By Lionel Deimel, President, Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh

Monroeville, Pennsylvania — February 28, 2005 — Following a service of Evening Prayer, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, offered a perspective on the recent Primates meeting at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Monroeville. He took questions from the mostly friendly audience after his presentation.

The message of Duncan’s presentation was that the U.S. and Canadian churches have fractured the Anglican Communion, and, that unless they repent of their “innovations,” they, but not him or the diocese he leads, will be outside of it.

Duncan began by reading his statement of February 25, in which he called the clarity of the communiqué from the Primates “breath-taking.” The bishop, who had traveled to Northern Ireland to be able to hear from the Primates directly about their meeting, said that his remarks were based on meeting with 17 of the 35 attending Primates over three days. The church leaders pressed five points, he said. (Audio of the bishop’s presentation, though not of the question period, can be found on the diocesan Web site, along with a description of it.)

First, the teaching in Network dioceses, the teaching of the Anglican Mission of America, and that of other Anglican traditionalists, is the teaching of the Anglican Communion. “There is no other,” Duncan asserted. Both on matters of Scripture and on human sexual behavior, the present teaching of the Anglican Communion is represented in the 1998 Lambeth resolution 1.10 on Human Sexuality.

Secondly, Duncan reported that the Primates told him to “go back to North America and help people make the choice.” The synodical bodies of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada have been given time to accept or reject the Windsor Report. It is clear “that to hold the innovations of the General Convention of 2003 or the innovations of the General Synod of Canada in 2004 is to make a decision to walk apart from the Communion.”

According to Duncan, his supporters were encouraged to “flood the system” embodied in the “panel of reference” the Archbishop of Canterbury is urged in the Primates’ communiqué to establish. The task of this panel, he said, is “to guarantee adequacy of protection for orthodox minorities in places where they have been on the run or under duress.” Some 70 congregations are presently attempting to put themselves under conservative, non-Episcopal-Church bishops, and Duncan indicated that he plans to turn these cases over to the Archbishop immediately.

Duncan’s fourth point was that the Primates with whom he met insisted that all groups representing “missionary Anglicanism” in North American must be united under his leadership. The Primates are tired of dealing with the “alphabet soup” of AAC, AMiA, REC, FiFNA, etc.

Finally, the Bishop of Pittsburgh reported that the conservative primates wanted to send the message to the American orthodox to “grow up.” Conservatives, like progressives, want their own way and complain when they fail to get it. Duncan told his flock that it is in a “spiritual battle of immense proportion.” Referring to 2 Timothy 4:3–7, he said, “We’d like to keep the faith, but we have a harder time running the race and fighting the fight.” Summarizing, the five instructions, Duncan said simply, “Expect to suffer.”

Many of the queries during the question period involved “what ifs” and explanations of the mechanics of the decision-making that will be taking place as a result of the Primates’ decisions.

The first speaker, like most of those raising the more difficult issues, was a member of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. She spoke of being a casualty of the battle the bishop is leading and of being a “pariah” because she attends a church not supportive of his goals. Not all Primates, she asserted, share the views of those to whom Duncan spoke. The bishop, in response, pointed out that all Primates in attendance, including Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, subscribed to the Primates’ communiqué.

Duncan was asked if he, like the Primates, would pledge to neither cross diocesan boundaries without permission nor encourage others to do so. He replied that the Primates believe that the work of the panel of reference would make such actions unnecessary. He warned, however, “I can say to you that what I will encourage is that the orthodox throughout this country are honored and given a place, and I will do whatever I have to do to see that they are given a place.” According to Duncan, the Primates agreed not to interfere in existing arrangements involving foreign bishops overseeing churches in the U.S. Duncan cited parishes in the Dioceses of Oklahoma and Los Angeles as being part of this agreement. It is unclear how this reputed agreement might affect the lawsuit brought by Bishop of Los Angeles Jon Bruno against three congregations in his diocese claiming now to be in the Ugandan Diocese of Luweero.

Asked what he would do as Bishop of Pittsburgh if the Episcopal Church were to do as he anticipates it will and chooses “to step outside the Communion,” Duncan replied, “I intend to serve the [conservative] majority here,” raising questions about the relationship of the diocese to General Convention in such an eventuality.

Supporters and opponents of the bishop’s position each expressed frustration that mission suffers when the church is taken up with internal divisions. Duncan agreed that this was inevitable, in spite of his best efforts, and blamed the American churches for diverting the Primates from issues of HIV/AIDS, debt relief, etc., at their recent meeting.

Duncan said that he would support all congregations, even those progressive ones who saw their views as prophetic and opposed to those of the Communion. He spoke of believing that all congregations should be “free,” while noting that he no longer believes that about property—alluding to the ongoing lawsuit that resulted from his attempt to have the diocese declare that parish property is owned by individual congregations. In all dioceses, we should operate out of charity, he suggested.

Duncan criticized Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold for discouraging the House of Bishops from acting on the Windsor Report before it was received by the Primates. The Church of England, on the other hand, saw no barrier in the timing to acceptance of the report. He called the Presiding Bishop’s action a delaying tactic and complained of the members of the House of Bishops that “we talk gracefully but act in power.” Duncan suggested that the action of the Primates might have been less harsh had the House of Bishops been more forthcoming with a conciliatory response at their recent Salt Lake City meeting. According to Duncan, Primates saw the North American churches as arrogant and considered the positions of the leaders of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada as “startling.”

In response to other questions, Duncan described the church as being on a path of “mutually assured destruction.” “The majority,” he said, is “working to eliminate the minority, and the minority has sufficient power to resist the majority until it is eliminated.” He described the election of the next Presiding Bishop as a “plebiscite on which direction the church will go.”

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Friday press reports

Updated 2 pm - new items at bottom

Stephen Bates reports in the Guardian what a “not normally noted as a liberal” primate told him, but only on condition of anonymity. Anglican leaders divided and defiant after gays pact

The primate, who is not normally noted as a liberal, was speaking on condition of anonymity. He said: “Some primates were personally offensive towards Rowan and gratuitously rude about him behind his back. They had no respect for him and said: ‘He’ll do what we tell him to.’ If I wasn’t a Christian, I would walk away from this right now. I believe a split in the church is inevitable.”

…The anonymous primate said that the conservative archbishops had ignored a direct appeal by the Archbishop of Canterbury for them to attend a service at which he was to preside at Dromantine. Twenty of the 35 attended a “celebration” dinner hosted by Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola but paid for by American Episcopalian traditionalists opposed to their liberal church leadership following the end of the meeting.

The Church Times also reports on the atmosphere in which the meeting was conducted:
Pat Ashworth Yes, they’re united, but only just: Primates’ response

Other Church Times reports:
Americans and Canadians face tough decisions
Primates’ meeting: the ACC response

Over at the Telegraph Jonathan Petre reports Primate attacked for stance over gays and refers to this letter.

George Conger in the Church of England Newspaper has the most detailed account of events at Dromatine, the article is in two parts:
Behind the scenes at the Primates’ Meeting, part 1
Behind the scenes at the Primates’ Meeting, part 2
Here is his account of the Thursday afternoon:

Matters took a quick turn when at 2pm when an independent journalist announced that he was getting ready to break the story of the agreement over the internet. The Primate of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Gregory Venables of Argentina, telephoned the journalist asking him not to proceed as the details had not been completed nor signed.

Though delayed, an incomplete story announcing the deal broke at approximately 4.30pm causing anger among the global south primates who were fearful that publication of the proposal would wreck negotiations.

As problems unfolded over the leak, Bishop Griswold became perturbed after witnessing the departure of a number of global south primates with their American supporters to dine off-campus.

Bishop Griswold spoke with Dr Williams, who then dressed down the Primates upon their return for sneaking away. In rebuking the Primates, Archbishop Williams committed his first gaffe of the meeting, as his infelicitous tone offended the African leaders.

In the midst of the turmoil over absent primates, exaggerated news reports, and bruised egos, the Primates voted to junk the evening’s agenda and finish the communiqué.

Sources at Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Consultative Council told us the next day that the determination to finish the report and regain control of the agenda from the press unified the Primates as nothing else had over the week.

The drafting committee presented its work to the Primates and after only a few readings the communiqué was adopted — breaking with past practice of arguing over each jot and tittle. At 10.22pm the communiqué was released to the press.

The expression of repentance from the Episcopal Church found in earlier drafts did not materialise due, in part, to the rush to finish. Archbishop Peter Carnley explained: “At the beginning of our meeting we did talk about an expression of regret”, however “I think we lost sight of that particular issue in the course of the meeting”.

The endorsement of the communiqué, however, did not return harmony to the Primates. After the deal was done, Archbishop Williams announced he was going to lead the noonday Eucharist on Friday and invited all the Primates to attend as a gesture of unity. The global south primates declined.

Other CEN report: North American Churches suspended from Communion
and editorial which will disappear next week, but another copy is here

An American report from yesterday, by David Steinmetz in the Orlando Sentinel Negotiating truce in Anglican civil war

Associated Press report by Richard Ostling

And for those who thought Orombi okays gay debate in Church was too good to be true, well, it isn’t: No debate on gays, says Orombi.

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Wednesday, 2 March 2005

ecclesiastical autonomy

A very interesting legal paper has been published by Dr Augur Pearce concerning the ecclesiastial autonomy of the Church of England.

There is a summary of the key points (and a biographical note) on this page: English Ecclesiastical Autonomy and the Windsor Report by Dr Augur Pearce.

and the full 12 page article can be downloaded in PDF format from here.

The last two summary points read as follows:

  • Reflecting that the Windsor Report’s proposed ‘communion law’ (subordinating national ecclesiastical autonomy for the future to an international agreement and arbiters) could only be effected in England by primary legislation, the paper mentions two existing approaches to self-obligation in the legislative field (in the European Communities Act and Human Rights Act). Given that either approach would affect radically the tradition of independence that formed the English Church as now known, and that a possible consequence could be to narrow the national church’s broad popular appeal, Parliament may think very carefully before approving such legislation while leaving the Church of England its national status and associated endowment.
  • Being no expert in the history of the North American churches’ involvement with the Lambeth Conference, the writer does not seek to apply his conclusions directly to their situation. It is recognised that as voluntary rather than national churches, the conceptual basis for their autonomy is quite different. However it is suggested that if the Church of England is indeed presently not bound by Lambeth Conference majorities, the North American churches should consider whether it can be right for them either to own such an obligation.
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primates meeting: more documentation

First, Anglican Mainstream has very helpfully provided a transcript of the interview that Rowan Williams gave to Roger Bolton on last week’s BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme.
Interview with Rowan Williams - Transcription

Second, Bob Duncan gave a speech in Pittsburgh about the Primates Meeting, and there is an audio file of the speech on this page and a summary of his remarks on this page.

Third, there was a statement issued before the Dromantine meeting which is only now available. A Statement from Global South Primates meeting In Nairobi January 27th/28th, 20O5

Fourth, Australian radio ABC National has a transcript and audio files of its weekly programme The Religion Report, entitled Woes of Anglicans; Dances of Ecstasy

And finally, a newspaper report from the Montreal Gazette A communion shaken by conflict
This contains perhaps the greatest exaggeration yet about the Lambeth Conference 1998:

The worldwide Anglican conference in 1998 upheld traditional church teaching, which prohibits practising homosexuals from receiving communion.

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primates meeting: responses from groups

UK/Ireland-based

Changing Attitude

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

Fulcrum

Anglican Mainstream

Reform Ireland (no response from the English one)

Church Society

US or Canadian based

Integrity USA

Integrity Canada

Anglican Communion Network and Anglican Communion Council (2 separate organisations but one statement)

Moderator of Anglican Communion Network

Anglican Essentials Canada

Anglican Communion Institute
On Reading the Primates’ Communique
THE COMMUNIQUE IN CONTEXT
What happened at Newry?—An ACI Response

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Tuesday, 1 March 2005

primates meeting: more newspaper articles

icCheshireOnline Call for moral crusade as Church heads for split

Anthony Howard in The Times The Church should be about doctrine, not majority votes

Chris McGillion in the Sydney Morning Herald Anglicans must accept moral diversity to protect universality

Muriel Porter in the Melbourne Age Anglicans postpone their schism

Boston Globe Bishop says gap is closing over gays in Anglican church

New Vision Uganda Orombi okays gay debate in Church

Colin Slee in the Guardian The price of unity is too high

New Orleans Times-Picayune Bishop urges new route out of crisis

Simon Jenkins in The Times Schism would be better than giving way to intolerance

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Windsor Report: provincial responses

Addition
Comments by House of Bishops, Nippon Sei Ko Kai

The responses from Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are now available online as PDF files from the LGCM website.

Church in Wales

Church of Ireland

Scottish Episcopal Church

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