Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Resourcing Mission Group

Hidden away at the bottom of the Church of England’s papers webpage is this item.

Resourcing Mission Group

The Resourcing Mission Group was one of the groups created by the Archbishops in 2004 following the adjournment by General Synod of the consultation document GS1529: “Future use of the Church Commissioners Funds”. This is the Group’s interim report, on which the Church’s views are being invited. Its final report will be prepared in the autumn after the consultation process has finished.

Main report
Annex A 26kb
Annex B 72kb
Annex C 27kb
Annex D 36kb (Excel document)
Additional Annex 49kb

The terms of reference of the group were “to identify achievable ways in which the financial and other resources of the Church of England might be best deployed (a) to secure their equitable distribution across the Church and (b) to facilitate local mission objectives and plans”.

Nothing about the consultation process has appeared on the CofE news page or on the rather obscure Church Commissioners’ own news page so it is unclear where comments should be sent. I suggest “Resourcing Mission Group Secretariat” at Church House Westminster.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 1 June 2005 at 12:09am BST | Comments (0)
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Nottingham meeting details published

Information about the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in June is now available:
Anglican Consultative Council ACC-13 Meeting
Programme of Events
List of Attendees

Some additional useful links:
The ACC constitution
A briefing paper by James Behrens, from Anglican Mainstream which discusses the relationship between the ACC and the other instruments of unity
The Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 31 May 2005 at 4:09pm BST | Comments (0)
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Civil Partnerships and the CofE

In view of the forthcoming Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships it may be of interest to read what the Church of England said formally to the UK Government back in 2003 when the government was holding a public consultation on this matter.

The document is on the CofE website in Word format though its location here is not very obvious. An accessible copy of it is available here.

The government document to which this was responding is this one (very large - 1.5 Mb - pdf file). The report on this consultation is another similar sized document. One item from it is this:

2.13 Of those representing nationally-based religious groups:

  • For example, the Church of England, the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Salvation Army, the Methodist Church and others
  • 53% (9 responses) supported the principle of a civil partnership scheme
  • 47% (8 responses) opposed, or did not offer an opinion on, the principle of a civil partnership scheme

2.14 Of those representing individual religious groups and congregations:

  • These were largely Baptist, Evangelical, Free and Congregational churches
  • 85% (17 responses) opposed the principle of a civil partnership scheme
  • 15% (3 responses) supported the principle of a civil partnership scheme

The legislation that was then drafted and subsequently passed differs from what was in the consultation document in various ways, so the CofE comments should not be interpreted as applying to the legislation as it now stands.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 31 May 2005 at 11:47am BST | Comments (9)
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Sunday, 29 May 2005

The Panel and the Connecticut Six

It’s now 18 days since we were told (on 11 May) that the other participants in the Panel of Reference would be named “next week”.

Meanwhile these developments in the Connecticut case:

A Statement by the Connecticut Six was issued on 27 May, in response to the diocesan statement of 19 May. This starts out:

A recent statement by the Bishop of Connecticut (issued through his spokesperson, Karen Hamilton), which has been masquerading as a piece of journalism, includes distortions of fact and blatant misrepresentations; it is proof positive of the need for immediate intervention here in Connecticut. There are two major issues that must be addressed: Bishop Smith’s abandonment of orthodox Anglican faith and order and his continued harassment of faithful clergy and congregations in Connecticut.

Unfortunately, the article fails to substantiate this criticism by listing any specific “distortions” or “misrepresentations” in the diocesan article, but after addressing the other two issues mentioned, it concludes:

Everyone in the Episcopal Church concerned with the preservation of the Anglican Communion and the imperatives of simple Christian charity, should call on the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury to employ the Panel of Reference to intervene immediately, so that adequate episcopal oversight can become a reality for faithful Episcopalians of Connecticut. No further adversarial action, or threats of such action, should be countenanced.

There has been one attempt to suggest a way forward in this dispute, in earlier (April) blog posts by Leander Harding, which I had missed at the time: Observations On CT Clergy Meeting Today and Thoughts On The CT Six. These suggestions do not seem to have had any effect on the dispute.

Also, last week, David Anderson issued An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion from the AAC President

While this does not mention Connecticut, it is an extended criticism of the remarks already reported from Archbishop Peter Carnley about the Panel.

If the Panel of Reference is a serious effort by the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office to address the needs of those who otherwise would seek succor from global Anglican Provinces, and if there is serious intent to implement this Panel so that it fills this need, major change including the choice of the chairman will be necessary for this to be acceptable and useful. If it is designed to be unacceptable or useless, the bother of assembling the Panel can be dispensed with.

One might have thought that this subject should be placed firmly on the agenda of the forthcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, where other provinces could express their views face-to-face to ECUSA representatives. However, since the ECUSA delegation was asked by the Primates meeting (and has agreed) not to participate in that meeting, that’s now not possible. What a pity.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 29 May 2005 at 5:00pm BST | Comments (3)
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Civil partnerships and the clergy

Update Tuesday
Here is a good critique of this newspaper report: Get a Clue

According to Christopher Morgan of the Sunday Times the Church of England will respond to the issue of clergy who wish to enter into a Civil Partnership in the following manner:

Church to let gay clergy ‘marry’ but they must stay celibate

HOMOSEXUAL priests in the Church of England will be allowed to “marry” their boyfriends under a proposal drawn up by senior bishops, led by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The decision ensures that gay and lesbian clergy who wish to register relationships under the new “civil partnerships” law — giving them many of the tax and inheritance advantages of married couples — will not lose their licences to be priests.

They will, however, have to give an assurance to their diocesan bishop that they will abstain from sex. The bishops are trying to uphold the church doctrine of forbidding clergy from sex except in a full marriage. They accept, however, that the new law leaves them little choice but to accept the right of gay clergy to have civil partners.

The decision is likely to reopen the row over homosexuality that has split the worldwide Anglican communion. It may also overshadow an international meeting of senior bishops next month designed to heal rifts between liberals and conservatives over the issue.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement estimates that within five years 1,500 homosexual Anglican clergy will have registered under the new law, which comes into force on December 5.

The Church of England proposal is contained in a draft Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships, drawn up by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich. It was discussed at length and provisionally agreed at a meeting last week at a hotel in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire.

A final draft with some amendments will be produced for approval by the House of Bishops, the upper house of the church’s General Synod.

Under the proposal, a priest intending to register a civil partnership would inform his or her bishop in a face-to-face meeting. The priest would then give an undertaking to uphold the teaching of the Church of England, outlined in the 1991 document Issues in Human Sexuality. This paper prohibits sex for gay clergy.

Although no sanctions are included in the new proposal, it is expected that a breach of the rules may lead to disciplinary action or the possible suspension of clergy.

Some bishops, however, are uncomfortable about subjecting their priests to the proposed interviews.

One said this weekend: “We all have clergy in gay partnerships in our dioceses and there is a genuine reluctance on the part of a number of us to make their lives more difficult.”

…The bishops have also agreed to a government request to change ecclesiastical law to favour civil partners. A change to the Pluralities Act of 1838, for example, will enable gay partners to occupy vicarages for up to two months after the death of a priest.

This matter was the subject of questions at the General Synod in February, and the answers were published exclusively on TA here. The Civil Partnership Act can be read in full here.

The government is also proposing to amend the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. Clause 3 (defines the meaning of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation) and Clause 25 (benefits dependent on marital status) are the sections affected. The purpose of the first of these amendments, which would add a new sub-clause 3.3, is explained thus:

Purpose and effect

1. The purpose of this new provision is to make it clear that, for the purposes of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, the status of a civil partner is comparable to the status of a spouse. The effect is to enable a civil partner who is treated less favourably than a married person in similar circumstances to bring a claim for sexual orientation discrimination under the Sexual Orientation Regulations. New paragraph 3(3) prevents the discriminator from being able to say, by way of defence, that being married is a material difference to being a civil partner. The discriminator would have to show that the married person and the civil partner were not in a comparable position for some other reason, for example, that they were doing different jobs.

2. An employer etc would not be able to justify less favourable treatment of a civil partner as compared to a spouse in similar circumstances unless he could show that being heterosexual was a genuine occupational requirement (GOR) of the job within the meaning of reg 7(2). The additional GOR exception in reg 7(3) for employment for purposes of an organised religion permits an employer to apply a requirement “related to sexual orientation” (rather than to be a particular sexual orientation). It may therefore permit a narrow range of employers, such as religious organisations, to require that an employee be married (rather than a civil partner) but only where such a requirement is necessary to comply with the doctrines of the religion, or because of the nature and context of the job, to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers. It is likely that these defences will only be available in a very limited number of circumstances.

The proposed wording of the clause is as follows (the consultation is now closed and this might change when the proposal is formally published for parliamentary approval):

New regulation 3(3)

3. Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation

“(3) For the purposes of paragraph (2), in a comparison of B’s case with that of another person the fact that one of the persons (whether or not B) is a civil partner while the other is married shall not be treated as a material difference between their respective circumstances.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 29 May 2005 at 12:52pm BST | Comments (15)
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Saturday, 28 May 2005

opinions for a holiday weekend

Last weekend, Trinity Sunday, Geoffrey Rowell wrote for The Times
Divine love may prosper in our daily chores

During the week, AKM Adam, who teaches at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary near Chicago, wrote this:
Truth, Error, and Varieties of Dissent
Subtitled Is it even possible to err, theologically? How would we know?, it has provoked interesting comments, both on his own blog and at titusonenine

Some earlier posts by AKMA on current Anglican disputes are also of interest:
Things To Come and a follow-up Still Working On It
More recently, Power and Powerlessness of Stories

In another vein completely, Jonny Baker recently wrote is it possible to get a church of england diocese to change? which discusses change in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 May 2005 at 2:56pm BST | Comments (0)
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 27 May 2005

recent items from the Church Times

Last week there was a major feature on FD Maurice ‘He was an inspiration for social witness’ by Jeremy Morris.

There was also this substantial extract from Mary:Grace and hope in Christ and this article Why there’s nothing to fear about Mary by Nicholas Sagovsky. (He also wrote that week on the same topic in the Tablet).

The previous week, there was a major article by Nicholas Holtam Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London about his parish church: Looking beyond the church. (This was an edited extract from this year’s Eric Abbott memorial lecture.)

Another feature that week concerned the cleaning of St Paul’s Cathedral: St Paul’s — how clean is this house?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 May 2005 at 11:06am BST | Comments (0)
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Opinion

Thursday, 26 May 2005

Allegorical and Literal

Just after reading the ARCIC Report on Mary I attended a lecture in Cambridge on “The Bible and the Emergence of Modern Science” by Prof Peter Harrison, of Bond University, Australia. It marked the conclusion of a series sponsored by the Templeton Foundation.

Prof. Harrison began by referring to C P Snow, and to the way in which scientists and theologians didn’t understand each other. Then, going through a history of the way in which scriptures had been interpreted, he pointed out that, alongside the literal meaning of any text, the words of scripture were also read in a variety of allegorical senses until the end of the middle ages. Medieval works on natural history exhibited the same kind of interest in allegory, with mythical beasts sitting comfortably alongside animals which could be observed.

At the Renaissance, with the coming of printing, and modern vernacular texts of scripture, the Reformers discarded the allegorical meanings in favour of literal meanings. So whilst allegorical commentaries on the Song of Songs had once been popular, in Reformation times it became far more important to explore the literal meaning of what Paul wrote to the Romans.

This critical approach to biblical texts gradually spread to other fields of learning. Prof. Harrison demonstrated that some books on natural history in England in the early 17th century continued to describe mythical animals long after biblical scholarship in reformation countries had pointed the way towards seeing literal meanings as being of prime importance. Eventually, science based solely on observation and experiment began to flourish unimpeded in England, Holland and Sweden, where allegorical meanings of scripture had been discarded. But in Catholic countries, scientists like Galileo were severely constrained by the church establishment.

Prof. Harrison concluded his lecture by returning to C P Snow and to the continuing problem that theologians and scientists can still use language and assign meanings to words in different ways.

In my view the new ARCIC document illustrates the same difficulty. There is no problem with the literal meaning of the gospel texts. Whilst we acknowledge that the title “Mother of God” may be a poor translation of the original Greek term, 16th century reformers, and Anglicans today are in agreement about the way in which this title is understood. The problems centre on those interpretations of scripture in which Anglicans would argue that a more than literal reading haws been applied.

The report acknowledges the problem, saying

In the following paragraphs, our use of Scripture seeks to draw upon the whole tradition of the Church, in which rich and varied readings have been employed. In the New Testament, the Old Testament is commonly interpreted typologically (By typology we mean a reading which accepts that certain things in Scripture (persons, places, and events) foreshadow or illuminate other things, or reflect patterns of faith in imaginative ways (e.g. Adam is a type of Christ: Romans 5:14; Isaiah 7:14 points towards the virgin birth of Jesus: Matthew 1:23). This typological sense was considered to be a meaning that goes beyond the literal sense. This approach assumes the unity and consistency of the divine revelation.) events and images are understood with specific reference to Christ. This approach is further developed by the Fathers and by medieval preachers and authors.

It sounds like special pleading to retain pre-renaissance allegorical readings of scripture. But, 350 years after the reformers rejected this kind of approach to scripture as a means of establishing doctrine, it is no more possible for Anglicans to go back to the medieval position than it would be for scientists today to write papers on the unicorn or the gryphon.

This has to be said whilst affirming an Anglican defence of the title Theotokos. It is accepted on the grounds that not only is it a definition agreed by an ecumenical council, but also on the grounds that those who arrived at the definition did so on the basis of literal, rather than allegorical readings of scripture. The Fathers understood clearly what they were doing. One might add, for example, that the devotional insights exhibited in St. Bernard’s allegorical commentary on the Song of Songs were never intended to be doctrinal formulations, and were not understood as such. It might therefore be clear that Revelation 12 and 21 or Genesis 3, whilst poetic and interesting, should not be used to illuminate Christian doctrine about Mary as we would wish to affirm it today.

There are, however, dangers in over literalism when applied to biblical texts. The most obvious, as any scientist will report, concern the ways in which some fundamentalist Christians would support a belief in a six day creation, or Noah’s flood, simply because the text says it happened. When we see these texts as illustrations which had a particular meaning for their own time, it is possible to take a rather kinder view of the ways in which Genesis 3 or Revelation have traditionally been read as referring to Mary than would emerge from a solely literal reading.

But, as the report acknowledges, the remaining difficulties concern Marian dogmas formulated after both the Great Schism and the Reformation. The ARCIC 1 statement on the Eucharist said Our intention has been to seek a deeper understanding of the reality of the Eucharist which is consonant with biblical teaching and with the tradition of our common inheritance. That is to say it laid a great stress on the ecumenical understanding of a united church, and tested this faith against a present day reading of scripture accepted by scholars on all sides. As such, the document has provided a firm foundation for further liturgical and doctrinal convergence between the churches.

My fear about the present report is that, by wanting to retain post reformation dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church which are not underpinned by readings of scripture which modern scholars would support, it has not remained faithful to the principles established by ARCIC 1. As a result its conclusions will be of far more limited application. But, from the Anglican point of view, it will remind very many of us of a great deal of doctrine concerning Mary which we can accept, but may in some quarters have neglected.

Posted by Tom Ambrose on Thursday, 26 May 2005 at 12:58pm BST | Comments (4)
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Categorised as: just thinking

Canada announces Nottingham team

The names of those who will make the requested presentation from the Anglican Church of Canada at the Nottingham meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council have been published. Unlike the American case, the information comes from an official press release:
Anglican Church announces ‘presenters’ to Anglican Consultative Council

As well as the four presenters, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has announced that he will attend at least part of the meeting of the Consultative Council in Nottingham, Eng., the week of June 19…

The Canadian presenters to this special hearing will be:

  • The Very Rev. Peter Elliott, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver and prolocutor of General Synod.
  • Canon Robert Falby, Chancellor and lay canon of the Diocese of Toronto and a member of General Synod;
  • The Rev. Dr. Stephen Andrews, President and Vice-Chancellor of Thorneloe University, member of General Synod for the Diocese of Algoma and a member of the Primate’s Theological Commission;
  • Ms. Maria Jane Highway, a member of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous partner to General Synod from the Diocese of Brandon and a member of the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee of General Synod.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 26 May 2005 at 9:05am BST | Comments (4)
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Monday, 23 May 2005

General Synod: July 2005 Timetable

General Synod members have been sent a timetable for July’s meeting. It does not appear to be available online, so I have reproduced it below.



The times of sessions are as follows (unless otherwise indicated):
9.15 am to 1 pm; 2.30 — 6.15 pm; 8.30 pm — 10 pm

Friday, 8 July

3.00 pm
Prayers, introductions, welcome to and reply on behalf of the ecumenical guests
Report by the Business Committee
Ordinal: Second Revision Stage


Saturday, 9 July

Group work
Legislative Business
i. Further Miscellaneous Provisions Measure: Final Drafting and Final Approval
ii. Clergy Discipline Measure Code of Practice
iii. Clergy Discipline Measure Rules
iv. Fees Orders
v. Approval of petition renaming the See of Southwell

Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill: Report by the Mission and Public Affairs Council
Communion before Confirmation: Report by the Board of Education

Formation for Ministry in a Learning Church: Follow-up to the Hind Report

Sunday, 10 July

Inter-Faith Relations: Report by the Mission and Public Affairs Council
Parochial Fees: Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion
Standing Orders Committee Report

Church Urban Fund: Report by the Archbishops’ Council

Monday, 11 July

Presidential Address
Strategic Financial Review: Progress Report

Women in the Episcopate

Ordinal: Final Approval
Audit Committee Report

Archbishops’ Council Annual Report

Tuesday, 12 July

Anglican Methodist Covenant: Interim Report from the Joint Implementation Commission
Holy Communion and closing ceremonies

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 23 May 2005 at 5:00pm BST | Comments (0)
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Categorised as: General Synod

Saturday, 21 May 2005

Opinions on Mary

This weekend, there is no shortage of columns expressing Anglican views on the recently published ARCIC statement:
Peter Carnley preached this sermon in Seattle at the launch of the statement
Harriet Harris, chaplain of Wadham College, Oxford wrote this analysis in the Church of England Newspaper
Nicholas Sagovsky, Canon of Westminster, and commission member wrote this article in the Tablet
And the Church Times opinion was expressed in this leader

From the Roman Catholic side:
John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter interviewed Archbishop Brunett
Sarah Jane Boss of the University of Wales, Lampeter, wrote this article in the Tablet
And the editorial opinion of the Tablet is here

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 21 May 2005 at 5:47pm BST | Comments (3)
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Friday, 20 May 2005

ECUSA team for Nottingham is named

The Living Church has published a further report on this subject: Presiding Bishop: ACC Presentation will Invite Dialogue

The Episcopal Church’s presentation will “fall into three sections,” the Presiding Bishop noted. The seven-member team will address issues “scriptural and theological; the reality of homosexuality in the life and experience of faithful persons and families; and a witness to the fact that divergent points of view on issues of sexuality need not be church dividing, and that those who stand in different places can make common cause together in the service of Christ’s mission.”

While the Anglican Consultative Council will “pay for three persons to represent us” in Nottingham, Bishop Griswold wrote, he added that “I feel that we are best served by sending six, in addition to myself, and I have every confidence that these six persons will represent the Episcopal Church with faithfulness and grace.”

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada will each have an hour and a half to respond to the primates’ Feb. 24 communiqué. “This will include time for queries, clarifications and conversation with the members of ACC, as our presentation needs to be put forward in a gracious and open-ended way that invites dialogue and conversation,” Bishop Griswold wrote.

The Living Church has published a news story Delegation named for June 21 ACC Meeting

The list of names is:

The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta; the Rev. Michael Battle, associate dean of academic affairs and vice president of Virginia Theological Seminary; the Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana; the Rt. Rev. Catherine Roskam, suffragan bishop of New York; the Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity; and Mrs. Jane Tully of Clergy Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (C-FLAG) will join the Presiding Bishop and a delegation from the Anglican Church of Canada in addressing the ACC on June 21.

This report also confirms the date for this session as 21 June, and says of the names listed:

The delegation chosen by the Presiding Bishop represents a diverse slice of the Church. Bishop Jenkins voted against affirming the election of Bishop Gene Robinson at the 74th General Convention, while Bishop Alexander voted in favor. Bishop Roskam participated in Bishop Robinson’s consecration. The Rev. Susan Russell is president of the Church’s largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, and Mrs. Tully, wife of the rector of St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City, is a leader of C-FLAG.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 May 2005 at 11:55pm BST | Comments (26)
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Duncan claims network is the legitimate church

An earlier item reported a major interview with Robert Duncan in the Living Church. A further segment of this interview appeared later in the magazine, and is reproduced below the fold.

from The Living Church 22 May 2005
Bishop Duncan Expects Vindication for Network

Representatives of the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) gathered for their second annual council meeting April 18-20 in Bedford, Texas. In addition to delivering and hearing reports, participants addressed issues related to its stated missionary focus, including church planting, global mission, ministry to youth, and outreach to the poor.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the net­work, explained to Suzanne Gill in an interview for THE LIVING CHURCH that even though its position was in the minority at the 2003 Gen­eral Convention, the group considers itself the legiti­mate Episcopal Church and that by forcing a decisive vote on the Communion at the 2006 General Convention it will be vindicated no mat­ter which way the majority of bishops and deputies vote.

“What will be wonderful about that is that we don’t actually have to have a resolution,” he said. He also pre­dicted that at least one diocese will seek consents to the election of a partnered homosexual person as bishop. “All we’ll have to do is have a vote of confirmation, which will confirm that this Church is technically, I’d say, hell-bent on this innovation, for all the world to see. At the last con­vention, it wasn’t any resolution we passed, it was the confirmation of a bishop. This Church just can’t hold back on this.”

Bishop Duncan said that when Episcopalians realize that a General Convention decision has impaired mem­bership in the Anglican Communion, the number of net­work supporters would grow to the point where some sort of negotiated solution to property allocation could be arranged. If that does not happen, he said, the network would be prepared.

“If they determine to move out, well, then they’ve deter­mined to move out,” he said. “We’re the Anglicans here. We’ll also stand in a way that says, ‘We’re the Episcopal Church where we are.’ You know, there’ll be infinite court battles, but it’ll be very interesting, since the Communion will have said the Episcopal Church walked apart, and the Episcopal Church’s constitution says that you’ve got to be constituent members, and we’re the only ones they rec­ognize as constituent members, so who’s the Episcopal Church, legally? It’ll be a very interesting time. I mean, we don’t want to go to court, but it’s quite clear the Episcopal Church is always ready to go to court, and this time I think they might not be so willing to go to court, because we think there’s every reason they’ll lose.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 May 2005 at 1:45pm BST | Comments (13)
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Views on the ACC

Last week’s Church Times had a fascinating though lengthy letter from a Canadian, Pamela Bird headed Canadian and US Churches and the Anglican Consultative Council.

The whole letter should be read, but after reciting the history of the ACC’s constitution, based on her personal involvement at every stage, she writes this:

…It cannot, any more than Lambeth Conferences or Meetings of Primates, legislate for the Anglican Communion, but, because it consists of bishops, clergy and laity, duly appointed by their national synods, it does represent the whole weight of the whole body of Anglicanism. It cannot impinge on the autonomy of individual provinces any more than can Lambeth Conferences or Primates’ Meetings, but can make strong recommendations for their consideration.

This preliminary history is necessary to make it clear that the Anglican Consultative Council is not a “club” from which members may be expelled. It is meant more as a forum in which just such issues as sex orientation may be discussed, and a way forward may be discovered and developed.

There have been issues before this latest where solutions have been sought in love and understanding. The ordination of women was one such at its very first meeting, as was also grave misgiving in South Africa over some World Council actions and Anglican participation. The Communion didn’t fall apart, nor suggest that some of its members should withdraw. I should like to stress the word “members”, not “delegates”.

It beggars belief that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States — two of the three prime architects of gatherings and fellowship in the Communion —should be invited to depart or should themselves consider it; or that others of the original member provinces should concur.

The 1978 Lambeth Conference was more cautious than the 1968 one, and back-pedalled furiously. What had been spawned? Bishops seemingly were afraid for their “authority”, and were precipitate in suggesting that the Primates should meet as often, though not necessarily at the same time, as the ACC. This was an episcopal decision only: it did not come from the General Synods or national governing bodies of the provinces, though presumably they were expected to finance the meetings.

Some of the provinces whose archbishops are so vociferous on a certain issue were not in existence when the Anglican Consultative Council was proposed and constituted, largely at the instigation of Canadians in the Anglican Church; the Canadian Church has been foremost in its support of Communion affairs, of MRI, especially in Africa, and the dismantling of apartheid.

Lambeth Conferences of bishops are attended by invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury; Primates call themselves together; but the Anglican Consultative Council has a constitution, and exists by the will of the whole of Anglicanism. It must not be conned into thinking that other gatherings can ask its members to withdraw.

Having been so deeply involved in the formation and early history of the Anglican Consultative Council, and being both English and Canadian, I have very serious concern for the continuance of the Anglican Communion. It is unique in its philosophy of unity in diversity, and, through this, it has been able to reconcile many thorny questions. But if the African Primates in question persist in their current paths of thinking, I greatly fear a break-up is probable. In any case, it should be a matter for the ACC — including the Canadian Church and ECUSA — to ponder, until reconciliation is reached.

Anglican Mainstream has published the reply they sent, which is also in today’s Church Times.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 May 2005 at 1:26pm BST | Comments (13)
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

more on DEPO and Connecticut

Nine days later, there is no further news of who else will serve on the Panel of Reference. However, via the Living Church we do know something more about how Peter Carnley sees it working: Archbishop Carnley: Panel will aid Mediation Process.

…The Panel of Reference will be an independent body, Archbishop Carnley said. It will offer pastoral advice and mediation. It is not an adversarial processes leading to a judgment. It will work with some of the differences experienced by parishes, dioceses, and provinces. Services will be offered to a national church at the request of its Primate. Participation will be voluntary.

In cases when an alternative bishop has been requested, Archbishop Carnley prefers to think of it as “alternative episcopal ministry” rather than “alternative episcopal oversight.” The diocesan bishop still has jurisdiction, but another bishop will provide ministry to the parish, diocese, or province in question.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will refer requests to the panel. It has not been decided whether to request services through their bishop or directly to Canterbury, Archbishop Carnley stated.

Archbishop Williams will send letters of invitation soon to a short list of candidates for the other panel members. It is intended to have membership representing the geography of the entire Anglican Communion. Consideration will be given to gender and the different orders of ministry. Lay members are likely to be canon lawyers. Theological experts may be consulted, according to Archbishop Carnley, who explained that the Anglican Communion Office will probably provide a secretary and legal advisor.

The first meeting of the Panel of Reference may be held in July, although Archbishop Carnley said most work will be done electronically to save costs. Work will probably be divided among subgroups, instead of the entire panel dealing with every case. The entire panel will probably only meet together once a year or so…

We also have more from Connecticut. An ENS release,written by the director for communications and media in that diocese, says: Connecticut - Question of authority unresolved.

Whether or not six priests will acknowledge the authority of the diocesan bishop is the central issue of an ongoing dispute in Connecticut.

The “Connecticut Six,” as they have become known in the media, want to be released from their ordination vows of obedience to Diocesan Bishop Andrew D. Smith, with whom they disagree about Smith’s support of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003. The six, all rectors of congregations, are also demanding suspension of selected canons governing financial obligations, ordination procedures, and clergy succession…

The controversy in Connecticut is widely seen as part of a strategy by the American Anglican Council (AAC), and its affiliate the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, to realign the Anglican Communion by replacing the Episcopal Church USA with a network of conservative dioceses and parishes. At one point, it appeared that the six rectors and their congregations wanted to create a “mini-diocese” within Connecticut.

Last spring, in response to their request, Smith offered to work with the six conservative parishes using the DEPO model — a temporary measure of approximately two years during which Smith would delegate some of his authority for pastoral care to a conservative bishop agreeable to both sides. During that time, the parish and bishop would continue to work intensively at reconciling their differences. Smith has spoken with several conservative bishops willing to serve as a delegated bishop for the parishes…

Additionally, two letters to the editor of the Living Church from clergy in that diocese, criticise even more strongly the stance taken by the “Connecticut Six”. These are in reply to a Living Church editorial of 1 May headlined Harsh Treatment. The letters, which have not appeared on the TLC website but are circulating on many email lists, are reproduced below the fold.

Remarkable Restraint

The editorial titled “Harsh Treatment” [TLC, May 1] regarding Bishop Andrew Smith and the “Connecticut Six” (hauntingly like the “Chicago Eight” to me!) was slanted, unfair and factually wrong.

What the editorial neglected to acknowledge was a letter from the six parishes to Bishop Smith dated May 27, 2004, in which requirements for con­versation were limited by outrageous demands including “repentance” of Bishop Smith for his role in Bishop Robinson’s consecration and the ordina­tion of openly gay clergy in Connecticut. That, of course, Bishop Smith would not submit to. In addition, the letter required suspension of the canons of the diocese regarding contributions by parishes to the mission and ministry of the diocese as well as a request that clerical succession at those parishes and the selection of candidates for ordination be given to the parishes themselves. Bishop Smith could not violate canon law for those parishes.

The editorial also neglected to mention that Bishop Smith has always been willing to appoint a DEPO bishop for the parishes, but they refuse to accept anyone he would appoint simply because he was the one appointing.

Bishop Smith has shown remarkable restraint and patience and continues to offer DEPO to the parishes if they will only conform to the requirements for that ministry.

How long will the Church permit some folks to frustrate and block the ongoing mis­sion and ministry of the people of God to God’s world? When will we stop worrying so much about what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms and start redirecting our energy and passion to what people experience in the public sphere of their lives? Enough is enough.

(The Rev.) James Bradley
St. John’s Church
Waterbury Conn.

Second letter:

The editorial, “Harsh Treatment,” is a remarkable demonstration of the ability of six priests and their supporters to “spin” a story.

They paint themselves as the victims of an arbitrary and capricious bishop who will honor neither due process nor the irenic initiatives of the Anglican Communion. The facts show otherwise:

They rejected several bishops they were offered, all of them conservative and all of them nay votes on affirming the Robinson election. Contrary to the guidelines, they sought to keep the bishop from meeting with their people to be certain their people also wanted what their clerical leaders sought. (It was discovered in three of six cases there was not agreement.) Also contrary to the guidelines, they reject the authority of their bishop in non-pastoral matters.

What Bishop Smith can and has granted is time and patience—more than a year since their rejection of anything but their own way. You may think his use of inhibition inappropriate. I regard it as gracious, one more sign of his conciliatory attitude.

Their behavior warranted deposition for violation of their ordination vows more than a year ago.

As for the Windsor Report, such cooperation as it has received is eloquent testimony to the patience and grace under fire of the American Church, as its provisions are interpreted to have an authority foreign to the traditions of the Communion. To invoke them in this manner is to proclaim not that its disintegration is to be feared, but that it has already occurred.

(The Rev.) Stanley C. Kemmerer
Burlington, Conn.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 May 2005 at 1:08pm BST | Comments (0)
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Thursday, 19 May 2005

Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, a group originally set up by Archbishop Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI, and re-established by Archbishop Robert Runcie and Pope John Paul II has published its latest report Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ.

The publication was celebrated on Monday in Seattle by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Seattle, Alexander Brunett, and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Peter Carnley.

ACNS has placed a summary introduction to the report by the Revd Canon Donald Bolen, Roman Catholic Co-Secretary of ARCIC on its website.

Update 20 May
The Church Times has published a lengthy article by Rachel Boulding summarising the document: Anglicans and Roman Catholics reach agreement about the Virgin Mary

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 19 May 2005 at 9:23pm BST | Comments (6)
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Monday, 16 May 2005

Canadians: New Westminster responds

See earlier report on Canada here. Since then the situation in the New Westminster diocese has become clearer.

That diocese has now held a synod and voted to limit blessings within the diocese.
As explained in the official statement, this is not a moratorium, but simply a restriction on the number of authorised venues. Blessings are thus authorised to continue in the seven previously authorised parishes, and also in one additional parish, which had itself only voted to become such a place on April 3. But no new locations will now be authorised until at least 2007. There are 78 parishes in the diocese.

The diocese has also published the full text of the Diocesan Response to Windsor Report which is a 38 page document in PDF format. The press release says:

Whether to impose a complete or partial moratorium on same sex blessings made up only a small part of the report by Oakes and Leggett, but it was the only contentious item. The delegates agreed that sections of the Windsor report suggested too much centralization of power in the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

They also agreed that the Windsor report was wrong to state that the diocese had made no serious attempts to consult with other churches within the Anglican Communion before authorizing blessings.

Reuters report of the synod meeting: Anglicans offered compromise on same-sex unions.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 16 May 2005 at 6:39pm BST | Comments (5)
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Sunday, 15 May 2005

St Albans Pilgrimage 2005

Saturday 25 June 2005

10.30 am Procession from the Roman Basilica (site of Alban’s trial) to the Abbey, and Enactment of the Martyrdom

11.30 am Solemn Concelebrated Eucharist of Saint Alban
President: The Bishop of St Albans, Christopher Herbert
Preacher: The Dean, Jeffrey John

4 pm Solemn Evensong and Procession to the Shrine
Preacher: The Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries

  • Car and coach parking available at the Verulamium Museum where the procession begins.
  • All are encouraged to process from the Basilica, but for those who can’t make the 10.30 start, it will also be possible to join the procession at the cathedral
  • All priests are invited to robe (alb & red stole), process and concelebrate.
  • To register and receive further details, write to the Dean’s secretary, St Alban’s Cathedral, AL1 1BY; or phone 01727 890202; or e mail deansec@stalbanscathedral.org.uk.
  • There is no charge.

For more details of the day,including a map, see the cathedral website.

This event will also be attended by the Friends of St Albans Abbey, by the Society of Catholic Priests and is included in the new Diary section of InclusiveChurch.net.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 15 May 2005 at 1:42pm BST | Comments (7)
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Saturday, 14 May 2005

Connecticut and DEPO

I have reported earlier on the situation in the Diocese of Connecticut.

Recent developments this week include:
The Day 900 Show To Support Embattled Clergymen
Bristol Press ‘Connecticut Six’ rally at State Capitol

Some 900 people, including nine bishops from other states, attended a church service, and then 120 people including at least one bishop, from Pittsburgh, attended an outdoors rally. Those bishops who were expected to attend the service are listed here and a raft of press coverage is linked from here.

Update This report in the Hartford Courant Episcopal Clergy At Capitol Denounce Church On Gay Issue contains more details:

During the hourlong rally, speaker after speaker railed against the Episcopal Church and its leaders…

Bishop Robert Duncan of the diocese of Pittsburgh and head of the Anglican Communion Network said, “We are here to warn the people of this nation that there is a counterfeit abroad in the land that looks and sounds like the real thing but has no currency when you try to spend it.”

Duncan called on the supporters to “oppose the false message of unity for the sake of unity,” uphold what he called the historic faith and order of the church and “choose to uphold the sanctity of marriage, and chastity outside of marriage.”

Other visiting bishops included Bishop Donald Harvey of Newfoundland, the leader of the Anglican Communion Network in Canada; Bishop Jack Iaker of Fort Worth, Texas; Bishop James Adams of Western Kansas; retired Bishop Fitzsimmons Allison of South Carolina; retired Bishop Andrew Fairfield of North Dakota; and Bishop Samuel Chukuka of Nigeria.

Elsewhere I have been criticised for not understanding the supposed shortcomings of the American DEPO plan.

The following noteworthy people, among others on the Lambeth Commission,

  • Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies
  • Archbishop Josiah Iduwo-Fearon, Archbishop of Kaduna, the Anglican Church of Nigeria
  • Archbishop Bernard Malango, Primate of Central Africa
  • Bishop James Terom, Moderator, the Church of North India
  • Bishop N Thomas Wright, Bishop of Durham, the Church of England.

said this about DEPO (my emphasis added):

In this regard, we commend the proposals for delegated episcopal pastoral oversight set out by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) in 2004. We believe that these proposals are entirely reasonable, if they are approached and implemented reasonably by everyone concerned. We particularly commend the appeal structures set out in the House of Bishops policy statement, and consider that these provide a very significant degree of security. We see no reason why such delegated pastoral and sacramental oversight should not be provided by retired bishops from within the province in question, and recommend that a province making provision in this manner should maintain a list of bishops who would be suitable and acceptable to undertake such a ministry. In principle, we see no difficulty in bishops from other provinces of the Communion becoming involved with the life of particular parishes under the terms of these arrangements in appropriate cases.

It was NACDAP that issued “A Statement of Acceptance of and Submission to the Windsor Report 2004” , now signed by some 30 bishops. The Bishop of South Carolina said:

“The response of the House of Bishops did not rise to the level expected by the Communion. We heard a call for submission, and we who are unequivocally prepared to submit have responded accordingly.”

But that “statement of submission” omits any reference to this part of the Windsor Report.

The Diocese of Connecticut has published a note explaining exactly how DEPO would work in that diocese. It is in PDF format, but an accessible copy is now here.

The subject will no doubt be reviewed by the newly appointed Panel of Reference. This move was welcomed earlier in the week by Frank Griswold, see Presiding Bishop welcomes appointment of Panel of Reference chair.

Update for a counter-argument against all this, from Kendall Harmon, see On the Inadequacy of DEPO.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 14 May 2005 at 11:58am BST | Comments (14)
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weekend columns

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about Corpus Christi processions in England in Stepping on sweet herbs.

Roderick Strange writes about Pentecost in Fire of the spirit enlivens and forges bonds. Also in The Times Nick Wyke writes about Christian Aid Week in The collectors who believe in life before death.

Obituaries of Hugh Montefiore are in all the newspapers:
The Times

Elsewhere, this lengthy (40 page)article, A Personal View of Anglican Uniatism, available only as PDF file, by Aidan Nichols, has attracted some attention.

Mark Harris has written for the Witness about moratoria, in Roses among the Thorns: The African Anglican Bishops’ Communiqué.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 14 May 2005 at 10:47am BST | Comments (1)
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Friday, 13 May 2005

recent Church Times features

Last week, David Edwards explained why The Church of England should not break communion with any Anglicans, in It was never meant to be perfect:

SO WHAT are the lessons for 2005? One is that the Church of England should not be ashamed to be as comprehensive as it has been and is, and ought not to break off communion with any Anglicans anywhere. If any Anglican group is defeated, the Church is impoverished.

And if any group triumphs, the victory is short-lived because, in reaction, another group grows in conviction, as the Evangelicals are currently taking advantage of the radicals’ self-inflicted disaster and the Anglo-Catholics’ disarray.

If a mission to England is really wanted, it has to be acknowledged that the ordinary English are never going to become completely what popes or Puritans, Evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics, liberals or radicals want.

One reason for this reluctance is that some 70 per cent of the English believe that they are already Christians — and also believe that what they know about Jesus Christ (which may not be much) does not fit neatly into the picture painted by any of the ecclesiastical parties.

Yet the vision of a complete Anglican consensus is utopian. This is partly because the English do not like to be told what to think or do by any dictatorship, whether personal or corporate. But a more edifying reason is that Anglicanism at its best has always tried to be not a theological or denominational system, but merely Christian.

The back page interview was of Mark Russell youth worker, lay preacher, and youngest member of the Archbishops’ Council. I particularly liked his comment on Leviticus.

Keith Ward argues that Christians must join the most important debate — about the universe in How science supports faith:

MANY of us are still afraid of science and of what it might do to faith. We would rather close our minds to discoveries, and stay with the old “certainties”. The best example of this is American creation science, which still tries to defend the first chapters of Genesis as scientific fact, in defiance of virtually all informed scientific opinion. That is why many physicists say that their God, their intelligent cosmic mind, is not the biblical God, the God who made the universe 6000 years ago, and who deprived snakes of their legs.

Here is the point. That is not really the biblical God. Christians should not be tied to primitive myths for ever, while much of modern science longs to open up a vision of a beautiful 15-billion-year-old universe, with billions of stars and galaxies, singing the glory of a Creator beyond all spaces and times.

This is the real debate for the Churches. There are many prominent Christians engaged in it. Pope John Paul II was a leading figure in opening up conversations between theology and science. John Polkinghorne and Arthur Peacocke are just two of the best-known Anglicans who lead the field, and their books are a good place to start.

But Anglicans must be trained and ready to take on board the best of modern science; to separate ancient myth from scientifically informed knowledge; and to tackle head-on the problem of whether the universe is cruel, terrifying, and pointless.

The modern scientific view of the universe will set this problem in a different light — one, perhaps, for which the laws of the universe have to operate as they do in order for life-forms like us to exist at all. Perhaps the universe can be seen to be both beautiful and dangerous — but never pointless. Perhaps it can be seen as the basis for a transformation into new and greater forms of life, as Romans 8 implies.

Whatever the upshot, it is probably true that all our thinking about God will have to be done in a new way. That is because all our traditional thinking was done before modern science told us the truth about the physical universe, when people had a different (and largely mistaken) idea of what the universe was like.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 13 May 2005 at 5:57pm BST | Comments (2)
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Thursday, 12 May 2005

Vatican dicastery offers opinion on Anglicans

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has issued an Update on Relations with the Anglican Communion. This document is dated 27 April 2005, and refers to a letter of 17 December 2004. from Cardinal Kasper to Rowan Williams.

Part of the Update document reads as follows:

Overview of recent developments

In 2003, the decision of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America to ordain as bishop a priest in an active homosexual relationship, as well as the introduction of a rite of blessing for same sex couples in the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada, created new obstacles for relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. As a result of these actions and the uncertainty they created, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity agreed with representatives of the Anglican Communion to put on hold the plenary meetings of the International Anglican - Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), while maintaining close communication with the Anglican Communion Office and with Lambeth Palace. Established in 2001, IARCCUM is an episcopally led body aimed at fostering practical initiatives that would give expression to the degree of faith shared by Anglicans and Catholics.

Faced with major tensions within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, established the ‘Lambeth Commission’, mandating it to prepare a report -eventually entitled The Windsor Report - on possible future directions for the Anglican Communion. As part of the Anglican discernment process, Archbishop Williams asked Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to join him in setting up a joint ad hoc sub-commission made up of IARCCUM and ARCIC members, to reflect, in light of the work of ARCIC over the past 35 years, on the ecclesiological issues facing Anglicans.

When the Lambeth Commission published The Windsor Report in October, 2004, once again the Anglican Communion sought a response from its ecumenical partners. Cardinal Kasper was asked by Archbishop Williams to write a letter offering reflections on The Windsor Report (this letter can be read here ) and, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, travelled to London for conversations with him and staff of the Anglican Communion Office in early February. On both occasions Cardinal Kasper emphasised the importance of clarifying both ecclesiological and moral issues related to the current situation.

The Windsor Report presents an ecclesiology which has broad similarities with that set forward in ARCIC’s agreed statements, and proposes various practical steps to situate the autonomy of Anglican provinces more clearly within the interdependence of the Anglican Communion. In February of 2005, the Anglican Primates endorsed The Windsor Report, and reiterated that the Anglican Communion’s teaching about human sexuality remains that stated at the Lambeth Conference of 1998, which affirmed the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and human sexuality.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is of the opinion that these developments affirm the general thrust and conclusions of the understanding of the nature of the Church put forward in the ARCIC dialogue to this point, and that this provides a foundation for continued dialogue and ecumenical co-operation.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 12 May 2005 at 3:49pm BST | Comments (6)
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Wednesday, 11 May 2005

press reports on Panel announcement

Robert Barr of the Associated Press has filed the first wire service report on the establishment of the Panel of Reference.
A copy of his report, which is appearing in newspapers across the USA and elsewhere, can be read here.
It contains some significant inaccuracies:

…a panel to deal with one of the most explosive issues in the Anglican Communion - bishops who cross boundaries to support rebellious congregations

The issue being addressed here is explicitly stated to be: parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities

…and instead affiliated with like-minded bishops from Africa and other areas. These cases are known as “extended episcopal oversight.”

This term is the normal English term used to describe the lawfully appointed kind of oversight. It is precisely this form that those purporting to affiliate with like-minded bishops from Africa are rejecting.

Eight more members of the panel are to be appointed next week.

The number of members shall be “not less than nine”, including the chair. The announcement gives no indication of the actual number to follow.

Some of these conservative bishops have antagonized other bishops by conducting confirmation or ordination services outside their dioceses.

To the best of my knowledge, no active, serving bishop (diocesan or suffragan or assistant) from any NACDAP diocese has conducted any such irregular service yet.

Williams called on all the leaders of the national churches to report within 14 days on all instances of extended oversight in their territories.

No, he called on them to file copies of existing alternative oversight schemes within 14 days, and any subsequent amendments thereto within 28 days. No call for instances of extended oversight to be enumerated has been made in this announcement.

A 1998 resolution adopted by all Anglican bishops declared that gay sex was “incompatible with Scripture” and opposed gay ordinations and same-sex blessings.

The Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 was not “adopted by all Anglican bishops”, but rather the vote was: 526 in favour and 70 against, with 45 abstentions.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 May 2005 at 9:53pm BST | Comments (21)
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Panel of Reference: Peter Carnley to chair

An announcement due shortly from Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office says:

A senior Primate, the Most Rev. Peter Carnley of Australia, has accepted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s request to serve as chair of “The Panel of Reference” created by Archbishop Williams in response to the request of the Primates Meeting in February.

Carnley is the Archbishop of Perth, Anglican Co-Chairman of Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, a member of the original “Eames Commission” on Women in the Episcopate and was spokesperson for the Primates at their recent meeting in Ireland.

The names of the other members of the panel have not been released yet but “will be issued next week”.

The announcement also includes the full text of the legal instrument, dated 6 May, establishing the panel. See below the fold.

For convenience in evaluating that text, here are the relevant quotes from earlier documents:

Dromantine, February 2005

15. In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation in the Primates’ Statement of October 2003 (xii). Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.

footnote (xii) is a quotation from Lambeth October 2003

xii) “ … we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.”

The full paragraph from Lambeth October 2003 reads thus:

To this extent, therefore, we must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardise our sacramental fellowship with each other. We have a particular concern for those who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of their province in such matters. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.

Rowan Douglas by Divine Providence Archbishop of Canterbury Primate and Metropolitan to all to whom these presents shall come Greeting

Whereas it has been represented to the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in February 2005 that certain parishes have been unwilling to accept the direct oversight of their diocesan bishops and that certain dioceses are in dispute with their provincial authorities

And Whereas the Primates have recognised the principled concerns motivating those parishes and dioceses and acknowledge the various attempts which have been made to meet their difficulties

And Whereas the Primates have recommended that a body be established to assist in the resolution of these difficulties

Now in pursuance of the Primates’ recommendation:

I direct that:

  1. There shall be an advisory and consultative body to be known as The Panel of Reference (“the Panel”)
  2. The members of the Panel shall consist of not less than nine persons qualified by professional and pastoral skills and experience and appointed by myself as necessary from time to time
  3. The functions of the Panel shall be:
    3.1 At my request to enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements which may be needed to provide for parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities
    3.2 With my consent to make recommendations to the Primates, dioceses and provincial and diocesan authorities concerned, and to report to me on their response
    3.3 At the request of any Primate to provide a facility for mediation and to assist in the implementation of any such scheme in his own province
    Provided always that the Panel shall in consultation with me have power to determine which classes or categories of cases fall within its competency to consider in line with the concerns expressed by the primates at their meetings in Dromantine in February 2005 and in Lambeth Palace in October 2003.
  4. The Panel shall continue in existence for the period of five years or until I shall determine in consultation with the members of the Primates’ Standing Committee that its functions have been fulfilled (whichever shall sooner occur)

And I request that:

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion shall make provision for secretarial and administrative support to the Panel of Reference and its Chair to enable them to undertake this work

And I call upon:

  1. Each Primate or Moderator of the Communion which has such a scheme of delegation or extended episcopal oversight to lodge with me a copy of such scheme within 14 days of receiving this document and to notify me within 28 days following any change to such scheme
  2. Each bishop of the Communion to respect fully and in accordance with its spirit any scheme of delegation or extended oversight established in his or her province
  3. Each parish of the Communion which considers that in all conscience it cannot accept the direct oversight of its bishop to work with him or her in the first instance towards finding some appropriate means for delegated or extended episcopal oversight within the diocese and Province in which the parish is situated
  4. The Instruments of Unity of the Communion to work tirelessly towards reconciliation and healing “that the world may believe”

Dated this sixth day of May in the Year of Our Lord Two thousand and five
Rowan Cantuar

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 May 2005 at 10:27am BST | Comments (1)
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Sunday, 8 May 2005

Canadians respond on Nottingham

Our earlier report on Canadian developments is here and see also this.

The Canadian Council of General Synod met on 6 and 7 May. As explained in the advance press release, the main agenda item was the official response of the Anglican Church of Canada to the request from the Dromatine Primates’ Meeting concerning the Nottingham meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, two bodies with identical initials.

Before the meeting, Anglican Journal published a news story International body will respect Canadian decision in which Kenneth Kearon is interviewed. Anglican Essentials, the conservative lobby group in Canada, had responded to the bishops’ statement this way. The Church Times carried Canadian bishops stop gay blessings and apologise while the CEN saw it as Canada declines request to halt same-sex blessings.

The decision made was:

Canadians to attend but not participate in meeting of Anglican Consultative Council

The text of the resolution adopted by CoGS follows:

1. That this General Synod thank our Primate, The Most Reverend Andrew Hutchison, for using his best efforts to explain the reality of the Anglican Church of Canada to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and to explain the Primates’ Communiqué to the Anglican Church of Canada.
2. That the Council of General Synod affirm the membership of the Anglican Church of Canada in the Anglican Consultative Council with the expectation that the duly elected members attend but not participate in the June 2005 meeting of the Council.
3. That the Council of General Synod welcome the invitation to the Anglican Consultative Council in order to explain the current situation, the steps that were taken by the 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.
4. That this Council ask the Primate, in consultation with the Windsor Report Response Task Group a) to formulate the presentation to be made to the Anglican Consultative Council at its meeting in June, 2005, as contemplated by paragraph 16 of the Communiqué and b) to name participants in the presentation in consultation with this Council.
5. This Council encourages the Primate to consider attending the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in June 2005, and to participate in the presentation contemplated by paragraph 14 of the Primates’ Communiqué.

More details of how the decision was reached are contained in the Anglican Journal report, Canadians will not ‘participate fully’ in international meeting - Members will still attend.

Official details of the meeting’s first day can be found at daily highlights: May 6, 2005 and of the second day here.
News reports of the Canadian decision:
Reuters Canada Anglicans to sit out council over gay clash
Canadian Press Cdn Anglicans won’t fully participate in global meeting amid same-sex schism

A Message to the Church has been issued by CoGS.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 8 May 2005 at 8:50am BST | Comments (2)
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Saturday, 7 May 2005

columns for the weekend

Christopher Howse reviews a book by Rowan Williams: A life story to die for. The title of the book is Why Study the Past?

Jane Williams gave a presentation to the Fulcrum conference, and the full text is available: The Holy Spirit in the World. The CEN wrote about it Fulcrum hears plea for unity:

A passionate plea for Christian unity against the background of the crisis in the Anglican Communion, was made by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s wife, Jane Williams, at an evangelical conference last weekend…

The other speaker at the conference was Tom Wright whose presentation is also online: The Holy Spirit in the Church.

In The Times there is an article by Gordon Urquhart All aboard the lean, clean, missionary machine which discusses the relationship of the new pope to movements such as Opus Dei and the Neocatechumenate.

Pope Benedict is one of the staunchest supporters of the so-called “new movements”, the fundamentalist, traditionalist groups which began in southern Europe and grew exponentially in the second half of the 20th century, particularly during the reign of John Paul II — Opus Dei, Focolare, Communion and Liberation (CL), the Neocatechumenate (NC), Charismatic Renewal and others…

A column published earlier by two William Temple experts Alan Suggate and Wendy Dackson on the Via Media Dallas website: A Letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams.

And, Sarah Dylan Breuer’s notes of Diocesan Convention: Roger Ferlo’s first keynote and Roger Ferlo: second keynote:

The official topic of this talk is “The Authority of Scripture”, but the unofficial title of this talk is “The Bible: Who knows what it means?” Who has the authority to interpret scripture, and who holds interpreters accountable? And why does it matter so much? What makes this text different from all other texts, that we spend so much time pondering questions like, “who knows what it means?” Who cares what it means, and why?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 May 2005 at 12:09pm BST | Comments (0)
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same-sex blessings

The Church of the Province of South Africa has issued this statement, on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa in Bloemfontein, 30 November 2004. It restates the Church’s position on Holy Matrimony as a lifelong and exclusive union partnership between one man and one woman, and goes on to say:

Our Church has repeatedly affirmed that partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage in the eyes of God, and that consequently we do not recognise or bless such liaisons. There is currently a well-known process of discussion and debate about matters of human sexuality in our Church but while this continues, our stance remains unchanged.

It then reassures church members that the decision has no implications for religious freedom in South Africa, as ministers of religion are under no compulsion from the state to approve or perform same-sex marriages.

The Anglican Church of Canada has published the Report of the Primate’s Theological Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada on the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. The official press release is Theological Commission finds same-sex blessing to be a matter of doctrine.

A summary of the report is here and says:

  • The Commission has concluded that the blessing of committed same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine.
  • The Commission understands the term ‘committed same-sex unions’ to mean committed, adult, monogamous, intended lifelong, same-sex relationships which include sexual intimacy.
  • The Commission is particularly concerned to call the whole church to engage in furthering the discussion of this issue in a sustained, prayerful, respectful and non-polemical manner.
  • The Commission recognizes that there is a range of interpretations given to the term ‘doctrine’, and that doctrines develop and change over time. We agree that the blessing of committed same-sex unions is not a matter of what is often referred to as a ‘core’ doctrine, in the sense of being credal doctrine.
  • The Commission does not believe that this should be a communion-breaking issue.
  • The Commission, recognizes that ‘the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation’ (Book of Alternative Services p. 645). We acknowledge that the interpretation of Scripture is a central and complex matter and that, at times in the Church’s history, ‘faithful’ readings have led to mutually contradictory understandings, requiring ongoing dialogue and prayer towards discernment of the one voice of the gospel.
  • The doctrine of the Church has always been definitively expressed in its liturgies; such a liturgy of blessing is no exception since in it the Church declares the activity of God towards the object of the blessing.
  • It is the view of the Commission that any proposed blessing of a same-sex relationship would be analogous to a marriage to such a degree as to require the Church to understand it coherently in relation to the doctrine of marriage.
  • Culture is the context in which Christians live out their faith and formulate doctrine. The challenge facing the Church is to see our cultural norms through the eyes of Christ and then, out of allegiance to him, to promote those norms that honour him and renounce those that do not.
  • Several doctrines are integral to the theological consideration of the blessing of committed same-sex unions: salvation, incarnation, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, theological anthropology, sanctification and holy matrimony.
  • We recommend that any doctrinal discussion of the blessing of same-sex unions should seek a broader consensus on the relationship of sexuality to our full humanity in Christ.
  • The pastoral importance of this issue deserves a careful consideration of its doctrinal implications in a manner that is deeply respectful of the dignity and integrity of the gay and lesbian members of our church.

The full text of the report is here.

The Anglican Journal reports this as Commission finds that blessings are a matter of doctrine.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 May 2005 at 10:20am BST | Comments (1)
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

recent Church Times features

Several items that appeared in last week’s Church Times are now available:

The Road to Bishopthorpe by Adrian Leak. In May the Crown Nominations Commission meets to choose the next Archbishop of York. This article examines the history of the office.

Not married to the monarchy by Sam Wells who says that the establishment of the Church of England should be provisional.

Back page interview with John Flack director of the Anglican Centre in Rome by Rachel Harden and see also Red shoes, 21 to lunch.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 May 2005 at 10:04am BST | Comments (0)
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Categorised as: Church of England

Thursday, 5 May 2005

More on Trinidad

Earlier report here.

The BBC Today radio programme interviewed both the Bishop of Trinidad and the Bishop of Chelmsford this morning.
Listen here with Real Audio (5 minutes).

The text released to the press by the Bishop of Chelmsford appears below:

Statement from the Bishop of Chelmsford

I was very sorry to hear that the invitation which had been extended to myself and Lydia, together with a group from the Diocese of Chelmsford to visit Trinidad and Tobago in May this year has been withdrawn by Bishop Calvin Bess.

The links which exist between dioceses across the Communion are a marvellous way in which we can learn from each other the necessary lesson of how to live with diversity and difference of culture and practice whilst sharing a common faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We remain wholly committed to our link with Trinidad and Tobago, as well as our links with dioceses of our sister churches. We assure them of our love and prayers.

The journey of friendship often encounters times of difficulty and misunderstanding. We do not believe that walking away from the commitments we have made is in the best interests of either diocese, or of the wider communion of which we are a part. We remain committed to challenge and to be challenged by the contributions to the life of the whole Church by our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

+John Chelmsford

3 May 2005

The Church of England Newspaper reports this event as Bishop’s West Indies trip cancelled over gay support

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 5 May 2005 at 9:13am BST | Comments (17)
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Wednesday, 4 May 2005

more response to NACDAP

The Bishop of California Bill Swing has again attacked NACDAP on his diocesan site and in the Witness with This Mutiny Will Fail; the Church Will Abide. After summarising remarks made by another, unnamed, but easily recognisable bishop, he comments:

There have been people inside the Episcopal Church and outside the Episcopal Church who have been plotting our church’s demise long before there was an Episcopal election in New Hampshire: for almost half a century. The plotters have been living in a fury of win-lose for generations. Finally, they have assumed that they cannot win and take control of the Episcopal Church so they seek to destroy it and assume control as the orthodox remnant. Timing is everything for them. They see the present moment as the perfect storm where wealthy American ideologues and angry African bishops and cultural divides and shocked ecumenical and interfaith partners converge to assist their victory.

What they don’t realize is that the Episcopal Church has more staying power than they suppose. When our bishops, priests, and deacons took a solemn oath at ordination vowing to be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, worship of the Episcopal Church, we meant it. Millions of laity for hundreds of years have confirmed their faith in context of the Episcopal Church — in good times and bad. Together we gave our sacred honor to the revelation of God in Christ as lived out in the Episcopal Church. Our history has been earned with countless sacrifices. We have all been embarrassed as well as enhanced; won some, lost some. With prayer, sweat, and endurance we have built cathedrals, seminaries, religious communities, youth camps, schools, social ministries, hospitals, and churches. We will abide. Although the Southern Cone finds us unacceptable, we will abide. Even though the Archbishop of Canterbury and the primates and Anglican Consultative Council sever us from their fellowship, we will abide. Personally, I don’t think that the Archbishop of Canterbury would ever do that, but should he dismiss us, we will abide.

I genuinely grieve that we have all reached this moment. But this is not the last moment, only a passing moment. There will be fairer days, and in the light I expect to see the Episcopal Church afloat on the deep and sailing. This mutiny will fail. The Episcopal Church will abide.

Another view of NACDAP plans can be found in What would +Rowan do? by Thomas Bushnell.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 May 2005 at 10:07pm BST | Comments (7)
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

General Election Comment

One of the most interesting factors in the current General Election campaign is the way that the polls have barely moved over the weeks since Parliament was dissolved. It may still be that the result on Thursday will prove them inaccurate (electors often tell pollsters how they would vote in an ideal world rather than one in which their own self-interest is at stake) but it does suggest that most of us have not changed our intentions as a result of the campaign.

Actually, I think that is a good thing. The search for and promotion of political policies is not something that should be compressed into a few frenetic weeks. It goes on all the time as parties evolve their strategies and commitments and try them out on the public. There have been no major surprises in the manifestos, and the arguments for and against specific ideas have been well rehearsed with us in advance. The campaign itself, and thank God it’s much shorter in the UK than in many countries, acts primarily as a check and balance. It ensures that the parties don’t pull any rabbits out of the hat. The last thing democracy wants is for some issue to emerge at a late stage. It isn’t good for short term impact to affect long term decisions about who should govern us. We saw that in Spain not long ago, when a terrorist attack was planned to gain the most influence in the late stages of an election, and it wasn’t a positive experience.

What the campaign has done is to focus us on the broad thrust of the main parties involved. Rather in the manner of our Victorian antecedents, who used to depict virtues in human form in the stained glass windows of our parish churches, I’ve increasingly begun to see each of the campaigns as a personality in its own right.

The Conservative campaign is the “bloke in the pub”. He’s a familiar figure, always ready to reduce complex arguments down to populist sentiment. He likes to imagine that we must all be thinking the same as he, because it really is quite self-evident. Labour reminds me of a certain type of local official. You can find him in the spheres of education, social services, benefits, health or other “caring” professions. Convinced that he knows better than we what’s best for us, he is prepared to offer or hold back information just as much as it suits his case. And he’s unable to extricate himself from targets – even when they are riddled with perverse incentives. The LibDem entity is by contrast a clean shaven, earnest evangelist (beards and sandals have moved over to the Greens these days). He offers something plausible, superficially appealing, and which clearly makes sense to him. But it leaves his hearers unconvinced that it would all work out so well in practice. In my own constituency the only other contestant is UKIP. I’m still trying to decide whether this personality is the Conservative one’s slightly loopy best mate or the same chap himself when he’s had a few more drinks and is prepared to tell us what he REALLY believes. (There’s a separate debate to be had as to why all the personalities are quite definitely male.)

The point of those caricatures, which I hope you will excuse as the nearest a person who can’t draw can get to a cartoon, is that all three of the main campaigns have their value. But all three remain significantly flawed. And that is exactly as it should be. We should be suspicious of any political organisation that seems too perfect. And we should expect to be governed by people and institutions no less imperfect than ourselves. The choice between the bloke, the official and the evangelist is a real one. And in some ways it’s a deeper choice than between the particular policies and arguments which have so signally and so properly failed to shift our intentions over these last few weeks.

Posted by David Walker on Tuesday, 3 May 2005 at 8:44am BST | Comments (1)
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Categorised as: Opinion

Monday, 2 May 2005

Ugley controversy continues

From Trinidad comes this report in the Trinidad and Tobago Express about the withdrawal of an invitation to John Gladwin to visit there: ‘How terribly unfortunate’.

An invitation extended by the Anglican Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago, Calvin Bess, to Bishop John Gladwin of the United Kingdom to visit Trinidad has been withdrawn, after it was learnt that the latter has expressed solidarity with the pro-gay Anglican churches in Canada and the United States…

However, according to the Outlook, a mid-March story in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper indicated that a group of clergy in Britain had broken sacramental ties with Gladwin in an unprecedented revolt against his liberal views on homosexuality. The Telegraph story stated: “In what could be the start of an escalating conflict, 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.”

Gladwin reportedly responded by saying that it was his right to express his opinion and that he wanted to give space to those who were anxious about such matters.

This revelation, according to the Outlook article, was the catalyst for Bess-who has the support of the local Cathedral Chapter-to withdraw the invitation, and this was done via a letter dated April 12…

This matter was reported fully here on TA under the heading Ugley Puritans. As noted previously, the original letter to The Times simply restates the fact that the Church of England (and every member thereof, regardless of their personal opinion) is at present in communion with both the Canadian and the American provinces of the Communion.

Update Wednesday
Ruth Gledhill has reported this same Trinidad story in The Times today: Bishop told to forget Caribbean trip after airing liberal gay views. This version of events omits all mention of the Telegraph newspaper. (Those who are unable to access The Times website may find this copy useful.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 2 May 2005 at 11:56pm BST | Comments (6)
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion