According to various American websites, the London-based Sunday Times published a news report concerning the reaction of Archbishop Peter Akinola and others to the CofE statement.
But the newspaper did not publish this report. Instead it published this squib Church gay clergy row deepens which gives only the barest outline, with no names or other details.
If - or more likely when - any further information about this emerges, I will add a note here.
Update in the comments, Andrew Brown has confirmed that the story really was written as shown, and was cut from the newspaper only for reasons of space.
A Church of England press release reports Way forward on the ‘ecclesiastical exemption’ from listed building control.
This relates to an announcement by the DCMS Places Of Worship Supported In Changing Times. This in turn refers to a report The Ecclesiastical Exemption: The Way Forward which is the outcome of the consultation conducted last year
The link at the foot of the CofE press release is, at present, broken, hence this level of detail here.
Three related items:
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph asks Who are the ummah?
Oliver McTernan in the Guardian discusses The textual analysis of terrorism
And from Fulcrum Graham Kings writes London Bombings:Warnings and Support
In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes that The truth of Christian faith prevails in even our most faltering words
The CEN reports in New alliance of traditionalists threatens truce that a meeting was held in Nassau at which a body called Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean (CAPAC) was formed.
This body, despite its name, includes only two provinces of the Anglican Communion (West Indies, Southern Cone) but also includes the Diocese of Recife (in Brazil), The Anglican Communion Network (ACN) and The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).
It does not include Anglican provinces in Canada, the US, Mexico, Central America, any of the dioceses in the northern part of South America which are part of the Episcopal Church, or the Episcopal Church of Brazil.
The press releases about this event originate from Ekklesia:
A Statement from the Anglican Pan American Conference (scroll down for a Resolution on Recife)
Press Release from the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean
and the same website carries an article from the Christian Challenge:
Conservative Anglicans Envision Western Hemisphere Alliance
The NACDAP website carries Network joins Western Hemisphere Alliance which includes (scroll down) A Covenant of Understanding.
Other news reports about this:
TLC Nassau Covenant Signed and earlier Nassau Meeting Concludes
As TLC notes, this Nassau meeting was first mentioned by the Guardian in connection with the revelation of the Anglican Global Initiative, see here.
Updated Sunday 31 July
Since the last report there have been some major developments.
The Living Church published a further report headlined Archbishop’s Panel Stays Out of Connecticut Dispute.
Then, a group of nine ECUSA diocesan bishops issued a public letter to Andrew Smith.
In response, the Bishop of Connecticut has published his reply (PDF copy) which is reproduced below the fold here.
Update Another letter, dated one day earlier, addressed to the members of the parish, has now also been published. PDF file here, full text below the fold (scroll down).
The Associated Press reported Bishops plan to take Connecticut cleric to church court.
Reuters had US Episcopal clerics to sue bishop in church court
Bristol Press Bishop’s peers threaten charges
New London The Day Out-of-state Bishops Threaten Action
July 28, 2005
Response to Open Letter of July 27, 2005, from Bishops Adams, Beckwith, Duncan, Herzog, Howe, Iker, Salmon, Schofield, and Stanton
Dear Brother Bishops,
I write to respond to your “open letter” of July 27 to me and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Connecticut.
Your public letter to us is filled with assumptions, conclusions, and emotional, highly charged language. In it you have passed judgment on a brother bishop and a diocese without even attempting to ascertain the facts.
Had you first inquired concerning Father Mark Hansen and the conditions at Saint John’s, Bristol, our communication would be far more productive. I regret that none of the bishops who signed the letter had the wisdom or courtesy to call before launching this broadside. If we are engaged in a “very public conflict,” it is the work of others, and of letters such as yours.
I deny your contention that the Standing Committee or I have misapplied Title IV, Canon 10, which in fact does not address parishes (as you state) but only clergy.
I also wonder where you got the notion of my “refusal to allow appeal to the Panel of Reference.” First of all, a bishop cannot refuse to allow appeal to the Panel of Reference, nor would I consider doing so. Second, I have the deepest respect for Archbishop Williams and for his leadership. The Panel of Reference is an offering of his ministry, under his guidance, and is a resource for the Church when local initiatives have not been successful.
From the time of the House of Bishops meeting in March 2004 I have offered delegated episcopal pastoral oversight in Connecticut, as contained in “Caring for All the Churches.” In fact I have implemented this arrangement with one parish of the diocese.
But the six clergy you mention have consistently refused to consider delegated episcopal pastoral oversight, as is clear in their correspondence and public statements. The situation was precipitated by a May 2004 letter of demands from six parishes and their rectors. Their letter limits me to two choices. One is that I repudiate decisions I have made as bishop so as to believe as they do. The other is that I suspend the Constitution and Canons of the Church and this diocese just for them.
These demands far exceed delegated espiscopal pastoral oversight, which is what this Church can offer, and which has been recognized by the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
I have initiated action under Title IV Canon 10 against only one priest in this diocese. The Standing Committee found that the Rev. Mark Hansen had abandoned communion with his bishop by the demands of the May 2004 letter. Further, he ignored well-established disciplines required of priests by ECUSA Canon and the policies of this diocese. Also important, for a time which as yet we have been unable to determine, he has abandoned his ministry in Saint John’s to hold a secular position in another state while at the same time on sabbatical from Saint John’s.
The parish leaders of Saint John’s enabled and protected Father Hansen in these arrangements, and are uncooperative, evasive and not forthcoming when questioned by members of my staff. For more than a year the parish has ignored its payments to our revolving loan fund. Members and leaders who disagree with Father Hansen have felt intimidated, and many left the parish. There are significant outstanding bills, and the electric company had sent the parish a shut-off notice. We have not seized any funds of the parish, as you claim we have, and in the past week we have paid more than $20,000 in parish bills from diocesan resources – including $8,500 owed on Father Hansen’s pension.
Should you get to know us better, you will find that Connecticut is a diocese that enjoys wide theological and liturgical diversity, and that our clergy represents the great breadth of the church’s spectrum of belief and practice.
In the spirit of “Caring for All the Churches,” I continue to look for ways forward together. To that end, at the invitation of its rector, I met with members of one of the six parishes you name on Sunday afternoon, July 24, for an open and direct conversation. For me it was a time of grace, both during formal discussion and our informal reception afterward –the beginning of a renewed relationship, I pray.
Our Lord Jesus will be better served if we, especially those of us who lead and serve as bishops, discipline ourselves to refrain from publicly-paraded, instantaneous judgments and automatic condemnations. I also ask you to refrain from the repeated incursions which members of the Anglican Communion Network have made into the life and ministry of this diocese.
And I pray that, even as we know him differently, we may all serve the Lord Christ in unity and harmony, grace and love – and so be a blessing to Jesus and for the world.
Yours in Christ,
Andrew D. Smith
Bishop of Connecticut
Letter to Saint John’s Church Members
July 27, 2005
Dear Members of Saint John’s Church, Bristol,
I write as your bishop to clarify some matters about recent events in Saint John’s and to express my hope for the future.
In light of the mounting evidence that the spiritual and financial health of Saint John’s was at risk, evidenced by my discovery of the extended absence of your rector from his ministry while employed in another state, unpaid parish financial obligations, and the lack of co-operation with the diocese by lay parish leadership, I determined, as the Bishop responsible for Saint John’s, to make a pastoral intervention in the parish.
There have been a number of rumors, allegations and misinformation persistently circulated in the parish concerning the Diocese of Connecticut and the actions that I have taken. In addition, there is a need to tell you some of what has been happening and to take a look to the future.
On Wednesday, July 13, about 9:45 a.m. the Rev. Susan McCone and I came to the parish office to deliver copies of the Inhibition of Father Mark Hansen and a copy of the letter in which I appoint the Rev. Susan McCone Priest in Charge of the parish. Several other persons from my office did accompany us. It is not true that we forced our way in or that any damage was done to the buildings.
No one who came that day or since seeking access to Saint John’s on parish matters has been denied access to the building. The groups which use the Church for their meetings (AA, Weight Watchers, TOPS) have all continued to meet as regularly scheduled. We had no keys to the building and the locks were changed late in the afternoon to ensure the security of the property. Keys to the new locks have been issued to parishioners who have assumed responsibilities for certain work already begun as part of the effort to rebuild Saint John’s life, mission and ministry.
Parishioners have come to the Rev. Susan McCone with reports about what has been happening in the parish, and also with concerns about what they have been told “the diocese” would do and not do. There was a lot of pure misinformation. Susan has tried to respond to such concerns on a one-to-one basis, and I encourage any member with questions about what you have been told or rumors that you have heard to ask the questions and talk with her.
There are several persistent allegations that I would like to address. One is that the Diocese would halt the regular celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays. That is false. The Eucharist is the principal act of worship on Sunday mornings in the Episcopal Church. And no member of the parish has been denied access to the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Another rumor is that same-sex marriages would begin to happen at Saint John’s altar. Again, false. In this Church Christian marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman. Further, priests of this diocese do not have permission to have permission to officiate at civil unions when they become legal in Connecticut in October.
There is a report that I dismissed the Rev. Clayton Knapp as Sunday supply priest. In fact right away I asked Father Knapp to continue to serve on Sundays, but he has declined.
On July 13 I told the Senior Warden of Saint John’s that it is my hope that we could work together, Bishop, Priest in Charge, Wardens and Vestry, for Saint John’s future. However, on July 18 most of the Vestry of Saint John’s chose not to meet with Mother McCone. Several parishioners and one Vestry member did come that night, and they began to talk about the future.
As this date Father Hansen is Inhibited in Connecticut (relieved of priestly privileges for up to six months), and there has been no meeting or agreement between me and Father Hansen concerning his future status with the Church or Saint John’s.
We have begun to address the parish finances. We asked several times for the Treasurer to work with Mr. Ed Seibert, who is assisting Mother McCone, so together they could bring the parish into financial order. Since that cooperation has not happened, we have set up an account with the diocesan funds for Saint John’s in order to pay staff and outstanding bills — more than $20,000. Payments for Father Hansen’s pension were in arrears by $8500, and we have brought that up to date. We also paid Connecticut Light and Power, thereby averting the threatened shutoff of electricity to the parish buildings.
The work of rebuilding St. John’s parish has already begun and the signs of renewed life are promising. On July 17, of worshippers in church, at least 38 were identified as regular St. John’s parishioners, some returning after a prolonged absence. On July 24, the number of St. John’s parishioners had risen to 47 with still others calling to say they would be back in the days ahead. A group of parishioners, eager to revive the family traditions for which St. John’s was once known, have already organized a pot luck supper, as you have heard, for July 30.
The devotion of the people to St. John’s is inspiring and encouraging and the Diocese is committed to helping the parish rebuild - financially as well as spiritually - and to renew its relationship with the larger Episcopal family. If you have questions or thoughts of ways in which I, Mother McCone or my staff can be helpful, please call the Church. I certainly am keeping all of Saint John’s in my prayers, asking Christ’s peace and blessing.
Yours in Christ
+Andrew D. Smith
Bishop of Connecticut
Cc: The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate
Earlier responses can be found here. New news reports and press releases will be added here as they become available.
Church of England Newspaper Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Church allows gay clergy to register partnerships
Guardian Giles Fraser
Love is the answer
Rachel Harden Civil partnerships require sensitivity, say Bishops
Leader It’s still about not telling
Ecumenical News International via ENS
England’s Anglican clergy may register ‘chaste’ same-sex unions
An item from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme:
0832 What is it that motivates a suicide bomber? Jane Little explores what Islam has to say about violence.
Listen here with Real Audio 4.5 minutes
Some small Parisian boys, back from their Saturday morning at the pictures almost half a century ago, were anxious to know the formula spoken by a cowboy holding a gun when he required someone to raise their hands in the air. The films had sub titles, rather than being dubbed, and the boys were convinced that there ought to be a definitive, universally understood expression. To their way of thinking, saying “Stigamup”, or something like it, usually guaranteed that in the lawless western frontiers of the USA, an unnecessary shooting was often avoided. Whilst the first application of this expression would be in their games, maybe they were thinking that, were they ever to travel to the wild west, they would need to recognise the one phrase which demanded instant obedience.
Just as everyone understood the culture of American Westerns, in which the law was that of the gun, so people knew that in Britain, the law was represented by an unarmed officer of the Crown in a dark uniform, with an immensely tall, distinctive hat.
On my way to Paris, I had arrived at Euston station in the early morning on a postal train. The tube hadn’t started running, so there was nothing to do but wait. Two dishevelled, unshaven men asked me my business. They presented me with their police warrants as proof of their good intentions. Presumably they were wondering whether this schoolboy had run away from home.
I didn’t believe them. What could a police warrant mean to me? They declined my offer to verify whether they were who they claimed to be by going with me to the police office clearly visible on the station. So, after a few more questions which I refused to answer, they left, as they said “in order to preserve their anonymity”.
It is perfectly possible that a visitor to London today would still expect the capital’s police to be identifiable. A real Bobby still has a tall hat. Armed police on television are in uniform, and guns are carried with a prominent swagger. With this level of understanding by the public, any first encounter with a plainclothes officer could give rise to misunderstanding. He might be regarded as a potential thief or a mugger, which is exactly what I thought of the men who approached me. To an innocent person, an armed man with no uniform would appear to be a criminal.
Our police have obviously little idea of the huge change in culture that would be required before someone with a gun but no uniform might, on shouting “Stigamup” get the same response as that seen in old western films.
Nor do the police appear to understand the gulf in perception which being on an anti terrorist mission puts between them and the ordinary public. Statistically, our experience of the police is not about terrorism. It is confined to speeding fines and parking tickets. Our thinking and that of the police are worlds apart.
It also appears that, if the word “terrorist” appears, normal behaviour by the police is suspended. Actions can look like the result of an adrenaline fuelled high rather than following from a proper assessment of information. “Intelligence” in the case of the shooting of Harry Stanley in 1999, for carrying a chair leg in a carrier bag, or in the case of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, was woefully inadequate. The fact that the latter was killed by a hail of bullets adds to the impression that adrenaline had taken over from reason in the minds of all the officers involved. Long hours, no leave because of the current emergency, and a constant feeling of being under pressure can’t have helped.
It is difficult to see how such mistakes can be avoided, when the gap in perception between an ordinary innocent person going about their business and the police officer, pumping adrenaline and believing himself to be on an anti-terrorist mission, is so high. If Harry Stanley was shot for having an “Irish” accent, when he was clearly Scots, and a Brazilian gets shot for appearing middle eastern, the potential for further cases of mistaken identity is enormous.
What makes things worse is the attempts to blacken the name of the innocent victim. We’ve heard that he was in the country illegally, that he was fiddling with wires, that his jacket looked as though it concealed a bomb. All of this and more now seems false, and the police hadn’t even checked to see how many flats lay behind the shared entrance.
Half the population of London — that is anyone other than a white Anglo-Saxon, must feel that they are under suspicion. They must feel threatened by both terrorists and police. In the heat of the moment they won’t know whether someone in plain clothes with a gun is a police officer or a terrorist taking hostages.
It is hard to know what a Christian, particularly a white Anglo-Saxon one should do. Certainly we need to put ourselves alongside those who feel afraid. Do we need to show our solidarity with those who may be targeted by looking like them? Should we darken our complexions, dye our hair black, and for good measure adopt at least one item of middle eastern attire? Perhaps then at least, travelling around London, we might be able to experience the hostility and alienation currently felt by many Muslims. Or do we wear and wave a Brazilian flag, as the sign that the man who was killed was our brother and our neighbour?
It is even harder to know how the police should behave. But surely there is a case for continuing as normal, for engaging people in conversation in a way which does not immediately look threatening. We know how to respond to “Excuse me sir, just a routine enquiry.” We don’t know how to react to guns, and the police appear dangerously unaware of that.
It isn’t easy to know what to do in the face of a terrorist threat. But when we kill innocent citizens, the terrorists are the only people who win.
Updated again Wednesday
News reports and press releases will be collected here as they appear.
Guardian Stephen Bates
Church struggles with the concept of celibacy in same-sex partnerships
and this column Stop the denial
The Church of England has announced that it will support civil partnerships for gay priests, as long as they don’t have sex for the rest of their lives. Here, Richard Haggis, a practising priest and homosexual, calls for his superiors to see the error of their ways
Telegraph Jonathan Petre
‘Marriages’ but no sex for gay clergy
Eastern Daily Press (local paper in Norwich)
No blessings for gay marriages
Church of England bans clergy from blessing gay civil partnerships
Church row over gay unions
(perhaps more a local reaction to this entirely separate Scottish story from the Herald Episcopal gay clergy row heads for tribunal hearings)
BBC Today radio programme
0724 Has the Church of England changed its policy towards recognising same-sex partnerships? Our Religious Affairs Correspondent Robert Pigott reports. Listen here (Real Audio - 3 minutes)
0856 Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, and Rev Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, discuss the Church of England’s stance on gay marriage. Listen here (Real Audio - 5 minutes)
Affirming Catholicism has Bishops’ statement on Civil Partnerships ‘deeply disappointing’
Ekklesia says Affirming Catholics challenge C of E on same-sex unions
Manchester Evening News
Church bans same-sex blessings
BBC Radio 4 News World at One:Interview with David Page, also short clip of Graham James Bp of Norwich, and comment from Ruth Gledhill.
This segment starts some 23 minutes into the 30 minute programme.
This link is no longer available.
InclusiveChurch has Bishops’ Pastoral Care Lacking
Anglican Mainstream has Need for clear teaching
The Times Ruth Gledhill comment column Bishops in the mire
A couple of weeks ago, I visited Little Gidding. Not for the first time, and not, I hope, for the last, either. But it was the first time I had been in about five years, so it was good to be back.
A long time before, back in 1993, at the dawn of the popular internet, I wrote a piece about a visit to Little Gidding for an Anglican email list. (You can read a copy of that piece here.) At that time Little Gidding was the home of a small community, as well as a wider group of Friends, but in the intervening years the community disbanded and there was some dispute over the future ownership of the community buildings. But now the dispute has been settled, the Friends of Little Gidding have been reconstituted, new wardens installed in Ferrar House, and the ministry of hospitality continues.
So, on a lovely Sunday afternoon we headed up the A14, across the A1, turning off at Leighton Bromswold (to pay homage to George Herbert) and on to Little Gidding. The ‘dull facade’ looked almost beautiful in the late afternoon sun, the noticeboard (new since our last visit) slightly detracting from the composition. Inside, the sun shone brightly through the clear glass and the stained glass of the windows, and the old familiar place looked just the same. This is the place where the Ferrar family, led by Deacon Nicholas, came to say their prayers, morning and evening each day, the centre of their spiritual life. This is the place, hallowed by their community, where ‘prayer has been valid’, this is the place closest to us, now and in England.
Nicholas Ferrar lived in a time of increasing prosperity, with the foundations being laid for the later British commercial and imperial greatness. Ferrar himself came from a wealthy mercantile family, involved in foreign trade and the settlement of English colonies in North America.
It was also a time of religious turmoil in England. Just five years before his birth an attempted invasion by a foreign power aiming to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and her protestant government had been foiled by a combination of the heroics of Sir Francis Drake and the stormy weather. When Ferrar was 12 a conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament and to kill the king and his government was only narrowly averted, thanks to careful intelligence and leaks from the inside. And not long after his death England erupted into civil war.
Ferrar’s response to this, like that of his contemporary George Herbert, was to live a quiet and godly life. He abandoned the pursuit of worldly wealth and status for a life of prayer and contemplation, in a community of family and other associates. But this was not escapism. Rather, it was an engagement in real life, an engagement with ordinary people and their everyday concerns, as a teacher, as a healer (Ferrar had studied medicine at Cambridge, Padua and Leipzig), as a counsellor. He and his community were consulted by the poor, by the politically active, and by the great and the good — right up to the king himself.
Although Nicholas Ferrar died in his 40s on 4 December 1637 and his community survived only another decade before it was ransacked by the victorious Puritans, and dissolved a further decade later at the death of Nicholas’s eldest brother John, his example still shines as a beacon of sanity in a complex and sometimes frightening world. A life of caring for ordinary people, of ministering to their needs, physical, intellectual and spiritual, a life of quiet, undemonstrative prayer and study, is one that we would all do well to emulate. ‘It is the right, good old way you are in,’ Nicholas Ferrar said to his brother, shortly before he died; ‘keep in it.’
The Church of England bishops are about to issue their promised pastoral statement on civil partnerships. This is expected to occur tomorrow. Two excellent briefing items have appeared.
The BBC Sunday programme had this item:
Tomorrow the Church of England will reveal how it will deal with clergy who are in same sex relationships and who want to register their partnerships.
Report by Christopher Landau.
Listen (4m 35s) (Real Audio)
Fulcrum has published a Fulcrum response to the Civil Partnerships Act by Andrew Goddard. This is a comprehensive analysis of the UK civil partnership legislation and its implications for the Church of England, and also indicates the potential for a positive way forward.
As this information is not yet available online elsewhere, the textual amendments contained in GS 1535C are reproduced below the fold.
UPDATE (26 July 2005)
This paper (which includes an explanation of the bishops’ actions) is now available on the CofE website.
AMENDMENT TO GS 1535B MADE BY GENERAL SYNOD
On page 2, line 3; page 24, line 23; and page 48, line 20 leave out the words “An authorised form of confession” and insert the words “One of the two forms of confession on page 169 of Common Worship: Service and Prayers for the Church of England”.
AMENDMENTS TO GS 1535B MADE BY THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS
1. Prayers of Penitence (all three rites): page 2, line 3; page 24, line 23; and page 48, line 20: leave out words “may be used” and insert the words “are normally used”.
2. The Litany: page 9 (Deacons) and page 32 (Priests, also called Presbyters):
after line 34, insert:
For the unity of the Church,
that we may be one in Christ, according to his will,
let us pray to the Lord.
All Lord, have mercy.
3. The Giving of the Bible
(a) (Deacons): page 12: leave out lines 27-31 and insert:
Bishop Receive this Book,
as a sign of the authority given you this day
to speak God’s word to his people.
Build them up in his truth
and serve them in his name.
(b) (Priests, also called Presbyters): page 36: leave out lines 8-12 and insert:
Bishop Receive this Book,
as a sign of the authority which God has given you this day
to preach the gospel of Christ
and to minister his Holy Sacraments.
(c) (Bishop): page 62: leave out lines 8-13 and insert:
Archbishop Receive this Book,
as a sign of the authority given you this day
to build up Christ’s Church in truth.
Here are words of eternal life.
Take them for your guide,
and declare them to the world.
4. Introduction (Bishop): page 48, lines 14-16
leave out ‘With their fellow bishops… sign of the universal Church’ and insert:
Obedient to the call of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, they are to gather God’s people and celebrate with them the sacraments of the new covenant. Thus formed into a single communion of faith and love, the Church in each place and time is united with the Church in every place and time.
5. Note 15 (Vesture) (all three rites): page 19, line 37; page 44, line 6; page 70, line 19:
Leave out the words: ‘and the Peace’.
From The Times
Christian conservatives find a common crusade by Gordon Urquhart
We must continue in joy and hope — astonishingly optimistic or not by John Wilkins
From the Guardian
Fundamentally speaking by Giles Fraser
From the Telegraph
Islam: cut out and keep by Christopher Howse
General Synod Reflections July 2005 by Francis Bridger
From the Church Times
Feelings, nothing more than feelings? by Giles Fraser
From the Tablet
Islam’s ‘heart of darkness’ by Abdal Hakim Murad
There has been intensive coverage elsewhere this week of the disciplinary action taken by the Bishop of Connecticut towards the Reverend Mark Hansen, one of the Connecticut Six about whom TA has reported in the past.
The official diocesan statement is here, together with links to several other documents that give more background, and ENS earlier included a similar report in this diocesan news roundup.
The report by The Living Church magazine is here and further information is in this report.
The New York Times carried Episcopal Priest Is Removed in Connecticut
and the Associated Press had Episcopal bishop suspends one of six embattled priests
while the Bristol Press reported that Bishop suspends Episcopal priest
The CEN has this week reported the story as Mediating Panel not wanted in US diocese.
The Church Times also has a report, not yet available on the web except to its paid subscribers, titled Dispute over support for gay Bishop worsens, which says in part:
The six asked to be released from their ordination vows of obedience to the Bishop, and for suspension of selected canons, and withdrew their parish share.
They refused the terms of the offer of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight approved by ECUSA’s House of Bishops last year, asking that the delegated rather than the diocesan bishop take responsibility for the future succession of clergy and future candidates for ordination in the diocese.
In March, the diocese determined that the six rectors had “abandoned communion” and recommended the inhibition of all six priests — the first step towards unfrocking. A meeting between Bishop Smith and the six in April reached an impasse, but the recommendation was not carried out (News, 22 April).
Mr Hansen has been on sabbatical leave since 10 April, having declared to his parishioners on 15 March that the day would be “my last Sunday as your priest”. Bishop Smith has declared his absence unauthorised.
The St John’s Church Vestry accused the Bishop on Sunday of violating canon, civil, and criminal law, and refused to accept the ministry as priest-in-charge of the Revd Susan McCone, the executive director of Affirming Catholicism.
Mr Hansen declared himself “personally devastated” by Bishop Smith’s action in inhibiting him on the grounds of abandonment of communion, and accused him of misrepresenting the facts. “The Bishop is fully aware that family circumstances necessitated a sabbatical leave. . . [He] has knowingly and wilfully endangered my family’s well-being and security,” he said.
Here is the website of the Connecticut Six which contains links to many who support them. They include the Moderator of NACDAP and the AAC and there is also this riveting eyewitness account of the events when the bishop came to the parish on Tuesday.
A comprehensive report from Fr Jake The Making of a Connecticut Martyr suggests that the facts are not as straightforward as the supporters of Fr Hansen have made out.
I do not think this is because there is widespread support for Smith, but rather that there is very little support for the position taken by the Connecticut Six in the first place.
See also this commentary from Alistair Highet in the Hartford Advocate.
And this criticism from AKMA.
Women bishops clear first hurdle in Synod
Women bishops: law to be tackled
Admitting children to communion is ‘gaining ground’
Euthanasia rejected as ‘bad medicine’
Ordinal passed after last-minute changes
Synod hears of impatience for unity
‘Learn from good interfaith experience’ Synod told
Fund launched to fight poverty gets Synod backing
Code for clergy discipline agreed
‘In God we trust - but everybody else we audit’
Church of England Newspaper reports are below the fold.
Church of England Newspaper
General Synod: Vote in favour of women bishops
General Synod: Presence and Engagement
General Synod: Church fees
General Synod: Strategic Spending Review
New breath of life for Church Urban Fund
General Synod: Presidential Address
General Synod: Ordination Services
General Synod: Methodist Covenant
General Synod: Formation for ministry within a learning church
General Synod: Assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia
General Synod: Children and Holy Communion
General Synod: Question Time
The official record of the business done at this month’s General Synod is now online here.
The revelation that those who carried out the suicide bombings in London were British citizens is a shock. It would have been far easier to be able to regard the terrorists as people from out there, people who were totally different, people with whom we had nothing in common, and for whom were needed have no fellow feeling.
But we have been here before, and we need to learn from our history. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, possibly the most audacious acts of terrorism ever planned. It was planned by Englishmen. It was planned not by the poor or the dispossessed, but by people who largely were privileged and comfortable.
At the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England in 1603, those who wanted to worship as Catholics had hoped that the new king would be more sympathetic to them than Queen Elizabeth had been. At first James had appeared to favour them, but the Puritans objected to the new relaxed attitudes. James brought back the fines for those who would not worship as Anglicans, and expelled Catholic priests and Jesuits. This intolerance proved to be a breeding ground for extremism of the most audacious kind. And this was within the hearts of Englishmen who loved England. Like the men who successfully bombed London last week, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the population.
Today we have to learn from history. 400 years ago a religious war was beginning in England. The Puritans were determined to get the king to treat Catholics so harshly that they didn’t feel they had a future in England. The Gunpowder Plot led to more repression, partly to the Civil War, certainly to Cromwell’s hated campaigns in Ireland. In the city of Drogheda he ordered the death of every man in the garrison, describing this as “a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches”. In Wexford he slaughtered townspeople and garrison alike.
The legacy of the response to the gunpowder plot has been severe repression and hostility particularly in Ireland which has continued until our own day. It has set the native largely catholic population against the immigrant ruling protestant class for generation after generation. The two communities have been unable to trust each other, and the reason both catholic and protestant terrorists were able to function was that on both sides they knew no-one in their own community would betray them.
Today we stand at that same point in relation to the recent bombings in London as people stood on November 5th 1605. And today we have to reach out and acknowledge that people of Muslim faith have a legitimate and valuable part to play in British society today. We cannot afford to reject people of good will. We need them on our side if good is to triumph.
The Bush administration in the USA with its war on terror has been just as misguided as that of Oliver Cromwell. Its indiscriminate bombing, destruction of infrastructure and failure to establish a rule of law which could be trusted, its treatment of prisoners and detainees have all made things infinitely worse since 9-11.
Jesus tells a parable (Matthew 13.24-30,36-43) which is appropriate to today’s situation. An enemy comes by night and sows weeds in the field. The slaves of the household are up in arms, and want to rush into the field and gather up the weeds. But Jesus says “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.”
Our danger is that we could, as in the heavy handed and intolerant response to the gunpowder plot 400 years ago, rush in and make things infinitely worse, alienating good citizens of Muslim faith here, and breeding terrorists across the world. We have, fortunately, the good example of the dignified and appropriate response of Spain to the Madrid bombings as a much better example to follow.
The parable of the weeds sown in the crop has an important lesson. We are to live with those who are different. We do not know, and we do not decide which of us is ultimately the good seed which God will harvest at the end of the age. He sends his angels to do that. But we trample down those who are different at our peril, for in doing so, we spoil the good crop, we spoil even ourselves. We find our good intentions turned to hatred and our zeal to oppose what is wrong carries us away in a fury of righteous anger. And we become like an Oliver Cromwell, trampling on the whole of Ireland, turning people against each other for generation after generation.
Our task is to produce the good seed for the harvest, so that at the judgement we will be those whose response to God’s grace will find its fulfilment in his kingdom.
The BBC Sunday programme had this piece:
On Monday, The Church of England took its most significant step yet towards enabling women to become Bishops. Its General Synod authorised the drafting of legislation to remove obstacles that prevent women being enthroned. But a significant minority remain adamantly opposed to such a move. They have long argued for the creation of a separate or third province of the church to be created for them, which would have only male bishops and priests. Now the Bishop who leads them has said that if their demands aren’t met, they will consider setting up a church of their own. Christopher Landau reports.
Listen here with Real Audio
(nearly 6 minutes)
Tom Wright writes in the Guardian on a Reason to be cheerful. This is mainly about the General Synod debate on women bishops, and what was wrong with it.
…Much of our contemporary discourse - I sat through two days of general synod a week ago - has degenerated into a competition between the relative woundedness of people’s feelings. I am not saying that wounded feelings do not matter, only that saying “I’m more hurt than you are” cannot settle an argument on a point of principle. Unfortunately, since victimhood is the only high moral ground left after the collapse of reasoned discourse, speeches become harangues, name-calling replaces respectful engagement and party spirit trumps public wisdom.
Not for the first time, the Church of England has copied the surrounding culture, greatly to its disadvantage. True, “reason” is sometimes overemphasised. Like “clarity”, it needs something to work on; in Christian thinking, scripture and tradition. But you would have thought we could at least apply it to our own documents.
Last week’s debate about women bishops mostly consisted of people making passionate speeches on a question that was not on the order paper. The official question was about a way of proceeding, not about whether we approved of women bishops. If people had wanted to debate that, they should have amended the motion…
Roderick Strange writes in The Times, Pray within your own solitude - however noisy it is
Also in The Times Jonathan Romain writes about The silliness and brilliance of religion on the box.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Jews, Christians and Muslims.
ACNS has issued this Communiqué from the Panel of Reference.
Further information about the panel can be found on its own web page here
Other detailed pages include the Reference Procedure which is new.
Dr Brian Hanson has been appointed as an additional secretary to the panel.
Some myths of course we haven’t believed for a long time. Few of us really thought that Britain was somehow exempt from terrorist attack. Nor did we seriously expect that on each and every occasion security forces would be able to prevent an atrocity before it happened. But the myth that many of us held until this week, and which we have now painfully had to relinquish, was that terrorists are radically different from you and me. As I write, the backgrounds of the four suicide bombers are beginning to become clear. From what we can tell at this stage these were ordinary young British men. Born and brought up in this country, educated here, from unremarkable law abiding families. Outwardly at least their interests were the same as those of many of their age and sex.
Chillingly, that closeness is not defined to their backgrounds. For those of us of religious conviction it is equally present in their motivations. Christianity is founded on the story of a man who gave up his life for the sake of others. Faith relativises death in two ways. Most religions declare it neither to be the end nor the most important factor to be considered. I guess that the bombers were like us too in wanting (and this is rightly especially prevalent among young adults) to feel that they were part of something huge – even the outworking of God’s plan itself. The motivations of the original crusaders (who detonated the first suicide bomb a thousand years ago) are not so different from those of these young men.
It’s only after having recognised our similarities that we should go on to focus on the differences. I am helped enormously by the comment of a brother bishop some years ago. He drew an illuminating distinction between “theologies of life” and “theologies of death”. Both are present in Christianity. Both have their place. And in any one of us both will be operating at the same time. One or other however will be the dominant.
Theologies of death focus on temptation, sin, the battle between the divine and the demonic. The central symbol is the cross with Jesus hanging bleeding on it. The world is the entity that nails him there.
Theologies of life by comparison focus on love, forgiveness, the rich abundance of God’s creation. The cross remains the central symbol but here it is empty. Christ is risen, gone before, leading his people. The world, and the rich diversity in it, is itself a pointer to God’s glory.
Those who detonate bombs killing themselves and innocent travellers are operating from within a theology of death. We are closer to them than is comfortable whenever we allow our faith to be more rooted or expressed in what we oppose than in what we affirm. As the scriptures reiterate again and again the mission of Jesus was to bring not death but life. If we are to seriously distinguish ourselves from terrorism it is a theology of life that must predominate, whatever the particular matters being debated.
Faith leaders are rarely to be found with rucksacks full of explosives strapped to their backs but when we propound theologies that place God’s creation under the control of the devil or we declare humanity to be utterly depraved and make that the lynchpin of our position we are ultimately providing the ideological underpinning for actions that in themselves we rightly abhor.
The Kampala Mail and Guardian carried this report on 7 July, Ugandan Parliament deals blow to gay rights. This report is amplified in an article from Human Rights Watch Uganda: Same-Sex Marriage Ban Deepens Repression. Other news reports that mention this are in the Kampala Monitor and the Kampala New Vision.
The LGBT community in Uganda had made representations to Parliament for inclusion in the list of recognised minorities for which the proposed constitutional amendments offered further protection and recognition of their special needs.
The actions now taken in response to this request are more extensive than were recommended in the white paper on constitutional amendments which only asked for the first declaration - marriage is between a man and woman - the second part criminalising those who enter a partnership is an additional action now taken by the Ugandan parliament without previous discussion.
Back in February, the primates of the Anglican Communion said:
…We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We 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…
At the recent ACC meeting in Nottingham, Rowan Williams said:
…The Lambeth Resolution called for just this. It also condemned in clear terms, as did earlier Lambeth Conferences, the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dromantine statement, violent and bigoted language about homosexual people – and this cannot be repeated too often. It is possible to uphold Lambeth ’98 and to oppose the shocking persecution of homosexuals in some countries, to defend measures that guarantee their civil liberties…
And again this week, in his presidential address at the General Synod in York, Rowan Williams also said:
If the listening process set up by the ACC is to be of any use, it must have the same character all round. And the point has perfectly rightly been made that it will fail if it does not listen to the voices of homosexual people within the developing world, so often horrifyingly at risk of violence and persecution, just as much as it will fail if it does not listen to those churches in the developing world that are struggling with great difficulty to find a pastoral way forward that is true to their convictions and does not expose their people to real danger.
Will any Anglican primate now speak up on this concrete example of civil rights abuse?
The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright has a letter to the editor of The Times published today in which he explains his position:
Bishops’ views on women
From the Bishop of Durham
Sir, Anthony Howard (T2, July 12; see also report, same day) describes my action in signing, with 16 other bishops, an open letter pleading for fuller debate on women bishops as a “defection”. This is a complete misunderstanding. I have for some years argued strongly in favour of women bishops, in public and private, in person and in print. I have not changed my mind.
The motion before us at the General Synod was not whether we were in favour of women bishops, but whether we favoured a particular way of proceeding towards that goal. I want the train to get to that destination not only as soon as it can, but with as many passengers as possible still on board. I therefore agreed with the other signatories not that we should have further delay for its own sake, but that we should have what synod had specifically asked for when commissioning the Rochester report on the subject, namely proper theological discussion before taking steps which presupposed such discussion.
The Church now copies the world in treating all issues in monochrome, with goodies, baddies and “defectors”. Like an examination candidate on a bad day, synod was determined to discuss the question it wanted to discuss rather than the question on the paper. I could not vote for the actual motion, but could not vote against the perceived one, and I therefore abstained.
That was not a “defection”. It was a silent vote for that reasoned discourse which, in company with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I still believe is the best hope as we move forward into uncharted territory.
Auckland Castle, Co Durham
On Saturday evening, the General Synod considered the subject of euthanasia, in the context of legislation recently before the UK Parliament. Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans opened the debate with this speech.
The synod briefing document is Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia (RTF format)
A press release from the Diocese of St Albans is here
Daily Mail Synod prays after rejecting bill
The Archbishop of Canterbury said he fears moves towards legalising voluntary euthanasia were being motivated by the need for cost-cutting in healthcare.
Dr Rowan Williams reaffirmed his opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide at a meeting of the the General Synod of the Church of England, in York.
The archbishop said: “This is not simply a debate about medical ethics, it’s also about economic ethics.
“In a climate where the pressure is all towards a functionalised, reduced style of healthcare provision, this (assisted dying) must be a very, very tempting option to save money and resources.
“We have to be honest about this but we have to recognise that this is also an economic question and therefore a question about power.”
Speaker after speaker at The Synod spoke against the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill which was introduced by Lord Joffe in the House of Lords last year and is likely to return to parliament later this year.
Many members gave moving personal accounts of the deaths of terminally ill relatives before The Synod voted resoundingly to continue The Church’s opposition.
In September last year, Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops issued a joint statement opposing Lord Joffe’s Bill which concluded: “It is deeply misguided to propose a law by which it would be legal for terminally ill people to be killed or assisted in suicide by those caring for them.”
The Synod voted by 293 votes to just one to support that stance.
Liverpool Daily Post Church leaders’ attack on voluntary euthanasia Bill
The complete file of ACC-13 resolutions is now available on the ACO website at this address.
Robert Bergner ACNS Archbishop asks synod to focus on respect
Matt Davies ENS Church of England moves closer to ordaining women bishops
TLC England’s General Synod Approves Women Bishops
Michael Brown Yorkshire Post
Women bishops a step nearer after Synod vote
Archbishop of canterbury warns against looking for scapegoats
Stephen Bates Guardian
Barriers to women bishops removed
Ruth Gledhill The Times
Church votes to prepare way for women bishops
Also in The Times Anthony Howard has this opinion column: The last overt sex barrier will stay until at least 2010
Radio 4 Today programme
The General Synod of the Church of England has voted to remove the legal blocks to the ordination of women bishops. News report by Robert Pigott. Listen here
Could a vote towards allowing women bishops split the Church of England? Christina Rees and David Houlding discuss. Listen here
The voting on the motion (as amended) was as follows:
Bishops: 41 in favour, 6 against
Clergy: 167 in favour, 46 against
Laity: 159 in favour, 75 against
The motion was therefore CARRIED.
The final text of the motion was:
That this Synod
(a) consider that the process for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate should now be set in train;
(b) invite the House of Bishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council, to complete by January 2006, and report to the Synod, the assessment which it is making of the various options for achieving the removal of the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate, and ask that it give specific attention to the issues of canonical obedience and the universal validity of orders throughout the Church of England as it would affect clergy and laity who cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate on theological grounds; and
(c) instruct the Business Committee to make sufficient time available in the February 2006 group of sessions for the Synod to debate the report, and in the light of the outcome to determine on what basis it wants the necessary legislation prepared and establish the necessary drafting group.’
Four amendments have been put down for debate. The text of these will be published here below the fold, in the order in which they are going to be considered. The original motion is here.
The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe formally moved his amendment. Voting FOR the amendment was effectively to vote AGAINST the original motion.
It was very clearly lost on a show of hands. There was more support for it, though, than I had expected.
The Archdeacon of Norwich’s amendment, similarly but very quickly, also lost.
It is now clear that the concept of delay has been rejected decisively by the synod.
The last two amendments were then debated.
The Archdeacon of Berkshire moved his amendment. After debate, it was PASSED by 233 votes to 216.
The fourth amendment by Dr Bridger was not resisted by the Bishop of Southwark and quickly passed on a show of hands.
The debate subsequently completed, and a vote by houses is taking place. It seems very likely now that this motion will pass.
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe’s amendment. LOST
Leave out all words after “That this Synod” and insert: [i.e. replace the original motion entirely with the following:]
(a) consider that before the process for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate be set in train the fullest opportunity be given to the Church to reflect on and debate the issues set out in the Rochester report being mindful that the Synod resolution which framed the terms of reference for the Rochester Working Party asked for “a further theological study on the episcopate, focusing on the issues that need to be addressed in preparation for the debate on women in the episcopate in the Church of England; and
(b) therefore ask the House of Bishops to bring as soon as possible to the next Synod an agreed process for enabling this to be done”.
The Archdeacon of Norwich’s amendment LOST
[similarly a total replacement]
(a) invite the House of Bishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council, to complete by January 2006, and report to the Synod, the assessment which it is making of the various options regarding the removal of the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate;
(b) instruct the Business Committee to make sufficient time available in the February 2006 Group of Sessions for the Synod to debate the report and, if possible, to determine on the same occasion the basis on which legislation should be prepared regarding the removal of those legal obstacles and its consequences; and
(c) encourage the new Synod to remove the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate once this has been determined.
The Archdeacon of Berkshire’s amendment CARRIED
At the end of paragraph (b) [or if the Norwich amendment passes, at the end of para (a)] insert the words:
…and ask that it give specific attention to the issues of canonical obedience and the universal validity of orders throughout the Church of England as it would affect clergy and laity who cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate on theological grounds.
Dr Francis Bridger’s amendment CARRIED
[applies only if both Europe and Norwich amendments fail]
In paragraph (b) omit the word “this” and insert at the end of the paragraph “the removal of the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate”; and in paragraph © after “report,” insert the words “and in the light of the outcome to”.
Monday morning reports:
Jonathan Petre Telegraph Hundreds of clergy ‘will leave church over women bishops’
Christina Odone The Times guest contributor Say a prayer for the C of E today (more a plug for tonight’s Channel 4 TV programme than anything else)
BBC Anglicans vote on women bishops
And a synod report that deals with something else:
Michael Brown Yorkshire Post Grace of God falls on victims, Synod told
Rowan Williams delivered his presidential address to the General Synod meeting at York. The full text of this is already available on his own website.
A substantial portion of it was devoted to the recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting.
Christopher Landau reported on the latest developments in the wake of the 17 men bishops letter for the BBC Sunday radio programme:
A senior churchman has warned that hundreds of priests may leave the Church of England if women are ordained as bishops. Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet [one of the two PEVs for the Canterbury Province] told the Sunday Times that he would quit along with a possible eight hundred priests if proper provision is not made for them.
The Church is on the verge of a major vote on women bishops. Tomorrow, the general synod, meeting in York, will debate whether it’s the right time to start removing the legal obstacles which currently prevent women becoming bishops. It had been thought that the motion would pass easily – but that’s now in some doubt. A large group of bishops has written to the Church press arguing that it would be pre-emptive to act now, before the church has had sufficient time to debate the issue. Interview with reporter Christopher Landau in York.
Listen here with Real Audio (5.5 minutes)
Here is the Sunday Times report mentioned above:
Christopher Morgan Churchmen on brink of exodus over women bishops (this has an unrelated tidbit about Lord Carey at the end of the story).
And the BBC carried this story, Clergy warn against women bishops based on the above two items (and a few tidbits of synod news thrown in at the end). Later the BBC also published this, Women bishops have ‘vast support’.
Fulcrum has published a major article by Colin Craston, a former chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Women Bishops and the Anglican Communion Process which has links to many relevant ACC resolutions.
Church Society, not content with its earlier diatribe, has issued a further one, just in case you were not clear what CS thinks.
Equally unsurprisingly, Forward in Faith UK supports the bishops’ letter.
Theo Hobson writes in the Guardian about A carnival of Christianity
The dominant trend of contemporary Christian theology might be called ecclesiastical fundamentalism. The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is the conceptual primacy of “church”. Postmodern theology explains that this religion is not an abstract system but a set of actual practices, performed (a crucial word) by various churches. Such is the current theological orthodoxy.
This evades the crisis at the heart of “church”. All forms of church define a Christian as one who belongs to this special society. In practice, that means accepting the authority of a particular institution. An institution must have rules; it must promote an orthodoxy and exclude people who want to think or behave differently. The problem is that Christianity is about a vision of total peace, of universal brother- and sisterhood. It is meant to oppose authoritarianism, legalism and exclusion. Was not the kingdom of God announced by Jesus betrayed by authoritarian institutions?…
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Pottering round old churches
Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times on the London bombings, Terrorism dishonours any cause which it claims to represent
Johann Hari wrote this, originally in the Independent but now available on his blog, The attacks on London - and the battles to come
Mr Michael Chamberlain to reply as Chairman of the Finance Committee
Dr Susan Cooper (London) to ask the Chairman of the Finance Committee:
Q52 What are the financial implications for the Church of England of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdrawing from the meetings and committees of the Anglican Consultative Council for the period up to the next Lambeth Conference?
Financial implications would arise for the Church of England only if the Anglican Consultative Council were to approach us for an increase in our contribution. We have received no such approach. The budget which the Synod will be asked to approve on Monday incorporates a 3% increase in our contribution on 2006, the same as the increase between 2004 and 2005.
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
The Bishop of Peterborough to reply on behalf of the Chairman
The Revd Jonathan Baker (Oxford) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q14 What attempts has the House of Bishops so far made to seek the views of other episcopal churches about the proposal to admit women to the historic episcopate?
Mr Martin Dales (York) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q15 Have all our ecumenical friends been consulted and given sufficient time for their theological reflection on the report Women Bishops in the Church of England, only published last autumn?
Mrs Margaret Tilley (Canterbury) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q16 Why has the House of Bishops thought it appropriate to invite the Synod to take a decision of principle whether or not to ordain women as bishops before receiving any responses from our ecumenical partners?
Mr James Cheeseman (Rochester) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q17 What attempts has the House of Bishops so far made to seek the views of other episcopally led churches about the possibility of ordaining women to the historic episcopate?
Mrs Mary Nagel (Chichester) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q18 Has there been any correspondence on behalf of the House with the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity on the possible inclusion of women in the episcopate since the publication of the Rochester Report?
Mrs Maryon Jägers (Europe) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q19 Given that the Rochester Working Party recommended that the Anglican Communion be invited to make responses to its report, what steps have been taken to elicit those responses and with what results?
With permission, Madam Chairman, I should like to answer the questions from the Revd Jonathan Baker, Mr Dales, Mrs Tilley, Mr Cheeseman, Mrs Nagel, and Mrs Jägers together.
The House of Bishops proposed in February that the Synod should have the opportunity at this group of sessions to decide whether it wished to start down the legislative road to enable women to become bishops. In making that proposal, which the Synod accepted, the House had been mindful of the diocesan synod motions already passed on the subject. What decisions if any to take now will of course be for the Synod itself to determine on Monday.
As to ecumenical views, a Methodist and a Roman Catholic served on the Rochester Working Party. Our ecumenical partners and other Provinces of the Anglican Communion were indeed sent copies of the report Women Bishops in the Church of England? [GS1557] on its publication last year and were invited to submit a response. Some ecumenical partner churches have now done so (and copies are available for inspection at the Information Desk); other responses are awaited.
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
The Bishop of Chelmsford to reply as Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ministry
Mrs Jane Pitts (Liverpool) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q10 In view of the harm the Church of England has inflicted on itself in its polarized arguments over the understanding of sexuality as a whole, would the House of Bishops consider not asking clerical candidates for any posts personal questions about their sexual orientation or attitudes to the same, with a view to respecting the individual’s conscience before God in this deeply felt issue?
As is clear from the Ordinal under discussion at this Group of Sessions, clergy make public undertakings to ‘fashion their life according to the way of Christ’. They also make an Oath of Canonical Obedience to their bishop. Bishops have a duty, in confidence, to explore with a priest all matters which are affected by the oaths and declarations which they make. All such conversations should be conducted with great sensitivity and respect.
The House of Bishops’ teaching as set out in Issues in Human Sexuality represents the position of the House. There is a proper expectation that clergy should hold to its discipline.
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
The Bishop of Peterborough to reply as a member of the House’s Civil Partnerships sub-group
The Revd Paul Collier (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q11 Will the proposed Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships address the question of how a bishop should act if clergy such as myself exercise our right to enter a Civil Partnership, alongside a joyful celebration of a relationship of love, fidelity and commitment, and at the same time refuse to answer any questions about our private life, including whether the relationship is a sexual one or not?
The Revd Stephen Coles (London) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q12 Synod was told in February that a report was being prepared in good time for the first registration of civil partnerships this December. Can Synod be given an update on the progress of this Pastoral Statement as there have already been some suggestive reports in the media about its contents?
The Revd Canon Paul Brett (Chelmsford) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q13 Is it true, as reported in the Church Times on 3 June that, if Church of England clergy wish to register civil partnerships under the new legislation, they will be required to assure their bishops that their relationships are ‘not sexual’ and, if so, how will a bishop ascertain whether such a relationship is sexual or not?
With permission, Madam Chairman, I should like to answer the questions from the Revd Paul Collier, the Revd Stephen Coles and Canon Paul Brett together. The Bishop of Norwich, who chairs the House of Bishops’ sub-group of which I am a member, has been taking a funeral this afternoon and is sorry not to be here.
The House has now had two discussions of the implications of the new legislation that will come into force on 5 December. It has agreed to issue a Pastoral Statement and that is likely to be ready for issue within the next few weeks.
I do not intend to answer questions now based on press reporting of what the statement may or may not be going to say. Let me instead simply urge Synod to study the document calmly and prayerfully when it appears.
The letter from 17 men bishops provoked the following two items in the Church of England Newspaper
Women clergy express anger at bishops’ Synod appeal
A debilitating delay? by Christina Rees which says in part:
Last week’s letter from the Bishop in Europe and other bishops bears closer inspection, not only because of its contents, but also because of its timing and signatories. Of the six diocesan bishops who signed the letter, three - the Bishops of Blackburn, Chichester and Europe - are known as being opposed women’s ordination. It is difficult to understand why they have asked for a longer period of discussion, when they have made it clear that they are opposed to ordaining women as priests or as bishops, now or at any time.
The Bishop in Europe was a member of the House of Bishops Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, which produced the Rochester Report. That Working Party spent over four years in study and discussion and considered over 700 written submissions and a number of face to face submissions.
The Bishop of Blackburn is currently a member of another working party set up earlier this year by the House of Bishops to explore some of the options outlined in the Rochester Report and to report to the House of Bishops in January. It seems particularly odd that these two bishops, both involved with the open processes of the General Synod and their own House of Bishops, should choose to sign a letter asking for that very process to be deflected and delayed.
On the other hand, for Church Society the 17 bishops didn’t go anyway near far enough, OPEN LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
Fulcrum had this fence-sitting Response to the General Synod Motion on Women Bishops July 2005 but also re-published this article by Judith Rose to complement this one from Tom Wright.
Questions to be answered at this weekend’s General Synod are now online. The answers will be given tonight starting at 8.30pm.
Updated twice Friday
The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this Statement on London Terrorist Attacks
Times Online carried this report by Ruth Gledhill Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders condemn attacks
Jonathan Petre Archbishop and the Pope condemn ‘evil’ attacks
Helen Saxbee Religious leaders condemn London bomb attacks
BBC Today radio programme
Andrew Hosken has been finding out how London is recovering this morning. The Rt Rev Rt Hon Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, joins us from St Paul’s.
Listen here with Real Audio (Bishop Chartres segment is about 6 minutes in and lasts about 3.5 minutes)
As we await news of the G8’s deliberations, it was good to receive, as others must have done, letters from Tony Blair to all who had contacted him about the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign. It read like a ringing endorsement of our participation in the march around Edinburgh last Saturday.
As soon as we discovered that a cheap flight from Stansted would allow us to join the demonstaration, visit my sister in Edinburgh and get back in time for the Sunday services, we had to go. Initially the organisers had hoped for 100,000 people, double the number that had gone to make a human chain around Birmingham in 1998, appealing for the relief of debt as the jubilee year approached. Certainly our government had welcomed that human chain as a sign that the G8 needed a new agenda.
This time the numbers and the organisation proved far greater. Where Birmingham had a static human chain, Edinburgh the chain was a march which went on for hours. By the time we completed the circuit there were still so many people waiting to begin the march the whole queue was at a standstill, three hours after the first people had begun.
Initially the crowd met in the Meadows, where two stages with giant screens were set up. Images, speeches and music underlined the message of why we were there. Glorious sunshine, and colourful banners added to the enjoyment of the occasion. The rival attraction of watching the Bob Geldof concert either at home or on a large screen somewhere had obviously not diminished the crowds.
Compared with Birmingham, the police presence and the vast number of barricades, looked like complete overkill. On Princes Street, the main thoroughfare of the city, the width of the road filled with four rows of barricades was greater than the width afforded to the marchers. But why? The joyful crowds were adequately marshalled by a large contingent of trade unionists in yellow vests. Under their guidance we were held back at the start and then allowed through a fairly narrow gap, about ten abreast, for the march. Above us, across Edinburgh Castle on its crag, was a huge MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY banner.
One wag with a megaphone yelled out “Call this a march? It’s only an amble. Step it out as if you mean it!” He then turned on the megaphone to give a brief imitation of a police siren.
Amongst the sea of white clothing, a few anarchist troublemakers in black with hoods and faces covered stood out so much that they were easily rounded up by police before any problems could be caused.
The day before, preparations being made in the shopping centre were hugely varied. Some places remained open, and we were certainly grateful for the opportunity of a late lunch. Thousands more marchers must have appreciated the fact that most eating places were open. But apart from the demonstrators, Edinburgh was extremely quiet and many people must have gone on holiday. Some shops were closed, and had signs in the window saying “Closed — so that our staff can join the march”. Others were boarded up, some in order to remain open behind fortress like entrances, but the majority were closed. Perhaps Saturday, for the police and for those who boarded up their shops, was only a seen as a prelude to protests by violent protesters.
But for all who dressed in white and joined the march, it was a great and purposeful day, helping to set the world’s agenda in a way which meant that the poor could no longer be ignored, and that justice needed to be done. The city’s transport coped well, and there were no problems in making return journeys. Indeed, we were at home in time to see the conclusion of the Hyde Park concert.
And there’s now a zipped version of one file which reduces its size from 20 to 2.6 MB.
GS 1577 Presence and Engagement
Inclusive Communion, an international umbrella body for several groups, issued a press release about the Listening resolution, which can be found here.
LGCM and its Anglican Matters subgroup issued a press release which takes a somewhat different tack. As it is not yet on the LGCM website it is reproduced here, below the fold.
The American Anglican Council issued these:
ECUSA Shameless in Its Defense of a New Gospel
Anglican Consultative Council Endorses Primates Regarding ECUSA
Statement from LGCM
Tuesday 28 June 2005
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) will launch a wide policy review in the light of recent developments within churches that serve many of its members: “While some churches are moving to a more inclusive position with regard to their lesbian and gay members, others are moving in the opposite direction.” said General Secretary, the Revd Richard Kirker today.
Deep divisions are opening between Christian communities in the West and their co-religionists in many parts of Africa and Asia, often within the same denominations: “While these divisions are many, including over divorce and remarriage, women¹s ordination and how to read Holy Scripture, homosexuality as the presenting issue has highlighted the cultural and theological differences between us” said Mr Kirker.
The current debate within the Anglican Communion and the election of Joseph Ratzinger as the Pope has sharpened the divide. The Revd Anthony Braddick-Southgate, Chair of Anglican Matters (the Anglican Caucus within LGCM), says he regrets the decisions taken by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Nottingham last week that effectively hand over a significant measure of control of the Anglican Communion to doctrinal and biblical fundamentalists.
Citing the ACC¹s decision ostracise to the American and Canadian Churches and to let the Primates of all 38 Anglican Provinces join the ACC Mr Braddick-Southgate said he believed this would not only encourage the move to a more fundamentalist position but also put the present diversity in the Communion at risk. He had harsh words for the decision to discipline the American and Canadian churches: “I have no doubt this decision will both encourage the more homophobic elements of our society while making the church look ridiculous to most sensible people.”
“Anglican Matters is supporting the call for a radical review of our strategy. If the suggestions contained within the Windsor Report are implemented Anglicanism will fossilize. They have set the bar for change so high as to make it impossible for those who wish to work for a fully inclusive church to be able to achieve their goals” he said.
The Windsor Report has suggested that changes within Anglican doctrine and practice should proceed only if they have the approval of the vast majority of Anglican Provinces and be pleasing to our ecumenical partners. It has largely gone unnoticed that in the case of some of our partners with which we are in communion (ie, the Communion of Porvoo Churches) that their discipline and doctrine in this area has more in common with the Episcopal Church of America and the Anglican Church of Canada than it does with the Church of Nigeria or the Church of England. And we note, with gratitude, that some Churches (ie the Scottish Episcopal Church) have declined to endorse the Windsor Report.
Mr Kirker said that those Western Churches that have continued and increased their homophobic assault on lesbian and gay people over the last decades have seen an increasing decline in their membership: “You cannot make the Good News of Jesus Christ dependant on forcing people to accept something they perceive to be a lie, they are able to see for themselves that lesbian and gay people and their relationships are not ‘intrinsically evil’”.
LGCM values being able to work in partnership with all those who are also striving to make our Church more inclusive and who are explicitly prepared to challenge homophobia within and outside the Churches. However, in the light of the sustained and well-funded campaigns by traditionalists and conservatives LGCM is now going to review how those partnership are working, and identify how they can be improved and strengthened. “Lesbian and gay Christians are not going to engage in fruitless, repetitive pious debate while their church leaders attempt to rekindle the bonfires of hate. Our constituency are looking to us for a lead and we must be seen to be in a position that upholds the holiness of our sexuality and the sanctity of our relationships and gives no quarter to those who abuse or defame us or seek to reverse the gains we have made in civil society and within faith communities,” said Mr Kirker today.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) will now be consulting with its membership, as part of its ongoing Strategic Review, and working with other interested groups to develop a new approach to those churches determined to continue to persecute and un-church their homosexual members: ³We see no point in further cooperation, through an increasingly discredited and vague “listening process”, with forces determined to see our exclusion; no purpose is served in talking to those who have already repeatedly declared themselves deaf to our experience and witness. There are different ways of approaching this issue; our opponents have seen this as a “war”. “We are going to have to wake up to the reality they have forced upon the People of God. In the face of this relentless hostility we have to be ready to act prophetically, and be willing to take the risks associated with fermenting the breakdown of the Anglican Communion since it has reached the point of becoming an obstacle to the Gospel under its current leadership. We will work to preserve the historic Anglican values of diversity, where necessary by confronting the Communion with its injustices” said Mr Kirker.
To put into context the letter recently published arguing for further delay in the process of deciding about women bishops in the Church of England, the full wording of the motion to be debated is published below the fold.
The motion does not, as was the expectation earlier, ask synod to decide anything about the specific options for proceeding (see here for what the Rochester report said about options.)
It only asks for a decision yes/no about proceeding further at all.
If a yes decision is made, it asks that a further report be published before the February 2006 synod meeting and that options should be debated at that time. (No action on this topic is proposed for the November 2005 meeting.) A committee of the House of Bishops chaired by Christopher Hill is already working on this report.
Monday 11 July at 2.30 p.m.
ORDINATION OF WOMEN TO THE EPISCOPATE
The Bishop of Southwark to move:
19. ‘That this Synod
(a) consider that the process for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate should now be set in train;
(b) invite the House of Bishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council, to complete by January 2006, and report to the Synod, the assessment which it is making of the various options for achieving this; and
(c) instruct the Business Committee to make sufficient time available in the February 2006 group of sessions for the Synod to debate the report, determine on what basis it wants the necessary legislation prepared and establish the necessary drafting group.’
The next timed agenda item is not until 8.30 p.m. Thus the entire afternoon is allocated for this debate.
PRESS RELEASE: The Time is Right
The Church of England’s General Synod debates whether to proceed to legislation for women bishops on July 11th. InclusiveChurch calls for a single clause measure welcoming the consecration of women as bishops, with a recommended code of practice for Dioceses to respect the needs of those who are unable to accept the ministry of women as bishops.
The issue has already been debated for many years. Nearly 10,000 people have signed up to the InclusiveChurch Statement (at www.inclusivechurch.net). Of these, the vast majority are members of the Church of England. InclusiveChurch’s supporters are explicit and clear. Full inclusion, regardless of gender, is a gospel imperative. We wish to see women and men treated equally by the Church of England; equally valued and equally deployed according to calling, gifts and experience.
The Chair of InclusiveChurch, the Revd. Dr Giles Fraser, said
“We do not need more time to discuss the issue. We cannot justify the profligate waste of the talents, experience, gifts and ministry of half the human race. We worship an inclusive God and the Church of England needs to be willing to wake up to the implications of our faith.”
We note that fewer than 10% of the House of Bishops have asked for a further delay in the consecration of women as Bishops and we look forward to a Church which is led equally by women and men.
What follows is the complete text of the resolution previously published only in part.
Additional text is underlined. Links to additional text in italics.
ACC Constitution (Recommendations of the Windsor Report)
The Anglican Consultative Council
(a) takes note that the Secretary General has taken appropriate steps to implement and respond to the recommendations of Appendix One of the Windsor Report insofar as they relate to the administration of the Anglican Communion Office, and thanks him for this work;
(b) requests that the Standing Committee of the Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury give consideration to convening a meeting of the Standing Committee at the same time and in the same place as the next meeting of the Primates, and that they facilitate the opportunity for joint sessions of business and consultation;
(c) requests that the Schedule of Membership of the Council be amended to make the members of the Primates’ Standing Committee for the time being ex officio members of the Anglican Consultative Council in accordance with the text set out in Appendix One;
(d) resolves that the Constitution of the Council be amended by the deletion of existing Article 7(a) and replacing it with the text set out in Appendix Two;
(e) requests that the Schedule of Membership of the Council be amended to provide that the Primates and Moderators of the Churches of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion shall be additional ex officio members of the Council, and that in order to achieve appropriate balance between the orders of bishops, clergy and laity in the Council that the representative members shall thereafter be only from either the priestly and diaconal orders or from the laity of the appropriate Provinces as set out in Appendix Three, the execution of this amendment being subject to:
(i) the Primates’ assent to such a change at their next meeting;
(ii) two thirds of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion giving their approval of such a change by resolution of the appropriate constitutional body;
(iii) final amendment (if any) and approval by the Standing Committee in the light of such deliberations;
(iv) such provisions taking effect in relation to existing members of the Council only upon the occasion of the next vacancy arising in the membership.
The Schedule of Membership shall be amended by adding the new category:
“(e) Ex officio members
Five members of the body known as the Standing Committee of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in each case for so long as they shall remain members of such Standing Committee.”
and that the remaining categories in the schedule be redesignated accordingly.
Article 7(a) of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:
“7(a) The Council shall appoint a Standing Committee of fourteen members, which shall include the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman of the Council, and the members listed in category (e) to the schedule to the Constitution. The Secretary General shall be the Secretary of the Standing Committee.”
The Schedule of Membership shall be amended as follows:
“(b) Three from each of the following, either two clergy (priests or deacons) and one lay person, or one priest or deacon and two lay persons.”
“ (c) Two from each of the following, consisting of one priest or deacon and one lay person.”
“(d) one lay person from each of the following:”
This press release from the Anglican Church of Canada tells of three addresses given by Andrew Hutchison at a Trinity College, Toronto conference Ties that Bind: Being in Communion in the Anglican Church of the 21st Century
The lectures can be found here:
A report on this from TLC by Aaron Orear:
Canadian Primate Says Spiritual Questions on Homosexuality Exist Throughout the Communion
The concluding statements of the conference are also at TLC:
A Responsible Place at the Table
The ACC has created a serious challenge for the Anglican Church
The result of the vote at the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham on Weds 22nd June represents a serious challenge to the future of the Anglican Church. It is vital that those who celebrate the breadth and depth of the Anglican tradition begin to take seriously the threat to the future of our church.
St Paul says in the first letter to the Corinthians ‘Now the body is not made up of one part, but of many…..The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” ’ It is clear that the continued exclusion of the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in spite of their open, honest and generous responses to the Windsor Report and the Primates’ request is a contradiction of the words of St Paul.
The preface to the Book of Common Prayer, published in 1662, opens with the words “It hath ever been the wisdom of the Church of England to keep the mean between two extremes.” The Church has lived with diversity and difference since its foundation. Anglicans from a vast breadth of theological and liturgical understandings have respected one another’s right to be members. The path has not always been easy but the Church has held together over nearly five centuries.
The Anglican Church has made a unique contribution to Christian witness. We have always been Catholic and Reformed, standing between the extreme certainties which caused such terror and suffering in the Reformation era. We are commtted to maintaining the value of that inheritance. We are not surprised when something that has so much within it that works for good and redemption is under attack.
But this Church that we love is now under threat. The Gospel of broad and generous inclusion is being undermined by a dangerously monochrome interpretation of scripture.
The loss of our voice; the change in our ecclesiology; the equating of our Anglican tradition with other hard-line, protestant, or neo-conservative churches would be a serious and permanent diminishing of Christian witness to the world.
InclusiveChurch and its thirteen partner organisations in the Church of England have welcomed the process of reception of the Windsor Report and the institution of the “Listening process” agreed by the Anglican Consultative Council. We are working closely with other groups within the Anglican Commuion, both in the UK and abroad. We are committed to this so that we can try to ensure that the ecclesiology of the Anglican Communion is not subverted.
The decision taken at the ACC meeting in Nottingham to include all the Primates as full members of the Anglican Consultative Council sets an alarming precedent. There is a real possibility of imposed doctrinal and theological positions from a conservative grouping.
We cannot risk becoming a church where the Primates can equate homosexuality with bestiality; or where there is permanent subjugation of women and institutionalised inequality; or where genuine debate and searching are replaced by an imposed orthodoxy.
We are aware that the Church faces very different challenges around the world, and we have no wish to exclude from the church those who have a different interpretation of the Gospel. But for the sake of the Church we repeat clearly that we are committed to finding ways to ensure that the diversity of the Anglican Communion continues to be celebrated and encouraged.
InclusiveChurch deeply regrets the continued exclusion of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada from full participation in the life of the Anglican Communion. We express our full support for their respect for the Anglican Communion and their membership of it.
We believe that the Gospel witness we offer must continue to grow and to that end we call on all members of our Communion to become aware of the risks we are facing. ‘The eye cannot say to the hand - “I do not need you.”’
Official press releases on the discussion of same-sex blessings at the recent Methodist Conference at Torquay give a slightly different view to that portrayed in the press:
Statement on Press Coverage of the ‘Pilgrimage of Faith’ debate
Methodist Church receives major report on human sexuality
Text of the report Pilgrimage of Faith (This is downloadable only in MS Word format)
Guardian Stephen Bates Methodist leaders vote to bless gay couples
The Times Ruth Gledhill Methodists will bless gays
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Church opens the door to blessings for gays
The Methodists also discussed bishops, as reported by Paul Handley in the Church Times
Methodists will vote on bishops in 2007
Full text of What sort of bishops (This is downloadable only in MS Word format)
Official statement: Methodist Church moves towards Bishops
The Methodists also welcomed the the first report from the Joint Implementation Commission on the Anglican-Methodist Covenant, see Methodist Church welcomes Covenant report
Judith Maltby writes in the Guardian today about the need for women bishops in the Church of England, Time for bishop’s move. She concludes:
The debate on women bishops is not, at its heart, a matter of internal governance, but about what sort of sign the Church of England wants to be to the world. How can a church which continues to bury the talents, which have been freely given to it, stand as a sign to our neighbours of God’s bounty? Will we put our trust in our “achievements” or in God’s scandalous generosity?
The talents have been given to the church by an open-handed God - a God who, contrary to our way of thinking, knows that the more grace you give away, the more there is. One hopes that, in York, the Church of England will resist the temptation to break out the shovels.
Geoffrey Rowell, who has written elsewhere this week on women bishops, write in The Times about Cassian, in Chastity of mind is the bridle of our rampaging desires. This includes the following passage:
As desiring animals we human beings are curious to know, and the old Genesis story of the fall of Adam tells how forbidden knowledge led to expulsion from the garden of innocence. It is the story of the growing up of all of us, and equally a recognition that knowledge has power for good and evil. There is promiscuous knowing as well as promiscuous relationships.
The explosion of information technology, the unfettered and unregulated “knowledge” that the internet offers, demands of us ascetic disciplines, of a piece with ancient spiritual wisdom though having new applications. To be overwhelmed by tsunamis of emails, to communicate simply at the touch of a button just because it is possible, is a modern form of unrestrained desire. We need to learn a chastity of communication, a disciplined and loving sensitivity, in this area as in many others.
Newman and the leaders of the Oxford Movement emphasised the importance of “reserve” in communication. Mystery is destroyed by over-definition, and no less through salvation by slogans. God reveals himself gradually, and the wisdom of God can only be learnt by patient pilgrimage. To know another person we have to learn to attend, to listen and to receive. So it is with the God in whose image we are made.
Two fascinating items from the USA:
A column that first appeared in the New York Times by John C Danforth Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers.
17 bishops of the Church of England have written a letter, which is published this week in the Church Times
Delay vote on women, say bishops
the Church of England Newspaper
Church urged to refrain from allowing women bishops
and also The Tablet (where the letter lacks one signature).
The letter (full text below the fold) is also reported in The Times as Senior clergy move to block ordination of women bishops
The bishops include 6 diocesans, one suffragan (Beverley, PEV for the Northern Province) who is an elected member of the House of Bishops, and 10 other suffragans (the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle is a suffragan in all but name).
Most of these bishops are well known to be opposed to the ordination of women as priests, never mind bishops. The exceptions are Tom Wright (Durham), Peter Forster (Chester) and Michael Langrish (Exeter).
Text of letter
Sir, At the July meeting of the General Synod a motion is to be debated asking that the legal impediments for the ordination of women as bishops be removed. As a number of diocesan synods have requested this, we accept the decision of the House of Bishops to test the mind of Synod in this way. We hope, however, that members of the Church of England as a whole will be given the opportunity to consider the implications of the Rochester Report (Women Bishops in the Church of England?) before any such decision is taken.
This matter touches profoundly both the order and identity of the Church of England and its place in the Church as a whole. The Report shows that this is still a matter of major theological disagreement within the Church of England, and is also a matter of deep concern to those ecumenical partners who share our historic commitment to apostolic order.
Bishops are called to be instruments of unity. They are ministers of the communion of churches and are specially charged with guarding and handing on the faith and order of the Church. That faith and order the Church of England has consistently claimed to be the apostolic faith and order of the universal Church. In our proposed new ordinal, those being ordained as bishops are required “to strive for the visible unity of Christ’s Church”.
There is ample evidence from church history, not least, and most recently, in the Anglican Communion, that actions by individual provinces touching the scriptural and traditional faith and order of the Church, actions that inevitably unchurch those who cannot accept such changes, do not serve the unity which Christ asks of his Church. “Reception is a long and spiritual process” (Grindrod Report (1988) cited in Resolution III.2 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference)
At the very least the full and extensive theological debate requested by the General Synod in setting up the Bishop of Rochester’s Working Party must be held throughout the Church of England, and in consultation with all our ecumenical partners, before it would be appropriate to act as if that debate had already taken place and had been concluded in a particular way. To begin the process of removing the legal impediments to the ordination of women as bishops before such debate would widely and correctly be interpreted as assuming the answer.
On this feast of the apostles, St Peter and St Paul, who, despite their often sharply expressed differences, witnessed to the unity of the Church both in their teaching and their faithfulness to death, we pray that new divisions be not forced upon the Church of England, and that the episcopal ministry may continue to be the (albeit imperfect) ministry of unity our Church has hitherto maintained.
The Bishops of Gibraltar in Europe, Beverley, Blackburn, Chester, Chichester, Durham, Exeter (members of the House of Bishops);
Together with the Bishops of Burnley, Ebbsfleet, Edmonton, Fulham, Horsham, Lewes, Pontefract, Richborough, Whitby, and the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle.
To complement the first Church Times article below, here from the Living Church is a transcript by George Conger of the interview on which the article was based: Q&A With the Archbishop of Canterbury
and this An Analysis of ACC-13 by George Conger
Church of England Newspaper
Church ‘has reinforced traditional teaching’ at ACC
Archbishop seeks to reassure after controversial Israel vote
Williams: ‘we’ve held the line’ by Pat Ashworth
Feelings run high over resolution on Israeli investment by Pat Ashworth
UK policy on Zimbabwean refugees ‘inhuman’ by Bill Bowder