Monday, 31 October 2005

Rowan Williams speaks at Global South meeting

Press release from Lambeth Palace
For immediate use
31st October 2005

Archbishop - church’s hope ‘only in Christ’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told Anglican Church leaders from the Global South that the only ground for unity in the church ‘is to be found in Christ’. Speaking at the 3rd Anglican Global South to South Encounter meeting at Ain al Sukhna, some 80 miles south of Cairo, Dr Williams said that the church had to be focussed on Christ:

“The church is one because Jesus Christ is one; the church is holy because Jesus Christ is holy; the church is catholic because Jesus Christ is the saviour of all; the church is apostolic because as the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. In other words, if we are to understand the nature of the church at all, we are to understand who Jesus Christ is and what he does.”

“Someone said recently that the path to heaven doesn’t lie necessarily through Lambeth. I agree. The path to heaven lies solely through Jesus Christ our Saviour and the unity he gives and the only use and integrity of our instruments of unity comes when they serve that.”

“Now I don’t suggest that we can forget the practical questions that are laid upon us at the moment in our Anglican fellowship. But I do say that we shall never begin to answer them adequately unless our eyes, our minds and our hearts are with Jesus, are where Jesus is.”

The Archbishop said that one of the greatest challenges faced by Anglicans was the development of authentically local voices in liturgy.

“In all sorts of ways the church over the centuries has lent itself to the error, indeed the sin of trying to make cultural captives, whether it is the mass export of Hymns Ancient and Modern to the remote parts of the mission field … the shadow of the British Empire that hangs over our own Communion or the export of American values and styles to the whole world; we are in a real difficulty here…. The question comes back again and again; ‘How do we encourage people to write liturgy, to write prayer books, to write Eucharistic prayers, in their own language with the rhythm, the association and resonance that your own language has for you and no other has.”

He said that the church had to find its holiness ‘under the cross’; where people were in need of healing:

“… our holiness takes us where Jesus goes; our holiness takes us to those Jesus died for; it takes us into the neighbourhood of those who are forgotten, who have no voice, those who need healing and forgiveness. It takes us into very strange places indeed and the holy person, as we all know, is often found in very odd company.”

Following the lecture, Dr Williams answered questions from the conference on a number of areas.

On sexuality, he affirmed that the church had not been persuaded of the acceptability of same sex unions. These questions, though, would not go away.

“Theologians will go on discussing this and it will not be possible to stop them. For nearly a century, in the 4th century in this country of Egypt, the conflict over the Trinity raged between theologians and bishops and was not resolved overnight. I distinguish as clearly as I can a question a theologian may ask and an action or determination a church may take or a bishop may take. I think this is a necessary distinction for the life and health of the church. It would be a tragedy if the church sought to suppress questions; it is equally a tragedy when the church seeks to create facts on the ground that foreclose discussion and reflection on such questions.”

On the question of authority within the Anglican Communion, he said that he had no desire to assume further powers:

“Since I do not have canonical power outside my own province, my freedom is limited. I say it as a matter of actual fact; I do not have authority over the canons and constitutions of another province… I don’t want to be a kind of pope, solving the problems of every province.

“For me, the prospect of an Anglican ‘covenant’ or a convergent system of canon law is the best hope that we have. That being said, many provinces as we know, are wedded to the idea of an absolute constitutional independence.”

On the Windsor Report, he said that it was too early to come to a judgement as to whether or not the responses of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada satisfied the terms of the report:

“I don’t think we could say that they have satisfied in a simple and direct way what Windsor asked because that process is still continuing and will continue. Archbishop Eames gave an optimistic reading of this; I’m waiting to see.”

On the status of the networks of dissenting parishes in the United States and Canada, he said that he was happy to recognise them as part of the Anglican Communion.

“There is no doubt in my mind that these networks are full members of the Anglican Communion; that is to say that their bishops, their clergy and their people are involved with the Communion which I share with them, which we all share with them. Now formal ecclesial recognition of a network, as if it were a province, is not so simply in my hands or the hands of any individual. But I do want to say quite simply yes of course; these are part of our Anglican fellowship and I welcome that.”

The Archbishop’s full text is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 31 October 2005 at 6:46pm GMT | Comments (32)
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Sunday, 30 October 2005

communique from Egypt

The meeting in Egypt has issued a communique, entitled A Third Trumpet from the South: Trumpet III The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter Red Sea (Egypt), 25-30 October 2005

You can find copies of this document either here or here or here. No doubt copies of it will be sent to other agencies in due course. The original PDF file seems to be available only from the AAC.

Update Monday morning
The communique has now appeared on the Anglican Communion News Service: The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter.

First press reports on this:
Reuters Conservative Anglicans warn liberal churches in West
Associated Press Anglicans: N. American Church Too Liberal

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 October 2005 at 11:04pm GMT | Comments (74)
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civil partnerships: earlier CEN analysis

Back in August, an analysis of the bishops’ Pastoral Statement, written by Andrew Goddard, was published in the Church of England Newspaper but not on their website: The Civil Partnership Act and the Church of England. This escaped my attention at the time.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 October 2005 at 3:16pm GMT | Comments (51)
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Saturday, 29 October 2005

final synod papers

The final papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod are now online and linked in my earlier posting here.

Also circulated to Synod members and now online is a summary of the decisions of the most recent meeting (4/5 October) of the House of Bishops.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 11:04pm BST | Comments (0)
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news from Egypt

The only substantive report so far from the Anglican meeting there is this one from Reuters:
Rowan urges split church to keep talking

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 9:37am BST | Comments (11)
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reading for Saturday

Alister McGrath writes in The Times about atheism: The Enlightenment is over, and atheism has lost its moral cutting edge.

Paul Oestreicher writes in the Guardian about the rebuilding of Dresden’s cathedral.

Christopher Howse summarises what Rowan Williams said to Mary Midgley about Gaia in a dialogue at St Paul’s Cathedral in Living on the skin of Gaia (you can read more about the book here).

Those who found Rowan Williams’ remarks about Islam in the context of Richard Hooker interesting may also find this critique by Colin Chapman of last summer’s Spectator article on Islam of interest: An Open Letter to Patrick Sookhdeo, while Madeleine Bunting has an interview today in the Guardian with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Speaking of Williams and Hooker, Graham Kings’ review of Anglican Identities has been republished:‘Passionate Patience’.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 8:52am BST | Comments (0)
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more news from Nigeria

There has been an ominous development in the Nigerians criticise Akinola story: see this report from Changing Attitude:
Changing Attitude Nigeria members held by police.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 8:42am BST | Comments (13)
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Thursday, 27 October 2005

voting turnout analysis

The figures for diocesan voting turnout published by the Church Times last week have been analysed.

In summary, less than 61% of the eligible clergy, and less than 49% of the eligible laity bothered to vote at all. There is a wide variation between dioceses but there is no significant correlation between the clergy turnout and the lay turnout in the same diocese.
The highest clergy turnout was in Derby (77.2%), and the lowest was in Oxford (48.4%).
The highest laity turnout was in Rochester (63.9%) and the lowest was in Worcester (37.4%).

These figures exclude results not made available to the Church Times, namely Europe, Guildford, and Winchester. Also the Bath & Wells laity election was declared void and will be rerun, and the Clergy election in Sodor & Man was uncontested.

The total number of eligible voters included in this analysis was: Clergy 12,264; Laity 25,333.

The full table of figures is now available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 October 2005 at 10:49pm BST | Comments (0)
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Rowan Williams on Richard Hooker

Another long but very worthwhile lecture. Rowan Williams delivered the The Richard Hooker Lecture at the Temple Church yesterday.

Richard Hooker (c1554-1600): The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity Revisited.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 October 2005 at 9:15am BST | Comments (10)
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Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Synod papers

The newly elected General Synod will meet in London on Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 November. Papers for this meeting, listed below, are now appearing online. GS 1593 and 1595 are scheduled for dispatch to members on Friday this week.

Legislative Business

GS 1592 Report by the Business Committee
GS 1593 Review of Clergy Terms of Service: Property Issues and Progress Report
GS 1595 Facing the Challenge of Terrorism

Papers for Legislative Business

GS 1348B Amending Canon No 24

GS 1594 Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order 2005
GS 1594X Report and Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1596 Admission of Baptised Children to Holy Communion Regulations
GS 1596X Report and Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1597 Draft Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure [large file: 5 MB]
GS 1598 Draft Amending Canon No 27
GS 1599 Draft Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation
GS 1597-9X Report and Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1600 Clergy Discipline Appeals Rules
GS 1600X Explanatory Memorandum

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 9:20pm BST | Comments (2)
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Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Washington Post on African attitudes

Two articles on Monday in the Washington Post discuss homosexuality in Africa.

Nigerian Churches Tell West to Practice What It Preached on Gays
includes some quotes from Archbishop Akinola.

A companion piece is Namibia Chips Away at African Taboos on Homosexuality

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 11:14pm BST | Comments (27)
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Scripture and Sexuality

Scripture and Sexuality – our commitment to listening and learning is the title of a major lecture delivered yesterday by the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan. Here’s how it starts:

Few people doubt that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality – Lambeth 1 10 as it has come to be known has not had a profound effect on the Anglican Communion. In fact you could be pardoned for thinking that the Anglican Communion since then has not been interested in any other topic, since it has dominated the Agendas of Provinces, meetings of Primates and of the Anglican Consultative Council. The ordination of a practising homosexual as a Bishop in the USA and the blessing of same sex relationships in Canada might not have had the repercussions they have had, if the Lambeth Conference in 1998 had not had such an acrimonious debate about sexuality. What I would like to do in this lecture is to look at Lambeth 1 10 and ask why this resolution rather than any other has caused such problems, for after all there were 63 pages of resolutions at the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

It’s an extended read, but well worth it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 6:48pm BST | Comments (8)
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London DEF complains about Robinson

Update Thursday The Guardian today carries a news report by Stephen Bates on this, see Church rift deepens over gay bishop’s visit.

The London Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship Committee has sent a letter to DEF members, which criticises the plans for the Changing Attitude service described here.

The full text of this letter can be found below the fold.

15th October 2005

Dear Colleague

Re: The forthcoming visit of Bishop Gene Robinson to London (5 Nov 2005)

At our recent London Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship Committee meeting we thought it right to seek your support in expressing concern to the Bishop of London that the venue for the visit of Bishop Gene Robinson is a London Anglican church, namely St Martin-in-the-Fields. Bishop Richard is also the patron of St Martin’s.

The following is an extract from a letter already sent to Bishop Richard by Alison Rouff.

“I understand that you have said that Bp Robinson is not to preach or preside at a Communion service at St Martin’s and that the event is to be by invitation only; a private function. I must ask therefore, why should ‘Changing Attitudes’ be advertising in the Church Times?

Given that the Consecration of Bp Robinson has brought great division to the Anglican Communion I am extremely concerned as to what message his visit to the London Diocese is going to convey to our brethren who are standing firm as orthodox, faithful, Biblical Christians in the Communion. To this end I would like to suggest and ask that you might consider whether it would not be wiser for the ‘Changing Attitudes’ function to be held in a secular venue in London rather than in St Martin’s? In this way the Church would not be placed into a compromised position whilst still according people freedom of speech.”

Please would you consider writing along these lines to the Bishop of London asking, firstly, that the Bishop could write to Gene Robinson advising him not to come to London, or, failing that, might insist that the meeting is held in a secular venue. We understand that Gene Robinson has previously given an assurance that he would not go to a different jurisdiction other than his own at present (in light of the current situation).

We are greatly concerned that the visit of Gene Robinson will further damage relations between the Church of England and those Anglican Provinces staying faithful to the authority of Scripture and the Catholic Creeds. Because St Martin’s is hosting the event, it will be seen by those in African and Asian Dioceses that ‘we’ in London are content (and perhaps welcoming the visit), and so will cause further misunderstanding and upset.

Please also consider sending a copy of your letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that he too is aware of the great concerns that we have over this flouting of the agreed statement (Lambeth 1:10) and the further erosion of the authority of Scripture.

Finally, please be aware of the potentially explosive nature of this letter (in terms of it attracting the wrong sort of press attention), and great discretion would be appreciated. Many thanks.

Yours in His service,

Alison L Ruoff (Lay Chairman)
Will Donaldson (Acting Clergy Chairman)
Richard Bewes (Former Chairman of CEEC)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 9:12am BST | Comments (67)
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Monday, 24 October 2005

Guardian extra

The Guardian has now published on its website the Face to Faith column by Giles Fraser that was in the Saturday paper with the strapline:

Secularists who dismiss Christianity as the choice of the stupid should turn their critical gaze a little closer to home…

Here’s a part of it:

While the ordinary atheist remains indifferent to religion and all its ways, the born-again atheist has adopted the worst arrogance of Christian fundamentalists - just in negative.

Part of the problem is that many born-again atheists remain trapped in a 19th-century time warp, reheating the standard refutations of religious belief based on a form of rationalism that harks back to an era of fob-watches and long sideburns. One Oxford don has called the website of the National Secular Society a “museum of modernity, untroubled by the awkward rise of postmodernity”. Ignoring the fact that at least three generations of thought have challenged an uncritical faith in rationality, the society continues to build its temples to reason, deaf to claims that it is building on sand.

This commitment to Victorian philosophy turns to farce when campaigning secularists describe themselves as freethinkers. In truth, atheism is about as alternative as Rod Stewart. The joke is that many who were converted at university via Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene think of themselves as agents of some subversive counterculturalism. This is ridiculous to Da Vinci Code proportions. Contemporary atheism is mainstream stuff. As John Updike put it: “Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been its drastic uninterestingness as an intellectual position.”

(More about the “Secularist of the Year” award mentioned can be found here)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 2:54pm BST | Comments (24)
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Sunday, 23 October 2005

More statistics

The following statistics were supplied at the press briefing for the November 2005 meeting of the General Synod, held on 21 October.

New General Synod. Figures as at October 2005
Age profile of elected diocesan representatives

Average in 2000

Clergy average age reflects the clergy population as a whole.

Gender balance by Houses


These figures exclude 9 voting places not currently filled – 6 Bath and Wells laity, 1 religious community laity, Third Estates Commissioner and one appointed Archbishops’ Council place occupied by a diocesan bishop. They also exclude the 10 places available, but rarely filled, for co-opted voting members, and the 13 observer places for deaf, ecumenical and youth representatives.

Gender balance by Houses January 2001


(These figures exclude 1 voting place not filled - one appointed Archbishops’ Council place occupied by a diocesan bishop. They also exclude 10 places available, but rarely filled, for co-opted voting members and 8 observer places for ecumenical representatives.)

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 5:00pm BST | Comments (3)
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BBC on Egypt meeting

The BBC Sunday programme had a piece on this. Ed Stourton interviews Stephen Bates, mostly about Abp Akinola. Mention is also made of the Civil Partnership Act and the CofE response.

Global South
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury will be in Egypt this week, talking to a meeting of the group of Anglican Churches known as Global South. But one of them, the church of Nigeria, has just changed its constitution to remove references to the see of Canterbury as the focus for Anglican unity. It is another chapter in the long-running saga of Anglican travails over the issue of homosexuality.
Listen (4m 15s) (Real audio)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 10:20am BST | Comments (0)
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Saturday, 22 October 2005

American paranoia?

After the Living Church published on 19 October a news report, Via Media Groups Mobilize for the ‘Day After’, the American Anglican Council got very excited about a document that came its way which was a partial rough draft of some minutes from a Via Media USA steering committee meeting. Curiously, the particular organisation discussed in this draft, the NACDAP, hasn’t yet shown any reaction at all.

Update Monday 24 Oct the NACDAP has now published this response: Network responds to “worst-case scenario” and reprinted the original document on its own website.

The author of the draft has issued a personal response which is reproduced here below the fold.

The silliness of all this is discussed by Mark Harris in this blog item, The AAC and the Via Media Memo: Lots of Noise and Smoke, and Certainly Paranoia.

Very sensible comments about it were made by Dale Rye on titusonenine which you can read here and here.

A personal response

I am sorry that the world at large has been subjected to my unedited, unapproved set of minute notes from the most recent Via Media USA steering committee. The topics discussed at the Via Media USA steering committee are those that reasonable and prudent individuals who are committed to the Episcopal Church might discuss given the actions and statements of some conservative leaders here and abroad. If these conservatives were to act on their threats, Episcopalians in some dioceses where schism and abandonment of the communion of the church will then have taken place would need to move quickly within the structures of church canons and constitution to rebuild. That requires some advance thinking. Of course, our preferred course of action is to see this church healed and whole, welcoming to all.

As has been noted previously, Via Media USA is not associated in any way with the Via Media curriculum which was developed by Every Voice Network. In fact, there is no overlap of membership at a leadership level between these two groups. We both happened to choose the Via Media name (us, as a name for organizations and them as a name for a curriculum) because it is a treasured position of the Episcopal Church.

Joan R. Gundersen

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 October 2005 at 1:12pm BST | Comments (33)
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for Saturday reading

First, two journals have reviewed the same book today: Earthly Powers: religion and politics in Europe from the French Revolution to the Great War by Michael Burleigh.
Diarmaid MacCulloch reviews it in the Guardian Holy and profane
Owen Chadwick reviews it in the Tablet The idolatry of nationhood

Second, in the godslots, we have
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writing about Cherie’s love of Chesterton
Bernard Crick in the Guardian saying that This age of fanaticism is no time for non-believers to make enemies
and Roderick Strange in The Times By loving our enemies we come as close as we can to God’s perfection.

The October Fulcrum newsletter is by Francis Bridger and is entitled The Anglican Communion and the Evangelical Centre. This reflects on the recent Eames lectures.

And here is the speech that Rowan Williams delivered earlier this month at the confirmation of the election of John Sentamu as Archbishop of York.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 October 2005 at 12:26pm BST | Comments (1)
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Sandy Millar and Uganda

The Diocese of London has issued this announcement:
Preb Sandy Millar to become a Bishop

Bishop of London hails the appointment as ‘a very welcome step’

The Most Rev’d Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, with the August 2004 consent of the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda, appointed a priest of the Church of England, the Rev’d Prebendary Sandy Millar, as Assistant Bishop in the Church of Uganda. He will be consecrated in Uganda on 27th November 2005.

Bishop-elect Millar will be licensed to act as a Bishop in Mission in the London Diocese using his wide experience as a church planter and growth practitioner…

This story goes back a full year and more, see CEN from September 2004, Sandy Millar proposed as ‘missionary bishop’ or Church Times Millar’s tale is not confirmed.

Read the full press release for all the details. But note in particular the following excerpts:

“…This step has been taken with the full support and encouragement of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The two Archbishops were in touch by letter about the proposal in 2004. The consecration of Prebendary Millar with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury could not be more different from the intrusions into the affairs of other provinces which formed part of the agenda for the Windsor Commission. Unsanctioned intrusions lead to fragmentation. This step by contrast recognises the reality of a wired up world in a way that promotes closer communion. The particular circumstances of this appointment make it very unlikely that it will establish a precedent…

“…Sandy will of course continue to respond to invitations as he does now but to suggest [as some people have done] that he might become a standard bearer for Church of England dissidents in other Dioceses is to misunderstand the man and to misunderstand the disciplines under which bishops in our church operate…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 October 2005 at 1:09am BST | Comments (28)
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Friday, 21 October 2005

Archbishop speaks

There was a splendid interview of Dr John Sentamu, the new Archbishop of York, on the BBC Today programme this morning. Listen to it here.

Friday afternoon update

A number of online reports of the interview have now appeared.

Telegraph Archbishop of York reveals his anger at racist letters
Times Racists sent excrement-filled letters to black Archbishop
BBC Hate mail sent to new archbishop

Anglican Mainstream has published this fragment of a transcript.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 21 October 2005 at 11:50am BST | Comments (2)
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Church Times news reports

Global South:
Williams heads for summit as South splits over Brazil by Pat Ashworth

Seceders cannot take buildings, court rules by Pat Ashworth

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 October 2005 at 8:38am BST | Comments (0)
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Thursday, 20 October 2005

civil partnerships: HoB replies to AM

Anglican Mainstream leaders wrote this letter to the House of Bishops of the CofE. And another one, apparently on 3 October. Anyway, they got a reply from the secretary of the HoB, which they have published. It can be read here. It should be read in full, but does contain the following key paragraphs:

In relation to the church’s room for manoeuvre in relation to the law there were two separate issues. The first is whether it would have been legally possible for the Church to have made registering a civil partnership incompatible with being in Holy Orders. The second concerns the changes to various references to ‘spouse’ in church legislation (for example on pensions).

On the first, the answer is that there will no doubt be denominations or faith groups who will regard being in a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with membership of their ordained ministries. That is the position of the Roman Catholic Church. The law does not preclude that approach where the prohibition is based on doctrine or religious conviction. For the reasons set out above, however, civil partnerships do not necessarily involve activity contrary to the teaching of the Church of England (as contained, for example, in the 1987 Synod motion). The bishops did not, therefore think it warranted to seek to impose a prohibition.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 October 2005 at 10:10pm BST | Comments (13)
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Eames/Akinola update

Archbishop Eames has issued this statement:
(also available on ACNS)

Statement from Archbishop Eames regarding the current debate within the Anglican Communion

The Most Reverend Dr Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, issued the following statement this morning regarding the current debate within the Anglican Communion:

“The current debate within the Anglican Communion is a theological debate and I find myself very disturbed by any speculation around the role that money may play in determining outcomes. Such speculation makes genuine communication difficult. I feel that when money or assistance is raised in any part of the Anglican Communion and offered for use where it may extend Christ’s kingdom, it should be offered and accepted in those terms alone.

“I in no way question the sincerity and integrity of the leaders of the Global South. As they are well aware, I have personally endeavoured at all times to maintain and understand the integrity of their argument. I categorically state I have never believed that any financial offer was accepted by any of those who represent the Global South on any other than terms of Christian outreach. I have communicated this response to Archbishop Akinola this morning.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 October 2005 at 6:56pm BST | Comments (4)
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Gene Robinson visits England

The Guardian carries a report by Stephen Bates concerning the forthcoming visit to England by the Bishop of New Hampshire: Williams may meet gay US bishop during London trip.

The visit details can be found here at the website of Changing Attitude which is observing its 10th anniversary on the weekend of 5/6 November.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 October 2005 at 11:46am BST | Comments (12)
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Questions to Stephen Bates

Ekklesia is this week running a blog-type discussion with Stephen Bates of the Guardian answering questions from the public. You can see it all here.

The occasion for this is the publication of the paperback edition of A Church at War.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 October 2005 at 8:58am BST | Comments (0)
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Monday, 17 October 2005

Nigerians criticise Akinola

A news story has appeared in the Daily Sun a Nigerian national newspaper:
Leader of gays and lesbians in Nigeria tackle primate of Anglican Church, Peter Akinola.

A press release about the news story is on the website of Changing Attitude:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 17 October 2005 at 11:16pm BST | Comments (45)
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Akinola responds to Eames

Updated Wednesday
The Living Church has published Archbishop Akinola Responds to Irish Primate which includes the following:

Archbishop Eames’ press officer, Janet Maxwell, explained the Archbishop Eames meant that “too much emphasis has been placed on the role of funding relative to theological perspective,” and he “in no way questioned the sincerity of theological conviction” of the leaders of the Global South nor was he “suggesting votes were purchased.”

Also, the Church of England Newspaper has this report from George Conger Irish Primate challenged to put up or shut up. He comments on this point as follows:

Allegations of vote buying and influence peddling by wealthy conservatives surfaced after the 1998 Lambeth Conference after liberals accused African and Asian bishops of supporting the conservative line in exchange for cash. The charges were investigated by Stephen Bates, the Guardian’s Religious Affairs correspondent, in his book A Church at War and found not to [be] true. Janet Maxwell, Archbishop Eames’ press officer told The Church of England Newspaper the Irish Primate’s remarks had been misconstrued. Archbishop Eames “in no way questioned the sincerity of theological conviction” of the Global South nor was he “suggesting votes were purchased”, Ms Maxwell stated. What he had said was that he “expressed concern that too much emphasis has been placed on the role of funding relative to theological perspective”, she told us, as requiring aid donors and recipients to share theological and political convictions was “not a moral way of looking at issues”.

An “open letter” from Archbishop Peter Akinola has been published by Anglican Mainstream and others:
Open letter to Abp. Robin Eames, Primate of All Ireland

This responds to the recent lectures by Abp Eames at Virginia and Yale and also a press interview in Washington DC.

Interestingly, it did not first appear on the Nigerian website, but on British and American ones.
Update Monday evening It now has appeared on the official Nigerian website, with yesterday’s date at the top.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 17 October 2005 at 2:48pm BST | Comments (27)
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Sunday, 16 October 2005

Pittsburgh lawsuit settled

Updated Monday Tuesday Wednesday and Saturday

Two years ago, the Rector, Senior Warden and Vestry of Calvary Church filed suit against the Bishop and Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh, and various members of the Standing Committee and Board of Trustees of the Diocese. This past week, Joseph James, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County signed a court order, which rendered as binding an “amicable agreement” between the Defendants and the Plaintiffs…

Read the whole article in the Calvary parish magazine here
Read the court order here (PDF)
Read the press release of PEP here

There is as yet no now a mention of this matter at the Pittsburgh diocesan website.
Saturday The diocesan website now contains further interpretative commentary in Diocese Offers Perspective on Settlement

Nor from the NACDAP, which is also mentioned specifically in the settlement, see this quote from the PEP release:

The agreement also deals with an important point not raised in the original lawsuit. The diocese has agreed that parishes may decline membership in the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. The Network, headed by Bishop Duncan, is a small collection of dioceses and parishes scattered throughout the Episcopal Church that have isolated themselves from the more moderate elements of the church. Ten parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh have indicated their unwillingness to participate in the Network, and PEP hopes that this stipulation will encourage others to make similar declarations.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a report by Steve Levin which is headlined
Lawsuit settlement upholds canon law of Episcopal Church.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review has Diocese, parish settle suit.

The Living Church reports this also: Pittsburgh Property Case Settled.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 16 October 2005 at 3:19pm BST | Comments (15)
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Saturday, 15 October 2005

weekend newspaper stories

Sex seems to be on several people’s minds.

Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times that Enjoy good sex on a Sunday, Church course recommends which may raise an eyebrow here and there.

The Guardian godslot has Colin Sedgwick saying that “sexual lust will never banish our yearning for love”.

To balance this, The Times also has Jonathan Sacks considering the earthquake in After even the worst disasters, we will hear the still voice of hope and in the Telegraph Christopher Howse considers Human sacrifice in London.

The Times further reports on a nightclub in Maidstone [sic] with a Church Army chaplain, see Who’s in the house? Enter a new kind of spirit.

Of course, there is plenty of critical comment on religion in the newspapers as well. Yesterday in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee wrote this diatribe against the bishops who spoke in the euthanasia debate: The bishops have no right to restrict our right to die.

More gently, Robert Winston trailed his new TV series and book in Why do we believe in God?

And earlier in the week, Magnus Linklater had written in The Times about Church, old, bankrupt, empty, seeks saviour to which George Carey responded with this letter today: Church progress.
(The original report of his lecture was by Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph Churches near last rites, says Carey.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 15 October 2005 at 4:28pm BST | Comments (10)
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Friday, 14 October 2005

James Jones and Human Sexuality

Hidden away on the Liverpool Diocesan website is the Bishop of Liverpool’s presidential address to his diocesan synod last month. He writes about his current position on the issue of human sexuality. His conciliatory views may surprise some.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 2:53pm BST | Comments (21)
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Ages of Synod members

The Church Times has published today the dates of birth of newly elected members of General Synod. From these data I have calculated some statistics for the elected diocesan representatives of the clergy and laity.

mean age
standard deviation

For comparison the mean ages in 2000 were 51 (clergy) and 53 (laity).

I have put a histogram of the age distributions here.

[Note: The laity figures exclude Bath & Wells (election postponed), Winchester (figures not available) and two members of unknown age.]

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 11:45am BST | Comments (3)
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the precise wording of Windsor

Robin Eames has asserted recently that:

…both the bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada have in my opinion met the precise wording of Windsor…

Those who wonder if this is accurate, at least with respect to ECUSA, may find it helpful to peruse my earlier articles:

TA Monday, 10 January 2005 Windsor Report: the exact recommendations
TA Friday, 14 January 2005 WR: the exact responses
AO Sunday 27 February 2005 The Primates Meeting at Dromantine, February 2005

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 9:09am BST | Comments (9)
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synod elections: church press reports

The Church Times carries almost the same election results as Thinking Anglicans, but their list (which reveals the ages of those elected) will not be available on the web until next week.

News report: New Synod looks liberal, but with firm minority voices by Pat Ashworth and Glyn Paflin
Columnist: Synod above politics? Don’t be Sentimental by Giles Fraser
Editorial: When the Synod works well

The Church of England Newspaper interpreted the same results differently:
News report: Synod elections serve up disappointment to liberals

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 8:51am BST | Comments (1)
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Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Eames at Yale

ENS reports:

The Most Rev. Dr. Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, delivered the 2005 Pitt Lecture at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale October 12, issuing a warning on the future of World Anglicanism.

The full text of his lecture Where now for World Anglicanism? can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 12 October 2005 at 10:31pm BST | Comments (30)
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Tuesday, 11 October 2005

bishops speeches in euthanasia debate

Hansard has published the full text of yesterday’s debate in the House of Lords. You can read it all, starting here
and, after a short unrelated business item, continuing here.

The speeches by bishops can be found as follows:
Bishop of St Albans
Bishop of Oxford
Lord Carey of Clifton
Bishop of London
Lord Habgood
and a short intervention by the Bishop of Winchester

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 11 October 2005 at 9:28am BST | Comments (4)
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Sunday, 9 October 2005

euthanasia debate

Tomorrow there will be a House of Lords debate on euthanasia.

The churches issued this joint press release:
Nine leaders from six major British faith groups join together in unprecedented stand against assisted suicide and euthanasia

Richard Harries wrote this column in the Observer today: To be or not to be? It’s not our choice

The BBC Sunday programme lead with a related story:
Assisted Dying Listen here with Real Audio (8 minutes)

The House of Lords will debate a Select Committee report on assisted dying tomorrow. There is no doubt where the major faiths stand on the issue. They are opposed. On Friday nine leaders from six major British faith groups, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, warned against any changes in the present law on assisted dying and euthanasia. The difference between the two is that euthanasia occurs when an outsider takes action to end someone’s life for compassionate reasons, while in the case of assisted dying an individual is helped to take their own life.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday which you can read about
here (the actual article seems not to be online) and also here. There is however a report that Peer rethinks euthanasia Bill plans while the Independent reports ‘Do-it-yourself’ euthanasia clinic to open in Britain.

Earlier this year, the Bishop of St Albans spoke in the General Synod on this topic: you can read the full text of that speech here and the motion that was passed is here. The synod briefing paper can be downloaded (RTF) from here.

More recently, Bishop Herbert has criticised the British Medical Journal for publishing five articles (including an editorial) effectively in favour of euthanasia but only one article against it. See details here. An earlier article by the bishop on this topic can be found here.

He also wrote The chilling ‘therapeutic option’ for the Church Times in September.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 4:15pm BST | Comments (2)
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Saturday, 8 October 2005

columns for weekend reading

Before the Sentamu confirmation event, Stephen Bates wrote this piece for the Guardian: A pivotal moment which asks whether the Church of England’s first black archbishop can bring new impetus to a communion on the brink of schism…

After the service, Geoffrey Rowell wrote A new knot in the net that links communities in fellowship
for the Credo slot in The Times.

Ruth Gledhill reviews two books about Opus Dei in A wholesome reality shines beyond the dark conspiracy.

Earlier in the week Simon Jenkins had written in the Guardian that: London should keep its hands off the treasures of the north which deals mainly, but not exclusively, with the Zurbaran pictures at Auckland Castle. He says:

I am sure the Church of England would never think of selling its London treasures to meet its property losses. It would never part with the Westminster Abbey reredos, the Litlyngton Missal or the Charter of Offa. In St Paul’s Cathedral, works by Grinling Gibbons, Jean Tijou and Henry Moore are, we can assume, secure for the time being.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about A burglary in the Abbey but this turns out to have been in an earlier period.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 12:18pm BST | Comments (1)
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How General Synod is Elected

A new General Synod is elected every five years and meets two or three times a year. It comprises three Houses: Bishops, Clergy and Laity. The number of members given below is for the 2005-2010 Synod.

Members vote according to their own conscience; nobody can instruct them how to vote.

Members vote as individuals; there is no voting by diocese as in the USA. The results of votes are decided by counting the numbers of members voting for and against a motion. In most cases the count is of the whole Synod and a simple majority is required for a motion to be passed. Sometimes each House votes separately (and then each House must vote in favour) and in some of these cases a two-thirds majority is required in each House.

A simplified account of how Synod is elected follows below the fold.

House of Bishops
The two archbishops and all the other diocesan bishops (and the Bishop of Dover, who is effectively the diocesan bishop for Canterbury) are members. In addition the suffragan bishops elect seven of their number to the House.

House of Clergy
Each diocese elects a number of clergy (182 in 2005); larger dioceses elect more than smaller dioceses. The electors are basically the licensed clergy plus a small number of retired clergy. Those eligible to stand for election are the electors plus clergy with permission to officiate (mainly retired clergy).

House of Laity
Each diocese elects a number of laity (193 in 2005); larger dioceses elect more than smaller dioceses. The electors are the lay members of deanery synods. Candidates must be over 18, actual communicants, and on an electoral roll (or the equivalent roll in a cathedral).

Other members
These include seven members from the armed services, five cathedral deans, four members of religious communities, six university clergy, and a few ex officio members (eg members of the Archbishops’ Council). This gives a total membership of 466. In addition up to ten people can be co-opted to membership.

There is a lot of official information about the 2005 elections here, particularly the Notes for the Guidance of Dioceses.

Candidates for election require a proposer and seconder who are qualified electors.

Elections are by the single transferable vote. This article includes a good explanation of how the STV system works.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 12:15pm BST | Comments (1)
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Eames at Virginia: more reports

Jim Naughton the Communications Director for the Diocese of Washington has published Archbishop Eames Speaks at Cathedral, VTS which contains an account of the questions asked at the public lectures, as well as from an interview with Eames. One quote:

During an interview at the college, Eames expressed concern over the role that wealthy conservative donors in the United States were playing in the current controversy. He said he was “quite certain” that many church leaders in the developing world had been offered financial inducements to distance themselves from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

“I think it is happening, I just don’t think it is moral,” Eames said. “Is it the might of finance that will influence a theological outlook, and then that outlook come to dominate he Communion?

“It raises a serious question for me: what is the real nature of their faith and their Anglicanism? It is certainly different from mine.”

Conservative leaders have said they are simply trying to help poor provinces that cannot in good conscience accept financial support from provinces that differ with them on the issue of homosexuality.

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, on the American TV network PBS has its Anglican Communion Update which also contains an interview with Eames. More detail of the interview with Kim Lawton is on this page.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 9:20am BST | Comments (3)
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Friday, 7 October 2005

General Synod elections

I’ve now collected most of the Synod election results. The missing results are

Armed Services
Bath and Wells (clergy)
Chester (Chester archdeaconry laity)
Ripon and Leeds (laity)
Salisbury (laity)
Sodor & Man
Winchester (laity)
Channel Islands
London University
Other Universities (Southern)
Other Universities (Northern)

If you have any of the missing results please email them to me here.

People will be trying to analyze the new Synod. Here is an attempt by Church Society to do this for the diocesan bishops and an analysis by their general secretary David Phillips.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 3:05pm BST | Comments (19)
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civil partnerships: Telegraph

An article All-embracing partnership Act by Joshua Rozenberg in yesterday’s Telegraph discusses the Civil Partnership Act and previews a lecture to be given later this month on the subject. The article points out that:

As the distinguished family lawyer Stephen Cretney explains in his Clarendon Lectures, to be delivered in Oxford later this month and published by Oxford University Press, the new legislation does not require civil partners to be homosexual or indeed to have a sexual relationship of any kind. They do not even need to live together.

The benefits on offer under the Civil Partnership Act 2004 are available to pretty well any unrelated couple of the same sex aged 16 or over, provided neither of them is already married.

And it goes on to say:

Dr Cretney recognises that friends who simply share common interests may be deterred from registering as partners by the fear that their friends would wrongly assume that they were homosexual. But he points out that no less a body than the Bishops of the Church of England has explained that civil partnership is “not predicated on the intention to engage in a sexual relationship”.

On the difference between this and marriage, it notes that:

…there are significant differences between the two relationships, despite attempts by ministers to suggest otherwise. Unlike marriage, civil partnership law has no problem with promiscuity: although adultery coupled with intolerability opens the door to divorce, sexual infidelity does not provide a basis for dissolving a civil partnership. Similarly, although a marriage is voidable on the ground that either party is incapable of consummating it, there is nothing comparable in the Civil Partnership Act.

Another difference was designed to appease those who believe that “gay marriage” is against God’s law. Although two people of the opposite sex may choose to marry in a place of worship, civil partners have no such choice: the law says that “no religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document”.

The whole article is an excellent summary of the position.

An earlier Guardian article mentioned that the Association of Registration and Celebratory Services in conjunction with the Society of Registration Officers has drafted A CEREMONY FOR CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS for optional use within those local authorities that choose to do so. It’s important to realise that individual local authorities have very considerable discretion in such matters, and also that wholly civil ceremonies not only for births, marriages, and deaths, but also for wedding anniversaries, adoptions, etc. is a fast-growing activity in the UK. This is the context in which this particular draft needs to be seen.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 11:06am BST | Comments (6)
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Thursday, 6 October 2005

Sentamu election confirmed

Parts of the Guardian interview have also been published in Uganda, see New Vision under the headline Dr. Sentamu prepared to ordain women bishops.

The routine formal Church of England confirmation ceremony for its diocesan bishops got more attention than usual yesterday when the new Archbishop of York, John Sentamu underwent the process.

Stephen Bates in the Guardian actually got to talk to him beforehand and has an interview with him in From Uganda with love … Church of England’s new No 2 spells out his creed. Some sample quotes:

Dr Sentamu said: “Some of our disagreements are not Christian really … It seems to suggest that all the great evils of the world are being perpetrated by gay and lesbian people, which I cannot believe to be the case. What is wrong in the world is that people are sinful and alienate themselves from God and you do not have to be gay to do that. To suggest that to be gay equals evil, I find that quite unbelievable.

“Is somebody saying a gay and lesbian can’t live in Christ? What matters in the end to me is to do what my mother said to me as a little child: John, never point a finger at anybody because when you do three other fingers are pointing back at you. All of us are sinners, all of us have baggage. Why should my baggage as a heterosexual be more acceptable than the baggage of a gay person?”

Other newspaper reports:
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Black archbishop vows to speak out
Independent Ian Herbert Refugee who fled Amin is confirmed as archbishop

Other web reports:
Times Online Simon Freeman Church welcomes its first black archbishop
BBC First black Archbishop confirmed

Pictures and an explanation for those not familiar with the process, at ACNS here.

The new archbishop has also been appointed to the Privy Council. Further explanation here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 6 October 2005 at 12:06pm BST | Comments (14)
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Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Latest on Synod election results

So far I have about 40% of the General Synod election results; you can see them here. If you have any of the missing results please email them to me here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 5 October 2005 at 6:30pm BST | Comments (0)
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Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Eames at Virginia Seminary

The Anglican Communion: A Growing Reality was the title of a lecture given by Archbishop Robin Eames at Virginia Theological Seminary on 4 October. The full text can be found on ENS here.

A further lecture by him is scheduled for tomorrow. I will add another link here when it is available.

The full text of the second lecture, The Anglican Communion: What Communion? is now available on ENS here. This lecture is essential reading.

Press Reports Update
Reuters has reported on this in Top Anglican cleric warns against gay rights split
The Living Church has Archbishop Eames: More Must Be Done to Heal Breach in Communion
The Church Times today (went to press Wednesday evening) also carries a very brief report, under the heading Anglican pain and referring mainly to the section on reconciliation. It starts this way:

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Robin Eames, spoke this week about the “hurt and dismay” caused by the present dispute about sexuality and authority in the Anglican Communion. In a pair of lectures at the Virginia Theological Seminary, where he received an honorary doctorate, Dr Eames said: “The impressions of the Anglican Communion I gained in the preparation of the Windsor report are dominated by one word: pain.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 4 October 2005 at 10:07pm BST | Comments (32)
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Monday, 3 October 2005

update on women bishops

We haven’t reported on this topic since July.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph had a story today about one possible compromise, Williams may give up consecration role over women.

This suggests that traditionalists might accept something less than a “third province solution” if the archbishop did not himself consecrate women bishops (something like the custom in London whereby the diocesan bishop hasn’t for some years now ordained any women (or men) priests personally).

The story doesn’t explain how this would work in the Northern Province: presumably the Archbishop of York would have to take some similar action there. And it would seem unlikely that this solution would work if either archbishop was herself female.

The September issue of New Directions had an article by the Bishop of Guildford, who is chairing the working group producing specific recommendations for the synod to consider: Going forward:

What provision should be made for those who cannot recognize women bishops? The Rt Rev. Christopher Hill, the Bishop of Guildford, bears the responsibility for discerning the possible answer, and here gives a personal view of the issues involved.

The reactions of the flying bishops to the synod vote in July can be found on the Forward in Faith website: Beverley, Ebbsfleet, Richborough, and also Fulham.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 October 2005 at 9:49pm BST | Comments (30)
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plans for the Egypt meeting

Here is a press release from the host diocese:

30 September 2005
The Episcopal Diocese of Egypt welcomes the Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter

From 25th – 30th October 2005, about 120 delegates, representing 20 provinces within the Anglican Communion, from Africa, Asia and Latin America, will be meeting in Egypt for their third Global South Encounter. The Conference will take place at the Red Sea.

We, here in Egypt, are honored and privileged to be hosting this historic gathering of Anglican Archbishops, bishops, priests and laypersons from throughout the Global South. We also believe it will be a special time of encouraging one another, learning from each other, and most importantly, praying together. Our focus will be on “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. This Conference is important as it is being held at a critical time in the life of the Anglican Communion.

I warmly welcome the news that Archbishop Rowan Williams has accepted the invitation of the Global South Working Committee and will join us for part of the Conference. This will be his second visit to Egypt and we are most grateful to him for taking the time out of his busy schedule for this occasion.

Throughout the Biblical story, from Abraham to Jesus, Egypt symbolized a divine place of refuge and sanctuary. From the patriarch Abraham going to Egypt during a time of famine, to the tribe of Israel moving to Egypt when there was famine in their land, to the Holy Family escaping Herod to Egypt to protect the Christ child. Egypt symbolized God meeting His people in their time of need. So Egypt in the Scriptures reminds us of God’s faithfulness. Our prayer is that during this Encounter, God will provide spiritual refreshment and new ministry vision to all who attend. As we gather by the Red Sea, may we be reminded of the presence of God among us and His unfailing promises.

It is worth mentioning that the first South to South Encounter was held in Limuru, Kenya, 1994 and the second was held in Kuala Lampur in 1997. Today we are excited to welcome all attendees and we encourage them to come to Egypt with a sense of expectation for the presence of God. It is a real honor for us to have this gathering in our land.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Cairo, Egypt

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 October 2005 at 9:28pm BST | Comments (7)
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Sunday, 2 October 2005

General Synod election results

The counts of the elections to General Synod will be taking place over the next few days and I shall be listing the names of successful candidates here.

If anyone can help me by supplying these names for the laity or clergy of any diocese or for any of the special constituencies please let me know by emailing me here.

I’ll post updates as the results come in.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 2 October 2005 at 4:45pm BST | Comments (3)
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Saturday, 1 October 2005

Recife: a clarification

A document has been issued by the Recife Diocesan Standing Committee. This is reproduced in full below the fold. It can also be found linked from the official diocesan site.

An alternative view is presented in a document which can be found on the American Anglican council blogsite, here.

In case you are wondering which body is the real Anglican Diocese of Recife, you can check here.

The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables has intervened in Brazil, see
Text of Abp Venables’ letter

These events are also reported by TLC in Southern Cone Primate Annexes Brazilian Diocese


Open Letter from the Diocesan Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Recife, Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, 19th Province of the Anglican Communion, to the brothers and sisters of the Anglican Communion and other Christian churches.

Beloved brothers and sisters,

Greeting in Christ!

In the past few months a series of misleading, distorted, and in many cases untruthful, news and information about the Anglican Diocese of Recife have been circulating on the internet, and at some occasions being broadcast by the international religious press. It has, therefore, become necessary for us to publicly clarify the facts of the current situation in Recife and about what has really happened and is still happening in our diocese.

In the year 2004, the Anglican Diocese of Recife (DAR) went through a process of schism, and this for the third time in four years. This time, however, taking advantage of a period of an international crisis in the Anglican Communion and a certain homophobic feeling that still exists in many places, the then diocesan bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, who was already for some time clearly and publicly promoting hostility against the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB), personally led the process of schism, advocating that the diocese should break any institutional ties with IEAB. At the same time, he started an aggressive campaign of persecution against clergy and laity simply because they did not agree with his position. All this can be easily observed by analysing the articles written and recorded public speeches given by Mr Robinson Cavalcanti in the weeks leading to the canonical process of disciplinary hearing against him.

The then diocesan bishop was taken to the ecclesiastical court, denounced by two clergy, two lay members of the diocese and two bishops. All the canonical proceedings were rigorously followed, having also as evidence the articles written by bishop Cavalcanti himself, and the evidence given by several witnesses during the investigation done by a special commission appointed by the Brazilian province. Bishop R Cavalcanti totally ignored the disciplinary hearing arguing that he had no respect for the leadership of IEAB. Thus, he did not care to present before the special commission his defence concerning the accusations which had been filled against him. He was, consequently, tried and condemned, and after all the right proceedings were fulfilled, he was deposed form Holy Orders from the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. Mr Cavalcanti then tried to obtain a court injunction form the Civil Court in an attempt to suspend the decision by IEAB, but the court denied the injunction and attested the validity and legitimacy of IEAB’s decision to depose him. Mr Cavalcanti still went to the Supreme Court of the state of Pernambuco, and once more the Court confirmed the deposition of Mr Robinson Cavalcanti. More recently, the former bishop, omitting the fact that he had been deposed, tried to obtain a court injunction to prevent a diocesan synod organised with the help of the province from taking place. The injunction was denied by the court and in the process it became clear that Mr R Cavalcanti had acted in bad faith and ideological falsehood. The diocesan synod, under the ecclesiastical authority of the suffragan bishop Filadelfo Oliveira as well as the decisions and resolutions taken there were considered legitimate and valid by the court.

The former bishop Cavalcanti had indeed ended relations with the Anglican province of Brazil since the end of year 2004, taking with him two thirds of the clergy and parishes. Even before his deposition, Mr R Cavalcanti had belligerently taken away all the symbols and signs of identification with IEAB from all the institutions and diocesan bodies. This can also be observed by simply looking at his new homepage. Already during the year 2004 the then bishop Robinson did not acknowledge the authority of the Brazilian Anglican province. He surreptitiously took measures to change the statutes transferring property which belong to the province, depriving the province from its properties in Recife. Bye the end of last year during one of his pronouncements in a illegally held diocesan synod, Mr R Cavalcanti came to summon all to leave IEAB. However, and to the surprise of many, he has been trying to present to the public opinion that he has been unjustly persecuted and expelled by the Anglican province of Brazil!

In spite of all those facts here described, Mr R Cavalcanti insists in presenting himself as the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Recife and as the representative of the Anglican Communion in the region. He also continues to issue accusations and aggressions against the Brazilian Anglican province and against those laity and clergy in Recife who decided to stay loyal to IEAB.

The Anglican Diocese of Recife is going through a sensitive and difficult process of reconstruction and rebirth, after the trauma that it has experienced. For that reason, we have, deliberately, refrained from answering or giving attention to the provocations and accusations promoted by the former bishop. We have already written a open letter in the past presenting our side of the story about what is happening in Recife. The sad and regrettable thing is that that letter was sent to the same very groups which have been publicising and broadcasting the accusations and defamations made by the former bishop, but in the case of our letter they refused to publicise it. We would, therefore, ask to all who receive this letter to careful analyse the facts, and that they may divulge it to others who might be interested to know about it.

We would also like to emphasise the following:

1.The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil is not a “dead church”, made up of “revisionist liberals”, “heretics” and “apostates”, as it has been publicised. IEAB is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is a church made up of men and women who acknowledge to be sinners, called by God to live in fidelity to the Gospel and so to grow day by day in the Grace of God and in the knowledge of the truth of which we do not presume to have the possession. IEAB is a living and active church that has sought to be a sign of God’s presence, through words and action, in an extremely adverse social context aggravated by a popular religiosity which is often pathological, marked by pharisaism and messianism;

2.The process of schism in the diocese of Recife is not due to a conflict between “orthodox evangelicals” and “revisionist liberals” within the IEAB, as it has been said by some on the side of Mr R Cavalcanti. Although it could be said that IEAB is hegemonically moderately liberal – if that sort of classification can say anything about it – there are many clergy and lay people who are of evangelical persuasion in all its dioceses. The group of clergy that refused to follow Robinson Cavalcanti in leaving IEAB and took the initiative to take R Cavalcanti to the Ecclesiastical Court correspond to a third of the diocese. The group is made up in its majority of Evangelical Anglicans, who have already made it public that they were against the decisions taken by the dioceses of New Westminster and New Hampshire. Most members of this group are well known and respected evangelical leaders who continue to be active on many levels of the Brazilian evangelical movement;

3.The Anglican Diocese of Recife, part of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, 19th Province of the Anglican Communion, is also alive and active despite the allegations to the contrary by the Mr R Cavalcanti. We are now 13 church communities and 22 clergy who are carrying on celebrating Christ’s resurrection and seeking to build a living, welcoming, healthy, mature, ecumenical, relevant and socially engaged church. This is our dream, our desire and our prayer. Our trust and hope are in God. We are not receiving any financial help either from international sources or from any sort of “liberal conspiracy” as it has been alleged. Most of our clergy are “tent makers” and have dedicated themselves voluntarily to the Christian service. Again, we should make it clear that Mr Robinson Cavalcanti is no longer bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Recife. Neither he nor his spokesmen represent at any level the Anglican Diocese of Recife, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil or the Anglican Communion. His deposition was a final and non appealable decision taken legitimately by the Brazilian Anglican Province and attested by the civil courts;

Finally, we would like to express our deep disappointment and disillusionment with various international evangelical leaders within the Anglican Communion, who, it seems to us, have shown to be more interested in the manipulation, and political and instrumental utilisation of information about Recife, in an attempt of artificially creating a martyr than in a balanced and fair analysis of our reality. It is regrettable that part of the Anglican evangelical movement is rendering itself to that sort of game and manipulation. The crisis caused by the unilateral attitudes of the North American and Canadian churches seems to have paved the way for a state of emergency and the legitimising of unscrupulous, pragmatist, manichaeist and messianic mentality, incompatible with the best of our evangelical tradition.

May the Lord have mercy on us.

Recife, 21st September 2005
Feast of St Mathew, Apostle and Evangelist.

Members of the Diocesan Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Recife:
Revmo. Dom Filadelfo Oliveira Neto* Bishop of DAR
Rev. Gustavo Gilson S. de Oliveira Chairman of the Diocesan Standing Committee
Rev. Fernando Antônio Gonçalves Secretary of the Diocesan Standing Committee
Rev. João C. Peixoto Filho Member
Rev. Josafá Batista dos Santos Member
Sr. João Batista Neto Member
Sr. Joelson Félix Member
Sra. Márcia Silva Member
Rev. Rodrigo Espiúca Executive Secretary of DAR

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 2 October 2005 at 12:09am BST | Comments (29)
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CEN report on Windsor book

The Church of England Newspaper reported the publication of the new book on the Windsor Report under the headline Anglican liberals attack Windsor report.

Andrew Linzey has commented on a significant inaccuracy in this report in a letter to the CEN editor. The text appears here below the fold.

Dear Editor

In your news report (“Anglican Liberals attack Windsor”, 30 September) you claim that I ‘compare Anglican attitudes to homosexuals to the policy of the Nazis’. That is not an accurate summary of my Introduction to the book, Gays and the Future of Anglicanism.

Rather, I begin with the Nazi claim that gays are “mistakes of the Creator” and I argue that it is a short step from believing that gays are “mistakes” to actually treating them as such. My point is we (emphasis on the “we”) Christians need to wrestle with the fact that our theology has helped fuel a situation in which there has been (in this century alone) visceral hatred and persecution of gays. All churches, including the Anglican Communion, need to take stock of themselves in this regard, but that is not to say that all Anglican attitudes are Nazi.

I understand that positions are polarised, passions are inflamed, and that it is therefore difficult for any of us to resist the temptation to misdescribe, but insofar as you are able to do so you will provide a valuable service to us all.

Yours truly
Andrew Linzey

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 October 2005 at 11:18pm BST | Comments (14)
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

from the weekend papers

In The Times Alan Webster writes about Coram and Barnardo’s in A vision that inspires hard work and high ideals for the next generation.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about the Spiritual side of Trafalgar. Over at the Tablet, he reviews the latest book on Opus Dei by John Allen, Out of the shadows.

The Guardian godslot is written by Alex Wright:

We need a more nuanced debate about religion, and must stop seeing it in terms of being either a fantasy or a destructive force…

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about the Silly season of political conference and Synod.

Church Times readers of this week’s Press column may find the full version of the article in the New Yorker (which is quoted by Andrew Brown) here at INTELLIGENT DESIGN by Paul Rudnick.

Returning to the Tablet Robert Mickens reports on the meeting between the Pope and Hans Kung in New-found harmony?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 October 2005 at 10:46pm BST | Comments (0)
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Categorised as: Opinion