Last week, the Church Times had extensive coverage of the report of the Women Bishops Group.
Guildford report proposes TEA and sympathy Glyn Paflin
Contemplating a woman at Canterbury (an extract from the report)
This is how the plans could work by Christopher Hill Bishop of Guildford
Surprise, surprise: a middle way editorial comment
In The Times Geoffrey Rowell discusses The dangers of unbalancing the ‘broad church’ of Anglicanism.
Paul Oestreicher writes in the Guardian about how both sides committed atrocities in WW2: Face to Faith. Related to this is the piece in The Times by Rabbi William Wolff on Nazi sites in Germany, Germany must not neglect its terrible past. Rowan Williams issued this statement on Holocaust Day.
This week also saw a major Lambeth initiative:Inaugural meeting of the Christian-Muslim Forum.
Returning to Saturday newspapers, we have a few surprising items. The Telegraph has an article arguing that Intelligent design is not creationism and Christopher Howse discusses a new book about Rome in Pagan Rome’s son of God.
Addition for another article on Intelligent Design, see How to probe the science of creation by Keith Ward from last week’s Church Times.
The Guardian has this rather odd piece by John Crace Who’d be a vicar?
The move by the Nigerian government which the Anglican Church there openly supports, to increase the criminal penalties for homosexuals and for their supporters, has received further coverage:
Church Times Giles Fraser Would you walk from a lynching?
The link on the CT websiteto the US State Department report on Nigerian human rights practices is incorrect at the time of writing and should really be this one.
Also both Mark Harris and Fr Jake have discussed this:
The Voice of Shame and the Shame of Silence:
Why Listen When We Can Beat, Defame and Incarcerate?
Mark has a broken link too, the Sun newspaper article to which he refers is this one.
Here’s a roundup of African comments from Sokari Ekine at Black Looks.
The results of the clergy elections for the Archbishops’ Council have been announced:
This completes the current round of elections to the Council; a complete list of members can be found here.
Affirming Catholicism is publishing a booklet about Civil Partnerships. The press release is reproduced below. The full text of the Foreword to the booklet is below the fold.
Affirming Catholicism welcomes civil partnerships as pastoral opportunity for Church
The Anglican organisation Affirming Catholicism will publish today, 27 January 2006, a booklet calling on the Church to welcome civil partnerships as a pastoral opportunity and a means of listening to the experience of lesbian and gay Christians.
In a foreword to the booklet, the Very Rev’d Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, thanks God for the legislation which came into effect in England and Wales on 21 December 2005. He says that same-sex couples who commit their lives to each other ‘are expressing the deepest and most godlike instinct in human nature’. Acknowledging that many in the Church have yet to recognise this, he nonetheless believes that civil partnerships will help to change attitudes:
‘We know that the road to full and equal acceptance of gay relationships throughout the world will be long and hard, but we can rejoice that in this country the partnership law is a very big step along it.’
The booklet, written by the Rev’d Jonathan Sedgwick, an Anglican priest, argues that civil partnerships will provide a way out of the ‘catch 22’ which faces many gay Christians whose relationships are criticised for being unstable while - at the same time - the Church fails to offer any support which might help couples stay together. The argument is backed up by real-life case studies of lesbian and gay christian couples. Canon Nerissa Jones, MBE, the Chair of Trustees said:
‘The period of listening and reception to which Anglicans are committed can’t happen on a purely theoretical level. It must also be about the lived experience of lesbian and gay Christians who need to feel safe enough to tell their stories. We believe that civil partnership can help give that security and that local clergy should offer prayer and support for couples.’
The policy of the Church of England, as stated by the House of Bishops is that, while there could be no authorised liturgy to bless same-sex couples until there was consensus on Church teaching, parish priests should nonetheless respond sensitively and pastorally to gay couples seeking blessings.
The publication calls for an end to the double standard at the heart of current Church teaching which accepts gay relationships between lay people but bans sexually active homosexual women and men from the priesthood.
Copies of Civil Partnership: A Guide for Christians, by Jonathan Sedgwick, foreword by Jeffrey John, (Affirming Catholicism, London) are available by mail order: tel 020 7222 5166 or email email@example.com priced £3.
Notes for editors
Update See mention of this in Ruth Gledhill’s blog today
From the end of 2005 same-sex partnerships will be legally recognised and protected in the United Kingdom. Although the legislation carefully avoids the term, it will, as opponents and proponents alike have recognised, provide a form of same-sex marriage in all but name. The partnership law will in practice give gay couples exactly the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples. Thank God.
Thank God, because this is God’s doing. God made all of us, gay or straight, in his own image, to reflect his kind of love. Whenever two people love each other enough to commit their lives to each other, ‘for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part’, they are expressing the deepest and most godlike instinct in human nature.
That the Church as a whole cannot yet see and acknowledge that this is God’s work is a tragedy. In this very lucid, balanced and helpful booklet Jonathan Sedgwick shows how we can continue to reflect on and gather in the views of all sides in this debate at the same time as embracing a more positive approach to lesbian and gay couples. Jonathan argues that every priest and parish needs to be aware of the provisions of civil partnership and urges them to seize this opportunity to welcome civil partners and offer them whatever pastoral support they may need and want.
We know that the road to full and equal acceptance of gay relationships throughout the world will be long and hard, but we can rejoice that in this country the partnership law is a very big step along it. Perhaps the greatest gain will be the increased visibility of lifelong, faithful same-sex relationships in society and in the Church. This is crucial, because knowing an ordinary gay couple is far more likely to change hostile hearts and minds than any amount of argument. Certainly there is still a long way to travel and a lot of prejudice to overcome, but even in the Church there is no doubt about the outcome. Love will win in the end; God guarantees it. As Kenneth Boulding, the Quaker poet and economist wrote,
Although hate rises in enfolding flame
at each renewed oppression, soon it dies;
it sinks as quickly as we saw it rise,
while love’s small constant light burns still the same.
Know this: though love is weak and hate is strong,
yet hate is short, and love is very long.
The Bishop of Bangor, Anthony Crockett, has responded, in very strong terms, to the recent Fulcrum article by Andrew Goddard, The Bishops of the Church in Wales on Civil Partnerships: A Personal Response.
The bishop’s response is here. It starts out:
Your article The Bishops of the Church in Wales on Civil Partnerships: A Personal Response by Andrew Goddard in Fulcrum appears to be an interesting case of party zeal clouding judgement. It looks like yet another example of the inability of some either to listen to argument or to reject all forms of stigmatisation and to commit oneself to listen to people whose sexual orientation may be different from one’s own. I confess, too, to being puzzled by what seems – but surely cannot be – a lack of knowledge on Dr Goddard’s part of the history of the development of ethical teaching in the Christian Church.
The statements referred to in this exchange are:
The Bishops of the Church in Wales issue statement on homosexuality
The Bishops of the Church in Wales issue statement on Civil Partnerships
Clifford Longley recently wrote a column in The Tablet which was headed with this pullquote:
Love is always good, said Cardinal Hume, including love of the same sex.
The column is about civil partnerships and how the church should deal with them.
Although Mr Longley is a Roman Catholic and is writing for a Roman Catholic journal, the article may be of interest to Anglican readers. The Tablet has kindly given TA permission to republish the article. The full text is below the fold.
Clifford Longley article of 7 January 2006
All over the Western world, legislators have come round to the view that the law should not treat homosexuals in any way that is different from heterosexuals. They have passed laws allowing gay marriage or at least “civil partnerships”, and permitting gay couples to adopt. In country after country, Catholic bishops have railed against this rising tide of homosexual equality. They have argued that the legal recognition of homosexual relationships undermines marriage, that children adopted by homosexual couples would be at risk of harm, and that, in general, homosexual liaisons are immoral. The latest such protest was made by Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh as homosexuals were given the right to a civil partnership in Scotland, a right they have also just gained south of the border.
What emerged clearly from the widespread media coverage of the first few celebrations of these newly legal relationships was the overwhelming sense of satisfaction and pleasure - the word “joy” is not inappropriate - that came to the couple concerned when their love for each other was at last officially accepted and recognised. It is very hard indeed to argue that that was a bad thing. As the late Cardinal Hume once said in a related context, love is always good, including love between persons of the same sex.
These couples were making a commitment that henceforth their own needs and wants were not the most important thing in the world to them, but those of this other person whom they loved. They wished each to be the next of kin of the other, and together they would be a unit. They wished to provide for each other in sickness and in health, and indeed even after the death of one of them. Why, pray, is that dedication to an unselfish future life so intolerable to these leaders of the Catholic Church? Indeed, in a culture that seems increasingly unsympathetic to traditional marriage, why isn’t the enormous compliment they are paying to that institution by imitating it not welcomed with open arms by those trying to defend it?
It is not difficult to see that the supposedly practical grounds offered for opposing the legal recognition of gay relationships are not based on empirical observation, for there are too few examples to provide reliable evidence, but derive from the basic moral judgement that homosexual relationships are immoral per se. One has to suspect that if evidence emerged that the introduction of civil partnerships for homosexuals was actually of benefit to the institution of marriage in general, these critics would merely shift their objections to other grounds.
As for the adoption of children, it is undoubtedly true that children thrive when they are cherished within a stable two-parent heterosexual family. But the law has never said that a single-parent unit is so bad for children that they must forcibly be taken from it, not even when a single parent takes a lover of the same sex. It says the circumstances should be judged according to the interests of the child, and if that means the child being raised by homosexual parents, then so be it. The personality and suitability of the substitute parent is overwhelmingly more important than his or her sexuality. But if that is the law at present, is anything greatly changed by allowing homosexual parents - or more usually, just one of them, the other being the natural parent - formally to adopt?
The Church employs many lay people, some of whom, we may be sure, are homosexuals living with a partner. There are dioceses in Britain where they can expect the sack if found out, and others where someone’s private life is treated as their own affair. It is a wise and Christian policy, and points to a principle which needs wider application in this area. It introduces a sense of proportion. A homosexual couple keeping themselves to themselves cannot be accused of harming anybody else. Where there is sin, it is usual to judge the gravity of it by the ill it does to others. In such cases, therefore, one would have to judge the degree of sinfulness as minimal at most. This is so even if one accepts the traditional teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered; all the more so if one thinks such a view mistaken.
In the population at large as in the mass media, homosexuality is ceasing to be an issue. The small minority of young people who indulge in bigotry and violence towards homosexuals is isolated from its peer groups, who are, in contrast, more tolerant than ever before. Against this background, a very harsh and discordant note is struck by Catholic bishops who protest vehemently at the gradual acceptance by society that homosexuals are ordinary human beings with ordinary human needs. It is noticeable that the vast majority of Catholics do not raise their voices in support of the bishops who issue such denunciations. They are voting, as it were, by their silence, their refusal to be stirred up.
But perhaps they now have to go further. They need to say, as respectfully as they can - not in our name, thank you. Sorry, but we are just not with you on this one. There are far worse evils to fight, so let us go forth together and fight them.
© The Tablet 2006
Updated Tuesday morning
The Sunday Times carried this report by Christopher Morgan yesterday: The bishop will be away this Easter…. The Times this morning carried a further report (not by their Religious Affairs correspondent) headlined Where will you find a bishop this Easter? A: In church B: On board a luxury liner.
The fact is that the bishop is having long overdue sabbatical leave, and for this reason would in any case have been absent this Easter. The text of his note today to London clergy appears below.
Stephen Bates in the Guardian reported this matter in a more balanced way in Clerics back bishop taking Easter cruise
Extract from Richard Chartres email to London clergy
You may have seen that the Sunday Times has very kindly advertised the fact of my sabbatical. This is the first in 33 years of ministry and ten years in London and I think I owe it to everyone else to retreat and go away for a while.
Unfortunately, because I am responsible for many things on the General Synod agenda, I cannot begin my sabbatical until February 13. I shall be away for just over two months, returning to duty on 24 April. I am very grateful to colleagues who will deputise for me during the period.
The Senior bishop, the Bishop of Kensington, will be officiating at the Easter Vigil in the Cathedral. I hope I have not left too much to burden very busy people excessively.
This week I am going to the Conference of European Churches in Rome with the Cardinal to participate in the planning of the third European Ecumenical Assembly. After the success of the great grassroots assemblies in Basle and Graz, the third is planned for Sibiu in September 2007. They happen about every ten years and give an opportunity for Christians of all confessions to pray together for Christian witness in Europe….
From the Guardian’s Face to Faith column: Martyn Percy writes about Anglican diversity.
In The Times William Taylor of St Ethelburga’s Centre asks How do Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders work together to sort out hate crimes? in Honesty will help to prevent acts which bring shame on the community.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about psychoanalysis and religion in Sharing a couch with believers.
The Tablet has Keith Ward writing about the recent Richard Dawkins TV programmes in Faith, hype and a lack of clarity.
The Tablet also has a review by Owen Gingerich of Exploring Reality: the intertwining of science and religion by John Polkinghorne in Evolving, unfolding world.
See also this earlier story which still uses the first picture (see George Conger’s comment below for why it is the wrong picture).
This is confirmed in a report from Nigeria in the Daily Champion previously found at FG moves to ban same-sex marriage which also says:
Besides, formation of association of homosexuals and lesbians as well as any form of protesting for rights recognition by the affected persons will be outlawed.
That web page has now changed so the full text of it is saved here, below the fold. Thanks to Tunde for providing the original link.
Update Voice of America reports that Anglican Church in Nigeria Welcomes Ban on Homosexuality thus:
…The spokesman for the Anglican church in Nigeria, Reverend Tunde Popoola, says the proposed ban is appropriate. The Anglican community in Nigeria has long waged a vigorous campaign against homosexuals, as Reverend Popoola explains.
“The Anglican church in Nigeria has been in the forefront of condemning the attitude because the church sees it as an aberration, in other words, we see it as against the norm. We see it as an abomination,” he said…
A VOA radio interview with Tunde Popoola can be heard here (Real Audio)
Updated Saturday - additional links
Nigeria First via allAfrica.com ‘Gay Marriage Will Be Punished in Nigeria’
Daily Champion article of 19 January
FG moves to ban same sex marriage
LERE OJEDOKUN, Abuja
FEDERAL Government yesterday approved a draft bill seeking to ban same sex marriages and relationships in the country. If enacted by the National Assembly, offenders face a five-year jail term without option of fine.
Besides, formation of association of homosexuals and lesbians as well as any form of protesting for rights recognition by the affected persons will be outlawed.
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) who briefed State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said the move became necessary following the reported cases of the unnatural marriage in South Africa.
He explained that President Olusegun Obasanjo had expressed concern at the development in the former apartheid enclave, last year and requested his ministry to come up with the appropriate legal framework to forestal it happening in Nigeria.
The minister added that the draft bill which FEC approved after some amendments, would be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage into law.
“We all know that marriage is a unique institution between a man and a woman and this fact is universally acknowledged. It is also contained in the Holy Books. But in recent time, this incident of marriage or relationship between people of the same sex has been growing in the developed world.
“Just in December, this incident crossed over to South Africa, we got worried. Mr. President then thought it fit that we should bring a bill to council to prohibit the relationship and marriage between people of the same sex,” he said.
Chief Ojo said various sections of the proposed act include validity and recognition of marriages, non-recognition of marriages of same sex, prohibition of marriages of same sex in any of the recognised places of worship like churches, mosques and customary courts.
He further explained that the state high courts and federal high courts would have jurisdiction over matters relating to same-sex marriage, even as he said that government could not afford an alien culture desecrate African long-held belief of holy marriage.
His words: “You know it is unAfrican for people of the same sex to contract any form of sexual relationship or marriage. This is why government is putting in place a legal framework to checkmate it straightway and ensure we don’t have such incidents in the country.”
Information and National Orientation Minister, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr, who also spoke on the issue, said government considered Nigeria as a “basically conservative society” where all religious and culture abhor marriage between persons of same sex.
He added that the open canvassing for recognition by an advocacy rights group at December’s summit on HIV/AIDS in Abuja informed the move by government to nip the practice in the bud.
Other decisions at the FEC meeting chaired by President Obasanjo include approval of N5.4 billion for the completion of Nassarawa-Loko road rehabilitation, N580 million for reconstruction and asphalt laying on Okigwe-Afikpo road and N440 million for Onitsha-Enugu road rehabilitation, according to Works Minister, Chief Adeseye.
Others are N2 billion for the Ota-Abeokuta road dualisation, N167.5 million for furnishing of the new office for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and N63 million for consultancy by the Presidential Committee on Consolidation of Emoluments of Public Servants.
© 2006 @ Champion Newspapers Limited (All Right Reserved).
Michael Nazir-Ali Bishop of Rochester has issued an Ad Clerum letter which is reproduced in full below the fold.
This was first reported on in the Church of England Newspaper (online yesterday, issue datelined Friday) by Jonathan Wynne-Jones in Civil partnership row erupts.
It is also reported today in The Times by Ruth Gledhill as Bishop attacks civil partnerships.
And in the Telegraph by Jonathan Petre and Jonathan Wynne-Jones as Gay weddings for priests ‘unbiblical’.
There has also been a Statement from Anglican Mainstream and the Church of England Evangelical Council and others in Support of Bishop Michael Nazir Ali’s Statement Ad Clerum. The signatories to this statement include Archbishop Peter Jensen, Sydney.
An Answer to some Questions about the Civil Partnership Act 2004
In recent weeks, I have been asked by more and more people, clergy and lay, about my views on the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 and the Church of England’s response to this by way of the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement but also in other ways.
It is widely recognised, on all sides, that people living together, for one reason or another, can face significant hardship and discrimination. For those in heterosexual relationships, one way to resolve these difficulties is to get married but this is not possible where the co-habitees are of the same-sex or closely related to one another. While some rights may belong to the married state in virtue of its nature, there are others, such as security of tenancy or rights of visitation, which need not be so restricted. The government’s proposals to remedy injustice and to remove unjust discrimination were, therefore, welcomed by many.
It was, however, the nature of the Civil Partnerships Bill, which was to become the Act, which has caused concern in several quarters. The Bill replicated for same-sex couples nearly all the provisions for marriage which are to be found in existing law. In particular, the prohibition on consanguinity reads very like the provision for marriage. Attempts in Parliament to widen the scope of the legislation so that siblings and other relatives living together might also benefit were fiercely resisted and were unacceptable to the government.
On the one hand, then, the Bill was portrayed as being about the removal of injustices and, on the other, as something as near to ‘marriage’ for same-sex couples as we could get. It has been noted that it is in its careful mimicking of marriage that the Bill can be said to undermine the distinctiveness and fundamental importance to society of the relationship of marriage. There is, then, at the very least, a studied ambiguity both in the text of the legislation and in the way it has been presented and promoted.
In such circumstances, what should have been the Church’s response? It was, I believe, open to the Church, in terms of the Human Rights Act, to derogate from the legislation on the grounds that its ambiguity was not consistent with fundamental Christian teaching on marriage. Also, it could have derogated on the grounds that the ‘marriage-like’ character of the Act would be unacceptable to a substantial number of its members.
In fact, the Church chose not to take either of these courses of action. Instead, first of all, it allowed the government to change church legislation by order so that the term ‘civil partner’ was added wherever the term the ‘spouse’ of a cleric occurred. Secondly, the House of Bishops was asked to agree to a statement prepared on its behalf by a group of bishops and others.
There is much in this statement that is good and entirely acceptable to a biblically-minded Christian. It reiterates basic Christian teaching on marriage and it sets out the Church’s position on issues of human sexuality by referring to authoritative resolutions or texts. It shows a proper pastoral concern for those facing difficult moral and spiritual dilemmas; so far so good. What then is the problem?
I have been somewhat uneasy about some of these actions and some aspects of this statement from the very beginning and have said so in the appropriate bodies and to appropriate people. I fear that the change in church law will have the effect of undermining that very teaching on marriage which the bishops are wishing to uphold and that it introduces another category of ‘partner’ covertly without any public or synodical discussion.
Secondly, inspite of the ambiguity in the legislation and the declared intention of the government, the House has been unable to say that civil partnerships entered into under this legislation would be inconsistent with Christian teaching. This is, and will continue to be, a recipe for confusion.
Thirdly, the Statement has given bishops the task of ensuring that clergy who enter into these partnerships adhere to church teaching in the area of sexuality without giving the bishops the clear means to do so. In the days to come, this step will both severely test the Church’s discipline and stretch pastoral relationships to breaking point.
Finally, by declaring that lay people who enter such partnerships should not be asked about the nature of their relationship, in the context of preparation for baptism and confirmation, as well as for the purposes of receiving Holy Communion, it has compromised pastoral discipline at the local level and pre-empted the relevant canons. In doing this, the House believes that it is adhering to the teaching in Issues in Human Sexuality. It interprets ‘not wanting to exclude from the fellowship of the Church’ as equivalent to there being no discipline in terms of access to the sacraments. Such an interpretation, however, flies in the face of clear biblical teaching and the unanimous practice of the Church down the ages. All are welcome, of course, but this does not mean there is no guidance and discipline for the sake of the fellowship.
The statement leans towards a ‘folk’ understanding of the sacraments as rites of passage rather than as an entry into states of holiness and of discipleship. Bishops have a particular responsibility for holiness and I cannot see how this aspect of the statement will promote it. It should be perfectly possible, without undue intrusion, to set out the Church’s faith clearly and to guide those for whom we have pastoral care with compassion and understanding as to the future course of their discipleship.
As before, I will continue to support clergy and other ministers who seek to bring the fullness of the faith to bear on the pastoral situations they encounter. I know they do this with the greatest sensitivity and care. It is part of their ministry and mine to ‘declare the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27) to the best of our ability and in complete reliance on the grace of God which has appeared with healing for all (Tit 2:11).
In Christ’s service
Some opposition to women priests appears to centre on the fact that Jesus was a man, and possibly also on the “Fatherhood” of God. The argument assumes that representing Christ at the Eucharist requires a male person. I doubt whether Jesus would have supported the line of reasoning. Matthew 22.23-33 has a story in which Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection ask, mockingly, about who will be married at the resurrection to a woman who has had seven husbands on earth. Jesus’ reply is “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
Artists have traditionally followed this guidance by depicting angelic beings without beards or breasts, with no (female) head covering and with clothing which does not denote the sex of the wearer. Depictions of cherubs, sometimes with all the sexuality of the Roman god Cupid, owe more to classical taste than to scripture. Portraying sexuality in angels is mistaken.
Thus Orthodox ikons of the Trinity, which illustrate the appearance of God to Abraham at the Oak of Mamre (Genesis 18) show three angels with wings. The angels look like triplets. They are beardless. The three persons are distinguished mainly by the green robe of the Holy Spirit, and the deacon’s stole on the shoulder of Christ, denoting that he “took the form of a servant”.
Western pictures by contrast might show an old man with a long beard, the young man on the cross, and a dove somewhere between them, with no discernable relationship between the three persons. No doubt it is this somewhat dysfunctional looking image which provides preachers with such a difficult task on Trinity Sunday.
The Orthodox show three beings in fellowship, and the relationship between the persons is devoid of any sexual expression. Christ sits behind a table which clearly also represents an altar on which the Eucharist is presented. He wears his humanity in the deacon’s stole over one shoulder, but the masculinity of Jesus during his life on earth has given way to a depiction in which he is “like the angels in heaven” who “neither marry nor are given in marriage.”
One might then argue that whilst the priest represents the humanity of Christ, what is represented is not just the Jesus of Nazareth who died on the Cross, who was male. Rather, the priest must also represent the risen Christ of the upper room, of Emmaus and of the shore of Galilee, who is “like the angels in heaven” and, mysteriously, difficult even for his closest followers to recognise.
The sex of the priest who represents Christ our great high priest at the Eucharist is then immaterial. The priestly function is not a sexual one, but, in representing Christ who is risen, “neither male nor female”.
Today’s newspaper had further reports on the matter of women bishops, and also some stories about what else will occur at the February synod meeting.
Earlier women bishops stories are here.
Stephen Bates in the Guardian had Clerics open long path to female Archbishop of Canterbury together with lots of pictures.
Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph said Female Archbishop of Canterbury ‘a possibility’ and also had Church told to apologise for its part in slave trade.
CARDINAL KASPER transcript as broadcast – 15/1/06
BBC Radio 4, Sunday
Reporter – Christopher Landau
This conference emphasises the need for the church to listen to the experience of other churches – why is that a useful purpose for the RC church to engage in?
Well, the Catholic church is of the opinion that every church has elements of the gospel, elements of ecclesiality and often they have developed these elements profounder and deeper and larger than we have done – so we can learn from each other the definition of Pope John Paul’s statements that ecumenism is not an exchange only of ideas but of gifts.
So could you foresee the RC Church making changes on issues as a result of listening to what others churches have to say, for example on an issue like priestly celibacy?
I do not think that we will change about priestly celibacy but there is a possibility that others churches may have married priests. No, we have already changed a lot. If you think what we have learnt from the protestants about the importance of the Bible, of the word of God, of the preaching, and they are learning now about our liturgical symbols. There’s a process of learning going on.
And how significant are the internal problems within the Anglican Communion – on issues like homosexuality, the ordination of women?
Well the ordination of women is an institutional decision of the Anglican Communion which is an obstacle now; I have no solution at this point.
The problem of homosexuality appears everywhere nowadays, and I think it’s a very serious problem. It’s not the most important in the hierarchy of truth but it’s a very emotional problem, it has a divisive power. The Anglican Communion is still struggling with these problems – as much as we can we want to help the Anglican Communion to find a solution.
At a local level, for people, there is often surprise that it is still impossible for people to share the eucharist if one is Catholic and one is Anglican. Do you ever see the likelihood of movement on that issue which affects people in their local churches?
I know very well this problem because it’s very acute in my homeland in Germany, where we are 50-50 Catholics and Protestants. I think both the AC and the Catholic church has the same principle – that Eucharistic communion is linked with church communion, therefore it cannot be a principle, to bring confusion in both, but there can be single or particular cases of certain spiritual urgency where it’s possible as a pastoral solution.
We have a new pope… in the past he has not been regarded as a great friend of the ecumenical process…
He is not an enemy of ecumenism. He has written as a theologian many good articles on the ecumenical movement, and on the first day of his pontificate he declared clearly that the unity of the church is his priority, but the battle against secularism is linked with the unity of the church because in this new situation the church has to speak with one voice.
Changing Attitude has today published a web page concerning Mr Davis MacIyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Network (Nigeria).
This page contains a number of photographs of Mr MacIyalla in earlier years at various church events, a photograph taken at the recent CAN meeting, and a detailed analysis of the many charges against Mr MacIyalla made by an official of the Church of Nigeria, including those contained in this press release.
General Synod meets from 6 to 9 February 2006. Links to the online agenda follow together with a list of papers mentioned in the agenda. Links are made to available online copies. This list will be updated.
The Business Committee’s forecast of future business is copied below the fold.
GS 1596A Admission of Baptised Children to Holy Communion Regualtions
GS 1596Y Report by the House of Bishops (included in GS 1596A)
GS 1601 Mutual Expectations: The Church Of England And Church Colleges/Universities Report By The Board Of Education
GS 1603 Report By The Business Committee
GS 1604 Ethical Investment: Report By The Ethical Investment Advisory Group
GS 1605 House Of Bishops’ Women Bishops Group: Report To The General Synod From A Working Group Chaired By The Bishop Of Guildford.
GS 1605A Note by the Presidents
GS 1606 Seeds In Holy Ground: A Future For The Rural Church?
GS 1607 Into The New Quinquennium
GS 1609 Hospital And Health Care Chaplaincy
GS 1610 The Church’s Built Heritage Annex 1 Annex 3
GS Misc 801 Pushing At The Boundaries Of Unity: Anglicans And Baptists In Conversation
GS Misc 807 Ecumenical Responses To Women Bishops In The Church Of England?
GS Misc 808 Bicentenary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
GS Misc 812A Private Member’s Motion - Readers - A background note by Nigel Holmes
GS Misc 812B Background Paper from the Ministry Division Annex
GS Misc 813 The Human Genome: Background note from the Diocese of Guildford
Other papers circulated to Synod members
Forecast of future General Synod business
One or more Private Members’ Motions and Diocesan Synod Motions are customarily included in each Group of Sessions.
Archbishops’ Council Annual Report
Draft Pastoral and Dioceses Measure, Amending Canon No 27 and Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation – Revision Stage
Clergy Terms of Service legislation – First Consideration
Marriage legislation – First Consideration
Care of Cathedrals Rules [deemed?]
Parsonages Measure (Amendment) Rules [deemed?]
Legal Aid (Amendment) Rules
Church Accounting (Amendment) Regulations [re PCC accounting]
Usual Fees Orders
Clergy Discipline (Channel Islands (Guernsey)) Order
Diocese in Europe Measure Amending Scheme [deemed?]
Commission on Urban Life and Faith report
The Dearing Report: five years on
?Further Education issues
?Follow-up to Finance Reviews
?Report from Church of England delegation to the WCC Assembly (Brazil, February 2006)
?Church Music Report
?Called to Act Justly: Follow-up report
The report of the House of Bishops’ Women Bishops Group (the Guildford Report) is released today and is online here. The report’s principal conclusions are copied below the fold.
This morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme carried an interview with Christina Rees and the Bishop of Fulham about the report. Listen to it with Real Audio (6m 03s)
The official press release on the Guildford Report is here. Note that this includes the introductory remarks made at the press conference (scroll down).
More Updates - initial press reports
BBC partial transcript of the interview mentioned above
BBC Compromise plan on women bishops
BBC video report (2 minutes) Church compromise on women bishops
BBC Robert Pigott Anglicans get women bishops plan
Reuters Paul Majendie Anglicans could have woman spiritual head
Press Association Martha Linden Door opens for first female Archbishop of Canterbury
Guardian Stephen Bates Church seeks compromise over women bishops
The Times Ruth Gledhill ‘Tea time’ report on women bishops sets up Synod battle
Also, an earlier report by Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph that seems pretty accurate in the light of today’s press conference: ‘Robust’ meeting ends with bishops stalling at letting women join their ranks
SUMMARY OF PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS
The BBC’s Sunday radio programme reported on an international conference on Christian Unity held at Ushaw College, Durham.
The BBC report:
Cardinal Walter Kasper on Ecumenism
Last week one of the Vatican’s top Cardinals came to Durham to host an international conference on Christian Unity. Was Cardinal Walter Kasper wasting his time?
Report by Christopher Landau.
Listen with Real Audio(9m 9s)
Those interviewed also include Bp Tom Wright and Canon Nicholas Sagovsky. But the interview with Cardinal Kasper is particularly worth hearing.
In The Times Rod Strange writes about gifts, Unearned, undeserved and sometimes unexpected, faith is a gift for life.
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about A papal storm in a Santa hat.
Giles Fraser’s column in the Church Times asks Can war be moral?.
And in last week’s CT Robin Griffith-Jones finds presences and meaning in T. S. Eliot’s poem Journey of the Magi: ‘Eliot takes his readers far from Andrewes’s settled confidence’, Travelling to another death.
Face to faith from Saturday’s Guardian only arrived online today. Gilbert Márkus writes about Intelligent Design.
Last week the Church Times carried a report on this, but it only reached the public web today. Other press reports, contemporaneous with this one, are here.
The CT report by Pat Ashworth was headlined ‘Nigerian allegations are false’.
Today’s paper contains nothing further on this.
There are two press releases today from the Church of England about church attendance.
Figures just released by the Church of England for 2004 show a mixed picture for trends in church attendance.
Regular Sunday church attendance fell by one per cent - largely offsetting a similar increase the previous year. But weekly and monthly churchgoing held steady and the number of children and young people at services rose by two per cent.
The new statistics confirm that more than 1.7 million people attend Church of England church and cathedral worship each month while around 1.2 million attend each week - on Sunday or during the week - and just over one million each Sunday. …
The full statistics are here.
Reports from across the Church of England suggest Christmas 2005 was a cracker for church attendance.
An opinion poll suggesting increasing numbers are attending church services at Christmas has been backed up by anecdotal evidence gathered from across the Church of England. In the specially-commissioned survey released last month, pollster ORB found that 43 per cent of adults were expected to attend a church service over the Christmas period.
It wasn’t just the queue snaking from the doors of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, where the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols again saw hundreds attempting to get a seat; all over the country, churches experienced a growth in the number of people seeking an opportunity to worship. …
This follows up the posting here on 12 December concerning James Behrens’ further opinion, under the title civil partnerships: a further legal opinion.
Derek Belcher has now issued a revised opinion, which you can read in full here.
This shows that there is even less difference between these opinions than it previously appeared. Also, the opportunity has been taken to restore the markup showing the revisions made by Chancellor Behrens to his opinion, which was missing when originally published.
The outline agenda for the February 2006 group of sessions of the General Synod is now online here and is copied below.
Sitting times: 9.30 am to 1 pm and 2.30 pm (3.00 p.m Monday) to 7 pm (5.30 p.m. Thursday)
Monday, 6 February
Prayers, welcomes, progress of Measures
The appointment of the Chairs of the Business Committee and the Appointments Committee
Business Committee Report
Dates of Groups of Sessions: July/November 2008
Presentation on ecumenical responses to the Rochester Report
Presentation on Pensions Issues
Tuesday, 7 February
Women in the Episcopate: report of the Guildford Group
Rural Affairs and the Church of England
Church Colleges/Universities and the Church of England: Mutual Expectations
Wednesday, 8 February
Reader Ministry: Private Member’s Motion
Into the New Quinquennium
Human Genome: Guildford Diocesan Synod Motion
Bicentenary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade: Southwark Diocesan Synod Motion
Hospital and Health Care Chaplaincy
Thursday, 9 February
Women in the Episcopate
The Church’s Built Heritage
In the last issue of 2005, Pat Ashworth of the Church Times reported on this: Malango ‘closes case: Kunonga left to do as he likes’.
Some other recent news reports:
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
4 Jan Anglican parishioners puzzled over Kunonga trial decisions
5 Jan Church has no money for Kunonga retrial
5 Jan Shameful silence on Nolbert Kunonga, Anglican Bishop of Harare
and this response from a reader on the Sokwanele blog, on 8 January.
I linked earlier to today’s BBC reports on this.
Now, Ruth Gledhill has a report Church wants women bishops by 2012 in Monday’s edition of The Times which discusses further the draft Guildford report that goes before the CofE House of Bishops this week. Ruth has received a copy of this draft.
And she also has a more detailed discussion of the matter on her blog:Women bishops by 2012.
Both items are essential reading.
The Press review, which mentions TA, is not actually a review of items, but rather a discussion about the effect of the web on news. TA readers may find this of particular interest.
In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes about daily prayer: Prayers from the past and present can shape our world of the future.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Manger, wine and water.
The Guardian again has multiple items on religion:
Face to Faith is written by an Anglican priest, Ruth Scott, in which she talks about a “safe distance”.
The Essay slot has an article by Ian Buruma titled Cross Purposes in which he suggests that Conflicting views about religion threaten to divide Europe from the US.
And Madeleine Bunting has a very critical review of the forthcoming TV programmes about religion by Richard Dawkins in No wonder atheists are angry: they seem ready to believe anything.
The most recent newsletter for supporters of InclusiveChurch can be found on its website. A copy is also below the fold here.
Some dates to note:
Seminar with Bishop of Worcester: Sunday 22 January (application form here, scroll down)
St Albans Pilgrimage: Saturday 24 June, more details here
Day Conference Saturday 14th October
InclusiveChurch Christmas letter
Dear I C Supporter
I am writing to wish all our supporters a happy Christmas and to bring you up to date with InclusiveChurch’s news.
This seems like a good moment to restate what InclusiveChurch is for.
InclusiveChurch exists to ensure that the Anglican tradition of inclusion and diversity is celebrated and encouraged. On one level that means, in accordance with our Statement, working so that people are fully included at all levels of the church regardless of their gender, partnership status or ethnicity.
In that context, a brief comment on the arrangements for Civil Partnerships (detailed comment is for our partner organisations).
As couples prepare to formalise their relationships in this way, we welcome the new legal framework and wish all that’s good to those who are entering into partnerships. And we hope that, sooner rather than later, the Church of England will be able to be unequivocal in its welcome. One of those occasions when the church can learn from the world!
But InclusiveChurch goes well beyond that. We spring from the rich and generous Anglican tradition – the tradition which includes Lancelot Andrewes, Richard Hooker, the Oxford Movement, the Evangelical Revival and the innovations of the twentieth century. Which includes both outreach and justice, both evangelism and a passionate commitment to the poor. We celebrate this tradition, which, at its best, enables all people to be welcomed at Christ’s table, and which tries to make the Incarnation a living and dynamic reality.
We try to include people from all parts of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. One of the most exciting things to have happened, for us, in the past year was the way in which different organisations worked together through the post of National Coordinator towards the General Synod elections. A tangible working out of our dream – that ecclesiastical boundaries can be broken down and the divisions often found between traditions can be destroyed.
Breadth and depth
Some have said we are intolerant. We know we fail at times to be properly inclusive and we are trying to do better. We are actively seeking discussions with those whose opinions we do not share – discussions which are difficult to have because feelings at times run so high. But we reject intolerance wherever it is found, and we are seriously concerned by some of the un-Anglican behaviour we have seen in recent months – especially around the illegal ordinations in Southwark, the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from some of the Primates of the Global South, and the withdrawal of the appointment of the Bishop of Lake Malawi.
We also recognise that there is still some explanation needed about decisions taken by some parts of the Communion which others find hard to understand, and for that reason we welcome the “listening process” instituted by the Windsor Report
It’s complicated, being Anglican. The threats to our traditions of breadth and depth are many. So InclusiveChurch hopes to provide resources and opportunities for the church at large to remind ourselves who we are. Our proposed activities for 2006 all group loosely under the heading “The Implications of Inclusion.” Because, at heart, the questions raised by inclusion are many – but a fundamental one is, how do we live in love with those with whom we profoundly disagree?
We start with the seminar on Sunday, January 22nd led by the Bishop of Worcester – there are still places available at a cost of 15 pounds and the application form is http://inclusivechurch.net/newsletter/index.html (scroll down).
A prototype Lent Course will delve into scripture to illuminate the scriptural roots for an inclusive faith.
St Alban’s Pilgrimage
We urge as many of you as possible to go to the St Alban’s Day pilgrimage at St Alban’s Abbey on 24th June – organised by the Abbey with the Archbishop of Canterbury as lead president - further details in our “diary events” section online - http://www.inclusivechurch.net/diary/index.html. It will be a joyous and wonderful celebration of all that we hope for.
Conferences and joint working
A seminar with our partner organisations will be held in the summer, and a day conference for everyone – and IC Service - will be held on Saturday 14th October. We will continue to work with our partners through the Synodical structure to try to bring about the full equality of women within the Church and the full recognition of gay and lesbian partnerships.
We are also intending to develop parish links. Many PCC’s have signed up to the Petition and we are conscious we have done little to enable those congregations either to communicate with one another or to follow up their resolutions. We hope to change this.
Underlying all this, we are starting to do some work on the Baptismal Covenant. This key concept from the United States has increasing relevance for the UK; the idea that we are all covenanted to one another by virtue of our baptisms. In that context, we will be building connections across the Anglican Communion.
We don’t yet have enough money to employ a National Coordinator – thank you to those who have given; your money is safely deposited until we can use it for its designated purpose – but in the meantime we will try to ensure that InclusiveChurch is both inclusive and prophetic.
I would be grateful for your thoughts and comments on any of this, especially on our proposed programme for the year –
We are hoping that the debate can now - at last - move on. With two wonderful Archbishops and a real sense of excitement, it seems to us that this is a good time for the Church of England.
We are grateful for your support; and we wish you a happy Christmas.
The laity elections for the Archbishops’ Council have now completed:
Archbishops’ Council: Lay members elected.
There is a further election to be held for two clergy places on the Council.
The most current membership list can be found here.
The BBC Sunday radio programme had this report by Robert Pigott:
House of Bishops
There are increasing signs that division among Anglican bishops is intensifying over how to proceed towards legislation in the Church enabling women to be ordained as bishops. The House of Bishops is to meet tomorrow to discuss what options should be on the table at the General Synod meeting in a few weeks’ time, with opinion on both sides apparently polarising.
Listen with Real Audio (3m 38s)
See also this much briefer summary, Split over women bishops deepens
The Church Times has this report today: Hill sceptical about leak of ‘TEA’ plan which refers to rumours found in two earlier reports: this one in the Church of England Newspaper Commissary plan to appease the opponents of women bishops and this one in the Telegraph Church group is split over women bishops.
The official report of the Bishop of Guildford’s Group will be published on Monday 16 January.
Updated again Monday 9 January
Anglican gay group threatens legal action against Church of Nigeria appeared in Black Britain
Reports of the charges made against Changing Attitude by the Church of Nigeria are appearing in other places:
Church of England Newspaper George Conger Answers wanted on Nigerian gay charity
Ekklesia Nigerian church fraud warning includes allegation against gays
And the ACNS has republished one of the two Nigerian press releases here.
And in Nigeria:
Daily Independent Anglican Church disowns Nigerian gay activist
This Day Anglican Church Disowns Nigerian Gay-Activist
Vanguard Anglican Church disowns Nigerian gay-activist
But there is more information about this issue in the comments on this blog than in any of these reports so far.
Changing Attitude has published a new press release today:
Statement by Changing Attitude (England) about allegations against Changing Attitude Network (Nigeria)
There has been a further development in the story about Changing Attitude Nigeria which has been chronicled in detail on TA previously.
First, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) issued two press releases on 28 December, see PRESS RELEASE - DISCLAIMER- Davis Mac- Iyalla. This leads to a second release which is more general in character, but also contains specific reference to Mac-Iyalla. (The page is currently poorly formatted but remains legible. A copy of it has been republished by ACNS.)
Second, Changing Attitude issued a press release in response to the above, on 31 December, Changing Attitude Network Nigeria responds to criticism by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
The BBC’s radio programme Sunday has several items of Anglican interest today. (Real Audio required.) Full programme details including interesting items on Judaism and Islam as well here.
A big figure on the national religious landscape is stepping down in 2006 - like the Chief Rabbi, Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, has a voice that is listened to outside his immediate constituency. He has been doing the job for 19 years - they were turbulent years for Anglicanism, and he was often to be found hacking away at the coal face of controversy. He talks about the highlights of his career.
Listen (6m 7s)
Ned Temko from the Observer also the former editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Fareena Alam editor of the Muslim magazine Q-News and religious correspondent for The Times; Ruth Gledhill discuss the issue of homosexuality in the Church of England.
Listen (3m 43s)
New Year predictions
A New Year’s Day programme would not be complete without the predictions parlour game. Find out what big stories that the guests think will make it onto all the front pages in the course of the year.
Listen (2m 55s)