Thursday, 30 November 2006

APO: reactions to Primatial Vicar proposal

Updated again Friday evening
The Anglican Communion Network issued a press release at 3.30 pm (EST assumed?) which was headlined National Church “Response” Falls Short and subtitled From the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The same release is also available here.

The Episcopal News Service today released a proposal responding to the request by seven Episcopal dioceses for Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO). It suggests that a “primatial vicar” be appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to serve as her “designated pastor in such dioceses.” The “primatial vicar” would be accountable to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and perform those functions she chooses to delegate, such as episcopal ordinations.

“We are heartened that the national leadership of The Episcopal Church has realized the time has come for structural change. We will study this proposal,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the Anglican Communion Network. “However, at first glance what is proposed is neither primatial, nor oversight, nor is it an alternative to the spiritual authority of one who, by both teaching and action, has expressly rejected the Windsor Report and its recommendations. This is obviously not what was asked for.” Bishop Duncan also observed that what is proposed is in fact less than what was offered and rejected at the first meeting held in New York during September.

Bishop Duncan reiterated his commitment to find a mediated solution to the crisis in The Episcopal Church. “We really do want to talk about all the issues. We want to protect everyone who is unable to travel down the path the majority of The Episcopal Church has clearly chosen, not just those in dioceses that have requested APO. We want to have this conversation and find a way forward that allows all of us to get on with our mission. We are committed to remaining in the mainstream of the Anglican Communion as we proclaim the faith once delivered to the saints,” he said.

Press reports:
The Living Church had Bishops Propose Primatial Vicar for Petitioning Dioceses, and then Network Bishops Reject ‘Primatial Vicar’ Offer; Recommit to Mediated Solution.

Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopalians Reach Out to Conservatives
Update successive versions of this story have caused some confusion. Please read this possible explanation.

Both Jim Naughton and Sarah Dylan Breuer have commented on their blogs. SDB also here. And Mark Harris.

Stand Firm has published an email sent by Bishop Jack Iker to his Fort Worth clergy, and also a comment by David Anderson of the American Anglican Council.

Integrity responded here.


Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 November 2006 at 11:35pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Sentamu dismisses newspaper claims

Speaking on a local radio station in York, the Archbishop of York has dismissed newspaper gossip that he wants to take over as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Archbishop denies Canterbury tale

What is he talking about? See here, and also here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 November 2006 at 7:13pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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APO: Primatial Vicar proposed

Episcopal News Service and Anglican Communion News Service have both released Bishops develop proposal responding to ‘Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury’.

A group of bishops, including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has developed a proposal responding to “An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury” addressing what other petitioning bishops and dioceses have termed “alternative primatial oversight” or “alternative primatial relationship.” Full texts of the group’s response and accompanying statement follow here.

A Response to “An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury”

Some bishops and dioceses of the Episcopal Church have requested that the Archbishop of Canterbury provide what they have variously called “alternative primatial oversight” or an “alternative primatial relationship.” In consultation with the Presiding Bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that a number of bishops from the Episcopal Church meet to explore a way forward. A first meeting took place in September, and a second meeting in November developed the following proposal that seeks to address the concerns of those parishes and dioceses which for serious theological reasons feel a need for space, and to encourage them to remain within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

1. Taking seriously the concerns of the petitioning bishops and dioceses, the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, will appoint a Primatial Vicar in episcopal orders to serve as the Presiding Bishop’s designated pastor in such dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could preside at consecrations of bishops in these dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could also serve the dioceses involved on any other appropriate matters either at the initiative of the Presiding Bishop or at the request of the petitioning dioceses.

2. The Primatial Vicar would be accountable to the Presiding Bishop and would report to an Advisory Panel that would consist of the designee of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop’s designee, a bishop of The Episcopal Church selected by the petitioning dioceses, and the President of the House of Deputies (or designee).

3. This arrangement for a Primatial Vicar does not affect the administrative or other canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop except to the degree that the Presiding Bishop may wish to delegate, when appropriate, some of those duties to the Primatial Vicar. The Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

4. Individual congregations who dissent from the decisions of their diocesan leadership are reminded of the availability of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight and its process of appeal.

5. This arrangement is provisional in nature, in effect for three years, beginning January 1, 2007. During that time, the Presiding Bishop is asked to monitor its efficacy and to consult with the House of Bishops and the Executive Council regarding this arrangement and possible future developments.


A group of bishops, including the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, gathered at the initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, has developed a proposal for the appointment of a Primatial Vicar in response to those bishops and dioceses that have requested what they termed “alternative primatial oversight” or an “alternative primatial relationship.”

Those present at the September meeting, in addition to Bishops Griswold and Jefferts Schori, included Bishops Peter James Lee of Virginia, and Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida, as co-conveners, and Bishops James Stanton of Dallas, Edward Salmon of South Carolina, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, Jack Iker of Fort Worth, Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, Robert O’Neill of Colorado, and Mark Sisk of New York. Bishop Don Wimberly of Texas was invited but did not attend. The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion was also present at the September meeting.

The same bishops and Canon Kearon were invited to the November meeting with the exception of Bishop Griswold who had completed his tenure as Presiding Bishop. Bishop Don Johnson of West Tennessee joined the group in November. Bishops Salmon, Stanton, Iker, Duncan and Wimberly did not attend the November meeting. Bishop Lipscomb, who had been involved in the planning of the meeting, was unexpectedly hospitalized at the time of the November meeting, sent his sincere regrets, and was briefed on the meeting at its conclusion.

The proposal provides for the appointment by the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury of a Primatial Vicar as the Presiding Bishop’s designated pastor to bishops and dioceses that have requested such oversight. The Primatial Vicar, in episcopal orders, could preside at consecrations of bishops in those dioceses. The Primatial Vicar, accountable to the Presiding Bishop, would report to an advisory panel that would include the designees of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, and a bishop of the Episcopal Church selected by the dioceses petitioning for pastoral care by the Primatial Vicar.

The response makes clear that the arrangement does not affect the administrative or other canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop except to the degree that the Presiding Bishop may wish to delegate some of those duties to the Primatial Vicar. The response also specifies that the Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

The response drafted at the New York November 27th meeting is provisional in nature, beginning January 1, 2007 and continuing for three years. The New York group asked the Presiding Bishop to monitor its efficacy, and to consult with the House of Bishops and the Executive Council regarding the arrangement and possible future developments.

The response has been submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the bishops of the petitioning dioceses.

Bishop Lee of Virginia, co-convenor of the meetings that drafted the response said: “The group was conscious of the need to respond quickly to the needs of parishes and dioceses which felt themselves to be under pressure and sought a proposal which could be put into place without delay. Accordingly, this is a provisional measure that is entirely within the discretion of the Presiding Bishop and requires no canonical change nor any action by the General Convention. It is intended to provide some space for dioceses and congregations that feel they need it while the Anglican Communion sorts out more lasting measures to deal with differences. Those of us who drafted it hope it will be received and used in good faith.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 November 2006 at 2:31pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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APO: Bishop Schofield replies to PB

The Bishop of San Joaquin has published his reply to the earlier letter from the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA. You can read it in full on his diocesan website or there is a PDF here which looks more likely to endure as a URL.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 November 2006 at 8:24am GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 29 November 2006

church leaders attack equality regulations

Despite the extensive scope of the “religious exemption” provided in the Northern Ireland regulations, attacks on this legislation, and on the presumed extension of it into the mainland UK, continue from the Daily Mail, from the usual conservative Christian lobby groups, but also from various Christian leaders.

The paid advertisement in The Times yesterday can be seen in full here (PDF file). The group that sponsored this is Coherent and Cohesive Voice. This is an alliance of Black church leaders (“a network of hundreds of Christian leaders in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of voters”) including many names which can be found here.

Complaints about this advertisement can be made to the Advertising Standards Authority.

This group also issued a Briefing Paper last July which can be read here. Both documents contain statements about the effect of these regulations which are just not true.

Tomorrow’s Times carries several letters to the Editor about this matter. One of them is from the Minister for Equality, Meg Munn:

Sir, The Government is seeking to strike a balance between protecting the rights of religious groups and preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

This is a Government, and country, that has a proud record of tackling discrimination wherever it exists. But it is also a country that has a proud record of respecting people from all faiths and none.

No one is proposing that schools will have to promote homosexuality or that a priest will have to bless same-sex couples. But at the same time, it is wrong for gay teenagers to be refused emergency accommodation after being thrown out of their family home on the ground that they had chosen to tell their parents about their sexuality, or for lesbian and bisexual people to be denied access to essential healthcare.

Deputy Minister for
Women and Equalities

And in an interview, Meg Munn said:

“It is right that there should be a public debate on these complex and difficult issues, but that debate should be conducted in a calm and measured way rather than through inaccurate and wild speculation.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 November 2006 at 2:44pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Getting Equal: RC reaction

There is an Anglican angle too: Daily Mail Steve Doughty Anglican bishop threatens to close youth clubs in protest at gay rights. And sidebar Seven out of 10 say beliefs should not be abandoned over gay rights
The bishop is Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester.

There are several reports of what RC archbishop Vincent Nichols has been saying about what he perceives as the government’s intentions in bringing in the proposed new regulations discussed here previously.

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Don’t impose your morality: Catholic Archbishop attacks gay rights bill and editorial comment Blair and the moral backlash
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Archbishop warns of gay rights backlash
Universe Church Fires Broadside Over Government’s Moral Neutrality
Catholic Herald Gay rights law threatens Catholic adoption agencies

It’s rather difficult to see what justification exists for most of these concerns. The Northern Ireland regulations are clear in providing religious bodies with an exemption from almost all the requirements placed on everybody else. The effect is that discimination by a religious organisation, in respect of sexual orientation. is permitted:

(a) if it is necessary to comply with the doctrine of the organisation; or

(b) so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religions followers.

which should be easy for the Roman Catholic church to meet. Charitable bodies, whether or not religious, are also exempted, provided their actions are taken by reason of or in pursuance of their charitable instrument.

The two principles from which there is no exemption provided in Northern Ireland are:

  • The requirement to refrain from harassment (see here for what this means)
  • The requirement that nobody providing education or social services at public expense will be allowed to discriminate in the provision of those services.

Postscript: there was a full page advertisement in The Times today placed by a group called Coherent and Cohesive Voice, self-described as “a network of hundreds of Christian leaders in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of voters”. Follow this link to read the text of the advertisement. Several claims made in the advertisement are quite false.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 November 2006 at 9:44pm GMT | Comments (79) | TrackBack
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APO: open letter to Canterbury

An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury Regarding requests for “alternative primatial oversight” has been posted here. Signatures from within ECUSA are invited.

The covering notice says:

The following letter originated from The Consultation Steering Committee, a network which includes representatives from the following organizations in The Episcopal Church: Integrity, Episcopal Urban Caucus, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Episcopal Women’s Caucus, Union of Black Episcopalians, Episcopal Ecological Network, National Episcopal AIDS Coalition, Province VIII Indigenous Ministries, Episcopal Church Publishing Company, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Advocates, and Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission.

A further note concerning the provenance of this letter can be found here. Also:

An advance copy of the letter was sent in early November to Archbishop Williams, with copies to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies. The Consultation Steering Committee will send a formal letter with signatures to the Archbishop of Canterbury after it has been available online for signatures.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 November 2006 at 7:40pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 27 November 2006

APO: further developments

First, a letter has just been released by the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth: this copy is on the NACDAP site; another copy is on the Pittsburgh site. Fort Worth has a PDF showing the original letterhead.

Bishops Decline Invitation to Second Summit

Released by The Diocese of Fort Worth on November 27, 2006:

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, have declined an invitation from the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of Virginia, to attend a second Summit Meeting of bishops requesting Alternate Primatial Oversight with the Presiding Bishop and two co-conveners, Bishop Lee and the Rt. Rev. John Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida. In fact, none of the bishops of those dioceses that have requested APO will be attending. The proposed meeting was scheduled to begin today. The first Summit, convened at the request of the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, was held in September at the offices of the Church Pension Group in New York City. Bishop Iker enumerated the reasons for the decision in a reply he sent to Bishop Lee on Tuesday, Nov. 21, on behalf of Bishop Duncan and himself.

Full text of the letter is here.

Second, there are reports at Fr Jake of Bp. Schofield’s Deanery Presentations. An extract:

Regarding the meeting of the Windsor bishops, Bp. Schofield claims they received a message from Archbishop Rowan Williams containing these words; ” I believe the Windsor bishops are the hope of the future of the American church. I want to encourage you and I pray that your numbers will grow.”

Regarding the recent meeting with the Steering Committee of the Global South Primates, Bp. Schofield offers us some new information. Abps. Gomez (West Indies), Venables (Southern Cone), Akinola (Nigeria), Chew (South East Asia), Nzimbi (Kenya) and Akrofi (West Africa) were present. Those representing the Network that were mentioned by name included Bps. Schofield, Salmon and Duncan and Bill Thompson of All Saints, Long Beach.

The Primates were asking for specific things of the Network;
1. Unity
2. A single spokesman (Bp. Duncan was selected)
3. Signatures on a document which will be submitted to the Primates (all present signed, although the contents of the document were not revealed.)

Bp. Schofield announced that he had received a message from Bp. Duncan stating that the Primates (apparently the 6 listed above) said that they endorsed what was being proposed in San Joaquin, encouraged them to go forward with their plan to make the changes in their constitution (which eliminates all references to The Episcopal Church), but then the Primates said not to have an immediate second reading. They do not want San Joaquin to get ahead of the other dioceses. (The constitutional changes do not technically go into effect until the second reading).

According to Bp. Schofield, the Primates want to see a new Network Province set up, but not just with San Joaquin as a member. They want a number of dioceses represented. The Primates want to see San Joaquin unified with other dioceses, and willing to take direction from them. From this point on, the Primates would call the shots. San Joaquin was to go forward with the first reading and then await further instructions from the Global South Primates.

Third, Lionel Deimel has written this analysis: Unqualified Accession which deals with the question How might a diocese rationalize a right to abrogate its accession to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church?

And for your convenience the Chapman memo is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 November 2006 at 10:39pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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the figleaf of "reception"

The penetrating analysis of the Catholic Herald interview, and its spinoffs in the Telegraph and The Times, that appeared in the Church Times, is now on public view: Press: What Dr Williams didn’t mean by Andrew Brown.

Everyone who has followed the story of women priests knows that every archbishop has to pretend that there is a chance that the decision to ordain women might be reversed. That is the figleaf of “reception”, which allows Forward in Faith and Reform, in their turn, to pretend to be part of the Church of England.

You may think that this is a silly bargain, but it is the one that the Synod and the Church as a whole have signed up to. This is well understood by all the journalists who, despite that, wrote last week’s story as if it were significantly true: Ruth Gledhill, Jonathan Petre, and its originator, Damian Thompson. They all covered the vote in 1992. Ruth, on her blog, and Jonathan, in the course of his story, made it quite clear that they saw no truth in their own headlines.

Much of the Catholic Herald material has rotated off its website. But you can still find the interview itself here (third URL since inception).

And also, there was this article by Damian Thompson which appeared in the Guardian No wonder the Archbishop of Canterbury chose to speak to us. For background on another Catholic Herald columnist go here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 November 2006 at 3:45pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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animal ethics

Another item from the BBC Sunday radio programme:

New think tank for animal rights opens
What rights, if any, do animals have? What’s described as the world’s first academy, to enhance the ethical status of animals, opens in Britain tomorrow. The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics will act as an international think tank with its own online course, research initiatives and publications. It’s focusing in particular on the relationship between animal abuse and human violence. More than 100 academics from ten countries have agreed to become advisers in an attempt to put animals on the intellectual agenda. But, with many conflicting views on such issues as experimentation and organic farming, how effective will the centre be? Mike Ford reports from Oxfordshire.
Listen (6m 9s)

BBC Religion & Ethics - Animal ethics

The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics

Evening Standard Think tank aims to spark animal ethics debate
There is also a Church Times report about this which I will link when it becomes public.

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Sunday, 26 November 2006

some recent Telegraph articles

Earlier in the week, there was this Daily Telegraph news story by Andrew Pierce Williams may quit over ‘criticism from Carey’ and this comment piece by Damian Thompson The archbishop’s days are numbered.

This article appeared in the Sunday Telegraph today:
I support Rowan: we are working together by George Carey.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 11:27pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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another CEN article

The November Fulcrum newsletter has also appeared this week in the Church of England Newspaper. It is titled
Splitters United or Patient Pressure? by Graham Kings.

The Splitters reference is to Truro Church and The Falls Church. Fulcrum thinks they and anyone else should stay and participate in the making of an Anglican covenant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 11:16pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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research on women priests

Several reports today of new academic research:

BBC Church ‘in need of women priests’
Reuters Women priests given “dregs” in Church of England
Press Association Women priests ‘could save Church’
Economic & Social Research Council press release Women priests will ‘save church from sinking’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 3:37pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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RW interviewed on BBC

The BBC radio programme Sunday starts with an interview of Rowan Williams conducted by David Willey in Rome. Listen to it here. (Real Audio, about 6 minutes). This includes quite a bit about the Catholic Herald interview as well as about the visit to the Pope.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 3:15pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 25 November 2006

Getting Equal: more from Northern Ireland

The government consultation on this legislation in Northern Ireland was based on this document (PDF - warning very large document, 2.6 Mb), and this questionnaire. It generated 373 responses, some of which can be found here, and this analysis of the responses (PDF - very small). The analysis is well worth reading.

The Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, issued this press release on 23 November:

Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland (EANI) today responded to new equality legislation designed to outlaw discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, services and facilities.

Responding to the new regulations Stephen Cave, General Secretary, said, ‘During this ‘Anti-homophobia Week’ Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland recognises that unfortunately homophobia can and does occur within faith based communities. We renounce any homophobia which manifests itself in terms of victimisation and abusive, demeaning or other violent attitudes and behaviour.’

Commenting on the details of the legislation he went on to say, ‘There are serious questions which must be addressed about the rushed nature of the consultation process and quick implementation of the regulations. However EANI acknowledges the work done by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in listening to the concerns of religious organisations and subsequently providing exemptions to ensure that core doctrinal beliefs are not undermined.

We also note the introduction to the legislation of a harassment clause offering those of different sexual orientation protection against violation of dignity or the creation of an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. In keeping with the spirit of laws against discrimination we would caution against any potential use of this legislation which would curb freedom of speech or curtail religious liberty in Northern Ireland. We would also hope that it will not be long until the same protection against harassment is afforded to people of faith across the community.’

The harassment clause mentioned, which as the analysis explains was requested by many who responded, reads as follows:

(3) A person (“A”) subjects another person (“B”) to harassment in any circumstances relevant for the purposes of any provision referred to in these Regulations where, on the ground of sexual orientation, A engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of —

(a) violating B’s dignity; or

(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B

This needs to be read in conjunction with:

(4) Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) or paragraph (1) only if, having regard to all the circumstances, including, in particular, the perception of B, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.

Religious Exemption: for a comparison between the wording of these NI regulations and the text of the Equality Act part 2 relating to Religion and Belief, see this page.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 12:27pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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opposing equality

The TA item below about the new Northern Ireland regulations prompted quite a few reader comments about “evangelical” opposition to this legislation.

Stephen Bates wrote about just this last month in the Church of England Newspaper.

View from Fleet Street
article for CEN, 27.10.06
By Stephen Bates

Next March I am sure we shall all be commemorating what is arguably the greatest and most progressive social and moral reform ever achieved by Englishmen motivated by Evangelical zeal: it will be the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Men such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp – Evangelical Anglicans all – will be remembered for their determination to right a grievous wrong, as will those who inspired them, John Newton, the former slave ship captain who eventually repented and Olaudah Equiano whose autobiography opened English eyes to the horrors of the trade.

In preparation for this last week I attended a conference at Methodist Central Hall arranged by the Set All Free group, an umbrella body of Churches Together in England, which is coordinating the religious side of the commemoration. They – we –congratulated ourselves that England had pioneered the abolition movement, recollected that there is still more to be done – an estimated 12 million people around the world are still in one sort of indentured slavery or another – and adjourned for lunch.

As we did so, I was approached by a smartly dressed black man from the Evangelical Alliance who introduced himself and politely invited me to another press conference, this time one that the EA would be arranging, to launch its campaign to persuade the Government to exempt Evangelical Christians who run hotels and boarding houses from having to accept homosexual guests.

The irony of an Evangelical arguing in favour of discrimination at a gathering to celebrate the ending of discrimination’s most egregious example seemed to have passed him by completely. “Am I not a man and a brother?” was the abolitionists’ catch-phrase in the 1790s. Not if you’re gay, matey, seems to be the Evangelicals’ response in the first decade of the new millennium.

As I pondered this on my way back to the office, I fell to wondering about the practicalities of such an exemption. To put it bluntly, how do hoteliers know? An old Fawlty Towers episode sprang irresistibly to mind: the one where Basil, convinced a young guest of whom he disapproves has smuggled a woman into his room, climbs a ladder to peer in through the window.

You may remember the outcome: he just has time to register that he is looking through the wrong window at a perfectly respectable couple getting undressed for bed before he topples over backwards to disappear from view. When he does finally obtain admission to the room, Basil discovers that the young man (having hidden his girlfriend) is entertaining his sweet old mother instead. Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense, as they say in court circles.

You may say it is easy to tell if two men want to share a room together, but my thoughts went back to my first-ever visit to the US nearly 30 years ago, in the decadent days of that former Sunday school teacher, President Jimmy Carter, when a friend and I drove from New York to Los Angeles, sharing a room in cheap motels each night and never once being asked whether we were gay. I think we may even have had to share a king-sized bed in the only room available for miles one night in the middle of the Texas panhandle.

But if Evangelical hoteliers object to gays, aren’t there others whose lifestyles they also ought to reject? Unfortunately not all of them come branded with a scarlet letter or marked with a pink star. They are not all as easy to spot as black people or Irish in the bad old days of racial discrimination.But homosexuality is as much an identity as ethnicity is.

What about adulterers, or people “living in sin” – should they be required to produce their marriage certificates or, if appropriate, divorce papers, before being admitted? Are they sure that the guest’s children were not born out of wedlock? Or what about people who have had sex-changes? I understand some of these Thai ladyboys are very convincing these days: perhaps to be on the safe side, it would be best to require birth certificates as well. But even those can be changed now so I suppose you never can tell.

Better than being accused of hypocrisy or prejudice, perhaps it would be best to allow only those who are entirely spotless, which might mean limiting the clientele somewhat, or choosing another career in which one might not have to accommodate the world in all its imperfections.

But then I thought that perhaps it would be better after all to be allowed to hang a sign saying No Gays outside one’s door. Then at least those of us who don’t choose to associate with such bigots will appreciate that we wouldn’t wish to spend the night in their establishments.

Stephen Bates is the Guardian’s religious affairs correspondent.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 11:21am GMT | Comments (60) | TrackBack
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more about Bishop Katharine

Earlier this month, the Witness published a lengthy article about the new American Presiding Bishop.
Katharine Jefferts Schori Takes Office on a Wing and a Prayer.

Sarah Dylan Breuer draws from an interview with the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori as well as experience of serving alongside her in two church bodies for an in-depth profile of the 26th Presiding Bishop and some personal predictions of what the church might expect in her tenure.

More recently, the New York Times Magazine published an interview with her headlined State of the Church. Some of this drew criticism, but as Fr Jake explained both here and here, her replies are factually correct.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 10:20am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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columns to think about

The Times has an excerpt from Doing Theology in Altab Ali Park a new book by Kenneth Leech, A street theologian outside the city gates.

The Times also has: Fearless in the face of tyranny by Simon Caldwell about Abp Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, and Time to stand up for our beliefs by Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

The Guardian has Mark Vernon writing about Thomas Aquinas in Face to Faith.

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse reminds us that Church of England bishops once banned the English Hymnal.

And from the USA, this column in USA Today When religion loses its credibility by Oliver “Buzz” Thomas.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 9:22am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Friday, 24 November 2006

British Airways to review policy

Updated twice Saturday

More on the British Airways affair.

Earlier today, both Giles Fraser and Stephen Bates expressed opinions:
Christians urgently need to offer a better account of the cross than simply that it’s a badge of identity
A cross BA has to bear.

News reports of developments in the story flowed all day:
BBC Bishop condemns BA’s cross policy,

Evening Standard 13 bishops join the chorus against BA’s ban on cross.

This afternoon, the CofE issued Archbishop of Canterbury comments on British Airways.

This was quickly picked up in the media, e.g. Reuters Anglicans review ties to British Airways over cross.

And then, British Airways announced: British Airways to review uniform policy.

Saturday reports
The Times BA responds to backlash by lifting ban on small crosses
Guardian How the archbishop took on the world’s favourite airline - and won
Telegraph BA will review uniform policy after crucifix row (Note to Damian T: please tell your headline writers the difference between a cross and a crucifix)

Update The Daily Mail reported crucial additional information:

Archbishop Peter Akinola, Anglican leader in Nigeria, said: ‘As far as we are concerned the decision to ban the cross by BA has religious undercurrents.

‘The trend in your country is to devalue its religious heritage. If BA says no to the cross, we shall start using another airline. I shall do everything I can to urge Christian leaders to boycott BA.’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 10:46pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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reports from Rome

First published Tuesday; updated each day since

Tuesday items

BBC Archbishop begins Vatican visit
Reuters Anglican leader: Don’t panic about immigrants
The Times Ruth Gledhill Archbishop - terrorism down to poverty and ABC in Rome: Let’s all live under Benedict’s Rule

Wednesday additions

Lambeth Palace press release Archbishop- St Benedict challenges modern civilisation to ask itself what it is for and full text of Tuesday’s Speech given at St Anselmo in Rome - ‘Benedict and the future of Europe’

ACNS Archbishop and Cardinal Pray in the Sistine Chapel

Vatican Radio interview with Bill Franklin and another one with Fred Bliss.

Thursday additions

More, including some video, from Ruth Gledhill here.

Lambeth Palace press release Archbishop and Pope share worship: ‘our churches share witness and service’
Archbishop’s greeting to Pope Benedict (full text)
ACNS copy of the press release with several pictures and additional material
Vatican copy of the Common Declaration
Vatican copy of the Pope’s statement

Reuters Pope, Anglican leader discuss obstacles to unity
Associated Press Pope and archbishop of Canterbury acknowledge serious obstacles to closer ties
BBC Archbishop and Pope admit strains

And also…
In an apparent competition for unlikely headlines, this morning we had:
The Times Vatican may relax rules on condoms
Telegraph Pope questions his infallibility

Friday additions

Church Times Williams warns of inhumane future by Rupert Shortt
Telegraph ‘Serious obstacles’ in talks of unity by Jonathan Petre
The Times Church leaders vow to combat terrorism by Ruth Gledhill
Guardian Pope and archbishop seek to shift emphasis from divisive issues by John Hooper and Stephen Bates
Ruth Gledhill’s latest blog entry here.
New York Times Catholic and Anglican Leaders Vow United Effort by Ian Fisher

Saturday additions
‘Secularism, Faith and Freedom’ Archbishop’s lecture given at the pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Rome and associated press release.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 8:17am GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Fulcrum on Human Rights in Nigeria

Fulcrum has published an article entitled Human Rights, Homosexuality and the Anglican Communion: Reflections in Light of Nigeria by Ephraim Radner and Andrew Goddard.
(Dr Radner is an American colleague of Andrew’s in the Anglican Communion Institute).

The article is lengthy and needs to be read carefully. It contains, early on, this summary of its conclusion:

…It will seem repugnant to some, of course, that we might even raise a question about the conclusion regarding gay rights at this point in history. It needs, therefore, to be said here that the conclusion of this paper is that the Church ought to work to protect a range of civil liberties for gay people, and that the Nigerian Church’s support of its nation’s anti-gay legislation is wrong. However, the conclusion is not obvious in advance of a chain of arguments. These arguments have not been generally rehearsed in present debates and, even here, will be pursued only sketchily. Hence, the conclusion cannot be assumed at all, and does in fact need justification. Bishop Chane’s “line”, the “crossing” of which marks the passage from a legitimately contested approval of same-sex unions into the abuse of human rights is not at all well-defined and established.

Or is it?

Read the whole article.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 6:37pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Getting Equal: Northern Ireland goes ahead

Articles from 10 June and from 30 June and 20 August reported on the Getting Equal consultation conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry.

More recently, I reported on 15 October, that action had been delayed until next April.

My earlier Church Times article is unfortunately not available at present from the CT archive, so is reproduced below the fold.

This week, the government has taken action earlier than that, but in Northern Ireland. See this report in the Telegraph Gay rights law ‘being forced through’.

Today, there is a further report in the Daily Mail Vicars could be sued for refusing to bless gay weddings, fears Church which claim may well be unjustified.

Anglican Mainstream and The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship have become even more hysterical than usual about this, and the latter’s public policy website, Christian Concern for our Nation contains yet another plea for its supporters to deluge politicians to stop all this action.

The proposed regulations for Northern Ireland, which have been published by the Northern Ireland Office, can be read here: The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006. The document is described as follows:

Made 8th November 2006
To be laid before Parliament under paragraph 7(3) of the Schedule to the Northern Ireland Act 2000
Coming into operation 1st January 2007

The wording of these regulations contains some material that is specific to Northern Ireland, but is presumably broadly consistent with the government’s intentions for the whole UK. Watch out for further analysis of this soon.

Equally, a matter of orientation
Originally published in the 23 June 2006 edition of the Church Times

THE Archbishops’ Council recently responded to Getting Equal, the latest DTI consultation on outlawing discrimination. The Church does not agree with the Government over the extent to which it should be allowed to discriminate against people on grounds of sexual orientation.

A White Paper in May 2004 eventually led to Parliament approving the Equality Act 2006 in February. Media coverage focused on the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which will replace three existing agencies from October 2007. It will be responsible for preventing discrimination in six areas of concern: race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, and religion or belief. But the Act covers much more.

Discrimination in the provision of “goods, facilities and services” is already illegal in respect of gender, race, and disability. Part two of the Act contains detailed provisions to outlaw such discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. They take effect in October.

They state that it is immaterial whether or not a charge is made for goods, facilities or services. There are, however, exemptions allowing a religious organisation (unless its main purpose is commercial) to limit its membership, participation in its activities, provision of goods, facilities, and services in the course of such activities, and use of its premises. Any religious body may thus lawfully discriminate in all these areas against members of another religion, or of another Christian denomination.

Part three of the Act enables the Government to make corresponding regulations in relation to sexual orientation, hence the consultation, which opened in March and closed on 5 June. The Government will respond within 12 weeks, and then lay regulations before Parliament for approval, to take effect in October.

THE main issue is that the Government clearly wishes the sexual orientation exemptions for religious bodies to be significantly more restrictive than those for religion or belief. The DTI said in its consultation document:

“We are interested to hear views on the impact that the regulations may have in these areas [“the doctrines of some faiths concerning sexual orientation”], particularly where the regulations may impede religious observance or practices that arise from the basic doctrines of a faith. Any exceptions . . . for religious organisations would need to be clearly defined and our starting point is that these should be limited to activities closely linked to religious observance or practices that arise from the basic doctrines of a faith.

“Religious organisations also have a role in providing wider services to the community with a social or welfare aspect . . . We do not see a case for exempting such services.”

The Archbishops’ Council argues that this approach would require the courts to determine doctrinal matters, which they have consistently declined to do; that Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects much wider religious rights than this implies; and that the Government also fails to take account of Section 13 (1) of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Council was also concerned that including church schools in the proposed regulations might extend beyond such matters as admissions and discipline (to which it had no objection) to the curriculum, and even worship. These areas, it says, are already adequately covered under the Education Act 1996.

The Council seeks all the same exemptions as are in the religion or belief provisions. These would give churches, mosques, and others carte blanche to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Council also repeats the claim that behaviour, not orientation, is the sole locus of concern (though this might not convince many who observed the “Reading affair”).

Specific exemptions for church schools relating to curriculum and worship are also sought, along with another for the use of school premises. This last was justified on the perhaps odd grounds that “Faith schools might be required to make their premises equally available to groups [that] . . . could give considerable offence to the conscientiously held beliefs of staff and parents.”

THE DIFFICULTY is that English law does not recognise the distinction between orientation and behaviour.
As Mr Justice Richards said in 2004, concerning the religious exemptions that were being argued over in the 2003 Employment Equality regulations (his italics):

“One of the matters that will need to be considered in examining the challenge to that provision, is a distinction drawn between sexual orientation and sexual behaviour. As regards the protection conferred by the [European] Convention [on Human Rights], however, I do not consider there to be any material difference between them. Sexual orientation and its manifestation in sexual behaviour are both inextricably connected with a person’s private life and identity.”

Nevertheless, the Church persists in arguing that “It is crucial to ensure that churches and other faith communities and their members are able to manifest their own doctrines and convictions in this area without fear of legal sanction.”

So it might be hard to convince the DTI that such sweeping exemptions are a proportionate response to the Church’s views on sexuality. Its case is surely weakened when the Council admits that “a range of views is held on that moral issue within the Church.”

Yet the Council chose not to deploy the argument used by Anglican Mainstream: that religion and orientation are both entirely a matter of personal choice. It is hard to see how the differences might be resolved, when the Council is asking for a wholesale exemption, and the Government is seeking to limit the Church’s protection from the law.

Simon Sarmiento is a former personnel director of a large software company.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 12:00pm GMT | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 21 November 2006

AffCath calls for archbishop to tell whole truth

Anglican-catholics call on Archbishop to tell the whole truth in Rome is the title of a press release issued by Affirming Catholicism:

The progressive Anglican organisation Affirming Catholicism marked the Vatican visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev’d Rowan Williams, beginning today, by calling on Dr Williams to tell the whole truth about the Anglican Communion when he meets Pope Benedict XVI this week. The Chair of Trustees, the Rev’d Canon Nerissa Jones MBE said today.

The word catholic comes from the greek for wholeness, which means that the Church should lovingly speak the whole truth about humanity and about God. For Rowan Williams this week, that means working with the Pope to concentrate on the really big issues facing humanity at large and not just a narrow Church agenda. We share a common concern for humanity and the world and tackling together issues such as poverty, the environmental crisis and the need for dialogue between races and religions will help hasten the unity for which Christ prayed.

Addressing the internal divisions in and between the Churches, the Director of Affirming Catholicism, the Rev’d Richard Jenkins said:

As well as discussing conflicts in the Church, we hope that the Archbishop will also bear witness to the real gifts Anglicans bring to the Universal Church such as the joyful reception of women’s ordination in many provinces. Even our honest struggling with the demands of unity and local diversity can help a world where division can easily spill over into violence and hatred. We have much to receive from the Roman Catholic Church, but we have much to offer too.

The organisation Affirming Catholicism celebrates its 15th anniversary at the beginning of December. Since its inception it has grown to encompass 1500 national members, local groups in nearly every English diocese, a one hundred strong presence on General Synod as well as groups in other Anglican provinces and a range of publications which include Rowan Williams himself as an author. The progressive organisation has stated that its sees Anglicanism as a reforming movement in the wider universal Church, seeking to show that Christianity is not essentially patriarchal and calling on the Church to become more inclusive and focussed on serving the needs of common humanity.


The organisation celebrates its 15th Anniversary on 2 December at 11.30 am with a celebratory Eucharist at St Mary le Bow, Cheapside, London. The Rt Rev’d David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury and President of the movement, will celebrate and the Rev’d Angela Tilby will preach.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 3:03pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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archbishop visits Rome

The Archbishop of Canterbury starts a six day visit to Rome today. You can read the official press release here. More details of the programme of events here.

Yesterday and today, the BBC Thought for the Day radio programme had speakers who referred to this visit.
Monday - Clifford Longley - At times in our lives we can lose our way and theology can help us find our path again - read it here.
Tuesday - Tom Butler - Women priests aren’t a problem they’re a blessing - read it here.

David Willey of the BBC wrote this analysis: Churches remain divided on issues.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 10:20am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Sentamu responds to British Airways case

The Archbishop of York has issued this press release: ARCHBISHOP DERIDES ”FLAWED REASONING” OF BA CROSS DECISION.

This responds to the decision announced today concerning a British Airways employee, see for example, BBC Woman loses fight to wear cross.

Some other press reports:
Press Association BA criticised in cross row
Associated Press British Airways employee loses appeal to wear cross necklace at work
Reuters BA worker loses appeal over right to wear crucifix
BBC Archbishop attacks BA cross rules
The Times BA worker loses appeal in row over cross
Telegraph Archbishop blasts BA as employee loses cross appeal
Guardian BA woman loses appeal against ban on wearing a cross at work

The official British Airways response is not on the web, but a copy of it that was emailed to me is below the fold.

British Airways statement

British Airways has 34,000 uniformed staff, all of whom know they must abide by our uniform policy. The policy does NOT ban staff from wearing a cross. It lays down that personal items of jewellery, including crosses, may be worn - but underneath the uniform. Other airlines have the same policy.

  • Our uniformed staff, many thousands of whom are Christian, have happily accepted the policy for years. The policy recognises that it is not practical for some religious symbols such as turbans and hijabs to be worn underneath the uniform. This is purely a question of practicality. There is no discrimination between faiths whatsoever.
  • British Airways is a worldwide company operating in 90 different countries. We have staff and customers of all faiths and none. The uniform policy reflects the need to present a professional and consistent image wherever we operate.
  • In Nadia Eweida’s case, she is not suspended and we want her to come back to work. We have explained to her the need to comply with the uniform policy like all her colleagues, whatever their faith..She is refusing to do this. We have also offered her an alternative non-uniformed post, in which she would be able to wear her cross openly.

Nadia was told today that her grievance appeal against the uniform policy had been unsuccessful. We understand she intends to exercise her right to a second appeal.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 8:08am GMT | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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Monday, 20 November 2006

APO: a view from the House of Bishops Task Force

The Living Church has a report Bishop Sauls: Not All APO Requests Violate Canons that tells us something about what the House of Bishops’ Task Force on Property Disputes thinks.

…Despite the fact that both Central Florida and South Carolina have appealed for alternative oversight, Bishop Sauls said neither diocese is under scrutiny.

“Appeals for alternative primatial oversight are not in and of themselves a problematic action,” Bishop Sauls said, “It doesn’t rise to the same level. We see no evidence that the leadership in either diocese is attempting to change its name or take property held in trust for the national church…”

An earlier Living Church report is here: Bishops’ Task Force Identifies ‘Problem’ Dioceses which lists them as:

…Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, Rio Grande, San Diego, San Joaquin, and Springfield.

This topic is also covered in an earlier report from ENS.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 November 2006 at 6:49pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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APO: San Joaquin gets a letter

Updated Tuesday afternoon

The Presiding Bishop of ECUSA has made public a letter she has sent to the Bishop of San Joaquin. You can read it in full on Episcopal News Service.

The wording of this letter is blunt. Here is an extract:

I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to “uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care.

I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the “doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.” If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity…

The letter to which Bishop Katharine refers can be read in full here. TA’s own report is here.

The letter still has not appeared on the diocesan website. Here however is a local Bakersfield Californian news report of last Friday: Area diocese plans split with church.

The Living Church has reported: Presiding Bishop Urges San Joaquin Bishop to Reverse Course.

San Joaquin: What Can We Do? contains an appeal from Remain Episcopal, a group in the San Joaquin diocese. This was issued before the Presiding Bishop’s letter was published.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 November 2006 at 6:20pm GMT | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 19 November 2006

still more on that interview

Judith Maltby writes in Comment is free about the Catholic Herald interview: A tall order.

The BBC radio programme Sunday had coverage of it too. Christina Rees and Lucy Winkett are interviewed. Listen here (Real Audio, about 3.5 minutes). It’s also discussed later in the programme, in connection with the forthcoming visit of Rowan Williams to the Pope, in an interview with Stephen Bates. That item can be heard here (3.5 minutes).

In the Sunday Telegraph June Osborne writes, What we really need are women bishops.

In the Independent Peter Stanford The Sunday Profile: Rowan Williams

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 19 November 2006 at 12:38pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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APO: reports from Ft Worth and South Carolina

Updated again Monday
The Diocese of South Carolina held its annual convention last Thursday and Friday. A report is on the diocesan website. This includes the information that a resolution was passed confirming the request for an “Alternative Primatial Relationship”:

“Be it resolved that this 216th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina endorse the action of the Standing Committee, taken June 28, 2006 in requesting from the Archbishop of Canterbury an Alternative Primatial Relationship.

And be it further resolved that this Convention authorize the Diocesan Bishop (with Bishop Salmon acting in his stead until the consecration of Fr. Lawrence), together with the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council, to implement the details of this request, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, his Panel of Reference, the Primates of the Communion, and the leadership and bishops of the Anglican Communion Network.”

The Diocese of Fort Worth also held its annual convention on Saturday. There, a number of resolutions were passed. Reports of them can be found here, and here. The APO resolution was passed:

#1 upholding the appeal made by the Standing Committee for APO
Clergy 51 in favor. 12 opposed. 80% in favor.
Lay 102 in favor. 21 opposed. 82% in favor.

The official Fort Worth diocesan report is now here.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported it this way: Appeal for new leader is affirmed and also Secede: the only option?
Update 27 November See here for a letter by Katie Sherrod responding to the previous item (scroll down for last letter)

Monday The Episcopal News Service has published a full report by Suzanne Gill FORT WORTH: Diocese withdraws from Province VII, adopts procedure for parishes to leave Anglican Communion Network.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 19 November 2006 at 12:00am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 18 November 2006

this week's opinion columns

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes of An imperative call to Christian unity as Archbishop meets Pope.
In The Tablet there is a very valuable article by R William Franklin When Rowan goes to Rome.
The opinions of Rowan Williams on all this are in the Church Times.

There is also a leader column in The Tablet, related to the recent joint CofE-RC bishops meeting, Danger of Growing Paranoia.

In connection with all these see also the opinion of the editors of the Catholic Herald whose leader column is titled: An archbishop with whom we can do business.

Turning to other topics, the Guardian has a column by David Haslam on Hinduism. The Times has a column by Jonathan Romain on Judaism.

The Church Times has a column by Giles Fraser When the believers are the rebels. Another piece by Giles Fraser was his Thought for the Day on Friday on the BBC: Fundamentalism proposes a God built from layers of human insecurity.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 18 November 2006 at 10:02am GMT | Comments (71) | TrackBack
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Friday, 17 November 2006

more Virginia documents

The Diocese of Virginia has published the following:

Press release Standing Committee Takes Further Review of Special Committee Report

Text of Special Committee Report (PDF format)

Press release A Letter to the Diocese of Virginia from the Standing Committee

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 November 2006 at 11:31pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Church Times interviews Rowan Williams

Paul Handley talked to Rowan Williams.

Less a Roman holiday, more an Italian job

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 November 2006 at 1:24pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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more on the Catholic Herald interview

Updated Saturday

The Guardian on Friday has both a news report and a leader article concerning this:
Stephen Bates Women clergy rail at ‘misquoted’ Williams
leader: Turbulent priests

Anyone who was wondering who the Catholic Herald interviewer was can find out a bit more here link now broken, text copied below the fold here. The wording of this piece, as that of the leader column linked below, is quite revealing of the mindset of the Catholic Herald.
The Catholic Herald’s own front page news report, headlined Anglicans could ‘think again’ on women priests, says Williams. The Catholic Herald also has a leader column on the subject: An archbishop with whom we can do business.

The BBC’s Robert Pigott has a further article, A misunderstanding on women priests? and the BBC changed the headline on its news article yet again, this time to ‘No doubts’ over ordaining women (this URL was previously headlined Williams mulls women’s ordination and even earlier had been Archbishop cool on female priests).

The Telegraph has added a copy of the full transcript of the original interview to its website. That URL may prove has already proved more durable than the first URL of the original (changed URL).

The Living Church has a report by George Conger Archbishop Williams: ‘Full Support’ for Women’s Ordination

Meanwhile, the Church Times which has its own major interview with Rowan Williams in today’s paper edition, reports Primate will commend women priests to the Pope.

Ekklesia has also reported, Idea of me questioning women priests is nonsense, says Dr Williams

Catholic Herald Editor’s Blog A Graceful Intervention
The editor, Luke Coppen, is off on “parental leave”. Last weekend, his wife, Marlena, gave birth to a girl, Grace. Luke is, of course, delighted with his child, but he might – repeat might – have one tiny, trifling regret about missing this week at the Herald. On Thursday, he was supposed to interview Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as a precursor to the Anglican leader’s trip to Rome later this month. 
Luke, though firmly orthodox in his Catholic faith, takes a great interest in the Dr Williams’s spiritual writings and is particularly intrigued by Catholic influences on the archbishop’s thought. As editor of the Herald, he had long sought an interview, only to be repeatedly fobbed off by Lambeth Palace press officers.  He emerged from his office in a jubilant temper a few weeks ago, when he announced that finally he had arranged a Q & A session with the archbishop. He spent some time pondering what to ask and preparing himself for the encounter. Then Grace intervened.
So it fell to me, Luke’s deputy, to carry out the interview, armed with a set of dazzlingly profound and challenging questions, which my boss had composed.
Dr Williams was very friendly and engaging, evidently pleased to discuss matters of more depth than the usual press enquiries about gays, beards and eyebrows.
The interview, which will appear in next week’s issue of the Herald, should be of considerable interest to Catholics. Archbishop Williams reveals what he wants to talk about with Benedict XVI, offering a frank assessment of the future of Christian unity and of the ecumenical obstacles erected by the ordination of women in the church of England.
Catholics have wildly differing opinions of the Archbishop of Canterbury – perhaps some Herald readers will frown at the sight of a full, two-page interview with him. But if the Pope is talking to him, then so should we.
The two leaders share a desire to rebuff the pestilential winds of militant secularism and create a world in which the Christian faith can prosper, a world in which the soul of little Grace Coppen can grow.

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Thursday, 16 November 2006

APO: Fort Worth news

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has a report today headlined Diocese delegates consider alternate leader

Delegates in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth this weekend will consider whether to affirm Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker’s appeal to give local Episcopal churches separate leadership from Katharine Jefferts Schori, who became the denomination’s national leader this month…

The resolutions mentioned in the article can all be found on the diocesan website:

endorsing APO
endorsing withdrawal from Province VII

Concerning Recognition of the Minority in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

Concerning a Listening Process in the Diocese of Fort Worth

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, this paid advertisment appeared in the same newspaper, as explained by Katie Sherrod in MANY Fort Worth Episcopalians are delighted.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 12:24pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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women clergy: the Catholic Herald interview

UPDATED Lambeth Palace has issued a press release Archbishop - newspaper reports ‘wilful misinterpretation’. Both ACNS and the CofE website have also published it.

… “I made it clear in the interview with the Catholic Herald and will continue to do so that I see no theological justification for any revisiting of this question and indicated in the interview three times that I had no wish to reopen it, whatever technical possibilities might theoretically exist.”

“The presentation of this to mean anything else is wilful misinterpretation. My convictions mean that I feel nothing less than full support for the decision the Church of England made in 1992 and appreciation of the priesthood exercised ”

spelling errors corrected

The Catholic Herald will publish an interview tomorrow.
UPDATE it is now on that website. Read it in full here.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph has huge coverage:
Jonathan Petre Church could think again over women, says Williams and this page is linked to an audio interview with Telegraph comment writer Damian Thompson who is also the editor in chief of the Catholic Herald (you may need to use Internet Explorer to hear this).
Also, ‘Much bitterness has gone’ and The bishops debate.
And there is a leader column: Praise her, praise her!

The Times: Ruth Gledhill Archbishop admits doubts over ordination of women and more on her blog at Rowan Williams on women priests.

BBC Archbishop cool on female priests
(headline later changed to Williams mulls women’s ordination)

And after the Lambeth Palace press release:
Associated Press Archbishop of Canterbury affirms support for women priests; says interview misinterpreted

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 8:43am GMT | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 15 November 2006

two Virginia vestries recommend secession

Two large conservative parishes in the Diocese of Virginia, The Falls Church and Truro Church have moved towards secession from ECUSA and stated that they intend to join CANA.

The Falls Church vestry has voted to recommend this. In a letter to parishioners, John Yates the Rector of that parish said:

…The decision of the vestry, as we met last night, was to recommend to the congregation that The Falls Church disaffiliate with The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of Virginia churches who are joining together to realign traditional Anglicans in Virginia. The district is part of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America), a branch of the Anglican Communion within the Church of Nigeria that has The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as its Bishop. The vote was 15 aye, 2 nay, and 1 abstention.

The Vestry and I will be providing you with as much information as we can about the Anglican District of Virginia and CANA in the next few weeks. We will have two congregational informational meetings to explain and discuss these matters, as well as to go over the resolution and ballot, which we expect to use in the congregation-wide vote on this matter.

The first meeting will be next Monday Nov. 20 at 7:30 pm in the Main Sanctuary. The next will be on December 3rd, when the 9:00 am & 11:00 am services will be shortened to have a meeting after each of those services. Please plan to attend! I may also be sending out additional information via email.

The congregation will decide this matter at a meeting that begins Sunday morning Dec. 10. Please do make plans to vote; I am sure you can appreciate how important that vote - and your individual vote! - will be. This is likely the most important vote that this congregation will take in any of our lifetimes, perhaps ever. The voting times will be stretched over a week to enable those who may be traveling on Sunday to vote. The polls will be open from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday, December 10th, as well as a couple of hours Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon, and mid-day on Saturday the 16th. The results will be announced on Sunday, December 17.

We have informed the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, of the vestry’s decision. As a congregation, we are following a protocol, approved by the Diocese, that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church…

Truro Church vestry has made a similar recommendation. A joint press release reads as follows:

Fairfax, VA, Nov. 15 - In a congregational meeting Sunday afternoon, Nov 12, the Vestry of Truro Church, Fairfax, announced to their parish that they unanimously recommend that Truro should sever its ties to The Episcopal Church (TEC) and remain as full members of the Anglican Communion by joining the Anglican District of Virginia Anglicans in the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA).

On the following Monday, Nov. 13, the Vestry of The Falls Church, Falls Church, also voted to recommend that they sever their ties to the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican District of Virginia, CANA.

Both congregations will review the recommendations and vote on the final Vestry resolutions, starting on December 10.

The congregations are following a protocol, approved by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.

“The meeting of the Truro vestry was prayerful and somber,” said Jim Oakes, Senior Warden Truro. “We shared prayers and tears as we voted to recommend to the Truro parish this course of action. It was an extraordinary meeting.”

The Falls Church Senior Warden Tom Wilson agreed. “With great sadness and yet firm conviction we took this initial step toward our respective votes,” he said.

This action comes following a discernment period by two of the largest and oldest parishes in the Diocese of Virginia. “In that time we studied, reflected, prayed, and engaged in deep and significant conversations not only in the Vestry, but also with the congregation and with the diocese,” Mr. Oakes said. “It became clear to us that this was the best direction for us to recommend to the parish.”

“We have witnessed firsthand how the Episcopal Church has separated itself from the historic Christian faith of the Anglican Communion over the last few decades,” said Mr. Wilson. “Both Truro and The Falls Church have had to come to grips with the direction TEC is moving. We are at an historic crossroads.”

Other Episcopal congregations are also preparing to vote, as the crisis in the Anglican Communion - precipitated by the recent actions of the TEC General Conventions in 2003 and 2006 - continues to deepen and divide. “It is clear that there is a division in the Episcopal Church,” said Mr. Oakes. “Our next step is for our congregations to pray and reflect on the Vestries’ recommendations as we continue to move forward.”

The congregational voting begins December 10.

For more information, visit and

A letter to Truro parishioners is posted here.

The Diocese of Virginia has also issued a press release: Two Vestries Vote to Recommend Separating from The Episcopal Church. This release contradicts some of the points in the letter above.

The Vestries of Truro Church, Fairfax and The Falls Church, Falls Church, two Episcopal congregations in The Diocese of Virginia, voted Monday night to recommend to their congregations that they sever ties to The Episcopal Church. The vestry decisions follow the conclusion of a period of “40 Days of Discernment” in each congregation.

“We are very, very sad that the vestries are going to recommend to the congregations that they sever ties to The Episcopal Church,” said Bishop Lee.

In a letter to his congregation communicating the decision, the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, asserted that the congregation is following a protocol approved by the Diocese that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.

“There is no approved protocol,” explained Patrick Getlein, Secretary of the Diocese.

At a meeting of the Executive Board and Standing Committee last Thursday in Burke, members of those bodies received and considered the report of the Special Committee set up by Bishop Lee in late 2005 to help those congregations continuing in conflict over the decisions of the 75th General Convention in 2003 to get on with their mission in as close a union as possible with the Diocese of Virginia. The report contains a section entitled Protocol for Departing Congregations.

“The Executive Board and Standing Committee both voted to receive the report but it is inaccurate to say it was endorsed or approved,” explained Mr. Getlein.

“There is no protocol,” said Col. Jean Reed, president of the Standing Committee. “The Standing Committee intends to meet with those churches proposing to separate from The Episcopal Church and review their situations on a case by case basis.”

The Living Church has a report: Falls Church, Truro Vestries Recommend Disaffiliation. It includes this:

With a combined membership of more than 5,200 and average Sunday attendance of 3,200, Truro and Falls Church are among the largest and wealthiest congregations in The Episcopal Church. In 2005 the combined reported pledge and plate income for the parishes was in excess of $7 million.

Episcopal News Service has this report: VIRGINIA: Bishop saddened by vestry recommendation to leave Episcopal Church

The two parishes have issued a further press release in response to the one from the diocese, read it here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 10:08pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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church response to Nuffield report

News stories about the Nuffield Council report on Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: ethical issues mentioned earlier are beginning to come in. The Nuffield website has not yet published the report itself but has issued this press release: Independent ethics body proposes week-by-week guidelines on treating premature babies.

The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, whose bishops are meeting jointly right now, have issued a joint comment by about this report: you can read it in full here.

Joint comment by Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, and Most Rev Peter Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff, on behalf of the Church of England House of Bishops and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on the publication of the Nuffield Council’s report Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: Ethical issues:

We warmly welcome the clear recommendation from the Nuffield Council today that “the active ending of life of newborn babies should not be allowed, no matter how serious their condition.” This reaffirms the validity of existing law prohibiting euthanasia, and upholds the vital and fundamental moral principle that the deliberate taking of innocent human life is always gravely wrong.

There is a clear distinction between interventions which are deliberately aimed at killing, and decisions to withhold or withdraw medical treatment when it is judged to be futile or unduly burdensome. In our joint submission in 2004 to the Select Committee of the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill the Church of England House of Bishops and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said:

“Doctors do not have an overriding obligation to prolong life by all available means. Treatment for a dying patient should be ‘proportionate’ to the therapeutic effect to be expected, and should not be disproportionately painful, intrusive, risky, or costly, in the circumstances. Treatment may therefore be withheld or withdrawn, though such decisions should be guided by the principle that a pattern of care should never be adopted with the intention, purpose or aim of terminating the life or bringing about the death of a patient. Death, if it ensues, will have resulted from the underlying condition which required medical intervention, not as a direct consequence of the decision to withhold or withdraw treatment. ” (para 18)

In applying this principle we believe that every case should be judged on its merits and like the British Medical Association, we would have concerns about any blanket recommendation regarding the treatment of babies born before 22 weeks. Decisions regarding treatment should always be made on an individual basis having regard to all the circumstances of the case.

We will wish to study the detail of the Nuffield Council’s report but welcome the extremely important recommendation opposing any action aimed at the active ending of life of newborn babies.

British Medical Association has issued this press release.

Some press reports:
Reuters Pre-22-week babies “should not have intensive care”
Guardian Extremely premature babies should be left to die, says report
BBC ‘Do not revive’ earliest babies
Telegraph Ethics experts set out controversial guidelines for doctors and parents
The Times When to let a baby die: experts set the guidelines

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 11:08am GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 14 November 2006

APO: latest from San Joaquin

Updated Wednesday evening

The Living Church has two recent reports about the forthcoming diocesan convention in San Joaquin in California:
Bishop Sees San Joaquin Vote as Referendum on Separation and San Joaquin Bylaw Changes Carry Risks, Opportunities.

The full text of the message from the diocesan bishop mentioned above has not yet appeared on the diocesan website, but can be found on the Daily Episcopalian blog here.

Here is one paragraph of it:

Is Our Place In The Anglican Communion Assured? Yes. First, we have a commitment from the Southern Cone (Archbishop Greg Venebles) that the bishops of his dioceses are open to our joining their Province. Second, the Global South, representing 80 percent of the Anglican Communion, issued a public statement known as “The Kigali Communique” in which it pledged to “take initial steps toward the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA.” Diocesan representatives have been invited to meet with Primates of the Global South November 15-17, 2006, to begin work on this plan. The Diocese could be the vanguard of a new 39th Anglican Province in North America. At present, there are seven or more dioceses lined up behind us waiting to follow our leadership example.

Further comment on this by Fr Jake in Bishop of San Joaquin Announces Plans to Leave TEC

Further comment also from Remain Episcopal, the organisation of those in San Joaquin who wish to continue in ECUSA. What are the Changes?

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CofE and RC bishops meet

As previously mentioned, a joint meeting is being held near Leeds. An official statement has been issued.

Ruth Gledhill wrote an article about something else which mentions this. The BBC also reported it.

Tom Butler talked about this on the radio this morning. In this piece he also said (but do read it all to see the context):

So the question, “Do Anglicans on the East coast of America have to adopt the same norms and practices of Anglicans in rural Nigeria and vice versa?”, has been around in different forms since the start of the Church, and the best we can hope for is a cobbling together of some common sense solution which recognizes that Christian practice might show up in different ways in different cultures whilst being loyal to its core truths.

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Questions and Answers

Under the headline Church of England’s ‘parliament’ holds virtual question time the Church of England claimed today that:

The Church of England’s General Synod has held its first virtual question time. Twenty-five questions from Members, asked by e-mail, are answered on the Church’s website today.

The answers, along with the questions were published officially only in the form of an RTF file.

An html copy of the content of that file can be found here.

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Monday, 13 November 2006

CofE response to Nuffield

The newspaper stories on this were reported earlier.

The response of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Consultation on Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: ethical issues can be read in full here.

The preamble states:

Please note that :

  • The Church of England’s submission to the Nuffield Inquiry is entirely in keeping with the Church’s policy on treatment at the beginning and end of life (see Euthanasia and Suicide)
  • The submission stated that fetuses and newborns should only have treatment withheld or withdrawn if treatment is futile.
  • We believe firmly that every life is valued and loved by God equally.
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Religious Festivals and Celebrations

Jonathan Petre has a report in the Telegraph Leave Christmas alone, say Muslims.

The statement reported comes from the Christian Muslim Forum whose website, which is in English, Arabic, and Urdu, carries the full text of the statement only as a PDF; it is reproduced below the fold here.

Religious Festivals and Celebrations

We have faced various calls over the past few years for the secularisation or de-Christianisation of certain religious festivals. In particular, certain local authorities have decided that Christmas shall be called by another (non-religious) name. The reason usually given is that to use a specifically Christian name for this festival offends members of other religious traditions.

As Muslims and Christians together we are wholeheartedly committed to the retention of specific religious recognition for Christian festivals. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus and we wish this significant part of the Christian heritage of this country to remain an acknowledged part of national life. The desire to secularize religious festivals is in itself offensive to both of our communities. We believe that the only beneficiaries of eroding the residual Christian presence in public life are those committed to a totally non-religious standpoint. We value the presence of clear institutional markers within society which embody the reality and mystery of God in public life rather than evacuating the public space of any such reminder.

We believe that our open and democratic society should promote freedom of religion in the public space rather than negatively restrict its observance. We welcome, for instance the public recognition of Eid al Fitr, as Muslims celebrate together at the conclusion of the month of Ramadan. We value the partnership evident in some local communities which gives opportunity for others to share with Muslims at this time of celebration. This is a positive way of affirming the public contribution that people of different religious traditions bring to our society. We believe that any attempt to privatise and hide the celebration of religious festivals promotes frustration, alienation and even anger within religious communities. Such negative approaches devalue religion and undermine the positive contributions that faith communities bring to society.

We also rejoice in the contribution and value of all religious communities in our country – Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and others. It is important for the integrity of all religious traditions that we recognise the centrality of major festivals within each community. In our increasingly diverse society we need to foster a mature and healthy approach to religious diversity which both recognizes the specific Christian heritage of this country and welcomes the important part that other religious traditions increasingly play within our culture. This demands a greater religious understanding on the part of government and local authorities than has been evident or necessary in the past.

We are thankful for those policies and actions which are responding helpfully to our changing religious environment. On the other hand we are concerned that those approaches which are based on anti-religious philosophies or a fear of religion are in danger of causing alienation in a wide variety of communities and fanning the growth of extremism. Those who use the fact of religious pluralism as an excuse to de-Christianise British society unthinkingly become recruiting agents for the extreme right. They provoke antagonism towards Muslims and others by foisting on them an anti-Christian agenda which they do not hold.

Human beings require occasions for festival and celebration and, for many in our society, these opportunities are fundamentally religious and spiritual in nature as we mark the high points in our different traditions. We call on all with responsibility in national and local government to give space and encouragement to an open and welcoming space for religious festivals as part of a positive contribution to community cohesion.

Released by Bishop David Gillett, Chair of the national Christian Muslim Forum and Dr Ataullah Siddiqui, Vice Chair of the Forum.

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the views of Bishop Nazir-Ali

First, there was this article in the Sunday Times Bishop attacks ‘victim’ Muslims. Then there was another article which the Daily Mail didn’t put on their website but which Anglican Mainstream has since published: Nazir-Ali speaks on the moral vacuum in Britain, Prince Charles and Islam.

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the views of Archbishop Sentamu

Last Friday, the Archbishop of York gave a lecture in Newcastle, to the Readers of that diocese. You can read the full text of what he said here.

This event has provoked extensive press coverage. The longest is based on an interview conducted the same day, before the lecture, for the Daily Mail by Sarah Sands. You can read this interview at Archbishop blames ‘chattering classes’ for collapse of Britain’s spiritual life.

You can read a rehash of the same interview in The Times here. Hat tip to Andrew Brown for spotting this.

There was also this in the Sunday Times and this from the Press Association, and this in the Telegraph.

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Sunday, 12 November 2006

two reports from Battersea Rise

The Church Times has Battersea vicar causes stir by remarks about Global South by Rachel Harden.

A VICAR of a south-London parish where one of the Church of England’s most senior officials is a Reader explained this week why he asked for the tape-recording system to be turned off at the end of a Sunday service so that he could talk about supporting the Global South.

The Revd Paul Perkin, Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, in Southwark diocese, and a member of the General Synod, said that he believed his remarks would be taken out of context if they were recorded and repeated…

The Church of England Newspaper has “We Have Renounced Secret Ways”…But Have We? by Simon Butler.

In South London recently, a prominent Evangelical minister asked that the microphones and recording equipment in his church be switched off. To a hushed congregation he announced that, with a split in the Anglican Communion imminent, his church would need to decide with who they were going to ‘sit’. This, he said, was to have particular implications for the finances of the church, which may need to be redirected towards the ‘Global South’. He asked his congregation to trust his lead on this matter. Consultation was clearly not on the agenda…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 12 November 2006 at 3:54pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Theos the think tank

Updated Tuesday

A new religious British think tank was launched this week, named Theos. Its website is here. Its first published report is titled “Doing God”: A Future For Faith in the Public Square and it can be downloaded as a PDF file here (warning: over 1 Mbyte).

Press reports of this launch event:

Telegraph Jonathan Petre Majority views religion as force for good

Guardian See the leader listed here yesterday. And on Comment is free see Madeleine Bunting, Martin Newland, and AC Grayling.

BBC Leaders back faith in public life

The Times Ruth Gledhill Archbishops back campaign to promote religion and Wise men of the churches set out to keep Christ in Christmas

Ekklesia Theos think tank ‘gives hope to humanists’. Here is the BHS press release mentioned.

Theos has also published this article by Alister McGrath The Dawkins Delusion

The BBC radio programme Sunday covered this launch too, listen to Christopher Landau here (Real Audio, 5 minutes 46 seconds).

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religious news on a Sunday

Today’s newspapers are full of religion:

The Observer has a front page story about the Church of England: the headline reads Some sick babies must be allowed to die, says Church, though the content of the story may not justify that use of “must”. The church document on which this story is based has not yetnow been made public by the Church of England. Read it here. Meanwhile, here is the Nuffield Council for Bioethics report launch page.

The Sunday Times has an article by historian David Starkey not unrelated to his TV series which restarts this week, Henry was wrong. Put religion back in its box. Simon Jenkins reviews the book of the TV programme here.

The Sunday Telegraph has two reports by Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Schools are being forced to put tests before morals, archbishop warns
Chruches [sic] to unite at historic summit against rise in anti-religious public feeling

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 12 November 2006 at 1:31pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 11 November 2006

opinions for Saturday

Jonathan Sacks writes about Remembrance Sunday in The Times: As guardians of our children’s future we must keep faith with the past. And Andrew Lloyd writes about it from Basra: Two minutes of silence under Abraham’s sky.

But other events also happen at this time of year. Christopher Howse explains in the Telegraph while debunking claims about Halloween being pagan, in Fenny Poppers and paganism.

A Church Times leader comments on the US elections: US voters turn against Bush.

A Guardian leader comments on religion: God’s squads:

… Individual faith is politically sensitised, to be called in aid by the Christian right trying to prevent Turkey joining the EU, as much as by those who genuinely see describing it as a problem as the first step to solving it. In this context, there is a heavy burden on Britain’s Christian tradition. To pretend there is no history of hatred between Islam and Christendom, nor any fundamental conflict in their theologies, is both absurd and dangerous. It has to be acknowledged. But it is a problem to overcome, not a legacy to be savoured. The assertion by the Anglican Bishop of Rochester, the evangelical Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, that Christianity is superior to other religions and that Britain must preserve its Christian heritage, is highly damaging. So was Frank Field’s claim at the launch of a new religious thinktank, Theos, this week, that Islam could not be English until it had been here for 1,000 years. Of course, Anglicanism is wrestling with its own internal difficulties. The evangelicals and liberals grow strident; hardliners may be reassured by Bishop Nazir-Ali’s remarks. But most Britons, whose Christianity is notional at most, are more likely to be repelled. A rising profile in the media is no guarantee of more parishioners in the pews. Church attendance, already below 10%, is predicted to fall to 2% by 2040…

Meanwhile on the Guardian’s blogsite, Comment is free Andrew Brown published two pieces:
The eternal turbulent priest which is about Lord Carey and also Rowan Williams. And Why God needs heretics.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about When the mask of Pastor Ted slipped off.

In connection with that, hat tip to Ruth Gledhill for digging out this excellent sermon of Sam Wells. Please note however there is a factual error in the first paragraph of the sermon, see comment below by Sarah Dylan Breuer for details.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 9:31am GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Friday, 10 November 2006

more trouble in Philadelphia

Updated again Sunday morning

Episcopal News Service reports that: PENNSYLVANIA: Standing Committee files complaint against Bennison.

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania is alleging that its bishop, Charles E. Bennison Jr., “has repeatedly usurped” its “canonical prerogatives and authority.”

A so-called “verified complaint” sent to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori formalizes the Standing Committee’s on-going dispute with Bennison over its claim that he has spent money and transferred funds without the Standing Committee’s required consent.

The complaint, signed by the five clergy and five lay members of the Standing Committee, claims Bennison has violated the canons of General Convention, the diocese’s canons and engaged in “conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy” in violation of the Episcopal Church’s Canon IV.1.1(e), (f), and (j).

You can read the full text of the complaint by following this link, on the Standing Committee’s own website.

The Diocese of Pennsylvania is scheduled to hold its annual convention on Saturday 11 November.

For earlier reports, see this.

In a separate story, the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that Critics say bishop hid brother’s sexual abuse.

A group called Concerned Pennsylvania Episcopalians has been formed.

Update Saturday morning The Living Church has reported in: Convention May Include a Referendum on Pennsylvania Bishop.

Update Sunday morning reports of the convention yesterday:
Philadelphia Inquirer Episcopal bishop hears some call for him to resign
Living Church Pennsylvania Convention Will Reconvene; Reprimand of Bishop Fails

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 11:15pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 8 November 2006

APO: more developments

Updated Sunday morning

First, ENS reported on the Pittsburgh convention: Convention backs Duncan’s desire to leave Province III, achieve alternative primatial oversight. Also, the text of the Chancellor’s opinion to which I referred earlier is now available in a more accessible format, below the fold.

Second, the Living Church reports on a very interesting presentation given by David Booth Beers the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, in Chancellor: Episcopal Church Will Prevail in Communion and Courts.

Update 28 November The Living Church has issued Correction to Conference Coverage which relates to the story linked above.

Third, ENS also reports that

A second group of Episcopalians has called on bishops and standing committees to consider seriously South Carolina Bishop-elect Mark Lawrence’s stance toward the diocese’s continued affiliation with the Episcopal Church, as they decide whether or not to consent to his ordination.

Read SOUTH CAROLINA: Episcopal Forum calls for caution in consent process. The original of the letter can be found here on the website of the group.

And fourth, the Global South issued this note: A Statement by the Global South Steering Committee on Consultations with bishops requesting APO.

Update Sunday morning
A further article about the meeting which David Booth Beers addressed is here: Chancellor Sees Hopeful Outlook For TEC On Church Property Issues by Auburn Faber Traycik

Letter of 30 October from Robert G Devlin to The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Jr. PDF original here

Dear Bishop Duncan:

You have asked for my opinion on two matters expected to come before Diocesan Convention. The first is whether the Diocese may withdraw from the Third Province of the Episcopal Church and the second is whether the Diocese may appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Panel of Reference for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care.

1. Withdraw from the Third Province.

Article VII of the Constitution of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church reads in its entirety:

Dioceses may be united into Provinces in such manner, under such conditions, and with such powers, as shall be provided by Canon of the General Convention; Provided, however, that no Diocese shall be included in a Province without its own consent.

There is nothing in the legislative history or subsequent commentary with regard to this Article that suggests that the final clause should be read in any way other than its literal sense. No Diocese shall be included in a Province without its own consent. In my opinion, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is free to revoke its consent to inclusion in the Third Province at any time and remain non-provincial for as long as it sees fit.

It has been suggested that Canon 1.9.1 somehow refutes Article VII. This is incorrect for two reasons. First, as a matter of statutory interpretation, the Canon is subordinate to the Article. The Canon cannot alter, expand or contradict the meaning of the Article. Second, rather than standing in conflict with Article VII, Canon 1.9.1 actually incorporates the proviso of Article VII in the opening phrase of Section 1: “Subject to the proviso in Article VII of the Constitution.” That is a clear statement that the consent requirement set forth in the Article is to be carried forward into the Canon.

It has been suggested that Article VII is ambiguous, and that Canon 1.9.1 is intended as a clarification. If General Convention believed that the Article was ambiguous, the proper approach would have been to amend the Article, not adopt a Canon that perpetuates the confusion by incorporating the very phrase in question. Further, if General Convention had intended “included” to refer to the point of initial assignment it could have stipulated consent “at the time of admission” or “at the time of assignment.” It did not. Finally, there is no Article or Canon requiring a Diocese to be a member of a Province, which indicates that membership is not mandatory. Since no limitation was placed upon the time of consent and membership is not required by Canon, I believe that the proper interpretation of the Article VII proviso is that consent is required for as long as inclusion continues. Not only the initial assignment, but also continued membership in a Province, requires Diocesan consent.

We have been asked how an appeal from an Ecclesiastical Trial would be handled if the Diocese is non-provincial. That question is answered by Canon IV.4.37, which provides that “the appeal to the Court of Review of the Province which is geographically closest to that Diocese or is otherwise most appropriate as determined by the Presiding Bishop.” Note that the existence of Canon IV.4.37 supports the proposition that a Diocese may elect to be non-provincial.

2. Appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight and Pastoral Care.

The Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church set forth the internal governance procedures of the Episcopal Church. One would not expect them to speak to an appeal for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care, and they do not. To address that question we must look to the history and traditions of the broader Anglican Communion.

The most recent thorough consideration of the nature of authority within the Anglican Communion is the Windsor Report. A theme running through the Windsor Report is that Provincial autonomy must be framed by Anglican interdependence on matters of deep theological concern to the Communion.
[Windsor Report, paragraph 21, ]
That the motivating factors for the appeal for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care are matters of deep theological concern to the whole Communion is evident from the July 16, 2006 letter from the supplicant dioceses to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Paragraph 21 of the Windsor Report gives an example of one instance of decision-making on a contentious issue with Communion-wide significance, and notes the importance of the involvement of the traditional Instruments of Unity in the process. The message is that consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates is an appropriate path in crisis situations.

“From the beginning, the Archbishop of Canterbury, both in his person and his office, has been the pivotal instrument and focus of unity; and relationship to him became a touchstone of what it was to be Anglican.” [Windsor Report, paragraph 99]. In petitioning the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is asking the Archbishop to claim a role rooted in the conciliar tradition of Patriarchs. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as first among equals with respect to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, would be expected to initiate and coordinate explicit pastoral, canonical and theological oversight for the good of the Communion. This is a clear demonstration of the patristic understanding of Primacy, which includes the right of the Archbishop to convene the Primates and act in collegium.

In addition, a direct appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates is an application of the emergency right of intervention through which help can be sought by a Bishop through the assumptive authority and oversight of the Anglican episcopal college (which is how the Primates can be understood). An appeal of the Bishop of a local jurisdiction to the Primates has roots in a long recognized canonical tradition whereby deviation from day-to-day church order is permitted in extraordinary circumstances. Certainly, the present disorder of the Episcopal Church would meet the criteria of extraordinary circumstances.

Finally, the appeal to the Panel of Reference is squarely within the intention of the Primates in establishing the Panel. The purpose of the Panel, as expressed in the Primates’ Communique of February 24, 2005, is “to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their provinces.”

Therefore, while I cannot cite internal policies or procedures of the Episcopal Church in support of the legitimacy of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s appeal for alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care, it is my opinion that the Anglican Communion’s traditions as well as its contemporary examination of the nature of authority within the Communion permit such an appeal. I believe that the positive reception the appeal has received from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates indicates at least their initial acceptance of this conclusion.

Very truly yours,
Robert G. Devlin

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Anglican/RC solidarity on women's ordination

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release

Roman Catholic and Anglican Solidarity on Women’s Ordination

The Roman Catholic group CWO (Catholic Women’s Ordination) and the Anglican group WATCH (Women and the Church) have sent a joint letter to all the Bishops of both Churches giving support to those in the Church of England for their recent vote in favour of women Bishops and calling for the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales to look urgently at the growing desire for women priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

The letter has been sent before the joint meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, to be held at Hinsley Hall, Leeds on 14th –15th November 2006.

The letter says:

We say to the Anglican Bishops: please do not be afraid of raising the subject of ordaining women with your Catholic colleagues. It falls to the RC Bishops, when they gather in Synod, to consider whether these major issues in the Magisterium of the Church need to be looked at afresh. There are clearly many Catholic Bishops in England and Wales who personally believe that women should be ordained: we hope that in the privacy of your meeting that you will be able to discuss this, and perhaps help the Catholic bishops to consider ways of raising this formally in the structures of their Church. The XII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is to take place in Rome in October 2008: such a gathering might well provide an opportunity for a discussion of women’s ordination. The RC Bishops of England and Wales, from their experience of working alongside Anglicans, will surely have much to say on the contribution that can be made by women priests.

To the Catholic Bishops we say: please do not feel this is a one-way dialogue. We believe you also have much to share with your Anglican brothers on the same issue. 14 years ago the C of E voted wholeheartedly for the ordination of women, by a two-thirds majority in all three houses of General Synod. This past July, Synod overwhelmingly agreed with the majority of the Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate was ‘consonant with the faith of the Church’. As Catholics we hope you will feel able to share with your Anglican colleagues that, as this is the step they are taking, they must appoint women as bishops on the same basis as men are appointed as bishops. To do otherwise would be to alter seriously the nature and understanding of episcopé. You will no doubt wish to point out that, in any future reconciliation between Rome and Canterbury, all priests and bishops will need to be universally recognised.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 7:11pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Lust for Certainty

Here’s an interesting event that takes place on Tuesday 21 November at 6.30 pm at St Mary’s Church, Putney.

Called The Lust for Certainty it is a roundtable discussion on the dangers of dogmatism with Anthony Kenny, Kathy Sykes, Mark Vernon, Giles Fraser, Stuart Sim and Mick Gordon.

More details here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 7 November 2006 at 6:45pm GMT | Comments (92) | TrackBack
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Jefferts Schori and theology

Jim Naughton posted recently in response to the unwarranted criticism by some conservatives of what the new American primate had said about the relationship between Christianity and other faiths. His post was excitingly titled Orthodox soteriology. Jim’s links lead to several relevant articles about the doctrine of salvation.

The NPR interview in question took place on 18 October and is 21 minutes long. It covered a lot of other ground as well, and can be found here.

Fr Jake also has an article containing links to put this matter into a wider context of mainstream Christian theology. See Seeking the Way to God.

Fr Jones has added his views: Will Only A Few Be Saved?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 7 November 2006 at 4:34pm GMT | Comments (60) | TrackBack
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Fulcrum on listening

The most recent Fulcrum newsletter is entitled Listening to learn, Learning to listen and is written by Andrew Goddard.

The position taken here on this particular issue differs from that taken by Anglican Mainstream. Let’s see what TA readers think of it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 7 November 2006 at 4:21pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Monday, 6 November 2006

further PB reports

Stephen Bates reports in the Guardian on the Saturday investiture service, Celebrations greet first woman to lead Anglican province.

There is no coverage of this event in The Times but it is mentioned obliquely in the Telegraph where Jonathan Petre reports on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s planned visit to the Pope later this month, Williams will meet Pope to revive talks on unity and last week Jonathan also reported: Archbishop to meet leaders seeking split from liberal Church.

There was a second service on Sunday: reported by ENS as Presiding Bishop takes seat in Washington National Cathedral and the full text of that sermon is here.

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Sunday, 5 November 2006

PB interviewed on BBC and NPR

There is a short interview with the ECUSA Presiding Bishop, conducted by Jane Little, at the start of today’s Sunday radio programme. Listen here ( about 4 minutes, Real Audio, better URL later in the week).

And another radio report from National Public Radio here (5.5 minutes long) includes comments from the PB and also from Bishop Robert Duncan.

Update Monday
The NPR broadcast, more specifically Bishop Duncan’s comment, provoked a reaction from Anglicans Online which you can read here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 5 November 2006 at 1:13pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 4 November 2006

PB investiture

Updated Sunday morning

The service of investiture of the new presiding bishop takes place today, Saturday, in the Washington Cathedral.

Further details on the cathedral website here.

Printed order of service here as a PDF file.

The service will be broadcast on the web starting at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Go here to watch or listen.

Update Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s investiture sermon.

Initial press coverage
Rachel Zoll Associated Press Female Bishop Takes Top Episcopal Office and a later version of this Episcopalians Install Female Leader.
Pictures here, and here.

ENS now has lots and lots of pictures, starting here.

ENS also has a full report of the service in Amid prayer and ‘shalom,’ Katharine Jefferts Schori invested as Episcopal Church’s 26th Presiding Bishop by Mary Frances Schjonberg and in International guests bring global context to Jefferts Schori’s investiture by Matthew Davies. And also in Thousands line up outside Cathedral poised to observe history in the making by Daphne Mack.

The BBC has Woman bishop takes over Church.

Update Sunday morning
Washington Post Alan Cooperman Female Bishop Takes Helm of Episcopal Church
New York Times Neela Banarjee A Woman Is Installed as Top Episcopal Bishop
Los Angeles Times Louis Sahagun First woman takes helm of Episcopal Church
Washington Times Julia Duin The bishop presiding is a woman

The text of the greeting from Rowan Williams:

Saturday 4th November 2006

‘I am happy to send my prayers and best wishes to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on the historic occasion of her inauguration as Presiding Bishop. She will take on this responsibility in the most challenging of times, but she will be supported by the good will and prayers of very many in the USA and around the world as she strives to lead faithfully, honestly and collaboratively. I pray that she will daily know the love and mercy of God in Jesus Christ as the foundation of all she does, so that this reality will radiate from her ministry and her witness.’


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Pittsburgh acts on APO

The Diocese of Pittsburgh passed a somewhat modified resolution on APO. Here is the full text of the official announcement:

Clergy and lay deputies voted overwhelmingly to approve Resolution I on November 3 at the City Center Marriott in Pittsburgh. The final vote was 97 aye, 14 nay, and 3 abstentions in the clergy order and 117 aye, 40 nay, and 7 abstentions in the lay order. In debate, the original resolution was replaced with a substitute. The resolution, as passed is below. The text of the original resolution is available here.

The approved resolution reads as follows:

RESOLVED, the 141st Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh confirms the actions of the Standing Committee taken on June 28, 2006, specifically (1) the withdrawal of consent for inclusion in the Third Province of the Episcopal Church (under Article VII of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church); and (2) the appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Panel of Reference for immediate alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care.

Steve Levin in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that City Episcopal Diocese votes to leave province.

The Associated Press headline was Pittsburgh Episcopalians vote to withdraw from national church.

More detail below the fold.
Update: link added to Pittsburgh Chancellor’s opinion

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh said in a press release:

…The divide between the powerful, self-styled “orthodox” of the diocese and those committed to the more progressive Episcopal Church was evidenced by the remarks of the first speaker to rise in opposition to the resolution. The Very Reverend George Werner, retired Dean of Trinity Cathedral and past president of The Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, observed that, “Moses brought everyone into the promised land, not just the commandos.” The strategy pursued by the Pittsburgh Diocese, he said, has made him an “outsider.”

The tension between parties in the diocese could be seen early in the meeting. Bishop Duncan, echoing the conference theme of “Embracing Fruitfulness,” spoke in his annual address of the need for pruning to encourage fruitfulness, which did not comfort those who oppose the bishop’s priorities. The budget approved at the meeting reduces diocesan commitment to hospital ministry, the Commission on Racism, and most existing urban ministries. The diocese will continue its practice of providing no support for The Episcopal Church, and it will now redirect its Province III dues to the Network of Anglican Communion Diocese and Parishes (otherwise known as the Anglican Communion Network, or ACN).

The majority turned aside all efforts to accommodate parishes that support The Episcopal Church. One of these would have allowed parishes that have declined to be part of the ACN to avoid supporting it through the diocese, a principle seemingly granted in a signed legal settlement between the diocese and parishes committed to remaining in The Episcopal Church. In another move, the convention defeated an amendment that would have created a separate district in the diocese for parishes wanting to maintain a connection to Province III.

“Today’s actions are clearly illegal under the canon law of our church,” observed Dr. Joan R. Gundersen, president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP), the group that led opposition to the resolution.” The constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church allow for only one Presiding Bishop, one House of Bishops, and require the General Convention to approve any change in provincial assignments. This diocese is asking individuals outside The Episcopal Church to intervene where they have no authority,” said Dr. Gundersen.

Despite an opinion rendered by diocesan chancellor Robert Devlin to the contrary, Dr. Lionel Deimel, a PEP board member who wrote an extended analysis disputing that the diocese could withdraw from its province, insisted that, “If the diocese withdraws unilaterally from Province III, it has violated the canons, since Canon I.9.1 says that the diocese is in Province III. The diocese claims to have amended its own constitution such that it supersedes that of the church, however, and this may have been an instance of using the power it has granted itself…”

Bishop Robert Duncan’s address to the convention can be read in full here. It includes this passage:

This Convention faces another in its series of defining decisions. It is the Standing Committee’s judgment that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting at Columbus in June did not adequately respond to the requests of the Anglican Communion in the Windsor Report. Moreover, it is the Standing Committee’s judgment, in light of her teachings on the nature and work of the Second Person of the Trinity and her teaching on and authorization of same-sex blessings, that the election and confirmation of the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori to be Presiding Bishop is an aspect of the decision of the majority of the Episcopal Church to “walk apart” from the Anglican Communion. This “walking apart” is something the 140th Convention of this Diocese said, by resolution last year, it would not do. This “walking apart” is also something the Constitution of the Episcopal Church expressly rejects, committing us as “constituent members of the Anglican Communion, within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, propagating the historic Faith and Order.” Consequently, in Resolution One, this Convention is asked to confirm the action of our Standing Committee to appeal to the archbishops of the Communion for “alternative primatial oversight.” The Convention is also asked to confirm the Standing Committee’s action in withdrawing consent, under Article VII of the federal Constitution, for membership in our internal domestic province, the Third Province, the Province of Washington. The Chancellor, Mr. Robert Devlin, has rendered opinions about the propriety of confirming both actions.

Withdrawing consent to inclusion in the Third Province speaks to our continuing commitment to function under the Constitution of the Episcopal Church while at the same time opening the door for those dioceses to band together who hold that the Episcopal Church in its majority is in contravention of its own constitutional requirement to be a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, at least until the time the Anglican Communion shall decide the matter.

The appeal for another primate to fulfill the duties of our Presiding Bishop, under our Constitution, until such time as the status of the majority of the Episcopal Church and the status of our new Presiding Bishop shall finally be determined by the Communion, is admittedly a novel way forward. The Episcopal Church has no Supreme Court. Its supreme court is the Holy Scriptures. The election, confirmation and consecration of a bishop in a same-sex partnered relationship, like the election of a Presiding Bishop who supports this and other innovations in Faith and Order, are greater novelties still. That the Archbishop of Canterbury, with whom our Constitution says we are to be in Communion, has intervened to see if there is a way the disputants in the American Church might agree to alternative primatial oversight, and that half of the Primates of the Communion have already agreed to provide it, should give us some guidance that the novelty we have asked for seems, at least at the outset, reasonable to the leadership of the wider Anglican Communion. I trust that this Convention will confirm the Standing Committee’s actions.

What, precisely, will alternative primatial oversight as a temporary measure look like? That will be the decision of the primates themselves, in consultation with us and the other dioceses making the request. The copy of the Appeal of July 20, made available on our diocesan website, was a joint proposal by seven U.S. bishops and dioceses to the Archbishop of Canterbury, made within a month of General Convention, as a result of Canterbury’s request for “a proposal about what ‘the nuts and bolts’ might look like.” That was more than three months ago. It is clear that what was proposed in July was just a beginning point. What is before this convention is confirmation of the action of the Standing Committee in asking for alternative primatial oversight, whatever form may finally be negotiated is not yet available for us to debate, and quite frankly not in our hands. The Standing Committee with the Bishop will be responsible for carrying forward, on our behalf, the process by which the details of alternative primatial oversight can be put in place, God and the Communion willing. What this Convention is doing is confirming the propriety of an appeal, not specific details, since those details are necessarily in the Communion’s decision to offer or not.

Two days ago the Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori became 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Our prayers are with her. She inherits a broken church. May God give her the grace to deal honestly, charitably, fairly and directly with that part of the Body represented in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and in the Anglican Communion Network, with that part of the Episcopal Church that believes, generally speaking, what has always been believed. I will do my part as your bishop and as Moderator of the Network to work with Bishop Jefferts Schori to come to some mediated disengagement that will allow all of us to get on with the mission as we understand it.

As I have said on many occasions recently, there are two churches here, each claiming to be the Episcopal Church. Both have substantial and rightful claims to that identity. I pray and hope and work for a mediated settlement between these two parties. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is the Episcopal Church in this place. We stand, nearly all of us in this diocese, where the Episcopal Church has always stood. What is more important still, we stand where the Anglican Communion and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church have always stood. One of the confirmations of our decision to ask for alternative primatial oversight is that the Russian Orthodox Church has just last week reiterated its decision to reopen ecumenical relations with all those dioceses of the Episcopal Church who have requested alternative primatial oversight. All ecumenical dialogue between the Russian Orthodox and the Episcopal Church was suspended at the time of the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire. The Russians now see in us the Episcopal Church with which ecumenical conversations can be continued. The Russian initiative is with the full understanding that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is among those dioceses that embrace the ordination of women.

The formal opinion of the diocesan chancellor on all this can be read in a PDF file here. The weakness of the legal argument in favour of APO is clearly exposed by this opinion. Sadly text extraction from this file is not possible.

Another blogger’s first hand account of the meeting yesterday is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 November 2006 at 9:03am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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opinion time

In The Times Whatever next? The afterlife is discussed by Roderick Strange and other religious representatives.

Diversity of belief is a very Anglican tradition says Martyn Percy in the Guardian.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph reviews a new book about cathedral canons in Explosive mix of canons.

Andrew Brown writes on Comment is free about the risk of corruption in churches, see Soul providers.

Giles Fraser had a column in the Church Times headed Why do Evangelicals like purity?

Simon Barrow on Ekklesia takes a different tack to the discussion of The God Delusion with Turning God into a disaster area.
He also has published additional links to reviews of this book here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 November 2006 at 8:12am GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 3 November 2006

press reports on the new PB

There has been a lot of press coverage of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Here is a selection:

Christian Science Monitor Jane Lampman In turbulent times, a new Episcopal leader

Church Times Rachel Harden Jefferts Schori prepares for office in a visit to Lambeth

Associated Press Rachel Zoll via the Corvallis Gazette-Times Jefferts Schori: ‘Transparency’ on views vital

Reuters Michael Conlon New Episcopal Church head says dissent limited

Update Saturday
Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopalians to Install Female Leader and sidebar A Look at Katharine Jefferts Schori

Chicago Tribune New era in Episcopal Church

San Diego Union-Tribune New U.S. Episcopal leader seeks peace

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 3 November 2006 at 11:32pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 2 November 2006

Welsh ASBO furore

Ruth Gledhill, who published a report in The Times this morning headlined Cathedral bans Carey as a ‘divisive force’, later published a blog article Asbo on Lord Carey which contains a wealth of additional detail and links to other comments on this matter.

The first story provoked Dave Walker to draw a cartoon published under Lord Carey banned from Cathedral.

ASBO - an explanation.

Additional further links on the Bangor affair

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 7:20pm GMT | Comments (64) | TrackBack
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APO: more about Pittsburgh

As previously noted,the Diocese of Pittsburgh will consider the issue of APO this weekend at its annual convention. But, as Lionel Deimel has noted on his blog, What Does the Diocese of Pittsburgh Really Want?

…The bigger problem is that the resolution that the diocesan convention will rubber stamp this Friday asks for alternative primatial oversight. (The actual resolution to be voted on incorporates the earlier resolution. Whoever put this together has read Robert’s Rules rather too often.) Alternative primatial oversight is what the leadership of the Pittsburgh and several other dioceses requested as an immediate reaction to the 75th General Convention. The Archbishop of Canterbury was apparently not pleased with receiving multiple requests from Network bishops — one must suspect that he was not pleased with receiving any requests at all — so he asked that the requests be consolidated. Because not all dioceses had asked for the same thing, the replacement combined request did not correspond exactly to what was asked for previously. In particular, although Pittsburgh had asked for “alternative Primatial oversight,” the combined request asked for the appointment of a “Communion Commissary.” (The Bishop of London sent representatives called commissaries to the Colonies in pre-revolutionary times. The colonists actually wanted bishops, however.) That request was dated July 20, well in advance of this week’s convention.

So, what does Pittsburgh actually want? Why is the convention being asked to endorse a request that essentially has been withdrawn, rather that supporting a request that is actually on the table? Is the Bishop of Pittsburgh just trying to confuse matters? Did no one have the energy to draw up a new resolution? Are we asking for two things, in hopes that we will get one or the other? Who knows?

One thing is clear: the militant traditionalists who are disrupting The Episcopal Church have consistently made outrageous requests, so that they can claim to be persecuted when those requests are not granted. Aren’t two outrageous requests better than one?

Other PEP briefing papers here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 6:50pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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new presiding bishop at work

ENS reports that the new ECUSA Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote on 1 November, her first day in office, to the four Global South primates who are offering to meet those dioceses seeking APO inviting them to meet her also, while they are in the USA.

The Living Church has also reported this with the headline Presiding Bishop Offers to Meet Global South Visitors.

The letter is addressed to The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies, The Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya, and The Most Rev. Justice Akrofi, Primate of West Africa. The text reads:

To my esteemed brothers in Christ:

While I have not yet had the privilege and honor to meet all of you, I very much look forward to working with you in the coming years as we endeavor to lead the Body of Christ in this portion called the Anglican Communion. I deeply value the possibilities we have in the Anglican Communion for addressing the mission God has given us to reconcile the world he has created. In the spirit of Lambeth 1998, the Episcopal Church has identified the Millennium Development Goals as the framework for our missional work in the coming years. I would hope we might see the common interest we all have for seeing those Goals met, as they provide a concrete image of the Reign of God in our own day, where the hungry are fed, the thirsty watered, and the prisoners of disease and oppression set free.

I understand that you will be in the United States in mid-November for a gathering at Falls Church, Virginia. Considering the difficulty and expense of such a journey, I hope that during your visit you might be willing to pay a call on me, so that we might begin to build toward such a missional relationship. If that is a possibility, I hope you will contact this office as soon as possible. I would be more than happy to alter my schedule to accommodate you.

I look forward to hearing from you, and meeting you. May God bless your ministries and your travels.

Her web pages include the following statement, dated 23 OCtober, which is curiously hidden in a PDF file:

“What do you consider the most important priorities for the Presiding Bishop?”
From the Desk of The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada

The Presiding Bishop keeps us focused on the Reign of God, through unceasing attention to mission in the context of baptismal ministry. Christians and their communities are meant to be transformative elements in this world, laboring to create something much more like God’s Reign. The church’s work is to recognize where we have not yet attained God’s dream, speak gospel to that reality, and equip and empower all the baptized to do the work of transforming those places of not-yet. There are two obvious foci for our ministry: moving our sanctuaries into the streets to encounter and transform the bad news of this world; and implementing the Millennium Development Goals, which provide a signal opportunity in this age to realize the dream of God for all creation.

This church must embrace and celebrate all the diverse cultures, languages, and origins of the many parts of the Episcopal Church – Haiti, Taiwan, Province IX, the Churches in Europe, Virgin Islands, as well as the many cultures within the U.S. – First Nations, African-American, Spanishspeaking, Asian, and all Anglo varieties. None is more important than another; all are essential to the transforming work of the Body of Christ.

Ultimately, the Presiding Bishop’s role is one of bridge-building and boundary crossing. If we are to reconcile the world, we must be bold enough to enter unfamiliar territory and partner wherever necessary to build toward the Reign of God. The Body is strengthened as all parts are honored, whatever their color or language, or liturgical, theological, or political stripe. God is to be found in that wilderness of difference, and reconciliation requires the crossing.

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Wednesday, 1 November 2006

APO: the David Beers letter

The Living Church published a news report on Monday 30 October which was headlined Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor Threatens Fort Worth, Quincy Dioceses.

This contained only two selected short quotes from the letter itself, but substantial comments from the Bishop of Fort Worth including the phrase: “The timing of this letter is shocking,”

Later, on the Stand Firm website, Bishop Iker wrote that:

The Beers letter is dated Oct. 19th and came by regular mail to my chancellor’s law office. When a copy was faxed to me from his office on the 27th, I then faxed it to Lambeth Palace, so the Archbishop would know what was in the works. Alas, Katharine had been there for her visit with the ABC that very day but had already departed. +JLI

[Comment: isn’t it weird that such communications are sent by ordinary mail and not electronically? I didn’t realise facsimile technology was still in common use.]

Huge dialogue ensued on the usual blogs: Jim Naughton provides all the links here, and adds some comments of his own. None of the blog commenters had of course read the full text of the letter,but nevertheless many people denounced this action in very strong terms, and generally blaming the new Presiding Bishop, whose term of office begins today, for behaving outrageously in sanctioning such a letter.

Today, a senior priest in Bishop Iker’s diocese, Chris Cantrell, has published just that. It turns out to be a piece of milk toast.

[Salutation omitted]
Several persons have told me recently that they believe that your diocese, within the past few or several years, has amended its Constitution in some way that can be read as cutting against an “unqualified accession” to the Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church. First of all, could you please send me a copy of your Constitution so that I can have first-hand knowledge on this score.

Second, if your diocese has indeed adopted such an amendment, then, on behalf of the Presiding Bishop, I want to express the hope that your diocese will promptly begin the process of amending its Constitution to declare clearly an “unqualified accession” as Article V of the Church’s Constitution plainly requires. If your diocese should decline to take that step, the Presiding Bishop will have to consider what sort of action she must take in order to bring your diocese into compliance.

With warm regards,
David Booth Beers

I shall be pleasantly surprised if anyone now apologises for their earlier remarks.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 1 November 2006 at 11:40pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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