The Downing Street website has this:
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Stephen David Conway, MA, Area Bishop of Ramsbury, for election as Bishop of Ely in succession to the Right Reverend Anthony John Russell, BA, DPhil, on his resignation on the 28th February 2010.
Read more here.
And from the diocesan website here.
Updated yet again Tuesday evening
ENS has a report by Matthew Davies African bishops look to the future, commit to leading the church in the 21st century.
New Vision carried Bishops condemn corruption.
Daily Monitor had Love your culture, say African bishops.
Christian Post has Anglican Bishops in Africa Issue Communiqué.
Spero News has a report in this article (scroll down) Kenyan Christians greet the new Constitution.
Episcopal Café has An end to the myth of a monolithic Africa
A report about a letter from some bishops of the provinces of Central Africa and South Africa to the other bishops who attended the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa meeting has been floating around the internet for a few days. We haven’t published it previously because we were unable to verify it, but now, courtesy of Anglican Information, we have. Their version follows…
Some commentary on all this:
Episcopal Café has the full text of the letter from the Provinces of Central Africa and Southern Africa. See here. Text of letter reproduced below the fold.
And now it also has a transcript of an interview with ACNA archbishop, Robert Duncan, see What ACNA Archbishop Duncan wants which includes this:
VOL: What do you see as the future of Anglicanism in North America with ACNA?
DUNCAN: The only future for ACNA, as the only future for Anglicanism, is the kind of confessional Anglicanism as represented in the Jerusalem Declaration. The clarity with which the GAFCON/FCA primates have admitted me as a primate among them also reveals something of the trajectory we are on.
TEXT OF LETTER FROM CENTRAL AFRICA and SOUTHERN AFRICA
We are gathered here for the All Africa Bishops Conference, Entebbe, Uganda 23 -29 August 2010; at a critical time in the life of the Anglican Church in Africa and the wider Anglican Communion. We hold dear the gift of the Anglican Communion and its Institutions with the Archbishop of Canterbury as our head. We seek to preserve its traditions.
We are grateful to God for the theme of this Conference: Securing the Future: Unlocking our Potential (Hebrew 12: 1-2). The purpose of which is to be pro-active in addressing the ills that beset Africa such as poverty, wars, bad governance, HIV and AIDS, and, environmental issues. The focus of this Conference is therefore about making the Anglican Church in Africa relevant in this context.
We are mindful that the Anglican Communion is under severe strain because of certain actions taken by the Episcopal Church, TEC by their ordination of openly gay bishops.
TEC’s recent action of consecrating an openly lesbian person as a bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles against a moratorium in the Communion of consecrating openly gay bishops reflected a gross insensitivity to the feelings of the rest of the Communion.
We are therefore sympathetic to the deep hurt and pain and indeed anger that some Provinces in Africa have expressed. Notwithstanding, the impression being created at the Conference that all Provinces in Africa are of one mind to abandon our relationship with TEC is wrong. Painful as the action is it should not become the presenting issue to lead to the break- up of our legacy and this gift of God- the world wide Anglican Communion.
We recognize that all the Provinces and dioceses in Africa do not condone TEC’s action. However, Provinces differ in their relationships with TEC in light of their actions. Some Provinces continue to value their historical partnerships with TEC and its organs. To discard these relationships would be tantamount to abandoning our call of the gospel to struggle with each other’s failure as we journey with Christ in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation as we were passionately reminded by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, of the virtue of tolerance and to live with our rich diversity.
In pursuit of its objective to form a new “province” in North America, ACNA has been successful in bringing together most of the splinter groups within the Anglican tradition.
We recognize that the common factor that holds all the coalition partners of ACNA is TEC. We do not support ACNA’s position for legitimacy through the elimination of TEC.
Three of the Instruments of Unity have already stated their position on the matter and we believe they represent the mind of the vast majority of the Communion including CAPA.
The majority of the African Provinces at this Conference are being ambushed by an agenda that is contrary to the beliefs and practices of our various Provinces. We have come to this Conference to share ideas on critical issues in the development of our continent and provide spiritual and moral leadership for our people.
Any thought of abandoning our Communion with any member of the body will hurt; for when one part of the body is injured the whole suffers. CAPA must not be used as a pawn in battles it is not party too. CAPA as you all know is not an organ of the Anglican Communion but a fellowship of Provinces of Africa. Therefore, issues of doctrine are better addressed as it has always been by individual provinces.
The full text of the Conference Statement of the Second All Africa Bishops Conference is now available here.
This statement is separate from the CAPA Primates statement which was published earlier.
Letter from the House of Bishops of the Province of Rwanda
We write to you with gratitude and humility as we rejoice in our time together in Entebbe, Uganda at the All African Bishops’ Conference.
Blessed is the Church in Africa to have such gifted leadership in our host, the Anglican Province of Uganda and its Primate, the Most Reverend Henry Luke Orombi. Such blessings continue in the CAPA Leadership and its Chair, the Most Reverend Ian Ernest, Primate of the Province of the Indian Ocean.
As we think of this very important gathering we recall that it was only four months ago that many in this gathering arrived in Singapore for the Fourth Global South to South Encounter. Since that gracious time shared, Anglican revisionism in the West continues and the need to “Secure our Future” as Faithful Anglicans has become even more acute.
As the chair of CAPA has articulated in his address, it is in this very moment we have a unique opportunity in the providence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to show the Communion and the world that Africa now sees fit to “unlock our potential” for a faithful witness to the Communion, fellow Christians in other traditions and the world.
Despite these blessings, we the Bishops of Rwanda have great concern about the state of the Anglican Communion and its ongoing disintegration. We ask you to prayer fully consider the contents of our Dispatch for Action for a pastoral plan that will indeed “Secure our Future”.
1. A RENEWED AFRICA OFFERS A RENEWED ANGLICAN IDENTITY
1.1 The Church since the days of our risen Lord has realized the need to express and strengthen their Koinonia by coming together in fellowship to meet contemporary challenges to the faith. The witness of the church was consistently a beacon to: a) address the numerous doctrinal and ecclesiastical controversies in a manner that forges the way forward for CAPA; b) create and foster a clear identity and unity among CAPA Provinces; and c) insure the strengthening of our structures that are conducive to witness to the Faith and fruit bearing in the Christian community.
1.2 We request that the CAPA Primates and Provinces initiate dynamic and effective structures that will strengthen our Anglican and African identity for Africa, the Communion, and the World.
2. STANDARDS FOR EXCELLENCE
2.1 The Anglican Communion has a serious problem of identity. As with most of the Christian Traditions, we face external cultural forces along with internal ecclesiological challenges that must be met and dealt with in this pluralistic society where major religions and aggressive ideologies are competing for the hearts and souls of humanity.
Who will stand for a united Anglican voice to bring the Way, Truth and Life in a hindered and divided Church?
Given the growth and the faithfulness of the Anglican witness in Africa, the time has come for CAPA Provinces to undertake the obligation from the Lord to protect and prevent the erosion of faith from these external forces. The Anglican Provinces of Africa possess a vibrant spirituality, a dynamic biblical witness, and numerous expressions of creative ministry to young and old, rich and poor, north and south.
Given such giftedness, we challenge the All African Bishops’ Conference to adhere to the Statement on the Global Anglican Future as proposed at GAFCON 2008.
3. COLLEGIAL LEADERSHIP AND FAITHFUL WITNESSS ARE OUR HERITAGE AND OUR FUTURE
3.1 Additionally, the Anglican Communion has added peculiar ecclesiological problems of its own that must be resolved. We call this today our “ecclesial deficit”. It cannot be resolved by a Covenant that requires little of those who ascribe to it and maintains no clear direction for discipline. Therefore, we propose that there be a structure based in the historic models of the church to resolve these crises.
3.2 Each provincial jurisdiction was birthed by Mother Africa. Mother Africa seeks all her children both temporally and spiritually to come together as a true Communion, united through a conciliar process rather than a separated Federation. Such a style of leadership would mean a more effective voice and a greater impact in the Communion. It would be monumental if the CAPA Primates and their bishops would make such a call and show the world that they are ecclesiastical leaders who understand this issue as the key to a real Global Anglican Future and are willing to boldly undertake the responsibility and leadership to begin this work.
4. SECURING OUR FUTURE
4.1 Based on the faith once delivered to the saints, the leadership structures as mentioned above; as well as a clear understanding of our own identity and dignity, we are now able to confidently unlock our potential and creatively address our issues of social, theological, and economic concerns with one voice. In so doing we will be able to develop sustainable programs by developing strategic alliances and partnerships for the future
We submit this dispatch in humility and boldness of faith requesting a direct response from CAPA Primates and Bishops. Nonetheless, we ask how many more statements will Anglican leaders give without due action? How long shall the Lord’s people be in the bondage of inactivity?
Two ACNS reports by Jan Butter:
The statement discussed in this article is now available over here.
The CAPA Primates, meeting at Entebbe, have issued this Communiqué. Please note this is a separate document from the Conference Statement of the Second All Africa Bishops Conference.
1. In a spirit of unity and trust, and in an atmosphere of love the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) as well as Archbishop John Chew, the Chairman of the Global South, which represents the majority of the active orthodox membership in the entire Anglican Communion, met during the 2nd All Africa Bishop’s Conference in Entebbe, Uganda. We enjoyed the fellowship and the sense of unity as we heard the Word of God and gathered around the Lord’s Table.
2. We gave thanks to God for the leadership of the Most. Rev. Ian Ernest, Archbishop of the Indian Ocean and Chairman of CAPA and for the abundant hospitality provided by the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda and the entire Church of Uganda.
3. We were honored by the presence of the His Excellency General Yoweri K. Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, for his official welcome to Uganda and for hosting an official state reception for the AABCH. We are very grateful to him for his support of the work of the Anglican Church in Uganda and for his call to stand against the alien intrusions and cultural arrogance which undermines the moral fiber of our societies. We recall his admonishment to live out the words and deeds of the Good Samaritan. We are also grateful to the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Uganda for his presence and words of encouragement to us.
4. We were very happy and appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, accepted our invitation to attend the 2nd All Africa Bishop’s Conference. We were encouraged by his word to us. We also appreciated the opportunity to engage face-to-face with him in an atmosphere of love and respect. We shared our hearts openly and with transparency, and we have come to understand the difficulties and the pressures he is facing. He also came to understand our position and how our mission is threatened by actions which have continued in certain provinces in the Communion. We therefore commit ourselves to continuously support and pray for him and for the future of our beloved Communion.
5. We were very saddened with the recent actions of The Episcopal Church in America who went ahead and consecrated Mary Glasspool last May 2010, in spite of the call for a moratorium (1) and all the warnings from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion and the 4th Encounter of the Global South.
This was a clear departure from the standard teaching of the Anglican Communion as stated in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. We are also concerned about similar progressive developments in Canada and in the U.K.
6. Being aware of the reluctance of those Instruments of Communion to follow through the recommendations of the Windsor Report (2) and taken by the Primates Meetings in Dromantine (3) and Dar es Salaam (4) we see the way ahead as follows:
A. In order to keep the ethos and tradition of the Anglican Communion in a credible way, it is obligatory of all Provinces to observe the agreed decisions and recommendations of the Windsor Report and the various communiqués of the past three Primates Meetings, especially Dar es Salaam in 2007. We as Primates of CAPA and the Global South are committed to honor such recommendations.
B. We are committed to meet more regularly as Global South Primates and take our responsibilities in regard to issues of Faith and Order. (5)
C. We will give special attention to sound theological education as we want to ensure that the future generations stand firm on the Word of God and faithfully follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
D. We are committed to network with orthodox Anglicans around the world, including Communion Partners in the USA and the Anglican Church in North America, in holistic mission and evangelism. Our aim is to advance the Kingdom of God especially in unreached areas.
E. We are committee to work for unity with our ecumenical partners and to promote interfaith dialogue with other faiths in order to promote a peaceful co-existence and to resolve conflicts.
F. We are committed to work for the welfare of our countries. This will involve alleviating poverty, achieving financial and economic empowerment, fighting diseases, and promoting education.
7. Finally, we are very aware of our own inadequacy and weaknesses hence we depend fully on the grace of God to achieve his purpose in the life of his church and our beloved Anglican Communion.
1. The Windsor Report Section 134.1 The Episcopal church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion (2) the Episcopal church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion energies.
The Windsor Report Section 144.3 We call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorized such rites in the US and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorizations.
2. Windsor Report. Section D. 157 There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart.
3. The Communiqué of the Primates Meeting in Dromantine (2005) Section 14. Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in roder to recognize the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference.
4. The Communiqué of the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007. If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.
5. Lambeth 1988 Resolution 18.2(a) Urges the encouragement be given to a developing collegial rule for the Primates Meeting under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates Meeting is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.
Lambeth 1998 Resolution III.6 (a) reaffirms the Resolution 18.2(a) Of Lambeth 1988 which “urges that encouragement be given to a developing collegial role for the Primates’ Meeting under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates’ Meeting is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters”.
Two reports in the Ugandan Daily Monitor.
The first is dated last Wednesday and is titled Nsibambi lauds bishops for rejecting homosexuality.
The Prime Minister, Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, has commended African bishops for rejecting the practice of homosexuality in the church. “I thank the church in Africa for being exemplary by not accepting homosexuality… they see that it is not acceptable in the society where they serve,” Prof. Nsibambi said yesterday during an opening service of the second All Africa Bishops Conference in Entebbe. He, however, added: “We should not persecute them (homosexuals) but I think it is wrong and we cannot recognise them because it is wrong like ordaining a gay bishop.”
The second, dated tomorrow, Sunday, is titled African bishops unite to denounce homosexuality.
“Homosexuality is not a new phenomenon in the society but the only trouble is that the issues dividing us (church) now are very difficult to handle. They are threatening the unity of the church because they disobey the authority of the scriptures,” says Bishop Okoh. He says homosexuality is a result of some people engaged in making their culture to be superior to the biblical teachings. “It is two sided; while some people want to be obedient to their culture to determine the content of the church, others say no and it must be the guidance of the bible,” he added.
The primates describe homosexuality as an imposed interpretation and alien culture that has hindered the growth of an authentic church which could respond to its people. “We are saying homosexuality is not compatible with the word of God. We are saying that this culture of other people is against the traditional belief of marriage held by the Anglican Communion,” says the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi. Bishop Orombi says that the Anglican Church will never accept homosexuality because the scriptures too do not allow people of same sex to join in marriage.
“Homosexuality is evil, abnormal and unnatural as per the Bible. It is a culturally unacceptable practice. Although there is a lot of pressure, we cannot turn our hands to support it,” says Bishop Orombi…
And further on:
..The Archbishop of the Province of Indian Ocean, Ian Ernest, says the bishops have to courageously raise their voices to counteract the false ideologies that creep into the church and put at stake the mission that Christ has entrusted to his church. “We cannot afford to continue to lurch from one crisis to the next in our beloved Communion. Despite attempts to warn some western provinces, action has been taken to irrevocably shatter the Communion. Sadly existing structures of the Anglican Communion have been unable to address the need for discipline,” says Bishop Ernest, the chairman of CAPA. He says the teachings of homosexuality are irrelevant to the needs of Africans and are unrepresentative demographically hence the need for new structures that are credible and representative of the majority.
The anti-homosexuality voices from the bishops are a likely boost to proponents of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (2009), before the Ugandan Parliament which proposes life imprisonment for acts of homosexuality and introduces “aggravated homosexuality” as a serious crime.
According to the proposed law, offenders must face death if they have sex with a minor or a disabled person, or are found to have infected their partners with HIV/Aids. The proposed law, if passed in its current shape, would also punish attempted homosexuality as well as the failure of a third party to inform the authorities of homosexual activity.
Bishop Orombi says the primates in Africa have since shared their stand with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Bishop Okoh says Africa has various challenges of disease, young widows, divorce, single motherhood, poverty which affect the church. “The issue of moral failure in the community is another problem to the church. But we have to work hard to ensure that the church of God is not divided by some practices like the ordination of women clergy which we are still studying,” he says.
This press release came from the Church of Uganda:
CAPA Apologizes to the Church of Uganda for Financial Scandal
In a 27th August letter to Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Ian Earnest, Chairman of CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa), apologized for “embarrassing” the Church of Uganda when CAPA received a $25,000 grant from Trinity Grants (USA) for the All Africa Bishops Conference taking place in Uganda. (Letter is attached.)
In 2003, the Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church (TEC) over their unbiblical theology and immoral actions that violated historic and Biblical Anglicanism and tore the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level. At the same time, the Church of Uganda resolved to not receive any funds from TEC.
The 2nd All Africa Bishops Conference was hosted by the Church of Uganda, but the programme and speakers were chosen by CAPA. The Church of Uganda received no outside funding for its role in hosting the 400 Bishops and other participants in the week-long conference. All funds were raised locally within Uganda.
Archbishop Henry thanked Archbishop Ian for acknowledging the awkward position CAPA had put the Church of Uganda in and appreciated his humility and generous spirit in writing.
Here is the attached letter as a PDF.
Karen McIntyre writes in The Guardian about Retreating towards God and asks “What happens if you take a weekend off every month to go on a Christian retreat?” She blogs about her weekend retreats and other things here.
Stephen Hough writes in the Telegraph about Some assumptions about the Assumption.
Sophia Deboick writes in The Guardian that The pope’s heaven isn’t a place on earth (or anywhere else). “Benedict has rejected the rich Catholic tradition of interpreting heaven in terms of the most intense human experiences.”
In The Guardian Alan Wilson starts a new series of articles about The Book of Common Prayer with The Book Of Common Prayer, part 1: An English ragbag. “The Book of Common Prayer has shaped English spirituality for nearly 450 years. What are its enduring qualities?”
Graham Wayne, in The Guardian’s Environment Blog, asks Why would a solar physicist embrace the non-rationality of religion? “John Cook, who runs skepticalscience.com, says his faith drives him. But what does religion give him that science doesn’t?”
BRIN (British Religion in Numbers) analyses religious affiliation and voting in the 2010 UK general election: Religious Affiliation and Political Attitudes: Findings from the British Election Study 2009/10.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Sherlock Holmes in old churches. “A sharp eye for details is essential to discover clues from the past.”
This week’s The Question in The Guardian is What is the point of Christian arts? “Is there anything distinctive about religious art, or could we shuck off the Christianity and keep the beauty?” Responses come from Harriet Baber, Roz Kaveney and Maggi Dawn.
This morning, the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 carried this:
The retiring Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, has called for a renewed focus on social mobility in the light of “the long failure of the enlightenment project”.
Speaking to James Naughtie, he said that in an “increasingly religious age” we needed to find new ways of dealing with the way “human beings mess things up”.
Andrew Brown has written Bishop Tom vs the Enlightenment
Tom Wright says that the breakdown of the welfare state shows that the enlightenment project has failed. Is he right?
He starts this way:
Oh lord, I thank thee that I am not as other columnists are, for they will assuredly pick up from his Today show interview Tom Wright’s description of the newspaper columnists as the Pharisees of our age and his complaint that the media has ignored at least fifteen speeches that he made in the House of Lords without one mention of s-e-x in them.
It is a little more interesting, though, to look at what he thought about the wider world. You can pick a lot of holes in the detail of his argument, but there is a very important truth hidden in there…
The comment article by Muriel Porter in last week’s Church Times is now available to non-subscribers.
Sydney thwarted on lay presidency
THE DECISION of the Appellate Tribunal rejecting lay and diaconal presidency at the eucharist is the latest setback for the diocese of Sydney in its quest to find a means of allowing lay people and deacons to fulfil this function.
Since the 1990s, numerous attempts have failed, but this decision is the most serious, because the diocese’s current ordination policy is based on the premise that deacons can (in Sydney’s preferred terminology) administer the Lord’s Supper.
Under the policy that has been introduced in recent years, ordination as priests (or presbyters, as Sydney calls them) is restricted only to rectors of parishes. At least one newly appointed rector has been ordained priest in the same service in which he was inducted into his first parish.
Under this policy, all curates, senior assistant clergy, and chaplains are expected to remain deacons. Particularly in chaplaincy situations, the celebration of holy communion will, in time, become dependent almost entirely on diaconal presidency…
The accompanying news report, linked previously, is here.
Updated again Friday morning
Several of the presentations made to the conference are now available from the Downloads page of the conference website.
Update 3 pm
Lambeth Palace has just issued this press release:
Archbishop reflects on CAPA meeting
The Archbishop of Canterbury has today returned from a three-day visit to Uganda where he attended the All Africa Bishops Conference on effective leadership for sustainable development, convened by the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA).
He also had the opportunity to meet with the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and to visit children at the Mildmay HIV Centre outside Kampala. Details and images of the visit to the Mildmay centre can be found here: http://archbishopofcanterbury.org/2974
Dr Williams said:
“I very much appreciated the invitation to hear the challenges facing my brother bishops in Africa, and also to spend some time in prayer and fellowship with them.
“This conference comes at a significant moment in the life of CAPA, with Anglican churches in Africa putting development issues at the top of their agenda in Entebbe. Their willingness to do so has been welcomed by other churches and politicians in the region and internationally, as they recognize that the African Church has the willingness and the skills to make them best placed to set their development agenda. Their challenge will be in finding the imaginative opportunities for unlocking this potential.
“I valued opportunities to hear from bishops ministering in the heart of conflict situations in countries such as Sudan, DR Congo, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, and learnt much from presentations on the serious threats to the well-being of women and children, as well as the potential of the Church to respond to these issues. I also welcomed the opportunity to meet and speak with the President of Uganda.”
The Church Times carries a news report, Dr Williams warns African bishops to listen and take risks and scroll down for a sidebar by Bishop Michael Doe which is headlined Bishops seek Africa focus.
CNN Belief Blog African bishops chide Anglican leader on homosexuality
Updated Saturday evening
The school is St Vincent’s Cathedral School in Bedford, Texas.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Bedford school turns away student because of parents’ lesbian relationship
Dallas Morning News Dallas-area school won’t take daughter of lesbian couple
Episcopal Café Vincent’s dean defends rejection of student
The Very Rev. Ryan Reed, Dean of St. Vincent’s School, spoke with DallasVoice.com about the rejection of 4-year-old Olivia Harrison from his school because her parents are lesbian…
Updated again Thursday morning
Guardian Riazat Butt Ugandan archbishop urges African clergy to re-evangelise Anglican church
Cif belief Andrew Brown The tank parked on Rowan’s foot
“The potentials represented today in this conference must be free to go to Europe and America with ‘fresh wine’ from ‘new wine skins’ to the mother church desperate for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I say ‘the Church in Africa’ must rise up. Shake off your fears, shame and superficial dependency. Take hold of this God-given opportunity and use it to his glory. Preach the gospel, evangelise and extend the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.”
This is a straightforward defiance of the policy of Anglican Communion against “border crossing”: the practice of African churches setting up branches in North America to try and claim the churches, the congregations, and a share of the money of the liberal Anglicans there. But it’s worth noting that he now wants to move into Europe as well. To say this to the face of the Archbishop of Canterbury is not parking a tank on Rowan’s lawn; it is parking one on his foot.
The Archbishop reacted with circumspection. So much circumspection, in fact, that it is worth translating his remarks into English…
This is the full text of Archbishop Ernest’s remarks yesterday.
This is the full text of Archbishop Orombi’s remarks yesterday.
President of Uganda tells African bishops: “There should be no room for intolerance because everyone is made in the image of God.”
History-making Anglican priest says Africa “has faith to believe it can defeat AIDS”
New Vision Museveni warns on religious extremism
Updated again Wednesday morning
Here is the full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon at the opening service:
The Archbishop’s sermon for Opening Eucharist at the CAPA All Africa Bishops’ Conference, Uganda.
Earlier press reports:
Daily Monitor Anglican head arrives for bishops’ summit
New Vision Anglican Church must be practical by Canon Kodwo Ankrah
Later press reports:
ENTEBBE, Uganda — African Anglican bishops voiced their strong disapproval of homosexuality at a meeting Tuesday attended by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, as the issue continues to divide Anglicans.
“Homosexuality is incompatible with the word of God,” said conference host and Ugandan Archbishop Uganda Henry Luke Orombi.
“It is good Archbishop Rowan is here. We are going to express to him where we stand,” he added…
Another version of this report appears at Daily Nation African bishops say Anglicans in West strayed from God
New Vision Anglican bishops maintain anti-gay stand
ANGLICAN bishops attending the All Africa Bishops Conference in Entebbe have reiterated their firm stand against homosexuality.
In speeches, most of which received standing ovations, the prelates said the practice was alien and an “innovation of the truth”.
Present was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, whose open support of the practice has made him the centre of attraction for the media at the conference.
The seven-day conference, at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, attracted over 400 bishops, a quarter of whom are from Nigeria. Participants were excited by the attendance of bishops from the Muslim countries of Sudan and Egypt.
As most clergy stood to clap at speeches critical of homosexuality, Archbishop Williams and two aides, who sat in the front row, were the only ones who remained seated…
Anglican Church in North America Archbishop Duncan Joins Leaders at All Africa Bishops Conference
Archbishop Robert Duncan was included with the other Anglican primates during the opening Eucharist, and shared in the distribution of communion, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
Bishops from all of Africa as well as Anglicans from around the world are meeting together in Entebbe, Uganda, for the Second All Africa Bishops Conference August 23-29.
The conference, which is organized by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), calls together bishops and archbishops from 400 dioceses in Africa. Invited guests from around the Anglican world are also present.
Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Martyn Minns, Bishop John Guernsey and Bishop Bill Atwood are among the Anglican Church in North America leaders who are attending the event. “The Anglican Church is expanding everywhere in Africa. There are now some 400 dioceses spread across the continent. As Archbishop I am here to learn and to stand in solidarity with this vigorous gospel mission,” said Archbishop Duncan. As the leader of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Duncan was included with the other Anglican primates (leaders of Anglican provinces) during the opening Eucharist, and shared in the distribution of communion, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
Archbishop Williams told the gathered bishops that the 21st Century may well be the “African Century.”
Archbishop Duncan, as well as Archbishop John Chew of Southeast Asia, have also been invited to sit with the primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) during their meetings.
Box Turtle Bulletin “There is Already A Break”: Ugandan Archbishop Declares De-Facto Schism
…In Williams’ opening remarks, he didn’t address homosexuality specifically, but said this in his typically indirect, round-about way:
“We must learn to listen to those we lead and serve to find out what their hopes and needs and confusions are. We must love them and attend to their humanity in all its diversity,” Williams said.
But African clergy weren’t waiting to hear Williams’ watered-down messages, and they were far more direct in speaking with reporters…
New Times (Rwanda) African Bishops to re-examine the issue homosexuality
THE All African Bishops International Conference kicked off yesterday in Entebbe, Uganda with the clerics promising to strengthen their position on intolerance of homosexuality in the Anglican Church.
The one-week conference being held under the theme; “Securing our future; Unlocking our potential,” is jointly organized by the by Church of Uganda and the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA).
The Bishop of Butare Anglican Diocese, Nathan Gasatura, who is among the twelve Bishops representing Rwanda at the conference, said that the meeting would also reinforce the need for a common voice among African bishops.
“We shall consolidate our position to really stand against homosexuality now with one voice,” he told The New Times in an interview yesterday.
“Sometimes we have been speaking with dissenting voices because this is one of the planned topics that is going to be consolidated.”
Cape Times (South Africa) Anglican church ‘out of touch with word of God’
The Council for Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) will convene the 2nd All Africa Bishops Conference (AABC) from the 23rd – 29th August 2010 at the Imperial Resort Hotel, Entebbe, Uganda.
The conference brings together Bishops from 400 dioceses in Burundi, Central Africa, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, Egypt and Uganda.
This year’s All Africa Bishops Conference (AABC) running from 23rd – 29th August 2010 will be hosted by the Province of the Church of Uganda.
Entebbe is located in Namirembe Diocese which is one of the 33 dioceses in the Province of the Church of Uganda.
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi is the current Primate of the Province.
It has been confirmed that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Dr. Rowan Williams, will be at the conference.
Dr. Rowans is scheduled to preach at the opening service on Tuesday August 24, 2010 at 09:00 AM local time.
This will be the first time that the Head of the Anglican Communion is visting Uganda since he became primate in 2002.
ENS has a report, African bishops, global partners head to Uganda for weeklong meeting.
New Vision has a lengthy report, 400 African bishops meet in Entebbe which includes an interview with the CAPA General Secretary, the Reverend Canon Grace Kaiso.
Daily Monitor has Orombi to meet Archbishop of Canterbury over homosexuality.
The Anglican Church of Australia has published a one page summary of the latest decision of the Appellate Tribunal.
For a plain English explanation of this decision, read Muriel Porter in the Church Times Tribunal rules out Sydney’s diaconal and lay presidency.
THE highest church court in Australia, the Appellate Tribunal, has ruled that both lay and diaconal presidency at the eucharist are not permitted under existing General Synod canons — contrary to claims by a 2008 resolution of Sydney Synod (News, 24 October 2008).
Since the 2008 Synod, at least one of the assistant bishops in the diocese of Sydney has approved diaconal presidency in his area. There is evid-ence to suggest that diaconal presidency has taken place at some Sunday services, including presidency by women who, although ordained priest in other dioceses, are licensed only as deacons in Sydney diocese…
There is a further article by Muriel Porter, which will be available to non-subscribers next Friday. (Subscribers will find it now at this link.)
This article was first published in The Tablet, the Catholic weekly. www.thetablet.co.uk
It is reproduced here with the editor’s permission.
David Stancliffe Not what you do, but how you do it.
An Anglican bishop who supports women’s ministry argues that the disagreement between Rome and the Church of England on the matter is connected with their different ways of thinking rather than the substance of what they believe.
Mark Vernon writes in The Guardian about William Blake’s picture of God. “The muscular old man with compasses often taken to be Blake’s God is actually meant to be everything God is not.”
Karen Burke writes in The Guardian about Tweeting God. “What happens when a Methodist minister tries to perform a service of peace and unity over his Twitter feed?”
Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times about Egotistical malaise at the heart of the City.
Catherine Pepinster writes in The Guardian about Justice, tempered by mercy. “Compassion should not be reserved only for those we judge to be deserving.”
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Bertrand Russell versus faith in God. “Which comes first, faith or philosophical proof?”
Updated again Tuesday afternoon
Adam Wagner has written at the UK Human Rights Blog that the Catholic Care gay adoption rejection boosts equality protection.
The Charity Commission has rejected a bid by a Catholic organisation to amend its charitable objects in order to restrict its adoption services to heterosexuals. The case highlights the significant protections which have been put in place by recent equality law, and the policing role which the Charity Commission is required to play from a human rights perspective…
Martin Pendergast has written at Cif belief that the Catholic gay adoption ruling is a victory for vulnerable children
Neither the pope nor the bishop of Leeds are likely to go as far as Cardinal Sandoval, the Mexican who this week accused civic authorities of bribing the courts. But they will not be at all happy about the charity commission’s rejection of Leeds-based Catholic Care’s application to restrict adoption to heterosexual couples. Lesbian and gay Catholics and many other members of the church will be delighted that this attempt to institutionalise discrimination has been defeated.
Altering charitable objects to avoid compliance with legislation was deeply offensive to many Catholics, and not just lesbian and gay people. Catholic values dictate that a childcare service should do its utmost to find loving homes for the children it exists to serve. If a majority of other Catholic childcare agencies in England and Wales found it possible to comply with the law, why not Leeds? Other agencies lost neither financial nor moral support from their Catholic populations. There was never any evidence that Catholic Care would be any different…
Virginia Ironside has written in the Independent The Catholic Church should stay out of the gay adoption debate.
Paul Vallely has written in the Independent on Sunday Talking over the heads of children.
The Roman Catholic Church and the equality lobby are both wrong: the rights of would-be adopters do not come first.
Neil Addison Catholic Care An attack on the idea of Charity
…Also the Commission has dealt a blow to the idea of Charity itself which is the free giving by individuals and organisations to help others. If the Catholic Church (or any other organisation or individual) wants to spend its own money in any way it pleases to help others why should an unelected quango, or indeed an elected Government interfere ? If individuals want to give money to adoption services that serve only heterosexuals, or adoption services for homosexuals, or disabled people or black or white people what right does the government have to interfere with that choice?
The provision of adoption services is a good thing in itself and a charitable purpose and for that reason alone should surely have been permitted even if the Commission felt that the services were provided on too limited a basis. The Commission seems to have regarded Charitable status as a favour granted by itself rather than as a good thing to be encouraged. This decision by the Charity Commission has, quite rightly been criticised as an attack on religious freedom but I would go further it is an attack on freedom itself. If individuals, churches and organisations do not even have the right to choose how to give away their own money then freedom itself ceases to exist.
Third Sector reports that Catholic Care considers appeal against Charity Commission over gay adoption
The Daily Monitor reports, Anglican Church is broken, says Orombi:
The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, yesterday said the Anglican Church today faces many challenges which have made it dysfunctional.
“What I can tell you is that the Anglican Church is very broken,” Bishop Orombi said.
“It (church) has been torn at its deepest level, and it is a very dysfunctional family of the provincial churches. It is very sad for me to see how far down the church has gone.”
Speaking at the opening of a three-day provincial Assembly in Mukono, the head of the Church of Uganda noted that the church has lost credibility.
He proposed that the Church of Uganda engages church structures at a very minimal level until godly faith and order have been restored. “I can assure you that we have tried as a church to participate in the processes, but they are dominated by western elites, whose main interest is advancing a vision of Anglicanism that we do not know or recognise. We are a voice crying in the wilderness,” he said at the Church’s top assembly that convenes every two years…
And, according to Icebreakers Uganda in Anglican Bishop in Uganda Vow to Confront Bishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury (H/T this report from Changing Attitude):
In a move to reaffirm their opposition to gay rights and gay acceptance in the Anglican church of Uganda, Bishops from all over the country sitting at Mukono vowed to confront the arch-bishop of Canterbury over his stand on homosexuality and gay Bishops serving in the church.
They promised to let him know where they stand with him and also make it clear that they will never agree with him on the issue of homosexuals in the church.
During the meeting, the arch-Bishop of the church of Uganda said they would not break away from Canterbury but would not cooperate with it until after arch-Bishop Rowan Williams has changed his stance on homosexuality in the church or left the position of arch-Bishop…
Civil Society reports on the latest decision:
The Charity Commission has again ruled that Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) may not change its objects in order to exclude homosexual couples from accessing its adoption services.
Despite being told in March by the High Court to reconsider, the Commission has stood by its original decision, arguing that there are not “particularly convincing and weighty reasons justifying the proposed discrimination”.
Speaking about the judgement, the Commission’s chief executive Andrew Hind, said: “In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.
“However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances.
“We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate.”
Read the news reports:
Guardian Riazat Butt Catholic adoption agency loses bid to bar gay parents from service
Telegraph Martin Beckford Last Catholic adoption agency faces closure after Charity Commission ruling
Press Association Bid to block gays adopting fails
Associated Press UK: Adoption charity can’t ban gay couples
Press releases from the principals:
PRESS STATEMENT : 18th August 2010
Commenting on the paper by Stephen Noll, linked here, he writes:
Since 1998, and to some degree before then, the Communion has come to be conceived as a single entity lacking central governance. But it was never intended to be such - it grew as a federation of Churches each of which had, and safeguarded, its own coherent doctrine and effective discipline - accepting the differences in both from one province to another. That it was ‘lawless’ was not a criticism, merely a statement of the obvious. Each member had plenary jurisdiction and law; the Communion never had jurisdiction.
Nonetheless the mood changed. The federal structure (in the shape of the Eames Commission) sought an answer to the dissatisfaction of some by creating a tighter, more unitary structure - and the covenant mechanism can only move in that centralising direction. The SCAC reinforced it. The Anglican Communion is now thought of as a single body which ought to have the apparatus of a single body to make the idea real.
He also makes some comments on the ACC Constitution and the remarks of John Rees, which were reported over here.
Updated again Wednesday morning
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued a statement.
…We do not believe that Bishop Bennison has the trust of the clergy and lay leaders necessary for him to be an effective pastor and leader of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, nor that he can regain or rebuild the trust that he has lost or broken.
We believe that it would be in the best interest of the Diocese that Bishop Bennison not resume his exercise of authority here.
ENS has two detailed reports at Pennsylvania bishop returns to divided diocese and again at Pennsylvania bishop says he’s listening to lay, clergy leaders.
My attention has been drawn to this recently published article at Sociological Research Online. [hat-tip to Roland Orr]
The Meanings of Communion: Anglican Identities, the Sexuality Debates, and Christian Relationality by Robert M. Vanderbeck, Gill Valentine, Kevin Ward, Joanna Sadgrove and Johan Andersson, University of Leeds.
Here is the abstract.
Recent discussions of the international Anglican Communion have been dominated by notions of a ‘crisis’ and ‘schism’ resulting from conflicts over issues of homosexuality. Existing accounts of the Communion have often tended to emphasise the perspectives of those most vocal in the debates (particularly bishops, senior clergy, and pressure groups) or to engage in primarily theological analysis. This article examines the nature of the purported ‘crisis’ from the perspectives of Anglicans in local parishes in three different national contexts: England, South Africa, and the United States. Unusually for writing on the Communion, attention is simultaneously given to parishes that have clear pro-gay stances, those that largely oppose the acceptance of homosexual practice, and those with more ambivalent positions. In doing so, the article offers new insights for the growing body of literature on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians, as well as wider discussions about the contested nature of contemporary Anglican and other Christian identities. Key themes include the divergent ways in which respondents felt (and did not feel) connections to the spatially distant ‘others’ with whom they are in Communion; the complex relationships and discordances between parish, denominational, and Communion-level identities; and competing visions of the role of the Communion in producing unity or preserving diversity amongst Anglicans.
And David Pollock writes in The Guardian about The onward march of secularism.
In an interview for the Catholic Herald John Hall, the dean of Westminster Abbey, tells Huw Twiston Davies that he is looking forward to welcoming Benedict XVI: ‘It is good that the Pope is coming’.
Timothy Larsen writes at Inside Higher Ed (of Washington DC) about No Christianity Please, We’re Academics.
Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times about Make giving seem more normal.
Sophia Deboick argues in The Guardian that Theology is a crucial academic subject.
In his column Wren’s tall tower in Twickenham in the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes that “More city churches were demolished in peacetime than were bombed by the Luftwaffe.”
This week’s The Question in The Guardian is Can you keep Christ and give up being a Christian? with responses from John Richardson, Rebecca Jenkins, Theo Hobson and Shirley Lancaster.
The transcript of the questions (and supplementaries) asked at last month’s General Synod and the answers as given is now available.
Updated Friday evening
Last week’s Church Times contained many letters responding to the article about sacramental assurance by Canon Simon Killwick which was linked here earlier.
These letters are now available at RC disapproval undermines sacramental assurance.
The Irish Times recently carried a letter from Canon Dr Virginia Kennerley which was published under the title Women’s ordination.
…On reading the Synod reports it struck me that the demand for “sacramental assurance” – the guarantee that the priest celebrating the Eucharist has not been ordained by a woman bishop, or even by a bishop originally ordained by a woman – is a demonstration of “magical thinking” at its most primitive, akin to ritual rain-making ceremonies and tribal rituals designed to control the uncontrollable…
This letter refers to a sermon on the same theme by Canon Kennerley, delivered at Christ Church Dublin a few days earlier.
The G2 section of the Guardian carried this feature article last Monday: Women bishops of the future?
As the Church of England moves ever closer to allowing the ordination of women bishops, three woman [sic] priests talk about what it would mean to them.
The Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia has issued its opinion on the legality of the administration of Holy Communion by deacons or lay persons.
The full documentation from the tribunal can be found here.
Anglican Media Sydney Tribunal disagrees with diaconal administration
Episcopal News Service SYDNEY: Tribunal rejects move to allow deacons to preside at Eucharist
The Anglican Communion Office has published an article titled The ACC Constitution: An Interview with ACC’s legal adviser Revd Canon John Rees.
The Anglican Consultative Council has a new Constitution. How did this come about? What does this mean in reality? How will it affect the work of the Instruments of Communion? The Standing Committee? ACNS spoke to John Rees, legal adviser to find out more…
The last two questions are perhaps the ones of most interest to TA readers.
Q. What’s your response to those who say this new Constitution is an attempt to give the Standing Committee and/or the ACC more power.
That’s very wide of the mark. The drafting committee took care to ensure that the plenary meeting of the Council would continue to have the same democratic rights to appoint the Standing Committee that it always had in its unincorporated state. The wider membership attending the plenary meetings of the ACC every two or three years remains the body which appoints its members of the Standing Committee and entrusts the Committee with the Council’s work in between its meetings. I have attended a good many Standing Committee meetings over the years, and I can vouch for the fact that its members are very conscious of the interdependence of the ACC with the Archbishop and the Primates and are careful to respect boundaries.
So it’s also misleading to suggest that the ACC would impinge on the authority of the Archbishop or of the Primates’ Meeting. Neither the Archbishop’s role as the pivotal Instrument of Communion, nor his role in calling together the Primates’ Meeting (which itself has no formal constitution) are in any way restricted by these Articles. As the Archbishop’s Registrar for the Province of Canterbury, I would have been very concerned if I had thought there was any intention to do so.
The definition of ‘Primates’ in these Articles remains essentially as it appeared in Article 3(a) of the earlier Constitution. Indeed, the drafting committee went out of its way (in Article 8.1) to emphasise that the Primates should elect their members of the Standing Committee “in such manner as they shall think fit”. The guidance that they, and the ACC’s membership as a whole, should have regard to the need for regional, order and gender balance was carried over from the earlier Constitution, and at best can operate only as an aspiration.
Q. Doesn’t making the ACC an English company subject the council to UK and applicable EU law including equalities legislation?
The incorporation of the ACC as a limited company does not subject the ACC to UK or EU equalities legislation to which it would not otherwise have been subject. The Church of England has played a major part, with other churches in the UK, in achieving and preserving certain exclusions for itself and other religious bodies in relation to this legislation as it has developed over the last thirty years. The Equalities Act would have been equally applicable to the ACC in its unincorporated form because it was also registered as an English charity. Equally, the ACC in its new structure will enjoy the benefit of exclusions from this legislation to the same extent as any other religious organisation in the UK. I share the unease of many religious people about the impact of this British legislation, but it is not right to say that the restructuring of the ACC will have altered its position viz-a-viz the implementation of this law.
The Equality Act 2010 amends the Civil Partnership Act 2004 so as to remove provisions in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 that prevent all ‘religious premises’ being approved for the registration of civil partnerships.
A spokesman for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed on Wednesday that the amendment took account of discussions held with the Government. The Church of England’s concern, he said, was to ensure that the regulations provided for an opt-in or opt-out at denominational level. The C of E (and other denominations) wanted to be able to nominate a national body to declare a position on this issue, before individual applications could be made. This was what the Quakers themselves had done (Comment, 12 March).
The government is now holding consultations with “interested parties” in preparation for implementing such provisions. As a recent Government document [PDF] said:
An amendment made to the Equality Act 2010 makes it possible to remove the express prohibition on civil partnerships taking place in religious premises. We want to talk to those with a key interest in this issue about what the next stage should be for civil partnerships, including how some religious organisations can allow same-sex couples the opportunity to register their relationship in a religious setting if they wish to do so.
And on 20 July, the following written answer was given in the House of Commons:
Civil partnership and civil marriage registrations are entirely secular in nature and prohibited from taking place on religious premises or containing any religious language, or religious music.
An amendment made during the passage of the Equality Act 2010 removed the express prohibition on civil partnership registrations taking place on religious premises. In response to this amendment, the Government committed to talking to those with a key interest in this issue about what the next stage should be for civil partnerships. This will include consideration of whether civil partnerships should be allowed to include religious readings, music and symbols. This commitment was made clear in the Government’s published document ‘Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality’, published on 16 June 2010.
We will begin this exercise before the summer parliamentary recess.
There are reports of these consultations, which show that some groups are now looking for rather more from the new Coalition government than they were from the Labour one:
The Independent yesterday carried a report that the Liberal Democrat conference next month would consider adopting a new policy, see Lib Dems to vote on full marriage rights for gay couples.
Christopher Howse “loves nothing better than a really terrible bit of verse in church.” He writes about it in the Telegraph: An embarrassing poem for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding
Giles Fraser spoke about the cost of weddings on Wednesday’s Thought for the Day on BBC Radio4. You can read what he said here, or listen to a podcast here. The broadcast prompted this piece from Andrew Brown in The Guardian: What’s wrong with weddings. And Giles also appeared at MailOnline with: I despair of so many weddings - they’re more about ego than love.
Giles Fraser’s Church Times column this week is titled Why Mary Magdalene is a true apostle.
John Milbank gave an interview to Asia News about the impending papal visit to Britain, see Anglican Theologian: Pope’s visit “crucial” for relations between two Churches.
Colin Coward wrote about the launch party this week for James Alison’s new book, Broken Hearts and New Creation – James Alison’s latest book launched at CA London and Southwark meeting.
Rowena Loverance has written the Face to Faith column in the Guardian: Images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An exhibition at Friends House offers a chilling insight into the suffering wreaked by the A-bombs, 65 years on.
Stephen Tomkins wrote at Cif belief that William Wilberforce was complicit in slavery. Wilberforce and his supporters permitted slave labour in Sierra Leone. But is it a fatal blow to his reputation?
In The Bishop of Ebbsfleet’s Pastoral Letter - September 2010, Bishop Andrew Burnham writes about Electing a New General Synod.
The full text is copied below the fold.
In last week’s Church Times Simon Killwick wrote about Why sacramental assurance matters.
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory is mine!” Anglicans, especially Catholic Anglicans, find “blessed assurance” and a “foretaste of glory” in the sacraments of the Church. After the General Synod debate on women bishops, Stephen Barney wrote asking for an explanation of the doctrine of sacramental assurance (Letters, 16 July). Others have questioned whether sacramental assurance is an Anglican doctrine.
I would like to try to explain it, and to show that it is an Anglican doctrine. The doctrine of the Church of England is to be found particularly in “the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal”, according to Canon A5; I will refer to these sources, among others…
Last week’s Church Times (30 July) also carried a large number of letters to the editor on the subject. See Women bishops, sacramental assurance, the mitre: debates continue.
Bishop of Ebbsfleet’s September letter
Electing a new General Synod
IN MY August Pastoral Letter, I said that I should continue to reflect on current issues in the September letter. Normally one looks for a different, and unrelated topic, but these are not normal times. We have seen the dissolution of the 2005–2010 General Synod and with it the dispersion of its ‘Catholic Group in General Synod’, one of the informal groupings in the Synod. New elections will take place shortly and the 2010–2015 General Synod will be inaugurated by the Queen in November. As happens every five years, there will be an inaugural meeting of the new ‘Catholic Group’ and people will be counting up how many are in the Group, bishops, clergy and laity, and what kind of line they will be taking. That much is predictable and the pattern for it long-established. The officers of the ‘Catholic Group’ will already be in place (provided they have managed themselves to be elected to the Synod) and the Chairman will already have a sense of the direction in which he will want to lead the Group.
Until the July 2010 vote, the second catastrophic vote for Anglo-catholics in three years, there was a division of opinion. One section wanted, on principle, to vote down the women bishops’ legislation completely, on the grounds that Catholic Faith and Order does not traditionally admit women to holy orders and the Church of England has no more competence to change the tradition than it has to change the bible, the creeds, or the sacraments. This section still sees its duty to witness to the Catholic Faith, as the Church of England has received it, and not to give up until the ‘final approval’ vote is lost in 2012 (if, indeed, it is lost). The ‘final approval’ vote on women bishops will need a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses of Synod and it is possible, of course, that it will not clear this hurdle in all three houses. (One projection is that it might fail in the house of laity).
The second section of opinion, broadly that of Forward in Faith, was that women bishops are inevitable sooner or later, because of the admission of women to the orders of deacon and priest, and that what is needed is a proper framework, proper provision, for those who maintain the historic and traditional view. The sooner the better. Forward in Faith favoured a free province, but three separate dioceses would amount to that, and that was firmly defeated in July. The archbishops’ amendment also might have permitted some sort of framework to be built on statutory transfer of jurisdiction. That was narrowly lost on a vote of houses. (It is hard to build a Catholic ecclesiology, incidentally, on a system which allows priests and deacons to vote down the attempts of archbishops and bishops in areas of Faith and Order. Are the procedures of General Synod in any sense ‘Catholic’?) What is apparently on offer, intended to meet the needs of this section of opinion, is a ‘code of practice’. Bishops and all who exercise patronage would agree to behave honourably and try to both respect people’s needs and their deeply-held beliefs.
Following the July 2010 vote, this second section of opinion has had to do some fresh thinking. Forward in Faith assemblies have chanted, as ‘the response to the psalm’, ‘A code of practice will not do’. Anglo-catholics are programmed then to reject a code of practice and it is important to understand why. For one thing, codes of practice are advisory and not mandatory. Discretion, discernment, goodwill, and good sense are all necessary for codes of practice to work. Catholic orders and sacraments cannot depend on discretion, discernment, goodwill, and good sense. Indeed a major characteristic of Catholic orders and sacraments is that they exist regardless of any of these things, even if some of these things are necessary for them to be of benefit to the faithful. Whatever it is, the Eucharist, celebrated by someone not in the historic succession, or not using the right elements or words, and not having the right intention, is not a Catholic sacrament. The same is true of Absolution, Confirmation, Ordination, and the Blessing of Oils. The argument here is not about the sex of the celebrant. Anglo-catholics (unlike many in the Church of England) have exactly the same problem with non-conformist ministers and lay presidents as they do with women clergy. What we need, we say, is ‘sacramental certainty’, a matter which the Chairman of the Catholic Group, Canon Simon Killwick, explained lucidly in the Church Times of 30 July 2010. That means that, in sacraments, God is doing something which does not depend on our response, though it invites our response. It happens, as they say, ex opera operato, just because it happens. To think otherwise is not what the Catholic Faith teaches. A code of practice won’t do!
That means that Anglo-catholics who are standing for election for the General Synod, or voting in General Synod elections, are standing, or voting, to defeat the women bishops’ legislation. It is hard to see how, in terms of process, any provision whatsoever could be made now – following the severe set-back in York in July – which allowed women bishops to be consecrated and, at the same time, traditional Anglo-catholics conscientiously to remain in the Church of England. But it ain’t over until it’s over. No-one in November 1992, when the final approval for women priests took place, could have guessed that a few months later the House of Bishops would cobble together the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, with its promise of a permanent and honoured place for those who could not accept the development.
Some of you will now be asking why I am picking at the carcase rather than just declaring it dead and moving on to embrace the offer of Pope Benedict XVI to Anglicans in Anglicanorum cœtibus. The Pope’s offer is not a bargain basement sale. It isn’t ‘clearance’ or ‘end of roll’ or ‘while stocks last’. Nor is it a rescue plan for shipwrecked Anglo-catholics. It is a way of pursuing the ecumenical journey to which we have been committed for a very long time and it must be considered in its own right. That I propose to do in a third Pastoral Letter in October, the third in a series of letters. Meanwhile I think we continue to pray, reflect, and rest, and, of course, ponder and reflect during the visit of the Pope to England later in September, what we should now do, each one of us. Most of all, as the Holy Father comes among us as the leader of the Christian family, we pray for the coming of the Kingdom and the triumph of the Gospel over the forces of evil and indifference.
May God bless you as you faithfully serve him and his Church.
Updated again Saturday evening
ENS reports Court rules in favor of Charles Bennison.
An ecclesiastical review court Aug. 4 ruled in favor of Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison with respect to two alleged disciplinary charges stemming from his response to his priest brother’s sexual misconduct some 35 years ago.
The decision by the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop is here… [PDF file]
Read the full article for the background to this decision.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued a brief statement, and promised to say more soon.
Update see also An Invitation from the Standing Committee
The Living Church has Bp. Bennison Trusted the Canons.
Update See further ENS article, Standing Committee plans worship, ‘open conversation’ in wake of bishop ruling.
Other press reports:
Philadelphia Inquirer Episcopal bishop can return to head Pa. diocese
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Church overturns conviction of Episcopal bishop
Blog reports and comment:
Episcopal Café Bennison reinstated
Anglican Curmudgeon Court of Review Dismisses Charges Against +Bennison
Mark Harris Bishop Bennison guilty, but time ran out.
Gordon Reid Bishop Bennison wins his appeal
Episcopal Café has drawn attention to several articles in Religion in the News about the Church of Uganda and the proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in that country.
Mark Fackler writes about Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill.
Jesse Masai writes about The Word from Kampala’s Anglicans. This is based on interviews with Archbishop Orombi’s communications director, Amanda Onapito, and Assistant Bishop of Uganda David Zac Niringiye.
“The church’s position on human sexuality is consistent with its basis of faith and doctrine and has been stated very clearly over the years as reflected in various documents,” she said. “From a careful and critical reading of Scripture, homosexual practice has no place in God’s design of creation, the continuation of the human race through procreation, or his plan of redemption.
“The Church of Uganda believes that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture. At the same time, we are committed at all levels to counseling, healing, and prayer for people with homosexual orientation. The church is a safe place for individuals who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”
On the bill itself, she continued, the COU prefers that current law (Penal Code Cap. 120) be amended, clarifying gaps, protecting all parties from uneven enforcement and from the anti-homosexuality bill’s encroachment into family life and church counsel. Currently, the bill outlaws failure to inform authorities of homosexual activity, much as standard criminal law forbids failure to testify concerning wrongful acts observed. Ugandan law protects underage girls from sexual predators, Onapito explained, but not underage boys.
The COU wants the law to protect, not criminalize, confidential relationships of medical, pastoral, and counseling professionals and their clients, she said. An amended Penal Code must, in fairness and for the protection of youth, specify lesbianism, bestiality, and “other sexual perversions” as targeted behaviors. The free marketplace of ideas must have legal boundaries prohibiting material that “promotes homosexuality as normal or as [merely] an alternative lifestyle.”
Onapito added that while the church’s position may be contrary to Western notions of fair treatment for gays, it hardly poses the desperate risk to life and freedom that gay rights advocates fear. There should be no doubt, however, that the COU wants to ensure that “sexual orientation is excluded as a protected human right.”
We also learn, from the Church of Uganda website, that
Church of the Province of Uganda will be hosting the second All African Bishops’ Conference from August 23- 29, 2010 in Kampala, Uganda.
Read lots more about it at the conference website.
Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
$25,000 over one year to fund the All Africa Bishops Conference, a week long gathering in August  that will address the emerging pastoral and contextual education concerns in Africa.
The Church of Uganda itself does not accept money from such sources but is nevertheless the host of this conference.
The official position of the Church is explained in this FAQ about Church of Uganda, GAFCON, and the Anglican Communion.
Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church has written for Cif belief No covenant please, we’re Anglican.
The Anglican communion has always been inclusive, not confessional. Our differences of opinion are signs of maturity.
Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council has written an article The Anglican Covenant: Major Revisions Required.
This depends heavily on a paper written by Stephen Noll and available as a PDF file.
Fifteen bishops of the Church of England have written a letter, addressed to those who signed the Open Letter of 2008 to the archbishops on the issue of women in the episcopate.
Another copy of the 2008 letter with the full list of signatories can be found as a PDF file here.
The full text of the new letter is below the fold.
‘God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will tell you the good and proper way.’ (1 Samuel 12:23)
These are grave times in the Church of England especially for those of us unable in good conscience to accept that any particular church has the authority to admit women to the episcopate. While we certainly accept the good faith of those who wish to make this change believing it to be God’s will, we cannot rejoice with them, not least because of the disastrous cost to Catholic unity.
Our concerns are not only about sacramental assurance though that is of profound importance. If the legislation now proposed passes, it will not provide room for our tradition to grow and flourish. We will be dependent on a Code of Practice yet to be written, and sadly our experience of the last almost twenty years must make us wonder whether even such an inadequate provision will be honoured in the long term.
Neither the Report of the Revision Committee nor the legislation itself show a proper understanding of our reservations, however carefully these have been presented through the consultation process and in the College and House of bishops. It remains a deep disappointment to us that the Church at large did not engage with the excellent Rochester Report and paid scant attention to the Consecrated Women report sponsored by Forward in Faith.
We must now accept that a majority of members of the Church of England believe it right to proceed with the ordination of women as bishops, and that a significant percentage of those in authority will not encourage or embrace with enthusiasm the traditional integrity or vocations within it. Nor is it their intention or desire to create a structure which genuinely allows the possibility of a flourishing mission beyond this generation.
However, the closeness of the vote on the Archbishops’ amendment for co ordinate jurisdiction, concerns though there are about its adequacy, suggest at least a measure of disquiet in the majority about proceeding without a provision acceptable to traditionalists. The catholic group fought valiantly on the floor of synod and we are grateful for that, and while many in the Church and press are speaking as if the legislation is now passed, final synodical approval is still some way off.
Whatever happens in the Synod, there are some Anglo Catholics, including in our own number, who are already looking at, indeed are resolved to join the Ordinariate as the place where they can find a home in which to live and proclaim their Christian faith, in communion with the Holy Father, yet retaining something of the blessings they have known and experienced in the Anglican tradition. Of course the Ordinariate is a new thing, and not all of us are trailblazers or can imagine what it might be like. Some will undoubtedly want to wait and see how that initiative develops before making a decision.
Yet others will make their individual submission and find their future as Roman Catholics.
Were the present proposals not to be substantially amended or defeated, many more of us will need to seriously consider these options.
A number will remain, perhaps even reluctantly because of personal circumstances, family loyalties, even financial necessity, but with a deep sense of unease about the long term future, an unease that is surely well founded. There are faithful Catholic clergy and lay people, though deeply opposed to the likely synodical decision, who cannot currently imagine themselves being anywhere else but the Church of England. They wonder how they can stay, yet cannot imagine leaving their much loved church and parish. They do not want to be forced out of the Church they love, and will persevere where they are, whatever the theological or ecclesiological ambiguities, and seek God’s blessing on all they do.
Those who are not actively seeking a home elsewhere must work to defeat the currently proposed legislation. It is essential that traditionalists engage in the debate and discussion in their diocese and are active in the election process for the next quinquennium on the General Synod when the two thirds majority in each House will be required if the legislation is to pass. Whatever our individual futures, and however disheartened we might feel, the Church of England needs strong catholic hearts and voices.
The text quoted at the beginning of this letter was the one used by John Keble in his famous Assize sermon, often regarded as the starting point of the Oxford Movement. It seems remarkably apposite, and gives a clue to an appropriate attitude of heart for this process: prayerful and gracious, but clear.
We are all bishops united in our belief that the Church of England is mistaken in its actions. However, we must be honest and say we are not united as to how we should respond to these developments.
Nevertheless we are clear that each of the possibilities we have outlined has its own integrity and is to be honoured. We are resolved to respect the decisions made by laity, bishops, priests and deacons of our integrity, and call on you to do the same. It would be a sad and destructive thing indeed if we allowed our unhappiness and wondering to drift into unguarded or uncharitable criticism of those who in good conscience take a different path from our own. We must assume the best motives in one another, and where there are partings let them be with tears and the best wishes of Godspeed.
You will we hope know of the clergy meetings in both provinces to take place in September when there will be opportunities for discussion and an exchange of views about the future. Be assured of our prayers as you reflect about how best to respond to the challenges which face us, and we ask your prayers for us too as we seek to be faithful to the Lord, and to the Faith once delivered.
Rt Revd John Hind, Bishop of Chichester
Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Europe
Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn
Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett, Bishop of Beverley
Rt Revd John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham
Rt Revd Peter Wheatley, Bishop of Edmonton
Rt Revd John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley
Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Rt Revd Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough
Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract
Rt Revd John Ford, Bishop of Plymouth
Rt Revd Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham
Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Whitby
Rt Revd Robert Ladds
Rt Revd Lindsay Urwin OGS