Sunday, 31 October 2010

Covenant: a response to the IC/MC advert

Fulcrum has published an article by Andrew Goddard entitled Framing the Anglican Covenant: Trick or Treat? A Response to Inclusive Church and Modern Church.

The propaganda on the Anglican covenant produced by Inclusive Church (IC) and Modern Church (previously MCU) and published in the church press reveals a most frightening development in contemporary Anglicanism. Two of the Church of England groups most associated with an appeal to reason have demonstrated themselves to be incapable of reasoned argument. They have also revealed themselves so hermeneutically challenged when faced with a relatively simple and short text whose contemporary context is well known that, did I not know some of the groups’ leaders, I would conclude they were deliberately misrepresenting the situation and framing false charges just in order to rally their troops and engender fear in those relatively uninformed of the covenant’s background and content…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 31 October 2010 at 11:00pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Foster parenting case reaches High Court

Two Church of England diocesan bishops and two retired Church of England bishops have written to the Telegraph Councils should not discriminate against Christian carers. The full text of the letter is reproduced below the fold.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones had earlier reported the letter in the Telegraph news columns, Christians’ freedom to express beliefs is at risk, warn bishops.

This case has been running for a while. Rachel Harden reported on it for the Church Times in February 2008, see ‘Unsuitable’ foster-parents to appeal.

Update

It may be helpful, as suggested in the Comments below, to provide a link to the earlier McFarlane case in which Lord Carey intervened. The full text of the main judgement was linked from here.

The full text of Lord Carey’s own witness statement was published by Ruth Gledhill on her blog, but is no longer available; however comment on it from the Church Times is still available here. Update Now available in .doc format here.

31 Oct 2010

SIR – On Monday the High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are “fit people” to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded, regardless of the needs of children, from doing so because of the requirements of homosexual rights.

The case involves Derby City Council and Eunice and Owen Johns, both highly experienced foster carers, but whose traditional Christian views have left them penalised under legislation enacted by the former government in the name of equality.

This “equality”, however, privileges homosexual rights over those of others, even though the Office for National Statistics has subsequently shown homosexuals to be just one in 66 of the population.

In January 2007, the Johnses applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers for a single child aged five to 10 years old. However, in August 2007, their orthodox Christian views on the practice of homosexuality and their commitment to attending church with their children came to the notice of a social worker.

As a result, they were withdrawn from the process and deemed “unsuitable” to foster through the council.

The Johnses believe that the desperate shortage of foster carers, and the need for people like them to offer short-term respite care for parents in need of a rest, mean that denying Christians the opportunity to be carers will deeply affect children’s welfare.

The Johnses are a loving Christian couple, who have in the past, and would in the future, give a stable home to a vulnerable child.

Research clearly establishes that children flourish best in a family with both a mother and father in a committed relationship.

A commitment to respecting conscience is the essence of civil liberty. The supporters of homosexual rights cannot be allowed to suppress all disagreement or disapproval and “coerce silence”.

There is a “clash of rights”, which the court must settle. If the court believes that those with traditional Christian views on homosexuality can be discriminated against, the state has taken a position on a moral question, namely that such religious belief is problematic.

However, despite the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the Equality Act, the courts are still able to establish jurisprudence.

We trust and pray that common sense and justice will be done.

Lord Carey of Clifton Former Archbishop of Canterbury
Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt Bishop of Winchester
Rt Revd Peter Forster Bishop of Chester
Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali Former Bishop of Rochester

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 31 October 2010 at 12:41pm GMT | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Covenant: the articles continue

Malcolm French who blogs at Simple Massing Priest has written about Aesop on the Anglican Covenant.

Paul Bagshaw at Not the same stream has written The legal fiction at the heart of the Covenant and earlier he also wrote How to mount a successful coup in Anglicanism, and even earlier there was Two conversations not talking to one another.

Lesley’s Blog has some thoughts from Jonathan Clatworthy at Is the Anglican Covenant Innocuous or a Serious Threat?

Earlier Lesley herself wrote What to write about the covenant?

And there is media coverage of the IC/MC advert:

Guardian Liberal Anglicans challenge ‘dogmatic’ Church of England covenant

ENS ENGLAND: Church groups campaign against Anglican Covenant

Ekklesia Campaign launched in C of E against ‘backward-looking’ Anglican Covenant

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 October 2010 at 4:34pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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opinion for the end of summer time

Summer Time (daylight saving time) ends in the UK tomorrow.

Jeremy Fletcher is Giving up Football.

Huw Thomas writes in the Church Times Suffer little children — don’t fob them off. “Something is wrong when children are given distractions to occupy them in church rather than being involved.” [now available to non-subscribers]

Riazat Butt writes in The Guardian that Team Rowan goes off-message. “George Pitcher isn’t like previous members of the archbishop of Canterbury’s staff. Is Lambeth fully prepared?”

Toby Cohen writes at the Church of England Newspaper that In the beginning were the blogs.

Suem asks on her Significant Truths blog How Anglican is the Anglican Covenant?

Savi Hensman writes this essay for Ekklesia: Thinking theologically: Bible, tradition, reason and experience.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Humanism fails to face the horror.

And finally Meanwhile back on planet earth…

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 October 2010 at 10:22am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Friday, 29 October 2010

Latest Church Statistics - press comments

Updated Sunday

We noted yesterday’s publication of the latest Church of England statistics. These included statistics on ordination of women resolutions and petitions at 1 January 2010, which for the convenience of readers I have extracted and published here.

Two papers have picked up these particular figures.

Tim Ross in the Telegraph: More parishes reject Church of England bishops who ordain women priests.

Ed Beavan in the Church Times: Statistics show parishes opposed to women priests.

Despite what is stated in these articles, these statistics have occasionally been published before, but not as part of the annual statistical round-up. For example, the February 2006 General Synod paper GS 1605 (House Of Bishops’ Women Bishops Group: Report To The General Synod From A Working Group Chaired By The Bishop Of Guildford) contained the figures for 31 March 2004 in an appendix.

Update

The Church Mouse has a rather more considered look at these statistics: Latest Church statistics - good news!

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 October 2010 at 11:45am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Church Groups Unite Against Anglican Covenant

Press Release from Modern Church and Inclusive Church

Thursday 28 October 2010

Church Groups Unite Against Anglican Covenant

Two major Church of England groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church (formerly MCU) have joined together to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant.

In November the Church of England’s General Synod will be asked to approve the Anglican Covenant. Many Synod members do not realise it, but it could be the biggest change to the Church since the Reformation.

Each of the 38 Provinces in the Anglican Communion is being asked to sign it. By signing, it undertakes not to introduce any new development if another Anglican province anywhere in the world opposes it – unless granted prior permission from a new international body, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

The campaign opens tomorrow Friday, when full-page advertisements appear in both the Church of England Newspaper and the Church Times. It will continue during the weeks leading up to the General Synod debate scheduled for Wednesday 24 November, and if the draft is not rejected, but referred to the dioceses, it will continue throughout 2011.

The full text of the Church Times advert is available as a PDF file here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 10:09pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Newman and the Pope

Graham Kings Bishop of Sherborne has written a Fulcrum newsletter. The full title is:
The Ambiguous Legacy of John Henry Newman: Reflections on the Papal Visit 2010.

Beguiling and virulent, holy and vituperative, quicksilver and splenetic, charming and cantankerous: there are many sides to the character of John Henry Newman, brought out variously and vicariously in their biographies by Ian Ker (Oxford, 1988 – Catholic, scholarly and positive) and Frank M Turner (New Haven, 2002 – Protestant, scholarly and iconoclastic).

The severely critical review by Ker of Turner’s book in the Times Literary Supplement (6 Dec 2002), and consequent response from Turner, who noted that Ker was active in the campaign for Newman’s sainthood (20 Dec 2002), and then the answer of Ker, who complained of Turner ‘impugning [his] integrity’ (3 Jan 2003), intriguingly echo aspects of Newman’s own polemical interaction with Charles Kingsley, which produced his Apologia Pro Vita Sua (London, 1864). Ian Ker did not include Frank M Turner as an author in the book he edited recently, Cambridge Companion to John Henry Newman (Cambridge, 2009) but John Cornwell does draw carefully on both Turner and Ker in his Newman’s Unquiet Grave: the Reluctant Saint (London, 2010).

Newman’s beatification was the centrepiece, culmination and raison d’être of the papal visit to Britain in September 2010. His attraction and trajectory to Rome were the key part of the planning of the visit. But how would the visit be followed up? In parish or university missions, the follow up of people who come to a commitment of faith is vital and keenly arranged. What of the papal visit? Let us consider first John Henry Newman, second some aspects of the papal visit and finally the follow up to the visit…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 6:45pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Synod elections: understanding the results

Updated

Two articles appeared today which relate to this subject.

First, Peter Ould wrote about the problems of discovering the full election details from the dioceses. See Through a Glass Darkly.

I thought it would be interesting (with my psephological hat on) to have a look at the full returns from the recent General Synod elections, to see whether I could pick up any interesting insights on the voting patterns. The full returns are the rather long pieces of paper (handily normally produced on a spreadsheet for easy consumption) that help explain all the transfers and quotas that are used in the STV election system that the Church of England utilises for its elections. For a worked example, see here on the fabulously wonderful Elections Ireland website…

Update Peter has now published the (not quite complete) results that he has collected. See (Almost) Full General Synod Election Results. If you can help him complete the task, please respond to him.

Second, Elaine Storkey has written at Fulcrum about Who won the General Synod elections and what hope for women bishops?

As the Church House machinery grinds into action, mailing out a truckload of papers for November’s inauguration of the new General Synod, it is interesting to reflect on how this new Synod will respond to some of the issues it inherits from the old. At the centre of these is, of course, the draft legislation on women bishops. Canon Simon Kilwick, chairman of the Catholic Group cautions against any tacit assumption that this will go through in 2012, since there has been a ‘shift in the landscape’ of Synod. However, there is always a shift in the landscape of synod, as change occurs after every election: older members retire, some leave for many different reasons, and others are not re-elected. What this current ‘shift’ actually represents needs therefore to be carefully interpreted…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 1:35pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Bishops' Office and Working Costs

The Church of England has announced the publication of Bishops’ office and working costs for 2009.

Bishops’ office and working costs published
28 October 2010

The 2009 office and working costs of bishops in the Church of England are published today. Figures for individual bishops were first published, for the year 2000, in December 2001. Bishops’ office and working costs were previously published as a total figure.

Bishops’ office and working costs for the year ended 31 December 2009 are published on the Church of England website.

Note

The report includes a full description of the important role played by bishops locally, regionally and nationally.

The 113 diocesan and suffragan bishops of the Church of England institute and support the ministry of all clergy and lay ministers in their dioceses, as well as providing pastoral support to them. Each diocesan bishop has ultimate oversight of several hundred clergy, Readers and lay workers and of a diocesan budget and portfolio of assets. In addition to diocesan responsibilities, such as ordinations and diocesan festivals, and engaging with the communities which they serve, bishops often chair or serve on national and international Church boards and councils, as well as large charities, special commissions or public inquiries. They are involved in the growing work towards visible unity with other denominations both nationally and internationally and in work with other faiths.

Twenty-six diocesan bishops sit in the House of Lords: at least one is present every day and others will attend according to the subjects under debate that day. The Bishop of Sodor & Man sits in the Tynwald.

The webpage also includes links to costs for previous years back to 2000.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 1:18pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Latest Church Statistics

The Church of England has announced the publication of its latest finance and ministry statistics with the following press release.

Church of England publishes latest statistics on web
28 October 2010

The Church of England has today published its latest information about parish income and expenditure and trends in ministry numbers in Church Statistics 2008/9. The attendance statistics included were published in February 2010.

This year’s statistics include additional information on current areas of interest reflecting the contemporary life of the Church. Information on children and young people’s involvement with the church outside worship has been collected for the second time, so that trends can be identified in future years as more data is collected. Data on numbers of parishes theologically opposed to the ordination of women provide factual information for future debates.

Parish income

Despite the difficult economic times, parishioners’ tax-efficient planned giving continued to increase in 2008, reaching an average of £9.77 a week, while the total income of parishes exceeded £900 million for the first time at £925 million. Total voluntary income rose to £505 million or £8.31 per electoral roll member per week. At the same time, total parish expenditure rose to £874 million, with nearly £52 million of this being donations made by parishes to external charities.

Dr John Preston, the Church’s National Stewardship and Resources Officer, said:

“Whilst recent figures for giving to the wider charity sector have shown a dip, giving to parishes in 2008 saw a further increase to record levels, a sign of the high level of commitment that so many have to supporting the mission and ministry of their local parish church. Legacy giving has also bucked the national trend - reaching the highest ever level of £48.1 million.”

Ordination candidates

Another 491 candidates were accepted to train as future clergy in 2009, making a total of 1338 in training. In total, 564 new clergy were ordained in 2009, 10 less than in 2008 and 77 more than in 2006 (the lowest in recent years). Of those, 309 were entering full-time paid ministry, compared with 321 in 2008 and 226 in 2006.

While the numbers of people being training for ordination remained buoyant across 2009, number of retirements also remained high. Revd Preb Lynda Barley, Head of Research & Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council, comments: “It is encouraging that the Church is responding confidently to the challenge that the changing age profile of our nation brings, with one in six of those in training being under 30 years of age.” Taking retirements and other losses into account, there was a net loss of 128 full-time paid clergy, compared with 182 in 2006.

At the end of 2009, there were some 28,000 licensed and authorised ministers, ordained and lay, active in the Church of England.

The three new tables in this year’s Church of England statistics are: Ordination of Women Resolutions and Petitions; Children at Church-Related Activities 2008; and Young People at Church-Related Activities 2007.

The latest statistics have been added to the Church of England website, alongside attendance statistics published in February.

There are links to statistics for earlier years here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 11:25am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Faith, Justice, City

Faith, Justice, City is a series of talks accompanied by Shadows of the Wanderer, an artwork installation by the renowned sculptor Ana Maria Pacheco at St John’s Church, Waterloo, from 29th October to 23rd December 2010.

Faith, Justice, City is a series of sermons and addresses for Advent focusing on London’s diverse resident and transient communities and the issues of faith, justice, equality and civil interaction that impact on all. Speakers include Loretta Minghella (Chief Executive, Christian Aid), Jehangir Malik (Director, Islamic Relief UK), Neil MacGregor, (Director, British Museum), Kate Hoey MP, and Rt Revd Richard Cheetham (Bishop of Kingston) . All the addresses will be given during the Sunday morning service at St John’s Waterloo at 10.30 a.m.

Accompanying this series of thought provoking sermons and addresses will be a major sculpture installation that is being shown in London for the first time, Shadows of the Wanderer, by Ana Maria Pacheco.

For more details see here about the talks, and over here about the art exhibit and associated events.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 10:36pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Church Commissioners Questions

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry, MP for Banbury) answered questions on behalf of the Church Commissioners in the House of Commons yesterday.

first batch
second batch
written answer

Here are two of the questions and answers.

Appointment of Bishops

1. Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): What recent representations the Church Commissioners have received on the criteria for the appointment of bishops in the Church of England; and if he will make a statement.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): The canons require that anyone to be considered and consecrated as a bishop at present has to be male and over 30.

Natascha Engel: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that answer. The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently written a newspaper article saying that it is okay to be a gay bishop as long as one is celibate. Where does the Church of England stand on people in civil partnerships? If they are celibate, are they okay to be bishops too?

Tony Baldry: There is no Church of England rule that prevents a celibate person in a civil partnership from being considered for appointment as a bishop. The issue is whether someone in that position could act as a focus for unity in a diocese. That would have to be considered by those responsible for making any episcopal appointment.

Partners of Vicars

8. Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): What training and support the Church of England provides to those who become partners of Church of England vicars after their ordination.

Tony Baldry: When undertaking parish ministry, a curate and their family are able to access support from a number of people, including their bishop and their director of curate training.

Dr Huppert: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a massive asymmetry between the treatment of those who become partners pre-ordination and post-ordination? If the Church expects such partners to play an active role, it should try to ensure that those who join their partner post-ordination get at least equivalent training.

Tony Baldry: I think everyone recognises that being a vicar is not an easy job. Betjeman succinctly observed:

“When things go wrong it’s rather tame
To find we are ourselves to blame.
It gets the trouble over quicker
To go and blame things on the Vicar.”

Every clergyman deserves our full support for what they do in the community, and their spouses - whether pre-ordination or post-ordination - deserve our support, because they are often on the front line of helping parishioners in the community. I very much hope that if any clergy spouse does not feel that she is getting full support, she will get in touch with me and I will make jolly sure that her diocesan bishops and others ensure that she gets the support that she deserves.

Other questions were about gift aid, ethical criteria for investments, VAT on church repairs, and heritage grants for churches

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 at 8:10pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 24 October 2010

two more Covenant articles

Bishop Alan Wilson asks an important question: Anglican Covenant: a Tool for…?

I am slightly bemused when I am told some big signature project is perfectly safe because it won’t make any critical difference. If not, why bother? Is there anything worth doing instead that might make a difference? But a new General Synod is about to sign the C of E up to the Anglican Covenant, pretty much on auto-pilot, some say as much out of fear of giving offence as positive endorsement for its supposed virtues. Everyone else can then back-pedal, ignore it, even, depending on where they stand in the culture wars,

* because they fear it will spank TEC
or
* because they fear it won’t,

The Covenant then joins a select number of other magnificenti in the lumber room, like the Kikuyu declaration, and life carries on. But, inquiring minds will wonder, what kind of a tool is it? What for? Whose benefit? How?

There’s a scale for assessing tools, that runs from Swiss Army Knife to Turkey Turners…

There is also provision in the article for voting on your choice of tool.

And the second article is from Paul Bagshaw who compares this issue to that of the Church of England (Worship and Doctrine) Measure 1974. The article is titled And always keep a-hold of Nurse …. He concludes:

And the relevance of this to a Covenant is:

(a) because the CofE is a State Church it has no ecclesiology - it has had no capacity to think for itself what kind of church it is and should and could be,

(b) the CofE has had centuries of training in the arts of being subordinate and acting as though it was autonomous - it exists through a sophisticated systemic exercise of willful blindness and realpolitik.

(c) The point at which it acquired the power to determine its own doctrine was too late for it to exercise such power. From the mid-1980s ecumenical agreements and the changing shape of the Anglican Communion meant that in practice it could only make definitive doctrinal statements in concert (if not uniformly) with other churches and the rest of the Communion - see, for example, the statement on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.

So to adopt the Covenant for the CofE would simply be to accept a new overlordship while continuing to pretend it is superior to it. It will make sure its officers are embedded in the operation of the Covenant so that nothing potentially embarrassing comes to the light of public debate. And thus it will ensure it still doesn’t have to think about its ecclesiology - what principles - actually and ideally - underlie, predispose and can be used to judge the words, structures and action of the Church of England?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 24 October 2010 at 3:21pm BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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CofE news roundup on Sunday morning

The BBC Sunday radio programme has an interview with Bishop John Broadhurst. It starts about 25.5 minutes into the programme and lasts about 6 minutes. Link to it from here.

In the Observer Riazat Butt has a good summary of the overall situation on the Ordinariate and women bishops, in Exodus over women bishops: what will Rowan Williams do next?

News that fewer than 50 Anglicans are converting to Roman Catholicism has set cassocks twitching, leading to talk of an exodus and an earthquake in the Church of England and what the ramifications are for the archbishop of Canterbury, who is only ever described as besieged, beleaguered, embattled or all three…

Meanwhile, over at the Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre has moved on to what might be the next big story, in Facing the axe: Diocese that has twice as many Muslim worshippers as Anglicans.

A historic Church of England diocese where Muslim worshippers outnumber Anglican churchgoers by two to one is set to be scrapped.

According to sources, the Dioceses Commission is drawing up proposals to axe the cash-strapped Diocese of Bradford in Yorkshire and merge it with neighbouring Ripon and Leeds…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 24 October 2010 at 9:44am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 23 October 2010

opinion for Bible Sunday

Susan Elkin writes in The Independent Restoring holy order: Is the King James Bible the only version we should celebrate? “It is a cornerstone of Western literature and culture. But as the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible approaches, the authors of two new studies argue that its significance may have been overstated.”

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about the Charterhouse in central London: Sacred mysteries: London’s hidden medieval priory.

Andrew Brown asks in The Guardian Do human rights exist?

Alan Wilson writes in his blog about Why new media matter in Church.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about The three options for diversity.

Nicholas Reade (the Bishop of Blackburn) writes in The Guardian that Our most vulnerable have been ‘handicapped’ by this spending review. “If the level of civilisation of our society is judged by its treatment of disabled people, we don’t seem to have got very far.”

Alex Wright writes in The Guardian about Holy faces from the past. “Early frescoes in a Norfolk village remind us of our medieval churches’ more lively past.”

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about What the Pope’s visit changed a month on from Pope Benedict’s welcome to Britain.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 23 October 2010 at 10:31am BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant: more criticism

The General Synod of the Church of England will debate the proposed Anglican Covenant on Wednesday 24 November.

Paul Bagshaw has recently written several articles about this on his blog, Not the same stream.

First, there was A dishonest Covenant.

In July 2007 I wrote a paper called Bouncing the Covenant through the Anglican Communion (here) which looked at the way the Covenant was to be pushed through.

In retrospect I was wrong about one thing - I had calculated that the majority of Provinces would have endorsed the Covenant by this year, 2010, so that the Church of England would be faced with a fait accompli. In fact the majority of Provinces still have to decide whether or not to accept the Covenant…

That was followed by English and Welsh Bishops.

About the English ones, he writes:

…There is a mix of loyalty (and not wanting to seem publicly disloyal) with a generation of bishops trained into the collective mould (both senses) by having individuality trained out of them: mini-princes in their own domains and courtiers on the larger stage. I’m not sure that government by nineteenth-century unaccountable autocrats was any better (and there was a different structure of checks and balances in place). However, the result today is that the bishops have become like a one-party state: divisions are kept within the club, the public face must be united. (Unless, of course, you retire to Rome, but that’s a different story.)

However that’s assuming there has been structured debate in which differences of episcopal opinion have even been aired. There was, of course, discussion at the Lambeth Conference. I’m not at all sure what debate has been had within the English college of bishops - not that I would know, you understand, one way or the other. But I am led to believe that the new Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council - the other half of implementing the Covenant - went through on the nod.

In A richer Covenant, he discusses in detail the South African approach to the subject. He says:

The sadness from my perspective is that Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has a rich understanding of covenant and its potential, a vision I would delight in - but unfortunately it’s a vision I don’t see in the Anglican Covenant on offer today.

And finally (for the moment) he is critical of Kenneth Kearon’s action in disciplining the Southern Cone. See Utterly negative.

For background, see these pages, starting with A very un-Anglican Covenant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 October 2010 at 9:29am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 October 2010

Catholic press on Ordinariate and Societies

On the one hand, The Tablet has a feature article by Abigail Frymann headed The journey begins - Ordinariates and the Church of England.

A flying bishop and a small parish in Rowan Williams’ own diocese are the first of the Church of England rebels ready to turn their backs on Canterbury and make for Rome via the special structure of an ordinariate. But could progress be stymied by salaries, pensions and buildings?

On the other hand, the Catholic Herald has Catholic Anglicans: don’t be taken in by this incoherent scheme to undermine the Ordinariate by William Oddie.

You may not have noticed it (I had hardly noticed it myself) but the C of E (having with deliberation decided not to make any “special provision” for those opposed to women bishops) is currently mounting a last-minute attempt to undermine the Ordinariate for Catholic Anglicans which is expected to be erected in the New Year. This scheme (which I have absolutely no doubt has the discreet backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury) would be laughable if there were not a real possibility that it might persuade some Catholic Anglicans who are seriously considering coming into communion with the Bishop of Rome to stay where they are. They should be warned: have nothing to do with this scheme. It seems to me to be dishonest, deceitful and both morally and intellectually bankrupt.

The name of the disreputable organisation which hopes to inveigle those Anglicans seriously considering the provisions of Anglicanorum coetibus into staying exactly where they are is the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda. This was set up last month with the backing of 10 bishops claiming to be of Catholic mind; I can only say that I know some of these men of old and the ones I do know are about as “Catholic” in any real sense as a clockwork banana…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 22 October 2010 at 10:49pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Church Times on Ordinariate and Societies

Updated Saturday evening

There are several reports in today’s Church Times:

Churchwardens to ask Dr Williams to discuss Ordinariate

…The Priest-in-Charge of St Peter’s, the Revd Stephen Bould, said: “It is not a vote to join the Ordinariate; the PCC can’t make that decision.”

He said that “lots” of people in St Peter’s were interested in joining the Ordinariate, but “lots are not in­terested.” Conversations needed to take place about how to “deliver the minimum pain and maximum gain when going along two parallel tracks comes about”.

And scroll down that same link for Reform’s new plan.

…Mr [Rod] Thomas said from the conference on Tuesday that a new society would have its own bishops to oversee those who could not accept the ministry of women bishops. “If we can work out the details of such a society, and how it fits in with the rest of the Church of England, there would be a mechan­ism readily available for the bishops to get through this dilemma.”

Synod fight to go on, though FiF wooed by Rome (scroll down for main story).

THE chairman of the council of For­ward in Faith (FiF) UK, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd John Broad­hurst, told its National Assembly that he intended to offer the Queen his resignation before the end of the year. He was resigning, not retiring.

At the meeting last weekend in Westminster, Bishop Broadhurst said: “That is to facilitate my replace­ment. There will be complications after January for any suffragan bishop. I have spoken to the Bishop of London. He intends to replace me.”

He said that he expected to enter the Ordinariate when it was estab­lished, but had not resigned as chair­man of FiF. “This is not a Church of England organisation.” But later, if it was thought appropri­ate that he should stand down, there could be a postal ballot after “measured dis­cussion”.

And this:

…It was quite possible, Prebend­ary David Houlding said, that a “blocking third” could be obtained in the House of Laity.

“If we must defeat it, defeat it we will,” he said. “We have no choice. We may not be successful, but in con­science we have no other choice.” It was likely that following motions would be suggested.

He did not want to claim too much for the new Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda (News, 1 October). “It will be no use at all if it doesn’t have jurisdiction at its heart. That undoubtedly will be where the battle is. The House of Bishops is changing. The question, therefore, remains: will they recognise such a grouping of clergy in the life of the Church?”

Sacramental assurance would not be the icing on the cake, but the cake itself. The society idea might be able to guarantee it for a while if the legislation was passed. “Will the bishops who seek to lead in this society be prepared to break the rules when needed, to consecrate further bishops? If not, this society will come to its natural conclusion.”

Update

Another article which appears in the Church Times this week is not available to non-subscribers til next Friday, but it is available from another source:

Paul Vallely They have to swim the Channel before they swim the Tiber.

Many Roman Catholics like me look slightly askance at the prospect of disenchanted Anglican traditionalists flooding across the Tiber, and not because they will be swimming with one hand and holding their ornate thuribles aloft in the other to keep them dry.

No, it is what they say they want to leave behind which makes us wonder about what they are bringing with them. Not to mention what it is they hope to find when they get to their promised land.

Take the Bishop of Fulham’s valedictory description of the church he seems determined to quit. The keynote address of the Rt Rev John Broadhurst to the Forward in Faith assembly – despite the ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ tone in which it was delivered – contained some extraordinarily violent language. He characterised the Anglican Communion as a place of ‘lies’, deceit’ and described it at one point as ‘an evil institution’. He called it ‘myopic’ and bemoaned its ‘lack of consultation’. Later he was quoted as calling it ‘vindictive’, ‘vicious’ and ‘fascist in its behaviour’…

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Church Times on General Synod elections

Today’s Church Times has two reports:

Traditionalists glimpse hope in Synod election results and scroll down the same link for Winners and losers in tougher vote.

…Canon Simon Killwick, chairman of the Catholic Group on the General Synod, said he was “cautiously op­timistic” that a solution could be reached to accommodate the trad­itionalists. There had been a “shift in the landscape” of the make-up of Synod. “We’re not looking to try and block things, but for some significant amendments in the legis­lation to make better provision for those who can’t accept women bishops.

“It seems there has been some­thing of a shift in the membership of Synod, particularly in the House of Clergy, who blocked the Arch­bishops’ amendment in July, and one might speculate that the current membership would have blocked the legislation.”

He said that the creation of the new Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda (News, 1 October) could be a “vehicle for accommodating those who can’t accept women bishops”. The idea of a society was rejected by the revision committee, but Canon Killwick said that it would not be a statutory body, but would have its own constitution, recognised by the General Synod…

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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Reform plans a Religious Society

Press Release from Reform
from here
October 21, 2010
REFORM PLANS RELIGIOUS SOCIETY AS ‘MODEL TO WIDER CHURCH

Reform members have voted to back the creation of a religious society within the Church of England for conservative evangelicals who want to promote the church’s mission but are opposed to the consecration of women as bishops.

Speaking at the network’s annual conference yesterday, attended by over 170 members, Revd Rod Thomas, the Reform chairman, said: “This is a very positive move not just for us, but for the wider church. The creation of a society can both provide a model of how the church can change to become more focused on mission, not maintenance, and a way forward through the dilemma it faces over women bishops.

“Reform members are involved in innovative ways of reaching into local communities with the good news of Jesus Christ. Many are in churches with a good number of younger men and women being trained for future gospel work. We have a mission-focus which brings health and life that is good for the wider church, and a religious society would enable us to continue that focus.

“In light of the recent results of elections to General Synod, our proposal takes on even greater weight,” he added.

Revd Thomas revealed to the conference that analysis of the election results showed that over one third of the house of laity and just one member short of a third of the house of clergy would now vote against women bishops unless changes were made to the draft legislation. These figures are critical, as the legislation requires a two-thirds majority across all three voting houses (bishops, clergy, laity). If such a majority is not achieved in just one of the three houses, then the whole legislation would fail and have to be re-visited.

Revd Thomas said: “The recent elections provided the first real opportunity for grass-roots members of the Church of England to have their say on women bishops. There are many who remain firmly opposed to the idea, because the Bible says that there should be different roles for men and women both in the family and the church. For them the current proposals provide no firm guarantees, and therefore are completely inadequate. So there is now a real incentive to find a way of making appropriate provision, otherwise the whole legislation could fail. A religious society with a clear statutory role has not been fully considered, and could provide a way through.”

Although some senior figures within the church are known to be broadly supportive of the creation of a religious society, Revd Thomas said that there is “a lot of detail to be worked out” as to the exact way such a society would operate, but reckoned that within 6-12 months the framework could be clear.

- Ends –

Editors note:

Evangelical and Catholic groups on General Synod have swapped lists of candidates and analysed the results. The analysis shows that in the House of Clergy, 66 Clergy would block the current legislation being sent down to the diocese, (i.e.32.10%) and 77 laity would block the current legislation being sent down to the diocese (35.46%). Only 34% is needed to block the legislation when it returns from the dioceses. So in the house of laity a blocking minority already exists and in the house of clergy only a further 1.81% is needed, just one person.

Reform has over 1,700 members, of whom more than 350 are ordained clergy.

For further information contact:
Revd Paul Dawson, 07791 495824
media@reform.org.uk
www.reform.org.uk

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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Uganda and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

An Associated Press report (here via the Washington Post) reports on the latest development in the ongoing saga of Gays in Uganda: ‘Hang them’: Uganda paper publishes photos of gays.

Episcopal Café reports that an Anglican is among those targeted, see Ugandan newspaper targets gays and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo.

Warren Throckmorton points out that the AP report obscures one angle: AP reports Ugandan Hang Them campaign, obscures status of AHB.

And he has two other reports which summarise the current status of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill one year later and One year later: Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The position taken by the Anglican Church of Uganda was stated last February, and is recorded here.

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Ordinariate, Societies, GS elections

Updated Thursday morning

The Catholic Herald reports, Anglicans urged not to accept Pope’s offer, and there is a related Catholic News Service story, Anglican bishop announces he will resign, join Catholic ordinariate.

Damian Thompson has blogged twice in one day on this topic: see The Ordinariate has got Anglican and Catholic mediocrities seriously rattled and later, Church of England civil war looms as ‘Hinge & Bracket’ join forces with hardline Protestants to block women bishops.

The press release to which he refers was issued twice. Both versions are copied in their entirety, below the fold here, for general interest.

Ed Tomlinson has encouraged his readers to listen to the recordings of the Forward in Faith National Assembly (which we have linked previously here). He has however chosen a rather odd photo to illustrate the article. His blog article is here. The picture comes from the website of the US Holocaust Museum, here.

Update

Tim Ross at the Telegraph claims that Archbishop of Canterbury moves to flush out Anglicans plotting to defect to Rome. This refers to the comments made in the Hindu interview linked, and indeed quoted, over here.

Two versions of a press release

Earlier version

From: Christian News Release Service (UK) [mailto:admin@cnrs.org.uk]
Sent: 18 October 2010 14:27
To: Christian News Release Service (UK)
Subject: WOMEN BISHOP LEGISLATION CAN NOW BE BLOCKED IN BOTH HOUSE OF LAITY AND CLERGY - UNLESS AMENDED
Importance: High

MEDIA STATEMENT October 18,2010

Following the results of the Church of England’s General Synod Election, 2010, Anglo Catholic and Evangelical Groups opposed to the current legislation have assessed the results.

In the House of Clergy, 66 Clergy would block the current legislation being sent down to the diocese, (i.e.32.10%)

And

77 laity would block the current legislation being sent down to the diocese (35.46%)

Only 34% is needed to block this when it returns from the dioceses. In the clergy only a further 1.81% is needed, and that’s just ONE person. There are 21 new evangelicals on this new synod, and one more cleric out of 62 votes, it is a given!

ENDS.

For further information/interview:
Revd Rod Thomas (Chairman, Reform): 0790 6331110
Fr Simon Killwick (Chairman, Catholic Group on General Synod): 07788 408529

———————————-

Later version

From: Christian News Release Service (UK) [mailto:admin@cnrs.org.uk]
Sent: 19 October 2010 09:00
To: Christian News Release Service (UK)
Subject: Women Bishops in the CofE now to be BLOCKED after latest General Synod Election
Importance: High

MEDIA INFORMATION ON GENERAL SYNOD ELECTION

Following the Election of the new General Synod of the Church of England, Evangelical and Catholic Groups on Synod have now swapped lists of candidates.

The results show that 66 Clergy (32.10%) and 77 laity (35.46%) will vote against the current Women Bishop legislation unless it is amended to give those who for conscious/scriptural reasons, cannot accept WBs.

Only 34% is needed to block this when it returns from the dioceses. For the first time, it can and will be blocked by both fully ELECTED houses. In the clergy only a further 1.81% is needed, and that’s just ONE person. There are 21 new evangelicals on this new synod, and one out of a possible 58 undecided is a given!

The Bishop of Fulham’s departure to Rome, announced on Friday, was therefore a little too early and the Catholic Group on General Synod have distanced themselves from his position and will be staying within the CofE.

ENDS.

For Interview/comment:
Rev Rod Thomas (Reform): 0790 633 1110
Fr Simon Killwick (Chairman of Catholic Group on General Synod): 0778 8408529

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 6:13pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Archbishop comments on state of Communion

Additions made

ACNS has a report, Archbishop Rowan Williams: “Despite challenges, Anglican Communion life is strong”.

This quotes from a lengthy interview given to The Hindu Dialogue for me is recognition of the serious: Rowan Williams.

ACNS notes this quote about the Primates Meeting:

“I think that after the Lambeth Conference of 2008 many people felt that we found ways of talking to one another, and perhaps exercising some restraint and tact towards one another,” he said, “and it was very significant that at the next meeting of the Anglican primates, which was in the early part of 2009, all major Churches of the Communion were represented.

“Unfortunately, the situation does not remain there. The decision of the American Church to go forward, as it has, with the ordination of a lesbian bishop has, I think, set us back. At the moment I’m not certain how we will approach the next primates’ meeting, but regrettably some of the progress that I believe we had made has not remained steady.

“Alongside that, and I think this is important, while the institutions of the Communion struggle, in many ways the mutual life of the Communion, the life of exchange and co-operation between different parts of our Anglican family, is quite strong and perhaps getting stronger. It’s a paradox…

Some other extracts from the original interview:

In your February 2010 address to the General Synod, you warned that infighting over women bishops and gay priests could split the Communion. You even conceded that, unless Anglicans find a way to live with their differences, the Church would change shape and become a multi-tier Communion of different levels – a schism in all but name. Which way are things heading on these two fronts?

I think I’ll be able to be clearer about that after the next primates’ meeting. But at the moment I couldn’t say I felt completely optimistic about that. I feel that we may yet have to face the possibility of deeper divisions. I don’t at all like, or want to encourage, the idea of a multi-tier organisation. But that would, in my mind, be preferable to complete chaos and fragmentation. It’s about agreeing what we could do together.

On both these fronts – the ordination of women priests and then Bishops, and also the ordination of gay and lesbian bishops?

I think that the importance of the ordination of women question is much greater in England than in most other parts of the Communion at the moment. Far more difficult for the Communion as a whole because of the deep theological and cultural issues involved is the question of gay clergy. I know because in the last two Lambeth Conferences women Bishops have been present. Nobody has stayed away because of women bishops. So it’s not quite the same kind of issue.

After years of debate and threatened schism in the Communion, the Church has taken a decisive and progressive step towards appointing women as bishops, with a final Synod vote due in 2012. How do you see the way forward?

I think it’s well-known that in the Church of England there is a very significant minority of people who believe that the Church of England and the Anglican Churches generally should not take a large step like ordaining women bishops without more consultation with, or sensitivity to, the other great Churches – the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. That group does not wish to stop the process towards women bishops. I think they know there’s a majority, it will happen. What they are concerned about is to find fair and secure provision for their point of view within the Church of England. That’s been the most difficult question: not whether or not we have women bishops but what will be the provision made for the minority. Now this last summer the Synod declined to accept the suggestions made by the Archbishops, and I understand their reasons. But it’s left us with quite a lot of work to try and do our best for that group as well as honouring the calling of women to the Episcopate.

Your tenure has seen fraught relations with the Roman Catholic Church. It has seen the all-but-unilateral Apostolic Constitution that the Pope issued last year, creating a new Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church that was aimed at Anglicans who were uncomfortable with the ordination of women and gay clergy. What are your comments on this situation? There was the newspaper headline that spoke of the papal tanks on the lawns of Lambeth Palace.

Yes, I know. I said at that time that was a nonsensical version of the story. I was very taken aback that this large step was put before us without any real consultation. And it did seem to me that some bits of the Vatican didn’t communicate with other bits. Overall it seemed to me a pastoral provision for certain people who couldn’t accept where the Church of England was going, a pastoral provision which didn’t in itself affect the relations between the two Churches, between mainstream Churches. But it caused some ripples because I think there was a widespread feeling that it would have been better to consult. There were questions that could have been asked and answered and dealt with together. And as this is now being implemented, we are trying to make sure that there is a joint group which will keep an eye on how it’s going to happen. In England, the relations between the Church of England and Roman Catholic Bishops are very warm and very close. I think we are able to work together on this and not find it a difficulty.

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more about Reform etc. and women bishops

See earlier report, Reform, Anglican Mainstream and the Society of St Augustine.

Odd that the picture on the Society site is quite surely St Augustine of Hippo, not St Augustine of Canterbury. And as noted, the registrant is Chris Sugden and Anglican Mainstream.

Conservative Evangelicals now appear to be pushing to have their own provisions in connection with women bishops.

John Richardson blogged And now — a Conservative Evangelical ‘Flying Bishop’?

And, today, Julian Mann blogged REFORM SOCIETY MUST GROW OUT OF OXBRIDGE

Reform chairman Rod Thomas’ enthusiasm for a new Conservative Evangelical Society was manifest at the national conference at High Leigh, Hertfordshire yesterday.

God willing, the plans will come to fruition and a Reform Society with its own bishops will emerge to preserve and promote Conservative Evangelical ministry within the Church of England.

But this is not entirely new, see the following items from last July:

Reform Rod Thomas Where Now On Women Bishops?

…If the draft measure is eventually approved in something like its present form, the clearest warning bells will be ringing for us. It may be that we will be able to make use of arrangements under the Code of Practice but at the very least it seems likely that some of our best young men will be put off offering themselves for the ordained ministry in the Church of England. If that happens – if the tap is turned off – then new incumbents for our churches will be harder and harder to come by and the future of our churches will be called into question.

Our response to this must be twofold:

i. We must encourage people to keep offering themselves for the ordained ministry for as long as it is possible. Hopefully they will be able to have a life-time of service in the Church of England. But if not, they will be no worse off when they make a move than if they had never entered. This will particularly be the case if we are able to use the time now available to us to forge closer links between our churches.

ii. We must forge closer links with one another. As the future looks increasingly uncertain, we need to bring the issues to our congregations now and then get PCC backing to the idea of linking up with other like-minded churches in a close fellowship. If more difficult times lie ahead, we need to support one another. One way of doing this may be to create a ‘Society’ within the Church of England, focused on mission, with its own bishops providing support and encouragement.

It could even be that if such a Society were to come into being, the House of Bishops might recognise it as a place where separate episcopal oversight could operate when the Women Bishops Measure comes in. We will be actively exploring this possibility in the months ahead.’

Cranmer’s Curate Julian Mann NEED TO MOVE FAST ON REFORM SOCIETY.

…But there is no practical reason why the Society, made up initially of a group of around 20 GAFCON-supporting churches, should not be set up before 2012. There are existing bishops in the UK who could already provide episcopal oversight for clergy and churches in the network, but it would be advisable to arrange for the consecration of some new conservative missionary bishops to serve alongside them. That would be a clear demonstration that the new Society means business.

The situation is patchy in the Church of England. If the new bishops consecrated are licence holders, their diocesans may move against them; some may turn a blind eye; others may invite them to join the senior staff for a civilised luncheon at the bishop’s favourite hostelry…

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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

General Synod - November 2010 - outline agenda

The outline agenda for the November 2010 Inaugural Group of Sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD NOVEMBER 2010
TIMETABLE

Monday, 22 November 10.30 am to 4 pm
Induction of new and returning members

Tuesday, 23 November

am Inauguration of the Synod

2.45 pm Prayers, welcomes, progress of legislation
Presidential Address: Archbishop of Canterbury
Business Committee Report
The Big Society: report by the Mission and Public Affairs Council
Questions
7 pm Close of business

Wednesday, 24 November

9.30 am Prayers
Draft Act of Synod Adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant
Ecclesiastical Offices (Clergy Terms of Service) (Amendment) (No 2)
      Regulations and Consequential Transitional Provisions Order
Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003

1 pm Lunch

2.30 pm Draft Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure
Scheme Amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995 (deemed approval)
Farewells – Bishop of Lincoln (10 minutes)
Prorogation

4 pm Meetings of the Convocations and the House of Laity

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Sunday, 17 October 2010

more about St Peter's Folkestone

Updated again Wednesday

The Guardian sent Stephen Bates to investigate, and his written report is headlined Church of England parish sings battle hymns as it plans move to Rome.

The BBC sent Robert Pigott and his video report is headlined Kent church to convert to Catholicism over women bishops row.

The BBC headline is misleading, for as Stephen Bates notes (emphasis added):

…His congregation heeded his advice, but Bould himself came out, clad in a cassock, to explain that the PCC’s decision had not been put to the congregation and he did not know how many would go over to Rome. Nor did he know what would happen to the 150-year-old parish church, or the school. “It would be wonderful if it were possible for people to continue to worship in this building,” he said…

What the PCC did say to the congregation can be read here.

At its meeting on September 28th, 2010, the Parochial Church Council of Folkestone St Peter unanimously requested the parish’s churchwardens to write to the Archbishop of Canterbury, our diocesan bishop, in order to arrange a meeting with him about the wish of many of the PCC and the congregation to join the English Ordinariate of the Catholic Church when it is erected. The PCC is anxious that this should be made as easy as possible, not only for them, but for the diocesan family of Canterbury that they will regretfully be leaving behind.

Updates

Not to be outdone, the Telegraph sent along its new religion correspondent, Tim Ross who produced The cracks are now showing in the Church of England.

And the Guardian has another view of the vicar of St Peter’s, see Viv Groskop Leave, with my blessing.

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Ordinariate saga continues

Updated Monday afternoon

There was a lengthy discussion of the stories about St Peter’s Folkestone and Bishop Broadhurst on this morning’s BBC radio programme, Sunday.

The item runs for about 5 minutes, starting about 5 minutes in.

Listen to it via this link.

Earlier press reports gathered in this article.

Those who are interested in understanding how the ordinariate is supposed to work may find this link useful Complementary Norms for the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus

Church Mouse asks Is Bishop John Broadhurst ineligible to join the ordinariate? And he adds:

For what it’s worth, Mouse’s view of Bishop John Broadhurst’s speech at the FiF annual gathering, in which he announced his intention to join the ordinariate, is that it is in breach of the Clergy Discipline Measure. Bishop John said, “I don’t feel I have any choice but to leave the Church and take up the Pope’s offer. The General Synod has become vindictive and vicious. It has been fascist in its behaviour, marginalising those who have been opposed to women’s ordination.”

Does a bishop in the Church of England to describe the governing body of that church as vicious, vindictive and fascist qualify as “engaging in conduct that is unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of the clergy”?

Bishop Edwin Barnes has written When ’Tis Done, Then ’Twere Well It Were Done Quickly.

And even Bishop Jack Iker had something to say about it.

Once again, the links to audio recordings of the entire FiF Assembly are over here.

Updates

George Pitcher has written Why the Bishop of Fulham’s departure for Rome isn’t just about women bishops

The Mail Online has joined in though it has a problem with spelling, see Defecting bishop brands Church of England vicious and fascist in bitter row over plans to ordane women

Andrew Brown drew attention in a recent Church Times press column to a much earlier use of the F word by Bishop Broadhurst, in the New York Times. See Tensions Linger Between Pope and Anglicans.

Some traditionalists are drawn to the Roman Catholic Church’s top-down model. “The trouble with the Anglican Church is that it has adopted a parliamentary model and one that presumes change and presumes everyone can have a say,” said the Rev. John Broadhurst, a traditionalist Anglican. “I think it’s become a kind of fascist democracy.”

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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Reform, Anglican Mainstream and the Society of St Augustine

Readers of the article by John Richardson linked earlier today, on Why has Reform failed? may wish to follow his argument further and also read Why Resolution C is still the issue for REFORM.

He concludes (emphasis added):

I wonder, though, whether our Evangelical leadership has actually grasped this point? My impression is that whilst they have rallied to the ‘cause’ of proper provision, they have not grasped the small print of what this would mean in practical terms — basically that they will have to do in a few years time what they have resolutely not done for the last decade and a half.

Meanwhile, watch this space. It is where the equivalent of the Society for St Wilfred and St Hilda will soon emerge. No prizes, but is that Canterbury or Hippo?

An examination of the internet records for http://www.saintaugustinesociety.org shows that it is registered to Chris Sugden at Anglican Mainstream.

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Sydney diocesan news

Updated Sunday evening

The Church Times has a report Sydney synod defies Tribunal decision by Muriel Porter.

THE diocesan synod in Sydney has reaffirmed its 2008 decision to permit deacons to preside at holy communion, despite the recent majority decision by the national Church’s Appellate Tribunal that diaconal presidency is unconstitutional.

The synod rejected several attempts to amend a motion, brought by a Sydney regional bishop, Dr Glenn Davies, which “noted” what it described as “the advisory opinion” of the Tribunal but reaffirmed the 2008 motion that the Tribunal declared unconstitutional…

…Since 2008, Sydney diocese has implemented a permanent diaconate, ordaining clergy to the priesthood only when they become parish rectors. Assistant clergy and chaplains remain in deacon’s orders. The 215 active deacons in Sydney constitute just over one third of the licensed clergy, and are increasingly leading new congregations and church plants.

There are also reports on the finances of the diocese. A further Church Times report is subscriber-only until next Friday, but instead there are these accounts:

Church of England Newspaper Mixed report on growth and income given to Sydney synod

…The archbishop told the Synod the diocese was still reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis and the “financial issues are grave.”

“In round terms, it seems possible that the amount of money available” he said “to support diocesan works in the next few years is going to be reduced from the $7.5 million of 2010 to something like $4 million.”

The cutbacks in diocesan spending in 2008 were “only the beginning,” he said and warned that parishes might be asked to pick up a larger share of the diocese’s expenses in the years to come…

Sydney Morning Herald Anglicans warned church is on its knees

The Anglican Church in Sydney is in diabolical trouble. Already battered by the global financial crisis, the diocese is planning further savage spending cuts.

The archbishop, Peter Jensen, told the annual synod on Monday: “The financial issues are grave…”

Update

Here is the official Sydney diocesan version of the story about the tribunal decision: Sydney resolute on deacons celebrating Lord’s Supper.

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opinion for St Luke

Alan Wilson continues his BCP series in The Guardian with The Book of Common Prayer, part 8: Liturgy and society. “The BCP is defined far more by liturgical statements than dogmatic formularies, offering a distinctive concept of uniformity.”

Christopher Howse asks in the Telegraph Who’d be seen dead in an ill-dressed grave? and “rues the coming of new funerary rites that find a place for teddy bears”.

Stephen Tomkins and Nicholas Taylor write in The Guardian about Halloween: saints vs devils. “Catholic bishops think dressing up as saints, rather than devils, is a holier way to mark Halloween. What are the pros and cons?”

Sue Blackmore has been to a baptism and writes about it in The Guardian: Fighting talk in church. “At a family baptism I was appalled when the congregation was called to combat aggressive atheists – I don’t want to fight.”

Bernard Leikind writes in The Guardian that Job suffered alone – and so must we. “Many believe a caring, personal God has their welfare in mind, but the Book of Job provides little to support this view.”

Rowan Williams preached this sermon The purpose of fasting at a service of thanksgiving to mark the Global Day of Prayer for the millennium development goals at St Paul’s Cathedral in Kolkata. “Fasting is about more than going without food – it is connecting with reality and noticing the suffering of your neighbour.”
This is also available on the Archbishop’s website: Archbishop’s MDG sermon at Kolkota Cathedral.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Christianity is like being rescued.

John P Richardson (The Ugley Vicar) asks Why has Reform failed?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 16 October 2010 at 10:48am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Friday, 15 October 2010

South Carolina diocesan news

Updated Saturday morning

The Diocese of South Carolina today approved six resolutions that the diocese said represent “an essential element of how we protect the diocese from any attempt at unconstitutional intrusions into our corporate life in South Carolina.”

See the ENS report SOUTH CAROLINA: Convention approves ‘protective’ resolutions.

[The Presiding Bishop said:] “I grieve these actions, but I especially grieve Bishop Lawrence’s perception of my heartfelt concern for him and for the people of South Carolina as aggression. I don’t seek to change his faithfully held positions on human sexuality, nor do I seek to control the inner workings of the diocese. I do seek to repair damaged relationships and ensure that this church is broad enough to include many different sorts and conditions of people. South Carolina and its bishop continue in my prayers.”

The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the South Carolina diocese, told ENS that the convention’s action is “significant … in that it enables us to pursue the bishop’s vision of making biblical Anglicans for a global age while resisting the national leadership’s attempts to change our polity in violation of own constitution and the basic principles of justice and due process.”

See the diocesan news release about this: Diocese Votes Overwhelming in Favor of Resolutions; Lawrence remarks on Opportunities and Challenges

And the full text of Bishop Lawrence’s address is here.

For background on this, see the earlier article today, and also this previous report.

The diocese also announced the appointment of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali as an Assisting Bishop in the diocese. TA understands that this is not a full-time appointment, but rather that Bishop Michael will spend periods of time in residency in the diocese, where he has been a regular visitor in the past. He will be “Visiting Bishop for Global Anglican Relations”.

Here is the text from the diocesan website:

Michael Nazir-Ali—Visiting Bishop in South Carolina for Anglican Communion Development

In May of this year, the Reverend Dr. Kendall Harmon and I traveled to Nashotah House to meet with the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, retired Bishop of Rochester in England and one of the most respected figures in the Anglican Communion. We discussed the possibility of forming a relationship between him and the Diocese of South Carolina. Then in September the Reverend Jeffrey Miller and I met with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali in Washington D.C. to clarify the details of such a relationship. It is my great pleasure to announce at this Reconvened Annual Convention that he has agreed to be Visiting Bishop in South Carolina for Anglican Communion Relationships. Thus along with periodic visits here in the diocese for teaching and relational support, he will represent this diocese on his travels around the world. This creative and vital relationship will give us further opportunities to strengthen existing and form new and abiding missional relationships with others in the emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. It gives legs to our vision.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 16 October 2010 at 12:04am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Ordinariate news

Updated yet again Sunday morning

According to the Catholic Herald Bishop of Fulham to take up Ordinariate

The Anglican bishop of Fulham and the chairman of Forward in Faith International has announced he will resign before the end of the year to join an Ordinariate.

Speaking at Forward in Faith’s National Assembly today, Bishop John Broadhurst, who is a senior figure in the Anglo-Catholic movement, said he intended to tender his resignation before the end of the year and join the Ordinariate in Britain when it is established. He has said that he will remain the chairman of Forward in Faith, which he says is not an Anglican organisation.

Bishop Broadhurst is a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of London. He said the Bishop of London would likely appoint someone new to fill the post Bishop Broadhurst is vacating.

He is the first senior Anglo-Catholic to announce publicly that he will join an Ordinariate when it is founded.

Two “flying bishops”, or bishops who are appointed to provide pastoral care for Anglicans who cannot in good conscience accept women priests, are also likely to tender their resignations before the end of the year in order to join an Ordinariate…

The Tablet also has a report on this, see Anglican bishop announces move to ordinariate

Bishop of Fulham has become the first Anglo-Catholic bishop to formally announce he will join an ordinariate. As predicted in The Tablet (News from Birtain and Ireland, 2 October) Bishop John Broadhurst told the annual assembly of Forward in Faith, the largest Anglo-Catholic group in the Church of England, that he will resign as bishop and enter the new church structure, set up by Pope Benedict XVI last year to enable disaffected Anglo-Catholics to join the Roman Catholic Church en masse. The ordinariate is due to be established in Britain in January 2011, and this week The Tablet reported that the Anglican parish, St Peter’s Folkestone, had made the first formal request to join.

Various speeches, including that of Bishop Broadhurst, from the Forward in Faith Assembly can be listened to via this page.

Subsequent reports and comment:

Telegraph Damian Thompson Earthquake in Anglo-Catholicism: Bishop of Fulham to convert to Rome; Forward in Faith ‘not part of Church of England’

Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones and David Harrison Church of England is fascist and vindictive, says bishop defecting to Rome

This report also covers the story of St Peter’s Folkestone:

St Peter’s Church in Folkestone, Kent, has decided to join the Ordinariate, a system designed by the Vatican to allow Anglicans to convert while maintaining parts of their heritage…

…That time has come for the church of St Peter’s in Folkestone, where the Parochial Church Council (PCC) voted unanimously to move to the Catholic Church because of its fierce opposition to the decision to create women bishops.

The move is backed by most of the congregation, which averages 35 to 40 for the main Sunday Mass. St Peter’s has become a magnet for traditionalist Anglicans – in Folkestone and beyond – who oppose the Church of England’s liberalism….

Bishop Nick Baines Ups and downs and downs and ups

The Bishop of Fulham has announced he is to resign and join the Ordinariate (i.e. become a Roman Catholic). His announcement speech used extraordinary language, claiming ‘persecution’ of ‘traditionalists’. Someone should do a linguistic textual analysis of this stuff – for a start it cheapens the word and concept of ‘persecution’. But, the notions of ‘they are forcing us out’ and ‘we have no responsibility- it is all being done to us’ has reminded me of the posts I wrote about ‘future foreshortening’ and the hierarchies of victimhood.

As I have often expressed here, I understand something of the dilemma facing those who oppose the ordination of women; but they need to take responsibility for their decisions about the future and not do the unhealthy thing of simply identifying themselves as a victim of other people’s decisions. I know from personal experience something of the cost of such demanding dilemmas (twice: once in secular employment and once in the church) – and how important it is to stop blaming other people (or ‘the evil institution’ as the Bishop of Fulham puts it). The language is the give-away in all this and it will repay careful examination one day. Meanwhile we continue to pray and try to support those facing these dilemmas – everyone loses in processes such as this one.

Damian Thompson (again) Bishop Broadhurst is not helping the Ordinariate with his ridiculous attack on the ‘fascist’ Church of England

BBC Anglicans’ regret over bishop’s conversion to Rome

A traditionalist Anglican group has voiced regret after an Anglo-Catholic bishop said he would convert to Rome…

The Catholic Group on the CofE’s General Synod said it deeply regretted the decision by Bishop Broadhurst…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 15 October 2010 at 4:14pm BST | Comments (46) | TrackBack
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Two bishops write about TEC polity

First, the Bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence wrote this article in the Living Church: A Conservationist among Lumberjacks

…There is much axe swinging these days in the Episcopal Church. I have grown sad from walking among the stumps of what was once a noble old-growth Episcopalian grove in the forest of Catholic Christianity. It may surprise some, but I write not to bemoan the theological or moral teaching that is in danger of falling to the logger’s axe. I have done that elsewhere. My concern here is that as the church’s polity is felled only a few bother to cry “timber.”

I have space to raise three concerns, and these briefly: the presiding bishop’s threat to our polity —litigious and constitutional; the revisions to the Title IV canons; and, finally, a passing word about inhibitions and depositions to solve our theological/spiritual crisis…

Second, the Bishop of San Diego, James Mathes wrote a response for Daily Episcopalian: Nullification revisited

…Bishop Lawrence feigns great sorrow at the changing landscape of the Episcopal Church. He writes, “I have grown sad from walking among the stumps of what was once a noble old-growth Episcopalian grove in the forest of Catholic Christianity.” Donning the mantle of ecclesial conservationist, Bishop Lawrence even quotes environmentalist, Aldo Leopold, “a conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the ax] he is writing his signature on the face of his land.” The bishop adds, “far too many leaders in our church have never learned this lesson.” Indeed.

All of this is prelude to his main premise that the presiding bishop is threatening the polity of the Episcopal Church. He wants you to believe that the threat is manifested in three ways: because her chancellor has retained a South Carolina attorney to represent the wider Episcopal Church’s interests should they diverge from the Diocese of South Carolina’s interests; through the Title IV revisions from the 2009 General Convention; and by the manner in which the House of Bishops has dealt with bishops who have left the Episcopal Church…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 15 October 2010 at 3:47pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Action taken against Southern Cone province

The Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, Dr Kenneth Kearon, has issued the following statement, published today by ACNS:

The Secretary General writes: ‘Many of you will have read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter to the Anglican Communion issued at Pentecost last (28 May 2010). Part of that letter addresses the current and ongoing tensions in the Anglican Communion - these tensions cluster around the three moratoria referred to in the Windsor Report.

‘In that letter the Archbishop made the following proposals:

“I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members”.

‘At that time I wrote to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces. I have not received a response.

‘Consequently, I have written to the person from the Province of the Southern Cone who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), Bishop Tito Zavala, withdrawing his membership and inviting him to serve as a Consultant to that body.

‘These decisions are not taken easily or lightly, but relate to the gracious restraint requested by successive meetings of the Instruments of Communion and the implications for Communion bodies when these requests are not honoured.’

The Revd Canon Dr. Kenneth Kearon.

Episcopal Café has a list of all the other members of IASCUFO, with notes on their status, see Southern Cone stonewalls Kearon over interventions (scroll down)

ENS also has a report, Ecumenical sanctions imposed on Southern Cone province, which also lists the other provinces that are still engaged in cross-border interventions, but have not yet been affected by this policy of sanctions:

Nigeria and Uganda, which have members on IASCUFO
Kenya and Rwanda, which do not.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 14 October 2010 at 6:08pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

LGBT Anglican Coalition writes to the Archbishop of Canterbury

The LGBT Anglican Coalition has issued an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Their press release is below, and the full text of the letter is below the fold.

LGBT Anglican Coalition Press Release 11 October 2010

Time to accept gay bishops, says Anglican Coalition

In a recent interview with The Times the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was unclear whether celibate but partnered gay clergy are acceptable as bishops in the Church of England. The archbishop stated his unwillingness to consider partnered gay men and lesbians as bishops because of their ‘particular choice of life, a partnership, and what the Church has to say about that.’

The LGBT Anglican Coalition believes that acceptance should be extended beyond those who are celibate, but says:

‘Your statement has also left ambiguity regarding those in loving life-long but celibate relationships. Such people would appear to be complying fully with the requirements of “Issues in Human Sexuality” and yet still seem to be excluded simply on the grounds of some other people’s disapproval. If this is not your intention, we ask you to clarify what you meant. Given that you said that you “have no problem” with gay bishops who are celibate, we would ask you to make clear your position on the acceptability for higher office of celibate gay clergy who are in civil partnerships.’

In a letter sent to the Archbishop, the Coalition criticizes the Archbishop’s remarks as ‘hurtful and undermining to the many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people who have been called to ordained ministry but not to celibacy’. The Coalition calls the Church of England to a renewed study of sexuality in the light of modern scientific and theological understanding.

The letter is also highly critical of the culture of secrecy, fear and dishonesty around human sexuality which is blighting the Church of England, and damaging our witness to society, and which urgently needs to be dispelled. It says that, ‘in numerous Church of England parishes, worshippers fully accept LGBT people, whether single or partnered, and believe that all forms of ministry should be open to God’s children regardless of sexual orientation.’

ENDS

Notes for Editors

1. The Anglican Coalition is here to provide UK-based Christian LGBT organisations with opportunities to create resources for the Anglican community and to develop a shared voice for the full acceptance of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion.

2. The Coalition members are:

Accepting Evangelicals www.acceptingevangelicals.org
Changing Attitude www.changingattitude.org.uk
The Clergy Consultation www.clergyconsultation.org
Courage www.courage.org.uk
The Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians www.eflgc.org.uk
Inclusive Church www.inclusivechurch2.net
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement www.lgcm.org.uk
The Sibyls www.sibyls.co.uk

Full Text of Letter to the Archbishop

Dear Archbishop Rowan

We are deeply dismayed that, in an interview with The Times, you stated your unwillingness to consider partnered gay men and lesbians as bishops because of their ‘particular choice of life, a partnership, and what the Church has to say about that.’ This is not only hurtful and undermining to the many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people who have been called to ordained ministry but not to celibacy – a valued but rare vocation among people of any sexual orientation – but also to the life and witness of the Church of England.

Your statement has also left ambiguity regarding those in loving life-long but celibate relationships. Such people would appear to be complying fully with the requirements of ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ and yet still seem to be excluded simply on the grounds of some other people’s disapproval. If this is not your intention, we ask you to clarify what you meant. Given that you said that you ‘have no problem’ with gay bishops who are celibate, we would ask you to make clear your position on the acceptability for higher office of celibate gay clergy who are in civil partnerships.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, we expect you to encourage the Church of England to continue to strive thoughtfully and prayerfully to discern God’s will on human sexuality, taking account of the findings of theologians and scientists and in conversation with other Anglicans and the wider church. It is regrettable that some bishops elsewhere in the Anglican Communion remain unwilling to enter into dialogue with those in their own dioceses who are lesbian or gay, or to take note of the diligent work of scholars through which Christians can develop an ever-richer understanding of God’s creation, our place within it and where the Holy Spirit is leading us. However this must not deter us from acting justly and lovingly in the context of our own mission and ministry.

Increasingly, eminent theologians have come to accept that Christians who are neither heterosexual nor called to celibacy may acceptably enter into committed relationships with members of the same sex, in which they can grow more responsive to God’s love and be more faithful in following Christ. Likewise, in numerous Church of England parishes, worshippers fully accept LGBT people, whether single or partnered, and believe that all forms of ministry should be open to God’s children regardless of sexual orientation. Meanwhile, social and natural scientists have helped to throw fresh light on the complexity and diversity of life on earth and the role of same-sex as well as opposite-sex attraction.

As Sister Rosemary CHN, representing Religious Communities, explained in a debate in General Synod in 2004:

‘For those of us under religious vows, who treasure celibacy as call and gift, the idea of forced celibacy is as abhorrent as the idea of forced marriage…

‘Some gay clergy have reluctantly accepted celibacy as an imposed discipline. Some of these, I feel sure, have found that through their struggles they have been given grace… For others, however, misery remains just misery, and they are exposed to the danger of a kind of withering of the heart, which makes them less able to love anybody.

‘Christians who are happily married can bear witness to the way in which a partner’s love can be both a means of grace and a school of the Lord’s service: a channel of God’s love to them and through them. Gay Christians in committed relationships say that it is the same for them. When I observe the quality of their lives, and feel warmed and healed by their friendship, I know that it is true.’

We regret that any senior clergy in the Church of England should seem to be moving in the opposite direction from ordinary members in order to placate the small minority among us who are fiercely opposed to greater inclusion and even some in other churches who also object. It is important that they, like the rest of us, be challenged to understand that the church is not the possession of one faction and that theological diversity is part of our inheritance as Anglicans. There is a culture of secrecy, fear and dishonesty around human sexuality which is blighting the Church of England, and damaging our witness to society, and which urgently needs to be dispelled.

We urge you to acknowledge the contribution of so many LGBT people, often partnered, to the ministry of the church and to promote rigorous and prayerful study of the issues involved in the light of present knowledge.
Yours sincerely

Jeremy Timm, Changing Attitude
On behalf of the LGBT Anglican Coalition

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 12 October 2010 at 10:26am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 11 October 2010

General Synod election results

The votes in the elections to the Church of England General Synod will be counted this week. I will publish the names of the successful candidates here: General Synod List of members.

Please help me do this by sending election results to gs2010@peterowen.org.uk. I will only publish the names of successful candidates, so I do not need the details of the count (although you are welcome to send these to me as well).

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 11 October 2010 at 7:00am BST | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Bishop of Winchester

Updated Monday

The Right Reverend Michael Charles Scott-Joynt, MA, the Lord Bishop of Winchester, announced at his diocesan synod yesterday that he will retire on 7 May 2011. Congregations and parishes in the diocese are being informed today, and an announcement on the diocesan website is expected later this week.

Update Official announcement from diocese

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 10 October 2010 at 11:47am BST | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Opinion for Harvest

The Church Mouse asks Is Harvest Festival now redundant?
This prompted Kevin Holdsworth to write But when is Harvest? Please, please, when is it?

Giles Fraser writes in the Telegraph that Blessed are the children - as long as they keep it down. “The young often make a racket in church, but that’s no reason to kick them out”, he argues.

Vanessa Thorpe in The Observer profiles Karen Armstrong: The compassionate face of religion. “The former nun’s writing and theories about God and belief upset some, but she numbers the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu among her fans.”

Alan Wilson continues his series in The Guardian: The Book of Common Prayer, part 7: The joy of being a miserable sinner. “The gloomy prayers of the BCP are simply a communal stare over the precipice into an abyss, but from a place of grace.”

Mark Vernon writes in The Guardian about John Henry Newman’s last act of friendship. “Why the beatified cardinal wanted to be buried with Ambrose St John is disputed, but for me this was an act of ‘sworn brothers’.”

Graham Tomlin writes in the Church of England Newspaper about The End of the Pew? (He is in favour of getting rid of them.)

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Looking at the fearful, insular US.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Gauguin’s day to wrestle with God. “The most surprising thing about Gauguin is his interest in religion.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 October 2010 at 10:50am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Friday, 8 October 2010

codes, societies, ordinariates

An announcement was made a few days ago of the names of those who are to serve on the group charged with drafting the new Code of Practice to accompany the legislation on Women in the Episcopate.

The Church Times reports today: Traditionalists unhappy with new working group

THE Catholic Group in the General Synod was described on Wednesday morning as “incandescent” about Tuesday’s announcement of the membership of the group that will prepare the draft code of practice to accompany the women-bishops Measure…

… Prebendary David Houlding, a leading member of the Catholic Group, said on Wednesday: “We are all so angry and dismayed. It’s clear from the compilation of this group that there is to be no honoured place in the Church of England for traditionalists — that we are not wanted. This group is set up to fail before it begins. It’s one [Bishop Martin Warner] against seven.

This is slightly odd, as the list also includes The Reverend Angus MacLeay, Vicar of St Nicholas Sevenoaks, who is certainly opposed to women bishops, though for rather different reasons.

There is a second report in the Church Times available at the same URL, but SCROLL DOWN for Flying bishops deny quick move to Rome, which updates the web-only story of last Friday:

…A report published in the parish magazine of All Saints’, Clifton, of a meeting of the Ebbsfleet Lay Con­gress, which took place in Somerset on 25 September, described Bishop Newton as saying that he “hopes to join the Ordinariate”, as “I no longer believe it is possible to be a Catholic in the Church of England.” He was reported as saying that he “expects . . . that the Ordinariate could start in January 2011”.

The report also said that Bishop Burnham favoured joining the Or­dinariate, and was not optimistic about the new Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda for Catholic clergy and laity (News, 1 October).

Earlier this year, Bishop Burnham and Bishop Newton, with the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd John Broad­hurst, travelled to Rome to meet members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (News, 7 May).

Bishops Burnham and Newton said in a statement to The Catholic Herald last week that the offer of the Ordinariate was not dependent on any action by the C of E’s General Synod. “The initiative should be judged on its own merit. It will require courage and vision on the part of those who accept the invitation, particularly among the first to respond.”

Meanwhile, Damian Thompson in the Telegraph continues to worry about SSWSH, see The mystery of SS Hinge & Bracket: is it something to do with married bishops?

And so the SS Hinge & Bracket sails on, stately as a galleon, captained by the “catholic” bishops of the Church of England, though it’s not clear who else is on board…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 October 2010 at 6:52pm BST | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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The Times interview reviewed

Last week’s Church Times press column contained an analysis by Andrew Brown of the interview by Ginny Dougary. See There are no rewards for honesty.

…Yet there was one new and revealing thing that he said about the whole gay bishops business. “When I mention the statements that have been made about civil liberties and so forth, I think it’s important. It does mean that any local church that supports illegal discrimination or persecution of homosexuals is actually going against the Anglican Com­munion, and I have said that publicly.” One does wonder who is supposed to hear this, and who is supposed to believe it…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 October 2010 at 3:43pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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News from Rwanda and the AMiA

Updated

The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda which sponsors AMiA recently elected a new primate.

ACNS Bishop Onesphore Rwaje elected Archbishop of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.

A news story in The New Times was headed Anglican Archbishop-Elect Vows to Fight Gay Marriage.

George Conger writes about it today in the Church of England Newspaper: Rwandan revamp of Anglican ecclesiology.

The paper by Kevin Donlon mentioned in the above can be found as a PDF over here. (Paul Bagshaw commented on it in 2008.)

Meanwhile, one of the largest AMIA congregations, Christ Church Plano is switching to ACNA, see Christ Church Making Canonical Transfer to ACNA.

Update see also Christ Church, Plano, TX Transfers to Anglican Church in North America, Joins Diocese of Pittsburgh

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 October 2010 at 2:58pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Instruments of Unity?

Support for the Anglican Covenant (at least in its present form) is becoming increasingly hard to find.

The latest commentary from Ephraim Radner is titled Can the Instruments of Unity Be Repaired? includes this passage:

…Instead of the Primates’ Meeting, the leaders of the Global South – whether they are Primates or not — along with their mutually supportive colleagues, need to order their lives according to some other provisional gathering point: the Covenant sits there waiting. Its adoption in some form under the auspices of a definable group would allow other non-Global South Anglicans in the world in less coherent or even friendly settings to join in and have some visible linkages and mutual relations that formally sustain their continued witness and mission. Should the current text be revised? In an obvious sense, yes: Section 4 is no longer rational, given the role it gives to the ACC and through it a now clouded “Standing Committee”. But a gathering on the basis of Sections 1-3 is possible (altering little), with a view to revising Section 4 in a simple manner by replacing the Standing Committee with some provisional group representative of the Covenanting churches’ leadership, however that is determined. Those who have already adopted or confirmed the current Covenant text have shown their ability to deal expeditiously with any such simple revisions…

Bishop Christopher Epting of the Episcopal Church USA has written an article To “Covenant” or Not to “Covenant”.

I continue to be of two minds about the wisdom of the proposed Anglican Covenant. On the one hand it could be helpful, ecumenically, and otherwise, to have a fairly accessible summary of “the Anglican ethos” and what binds us together as members of this Communion. I don’t think there is a real threat here of us becoming a “confessional Church” in the ways Anglicans have not been in the past. The proposed Covenant falls far short (thankfully) of a Westminster or Augsburg Confession. The first three sections are not perfect, but I could certainly live with them as a short-hand way of stating who we have been and are historically.

On the other hand, I have a good deal of sympathy with those who remind us that Anglicans have been loathe to state that we hold or teach anything other than the creedal Faith of the “undivided” Church and that the Creeds, the Baptismal Covenant, and perhaps the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral should be all we need by way of “confessional” statements. But are they today?

Obviously, the most problemmatic portion of the proposed Anglican Covenant is Section Four which deals with processes and procedures should one Province or “instrument” of the Communion feel that another Province has failed to live into the implications of the Covenant and caused serious stress and strain for sisters and brothers elsewhere, stretching or even breaking the bond of Communion the Covenant is supposed to enhance…

Meanwhile, scepticism rules in English comments. See for example The Covenant: Antarctic Study Guide by Paul Bagshaw or Not a Coward by Adrian Worsfold.

And there is The Guide to the Anglican Covenant for Dummies at Lesley’s Blog, along with The Anglican Covenant - Monty Python Style?

Today’s Church Times has the headline If Jefferts Schori is at meeting, I won’t come, says Primate.

PRIMATES from the Global South are contemplating a boycott of the next Primates’ Meeting because the US Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be present.

The Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, has confirmed that he will not attend the meeting, due to take place in Dublin, 25-31 January…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 October 2010 at 8:49am BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Diocese of Southwark: Christopher Chessun nominated

From No 10:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Christopher Thomas James Chessun, MA, Area Bishop of Woolwich, for election as Bishop of Southwark, in succession to the Right Reverend Thomas Frederick Butler, BSc, MSc, PhD, on his retirement on the 5th March 2010.

Notes for Editors

The Right Reverend Christopher Chessun (aged 54) studied for the ordained ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. His first curacy was at St Michael and All Angels, Sandhurst in Oxford Diocese between 1983 and 1987, and he become a Senior Curate at St Mary, Portsea in Portsmouth Diocese from 1987 to 1989. He then became Minor Canon and Chaplain of St Paul’s Cathedral from 1989 to 1993 and between 1991 and 1993 he was also a Vocations Adviser in the Diocese of London. From 1993 to 2001 he was Rector of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney and Area Dean of Tower Hamlets from 1997 to 2001. He became Archdeacon of Northolt in 2001. Since 2005 he has been Area Bishop of Woolwich. In May 2010 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed him Bishop for Urban Life and Faith in addition to his other Episcopal responsibilities.

Christopher Chessun has an identical twin, and his interests include music, history, travel, deaf – hearing integration, reconstruction in Zimbabwe and links with Churches overseas.

From Southwark: Tenth Bishop of Southwark is announced includes more details

Bishop Nick Baines writes: Bishop of Southwark

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 at 7:26am BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Interviews for diocesan bishops

The Crown Nominations Commission is now interviewing candidates. This was done for the first time last week, when candidates for Bradford were interviewed. This was announced by the Archbishop of York at General Synod in February this year, but we failed to pick it up at the time. The Archbishop’s statement is included in the Report of Proceedings: Volume 41 No.1 (February 2010) (pages 97 and 98). I have copied it below the fold. My thanks go to the Archbishops’ Senior Appointments Adviser for drawing my attention to this.

I have described the full process for appointing diocesan bishops here.

There is also a very useful Briefing for Members of Vacancy in See Committees prepared by the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary which also describes the process, although this has not yet been updated to include the interviews.

Crown Nominations Commission

The Archbishop of York (Dr John Sentamu): I would like to make a statement about the work of the Crown Nominations Commission and the role of interviews in the discernment process.

Longer-serving members of the General Synod will be aware that consideration of the role of interviews as part of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) process has been ongoing since 2002. The report Working with the Spirit (GS 1405) recommended that the CNC process should not include interviews but, when the Synod debated the report, it requested that the candidates considered at the second CNC meeting should be interviewed before a vote is taken.

In July 2003, my predecessor Archbishop David Hope made a statement explaining the decision of the Commission’s central members not to implement this at that time but gave an undertaking that they would continue to keep the issue under review.

In 2007, at the end of their period of service, the then central members reviewed their position and again decided not to introduce interviewing at that time. The debate was left open-ended, however, in order to allow the ‘new’ central members of the CNC to pursue discussions, if necessary. At the July 2008 group of sessions I indicated that the central members of the CNC would make a decision either way about interviews and inform Synod at the February 2010 group of sessions.

The existing group of central members, during their two-and-a-half years of service, have continued to monitor the discernment processes of the CNC and, taking into account the views of diocesan members, have decided to pilot the introduction of interviews. Candidates will also be asked to make a presentation and to give a homily. The central members will make a report to Synod in two years’ time with an evaluation of this new step in the process.

The central members were very clear that an interview will be but one step in the discernment of who might be called to a particular see. As members of Synod are aware, there are a number of other stages, including the nomination of candidates; the work of vacancy in see committees and the two Appointment Secretaries in determining the needs of the diocese; the role of the Crown and Her Majesty’s Government; the paperwork provided by candidates and the deliberations of the Commission itself; the individual’s consideration of the position and then the election of the candidate; the confirmation of the election and, where the candidate is not already in episcopal orders, his consecration. These are all significant stages in the discernment process and it is important that the interview does not dominate that process.

The interviews will be held at the second meeting of the Commission. As members of the Synod are aware, there are a number of episcopal vacancies currently under consideration and, having reviewed the stages of the vacancy in see process, it has been decided that the first see to be considered under these arrangements will be Bradford in the autumn of this year.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 5 October 2010 at 1:21pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Women in the episcopate: Code of Practice drafting group

NEWS from the Church of England
PR 87.10
05/10/2010
For immediate release

Women in the episcopate: working group for preparation of draft statutory code of practice

The membership has been announced today of a working group established by the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee to advise the House on the preparation of a draft statutory code of practice.

The members, three of whom served on the former Revision Committee on the legislation, are:

  • The Right Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (Chair)
  • The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry
  • The Right Revd Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Whitby
  • Dame Averil Cameron, retired Warden of Keble College, Oxford and former chair of Cathedral Fabrics Commission
  • The Venerable Christine Hardman, Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich
  • The Reverend Angus MacLeay, Vicar of St Nicholas Sevenoaks
  • The Venerable Jane Sinclair, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey
  • Mrs Caroline Spencer, Chair Canterbury Diocese House of Laity

The working group has been asked to conclude its report for the House by next autumn having consulted the House and the legislative Steering Committee first.

The expectation is that the House will bring a draft of the code to Synod in February 2012, though the final version of the code cannot be drawn up by the House and approved by Synod until the legislation itself has received Royal Assent (which cannot in practice be before 2013).

ENDS

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 5 October 2010 at 8:53am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 4 October 2010

Catholic Care appeals yet again

According to a report from Catholic News Service by Simon Caldwell English Catholic adoption agency appeals Charity Commission’s decision:

The last remaining Catholic adoption agency in England has filed an appeal against a decision by the Charity Commission for England and Wales forbidding it to turn away same-sex couples as potential adopters and foster parents.

Catholic Care lodged the appeal with the charity tribunal against a ruling by the commission rejecting its application to change its constitution so it could comply with church teaching prohibiting gay adoption and civil laws stopping it from discriminating against same-sex couples.

The agency, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough and Hallam in northern England, had sought to continue its policy of assessing married heterosexuals and single people as potential adopters, which means it will not deal with gay couples.

But on July 21, the Charity Commission turned down its application on the grounds that it was discriminatory toward homosexuals and in breach of European and British equality and human rights laws.

Catholic Care lodged an appeal against the decision Sept. 28, arguing that commissioners ignored the opinion of a High Court judge, Sir Michael Briggs, who in March ruled in favor of the agency when it first appealed against the commission’s decision.

Benjamin James of London-based Bircham Dyson Bell Solicitors, representing Catholic Care, told Catholic News Service Oct. 4 that the “commission is wrong in its decision.”

He said, “We have lodged an appeal with the charity tribunal and the charity tribunal will request that the Charity Commission responds within 28 days.

“Once the commission has responded, there will be a directions hearing deciding how the case will be managed going forward,” he said.

“The actual appeal is whether the Charity Commission correctly interpreted Sir Michael’s (Briggs) judgment,” he added…

Previous TA reports on this subject are here and also here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 4 October 2010 at 10:05pm BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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still more on the Times interview

Benny’s Blog has The Sin of Honesty.

…So the Archbishop’s now famous phrase from last week’s interview in the Times that “He has no problem with gay bishops’ clearly needs another caveat placed alongside celibacy - the caveat that “He has no problem - as long as no-one knows!”

This is clearly a major issue for the CofE and the Anglican Communion. At a meeting of candidates for the current General Synod elections last week, 2 of the candidates openly noted that the Church of England has been ordaining gay priests and consecrating gay bishops for years, and that we need to stop living a lie!

Indeed, when I served on General Synod several years ago, I remember being part of a conversation in which a serving Bishop’s name was mentioned as being gay. The reaction was remarkable - there was shocked silence for a moment before one senior churchman (they were both men) for whom this was news, said “He’s not gay, is he?” while at the same moment another (who already knew of the Bishop’s sexuality) said, “He’s not gone public, has he?” Which was the greater crime, I wondered - being gay or being honest?

Lesley’s Blog has Balm in Gilead and the interview with Rowan Williams

…I have been musing about the pain Rowan Williams expressed in his recent interview with the Times. I had no idea that Jeffrey John and Rowan Williams were so close. I do hope that there is some Balm in Gilead to cover some of the pain that has been felt by so many people discussing the issue of homosexuality and the church. It will be my prayer…

Significant Truths has a little poem, see Nonsense.

Changing Attitude continues from its earlier posts with How to make a difference - but first, examples of dysfunction and abuse in the Church.

…How do we work towards changing this culture of secrecy and dishonesty? I maintain that it is corrosive of healthy church life, together with the behaviour of closeted LGBT people and the impact of lobby groups which are unhealthily obsessed with other people’s sexuality.

Take small steps
There are many small ways in which we can be doing something that changes the dynamic of our church life. Becoming aware, having courage to initiate conversations, remembering to question what doesn’t feel right, learning to listen to your inner voice.

Perspective
Getting the current state of affairs into a better perspective, ++Rowan, ++John, House of Bishops, General Synod, would be a dramatically significant first step. The behaviour of many in the Communion (independent of their views about homosexuality) is a disgrace which is infecting and corrupting the Church.

Build relationships
Create networks, relationships and friendships at every level of church life – and across difference – don’t allow others to marginalise us in their attempt to portray themselves as victims. It’s more difficult to be secretive, to organise conspiracies and to project onto others when you are in relationship with people rather than in denial of their presence and when you allow a holy light to shine on the encounters.

Pray
Well, obviously, for a gay activist, prayer comes first, 7am every morning! Pray openly, reflectively, trustingly, quietly attentive, yearning and listening to the loving, gentle, tender, intimate presence of God in your heart and soul. Trust – trust God, trust God’s infinite variety and complexity and simplicity in creation. Tune in to your own experience of God and trust, and pray for imagination, vision and enlightenment.

And two American views:

An Inch at a Time The Promised Rowan Williams Rant

In a Godward direction Rowan’s Job Description

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 4 October 2010 at 3:29pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Do gay bishops and primates exist?

Colin Coward has followed up on his earlier post and written more on this topic at Changing Attitude.

Read the full article here.

An extract:

…The culture of secrecy and dishonesty, the inability to be open and transparent and to communicate effectively affects Lambeth Palace, Church House, the Crown Nominations Commission, the Anglican Communion Office, General Synod, dioceses and parishes. It means that people either second-guess information or are left in ignorance. The culture is rampant and is corrupting the life of the Christian community. Every dimension of Church life is affected. People are intimidated by those who I might sometimes want to describe as prejudiced, loud mouthed bigots but whose self-image is as defenders of orthodoxy and tradition. They intimidate the ability of the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak and act freely and they intimidate me – but I have far less to lose…

And he concludes:

…Until the culture of fear and secrecy in the Church of England changes, the bigotry is challenged and our Church becomes a place which is free from prejudice against LGBT people, the Episcopal Church will remain the only place where LGBT people can come out and be elected as bishops. I’m tempted to start a new campaign. The culture of secrecy, intimidation and abuse in the Church of England has got to be challenged, undermined and changed.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 10:58pm BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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2011 Anglican Primates Meeting - but who is going?

The ACO has announced 2011 Anglican Communion Primates’ Meeting to be held in Ireland, and there is a similar press release from Dublin.

The next Primates’ Meeting of the Anglican Communion will be held in Ireland between the 25th and 31st January, 2011.

Senior bishops from Churches across the Communion will be invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams to attend the meeting taking place at the Emmaus Retreat & Conference Centre in Dublin, Ireland…

Writing in the Church of England Newspaper George Conger reports:

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated on Sept 21 that she had received notice of the meeting, and was planning on attending. The primates of the Global South coalition will meet next month and are expected to take up the issue of whether they will attend the gathering.

Other reports have appeared suggesting that several primates may not attend.

ACNA bishop David Anderson, who serves as a suffragan bishop within CANA as well as President and CEO of the American Anglican Council, has expressed his opinions what should happen:

Dr. Williams is being advised that numerous provinces won’t attend the Primates Meeting if Jefferts Schori attends. Having booked the venue, he might as well have the meeting since he is committed to paying for it, but without the orthodox Primates in attendance it could be a dangerous meeting, giving opinion and credence to teachings and beliefs that are not representative of orthodox Anglicanism.

If asked my opinion, I would strongly advise the orthodox Primates to 1) organize before the Primates’ meeting, and 2) attend and remove by force of numbers the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church (not physically, but by either voting her off the “island,” or recessing to another room and not letting her in). The meeting is a place to gather and potentially to settle some of the issues that are pulling the Anglican Communion apart, and to begin to restore health to a most wonderful communion.

In the above case, if Dr. Williams did not go along with Jefferts Schori’s exclusion, then I would suggest having the next-door-meeting without him. I just don’t believe staying home from the field of battle helps win a war over the truth and nature of Christianity within Anglicanism. The Christian Church needs a spiritually strong and muscular Anglicanism to re-evangelize the West; are we willing to make the sacrifices in order for this to happen?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 10:15pm BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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opinion

This week’s instalment in Alan Wilson’s Guardian series on the BCP is The Book of Common Prayer, part 6: Fencing the table. “The BCP’s approach to eucharistic access was informed by seeing holy communion as the supreme instrument of inclusion.”

Susan McCarthy writes in The Guardian about Noah’s raven: whose flight of fancy? “The ‘tracks’ of Noah’s raven found in 1802 smack of slipshod Biblical literalism, but the slapdash historical research is worse.”

The Archbishop of York has given a lecture on Prison Reform, Restorative Justice and Community to the Prisoners Education Trust; full text here.

Andrew Brown asks in The Guardian What does prayer achieve? “If praying for someone else does them no good, what is the point of all those words and all that longing?”

Philip Goff writes in The Guardian that Stephen Hawking has not yet disproved God’s role in creation. “The existence of the universe cannot be explained by science alone.”

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times Sandwiched between gluttony and vanity.

Christopher Howse has been to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and writes about his visit in the Telegraph: Sacred Mysteries: An appointment with an angel at Hagia Sophia.

Nick Baines writes about the local structures of the Church in Keeping our eye on the ball.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 10:29am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant: Southern Africa favours

Updated Monday evening

ENS reports: SOUTHERN AFRICA: Province favors Anglican Covenant; decision to be ratified in 2013

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa on Oct. 1 voted in favor of adopting the Anglican Covenant, a decision that will need to be ratified by the next meeting of provincial synod in 2013.

A resolution adopting the covenant was passed by an overwhelming majority of the bishops, clergy and laity meeting Sept. 29-Oct. 3 in Benoni, Gauteng for the triennial meeting of the church’s provincial synod…

Update ACNS carries the exact text of the resolution:

This Synod,

1. Noting that:

1.1. The Synod of Bishops, meeting in September 2009, agreed that Provincial Standing Committee be asked to support the Covenant and that a resolution be brought to that body to that effect;

1.2. PSC passed a resolution at its September meeting that, “This PSC agrees in principle to support the adoption by ACSA of the Anglican Covenant subject to ratification by the Provincial Synod of 2010.”

2. Resolves that ACSA adopt the Anglican Covenant as approved by the Bishops; and

3. Requests that it be ratified at the next sitting of Provincial Synod.

Earlier reports from Southern Africa:

Synod of Bishops Statement issued on 29 September 2010 (this is not to be confused with the provincial synod meeting which followed immediately)

ACNS Southern Africa bishops disturbed by Swaziland’s rights abuses

Episcopal Café The continuing damage of apartheid
and
South African primate wants to consecrate women bishops

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 8:27am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 1 October 2010

A reflection on the papal visit

The following article appeared on pages 26 and 28 in last week’s edition of The Tablet www.thetablet.co.uk

Anglican encounters

by Simon Sarmiento

Anglicans will be wondering what Benedict himself made of his two encounters with the Church of England on day two of his papal visit, first when he went to Lambeth Palace, where the Great Hall was filled with diocesan bishops of both churches, and later in Westminster Abbey, where the ecumenical service of Evening Prayer deployed the full resources of the “Anglican Patrimony”, with glorious music and clouds of incense.

At both places, he saw a self-confident Church of England, happy to extend Benedictine hospitality to him, and eager to join with ecumenical partners to proclaim the Gospel. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, later told Vatican Radio he thought it had all been “enormously happy” and “hugely positive”, but would all Anglicans agree? One Church of England bishop that I spoke to the next day had absolutely nothing good to say about the Pope and was not the only one absent from the Abbey service.

Certainly the visit got off to a bad start, for Anglicans in particular, with the revelation that Cardinal Walter Kasper, recently retired head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, whom they had regarded as their best friend in the Vatican, was not coming. In addition to his critique of Britain (or was it just Heathrow?) as a “Third World Country”, he had told the German magazine Focus that the “Anglican Church” had nothing to offer Roman Catholics in respect of either a married clergy or the ordination of women. Clearly neither of those things represents our “patrimony”. “He is not usually so gauche,” said another C of E bishop.

The Pope’s words, however, were far more nuanced and, to assess them, one needs to lay them alongside the equally measured remarks made by Rowan Williams at Lambeth and the abbey.

During the first formal encounter, at Lambeth, Dr Williams welcomed the Pope, saying that “we do not as Churches seek political power or control”. He noted that no obstacles stand in the way of the bishops from both Churches seeking more ways to “build up one another in holiness”. In fact, joint meetings of Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops are already a regular occurrence in most parts of England today.

By contrast, the Pope declined to speak at all about the specific difficulties of ecumenical dialogue, while emphasising the “remarkable progress” of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic) during the past 40 years. Instead he focused on the need for Christians to co-operate with other faiths “in promoting peace and harmony in a world … at risk of fragmentation”.

However, he did say, that “the Church is called to be inclusive, yet never at the expense of Christian truth”, which Anglicans will interpret as a negative reference, not only to the ordination of women, and the place of homosexuals in the life of the Church (issues which of course still divide Anglicans) but also to a married clergy and remarriage after divorce.

On the other hand, he referred to John Henry Newman as one “nurtured by his Anglican background” who can serve as a model for modern ecumenical dialogue. As Dr Williams noted in his Vatican Radio interview, Anglicans do not object to his beatification, though some will certainly feel miffed by the decision not to follow Anglican use and adopt 11 August as his feast day, rather than institute 9 October, the day of his conversion to Rome.

What was undoubtedly reassuring to Anglicans was the joint communiqué issued later that “reaffirmed the importance of continuing theological dialogue on the notion of the Church as communion, local and universal, and the implications of this concept for the discernment of ethical teaching”.

At Westminster Abbey, it was the Pope’s turn to speak first. He chose to recall St Bede the Venerable (always a popular choice for Anglicans) who, he said, “understood … the need for creative openness to new developments”, perhaps an unexpected turn of phrase from this Pope. Dr Williams, in turn, recalled Sts Augustine of Canterbury and Gregory the Great, but also noted that “Christians have very diverse views about the nature of the vocation that belongs to the See of Rome” He went on to quote John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint, saying that “we must all reflect together” on how the Petrine ministry may speak to all Christians. A partial agreement here perhaps between these two, but many Anglicans hold dissenting views.

Only at the very end of the visit did the Pope mention Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution to enable Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church through a special structure, and then to his own bishops, not those of the Church of England. In his radio interview, Dr Williams said: “A relatively small number of people in the Church of England have wanted to explore this. I hadn’t ever expected it to be a huge number.”

So, overall, did the Pope surprise Anglicans? Most people I asked said that his remarks were softer in tone than they expected. Does this mean that any fundamental changes are likely? No, but it might mean that dire predictions being made earlier for the future of ecumenical relations were not accurate. A more interesting question might be whether the image of the Church of England among Roman Catholics has been affected by the obvious warmth of feeling that Pope Benedict has displayed on this visit. Yet a concern remains for Anglicans that Rome does not perceive a need for any fundamental rethink of its own position on the divisive issues.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 October 2010 at 8:00am BST | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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