Saturday, 30 July 2011

opinion at the end of July

June Osborne, the Dean of Salisbury, preached at the ordination of the new bishops of Salisbury and of Stepney. The full text and a video of her sermon are available.

George Cassidy, the retired Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, was recently interviewed by the Church of Ireland Gazette about reform of the House of Lords. The printed version of the interview is not available online, but there is a link to an audio recording of the complete interview here.

Read the Spirit has published this interview with Marcus Borg about his new book Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power—And How They Can Be Restored.
You can also read the interview here.

Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times that If there must be fences, let there be gates.

Adrian Beney writes in The Tablet about The price of a gift: Ethical fund-raising.

Carl Medearis asks in The Huffington Post Why Are We So Angry About Hell?

Matthew Engel writes in the Financial Times, in a series on British Institutions, about The Church of England.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Ireland and the Vatican

There have been many reports of the row between the Irish Government and the Vatican, which has been so severe that yesterday the Catholic Herald published an article titled Debate: Is there any hope for Catholic Ireland?

Here is the full text of what Enda Kenny originally said.

The Church Times has carried two reports by Gregg Ryan. Last week there was Ireland: abuse report leads to Church-State rift. This week there is Irish PM excoriates Vatican as Nuncio is flown home.

This weekend, the Guardian, in its Face to Faith column, has George Pitcher The Vatican response to the child abuse row in Ireland looks like repentance-lite.

And on Cif belief Massimo Franco writes about Sex abuse scandals and the secularisation of sin.

The Tablet has an editorial Ireland needs a healing touch.

Earlier, Ferdinand von Prondsynski wrote The RC Church in Ireland, coming out fighting: a wise strategy?

Even the Financial Times had an editorial: Arrogant Vatican.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 9:00am BST | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 28 July 2011

John Stott: some obituaries

Here are some of the notices of his death that have appeared.

Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop remembers John Stott

Telegraph The Rev John Stott

Guardian The Rev John Stott obituary

Church Times John Stott: ‘gracious and kind’

New York Times Rev. John Stott, Major Evangelical Figure, Dies at 90

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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Yorkshire Dioceses Review

We reported last December on the proposals of the Dioceses Commission on the four Yorkshire dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield, and their boundaries with the Diocese of York. In brief the Commission recommended the replacement of the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield with a single new diocese, along with some adjustments of its boundaries with its neighbours.

The Dioceses Commission has today published an interim progress report on this review; it is available online here. The accompanying press release is copied below the fold.

Nick Baines, the current Bishop of Bradford, has written about the proposals: New creation?

Dioceses Commission publishes progress report
27 July 2011

The Dioceses Commission has today published an interim progress report on its review of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield, available online here.

In November 2010, the Commission published for consultation a report recommending the replacement of the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield with a single new diocese. The diocesan synods of all three dioceses have since voted in favour of the preparation of a draft reorganisation scheme. The Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield diocesan synods also specifically endorsed the proposal for a single diocese divided into five episcopal areas (local units of mission led by a bishop).

In its interim progress report, the Commission announces that, in the light of the responses it has received, it is drawing up a reorganisation scheme to replace the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield with a single new diocese, as well as draft instruments for the creation of episcopal areas. The draft scheme will be published in October 2011 and will be accompanied by a statement of the effect of the proposals on the mission of the Church of England, and a detailed estimate of the financial effect of the creation of a single diocese. The Commission is still working on the details of the scheme.

The Commission’s November 2010 report also made proposals about the boundaries of the proposed new diocese. The transfer of parishes between the new diocese and neighbouring dioceses would be covered by a second reorganisation scheme. The interim progress report indicates which parishes the Commission will include in this draft scheme, which will also be published in October 2011, accompanied by a statement of the effect of the proposals on the Church’s mission and a detailed estimate of their financial effect.

Both draft schemes will be subject to a statutory period of consultation lasting six months. After this, the Commission will decide whether to produce final draft schemes and if so, what their contents should be. Publication of the draft schemes in October 2011 will enable the proposals to be considered in detail by the dioceses and parishes concerned in the light of their effect on mission and their financial effect. It is only when (and if) final draft schemes are published thereafter that definitive decisions will be taken by the diocesan synods concerned and the General Synod.

The Commission has published its interim progress report in the interests of transparency and to facilitate further conversations with the dioceses about the details of the draft schemes. It is not looking for responses to the interim progress report, but will welcome responses to the draft schemes once they are published - in the light of prayer and reflection during the consultation period that will last from 1st November 2011 to 30th April 2012.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 at 11:56pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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General Synod - electronic voting

The detailed results of the electronic votes at this month’s General Synod are now available.

Item 12 Results
private member’s motion on Mission action planning in the Church of England

Item 13 Results
motion on higher education funding changes

Item 14 Results
motion on report on Anglican-Methodist Covenant

Item 19 Results
diocesan synod motion on House of Laity elections

Item 20 Results
motion on report by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns

Item 502 Results
motion to finally approve the Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure

Item 504A Results
That the Parochial Fees Order 2011 be considered.

The full texts of the motions can be found in the official record of the Synod’s business, Business Done July 2011, which is also now available.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Responding to the recent initiative of the House of Bishops

Andrew Goddard at Fulcrum has published a lengthy analysis of the recent document GS Misc 997 (and the earlier GS Misc 992) in a document titled Civil Partnerships & Same-Sex Relationships in the Church of England: What is happening and how should evangelicals respond?

Colin Coward at Changing Attitude has published some comments on this in How to respond to the House of Bishops initiative on Civil Partnerships and Same-Sex Relationships.

Both of these documents contain valuable background information and analysis.

See also extracts from the most recent General Synod Question Time:

Update 10.30 pm

Chris Sugden at Anglican Mainstream has published A response to the House of Bishops’ announcement of a review of its Guidelines on Human Sexuality.

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General Synod - Church Times detailed reports

The Church Times detailed reports of this month’s General Synod are now available to non-subscribers as a pdf download from this page.

There are also these three news reports.
C of E in ‘ticklish’ position over its Murdoch shares
C of E faces demise in ‘perfect storm’ Synod is told
Williams: Focus on South Sudan to prevent genocide

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 at 4:48pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Monday, 25 July 2011

Nigerian Anglicans issue Human Rights communiqué

We reported back in May: Primate calls for Nigeria to leave the UN.

Then at the end of June, there were some press reports about a national consultation in Nigeria, for example: Homosexuality: Nigeria’s Anglican church calls for pull out from UN or Homosexuality: Okoh urges FG to quit UN.

Now, the actual communiqué from that conference has been published: COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS.

While it is critical of the United Nations, it does not include a call for Nigeria to withdraw.

Jim Naughton’s earlier comments about this are still relevant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 25 July 2011 at 12:13pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Ghana: Anglican support for homophobia

Updated Wednesday

There are disturbing reports of Christian, and in particular of Anglican, support for attacks on homosexual people in Ghana.

Independent Alex Duval Smith Ghana official calls for effort to ‘round up’ suspected gays

In a new burst of African homophobia, a government minister in Ghana has drawn support after calling on the country’s intelligence services to track down and arrest all gays and lesbians.

The call from Paul Evans Aidoo, the minister for the Western Region of Ghana, marks the latest in a series of expressions of officially condoned homophobia across the continent, which has previously been seen in Malawi, Uganda and South Africa…

BBC Paul Evans Aidoo’s Ghana gay spy call ‘promotes hatred’

A Ghanaian minister is “promoting hatred” by urging people to report those they suspect to be homosexual, a human rights group has told the BBC…

Africa Review Homosexuality: Ghana churches caution politicians

Ghanaian politicians who may want to push the idea of human rights to include open support for homosexuals will think twice after the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) took a strong stand on the issue.

The latter have and called on the faithful to “vote out lawmakers who show support for homosexuals”.

The CCG’s position stems from fears that international human rights groups want to lobby Parliament to pass a law that would legalise homosexuality in the country.

And:

The Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in Ghana, the Right Rev. Mathias Medadues-Badohu, says the Church in Ghana would intensify its teaching on the ills of homosexuality and would use its clinics to help those who want to get “out of it”.

ghana mma Christian Leaders Warn Politicians Over Gays

…Rt. Rev. Matthias Modedues-Badohu, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church and Bishop of Ho, said, “We speak against acts that go against the word of God. It is abnormal and not good. Our objective is to condemn it so that people will not get involved.”

The Anglican Communion Office recently held a Continuing Indaba Hub Meeting in Ghana, see this ACNS report, “The Anglican Communion is one family” Ghanaian bishop tells theologians.

Updates

Warren Throckmorton has written about this at Religion Dispatches Ghana’s Government Silent on Investigation of Gays.

…Some observers believe the number of sexual minorities may have been inflated in order to whip up opposition to homosexuality which could advance the standing of conservative politicians. Graham Knight, a British blogger living in Ghana, recently wrote that the claim of 8,000 sexual minorities has little support in fact. Knight concluded, in a blog post titled Did Ghana register 8000 homosexuals? The facts behind the hype that:

the real story is of a rather low-key workshop that has been sensationalized by the press, possibly with the collusion of a local doctor. The press reports are designed to create fear as are the unrepresentative group of Muslims claiming an imminent Sodom and Gomorrah for Africa.

While the accuracy of the original story is open to question, only a spark is needed to get a fire going—intentionally or not. And given the rhetoric in Ghana, it is difficult to avoid comparison to Uganda’s recent history in relation to sexual minorities. In March, 2009, three Americans spoke at a conference on homosexuality and used false and misleading information to inflame public sentiment against gays. Later that year, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was tabled…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 July 2011 at 9:23pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Divorce in Jerusalem: Anglicans must convert first

Jill Hamilton writes in the Guardian today, Christians in the Holy Land shouldn’t have to convert to Islam to get divorced.

“We cannot wait for politicians to sort things out, we have got to make a difference ourselves,” concluded Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, at the conference on Christians in the Holy Land co-hosted at Lambeth Palace with archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales.

As they explored ways to support Christians in the Middle East, I sent a query to Lambeth Palace asking why Anglicans in Jerusalem convert in order to get divorced. The reply from the press office was disappointing: “Each province has its own canon law, so the archbishop wouldn’t have any jurisdiction over this in another province … “

Yet it is time that foreign churches, as well as sending money and priests to the Middle East, used their influence to reform family law in the region. Who will bring pressure to bear to modernise the dense muddle of Christian personal status laws in the Middle East? The majority of the 14 million Arab Christians there cannot divorce. Many are locked into dead marriages – or convert to another religion so they can divorce…

And more precisely she reports that:

In the Holy Land, Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans can only separate; to remarry they first have to convert to Greek Orthodox or Islam to obtain a divorce. Annulment is possible, but there are only about five cases finalised in the region annually. Converts for divorce, though, are welcomed by the Greek Orthodox church. Metropolitan Cornelius, the Greek Orthodox judge in Jerusalem, has said the majority of divorces he handles are for former Catholics.

Information about the Lambeth Palace conference referred to at the beginning of this story can be found here, then here, and finally here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 July 2011 at 6:44pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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opinion

Two articles about bishops in the House of Lords
Lord Tyler at Lords of the Blog: Episcopal Eviction?
David Morris at The Commentator: This isn’t the 16th Century: it’s time to kick the Bishops out of the House of Lords

Graham Kings writes for Fulcrum about South Sudan, the promised land (also published in The Guardian).

Lauren R Stanley preached this sermon last Sunday: Step away from the lawn mower …

David L Rattigan writes for Cif belief about How Liverpool’s Frontline church ‘struggles’ with homosexuality.
“While commending the Christian ministry’s work in helping the vulnerable, we cannot ignore its troubling attitude to gay people.”

Bart D Ehrman writes for The Huffington Post about What Didn’t Make It Into The Bible?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 23 July 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Parochial Fees

I reported here that the draft Parochial Fees Order 2011 had been defeated at General Synod earlier this month. This order proposed revised fees for weddings and funerals from 1 January 2012.

I wrote then that the current order (the 2010 Order) would remain in force. William Fittall, the Secretary General, has today issued a paper (GS Misc 999) explaining in detail the implications of Synod’s decision. His paper includes topics such as transitional arrangements for incumbents who have not assigned their fees, what PCCs may and may not charge in addition to the statutory fees, and when fees may be waived.

Our html copy of GS Misc 999 is here.

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two more views on the EHRC intervention

Savi Hensman has made a detailed analysis at Ekklesia, see An ill-judged intervention from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

…If the EHRC were to succeed, Christianity’s reputation would be further damaged among those who come to associate it with institutionalised prejudice and abuse of power.

Christians too could find themselves on the receiving end of ‘conscientious’ discrimination. For instance, at present, if a church were vandalised, a police officer sent to the scene would be expected to do his job sensitively and diligently. This would be so even if he happened to be an ardent atheist in his private life who believed that religion was the source of most of the world’s evil. But if he believed that his belief could override his duty, he might refuse to go.

What is more, discrimination against Christians might appear increasingly justifiable, especially among those who do not know that – in practice – many churchgoers are reasonably sensible, accepting people, very different from the most vocal campaigners against ‘persecution’…

A rather different view comes from Alasdair Henderson at the UK Human Rights Blog. See A leap of faith?

…The way forward which the Commission proposes is the concept of “reasonable accommodation” for employees’ beliefs (similar to the ‘reasonable adjustments’ duty employers have towards disabled people). This is an idea that was floated by Aidan O’Neill QC on this blog not so long ago. The EHRC gives an example in its press release of how this could work – “If a Jew asks not to have to work on a Saturday for religious reasons, his employer could accommodate this with minimum disruption simply by changing the rota. This would potentially be reasonable and would provide a good outcome for both employee and employer.”

…The EHRC’s announcement has been welcomed by those who felt the Commission had failed to adequately support the right to religious freedom in the past, or even been anti-Christian. However, it has also provoked fierce criticism from some quarters. Some gay rights activists are concerned that this signals a shift in the Commission’s views that might negatively effect gay equality, given the particular difficulties of potential clashes between protection from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and protection of religious freedom (see our post on this subject here).

…Rather more strangely, the EHRC’s announcement has been heavily criticised by secularist and humanist lobby groups like the British Humanist Association. It is difficult to understand why such groups have any objection, since any argument by the EHRC that there should be accommodation for employees’ beliefs would apply not just to Christians, but equally to people of all faiths, including humanists and atheists.

In any event, it will be interesting to see how these cases, and the EHRC’s involvement, develops in the coming months. There are some important questions that will require significant thought. Is an employee’s religious belief really comparable to disability, such that it can be analysed and approached in the same way? How could employers be helped to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs while at the same time ensuring that there is no discrimination in the provision of services to the public? Whatever the outcome, hopefully this move by the EHRC will produce more light and less heat in a particularly difficult and sensitive area of human rights and equality law.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 July 2011 at 8:47am BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Short Introduction to the Anglican Covenant

Updated

press release from noanglicancovenant.org

COALITION RELEASES A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO THE ANGLICAN COVENANT

LONDON – Responding to requests for a concise explanation of the Anglican Covenant and the lack of even‐handed discussions of the Covenant from official sources, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has released of A Short Introduction to the Anglican Covenant. The one‐page primer outlines the history and likely effect of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

“Most of the study material that has been produced to date has been designed for readers already familiar with the background and issues involved,” said the Coalition’s Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows. “This brief, plain‐language explanation is intended to help ordinary Anglicans worldwide to understand what is being proposed.”
“Many people have complained that the official study material from the Anglican Communion Office has lacked balance and has failed to take seriously the concerns of Covenant critics,” according to the Revd. Canon Hugh Magee, the Coalition’s Scottish Convenor. “Recent study material from Canada has taken a more realistic view. While clearly written in opposition to the Covenant, A Short Introduction seeks to present a fair but critical view of the Covenant.”

A Short Introduction to the Anglican Covenant may be printed and copied by groups or individuals. It is particularly appropriate for people who know little about the Covenant or are overwhelmed by the available material related to the proposed pact. The document is available formatted both for letter‐size stationery used in Canada and the United States and for A4 stationery used in Britain and elsewhere.

Update

More attractive two-page versions are now also available: A4 stationery; North American stationery.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at 11:44pm BST | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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two church views on Murdoch

Bishop Peter Selby has written When Negative Equity is Social.

The plight of individuals with debts larger than the value of the security that is held for them engages our sympathy, and rightly so. But is there another kind of negative equity that has been at the top of our agenda these last weeks, a kind of social negative equity.

In the middle of the public outrage about the phone hacking scandal (have they hacked into my phone to find out how outraged I am? How do we know the level of public outrage?) there have come to the surface some rather uncomfortable realities that are not being spoken of much.

The fact is that it isn’t just News Corp that has a stake in the negative, in the bad news and the gossip; we all have.

Negativity sells well, and we should not be surprised at how much of it there is. The bad news in which News Corp had such a stake is now overtaken by the stake we all seem to have in the maximum bad news about News Corp and its key players. There aren’t any disinterested players in all this, occupying some principled moral high ground. There are careers and balance sheets at stake - and not just those of the Murdoch empire. Bad news is a good investment…

Canon Giles Fraser delivered this morning’s Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4. The full text of his remarks is now available here.

…The current crisis at News International and deep within the British establishment is much more than the presenting issue of phone hacking. I almost want to say that it’s become a theological issue in so far as it’s become a properly basic question about who gets to wield judgment within our society.

Last Friday the Times headline referred to Rupert Murdoch’s apology as constituting a Day of Atonement. But those who know the Jewish calendar will know that Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment, comes before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In other words, judgment comes first, then atonement. And so it is that those media titans who have wielded so much judgment in our society are now to present themselves to the scrutiny of the House of Commons later on today. Those who have judged others will now themselves be subject to judgment…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at 11:58am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 July 2011

Problems with the Crown Nominations Commission

Colin Coward has posted at Changing Attitude about The problem with (gay) bishops and the CNC.

I want to revisit Colin Slee’s posthumously published memorandum about the Southwark CNC process in the light of the subsequently published paper Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010 issued by the Legal Office at Church House and the conversations I had at General Synod in York.

These documents were both originally leaked to the Guardian in May and reported there by Andrew Brown in this article: Church of England tied in knots over allowing gay men to become bishops. (Earlier TA article is here.)

Andrew reported then:

…The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese’s preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago. Eventually Christopher Chessun, then an assistant bishop, was chosen.

John, an able theologian and gifted preacher and pastor, highly regarded in the diocese and a friend of Williams, is celibate but in a longstanding civil partnership with another clergyman. He was forced by the archbishop to stand down after being appointed suffragan bishop of Reading eight years ago, following an orchestrated protest campaign by evangelicals. Holtam’s promotion had been blocked because of his wife’s divorce but he has since become bishop of Salisbury.

At the same time, the Church Times also reported this story, focusing more on the Legal Opinion, in this report: House of Bishops divided on keeping out homosexuals.

Colin Coward goes on to say:

…Colin [Slee]’s memorandum revealed information about the culture of the CNC process and the attitude towards two outstanding candidates for the episcopate, one of whom, Nick Holtam, has now been appointed to Salisbury, thanks be to God. The other, Jeffrey John is now the subject of an attempt to permanently block his preferment by the position outlined and the relevant factors listed in the Equality Act document. It is designed specifically to block any further attempt to nominate and appoint Jeffrey.

Colin Slee’s memorandum provides an inside perspective on the effect of the secrecy of the CNC process. Colin complied with the rules but was as open as possible with the candidates he nominated and with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He wrote to both Jeffery John and Nick Holtam telling them he had nominated them as mandatory candidates for Southwark in March 2010. The Archbishop replied but did not say, please don’t nominate either of them. Other people had nominated both candidates.

I have subsequently learnt that both Jeffrey and Nick have been deliberately blocked, one for Southwark and the other for Chelmsford. Who does the blocking? Lambeth staff at the Archbishop’s request?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 18 July 2011 at 11:30pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Chair of the Business Committee

I reported here a week ago that the Bishop of Dover had withdrawn his nomination to be the chair of the General Synod’s Business Committee.

William Fittall, the Secretary General, has today issued a paper (GS Misc 998 Appointment of the Chairs of the General Synod’s Business Committee) explaining the background to the bishop’s nomination. The paper also outlines a proposal from the House of Laity Standing Committee that the chair of the Business Committee should not be a bishop, but should be chosen from a wider pool of clergy and laity than is currently eligible. It concludes by inviting comments on what to do next for consideration by the Archbishops’ Council.

Our html copy of GS Misc 998 is here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 18 July 2011 at 11:12pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Anglicanorum Coetibus: some history

The Genesis of Anglicanorum Coetibus is the title of a paper which was presented by Dr. William Tighe at the 2011 Anglican Use Conference, which took place recently at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, Texas. It contains some detailed information about its origins, with particular reference to (a) The Traditional Anglican Communion, (b) Forward in Faith/UK and (c) Other Church of England bishops.

The third of these may well be the most interesting. In connection with it, he refers to two other documents:

  • A transcript of the address, “Five Hundred Years after St. John Fisher: Benedict’s Ecumenical Initiatives to Anglicans” that Cardinal Levada delivered at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada on March 6, 2010; and
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 18 July 2011 at 12:22pm BST | Comments (56) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 17 July 2011

George Pitcher to leave Lambeth Palace

Updated

The Guardian’s Riazat Butt reports Archbishop of Canterbury dismisses spin doctor.

The archbishop of Canterbury’s spin doctor is to leave after just nine months in the role and following Tory protests over a controversial magazine article condemning the coalition.

George Pitcher, an Anglican priest and former journalist, was hired last October as public affairs secretary at Lambeth Palace and engineered Rowan Williams’s stint as guest editor for the New Statesman last month, which saw the archbishop launch a sustained attack on the coalition.

His criticism, seen by Whitehall as the most outspoken by an archbishop in a decade, pitted him against the government and left Lambeth Palace scrambling to minimise the damage as Conservative politicians and peers berated the archbishop either through the media or through channels at the Church of England.

Sunday, Lambeth Palace confirmed that Pitcher was leaving, but refused to say whether the New Statesmen stint had anything to do with his exit. “George was contracted to advise the archbishop on public affairs issues and that contract expires on 30 September when he will have completed projects he was asked to undertake. “When approached by the Guardian about his departure Pitcher said: “I am returning to journalism, a culture to which I am better suited…”

Later, Tim Ross at the Telegraph had Archbishop of Canterbury fires advisor Rev George Pitcher over outpoken attacks on coalition.

Dr Rowan Williams is understood to have lost confidence in the Rev George Pitcher, his public affairs secretary, and agreed that he should leave his post at the end of the summer.

It is understood the situation came to a head when Mr Pitcher made a crude joke about the Archbishop in the Daily Telegraph’s diary column following criticism of Dr Williams’ attacks on the coalition…

…Lambeth Palace confirmed that Mr Pitcher’s contract would end in September, one year after he started, and would not be renewed.

A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said: “George will have finished the project he was working on and he wished to return to journalism.”

Mr Pitcher said: “I have decided to bring things to an end but it is true that I would have stayed with the Archbishop for the duration [of his time in the post].”

Here’s his piece in the Sunday Express Church Must Engage Us All (h/t DW)

Updated Wednesday

Jerome Taylor in the Independent has Who will rid us of turbulent PR man George Pitcher?

His departure will leave Lambeth Palace bereft of a charismatic operator who was keen to see the Church engage with the public on key political issues. In a recent piece for the Sunday Express, he wrote: “The middle classes and MPs are keen to tell bishops to butt out of politics when they’ve something to say about health or education or treatment of our elderly. But our Church isn’t outside politics, only party politics.”

Others say Rowan Williams will now need to find a replacement for Mr Pitcher who will do more to protect him, rather than promote him. “Rowan needs advice, he really does,” said one Westminster lobbyist at a prominent Anglican group.

“His background is thoughtful academia and he doesn’t really spend enough time working out how his words will be perceived in the mainstream press. But at the same time his press team should be encouraging him to get out there and talk about issues, not duck behind safe headlines.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 July 2011 at 10:00pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Church links to the Murdoch business empire

The Church Times has a news article by Ed Beavan headed C of E in ‘ticklish’ position over its Murdoch shares.

During Church Commissioners’ questions, however, the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, admitted that premature sale of the shares would be “very bad”. It was “a ticklish area”.

The EIAG had been quick to consult James and Rupert Murdoch, he said, but the situation “won’t be easy, and I won’t volunteer to be part of the team”. Mr Whittam Smith was founding editor of The Independent.

The statement issued earlier by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group is available here.

Other churches also have embarrassments. The Tablet has two items about the links between James Murdoch and the recent papal visit, but neither is available online. However, Riazat Butt reported some of it in her article for the Guardian James Murdoch’s six-figure gift to UK papal visit.

A shorter version of the comments by Catherine Pepinster who is Editor of The Tablet is available here.

At Ekklesia Simon Barrow has some reflections on all this, see Church investments in the spotlight again.

This tidbit from the Church Times article:

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s spokeswoman said that it was unlikely that Dr Williams was a victim of phone-hacking. Dr Williams does not own a mobile phone.

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opinion

Christopher Middleton writes in The Telegraph about the Faith in World essay competition winners and says “The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Faith in the World essay competition showcases fresh thinking about life’s biggest issues.”

Nick Baines writes in Cif belief about Parallel lives? Not in Church of England schools.
“As the experience of Bradford shows, church schools serve all faiths – and are therefore a lesson in diversity, not division.”

Christopher Howse writes a Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about A link to heaven held in the palm. He is “is bowled over by a British Museum exhibition that is something else than art”.

In one of my reports on General Synod I linked to an article on parochial fees by David Green. He has had these further thoughts on the matter: Synod, wedding fees and the other side of the story.

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more about the Anglican Mission in England

Richard Coekin has written a long article, titled We rejoice in the emergence of the ANGLICAN MISSION IN ENGLAND.

In this piece he explains in detail about the purpose of AMiE and why it was/is unhappy with both the previous and current bishops of Southwark. It needs to be read in full.

…For example, in the liberal Southwark Diocese where I work as a senior pastor and director of the Co-Mission church-planting network, we have been pushed into “temporarily impaired communion” with our Diocesan Bishop since 2005. This is because, despite Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (declaring that homosexual activity is wrong) he would offer us no assurance that he would teach that homosexual practice is sin and therefore something not to be tolerated among the clergy. As a matter of conscience under the Biblical command to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” with those “who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality”, we cannot accept the oversight of a Bishop who refuses to teach such fundamental Biblical doctrine. The Bible is clear that un-repented wickedness (including homosexual practice) prevents us from inheriting the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The refusal of church leaders to teach this truth with compassion and clarity imperils the salvation of gay people we seek to love in our community by suggesting that repentance isn’t necessary. In this conviction we have enjoyed warm fellowship within many Evangelical networks but have longed for orthodox Episcopal oversight within the Church of England that will support Biblical teaching in our church-planting movement…

Richard Perkins, of Christ Church Balham has written at The Urban Pastor about AMiE. This article reflects on a BBC radio interview from last week.

Robert Piggott, the BBC Religious Correspondent, got it about right on Saturday on Radio 4. In his piece on the Today Programme he commented that, in launching the AMiE, conservative evangelicals had parked their tanks on the front lawn of Lambeth Palace.

It’s obviously the case that the establishing of this new mission society is seen by some as unnecessarily provocative. Even by some of those who are orthodox on the issue of human sexuality. But it’s worth asking why some evangelicals thought that such a drastic move was necessary. A ‘conversation’ is supposed to be taking place between, if I may simplify, the liberal revisionists and the evangelical reformers. But clearly one side doesn’t feel that they’re being listened to. They are now, I’ll wager…

Some historical background can be found in this presentation by John Richardson.

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Friday, 15 July 2011

Questions about the CofE Legal Opinion

Three Questions were asked at General Synod last Friday about the Legal Opinion issued as GS Misc 992. They were answered together.

Question 7
Mrs Sue Johns (Norwich) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q. Has the House considered the issues addressed in GS Misc 992?

Question 8
The Revd Canon Simon Butler (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops”
Q. Given the legal opinion offered in GS Misc 992 (‘Equality Act’) can the House indicate the following:
a. Which individuals or bodies are responsible for weighing and, if appropriate, adopting this opinion as policy;
b. The process by which this opinion shall be weighed and, if appropriate, adopted;
c. How these deliberations will be communicated to this Synod and candidates for episcopal appointment?

Question 9
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett (Southwark) to ask the House of Bishops:
Q. As we have in effect debated paras 14-18 of GS Misc 992 regarding divorce and remarriage at the February Synod, what process does the House envisage to ensure that a debate on the complete paper takes place, recognising that the circulation of a paper to Synod by the Legal Office does not create policy?

The Bishop of Norwich to reply:

A. With permission, I shall answer this and the related questions from Simon Butler and Rosemarie Mallet together.

The Legal Office note was produced in December and made available to members of successive Crown Nominations Commissions and to all diocesan bishops in connection with episcopal appointments. It explains the implications of the legal framework created by the Equality Act so that those making appointments understand the parameters within which they now have to operate. It offers no policy advice. The relevant policy documents are the well known texts referred to in the document, to which must now be added last Friday’s modest supplement from the House.

The policy issue on civil partnerships is now for the review of the 2005 statement and the Church’s stance on same sex relations more generally will be addressed in the consultation document that the House will produce in the light of the listening process in 2013.

Supplementary Question from Simon Butler:
While I welcome the House of Bishops clarity that GS Misc 992 isn’t the policy of the Church, nevertheless it is the legal opinion of the church’s lawyers. Can the Bishop confirm then what freedom the House of Bishops has to depart from this legal opinion?

A. Well, I think what the legal opinion seeks to do is to explain for those involved in episcopal appointments what the law permits. It simply refers back to formal statements of the Church of England’s policy, including statements by the House of Bishops on divorce and civil partnerships, and of course that’s been amended in the light of what the synod decided last February, but it actually offers no policy advice. And the House of Bishops statement is about policy reviews, not prejudging their outcome.

Supplementary Question from Rosemarie Mallett:
Again, we thank you for the clarity of your answer. As part of the review process that will be now ongoing, can we be assured that the House of Bishops will consult with members of the House of Clergy and the House of Laity, before bringing the final consultation document to synod in 2013, so that we have a truly dialogic as well as listening process between now and 2013.

A. Well I think that what we hope for in the 2013 review, which will cover matters related to human sexuality, is to try and create an account of what’s gone on in the listening process, which has included clergy and laity over the course of the past decade or more. And there is a sense in which quite a lot of that work of course has already included clergy and laity, and how that review group will go about its work I can’t say, but it would be very surprising if it did not include consultation with clergy and lay people, to produce the sort of document that we hope would be representative of the mind of the church as a whole.

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Civil Partnerships and the Episcopate

A Question was asked at General Synod last Friday about this. (The deadline for filing Questions was several days prior to the issue of GS Misc 997.)

Question 6.
The Ven Jan McFarlane (Norwich) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:

Q. What consideration has the House given to the eligibility for the episcopate of those in civil partnerships?

The Bishop of Norwich to reply:

A. As Synod members will now have seen from GS Misc 997, which was issued last Friday, the House of Bishops has decided to review the pastoral statement on civil partnerships that it issued in July 2005 before the Civil Partnership Act came into force. That review will, among other things, address an issue on which the 2005 statement was silent, namely whether those in civil partnerships should be eligible to become bishops. To avoid breaking new ground while the review is in progress the House has concluded that clergy in civil partnerships should not at present be nominated for Episcopal appointment. The review will be concluded next year.

Supplementary Question from Mr John Ward (London):

In welcoming GS Misc 997 most sincerely and the review of the civil partnerships statement, will the House engage with the whole People of God when reviewing this statement, including lesbian and gay people in civil partnerships, and if so how?

A. Well, that will be a matter for the review group when it is established, how it goes about its work, and I think I wouldn’t want to say more than that. But your point is well made.

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ACNA and the Church of England

Several Questions were put down for answers at Question Time last Friday relating to the Anglican Church in North America. Only one of them was reached during the session, but the written answers prepared for the others were issued afterwards (and are reproduced below the fold).

Question 40.
Ms Susan Cooper (London) to ask the Chairman of the Faith and Order Commission:

Q. Father Thomas Seville CR, ‘of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England’ was welcomed as a ‘participant and observer’ at the Provincial Council 2011 of the Anglican Church of North America in Long Beach, California. What was the status of his attendance from the point of view of the Faith and Order Commission?

The Bishop of Chichester to reply as Chairman of the Faith and Order Commission:

A. Fr Seville attended the ACNA Provincial Council as an observer at my request following a resolution of the General Synod in February 2010.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had subsequently highlighted certain questions on which he and the Archbishop of York would value the thinking of the Faith and Order Commission in preparing the requested report.

As Fr Seville is one of the two members of the Faith and Order Commission most closely associated with its work on “continuing churches” in the light of a resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, he attended as an observer on behalf of and reporting to the Commission in order to assist our work in advising the Archbishops.

Supplementary Question by Ms Cooper:
Would the bishop clarify how the visit… was funded?

A. It was entirely funded by the Anglican Church in North America.

Question 75.
The Revd Stephen Pratt (Lichfield) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishopss:

Q. What steps are being taken by the House to enable the Archbishops to respond to the resolution passed by the Synod in February 2010 on a motion moved by Mrs Lorna Ashworth in relation to the Anglican Church in North America, given that the Archbishops’ report requested in that resolution is due this year and there may not be a Group of Sessions in November.

Questions 76.
Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:

Q. What steps has the House taken or will it now take to enable and encourage the Archbishops to respond to the Synod’s invitation, in a resolution passed on Wednesday 10 February 2010, “to report further to the Synod in 2011” in relation to the desire and aspiration of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family and to the necessary further exploration by the relevant authorities of the issues raised by that aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion.

The Bishop of Chichester to reply:

A. With the permission of the Chair I should like to answer this question and a similar one from Mr Clive Scowen together.

As indicated in my earlier reply to a question from Ms Susan Cooper, the Faith and Order Commission is undertaking work on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Faith and Order aspects of any development of relations between the Church of England and ACNA. This work will help to resource a report from the Archbishops to members of Synod that will be sent out before the end of the year.

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

BBC challenges accuracy of Chichester sex abuse report

Updated Wednesday 20 July

The BBC has reported that:

A review of how the Church of England dealt with two paedophile priests contains significant inaccuracies, a BBC investigation has found.

The review, carried out by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for the Church, looked at how historic claims of abuse by two Sussex priests were handled.

Evidence obtained by BBC South East appears to show a bishop provided incorrect information to the inquiry.

The Church said the new information did not undermine the review.

Read the BBC report and watch the video: Church abuse report over Sussex sex abuse ‘inaccurate’

Earlier BBC reports are here, and here, and also here.

The Diocese of Chichester earlier issued this press release: Bishop responds to safeguarding report and the actual reports are available as PDF files:

Update
The latest (19 July) BBC report is: Report into paedophile priests Cotton and Pritchard investigated

The Church of England is starting an investigation into how inaccurate information was published in a report on two paedophile priests.

The report, by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for the Church, looked at how historic claims of abuse by two Sussex priests were handled.

Lewes and Hastings Archdeacon, the Ven Philip Jones, denied there had been a cover-up.

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more on the EHRC intervention in Strasbourg

The EHRC has issued a clarification of its intentions in this Q and A, which has been reproduced by the Equality and Diversity Forum. See EHRC intervention in cases of religious discrimination. This inlcudes the following passage:

The purpose of our intervention is to explain that the law should consider how it may give better respect for religious rights within the workplace than has hitherto been the case, without diminishing the rights of others. We want to change the view that there needs to be an either/or situation. The spotlight and focus is placed too frequently on conflict in place of dialogue that could help identify other acceptable workable solutions.

The accommodation of rights is not a zero sum equation whereby one right cancels out or trumps another. We believe that if the law and practice were considered more widely, then in many situations there would be scope for diverse rights to be respected.

Our view is that careful, sensitive and balanced treatment and consideration is discouraged by the approach taken by the courts to date. In turn, this hinders the development and dissemination of better practice amongst those with duties. We believe that where possible ways should be found within the law of promoting the resolution of disputes at an early stage, without protracted, costly, complex legal proceedings that irretrievably damage relations between the parties.

Philip Henson on Employment Law Update gives an extensive background briefing in The Equality and Human Rights Commission calls for ‘reasonable accommodation’ for religion or belief.

More comment articles expected soon. Meanwhile, this earlier TA article indicates the views of Trevor Phillips, chair of the EHRC.

Heresy Corner has Equality Commission outrages gays and humanists.

The Church Times carries a news report by Ed Beavan Courts have set bar too high for Christians, says EHRC.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

EHRC applies to intervene at ECHR in religious discrimination cases

Updated Thursday morning

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has applied to the European Court of Human Rights to be allowed to intervene in several recent cases concerning religious discrimination in the workplace.

The EHRC has issued this press release: Commission proposes ‘reasonable accommodation’ for religion or belief is needed.

Judges have interpreted the law too narrowly in religion or belief discrimination claims, the Commission has said in its application to intervene in four cases at the European Court of Human Rights all involving religious discrimination in the workplace.

If given leave to intervene, the Commission will argue that the way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.

It will say that the courts have set the bar too high for someone to prove that they have been discriminated against because of their religion or belief; and that it is possible to accommodate expression of religion alongside the rights of people who are not religious and the needs of businesses…

The National Secular Society is unhappy, see Equality Commission determined to push religion up the hierarchy of rights.

So is the British Humanist Association, see Equality Commission’s intervention in Christian legal cases ’wholly disproportionate’.

And Stonewall is deeply disturbed, see Stonewall response to EHRC statement on religious ‘discrimination’ cases.

The Christian Institute is however very pleased, see Equality body: Courts have failed Christians and also Humanists and gays fear EHRC intervention.

Updates

Some further reactions:

Christian Concern Equality Commission decides Christians have the right to follow conscience

Andrew Copson at Cif belief The EHRC’s stance on religious rights undermines its credibility

Patrick Strudwick The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s choice is beyond belief

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General Synod - Tuesday roundup

Updated to add link to official summary
Updated Tuesday night and Wednesday morning

General Synod - summary of business Tuesday 12th July 2011 AM

Synod ended its meeting in York at lunchtime today.

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a presidential statement about Christians in the Holy Land: Archbishop launches appeal for Christians in the Holy Land, and showed this video: Christians in the Holy Land Conference 2011.

Riazat Butt of The Guardian has blogged the final day.

Tim Ross writes in The Telegraph Christians should learn how to be a ‘minority’ from Muslims, bishop says
This refers to the Bishop of Bradford, who responds on his blog with Minority matters.

The Star has Church could train clergy.

Ekklesia has C of E seeks to change ‘pale, male and stale’ leadership.

Ruth Gledhill has written this blog article about Monday’s motion on elections to the House of Laity: General Synod in York: Church of England votes for fairer votes [also online here].

Tuesday night update

Tim Ross in The Telegraph News of the World: Church of England retains stake in Murdoch empire

Press Association Bishop: Apply values to all lessons

Wednesday morning update

Tim Ross in The Telegraph Ageing Church of England ‘will be dead in 20 years’

Martha Linden in The Independent Church of England faces extinction, says cleric

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Monday, 11 July 2011

General Synod - Monday press roundup

Rosie Harper looks back at the recent meeting of General Synod for Cif belief: General Synod: saved by an archbishop on fire.
“The unspeakable tedium of General Synod was enlivened by Rowan Williams’s rallying call for a new language of faith.”

The Independent has this story from the Press Association: Church votes to recruit minorities.

Riazat Butt has blogged Monday’s business for The Guardian.

Tim Ross in The Telegraph Church of England bishops meet ministers over ‘chilling’ effect of equality laws.

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General Synod - official summary of Monday's business

General Synod - summary of business Monday 11th July 2011 AM

General Synod - summary of business Monday 11th July 2011 PM

This will be updated later with the evening session summary.
The PM summary now includes the evening session.

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General Synod - chair of the business committee

Updated Monday evening
Updated Tuesday morning

Synod was due to vote on a motion to appoint the Bishop of Dover as the chair of its business committee this morning. This followed the adjournment of a debate on a similar motion in February. There is a lot of opposition in Synod to any bishop chairing this committee.

But instead the Bishop of Dover made a personal statement to Synod saying that he was withdrawing his name from consideration. The Archbishop of Canterbury then effectively told Synod off for putting the bishop in this position.

Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden, has written about the background to choosing the chair of the business committee and why it should not be a bishop. Do read his article.
On Chairing the Business Committee.

Monday evening updates

Riazat Butt has obtained the full text of Rowan Williams’ remarks this morning, and they can be found at the bottom of this page of her live blog of the Synod. See item timed at 6.11 pm.

There is another transcription of both the Bishop of Dover and the Archbishop of Canterbury over here at TitusOneNine.

Tuesday morning update

Tim Ross writes in the Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes senior Anglicans in row over Bishop of Dover appointment

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Sunday, 10 July 2011

General Synod - Sunday roundup

Today’s business

The members of General Synod joined the congregation at York Minster for the 10.00 am Eucharist today (Sunday). The preacher was the Rt Revd Peter Skov-Jakobsen, the Bishop of Copenhagen. Alastair Cutting has published the text of the bishop’s sermon: The Bishop of Copenhagen’s sermon.

Official summary: General Synod - summary of business Sunday 10th July 2011 PM

Riazat Butt’s blog for Sunday

Comment on yesterday’s business

David Green writes on his blog about yesterday’s vote against the new Parochial Fees Order: Synod, wedding fees and allowing some churches to rake it in.

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some criticisms of episcopal statements

Savi Hensman has written about the presidential address given on Saturday by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

See Romanticising the church?

The Church is “the visible sign of a faithful God”, declared the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was speaking at the Church of England’s General Synod on 9 July 2011, in York. He expressed the view that those present were “entrusted with the strength not to abandon and the joy of knowing ourselves not abandoned.”

Rowan Williams made many valuable points in his presidential address to Synod, the Church of England’s key decision-making body. Yet his lack of acknowledgement of the Church’s mixed record raises some concerns…

Changing Attitude has published some comment about the note sent to synod members from the House of Bishops about the Equality Act and the appointment of celibate people in a civil partnership as a bishop.

See Bishops in the church and the Equality Act.

The House of Bishops sent a note to Synod members about the Equality Act and the appointment of celibate people in a civil partnership as a bishop. The legal advice is discriminatory and unworkable. No priest who is gay, let alone in a civil partnership, is going to reveal their sexual orientation when confronted by five such intrusive questions.

The legal note will simply encourage people to stay in the closet, maintaining secrecy about their sexual orientation for all gay (and eventually, lesbian) clergy who are nominated for episcopal office…

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Saturday, 9 July 2011

General Synod - Saturday press roundup 2

Martha Linden of the Press Association (in The Independent) Archbishop attacks self-indulgence

Tim Ross in The Telegraph Phone-hacking scandal: Church of England could withdraw £4 million from News Corp
Jodie Ginsberg and Olesya Dmitracova for Reuters Church of England threatens to pull News Corp investment

Anonymously in The Telegraph Church blocks funeral costs rise
And at the BBC Church of England wedding price rise rejected

Jonathan Wynne-Jones in The Telegraph Archbishop Williams calls for church schools to be inclusive
There is also this press release from the Church of England today about school admissions policies: Publication of new church school admissions advice

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General Synod - official summary of Saturday's business

General Synod - summary of business Saturday 9th July 2011 AM

General Synod - summary of business Saturday 9th July 2011 PM

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Parochial Fees Order defeated

As we reported earlier Synod debated the Parochial Fees Order this afternoon. This order proposed revised fees for weddings and funerals from 1 January 2012.

In the debate (on a motion to “consider” the order), most speeches were against various aspects of the new fees order and many alternative, often contradictory, proposals were made. At the end the motion was defeated with 134 votes in favour and 166 votes against, with 18 recorded abstentions.

As a consequence the new order cannot come into effect. Unless and until a new order is approved by Synod the current order, which has applied since 1 January 2011, will continue in force.

Note on procedure
Approval of a fees order takes three stages.
1. Consideration - a general debate
2. Consideration of amendments to the order
3. Approval of the [amended] order
Since the order was defeated at the first stage Synod did not have the opportunity to consider the amendments, of which there were 25.

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News Corporation: Statement from the Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group has issued this statement.

News Corporation: Statement from Ethical Investment Advisory Group

09 July 2011

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group has written to News Corporation.

The following points were made in the letter, sent on Friday 8 July:

The behaviour of the News of the World has been utterly reprehensible and unethical.

While the EIAG welcomes the decision to close the News of the World, this action is not a sufficient response to the revelations of malpractice at the paper. Nor does it address the failure of News International and News Corporation executives to undertake a proper investigation and take decisive remedial action as soon as the police uncovered illegal phone hacking in 2006.

The EIAG Chairman has written to Rupert Murdoch today (8/7/11) to insist that the Board of News Corporation takes all necessary measures to instil investor confidence in the ethical and governance standards of News Corporation.

We cannot imagine circumstances in which we would be satisfied with any outcome that does not hold senior executives to account at News Corporation for the gross failures of management at the News of the World.

Note

The Church Commissioners for England, one of the National Investing Bodies, are the beneficial owners of 344,586 News Corporation A shares worth, at Thursday’s close, $6m.

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bloggers at General Synod

Updated Saturday afternoon to add another blogger
Updated Sunday

Riazat Butt of The Guardian has this live blog from York.
Update That blog is for Saturday only. There is another blog for Sunday and presumably there will be others later.

Some Synod members are also blogging.
Alastair Cutting and Justin Brett The General Synod Blog
Jeremy Fletcher Jeremy Fletcher’s Blog
Suem Significant Truths

And at Twitter several members and others are tweeting with the hashtag #synod.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 11:20am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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opinion for a synod

Canon C K Robertson is visiting the General Synod and has written this for The Huffington Post: Independent but Connected. Canon Robertson is the Canon to the Presiding Bishop of The (American) Episcopal Church.

In this week’s Cif belief in The Guardian Andrew Brown writes about The archbishop and the prisoners.
“On a prison visit, Rowan Williams shows a wittier, humbler side – and an enthusiasm for unglamorous projects.”

Also in The Guardian the Archbishop of Canterbury talks to David Hare “about taking on the coalition, the atheists – and why life isn’t like a Woody Allen movie.” Rowan Williams: God’s boxer

Also in Cif belief Theo Hobson writes that Anglicans should throw out dry tradition.
“Churches should rip up the pews and encourage real participation, and make the act of worship again.”

John Dominic Crossan writes in The Huffington Post about The Search for the Historical Paul: Which Letters Did He Really Write?

Also in The Huffington Post Greg Carey asks What Does the Bible Actually Say About Marriage?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times Tweet that good-news message.

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General Synod - official summary of Friday's business

General Synod - summary of business Friday 8th July 2011 PM

This includes links to audios of all the sessions.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 10:23am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Archbishop of Canterbury's Presidential address

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to General Synod this morning. You can read it here:
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Presidential Address.

You can listen to an audio of his address: here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 10:19am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Saturday press roundup

Tim Ross in the Telegraph Church of England faces being wiped out, report warns

Robert Pigott at the BBC Price of church weddings may rise by up to 50%

Jerome Taylor in The Independent Funeral prices to soar 50 per cent as Church feels effect of downturn

The Diocese of Lichfield has issued this press release: Christians should be free to manifest their faith in the workplace.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 10:11am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 8 July 2011

Parochial Fees

General Synod is now in session. One item of business is the Parochial Fees Order which sets fees for weddings and funerals in the Church of England. Synod will be asked to approve the order during its afternoon session tomorrow (Saturday).

Justin Lewis-Anthony has written this for Cif belief: Fees, managerialism and the death of the Church of England.
“Churches must be allowed to set their own fees for funerals and weddings. Let’s hope the synod rejects the parochial fees order.”

These are the official papers issued to synod members for this item of business.

GS 1832 The Parochial Fees Order 2011
GS 1832X Explanatory Memorandum
GS Misc 989 2012-2014 Fees Order - Rationale

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Ordinariate: Grant challenged; Costs pile up

The Church Times has a full report today, see Ordinariate deemed Anglican enough to be awarded £1m by Ed Thornton.

THE Charity Commission has been asked to investigate a grant of £1 million to the Roman Catholic Ordinariate by the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “Concerns have been raised with us regarding the Con­fraternity of the Blessed Sacra­ment. We are currently considering these to establish whether there is any regulatory role for us.”

The Confraternity, a registered charity, was founded in 1862 to support the Catholic revival in the Church of England. The Charity Commission website states that its charitable objects are “for the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition”.

The present Superior-General, Fr Christopher Pearson, now a priest in the Ordinariate, has reported that, in December, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, then the (Anglican) Bishop of Richborough, approached him “asking whether it was within the remit of the Confraternity to make a financial grant to the proposed Ordinariate”…

And the Tablet has a news item:

Costs pile up for Ordinariate

7 July 2011

The head of the Ordinariate for England and Wales, Mgr Keith Newton, admitted this week that the group is struggling financially three months after it welcomed its first members into the Catholic Church from the Church of England. This month the group will have to start paying its clergy and other bills are piling in, Mgr Newton told The Tablet on Tuesday. In addition a recent grant of £1 million to the Ordinariate from an Anglo-Catholic group, Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, has been challenged and is under investigation by the Charity Commission.

There is a much more detailed report on this in the paper edition.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 July 2011 at 7:21am BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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AMiE: Church Times report and comment

The Church Times has both a news report and a leader comment.

Lambeth rebuke for Kenya ordinations by Ed Thornton

This contains some additional information, including this:

…The Revd Richard Perkins, the senior minister of Christ Church, Balham, an AMIE church, wrote on his blog last week that the three who were ordained in Kenya were staff of the Co-Mission Initiative in the South­wark diocese, of which his church is a member.

He said that “on the presenting issue of homosexual activity”, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, “has not been able to reassure us that he believes and will teach that the only God-approved context for sexual activity is within heterosexual mar­riage.

“What this means for those Anglican congregations within Co-Mission . . . is that the situation of tem­porarily impaired communion remains unchanged. We do not . . . recognise his spiritual authority over us…”

Leader: A fresh expression of ordination

WAS it all, indeed, just a misunderstanding? The Lambeth Palace gloss on the formation of the Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) this week is that the Archbishop of Kenya was ill-informed about “the precise requirements of English canon law and good practice” when he ordained three clergymen in the Southwark diocese last month. We should have thought that common courtesy might have prevailed and that, after all the discussions about the Covenant, the assumption of some form of oversight of clergy in another province might have rung a warning bell or two in Nairobi.

The Lambeth statement also reveals the surprising fact that Dr Williams is no wiser about the intentions of the new Anglican Mission than the average observer…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 July 2011 at 7:03am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bishop of Chichester to retire

Updated Friday

The Bishop of Chichester, The Right Reverend Dr John Hind, announced today that he will retire at the end of April 2012.

The diocesan website has this announcement and this background information.

There is an error in the section of the diocesan announcement about how diocesan bishops are appointed. The Crown Nominations Commission now sends only one name to the Prime Minister. Correction: I am advised that the CNC does still send two names to the PM. But my understanding is that they are now always put in order of preference and that the PM has agreed to always pick the first choice. The other name is there in case the first choice declines.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 7:16pm BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Anglican Mission in England: Lambeth Palace statement

Updated and republished Wednesday morning

A statement from Lambeth Palace

Tuesday 5th July 2011

The announcement of the creation an ‘Anglican Mission in England’ prompts concern for a number of reasons. New mission initiatives are, as such, always good news; and the declared intention of the spokesmen for this new initiative to remain faithful to the structures of the Church of England is welcome.

However, it is not at all clear how the proposed panel of bishops relate to the proper oversight of the diocesan bishops of the Church of England. Nor is there any definition of the issues which AMiE think might justify appeal to such a panel rather than the use of normal procedures. Furthermore, the ordination of three English candidates to the diaconate in Kenya with a view to service in England is problematic. It is not clear what process of recognised scrutiny and formation has taken place and how, in the absence of Letters Dimissory (the relevant formal letters from the sponsoring bishop), they have come to be recommended as candidates for ordination by the authorities of another province.

The issue is one of episcopal collegiality. There needs to be some further discussion of this development between those involved and the diocesan bishops of the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had the opportunity to speak with the Archbishop of Kenya about the situation: the good faith and fraternal good intentions of our Kenyan colleagues are not at all in question, but it seems that there were misunderstandings of the precise requirements of English Canon Law and good practice as regards the recommendation of candidates for ordination and deployment in mission. It is hoped that an early opportunity will be found to clarify what this new initiative seeks to achieve if it is truly to serve God’s mission in the most effective and collaborative way.

Update
AMIE has responded. The full text of the response, currently at this URL, is below the fold.

6 July 2011

AMIE (formally the Saint Augustine Society) is grateful for the statement from Lambeth Palace of Tuesday July 5th. We are very pleased to note the welcome given to new mission initiatives and also the recognition of AMIE’s desire to remain within the Church of England.

Those recommended for ordination had already been through due processes of selection and training and were recommended after a thorough process of discernment.

According to a report at a recent conference, half the serving clergy of the Church of England will retire in the next ten years, a little acknowledged fact with no apparent strategy to address it. Meanwhile there are delayed candidates offering, parishes willing to sponsor them, and others eager to receive their ministry, congregations wishing to remain within the Church but not receiving recognition, and missional church plants needing authorisation. Many senior clergy are concerned about the quality of ministry that may be available in the future.

AMIE has come about precisely in order to retain within the Church of England those who share passion for gospel mission and wish to minister within this Church despite some problematic issues.

New problems are not being raised. Discussions on these issues have taken place with Lambeth Palace and its representatives over a period of four and half years. They were again rehearsed over the last year with three bishops appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with those now forming the panel of bishops and steering group of AMIE. They were fully communicated to Lambeth Palace in a document presented in July 2010.

Significant challenges face those called to minister in England at this time. Its ordained clergy need oversight and encouragement from those who believe in their work and ministry and who will walk with them step by step both theologically and missiologically. Such encouragement has been given by the Primates Council of GAFCON.

Episcopal collegiality within England needs to be matched by both Episcopal collegiality with the wider Anglican Communion and Episcopal integrity in upholding and teaching the truth of the Christian faith as found in the Scriptures.

We warmly welcome the invitation to meet to clarify the goals of AMIE which are to preach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the standard for Episcopal integrity and collegiality in upholding and teaching the Christian faith.

Paul Perkin (Chair) on behalf of the Steering Committee

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 11:45am BST | Comments (46) | TrackBack
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first ten CofE dioceses all vote for women bishops

Press Statement Tuesday 5th July 2011

Women and the Church (WATCH)

10/10 Dioceses vote for women bishops

The first ten Dioceses in the Church of England to vote on women bishops have all voted in favour – almost all by an overwhelming majority. They have all also turned down requests for extra provision for opponents, mostly by huge margins.

In every Diocese there have been separate votes of bishops, clergy and lay members. Taking the votes of all the Dioceses together, over 80% of lay members, over 80% of clergy and over 80% of bishops have voted for the proposed law, which also makes provision for those opposed to women being ordained as priests and bishops. Parishes will be allowed to opt for a male bishop and/or a male vicar.

Hilary Cotton, Head of Campaigns for WATCH, said, “Across the country Church members are saying, ‘Please just get on with making women bishops’. They are voting overwhelmingly in support of the legislation that will make that happen, and also creates space within the Church for those who will not accept women bishops. They do not want any more wrangling or delay.”

All 44 Dioceses have to vote on the draft legislation for women bishops by November 2011. It will then face a final vote in General Synod in York 2012 where there will need to be 66% of members of each of the three Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, for it to be approved. It will then proceed to Parliament for final endorsement.

For more detailed figures see http://www.womenandthechurch.org/campaign.htm

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Episcopal Patrons for No Anglican Covenant Coalition

Coalition Appoints Episcopal Patrons

NEWS RELEASE
JULY 6, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BISHOPS JOHN SAXBEE, PETER SELBY TO BE PATRONS OF NO ANGLICAN COVENANT COALITION

LONDON – The Right Reverend Dr John Saxbee and the Right Reverend Dr Peter Selby have been appointed Episcopal Patrons of the international No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

“The Anglican Communion doesn’t need a Covenant because Anglicanism is a Covenant, predicated on grace and goodwill,” Dr Saxbee said. “If there is grace and goodwill, a Covenant is unnecessary. If there is no grace or goodwill, a Covenant will be unavailing.” Dr Saxbee was Bishop of Lincoln from 2001 until his retirement in January of this year.

Dr Selby, Bishop of Worcester from 1997 to 2007, has been a supporter of the Coalition since its launch last November. “This proposed Covenant is not the solution to the tensions in the Anglican Communion,” he said. “It will inevitably create a litigious Communion where every serious disagreement will become a possible occasion to seek a province’s exclusion.”

“More and more questions are being raised about the potential pitfalls of the proposed Anglican Covenant,” said the Reverend Dr Lesley Fellows, Moderator of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition. “We have consistently seen that support for the Covenant tends to collapse in the face of full and fair discussion and analysis. We are very pleased to welcome Bishops Selby and Saxbee as our first Episcopal Patrons. They are well respected in the Church of England and throughout the Anglican Communion. We expect that their views on the Covenant will persuade many more people to take a harder look at the risks inherent in this radical proposal.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 9:41am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Charity Commission asked to investigate grant to Ordinariate

Updated Tuesday evening

Ruth Gledhill has broken a news story in The Times which is behind a paywall. But the story opens this way:

The Charity Commission has been asked to investigate a £1 million grant made to the Ordinariate, a new Roman Catholic organisation for defecting Anglicans, by a 150-year-old Anglican charity.

Trustees of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, founded in 1862 as part of the High Church revival in the Church of England, voted the grant through a few weeks ago, thus divesting their charity of more than half its total assets of £1.85 million.

The grant has prompted an outcry among Anglo-Catholics who have remained in the Church of England.

Shortly before the grant was made, the confraternity changed its membership rules, allowing Roman Catholics to become members for the first time…

No doubt other media reports on this will appear fairly soon. But meanwhile here is the original letter from the Superior-General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, to the membership. Copied in html below the fold.

Update

See The CBS Affair by Peter Bolton which contains more background information.

Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament

REPORT FROM THE SUPERIOR-GENERAL ON A GRANT TO THE ORDINARIATE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM

1. In December 2010, the Superior-General received an approach from the Rt. Revd. Keith Newton, then Bishop of Richborough, asking whether it was within the remit of the Confraternity to make a financial grant to the proposed Ordinariate. The Superior-General sought legal advice on the matter, which indicated that the Trustees had a power to make such a grant and that the charitable Objects of the Confraternity were likely to encompass the purposes for which the Ordinariate was to be established; the Trustees were advised to revisit the issue once a civil law entity had been established that could receive any grant, should an application be received.

2. On 15th January 2011, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was erected. Shortly thereafter, the Trustees received a formal application for financial assistance to the Ordinariate from the Ordinary, Mgr. Keith Newton, to provide for theological teaching, learning and development and for the support of priests in the Ordinariate.

3. At their meeting on the 10th February 2011, the Trustees considered that application carefully and at length. It was unanimously agreed by all the Trustees to make a grant of one million pounds (£1,000,000). However, in view of the possibility of such a grant being challenged, it was also decided to seek additional legal advice from leading counsel.

4. At their meeting on 19th May 2011, the Trustees noted that the Ordinariate had been established as a civil law entity in the form of Charitable Company number 1141536. The Trustees also noted that the Opinion of Mr. Hubert Picarda QC confirmed the propriety, under charity law, of the proposed grant to the newly-registered charity.

The Trustees agreed that they had the power to consider the request and to make a grant for the purpose requested; that the Objects of the Ordinariate was compatible with the charitable Objects of the Confraternity and specifically the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition; that making a grant would be in the best interests of the CBS, in furthering its charitable objects: that a substantial grant might be a helpful signal to others contemplating offering financial support to the Ordinariate, thus increasing the likelihood of the charitable objects of the CBS being secured.

5. Accordingly, the Trustees resolved at the meeting on the 19th May to give effect to their decision to make a grant of £1,000,000 to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, registered charity 1141536, on terms to be agreed between the parties.

Father Christopher Pearson, Superior-General
for the Trustees

Registered Charity No: 1082897

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 1:51pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Monday, 4 July 2011

Reviewing Church of England policy on sexuality

Savi Hensman has written for Ekklesia about the recent statement by the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

The article is entitled Addressing sexuality truthfully in the Church of England.

The Church of England is to review its policies on sexuality. As in many other churches, there has been heated debate and deep hurt around this issue in the past. How can this controversial subject be tackled in a way that promotes greater understanding of one another and of God’s purposes?

Returning to the sexuality debate

On 1 July 2011, the Church of England’s House of Bishops issued ‘Civil partnerships and same-sex relationships’. By 2012, it will have reviewed its 2005 pastoral statement on civil partnerships. Until then, no clergy in such relationships will be considered as bishops. In 2013, it will issue a consultation document that examines human sexuality, in particular same-sex relationships, more generally.

Such a review is long overdue – the last major Church of England policy document on the subject, Issues in Human Sexuality, appeared two decades ago; and, even then, many thought it inadequate. (Indeed the main author, John Austin Baker, publicly changed his mind afterwards and eloquently made a theological case for accepting gay and lesbian partnerships.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 4 July 2011 at 2:33pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 2 July 2011

opinion

Richard Beck writes on his Experimental Theology blog about Tales of the Demonic.

The Guardian has a varied selection in its Comment is free section.
Gisela Raines An unexpectedly sacramental walk
On my pilgrimage from Seville, I found myself settling into a rhythm that nourished me long after I arrived in Santiago.
Alan Wilson The pope tweets – and not just about eggs benedict for breakfast
His holiness has beaten Rowan Williams on to Twitter. But can the infallible one learn to follow, as well as preach?
Karen Armstrong Bones, hairs and blood: relics that stretched pilgrims’ grasp of humanity
An understanding of the medieval cult of martyrs’ relics can help open our minds to the otherness of beliefs in today’s world.
Andrew Brown Sharia and the scare stories
The arguments about Islam put forward by Michael Nazir-Ali make it difficult to take him seriously

Maggi Dawn considers why women come late to ordination: vicars: old women and young men?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Light is not so fantastic in church.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 2 July 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Friday, 1 July 2011

media coverage of the HoB statement

Updated Sunday lunchtime

Church Times Ed Thornton House of Bishops will review same-sex relations

Associated Press Robert Barr Church of England bishops to review gay policies

Guardian Riazat Butt Bishops review approach to gay relationships and gay priests

ENS Matthew Davies ENGLAND: Bishops call for church review of civil partnerships, same-sex relationships

BBC Church to review same-sex relationships policy

Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones Church warned of split if it relaxes teaching on gay relationships

Anglican Mainstream Anglican Mainstream welcomes review of Bishops’ Guidelines on Civil Partnerships

We welcome the review of the Bishops’ Guidelines on Civil Partnerships, which we called for when they were first issued. We therefore are reissuing the statement we made then in 2005 and the letter to the House of Bishops signed by over 1700 church members.

Philip Giddings (Convenor) and Chris Sugden (Secretary) for Anglican Mainstream

‘CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS A PARODY OF MARRIAGE: BISHOPS MUST TAKE ACTION’ say many Anglicans

Civil partnerships are a parody of the marriage relationship which is God’s provision for human flourishing, say many Church of England Clergy and lay leaders. They consider the government’s Civil Partnership Act 2005 is deeply ambiguous about whether these partnerships are marriage or not…

Changing Attitude House of Bishops statement on civil partnerships and same-sex relationships

Thirteen years after the Lambeth Conference 1998 launched the listening process the House of Bishops has committed itself to a wider look at the Church of England’s approach to same-sex relationships more generally and will produce a consultation document in 2013.

The bishops intend to draw together material from the listening process which has been undertaken within the Church of England over the recent years and offer proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process.

I feel sorry for Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, to whom fell the lot of speaking on behalf of the House. So the House is going to spend two years producing a consultation document, and only in 2013 will they allow the rest of the Church to engage in ‘continuing discussion’.

The bishops are in disarray. Changing Attitude has been told this by a number of bishops. We know from personal experience that the bishops are in disarray. Some recommend for ministry lesbian and gay people who have contracted civil partnerships (and these people are not celibate). Some license lesbian and gay clergy who are in civil partnerships and some actively encourage them to enter civil partnerships. Other bishops are either ignorant of this practice or naïve…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 July 2011 at 7:51pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Discrimination against clergy in civil partnerships

Included in the statement issued just now by the House of Bishops is the following paragraph (emphasis added):

“Among the matters to be considered in the review of the 2005 Statement there is one of some importance which the House did not address in advance of any experience of civil partnerships. This is whether clergy who have registered civil partnerships should be eligible for nomination to the episcopate. The House has concluded that it would be wrong to pre-empt the outcome of the review and that clergy in civil partnerships should not at present, therefore, be nominated for episcopal appointment. The House’s intention is to complete the review, which will need to take account of the legal analysis set out in GS MISC 992 (Choosing Bishops - the Equality Act) during 2012.

As regular TA readers will be aware, the Church of England recently issued “a note on the Equality Act prepared by the Legal Office in connection with episcopal appointments for members of Crown Nominations Commissions and diocesan bishops and their Advisory Groups”. This is the document numbered GS Misc 992.

In connection with this, I wrote last week to Church House to ask some questions about GS Misc 992. One question was this:

Third, there is the issue of being in a civil partnership as a specific item to be taken into account. See paragraph 29, second bullet, and also see paragraph 20, where this is distinguished ( by the conjunction “or”) from “a requirement related to sexual orientation”.

These wordings suggest that the authors of the opinion believe it is permissible to discriminate against a person who is in a civil partnership even if none of the other items listed in the document are applicable. I am at a loss to understand the legal basis for such a position, unless all married candidates are to be similarly discriminated against.

I received this in reply:

This was a piece of legal advice and the Legal Office stand by it as an accurate piece of analysis of the Equality Act and its application to the Church. It was produced to help those appointing bishops understand what they are and are not entitled to take into account within the law. In particular the Equality Act is quite explicit in making it clear that religious organisations can, in certain carefully defined circumstances, discriminate on the grounds of someone being in a civil partnership. The note offers no policy or operational advice on what appointment panel should do.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 July 2011 at 12:25pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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House of Bishops statement on civil partnerships and same-sex relationships

Press release from the Church of England

Civil partnerships and same-sex relationships - a statement by the House of Bishops of the Church of England

The House of Bishops today issued a statement about the continuing debate within the Church of England about same-sex relationships. Speaking on behalf of the House, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said:

“Contrary to popular perception the House of Bishops has spent very little time over recent years discussing homosexuality. The last substantive engagement with the issue was in 2005 when the House agreed to issue a pastoral statement prepared by a group under my chairmanship on the implications of the introduction of civil partnerships. The House has now agreed that the time has come to commission two new pieces of work.

“First it has asked for a review of the 2005 statement in the light of subsequent developments. The review will include examination of whether priests in civil partnerships should be eligible for appointment as bishops. The 2005 statement was silent on this issue and, while the relevant legal background was analysed in a recently published Legal Office note, the House acknowledges its responsibility to address the policy issue. To avoid pre-empting the outcome of the review the House has concluded that clergy in civil partnerships should not, at present, be nominated for episcopal appointment. The review will be completed in 2012.

“Secondly, the House has committed itself to a wider look at the Church of England’s approach to same-sex relationships more generally in the light of the listening process launched by the Lambeth Conference in 1998. The Bishops will produce a consultation document in 2013. The House’s decision is motivated by a desire to help shape the continuing debate constructively and not by any view about what the outcome should be.”

The statement follows:

A Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England

“It is now nearly six years since the House issued its Pastoral Statement prior to the introduction of civil partnerships in December 2005. The preparation of that document was the last occasion when the House devoted substantial time to the issue of same sex relationships. We undertook to keep that Pastoral Statement under review. We have decided that the time has come for a review to take place.

“Over the past five and half years there have been several developments. Consistent with the guidelines in the Pastoral Statement a number of clergy are now in civil partnerships. The General Synod decided to amend the clergy pension scheme to improve the provision for the surviving civil partners of clergy who have died. More recently Parliament has decided that civil partnerships may be registered on religious premises where the relevant religious authority has consented (the necessary regulations are expected this autumn).

“The review will need to take account of this changing scene. The Pastoral Statement was not concerned with clergy alone but with the whole people of God. We recognise that bishops and clergy have found ways of engaging pastorally with those in civil partnerships, both at the time of registration and subsequently. Within the Anglican tradition our theological thinking is formed by a reasoned interpretation of Scripture, within the living tradition of the Church informed by pastoral experience. The House believes there is a theological task to be done to clarify further our understanding of the nature and status of these partnerships.

“These are the background issues for a review of the 2005 Statement. It will be undertaken in the context of the Church of England’s teaching on same sex relations as set out in the General Synod motion of November 1987 and Issues in Human Sexuality (a teaching statement from the House of Bishops in 1991). It will also be consistent with the approach taken by the Anglican Communion in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 and subsequently.

“Among the matters to be considered in the review of the 2005 Statement there is one of some importance which the House did not address in advance of any experience of civil partnerships. This is whether clergy who have registered civil partnerships should be eligible for nomination to the episcopate. The House has concluded that it would be wrong to pre-empt the outcome of the review and that clergy in civil partnerships should not at present, therefore, be nominated for episcopal appointment. The House’s intention is to complete the review, which will need to take account of the legal analysis set out in GS MISC 992 (Choosing Bishops - the Equality Act) during 2012.

“The House has also decided that more work is now needed on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality more generally. In February 2007, the General Synod passed a motion commending ‘continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.’

“Alongside the review of the 2005 Pastoral Statement, the House intends, therefore, to draw together material from the listening process which has been undertaken within the Church of England over the recent years in the light of the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution. The House wishes to offer proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process. Our intention is to produce a further consultation document in 2013.”

The statement has been issued to General Synod members today, as GS Misc 997E. It is available on the Church of England website at http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1289380/gsmisc997.pdf.

TA Footnote: the 2005 pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 July 2011 at 11:32am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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