Wednesday, 30 November 2011

more about the Church of Ireland and civil partnerships

See earlier reports via this link.

The four evangelical organisations, Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine Ireland and Reform Ireland have issued another letter.

Dear Archbishops and Bishops,

Thank you for your most recent Pastoral Letter to clergy of the Church of Ireland. We welcome its publication and thank you for the time spent with one another wrestling with the issues involved. Further, we look forward to the planned Spring conference of 2012 and wish to assure you of our prayers throughout this process.

The Pastoral letter states that the purpose of the Conference will be threefold. First, to discuss the content of the letter itself. Second, to assist the church in becoming more fully informed. Third, to explore wider issues in relation to human sexuality. Further, the letter commends study in biblical, theological and legal issues before and after the Conference, confirms that members of Synod and ‘some others’ will be invited to attend, and envisages that the Conference will not be an end in itself. We wish to assist this process by addressing each of these areas in as constructive a manner as possible, making observations, suggestions, and raising some questions…

Read the full letter: Joint Evangelical response to Bishops’ Letter.

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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Archbishop gives evidence on House of Lords reform plan

Updated again Sunday 4 December

The Archbishop of Canterbury appeared yesterday evening before the Joint Committee on the House of Lords Reform Bill.

The draft bill, together with explanatory notes, is available here (PDF).

There is also a House of Lords Library research note on Religious Representation (PDF).

This Library Note provides background information on the role of Bishops in the second chamber, and in the context of the Government’s proposals for reform of the House, it examines arguments made both in favour and against their continued membership. The Note then considers further issues arising from the Government’s proposals, as well as arguments made regarding the formal representation of other denominations or faiths in Parliament.

The written evidence previously submitted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and York is over here (PDF).

Parliament TV has archived its video coverage of the session.

Update A transcript is now available as a PDF file: Draft House of Lords Reform Bill - uncorrected oral evidence from: The Archbishop of Canterbury, THEOS, and the British Humanist Association.

News reports concentrated on one aspect of his remarks:

Telegraph Martin Beckford Archbishop of Canterbury backs ‘fast-tracking’ women bishops to Lords

Guardian Riazat Butt Rowan Williams urges fast-tracking of women bishops to Lords

The same session also heard from Theos and the British Humanist Association. The former submitted this written evidence (.doc file). The latter has published this: Church and humanists clash over Bishops in parliament.

Update
Nelson Jones at the New Statesman has written A very British anomaly.

…In what was perhaps his most audacious comment in favour of the status quo, Rowan Williams suggested that for him and his fellow prelates to be ejected from a reformed second chamber (something that doesn’t form part of the present reform proposals) “would be to send a signal that the voice of faith is not welcomed” in the legislative process. It would represent, in other words, not just a snub to the Church of England but for religion as a whole.

But that’s nonsense. In no other democracy would such a confusion of religious leadership and law-making even be imagined. Bishops, and other faith leaders, play a valuable and significant role in society. So do members of both houses of Parliament. But it is in no sense the same job. Taking bishops out of the House of Lords would free them to devote more time to their diocesan responsibilities; to become better bishops. Sometimes the only thing to do with an historical anomaly is to end it.

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Bishop of South Carolina cleared by Disciplinary Board

Updated Tuesday evening

A Statement by the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops
Regarding the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
from here.

On November 22, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops met via conference call to consider whether, based on information previously submitted to the Board by lay communicants and a priest of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Bishop of that Diocese, the Right Rev’d Mark Lawrence, has abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church.

Based on the information before it, the Board was unable to make the conclusions essential to a certification that Bishop Lawrence had abandoned the communion of the Church. I have today communicated the Board’s action to Bishop Lawrence by telephone, to be followed by an e-mail copy of this statement.

The abandonment canon (Title IV, Canon16) is quite specific, designating only three courses of action by which a Bishop is to be found to have abandoned the church: first, “by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church”; second, “by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with” the Church; and, third, “by exercising Episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the Church or another church in communion with the Church, so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as the Church holds them, or to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in the Church….” Applied strictly to the information under study, none of these three provisions was deemed applicable by a majority of the Board.

A basic question the Board faced was whether actions by conventions of the Diocese of South Carolina, though they seem—I repeat, seem—to be pointing toward abandonment of the Church and its discipline by the diocese, and even though supported by the Bishop, constitute abandonment by the Bishop. A majority of the members of the Board was unable to conclude that they do.

It is also significant that Bishop Lawrence has repeatedly stated that he does not intend to lead the diocese out of The Episcopal Church—that he only seeks a safe place within the Church to live the Christian faith as that diocese perceives it. I speak for myself only at this point, that I presently take the Bishop at his word, and hope that the safety he seeks for the apparent majority in his diocese within the larger Church will become the model for safety—a “safe place”—for those under his episcopal care who do not agree with the actions of South Carolina’s convention and/or his position on some of the issues of the Church.

The Right Rev’d Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr.
President, Disciplinary Board for Bishops

For extensive background on this case, see ENS Disciplinary Board dismisses abandonment complaint against South Carolina bishop by Mary Frances Schjonberg

…Lawrence told the diocese Oct. 5 that he was being investigated for abandonment. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the House of Bishops were not involved in making the claims, Henderson said at the time via a “fact sheet.”

The package of documents alleging his abandonment of the church that Lawrence said he received Sept. 29 from Henderson, is posted here on the diocese’s website. The documents contained 12 allegations of when Lawrence’s “actions and inactions” sought to abandon the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church…

And an earlier ENS report is: South Carolina bishop investigated on charges he has abandoned the Episcopal Church.

Doug LeBlanc recently interviewed Bishop Lawrence for the Living Church, see ‘The Bishop Brings the Crozier’.

Update Tuesday evening
The following has been published on the diocesan website: Bishop Lawrence Writes to the Diocese About Disciplinary Board Decision.

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Monday, 28 November 2011

Registering civil partnerships in CofE churches

Earlier, we reported on the outcome of the government consultation on allowing civil partnerships to be registered on religious premises. In particular we noted that a statement had been issued to the press (not a press release) which said:

“…The Church of England has no intention of allowing Civil Partnerships to be registered in its churches.”

In June, in evidence to the consultation, the Church of England had said:

“…In the case of the Church of England that would mean that its churches would not be able to become approved premises for the registration of civil partnerships until and unless the General Synod had first decided as a matter of policy that that should be possible.”

Changing Attitude has questioned the accuracy of that press statement Changing Attitude questions whether the C of E has made a decision not to opt in to CPs in church.

…William Fittall says the Church of England has no intention of allowing civil partnerships to be registered in our churches because it would be inconsistent with the 2005 statement from the House of Bishops.

He is of course right when he says that he and his colleagues are expected to have regard to official reports, resolutions and decisions of authoritative bodies within the Church. Therefore, the matter is not entirely open as we implied. He gently reprimands us for suggesting that anyone at Church House might turn their personal opinions into official statements, thus questioning the professionalism of the staff team.

His general point that different bodies exercise authority in different areas is true – they do. The question we raise is whether or not they should or if they have the authority to do so. The Archbishops’ Council has been given a great deal of executive authority but we are not sure they have the authority to determine policy issues like this. Mr Fittall’s basic premise is that the Church of England will not opt in to CPs in church as it would be inconsistent with the House of Bishops’ statement, 2005. As a prediction this may be accurate but we maintain it is for General Synod to decide, and the matter has not yet been put to Synod…

The House of Bishops Pastoral Statement in 2005 did not of course contemplate the possibility of registration of civil partnerships on religious premises since at the time that was forbidden by civil law. What it said was:

…the House of Bishops affirms that clergy of the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.

Much more recently the House of Bishops issued this statement, announcing a review of the pastoral statement.

“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…”

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Saturday, 26 November 2011

opinion on the eve of Advent

The Huffington Post has two articles for Advent.
Matthew L Skinner: Mark 13:24-37: Advent — One of Those Dangerous Religious Ideas
Cindi Love: Advent: Slippery Slope of Christendom

Adam Stadtmiller writes for Church Marketing Sucks about The Epic-Fail of Church Announcements.

Savitri Hensman writes for The Guardian about Worshipping money – the new faith sweeping England today.

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Friday, 25 November 2011

Church Commissioners' Parliamentary Questions: 24/11/11

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, answered eight Oral and one Written Parliamentary Questions yesterday (24 November) covering civil partnerships, metal theft, Pakistan, tourism, foodbanks, the Olympics, women bishops, St Paul’s Cathedral and engaging local communities.

We have already quoted the question and answers on civil partnerships.

Another question was on Women and the Episcopacy

The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What assessment the Church Commissioners made of the number of dioceses which have voted in favour of the proposed legislation on women and the episcopacy.

Tony Baldry: The result of the reference of the draft legislation to the dioceses was that out of a total of 44 dioceses, 42 approved of women and the episcopacy.

Diana Johnson: How will the exceptional level of support from both the laity and the clergy be reflected in the passage of the legislation through the House?

Tony Baldry: I think that it is clear that there is overwhelming support for women bishops. The outcome of the recent vote in the dioceses will be reported formally to the General Synod in February, following which it will be asked to approve any necessary final adjustments to the drafting of the legislation. I certainly hope that during the lifetime of this Parliament it will be possible for me to bring forward a Measure to the House so that we can approve women bishops in the Church of England.

All the questions are available in the House of Commons Hansard.
oral questions
oral questions - continued
written question

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Danish church moves ahead with same-sex weddings

The Copenhagen Post reports: Church weddings for gays proposed.

Homosexual church marriages could become a reality by next summer if a bill giving them equal status with heterosexual unions passes parliament.
“It’s historic, it’s the biggest thing since female ministers were allowed in the Folkekirken,” Manu Sareen (Radikale), the church and equality minister, told the media today.

After years of opposition to granting homosexual unions the same status as heterosexual unions, Folkekirken bishops are developing a new wedding rite that will enable vicars to wed homosexuals.

“I think that most people in the Folkekirken are happy that there is finally a political decision on which way to proceed,” the bishop of Copenhagen, Peter Skov-Jakobsen, told Politiken.

“But I also think there are some people who will be disappointed that the distinction between marriage and partnership will disappear.”

An earlier newspaper report is here: Minister: Gay weddings by next year.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark has an English website. It signed the Porvoo Agreement in October 2010.

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Green Pilgrimage Network launched

The Alliance of Religions and Conservation has announced the launch of the Green Pilgrimage Network.

See press release: Green Pilgrimage Network launches with joy, hope, faith and practical plans.

Founder members of the Green Pilgrimage Network include:

Amritsar, India (for Sikhs);
Assisi, Italy (Roman Catholic);
Etchmiadzin, Armenia (Armenian Orthodox);
Haifa, Israel (Bahà’ì);
Jerusalem (for Jews, Christians and Muslims);
Jinja Honcho, the Association of Shinto shrines in Japan;
Kano, Nigeria (Islam’s Qadiriyyah Sufi tradition);
Louguan in the People’s Republic of China (Daoists);
St Albans, England (Church of England);
Luss, Loch Lomond, Scotland (Church of Scotland);
St Pishoy Monastery, Wadi El Natroun, Egypt (the Coptic Orthodox Church);
Trondheim, Norway (Lutheran Church of Norway).

The involvement of St Albans was announced here: St Albans Cathedral and City become founder members of international Green Pilgrimage Network and also here: Green Pilgrimage Network launched in Assisi, Italy.

There are some interesting figures on the scale of religious pilgrimages here.

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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Civil partnerships on religious premises: developments

Updated Thursday evening

See earlier report here.

The draft regulations were laid before Parliament on 8 November:

The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 or available here as a PDF.

And there is an explanatory memorandum (PDF only).

Last weekend, the Independent reported Tory peers to rebel on civil partnerships in churches.

Conservative peers in the House of Lords are attempting to scupper plans to allow same-sex couples to hold civil partnerships in churches.

Under regulations drawn up by ministers, religious denominations would be allowed to open their doors to same-sex couples in the new year. But the move is now being opposed by Tory peers, led by Baroness O’Cathain, pictured,who argue that the new law would not properly protect faith groups from being “compelled” to register civil partnerships against their beliefs.

Government whips are confident that the measure will pass but Downing Street will be embarrassed at the sight of Tory peers rebelling against government equality legislation…

Today, the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee published a report (also available as a PDF) which deals with these regulations. The substance of what it says is below the fold.

Several related documents are also published by the committee:

Opinion by Mark Hill QC

Evangelical Alliance submission

Christian Institute submission

‘CARE’ submission.

Thursday evening update

Also today, in the House of Commons the following exchange took place:

Church Commissioners

The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Civil Partnerships
1. Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What the authority is for the policy of the Church of England that services of blessing should not be conducted in church premises for those who register civil partnerships. [82259]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): In its pastoral statement of July 2005, the House of Bishops affirmed that clergy of the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership. The Church of England’s response to the Government’s consultation document on civil partnerships on religious premises, which was produced earlier this year, reflected that policy and was approved by the Archbishops Council and by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops.

Mr Bradshaw: I am grateful for that reply. Given that when the law changes to allow civil partnerships to be conducted on religious premises many Church of England priests and parishes will want to conduct such ceremonies, would it not be better for the Church of England to do what it did when it first allowed the remarriage of divorcees in church, and allow individual priests and parishes to make the decision?

Tony Baldry: In fairness, I would contend that the Church of England, led by its bishops, has to be free to determine its own stance on matters of doctrine and ethics. The Government have said that the new option to register civil partnerships in places of worship must be entirely voluntary. That means that those who think that the Church of England should opt in need to win the argument within the Church.

What the House of Lords committee said:

This instrument is drawn to the special attention of the House on the grounds that it gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.

1. The Equality Act 2010 (“the 2010 Act”) amended the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to remove the prohibition on religious premises being approved for the registration of civil partnerships. The framework for the approval of premises for marriages and civil partnership registrations is set out in the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005 (“the 2005 Regulations”). These Regulations amend the 2005 Regulations and establish the procedure for religious premises to be approved for civil partnership registrations (but not civil marriages).

2. The Explanatory Memorandum (“EM”) says that the provision in the 2010 Act is entirely permissive and religious organisations will not be obliged to host civil partnership registrations if they do not wish to do so (EM paragraph 7.2).

3. The Government ran a public consultation on the proposal which closed on 23 June 2011 and received 1,617 responses (EM paragraph 8.1). The EM says the majority of the responses were objecting to the introduction of this proposal on principle rather than focussing on the detail of the consultation which was the practical arrangements to put in place the changes to the approved premises scheme (EM paragraph 8.2).

4. The Committee has been made aware of an opinion prepared by Mark Hill QC on the Regulations and this has been made available on the Committee’s website. The Committee has also received submissions from the ‘Evangelical Alliance’, ‘The Christian Institute’ and ‘CARE’ which raise a number of concerns about the instrument, in particular whether it will achieve its intended purpose. These too are available on the website. The concerns raised by ‘Evangelical Alliance’ include:

  • Many independent churches operate in buildings they do not own, and officials for such a denomination may try to register all its premises, leaving evangelical ministers in a very difficult position; and
  • If a church itself is registered but the minister or congregation refuses to host a particular civil partnership, they are vulnerable to legal action by the couple concerned.

The concerns raised by ‘The Christian Institute’ include:

  • That the Regulations do not offer sufficient legal protection to churches that do not wish to host civil partnerships;
  • Combined with the public sector equality duty, the Regulations raise the prospect of churches being refused the right to register marriages at all, if they will not also register civil partnerships; and
  • The complexities of the different types of church structure are not properly accounted for in the Regulations.

5. ‘CARE’ argue that the Regulations do not achieve the stated purpose of advancing religious liberty by enabling places of worship that do wish to host civil partnerships to do so, whilst not obliging any place of worship that does not wish to host civil partnerships to do so.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

WATCH comments on diocesan voting for women bishops

press release from Women and the Church (WATCH)

Women Bishops Legislation
Overwhelming support for the draft Measure:
“Follow on Motions” confirm the Dioceses’ desire for draft legislation to be passed unamended by General Synod in July

Background
General Synod has just consulted the dioceses on new legislation (a Measure and amending Canon) which would allow women to become bishops for the first time in the Church of England. This legislation outlined a scheme of delegation so that people who could not accept the ministry of a female bishop would have alternative provision – any parish can request a male priest or the oversight of a male bishop.
Such a scheme is a major compromise for many who are in favour of consecrating women as bishops and has been supported by many of them as a way of keeping the Church together.

Overwhelming support for the draft Measure
Of the 44 Dioceses which considered this, 42 voted for it and just two against with the overall majority of votes exceeding three-quarters. Overall 85% bishops, 76% clergy and 77% laity have said ‘yes’.
This is significantly better than the Diocesan voting in 1992 for the legislation allowing women to become priests, and is well clear of the two thirds majority required in General Synod for the legislation to pass.

‘Follow On Motions’
Alongside the main legislation 42 of the 44 Dioceses considered motions which would request consideration of additional provision for those opposed to the ministry of women as bishops.
9 of the 42 Dioceses passed such motions, while 33 did not. The two dioceses where this was not tested were amongst the strongest in favour of the main legislation with majorities of over 90% in favour.
Fewer than 25% of the dioceses therefore made requests for further provision, and even if the figure of a quarter advanced by some commentators were true, it would be below the one third figure which would be required to block the legislation in General Synod.
The failure to meet even that one third threshhold (let alone a majority) is also indicated by the overall voting figures on the motions for alternative provision.

Conclusion
The overall picture is clear. The Measure and Amending Canon on which General Synod consulted the dioceses were supported in the vast majority of dioceses with large majorities.
The case for an alternative approach was extensively tested, and fell well short of a majority, passing in just 9 Dioceses out of 44.
The case for changing the legislation has been put, considered, and lost in the Dioceses. The current legislation with its clear scheme of provision by delegation should be taken forward and passed so that we can, at last, have women as bishops in our Church.

Hilary Cotton, Head of Campaign said,
“The clear message from the Dioceses is: this is the right way forward. It would be very puzzling for the House of Bishops to amend the legislation in the face of such overwhelming endorsement from the Church at large. It would also seem dismissive of the ordinary Church of England membership if General Synod members chose to vote against such large majority opinion next July”.

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Catholic Group comments on diocesan voting for women bishops

press release from The Catholic Group in General Synod

Women Bishops Legislation

A quarter of Church of England Dioceses vote for proper provision for traditionalists

While Dioceses showed overall support for women bishops, a quarter of Dioceses voted for proper provision to be made for those who are unable in conscience to accept the oversight of women bishops. This figure is highly significant, given the need for a two-thirds majority for the legislation in all three Houses of General Synod; put bluntly, the legislation needs to be amended if its safe passage through the Synod is to be guaranteed.

The legislation as currently drafted provides neither for conservative Catholics in the Church of England, who need bishops and priests ordained by male bishops, nor for conservative Evangelicals who could not accept the oversight of a woman bishop on scriptural grounds. It relies on a Code of Practice to fill out its provisions – a draft of the Code will be discussed by the House of Bishops in December, and by the General Synod in February. General Synod members will want to scrutinise the draft Code carefully to see how the draft legislation is seen as working in practice, and whether it provides fairly and graciously for the significant minority of traditionalists.

It is likely that the February Synod will also debate a motion calling on the House of Bishops to exercise its powers to amend the Measure in the manner of the amendment jointly proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in July 2010 – an amendment which commanded an overall majority of the Synod at the time, and could have gone a long way to meeting the needs of traditionalists.

40% of the members of the current Synod are new; it is vital that they have the opportunity to consider these issues properly before the Synod comes to the Final Approval vote in July 2012. Members of the current Synod have already expressed their disquiet on legislation passed by the previous Synod, when they took the unprecedented step last July of refusing to approve a new Parochial Fees Order made under legislation passed by the previous Synod – effectively blocking implementation of that legislation.

Canon Simon Killwick, Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, said, “Final Approval of the current draft Women Bishops legislation is not a foregone conclusion; the best way to secure its safe passage would be to amend it to provide properly for traditionalists; modest amendment of the legislation, together with a suitably drafted Code of Practice could yet enable the Church of England to move forward together on women bishops in 2012. Failure to amend the legislation could result in the failure of the legislation at Final Approval, which would delay the introduction of women bishops for many years to come.”

The Catholic Group in General Synod is the voice of conservative Catholic Anglicans on the General Synod. We include bishops, clergy and lay people among our members, and represent members of the Church of England, male and female, lay and ordained, who hold to the faith and order of the undivided Church, a conviction shared with many other Anglicans worldwide, and with the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

CofE body says 'no' to UK Bill of Rights proposals

The Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England has issued its Response to the Discussion Paper from the Commission on a UK Bill of Rights.

Press release.

Offering a clear “no” in answer to the question, “Do we need a UK Bill of Rights?”, the response goes on to argue that a UK Bill of Rights would either re-state the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, in which case it would be superfluous, or would add to them, in which case the additional rights and obligations would not be binding in the same sense as the Convention and their status in UK law would be unclear.

If on the other hand the Bill attempted to restrict or abolish Convention rights, it would be incompatible with the UK’s international obligations, the response argues; it is also unclear what specific additional rights would be included in a UK Bill.

The response comments that the parties in the coalition Government have diametrically opposed attitudes to human rights, and therefore the proposal does not offer a coherent basis for legislating on such an important subject.

Then the response offers five considerations in answer to the question “Having regard to our terms of reference, are there any other views which you would like to put forward at this stage?”. One point suggests that “some of the concerns driving the demand for a UK Bill of Rights would be met by appropriate reforms of the operation of the European Court of Human Rights”, the final point adding: “A better way forward might be increased use by the European Court of the ‘margin of appreciation’, whereby variations in the application of the Convention are allowed in view of the diverse history, traditions and institutions of different states.”

Full response (only four pages, but a PDF).

The Mission & Public Affairs Council of the Church of England is the body responsible for overseeing research and comment on social and political issues on behalf of the Church. The Council comprises a representative group of bishops, clergy and lay people with interest and expertise in the relevant areas, and reports to the General Synod through the Archbishops’ Council.

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Sunday, 20 November 2011

18 CofE bishops criticise government welfare cuts

The following letter has been published in Sunday’s Observer newspaper:

The introduction of a cap on benefits, as suggested in the Welfare Reform Bill, could push some of the most vulnerable children in the country into severe poverty. While 70,000 adults are likely to be affected by the cap, the Children’s Society has found that it is going to cut support for an estimated 210,000 children, leaving as many as 80,000 homeless. The Church of England has a commitment and moral obligation to speak up for those who have no voice. As such, we feel compelled to speak for children who might be faced with severe poverty and potentially homelessness, as a result of the choices or circumstances of their parents. Such an impact is profoundly unjust.

We are urging the government to consider some of the options offered by the Children’s Society before the bill is passed into legislation, such as removing child benefit from household income for the purposes of calculating the level of the cap and calculating the level of the cap based on earnings of families with children, rather than all households. The government could also consider removing certain vulnerable groups from the cap and the introduction of a significant “grace period” of exemption from the cap for households which have recently left employment.

The Bishops of Bath & Wells, Blackburn, Bristol, Chichester, Derby, Exeter, Gloucester, Guildford, Leicester, Lichfield, London, Manchester, Norwich, Oxford, Ripon and Leeds, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Wakefield and Truro

In the accompanying news story, Archbishop Rowan Williams backs revolt against coalition’s welfare cuts it is reported that:

…Eighteen Church of England bishops, backed by Williams and the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, are demanding that ministers rewrite their flagship plan to impose a £500-a-week benefit cap on families.

In an open letter in Observer, they say the Church of England has a “moral obligation to speak up for those who have no voice”. Their message is that the cap could be “profoundly unjust” to the poorest children in society, especially those in larger families and those living in expensive major cities.

The high-profile intervention comes after the Church of England became embroiled in an embarrassing row over its attitude to anti-capitalist protests outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London. One cleric resigned over plans to evict the protesters forcibly, arguing that the Church should have been more supportive of their cause.

The bishops are calling on ministers to back a series of amendments to the welfare reform bill – due to be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow – that have been tabled by the bishop of Leeds and Ripon, John Packer.

A spokesman at Lambeth Palace said Williams was fully behind the bishops’ initiative. “As a president of the Children’s Society the archbishop fully supports the proposed amendments to the welfare reform bill.”

Sentamu also threw his weight behind the changes. “I hope that the government will listen to the concerns being raised and ensure that children, especially the most vulnerable, are protected from cuts to family benefits.”

And the newspaper has published an editorial article in support: The welfare state: the social glue that binds us must be preserved.

Here’s the original analysis by the Children’s Society to the capping proposal: More than 200,000 children to be biggest “losers” of Benefit Cap.

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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Bishop of London issues pastoral letter to clergy

The Bishop of London has issued this pastoral letter: Do this in remembrance of me.

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of London on the Eucharistic Life of the Church in London

A PDF version is available here.

His comments on the Ordinariate and the use of Roman liturgical texts by Anglicans in London are copied below the fold. The following excerpt is addressed primarily to other parts of the diocese:

Our liturgy is one which arises from the command of Jesus Christ, “Do this in remembrance of me” not in order to build a temple made with hands but to build his body which the gospel writers say has replaced the physical temple.

It follows from all this that obeying his command is an integral part of Christian discipleship. In this context there are a number of aspects of our own church life which deserve urgent consideration at the present time.

In some parts of our church it can appear that the service of Holy Communion is an appendix to services of the Word and not accorded the central significance which the express command of Jesus would seem to warrant. The reformers of our own church, Cranmer and Ridley [as Bishop of London] desired more frequent communion than was the practice in the late mediaeval Western church. Calvin also commends weekly eucharistic practice in his Institutes [IV: xvii. 46], “At least once in every week the table of the Lord ought to have been spread before each congregation of Christians.”

Despite the teaching of the early Reformers their intention was overtaken later in the 16th century by a near exclusive focus in some parts of the church on the ministry of the Word.

The recent conclusion of more than twenty years work has resulted in a wealth of provision for celebrating the liturgy. Styles will differ in tune with the culture of different parishes and communities and provision has been made for rich variety but there should be a common core and not least our celebrations of the Eucharist on Sunday, the Day of Resurrection.

On the Ordinariate and the Roman Rite:

Our part of the Church is not alone in having spent a great deal of effort on liturgical reform. At Advent, our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church will be required to use new liturgical texts. We can always learn from the example of other members of the Christian community and indeed our own liturgy has been reformed by reference to the testimony and practices of the Church of the first centuries.

In former times before the liturgies of our Church had fully recovered these early forms, some of our priests adopted the Roman rite as a sign of fidelity to the ancient common tradition and an expression of our unity in Christ. At best their intention was to contribute to the recovery of a tradition which is both Catholic and Reformed, while pointing the way to the liturgical convergence we now enjoy, not least through the work of the international English Language Liturgical Consultation. They also recognised the proper place in the liturgy of prayer for leaders in the world wide church in addition to our own Archbishop. This is especially true of the Pope, who is undeniably the Patriarch of the West and as head of the Roman Catholic Church is charged with awesome pastoral and missionary responsibilities.

Much has been achieved and the debates of previous generations have influenced the Church’s liturgical practice and contributed to a convergence of eucharistic doctrine and rites. So it is with some dismay that I have learned of the intentions of some clergy in the Diocese to follow instructions which have been addressed to the Roman Catholic Church and to adopt the new Roman eucharistic rites at Advent.

The Pope has recently issued an invitation to Anglicans to move into full communion with the See of Rome in the Ordinariate where it is possible to enjoy the “Anglican patrimony” as full members of the Roman Catholic Church. Three priests in the Diocese have taken this step. They have followed their consciences.

For those who remain there can be no logic in the claim to be offering the Eucharist in communion with the Roman Church which the adoption of the new rites would imply. In these rites there is not only a prayer for the Pope but the expression of a communion with him; a communion Pope Benedict XVI would certainly repudiate.

At the same time rather than building on the hard won convergence of liturgical texts, the new Roman rite varies considerably from its predecessor and thus from Common Worship as well. The rationale for the changes is that the revised texts represent a more faithful translation of the Latin originals and are a return to more traditional language.

Priests and parishes which do adopt the new rites – with their marked divergences from the ELLC texts and in the altered circumstances created by the Pope’s invitation to Anglicans to join the Ordinariate – are making a clear statement of their disassociation not only from the Church of England but from the Roman Communion as well. This is a pastoral unkindness to the laity and a serious canonical matter. The clergy involved have sworn oaths of canonical obedience as well as making their Declaration of Assent. I urge them not to create further disunity by adopting the new rites.

There will be no persecution and no creation of ritual martyrs but at the same time there will be no opportunity to claim that the Bishop’s directions have been unclear. All the bishops of the Diocese when visiting parishes will celebrate according to the rites of the Church of England allowing for permitted local variations under Canon B5.

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Truro diocese rejects Anglican Covenant

Updated

The Diocese of Truro voted today on the Anglican Covenant, and rejected it.

According to our correspondent, the voting was over two-thirds against it in both houses. We will report the actual figures as soon as we can.

Update (very belatedly)

Bishops: For: 0 Against: 1 Abstentions: 0
Clergy: For: 5 Against: 18 Abstentions: 3
Laity: For: 8 Against: 28 Abstentions: 3

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Birmingham diocese rejects Anglican Covenant

The Diocese of Birmingham voted today on the Anglican Covenant, and rejected it.

According to our correspondent, the voting was:

Bishops 1 for. (Suffragan bishop absent).

Clergy 17 for, 17 against, 1 abstention.

Laity 12 for, 25 against, 1 abstention.

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opinion

Bishop Pete Broadbent has written about what he means by Open Evangelicalism.

Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times that Holiness is steeped in the messy reality of life.

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon earlier this week: Archbishop’s sermon at Westminster Abbey - 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Mark Vernon writes for The Guardian that To be truly compassionate you need to be kind to yourself.

In the summer of 2011, a survey was conducted by 3D Coaching inviting clergy of all denominations to give feedback on their experience of being interviewed for a role as a minister during the last 3 years. The results are available for download: How to Make Great Appointments Survey Results. In an article now available to non-subscribers the Church Times reports this as Parish profiles do not match up to the job, say clerics.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 November 2011

The Divine Commonwealth Conference

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) organised this event. See the press release, DIVCCON: CELEBRATING OUR DIVINE COMMONWEALTH.

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) takes another stride with the introduction of Divine Commonwealth Conference (DIVCCON). At a time when the revisionist agenda is ravaging some parts of the global Global Anglican Communion, and we are confronted at home with compromises and shallowness in many aspects, we see this as the time to return to our roots by defending the ancient landmark (Proverbs 22:28) which was built on the ministries of the apostles and focused on Christ as the Biblical story and the cornerstone of our faith…

The conference which has this website, has the full text of many of the talks here.

It has also issued this proclamation:

CONFERENCE STATEMENT
From the first Divine Commonwealth Conference
Held at the National Christian Center, Abuja, Nigeria
7th – 11th, November 2011

In the name of God: the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The first Divine Commonwealth Conference was held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, from Monday 7th to Friday 11th November 2011. It was an international, non-denominational spiritual conference initiated by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) under the leadership of the Most Reverend Nicholas D. Okoh, Primate.

We, the participants, numbering over 5,000 Bishops, Clergy and Laity, deeply appreciated words of encouragement and goodwill from notable leaders from Nigeria, other parts of Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, including the retired Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Primates of West Africa and Kenya, the Methodist Archbishop of Abuja and the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God…

For the full text download this PDF file. It is also available on various other websites including here.

It includes the following:

10) We are convinced that no community without the living God at its centre is a true Commonwealth. Neither is a “Commonwealth of Nations” a true commonwealth if it does not stand for righteousness. In this regard, we were shocked by the recent statement from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Right Honourable David Cameron, to the effect that his Government would aid only those countries that adhere to “proper human rights”. It is clear that his true agenda is to force the normalization of homosexuality and gay marriage as a human right”. While acknowledging the sacred worth of every human being we reject this erroneous notion as contrary to God’s intention for humankind and harmful to those he claims to protect. Another implication of this is that the “Commonwealth of Nations” is still being treated as a body of unequal partners, where, because of economic status, some nations are still vulnerable to manipulation. We urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to resist any such intimidation on this matter.

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More on the protesters at St Paul's

Updated Friday 25 November

The Chapter issued this statement on Wednesday:

The Chapter of St Paul’s met today (16 November) and issued the following statement

We are committed to maintaining St Paul’s as a sacred space in the heart of London and we are enormously grateful to all Cathedral staff for meeting the challenges of recent weeks.
We recognise the local authority’s statutory right to proceed with the action it has today.
We have always desired a peaceful resolution and the Canons will continue to hold regular meetings with representative of the protesters.
We remain committed to continuing and developing the agenda on some of the important issues raised by the protest.

Ed Beavan at the Church Times reports today that St Paul’s stays cool as City turns up heat.

Peter Walker and Riazat Butt report in the Guardian that Occupy London: business as usual as eviction deadline passes.

Meanwhile, Giles Fraser also writes for the Guardian that Occupy St Paul’s: no church should insulate itself from raw human need.

And there is a helpful backgrounder on the legal issues by Giles Pinker, see Bid to evict Occupy London is just the start of legal wrangling.

Once again, here is last week’s Church Times press column by Andrew Brown on the coverage of this story, including an explanation of the term “reverse ferret”.

And Christopher Landau wrote about How to stop being a media victim. The fact that Rob Marshall has strongly attacked this article today in the letters to the editor (to which only subscribers have access until next week) should make you want to read it.
Update this letter from Rob Marshall is now available: St Paul’s Cathedral: a PR adviser’s response to criticism, and further reflections. See what you think.

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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Anglican Covenant: several recent views

Michael Poon recently wrote an article for the Living Church titled Rebooting Anglican Communication.

In whatever ways we justify and reinterpret the Communion instruments of the Anglican Communion, it is clear the instruments no longer unite Anglican churches worldwide. Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings have become obstacles rather than means of healing the Communion’s wounds.

The reasons are clear. The Anglican Communion itself, understood as a Christian World Communion alongside the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other families of churches, is a novel idea in the post-Western missionary era. The instruments emerged in haphazard ways amid the devolution of metropolitan authorities from Canterbury and New York to churches in the southern continents. To be sure, they were useful to connect churches with one another in years surrounding the independence of the southern churches.

They have now become part of the problem, and have lost their legitimacy in the new conditions of the new century. For one, international conferences are expensive exercises, which are hardly sustainable in present-day economic conditions. More important, there is a worrying disconnect between what happens at Communion levels and what occurs at local levels. The faithful in their parishes are expected to remain loyal Anglicans week in and week out. To them, the Anglican disputes are irrelevant. Many of them perhaps have not heard about the Anglican Communion Covenant. Churches of weaker numerical strength and in more fragile conditions are sidelined as well in a high-stakes and wasting religious war….

Tobias Haller has published the text of a talk he recently gave, entitled Anglican Disunion: The Issues Behind “the Issue”.

…Let me first say a word or two about where I don’t think we find our identity. And that, ironically, is in the very “Instruments of Communion” which the Proposed Anglican Covenant appears to wish to install at the center of our ecclesiastical life.

The Windsor Report called them “instruments of unity,” which is not a little blasphemous since our unity is in Christ. But those instruments don’t in any case seem to have had the effect of improving unity. The four are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates’ Meeting. These are all relatively recent entities not only in Christianity but even among Anglicans.

Obviously the Archbishop of Canterbury has been around since the late sixth century, But the office only began to function as anything like a voice in a “communion” with the beginnings of that “communion” when the Episcopal Church became an independent entity in 1785-89…

…It was not until 1867 that the first Lambeth Conference was called, largely to deal with problems in the by then much more widely dispersed collection of provinces in the Anglican family. It was a full century after that, in 1968, that the Anglican Consultative Council, a representative body including for the first time laity and clergy as well as bishops, was created. Ten years later, in 1978, the Primates of the Communion gathered for the first time as a separate body.

Obviously these entities can hardly be held to be either “foundational” or “essential” or “definitional” of what it means to be the Anglican Communion, which appears to have gotten on well enough without them for much of its life. Yet since the Windsor Report they have loomed rather larger in the picture. And the pressure towards a single unified body has taken form in the Proposed Anglican Covenant.

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia has just published an article titled A clearer, less divisive Anglican Covenant?

Attempts to bring in an Anglican Covenant which can be used to define Anglicanismand discipline member churches have run into difficulties.

Many are uneasy with this development. In November 2011, it became apparent that the province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia would reject it.

In the words of a diocesan resolution, one of its clauses contains ‘provisions which are contrary to our understanding of Anglican ecclesiology, to our understanding of the way of Christ, and to justice’.

Perhaps it is time to abandon such efforts and build on the foundations laid six years ago by the Anglican Consultative Council, when it agreed a very different Covenant for Communion in Mission…

Meanwhile, Fulcrum published A Churchgoer’s Guide to the Anglican Communion Covenant.

The whole Anglican Communion is considering whether to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant. All Church of England dioceses and many deaneries are discussing it in coming months before it returns to General Synod in 2012. Fulcrum has consistently supported the covenant but is aware that there is little accessible material explaining it. As a result, many people are relatively uninformed or are being misinformed about it and its significance by some opponents. We have therefore produced this short briefing paper which answers some common questions and provides ten reasons to support the Covenant…

This prompted the No Anglican Covenant Coalition to publish: A Detailed Response to Fulcrum.

Recently, Fulcrum, an English Evangelical organization, issued a document offering ten points allegedly explaining why Evangelical Christians should support the adoption of the Covenant. The No Anglican Covenant Coalition (NACC) has published below a brief overview of why the ten points are inadequate reasons for Evangelicals to support the adoption. In this document we offer point-by-point refutation…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 9:40am GMT | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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The St Paul's protesters: new developments

On Monday, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke at the annual Lord Mayor of London’s Banquet. The full text of his speech is available here.

This was reported by Riazat Butt in the Guardian as Archbishop pays tribute to St Paul’s cathedral clergy for ‘holding balance’.

And Nick Spencer of Theos published Comment: St Paul’s protest has revealed pressures at the heart of the Church at politics.co.uk.

Earlier, the Church of England Mission and Public Affairs Council had published The Church and capitalism (press release, leading to PDF document.)

On Tuesday, Riazat Butt and Shiv Malik at the Guardian reported Occupy London camp given 24 hours to disband or face legal action

Activists camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral will be given 24 hours to remove their tents and equipment before high court proceedings are issued, the City of London corporation said on Tuesday.

Occupy London, which arrived in the churchyard on 15 October, last week rejected a request to scale back part of its camp to allow better fire engine access. The notice applies to tents standing on public highways.

St Paul’s is meeting on Wednesday to decide how to respond to the corporation’s decision. A spokesman said the cathedral was still “working towards a peaceful outcome”.

Stuart Fraser, policy chairman at the corporation, said: “We paused legal action for two weeks for talks with those in the camp on how to shrink the extent of the tents and to set a departure date – but got nowhere. So, sadly, now they have rejected a reasonable offer to let them stay until the new year, it’s got to be the courts. We’d still like to sort this without court action but from now on we will have to have any talks in parallel with court action – not instead…

Cathy Newman at Channel 4 News interviewed Stuart Fraser, see Talks break down between St Paul’s protesters and officials.

The protesters have issued this: Occupy London statement on renewed legal action from the City of London Corporation.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 8:22am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Women Bishops - diocesan debates - 12 November

Updated Saturday night to add Portsmouth results.
Updated Monday morning to add links to reports on diocesan websites of Oxford, Portsmouth and York.

In the final day of diocesan debates, Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southwark, and York diocesan synods debated the draft legislation to allow women bishops today. In each case the main motion was

That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and in Amending Canon No 30.

The CEEC following motion was

This Synod
1. desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England
2. calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those who are unable to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive Episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.

1) Liverpool passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 0
Clergy40 8 0
Laity26 12 2

The CEEC following motion was defeated with 16 votes in favour, 61 against and 8 abstentions.

The diocese has promptly published this report: Synod votes in favour of women bishops legislation.

2) Newcastle passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 0
Clergy34 10 1
Laity28 7 1

There is a report on the diocesan website: Newcastle Diocesan Synod supports Church of England’s proposals for women bishops.

3) Oxford passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops4 0 0
Clergy46 19 0
Laity55 15 2

CEEC following motion was divided. Paragraph 1 was overwhelmingly carried. Paragraph 2 was defeated as follows.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops0 4 0
Clergy19 53 1
Laity15 52 1

The diocesan website has: Oxford votes for women bishops draft.

4) Portsmouth passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops1 0 0
Clergy36 2 0
Laity36 6 0

A following motion described as “positive” by our correspondent (a supporter of women in the episcopate) was lost - by 13 votes to 58 with 11 abstentions. A second “negative” following motion was also lost - by 13 votes to 66 with one abstention.

There is a brief report on the home page of the diocesan website.

5) Southwark passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 0
Clergy50 14 0
Laity38 13 3

There were three following motions. Details are on the diocesan website: Southwark Diocesan Synod votes for the Women Bishops legislation.

6) York passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops3 2 0
Clergy25 14 1
Laity42 8 0

This following motion

This Synod calls upon the House of Bishops, in exercise of its powers under Standing Order 60 (b), to amend the draft…Measure in the manner proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the Revision Stage for the draft Measure

was carried by 62 votes to 24 with 6 abstentions. Details are on the diocesan website.

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opinion

The Guardian republishes this article: From the archive, 11 November 1871: St Paul’s under scrutiny.

Giles Fraser writes in The Church Times about Peace, but not as the world gives.

Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph about Calling upon God by his name. “The name of God means more than choosing the right four Hebrew letters.”

George Pitcher writes for the New Statesman that Bishop Chartres arrived at St Paul’s like Churchill at the Admiralty.

Frank Griswold writes for Faith and Leadership that Maybe this is the desert time.

Simon Jenkins (the one who used to be editor of The Times) writes for The Guardian: The ethical fluff of St Paul’s and Rowan Williams is a liberal cop-out.
This article has prompted letters galore: Simple sermon on ethics won’t do.

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Friday, 11 November 2011

Archbishops question case for elected House of Lords

Press release from the Church of England: Archbishops question case for elected House of Lords.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York question the rationale for a wholly or mainly elected House of Lords in their submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Government’s Draft Bill and White Paper (the submission can be read on the CofE website).

Whilst welcoming the Draft Bill’s proposals to provide continued places for bishops of the established Church in a partly appointed House, the Archbishops ask that the appointments process also have regard to increasing the presence of leaders of other denominations and faiths.

The Draft Bill and White Paper proposes a House of Lords of 300 members, with either 80% or 100% elected by proportional representation. If the reformed House were to retain an appointed element, there would be places for Church of England bishops, though reduced to 12 from their current 26. Bishops would not be allowed to remain in a 100% elected House under the Government’s plans…

The full submission is available as a PDF file here.

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St Paul's and the protesters: more from the Church Times

First, there were several articles in the Church Times last week, that have only now become available to non-subscribers. Although events have moved on, I list them:

Richard Chartres Time for the Church to be heard

Arnold Hunt Lessons from history at St Paul’s

Paul Vallely Turn the debate back to the money

Andrew Brown Press: With the Express on their side

…FROM a PR point of view, there was a special difficulty with the whole story. The Church of England is widely misunder­stood to be an organisation. Therefore, the man at the top is expected to be able to control his subordinates. Thus the wider Church, which largely dis­agreed with the Chapter’s line, was unable to say anything to criticise it.

But these difficulties are made to be over­come. The fact that the cathedral had out­sourced its PR to the Revd Rob Marshall, a nice man but one based outside Hull, suggests that the Church is so used to being ignored that, when the country was, for a moment, inter­ested in its opinions, it was almost entirely unable to handle it.

Now, turning to this week’s issue:

Ed Thornton Church support for camps is tested by protesters’ conduct

…Senior clerics this week expressed unease at the way that St Paul’s had initially responded to the protesters. The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, told Salisbury diocesan synod last Saturday that the threat to evict the protesters “showed the cathedral as willing to use the power of the City of London to protect itself, which is the very thing that worries the rest of us.
“Whilst it is not clear from the New Testament whether the Church is of, with, or for the poor, the Church isn’t credible if we don’t attempt something along one of those lines. St Paul’s seem not to have asked themselves that root question, and they lacked the in­stinct to respond to the great op­por­tunity of a crisis.”

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, said this week that he “was not alone in being astonished that the decision was taken to close St Paul’s”. The decision to reopen the cathedral, and the high-profile resignations of the Dean and the Canon Fraser “increased the im­pressions of chaos”.

In an article published on his diocesan website, the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocks­worth, wrote of the “irony of care­ful, professional, well-meaning advice on managing a potentially dangerous and threatening situation closing the doors on the gospel prac­tices of hospitality, engagement and the patient building of trusting relationships.”
St Paul’s had, though, managed to realign itself, he said, “through some brave decisions, some cour­ageous public contrition, and de­cisive leadership from the Bishop of London”. This helped to “open up an opportunity for real debate on the matters that really do count”.

and also
We shan’t listen to advice, say bankers

…Seventy-six per cent of those surveyed in the report disagreed — most of them strongly — with the statement: “The City of London needs to listen more to the guidance of the Church.” In addition, 47 per cent said that they “never attend a religious service or meeting, apart from special occasions”, and 38 per cent said that they did not believe in God…

Leader Restoring a human scale to the City

THERE are perhaps other interpretations, but it is reassuring that 76 per cent of the bankers interviewed for the St Paul’s Institute do not think that they should listen more to the guidance of the Church. Had they thought otherwise, and the present injustices of the City been practised by sermon-listening citizens, it would have pointed to a much more fundamental problem than the Church’s being just a bit feeble at putting its arguments across. Now, at least, its task is clear: to develop the sort of knowledge that professionals in the financial sector will respect, and use it to argue the case for the imposition of the checks and balances that will bring the City back in touch with some sort of moral code…

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Thursday, 10 November 2011

"Figures show that The Church of the England is a Third of the way to Gender Equality"

The Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod (GRAS) has published a table (the “Furlong Table”) showing how far the Church of England is from gender equality in 2000, 2005 and now 2010.

The 2010 table is below the fold, and below is the accompanying press release giving an explanation and GRAS’s commentary on the figures.

PRESS RELEASE 9.45am
THURSDAY 10 NOVEMBER 2011

GRAS (GROUP FOR RESCINDING THE ACT OF SYNOD)

The Furlong Table 2010

Figures show that The Church of the England is a Third of the way to Gender Equality

The Furlong Table was first produced for GRAS, and is named in honour of the late Monica Furlong, who first suggested that these statistics be gathered. The table uses official Church of England statistics and published data. It combines the percentage of women employed as clergy in each diocese with a score indicating the percentage of women in senior posts. The first table was published in 2000, with an update in 2005. The 2010 statistics have just become available, and so we can now reveal movement in women’s employment and deployment in the Church of England over a full decade, from 2000 to 2010.

A perfect score in this table would be 100, representing 50% of senior clergy and 50% of all other full time stipendiary clergy in a diocese being female.

On average, the Church of England is a third of the way to gender equality: the average score across all dioceses is 34.9. This remains disappointing, but is a significant improvement on the position in 2005, when the average score was 25.8. Since 2000 the average score has nearly doubled, from 18.6 to 34.9, so things are moving in the right direction.

The top-scoring diocese in 2010 was St.Edmundsbury & Ipswich. Their score of 60.7 represents them being nearly two thirds of the way to gender equality, and a more than doubling of their score (up 117%) from 2005.

Most dioceses have improved their scores from 2005. Winchester, the most improved diocese, has increased its score by 135% from 13.5 to 31.8.

Five other dioceses can be congratulated on over 100% improvement: Canterbury, Birmingham, Exeter, Portsmouth and (from a very low starting point!) Chichester.

There are signs of some complacency amongst dioceses that were highly ranked in 2005. Oxford, which topped the table in 2005, has increased its score by a respectable 15%, but the 2nd and 3rd ranked in 2005, St.Albans and Ely, have each improved by less than 1%.

As the Church of England moves towards the final vote on women bishops in July 2012, these figures confirm that there is a great pool of untapped talent among the female clergy.

The Furlong Table 2010



Rank 2010 Diocese Score 2010 Score 2005 Rank 2005 Score 2000 Rank 2000
1 St Edms & Ipswich 60.7 27.5 19 22.0 13
2 Canterbury 53.5 24.7 25 13.5 32
3 Ripon & Leeds 53.2 34.2 7 31.6 4
4 Southwark 47.5 34.3 6 34.8 1
5 Manchester 47.0 25.7 22 17.7 25
6 Southwell & Nottingham 46.5 28.7 16 29.4 5
7 Oxford 45.8 39.9 1 20.7 16
8 Leicester 45.7 36.7 5 32.9 2
9 Hereford 45.4 32.7 10 22.2 12
10 Birmingham 45.4 20.3 34 18.6 22
11 Salisbury 44.4 30.8 12 25.1 9
12 Wakefield 42.8 30.6 13 20.6 17
13 Derby 42.6 27.9 18 13.0 35
14 Bath & Wells 41.2 25.0 24 13.4 33
15 Gloucester 40.2 25.1 23 21.4 14
16 St Albans 39.6 39.3 2 24.3 10
17 Peterborough 39.3 31.9 11 17.5 26
18 Worcester 39.1 36.9 4 31.9 3
19 Ely 39.1 38.9 3 21.3 15
20 Newcastle 38.1 23.1 28 17.8 24
21 Exeter 37.1 17.8 37 12.3 36
22 Chester 34.9 21.7 33 15.8 28
23 Liverpool 34.3 32.9 9 19.7 19
24 Bristol 34.2 17.1 38 23.1 11
25 Norwich 33.8 28.0 17 18.5 23
26 Sheffield 33.6 29.0 15 28.7 6
27 Portsmouth 32.1 14.4 39 14.6 31
28 Winchester 31.8 13.5 40 8.3 39
29 Chelmsford 30.6 27.4 20 19.7 20
30 Bradford 29.9 22.6 31 10.8 37
31 Durham 29.6 33.6 8 13.3 34
32 Coventry 28.9 23.0 29 15.9 27
33 Guildford 28.7 22.9 30 28.4 7
34 Lincoln 28.4 25.7 21 25.7 8
35 Truro 26.5 29.7 14 6.5 40
36 Carlisle 25.8 19.0 36 9.9 38
37 Rochester 25.5 19.9 35 20.6 18
38 London 24.4 23.7 27 15.5 29
39 York 23.0 24.7 26 15.5 30
40 Lichfield 20.5 21.9 32 19.0 21
41 Chichester 11.2 5.5 43 2.6 42
42 Blackburn 11.0 10.4 42 6.0 41
43 Sodor & Man 0.0 11.8 41 0.0 43
Average: 34.9 25.8 18.6

2010 figures compiled by Peter O’Connell from Church of England Statistics 2010 and The Church of England Yearbook.
Table design and previous years figures by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 10 November 2011 at 7:34pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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St Edmundsbury & Ipswich diocese votes against the Anglican Covenant

The diocesan synod of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has debated the Anglican Covenant, and voted against the motion put to it by the General Synod, i.e.

“That this Synod approve the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant”.

The voting was as follows:

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 0
Clergy9 29 4
Laity8 33 9

The papers provided in advance for this debate can be found here.

More details of the meeting will be posted on the diocesan website soon.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Court rules on RC priest/bishop relationship

Updated again Monday evening

A High Court judge has ruled that a Roman Catholic bishop may be held vicariously liable for the acts of one of his priests, even though the priest is an office holder rather than an employee. There are reports that the ruling will be appealed.*

The full text of the judgment is available here (PDF).

A good explanation of the case by Adam Wagner at UK HumanRights Blog Bishop can be vicariously liable for priest’s sex abuse, rules High Court

Press reports:

Guardian Riazat Butt Catholic church can be held responsible for wrongdoing by priests

BBC High Court rules Catholic Church liable over priests

Independent Jerome Taylor Catholic church liable over priests

Channel 4 News Catholic church liable for priests charged with abuse

Updates
Neil Addison has written about this case at Religion Law Blog under the headline Catholic Bishops and Vicarious Liability for Priests.

The RC Bishop of Portsmouth, Crispian Hollis, issued a statement, available here as a PDF, or over here, which inter alia made clear that no decision had yet been taken about whether or not to appeal this decision.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

CEN defends its publication of 'Gaystapo' article

Updated again Thursday morning

The Guardian has published a news report by Riazat Butt concerning an article published on 28 October in the Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican newspaper defends ‘Gaystapo’ article.

An Anglican newspaper has defended the publication of an article that compares gay rights campaigners to Nazis, saying the author has “pertinent views”.

The column, by former east London councillor Alan Craig, appeared in the 28 October edition of the Church of England Newspaper, one of the oldest newspapers in the world. Although it is independent of the institution bearing the same name, it carries adverts for Church of England jobs and is read by its clergy…

The full text of the original article can be found here.

Although the formatting is hard to decipher, you can see some of the CEN letters to the editor which are referred to in the article, by going here.

See also this article on the Anglican Mainstream website, whose trustees etc. are listed here. This extract from the article by Alan Craig is not linked or credited to the CEN.

Updates
Alan Wilson has written at Cif belief Hitler and the ‘Gaystapo’ have no place in gay rights debate

Nick Baines has written Allo Allo?

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Monday, 7 November 2011

St Paul's Institute publishes report on Ethics in the City Today

The report from St Paul’s Institute that was recently delayed is now published.

See Value and Values: Perceptions of Ethics in the City Today

Download the full report from here. (PDF, 1.6 Mb)

From the press release:

Professionals in the Financial Services sector believe that City bond traders, FTSE Chief Executives and stock brokers are paid too much, teachers are paid too little and that there is too great a gap between rich and poor in the UK, according to a survey carried out by ComRes on behalf of St Paul’s Institute.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the financial ‘Big Bang’, the survey also indicates that the majority of Financial Services professionals do not know that the London Stock Exchange’s motto is ‘My Word is My Bond’ and many think that deregulation of financial markets results in less ethical behaviour…

From the Notes:

Because the report was completed preceding the Occupy London encampment outside the cathedral it makes no mention of it and contains contributions from both the former Dean and Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral. We are releasing the report in its original and unaltered form. The report was always intended to help develop a context for serious engagement that moves beyond colloquialisms about the financial sector and towards an understanding of true opinion and the culture of ethics in the City today.

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Sunday, 6 November 2011

The protesters and St Paul's Cathedral: yet more comment

Independent Matt Thomas, Brian Brady We are paid too much, bankers confess in St Paul’s survey

Mail Jonathan Petre and Lawrie Holmes St Paul’s Cathedral funded by 80 wealthy City asset-strippers

Yorkshire Post John Sentamu Our unequal, unjust society… the richest are getting richer and the poorest lose all hope

Telegraph Ken Costa St Paul’s initiative: ‘It’s time for radical change’

Joan Bakewell My verdict on the St Paul’s protest

Observer Yvonne Roberts Is capitalism broken… and what is the world going to do to fix it?

Guardian Richard Coles St Paul’s, the church’s reality check

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Women Bishops - diocesan debates - 5 November

The report below will be updated as more details become available.
Updated Sunday evening to add Derby votes, and again to correct the bishops’ votes and to add to the Chester details.
Updated Wednesday morning to add Coventry breakdown from WATCH website and Derby abstentions and Bradford votes and following motions.
Updated Wednesday evening to correct Coventry breakdown.
Updated again Wednesday evening to clarify what actually happened to the following motion at Coventry
Updated Sunday 13 November to add link to updated Coventry press release.

Bradford, Chester, Coventry, Derby, and Lincoln diocesan synods debated the draft legislation to allow women bishops yesterday. In each case the main motion was

That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and in Amending Canon No 30.

1) Bradford passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops1 0 0
Clergy22 9 1
Laity22 14 3

The synod also passed two following motions.

This Synod desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the C of E and therefore calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) measure to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of woman bishops are able to receive episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (ie ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop

voting: for 41; against 18; abstentions 5

This Synod deplores the exemption in the Measure from the Equalities Act, and requests the HoB to produce a Code of Practice or other measure which does not require the Cof E to continue legal discrimination against women

voting; for 51; against 4; abstentions 12

Our correspondent points out that these two motions are incompatible.

2) Chester passed the main motion in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 2
Clergy46 21 3
Laity50 15 3

This following motion

This Synod
1. Desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England; and therefore request the General Synod to debate a motion in the following form:
“That this synod [ie the General Synod] call upon the House of Bishops, in exercise of its powers under standing order 60(b), to amend the draft Bishops and Priests[Consecration and Ordination of Women] Measure in the manner propose by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the Revision Stage for the draft Measure

was voted on by houses, and failed because the vote was tied in the house of laity.

Details are on the diocesan website.

3) Coventry has issued this press release. This gives the votes on the main motion as 71 votes in favour, 6 votes against, 5 abstentions, but there is no breakdown by houses.

Coventry has issued (on 13 November) an updated version of the press release with full details of the votes in each house on the main motion.

WATCH gives this breakdown by houses, but there is clearly a mistake somewhere as the total of votes in favour is only 47.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 0
Clergy35 2 4
Laity34 4 1

There was extensive debate on a following motion, to which an amendment was proposed. The amended motion eventually read as follows:

This Synod:
• Desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England;
• And supports efforts being made by the Diocese to achieve reconciliation; and therefore,
• Calls upon the House of Bishops to ensure that sufficient provision is made within the Code of Practice for those who cannot in conscience agree with the Measure.
• Calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive episcopal oversight from the bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop

Each of the four sections was voted upon separately.

The first three were carried by substantial majorities. The fourth one was rejected: 17 votes in favour, 58 votes against, 3 abstentions.

There were two following motions

This Synod:
• Desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England;
• And supports efforts being made by the Diocese to achieve reconciliation; and therefore,
• Calls upon the House of Bishops to ensure that sufficient provision is made within the Code of Practice for those who cannot in conscience agree with the Measure.

was carried by a substantial majority.

This Synod calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive episcopal oversight from the bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.

was rejected: 17 votes in favour, 58 votes against, 3 abstentions.

4) Derby passed the main motion.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 0
Clergy18 7 1
Laity27 10 3

The CEEC following motion was defeated.

That this Synod
1. Desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England; and therefore
2. Calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable, on theological grounds, to accept the ministry of Women Bishops are able to receive episcopal oversight from a Bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops0 2
Clergy8 18
Laity12 27

5) At Lincoln the main motion in favour of the legislation was passed in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops2 0 0
Clergy39 9 3
Laity40 5 2

There were two following motions, which were both defeated.

This Synod
1. Desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England; and therefore
2. Calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive Episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (ie ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops0 1 1
Clergy18 27 5
Laity13 38 4

This Synod calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that the Measure contains only a single clause permitting the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops0 1 1
Clergy5 38 8
Laity3 41 10

The diocese has issued a press release.

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Saturday, 5 November 2011

opinion

Keith Ward writes in The Guardian that Religion answers the factual questions science neglects.

Also in The Guardian Theo Hobson writes An uncertain calling and asks “Should I dismiss my many doubts about ordination, or just keep shouting from the sidelines?”

Pierre Whalon writes for The Huffington Post about The Halloween Horror: One Year Since Baghdad Cathedral Attack.

Deirdre Good writes for the Daily Episcopalian about Jesus and Abba.

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Friday, 4 November 2011

Tikanga Maori rejects Anglican Covenant

Two reports from New Zealand:

AnglicanTaonga Maori quash Anglican Covenant

The Anglican Covenant is all but dead in the water as far as this church is concerned. This follows a crucial vote by Tikanga Maori at its biennial runanganui in Ohinemutu today.

The Covenant will still come before General Synod in July, but a decision to accept it requires a majority vote in all three houses – lay, clergy and bishops – and by all three tikanga.

Today’s runanganui decision effectively binds all Maori representatives on General Synod to say no…

Bosco Peters writes at Liturgy Maori reject Anglican Covenant

In order for people to understand the significance of this news, you need to comprehend the decision-making processes of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Like other Anglican Churches, a decision made (for example at General Synod) needs the agreement of all three houses – bishops, clergy, laity. But in our Church, at General Synod level, it also needs the agreement of all three Tikanga (cultural streams)…

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St Paul's Cathedral: Friday roundup

Today’s Church Times has extensive coverage, some of which will not be available to non-subscribers until next week.

Ed Thornton Dean goes, Chartres steps in, as St Paul’s turns 180 degrees

Also Cameron comes out in support of Dr Williams
And scroll down that page for Ed Beavan Protesters are tired but sympathetic.

Giles Fraser Sitting on a fault-line at St Paul’s

Leader St Paul’s: going in the right direction

There is also comment elsewhere:

Economist Bells and yells

Telegraph Martin Beckford, and Victoria Ward Giles Fraser: Church risks being ‘spiritual arm of heritage industry’

And Nick Baines has written Playing the game.

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Thursday, 3 November 2011

Yorkshire Dioceses: Formal consultation begins

We have previously reported 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 July and last December.

The Dioceses Commission has now begun the formal consultation phase of its proposals for the Yorkshire dioceses with the publication of a Draft Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield Reorganisation Scheme. The Commission’s report, draft scheme and associated documents can be read at www.diocom.org/yorkshire.

There is also this press release, Formal consultation begins on reorganisation of West Yorkshire dioceses, which is copied below the fold.

Formal consultation begins on reorganisation of West Yorkshire dioceses

01 November 2011

The Dioceses Commission has begun the formal consultation phase of its proposals for the Yorkshire dioceses with the publication of a Draft Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield Reorganisation Scheme. Consultation on the Draft Scheme will run until 30 April, 2012 and follows consideration of more than 140 written responses to the Commission’s initial vision for the Yorkshire dioceses in its December 2010 report.

“There has been a general welcome for the main thrust of our proposals,” said Prof Michael Clarke, who chairs the Dioceses Commission, “namely the dissolution of the existing dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, and the creation of a new diocese in their place. Our vision of a new diocese more aligned to today’s communities, with reconfigured episcopal ministry closer to the parishes, and a streamlined administration, has clearly struck chords with many. We have nevertheless listened carefully to what we have been told and our Draft Reorganisation Scheme includes a number of important changes.”

After careful reflection on the responses to the first report, the Commission has accepted the consensus view that the new diocese should be called Leeds (rather than Wakefield) and that it may also be known informally as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. The diocese would, as originally proposed, be configured with five episcopal areas.

The three cathedrals of Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield will be retained with equal status; but the Scheme leaves open the possibility of a future Bishop of Leeds giving Leeds Parish Church ‘Pro-cathedral’ status.

Some parishes not in West or North Yorkshire that might have moved to neighbouring dioceses will now definitely remain in the new diocese.

In most other respects the Commission has confirmed its original thinking as set out in its earlier report. There have been a range of responses on some aspects and the Commission will welcome further comments on these and the proposals as a whole over the next six months. This current draft reorganisation scheme can be amended in the light of further submissions.

“We recognise the short term uncertainties created within the three dioceses by our proposals,” said Prof Michael Clarke. “This is an inevitable consequence of change of this kind, but we want to keep these to a minimum. We welcome the establishment by the three bishops’ councils of a Preparation Group, which will enable the clergy and people of the prospective new diocese, with their staff, to shape its future by filling in all of the details that can only be decided locally.”

Alongside the detailed draft scheme, the Commission has published its latest explanatory report; a statement of the effect of the proposals on the mission of the Church of England; and a financial estimate for the changes. The financial estimate indicates that the new diocese could, within five years, cost about £0.8 million a year less than keeping the current diocesan structure. The Commission is clear that its work is mission-led and not finance-driven.

This formal consultation period will run for six months until 30 April, 2012. The Commission will then produce a final draft scheme for consideration by the relevant diocesan synods before it is debated by the General Synod. The earliest the scheme could come into effect would be late 2013 to early 2014.

Note The Commission’s report, draft scheme and associated documents can be read at www.diocom.org/yorkshire.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Draft regulations for civil partnerships on religious premises

Amended Monday morning

The Government Equalities Office has published its response to the consultation held on this subject. The written ministerial statement is recorded here.

The document includes a copy of the draft regulations which will be laid before parliament shortly.

Download the full document via this link (PDF 776k)

Note The document published at the above link on 2 November was replaced by a revised version on 4 November. The GEO press office has confirmed that this was to correct a minor error.

From the Introduction:

1.1 Following a listening exercise held last year by Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister for Equalities, with a range of faith and lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) groups, the Government announced on 17 February 2011 its intention to remove the legal barrier to civil partnerships being registered on religious premises by implementing section 202 of the Equality Act 2010.

1.2 Making this change will allow those religious organisations that wish to do so to host civil partnership registrations on their religious premises. This voluntary provision is a positive step forward for both LGB rights and religious freedom.

1.3 The Government published a consultation document on 31 March 2011, seeking views on the practical arrangements necessary to implement this change. The consultation ran until June 23 2011. This document provides a summary of the responses received during the consultation.

1.4 1,617 responses to the consultation were received. Of these, 343 responses were on the official pro forma which addressed each question in turn and 1,274 were responses by email or letter. Of those submitting the official pro forma, 145 were from organisations and 198 from individuals.

1.5 All responses were gratefully received and individually considered by the Government Equalities Office.

1.6 A copy of the draft regulations to implement the proposals consulted on is included as part of this document and reflects the many useful and constructive responses received during the consultation period. These regulations will be laid before Parliament shortly so that they are able to come into force by the end of 2011, subject to the will of Parliament…

The official Church of England response to the consultation was reported previously, see Registration of Civil Partnerships in Religious Premises from June.

At that time, the official press release said:

“That means that there needs to be an ‘opting in’ mechanism of the kind that the Government has proposed. In the case of the Church of England that would mean that its churches would not be able to become approved premises for the registration of civil partnerships until and unless the General Synod had first decided as a matter of policy that that should be possible.”

Yesterday the following official Church of England response was issued:

We will study the draft regulations as a matter of urgency to check that they deliver the firm assurances that have been given to us and others that the new arrangements will operate by way of denominational opt-in. If Ministers have delivered what they said they would in terms of genuine religious freedom, we would have no reason to oppose the regulations. The House of Bishops’ statement of July 2005 made it clear that the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register civil partnerships and that remains the position. The Church of England has no intention of allowing Civil Partnerships to be registered in its churches.

The Church of England website has this page: Civil Partnerships.

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St Paul's and the protesters: more background articles

In addition to the piece already linked below, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Time for us to challenge the idols of high finance, here are some more articles on the economic issues involved. (h/t Fulcrum)

Ken Costa wrote in the Financial Times about Why the City should heed the discordant voices of St Paul’s. An edited version is available here..

Luke Bretherton wrote The Real Battle of St Paul’s Cathedral: The Occupy Movement and Millennial Politics.

And we linked here earlier to Occupy London is a nursery for the mind by Madeleine Bunting.

In addition to those recommendations, today there is also:

Jonathan Bartley Occupy LSX and the Church: Why the danger isn’t over

And for some other comments, see also:

Dan Milmo Occupy protesters should target governments not City, LSE chairman says

Sunny Hundal The Church of England should be a natural ally for Occupy protesters

Alan Green Outside St Paul’s Cathedral sits a mess, but it’s a holy mess

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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Rowan Williams on St Paul's and the economy

Lambeth Palace has published the full text of an article written for the Financial Times by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

See Time for us to challenge the idols of high finance.

It’s sometimes been said in recent years that the Church of England is still used by British society as a sort of stage on which to conduct by proxy the arguments that society itself doesn’t know how to handle. It certainly helps to explain the obsessional interest in what the Church has to say about issues of sex and gender. It may help to explain just what has been going on around St Paul’s Cathedral in the last couple of weeks.

The protest at St Paul’s was seen by an unexpectedly large number of people as the expression of a widespread and deep exasperation with the financial establishment that shows no sign at all of diminishing. There is still a powerful sense around – fair or not – of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers; of messages not getting through; of impatience with a return to ‘business as usual’ – represented by still soaring bonuses and little visible change in banking practices.

So it was not surprising that initial reactions to what was happening at St Paul’s and to the welcome offered by the Cathedral were quite sympathetic. Here were people – protesters and clergy too, it seemed – saying on our behalf that ‘something must be done’. A marker had been put down, though, comfortingly, not in a way that made any very specific demands.

The cataract of unintended consequences that followed has been dramatic. The Cathedral found itself trapped between what must have looked like equally unpleasant alternative courses of action. Two outstandingly gifted clergy have resigned. The Chapter has now decided against legal action. Everyone has been able to be wise after the event and to pour scorn on the Cathedral in particular and the Church of England in general for failing to know how to square the circle of public interest and public protest….

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St Paul's Cathedral: Tuesday evening

Following the announcement this morning from St Paul’s, there has been a further development, in that the City of London has issued this press release:
City of London Corporation presses ‘pause’ button overnight on St Paul’s legal action

Stuart Fraser, the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chairman, said today:
‘The Church has changed its standpoint and announced it is suspending legal action on its land.

Given that change, we’ve pressed the ‘pause’ button overnight on legal action affecting the highways – in order to support the Cathedral as an important national institution and give time for reflection.

‘We want to leave more space for a resolution of this difficult issue – while at the same time not backing away from our responsibilities as a Highway Authority.

‘We’re hoping to use a pause – probably of days not weeks – to work out a measured solution.
‘We will make a further announcement tomorrow lunchtime.’

Ends

The press release also links to a summary of last Friday’s committee meeting (PDF)

Media reports on all this:

Guardian
Peter Walker St Paul’s and Corporation of London halt legal action against Occupy camp and earlier Riazat Butt St Paul’s Cathedral suspends legal action to evict Occupy protesters

Telegraph
St Paul’s legal action suspension a ‘breakthrough’ (video from press briefing)

Victoria Ward, and Richard Alleyne Protesters at St Paul’s claim victory as legal action is suspended and earlier Victoria Ward St Paul’s suspends legal action against protesters

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St Paul’s Suspends Legal Action Against Protest Camp

press release from Diocese of London website and now also the cathedral website

St Paul’s Suspends Legal Action Against Protest Camp

St Paul’s, 1 November 2011 (All Saints Day)

The Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral has unanimously agreed to suspend its current legal action against the protest camp outside the church, following meetings with Dr Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, late last night and early this morning.

The resignation of the Dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has given the opportunity to reassess the situation, involving fresh input from the Bishop. Members of Chapter this morning have met with representatives from the protest camp to demonstrate that St Paul’s intends to engage directly and constructively with both the protesters and the moral and ethical issues they wish to address, without the threat of forcible eviction hanging over both the camp and the church.

It is being widely reported that the Corporation of London plans to ask protesters to leave imminently. The Chapter of course recognises the Corporation’s right to take such action on Corporation land.

The Bishop has invited investment banker, Ken Costa, formerly Chair of UBS Europe and Chairman of Lazard International, to spearhead an initiative reconnecting the financial with the ethical. Mr Costa will be supported by a number of City, Church and public figures, including Giles Fraser, who although no longer a member of Chapter, will help ensure that the diverse voices of the protest are involved in this.

The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, said: “The alarm bells are ringing all over the world. St Paul’s has now heard that call. Today’s decision means that the doors are most emphatically open to engage with matters concerning not only those encamped around the Cathedral but millions of others in this country and around the globe. I am delighted that Ken Costa has agreed to spearhead this new initiative which has the opportunity to make a profound difference.”

The Rt Rev Michael Colclough, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral and a member of Chapter, added: “This has been an enormously difficult time for the Cathedral but the Chapter is unanimous in its desire to engage constructively with the protest and the serious issues that have been raised, without the threat of legal action hanging over us. Legal concerns have been at the forefront in recent weeks but now is the time for the moral, the spiritual and the theological to come to the fore.”

ENDS

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