Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Archbishop: Human Rights and Religious Faith

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a lecture yesterday at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

WCC news announcement.

The full text of the lecture is here.

The Lambeth Palace press release is also accompanied by the full text of the lecture (scroll down).

This has led to a number of media reports:

ENI via ACNS Archbishop of Canterbury links human rights to faith

Reuters Archbishop of Canterbury steps into U.N. gays row

Daily Mail Why it would be wrong to legalise gay marriage, by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 9:00am GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Parliamentary debate on Women in the Church of England

See previous report of a House of Commons “adjournment debate” on women bishops.

The Hansard record of yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate is now online starting here.

For the video recording, see here.

Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said this:

…I very much hope that, when the House of Bishops considers the resolution from the February Synod, it gives it careful consideration. However, given that a majority of the members of the February Synod voted in favour of women becoming bishops—in other words, they supported those resolutions that enable that prospect to move forward—I would be extremely surprised if the House of Bishops did anything other than to enable the Measure to move forward, and I have every confidence in the good sense and good judgment of the House of Bishops.

When we come to the Church of England’s General Synod in July, I very much hope that even those who have been opposed to women becoming bishops will recognise the overwhelming support within the Church of England for the Measure to go forward. In fact, if 42 out of 44 dioceses have voted in favour of women becoming bishops, it would look very perverse—indeed, it would look ridiculous—if the General Synod in July was to use its convoluted voting mechanisms not to allow that Measure to move forward. Between now and July, I hope that everyone will search their soul and I also hope that, if people are opposed to the Measure, they will recognise that there comes a point when it is necessary to acknowledge that, in the interests and well-being of the Church of England, the Measure must make progress.

We have always wished to continue to be a broad Church, maintaining space for all those who wish to remain within the Church of England. However, there must be a recognition that this issue has been deliberated for a long time and that it has been considered carefully, with everyone in the Church of England having had the opportunity to make a thoughtful and deliberative contribution to the debate, and that—as demonstrated by the votes in the dioceses during the last year—the views of the members of the Church of England are very clear.

I hope, therefore, that by the end of this year Parliament will have passed a Measure that will enable women to become bishops. Of course, although that parliamentary business would be dealt with in Government time, it would not be capable of being whipped business. Consequently, I will look to all those who have urged and exhorted me on this issue during Church Commissioners questions and elsewhere to be in the main Chamber to support the Measure when it comes to the Floor of the House. Wherever that support comes from—whether from atheists or resolved reactionaries—it is very important that the House of Commons demonstrates its support for women bishops. In due course, I hope that I and others here will be able to be at Westminster abbey or St Paul’s cathedral when the archbishops consecrate the first woman bishop…

And earlier he had said this:

May I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley) that I hope that the General Synod will agree to adopt this Measure in July? In anticipation of that, I have met Lord Lloyd, the Chair of the Ecclesiastical Committee, which is made up of a number of Members of this House and a number of Members of the House of Lords, to discuss the Committee meeting in October to consider and approve the Measure.

Leaving nothing to chance, I have already had discussions with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of Commons. Using the precedent of what happened in respect of the Measures for ordaining women as deacons and priests, it is deemed to be appropriate to consider this Measure on the Floor of the House, rather than upstairs in Committee. The understanding that I have reached with the Leader of the House is that we will set aside half a day—we hope, some time in November—to approve the Measure in this House. It has to be approved separately in the House of Lords, and I hope that it will do similarly. If the Measure is approved by General Synod in July, it is my ambition to do everything possible to have it pass all its legislative stages before the end of this year. We would therefore hope to see the first women bishops appointed as early as 2014. I agree with the comments made by my hon. Friends the Members for Worthing West and for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) that that would be significant in terms of the timetable relating to reform of the House of Lords.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 8:37am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Monday, 27 February 2012

Anglican Covenant passes in two more English dioceses

Last Saturday two more dioceses considered the proposal to approve the Anglican Covenant, and the motion passed in both cases.

In Sheffield the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 16 for, 6 against, 1 abstention
Laity: 31 for, 9 against, 0 abstentions

In Winchester the voting was:

Bishops: 3 for, 0 against
Clergy: 22 for, 11 against, 4 abstentions
Laity: 38 for, 10 against, 2 abstentions

Subsequently, the Yes to the Covenant campaign issued this press release:

Immediate release

BISHOPS RALLY TO SUPPORT ANGLICAN COVENANT CAMPAIGN AS TIDE TURNS

Supporters of the Anglican Communion Covenant expressed optimism this weekend, after Diocesan Synods in the Winchester and Sheffield dioceses voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Covenant. This represents a significant turnaround from only a week ago, when four dioceses voted against the Covenant.

The shift follows the establishment of the new grassroots campaign, ‘Yes to the Covenant’, whose Patrons are the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, and the Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Graham Kings. A number of other Bishops have also expressed their support, including the bishops of Peterborough, Southwell & Nottingham and Brixworth. Other high-profile supporters include eminent theologians Professor N T Wright (formerly Bishop of Durham) and Professor Oliver O’Donovan.

Prudence Dailey, co-founder of ‘Yes to the Covenant’, said the campaign had clearly succeeded in presenting a more balanced view, against a background of determined negative campaigning by a small group of detractors. Diocesan Synod members now stood a better chance of being fully informed before casting their votes, she said.

Voting now stands at 7 dioceses in favour and 10 against. If the Covenant is approved by a majority of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses, it will then go forward to the General Synod to decide whether to adopt it formally.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

The Anglican Communion Covenant is being promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to foster greater unity among Anglicans worldwide. The need for a Covenant was initially recognised as a result of divisions originating following the consecration of the actively gay Gene Robinson as a bishop in the USA. All Anglican Provinces are being encouraged to adopt the Covenant, as a way of establishing general mutual accountability by agreement.

The initial press release from this group which was only received at TA today, is dated 21 February.

NEW PRO-ANGLICAN COVENANT CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED

The Church of England is in danger of sleepwalking into a terrible mistake, according to a new campaign group launched today.

‘Yes to the Covenant’ is urging the Church of England to sign up to the Anglican Communion Covenant. The Covenant is being promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to foster greater unity among Anglicans worldwide, amid deepening divisions which originated following the consecration of the actively gay Gene Robinson as a bishop in the USA.

Campaigners warn that Anglicanism—the third largest church in the world after Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox church—is on the verge of collapse as a coherent global entity, and that local Synods are in danger of unwittingly aiding its disintegration. The Covenant has to be approved in a majority the 44 Church of England Dioceses before it can go forward to the General Synod for a final vote; but it has been rejected by a majority of the Diocesan Synods which have voted to date.

According to Prudence Dailey, co-founder of the ‘Yes’ campaign and a lay member of General Synod, preoccupation with issues such as women bishops has resulted in a failure to take the Anglian Covenant sufficiently seriously. ‘Many Diocesan Synod members are turning up to vote with very little idea of what the Covenant is or why it matters, and many are not turning up at all—if you compare the totals of those present and voting with the recent Diocesan vote on women bishops, for instance, the figures are significantly lower.’

At the same time, there had been an orchestrated campaign against the Covenant, with opponents spreading ill-founded fears that it was somehow ‘un-Anglican’, without providing any realistic alternative, she said. Whenever the Covenant had been discussed previously in the General Synod, it had received overwhelming support, and might reasonably have been expected to be adopted comfortably, until a vocal minority began sowing doubts about it.

A number of other Anglican Provinces—mostly in poorer parts of the world—have already signed up, and regard the Covenant as of great symbolic importance in reinforcing their identity as part of a worldwide community of fellow Anglicans. ‘The Anglican Covenant is about mutual accountability, mutual trust. For the Church of England to walk away from it now would be interpreted as us saying to the poor and marginalised, “we don’t trust you, and we don’t need you”. That might not be what was meant, but it is undoubtedly what would be heard—and we would all be the poorer for that’, said Miss Dailey.

A website, www.yestothecovenant.org, has been set up, with information about the Covenant and reasons for supporting it.

ENDS

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Report questions the freedom of Christians in the UK

Updated Tuesday evening

The All-Party Parliamentary Group named Christians in Parliament has published a report titled Clearing the Ground, and subtitled it: Preliminary report into the freedom of Christians in the UK.

This report and related documents can be found at the Evangelical Alliance website, here.

Writing in advance of the report’s publication, Jim Dobbin MP and Gary Streeter MP said in the Telegraph on Sunday that: We need reforms to protect the rights of Christians. There is an accompanying news story Britain failing to stand up for Christians, say MPs.

In the Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre reported this story as Harriet Harman’s law on equality ‘is anti-Christian’ and unacceptable.

Today’s Independent has Committee claims rights laws leave out Christians by Nina Lakhani.

The BBC had Equality law ‘should be extended to cover faith’.

Today’s responses to the report so far include:

Ekklesia Report alleging discrimination against Christians ‘confused’

British Humanist Association British Humanist Association refutes findings of ‘Clearing the Ground’ report

Update

More responses:

Andrew Brown Cif belief Are Christians being marginalised?

Are Christians their own worst enemies in Britain today? This question is raised with unusual frankness in a couple of paragraphs of an all-party parliamentary group’s report into Christians and discrimination, which was launched yesterday.

It contains a really quite startling attack on Christian campaign groups:

“The actions of some campaign groups can discredit the Church in the UK and result in perceptions that Christians are seeking unfair exemptions. By bringing highly emotive cases to the fore, they also can add to the feeling among Christians that they are more marginalised than they actually are.

“On some occasions we perceive that campaigning becomes inflammatory or even counterproductive to Christian freedoms. This is due to factors such as: the strategically unwise selection of cases; a distorted presentation of facts for manipulation of the media; and most alarmingly, the deliberate misinforming of the church constituency in order to motivate support.”

But the report also maintains that there have been cases in which Christians have been unfairly treated, usually as a result of ignorance in the wider culture, rather than malevolence; and it demands a reshaping of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which evangelical Christians loathe…

National Secular Society Christian discrimination report is just another call for special privileges

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 12:15pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | Church of Ireland | Scottish Episcopal Church | equality legislation

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Women in the Church of England

The Independent on Sunday carried this article ‘Even outstanding women struggle to rise in the CofE’ which refers to a Westminster Hall debate to be held tomorrow, Tuesday, of which information is now available here:

Tuesday 28 February
Subjects proposed to be raised on the Motion for the Adjournment:
9.30 am - 11.00 am Diana Johnson Women in the Church of England.

A press release from WATCH about it is reproduced below the fold.

Press Release Monday 27 February 2012 9.30am Women and the Church (WATCH)

Parliament to debate Sex Discrimination in the Church.

On Tuesday morning there will be a Westminster Hall debate on Sex Discrimination and the Church of England. Currently the Church of England, along with other religions, has specific exemption from some parts of the Equality Act 2010. This includes the right to discriminate against women in appointing clergy to parishes and in appointing bishops.

The current draft legislation that will allow women to be bishops includes continued exemption from the Equality Act, so that women may still not be appointed to some parishes, and will have to delegate their care of such parishes to a male bishop.

This debate is an opportunity for MPs to consider whether it is right that the Established Church should continue to be exempt from Sex Discrimination law.

Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH, said ‘WATCH has always worked towards ending sex discrimination in the Church of England, and is delighted that the subject will be aired in this way. Most people in this country would be astonished to realise that the Established Church is allowed to enshrine sex discriminatory provisions in law when that has been against public policy for over thirty years. Having women as bishops will be an important step on the journey to full inclusion - but there’s a long road ahead of us’.

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Saturday, 25 February 2012

opinion at the beginning of Lent

Pierre Whalon interviews Olivia de Havilland for Anglicans Online: Reading the Bible as a statement of faith.
And in The Huffington Post he writes that God Does Not Exist…

Mary Ann Sieghart writes for The Independent that You don’t have to believe in God to cherish the Church.

The Guardian published this editorial on Ash Wednesday: the lost art of dying.

Jane Williams writes in The Guardian that Lent is a chance to take stock and imagine a changed world.

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian, reports the views of the Archbishop of Westminster: Catholic Church leader rejects claim UK Christians are persecuted.

Naomi Young interviews the Archbishop of York for Reform (a publication of the United Reformed Church): John Sentamu interview: When the toe hurts.

Theo Hobson writes in The Spectator that The defence of Christianity needs a little more nuance.

Graham Kings has written a Credo column for The Times (and republished it at Fulcrum): Lent is a Time to Keep a Journal of Your Spiritual Travels.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 25 February 2012 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Friday, 24 February 2012

Anglican Covenant: reports and reactions

Updated 9 March

The Church Times reports this week on the progress of voting in English dioceses on the Anglican Covenant: Covenant tastes defeat in diocesan voting.

ALMOST a quarter of C of E dioceses have now voted against the Anglican Covenant.

It was debated last weekend by the diocesan synods of Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Rochester, and rejected by all of them — in some cases, despite impassioned pleas from bishops.

Just five of 15 English dioceses have so far approved the Covenant, which must be debated by diocesan synods by the end of March.
Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to the General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England…

And there is this:

in a letter in the Church Times today, the patron of the coalition, the Revd Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford, writes: “Those bishops who back this ill-thought-out and poten­tially disastrous measure should get the message, and let the Covenant quietly subside into the swamp of bad ideas in Anglican history.”

The letters page is subscriber-only for another week but I expect this text will appear elsewhere shortly.

A splendid speech given last Saturday to Leicester diocesan synod by David Jennings is available here.

The Diocese of Norwich held an ‘Anglican Covenant Listening Seminar’. By far the best of these papers is the one by Andrew Davison available here (PDF).

Update That paper has since been revised to add some comments in response to the recent video from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the new version is here (PDF).

There have been several comments about the new website:

And there have been several comments about the new videos published by the ACO:

And, from Scotland Kelvin Holdsworth has written Remember the Anglican Covenant?

…In Scotland it is quite hard to find anyone arguing in favour of the Covenant. At last year’s General Synod we had pseudo-Indaba groups which reported pretty negatively on the whole business and it was difficult to find anyone from any of the groups who had encountered anyone at all who thought well of the proposal. The message which I’ve consistently heard since then from around the church is people saying that the Anglican Communion is very important to us but that the kind of communion that the Covenant proposes is not the kind of communion that we see as being desirable. Indeed, the strong message seems to be pro the Communion but against the kind of setup that would be a consequence of accepting the Covenant. The presumption that there would be widespread disagreement about the Covenant in Scotland doesn’t really seem at this stage to be holding up. So far as I can see, there isn’t a great deal of disagreement at all about it…

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Attacks on government plans to change the definition of marriage

The Church Times reports today on the campaign organised under the title Coalition for Marriage: Petition against gay marriage attracts thousands of names.

THE Government came under sus­tained attack this week from a coalition of Christian groups and in­dividuals over its plans to legalise same-sex marriage.

The coalition’s petition attracted about 23,000 signatures within 48 hours of its launch, including those of the Bishops of Carlisle, Chester, Exeter, and Hereford.

The Coalition for Marriage, estab­lished by the Christian Institute, with signatories from senior officials of Care, the Evangelical Alliance, Chris­tian Concern, and other organ­isations, accuses the Government of rewriting the legal definition of marriage without widespread public support for the change…

John Bingham at the Telegraph reported earlier in the week: Gay marriage: David Cameron faces church backlash over ‘cultural vandalism’.

Last month the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, publicly voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

But the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, signalled a split within the Church of England on the subject by signalling his support for gay marriage.

Among those who have signed the Coalition For Marriage petition are the Rt Revd Peter Foster, the Bishop of Chester; the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford; the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter and the Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has yet to set out his position on the issue publicly but a spokesman for the Church of England said yesterday: “The Church will respond in full to the government consultation when it is launched next month, and remains committed to the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“Meanwhile, we hope people will think deeply about this question, which is more complicated than it is painted.

“While not standing in the way of same-sex couples in civil partnerships gaining equal rights and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples, the Church of England will continue to argue for the definition of marriage, which has supported society for so long, not to be changed.”

And today, the Bishop of Salisbury published this statement on his diocesan website: Marriage and same-sex relationships

Statement re: meeting with Dorset clergy on 14 February concerning the Bishop of Salisbury’s comments on same-sex relationships in The Times and on BBC Radio 4

The Bishop of Sherborne, the Archdeacon of Dorset and I met with 10 clergy from Dorset who had contacted me following my remarks on same-sex relationships in an interview published in The Times on 3 February, and on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme on 5 February.

Bishop Graham and I disagree about the appropriateness of using the word ‘marriage’ for same-sex relationships. He expressed his concerns to me privately and in the meeting. We are, however, committed to working together creatively…

Earlier, Bishop Holtam had delivered this presidential address to his diocesan synod. The topics covered include this one, as well as numerous others. But on this point he said:

I am sorry my comments about same sex relationships got such elevated treatment by The Times, when reporting a small part of a wider interview. I hope I got the tone and content clearer in the subsequent interview for BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme. When Civil Partnerships were introduced in 2005, I thought their distinction from heterosexual marriage was helpful. They are an important support to faithful love, and faithful love is a distinctive mark of Christianity because it reflects God’s love of us.

Because the quality and nature of some Civil Partnerships is similar, possibly the same as for married couples, I have come to see that the rapidly adopted name “gay marriage” may be appropriate. As we know, the Government begins its consultation about this next month and that they have already explicitly exempted religious communities from being forced to accept the conduct of homosexual marriage in addition to heterosexual marriage.

In saying what I did, I am trying to create the space for an honest conversation. We have no option but to recognise our context is changing and that we are talking about people, some of whom are within the life of the Church; that we are talking about ‘us’, not ‘them’.

For the avoidance of doubt, the position of the Church of England, House of Bishops and Diocese of Salisbury has not changed. There are no authorised services of blessing for same sex partnerships and it is not possible for Civil Partnerships to take place in Church of England churches. I will, of course, keep to the Church’s discipline whilst hoping that we find opportunity to explore the issues which divide us.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 February 2012 at 6:27pm GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Church Times detailed reports

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

Full report from the General Synod

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 24 February 2012 at 3:09pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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more on the Worcestershire employment tribunal case

Gavin Drake has a detailed report in today’s Church Times Judgment by employment tribunal upholds clergy office-holder status. Earlier reports linked from here.

…The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, also welcomed the ruling. “Clergy them­selves have repeatedly said that they do not see themselves as employees, and do not wish to be seen as such. This case has shown that Church of England vicars are not subject to any employment contract, but are free to exer­cise their ministry as they see best within the framework provided by the law of the land,” he said.

“We hope that Mr Sharpe and Unite will respect this judgment so that we can all draw a line under this.”

Mr Sharpe was represented throughout his dispute by the clergy section of the trade union Unite. The union’s national officer for its community, youth workers, and not-for-profit sector said: “We are very disappointed with the judgment. We will be discussing the implications with Mark Sharpe, and no further statement will be issued until we’ve had those discussions.”

In 2009, Unite called for the resignation of the Bishops of Worcester and Dudley for “presiding over a culture of neglect and bully­ing” in the diocese, and demanded interven­tion by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This week, Bishop Inge said: “When I saw Unite’s claims, I asked the chair of the House of Clergy to conduct an investigation with the clergy of the diocese. He convened a small group, who sent an anonymous questionnaire to the clergy.

“They found there was absolutely no truth in this allegation. Not one person mentioned a culture of bullying in the diocese in the way alleged by Unite.”

There is a further report by Gavin Drake in the paper Clergy can join new association but this is subscriber-only until next Friday.

THE country’s largest union, Unite, announced the launch of the Church of England Clergy Association (CECA) on Monday. Despite four years of talks with the House of Clergy, however, it has received only a cautious welcome…

You can read more about the Church of England Clergy Association here, or even here. This new organisation is not to be confused with the long-established English Clergy Association.

Another report on the Sharpe case can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 February 2012 at 8:16am GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Anglican Covenant has supporters and critics

Updated Wednesday evening

Update Anglican Communion Faith and Order body issues videos on the Covenant

Members of the Anglican Communion with Internet access can now watch three videos produced by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) in which its members speak about the Covenant.

In one, members from Provinces including England, the West Indies, Central Africa and Southern Africa explain why they consider the Covenant important for the Communion.

In another the Church of Ceylon’s Rt Revd Kumara Ilangasinghe, recently retired Bishop of Kurunagala, shares his thoughts on the value of accountability.

In the third, members share their thoughts about the sections of the Covenant.

A group named Yes To The Covenant has been formed, and has a website. As explained here, this is the initiative of two members of the Church of England in the Diocese of Oxford.

The speech given in support of the Covenant at the Salisbury diocesan synod on Saturday by Bishop Graham Kings is available here, or here.

It has attracted several responses, including this detailed criticism from Tobias Haller, Should Anglicans Be Grapes Or Marbles? from LayAnglicana and In praise of Arranged Marriage… from Satirical Christian.

Jin Naughton has raised some more fundamental questions about the Covenant at Episcopal Café in Anglican Covenant: Due process and the lack thereof. He refers to an essay by Sally Johnson which he quotes in part:

In essence, the Standing Committee receives a question, receives assistance from unspecified “committees or commissions” mandated by unspecified authority, takes advice from any body or anybody it deems appropriate and decides whether to refer the question to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting. The Standing Committee then decides whether to request a Church to “defer” a decision or action and what relational consequences should result if it does not. It 
then moves on to a determination of whether or not a Church’s action or decision is or would be “incompatible with the Covenant.” The Standing Committee does this “on the basis of advice received from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting,” not on the basis of a process or procedure in which the Church whose action is in question participates in any way, other than to the extent it has representatives on the ACC (from which it could already be barred) and a primate at the Primates’ Meeting (from which its primate could have been excluded). …

Agreeing to an undefined, unspecified process in which the decision-making bodies have full discretion to act in any manner they deem best–not only as to the process but as to the standard and burden of proof, information considered, and all other aspects of the dispute resolution system–is what the covenant contemplates. In the words of the rule of law, there is no procedural due process and no substantive due process guaranteed by the covenant. The outcome is to be trusted and respected based on the persons/bodies making the decisions rather than a system based on how the decision is made. (italics added.)

Tobias Haller in another article, titled No[t This] Anglican Covenant repeats the argument he has made before, that there is an alternative.

…I am well-set in my mind against the current draft PAC, but I do not in the long run think the idea of a set of rules for the conduct of inter-provincial affairs in the Anglican Communion is in itself “un-Anglican.” We have, I think, a sufficient such arrangement in the by-laws of the ACC, but I am not averse, nor do I think it contrary to good sense or our traditions, to exploring other ways of working together across the Communion. But the current document is not it. As I’ve said in the past, I think the IASCOME Covenant for Mission or the Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Process much more helpful towards edification; in particular as the PAC explicitly calls for de-edification (i.e., “relational consequences” that will decouple or lessen the “bonds of affection”).

And, Bosco Peters has written CofE Covenant vote 10-5 against. He questions the ecclesiology behind the Covenant:

…The ecclesiology of the Tony Blair-chosen Archbishop of Canterbury has come in for some battering in the women bishops debate. Although no one apparently has yet translated his latest speech into English, Rowan Williams appears unwilling to throw himself fully into the fullness of the catholic church being present in each diocese. The ecclesiology which hankers after an international “universal church” (a sort of international super-church, rather than a communion of dioceses) undergirds the “Anglican Covenant”. It’s a perfectly fine alternative ecclesiology, and has a perfectly fine exemplar in Roman Catholicism…

Finally, Cranmer writes about The death of the Anglican Covenant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 9:35pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant debate: a shift in momentum

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued a news release: Momentum Shifting in Anglican Covenant Debate. (Full PDF version is over here.)

With one-third of English dioceses now having voted on the proposed Anglican Covenant, leaders of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition are detecting a significant shift in momentum. With last weekend’s clean sweep in Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury and Rochester, ten dioceses have rejected the Covenant while only five have approved it.

“When we launched the No Anglican Covenant Coalition just 16 months ago, it seemed like we were facing impossible odds,” said the Coalition’s Moderator, the Revd Dr Lesley Crawley. “But now the tide appears to be turning. The more church members learn about the Covenant, the less they like it.”

“I’m glad to see how perceptive the diocesan synods have been once well-rounded arguments are put to them,” said Coalition Patron and Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch. “There were two Covenants in the Church of England’s seventeenth-century history, and in combination, they destroyed episcopacy until wiser counsels prevailed. It appears the dioceses are not interested in helping present-day bishops making it a hat trick.”

“It is heartening to see the dioceses rising up to their responsibilities instead of delegating their discernment to the House of Bishops and the archbishops,” according to former Oxford Professor and General Synod member Marilyn McCord Adams, who now teaches at the University of North Carolina. “Churches come to better decisions when parties feel free to disagree.” Professor McCord Adams is also a Patron of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

To date, the proposed Anglican Covenant has been approved by five dioceses of the Church of England (Lichfield; Durham; Europe; Bristol; Canterbury) and rejected by ten (Wakefield; St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich; Truro; Birmingham; Derby; Gloucester; Portsmouth; Rochester; Salisbury; Leicester). Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England.

Some historical background to the coalition can be found in this post by Malcolm French We happy few.

The current state of voting in the 44 Church of England dioceses is being tracked weekly by Modern Church at this page.

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Monday, 20 February 2012

some recent equality decisions and legal analysis

Updated Thursday morning

The case of Bull & Bull v Hall & Preddy was decided at appeal.

On 10th February 2012, the Court of Appeal upheld a Judge’s ruling that a Christian couple, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, had discriminated against Martin Hall and Steven Preddy on grounds of sexual orientation when they refused them a double-bedded room at their hotel near Penzance.

Read the full judgment here.

Read the analysis by Marina Wheeler at UK Human Rights Blog here.

The case of Vejdeland and Others vs. Sweden was decided by the European Court of Human Rights.

Sweden’s Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) was right to convict four men of hate crimes for distributing homophobic flyers at a school, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.

See news report from The Local Swedes’ anti-gay flyers not free speech: court.

The full text of the judgment is available in English here.

See an analysis of the case by Antoine Buyse at ECHR Blog: Anti-Gay Speech Judgment.

The website of the Court has this useful factsheet on Hate Speech.

And there has been some interesting discussion over the weekend about a case involving our own UK schools. See this Observer news article by Jamie Doward: ‘Anti-gay’ book puts Gove at centre of faith school teaching row.

Adam Wagner analysed the situation at UK Human Rights Blog in Is it legal to teach gay hate in schools?:

…So the position is this. A school is permitted to teach about whatever subject it likes, so as not to inhibit it from teaching about a wide range of issues, including, it would seem, controversial views about homosexuality. However, the school must still ensure that those issues are not taught in a way which subjects pupils to discrimination.

So Mr Gove is entirely incorrect to say that “Any materials used in sex and relationship education lessons, therefore, will not be subject to the discrimination provisions of the act”. Schools are still not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion or race and so have a responsibility to ensure that if they are going to introduce controversial material about gay sex being “directed against God’s natural purpose”, they have to be very careful indeed to balance that material so that gay students are not subjected to discrimination…

And he has further material at: Teaching Jewish children to cure gays – is it legal?

Update
It turns out that the Observer was selective in its quoting from Mr Gove’s letter and as explained here by Adam Wagner the full letter from Michael Gove (PDF) does contain a much better explanation of the law than the newspaper article as originally published.

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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Anglican Covenant rejected in more English dioceses

Four dioceses in the Church of England voted today on the proposal to adopt the draft Anglican Covenant. Earlier results are reported here.

In Leicester the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 21 against, 3 abstentions
Laity: 21 for, 14 against, 4 abstentions

It appears that there was confusion at the synod in the interpretation of this outcome, but we believe that the defeat in the House of Clergy means that the motion is defeated, and that this will be confirmed in due course.

In Salisbury the voting was:

Bishops: 1 for, 1 against
Clergy: 11 for, 20 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 19 for, 27 against, 0 abstentions

In Portsmouth the voting was:

Bishop: 1 for, 0 against
Clergy: 12 for, 17 against, 0 abstentions
Laity: 13 for, 17 against, 2 abstentions

In Rochester the voting was:

Bishop: 1 for, 0 against
Clergy: 8 for, 30 against, 3 abstentions
Laity: 14 for, 26 against, 7 abstentions

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General Synod - voting on women bishops legislation

Earlier today I linked to the electronic voting lists from this month’s Church of England General Synod. I have now consolidated the three votes on various aspects of the women bishops legislation into a single spreadsheet. This is available as a web page and as an xls spreadsheet.

My consolidated list includes all voting members of Synod and shows whether they voted for or against the motion, or recorded an abstention. A blank indicates that the member did not vote (perhaps because he/she was absent).

These were the motions before Synod on Wednesday 8 February.

The Manchester motion

13 That this 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 proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the Revision Stage for the draft Measure.

The Southwark amendment to item 13

35 Leave out all the words after “That this Synod” and insert
“(a) noting the significant support the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure has received in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity of diocesan synods, and
(b) desiring that the draft Measure be returned to the Synod for consideration on the Final Approval Stage substantially unamended so that it can be seen if the proposals embodied in it in the form in which it has been referred to the dioceses can attain the level of support required to achieve Final Approval,
request the House of Bishops not to exercise its power under Standing Order 60(b) to amend the draft Measure.”.

The Spiers amendment to item 35

36 Leave out all the words after “request the House of Bishops” and insert
“in the exercise of its power under Standing Order 60(b) not to amend the draft Measure substantially.”

The motions were voted on in reverse order.

Item 36 was carried in a vote by houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops40 5 1
Clergy122 70 1
Laity107 85 4

Item 35 (as amended by 36) was then carried in a vote by house.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops26 16 5
Clergy128 64 0
Laity111 85 1

Item 13 (as amended by 35 as amended by 36) was then carried on a show of hands.

The motion before Synod on Thursday 9 February was

502 That the Synod do take note of this Report

where the report was that about final drafting. In effect the motion was asking Synod to approve the final drafting of the legislation. The motion was carried in a vote by houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops28 0 2
Clergy149 14 8
Laity132 37 10
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General Synod - electronic voting results

The voting lists from the electronic votes taken at this month’s General Synod of the Church of England are now available as pdf files.

Women bishops legislation
item 35 results - Southwark amendment to Manchester motion
item 36 results - Spiers amendment to Southwark amendment
item 502 results - final drafting

Other matters
item 8 results - Assisted Dying
item 12 results - Archdeacons
item 17 results - Health care
item 34 results - Nigeria
item 37 results - standing orders amendment

Each pdf file also includes the full text of the motion being voting on.

Also available is the official summary of the business transacted at the Synod: Business Done.

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opinion for Quinquagesima

Bishop John Gladwin preached this sermon at A Way in the Wilderness Service held at St Margaret’s Church Westminster Abbey on 6 February 2012.

Nick Spencer writes in the New Statesman Rush to judgement.

The Bible Guide Online has its choice of Jesus Quotes: Top Ten.

Lucy Winkett gave this Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred mysteries column in The Telegraph that work should be the making of us.

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Former Worcestershire rector loses employment tribunal claim

The Reverend Mark Sharpe has lost his case against the Bishop and Diocese of Worcester.

Gavin Drake reports: Former Rector loses employment tribunal claim against bishop.

…The Revd Mark Sharpe, former Rector of the Teme Valley South benefice near Tenbury Wells, alleged that the bishop and diocese had failed to protect him from parishioners in his “toxic parish”. He claimed a catalogue of abuse and bullying, saying his dog had been poisoned, excrement had been smeared on his car, and his tyres had been slashed.

The diocese rejected his claims and, at a five-day preliminary hearing at the Birmingham employment tribunal last November, argued that Mr Sharpe had no right to bring a claim to an employment tribunal because, as a Church of England parish priest with freehold incumbent status, he was an office holder, and not an employee or a worker.

In a reserved judgement, published today, Employment Judge Alan McCarry agreed. He said: “I do not see that within the complex statutory structure of the Church of England it is possible to imply that any relationship between a freehold rector in the Church such as Mr Sharpe and any identifiable person or body which could be said to be consensual and contractual. Certainly, Mr Sharpe has failed to demonstrate to my satisfaction that such a relationship existed with either of the respondents.”

The judge said the Church of England, as the established church, “has occupied a central position in English Society for several hundred years.” He added: “Despite that, it has no legal personality. It cannot sue or be sued…

Diocesan press release: Result of the pre-hearing review for the Mark Sharpe Employment Tribunal

For earlier reports, see here, and also here.

Update Worcester Standard ‘Bullied’ vicar loses tribunal claims

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Dispose of the messy Anglican Covenant

Giles Fraser has written in this week’s Church Times about the Anglican Covenant.

…To recap: the Anglican Covenant is an international treaty, cham­pioned originally by the Bishop of Durham at that time, Dr Tom Wright, among others. It was a re­sponse to the threats by conservative Anglicans that they would walk away from the Communion if other provinces became more gay-friendly. It is rather like bankers’ saying that they would walk away from the City of London if they had to face the Tobin Tax. This sort of blackmail ought never to be pandered to.

Of course, the Covenant never was the only game in town. This is the type of emergency rhetoric that is often used to push through otherwise unpopular legis­la­tion. But the fact that the Anglican Commu­nion has not fallen apart — it is just a bit dented — shows that a great deal of the huffing and puffing about walking away was just empty threats and so much posturing.

The idea that all the different Churches of the Communion can be held together only by signatures on a page rather than years of tradition and common baptism and liturgy is an unnecessary bureaucratisation of theology and fellowship.

If you allow one province a quasi-legal mechanism for pushing out another province, then you are providing a context for acrimony, not for reconciliation. Recon­cilia­tion comes when those divided by differences learn to see Christ at work in each other. Mostly, this is achieved through patient friendship and listening….

In other Anglican Covenant news, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has announced another prominent academic Professor Marilyn McCord Adams has become a patron. See full press release here (PDF).

“The proposed Anglican Covenant was conceived in moral indignation and pursued with disciplinary intent,” according to Professor McCord Adams. “Its global gate-keeping mechanisms would put a damper on the gospel agenda, which conscientious Anglicans should find intolerable. The Covenant is based on an alien ecclesiology, which thoughtful Anglicans have every reason to reject.”

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Trevor Phillips: Christians 'aren't above the law'

Updated Friday evening

Two newspapers report recent remarks by Trevor Phillips head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, at a public debate on 8 February.

Telegraph Christians ‘aren’t above the law’, says equalities chief Trevor Phillips by John Bingham and Tim Ross.

Christians who want to be exempt from equality legislation are like Muslims trying to impose sharia on Britain, Trevor Phillips, the human rights watchdog, has declared.

Mail Equalities chief tells Christians: You’re no different to Muslims who want sharia law by Daniel Martin.

Christians who argue they should be exempt from equalities legislation are no different from Muslims who want to impose sharia law in Britain, a human rights chief has declared.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, said religious rules should end ‘at the door of the temple’ and give way to the ‘public law’ laid down by Parliament.

The entire proceedings of this debate are available from the Religion and Society website of the University of Lancaster. See Religious Identity in ‘Superdiverse’ Societies.

Britain is more religiously diverse than ever before. What does this mean for how we live together? Listen here to podcasts of the presentations, responses and discussion at this first debate. These are accessible at the foot of the page, together with texts of the academic presentations. You can also watch the full event below from YouTube. The debate was chaired by Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead.

  • Podcast 1: Professor Linda Woodhead [Lancaster University, Director of the Religion and Society Programme] introduced the debate, highlighting the concept of superdiversity. Introduced by Charles Clarke. 10.30
  • Podcast 2: Professor Kim Knott [Lancaster University] argued that “Britain has been ahead of the European curve” in addressing issues of integration. 12.51
  • Podcast 3: Dr Therese O’Toole [Bristol University] focused on apparent contrasts between New Labour’s and David Cameron’s stances regarding religion. 11.30
  • Podcast 4: The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP [Attorney General], responding, said religious belief is central to society. He praised religion for embracing diversity. Introduced by Charles Clarke. 12.16
  • Podcast 5: Trevor Phillips [Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission], responding, welcomed the concept of superdiversity as significant. We need to establish agreement on procedures for dealing with disputes. Introduced by Charles Clarke. 14.02
  • Podcast 6: Questions and comments from the audience, and responses by the panel. 28.42

Update

Heresy Corner has actually checked these recordings and reports in What Trevor Phillips actually said has found that both newspapers and even the Tablet have not reported the event fully. Do read his article in full to discover what happened.

And Linda Woodhead also had this article in last week’s Church Times: The quiet revolution in UK faith.

THERE is a great deal of talk at the moment about the return of religion, desecularisation and post-secular­ism. The editor of The Economist, John Micklethwait, co-authored a book, God is Back (Penguin, 2009).

This raises some questions. Where did God go to — did he fall asleep like Rip Van Winkle? And now that he is back, does he look the same?

And the Telegraph has a further report, Trevor Phillips stands by ‘ridiculous’ Sharia comparison.

Trevor Phillips is standing by his claim that Christian groups seeking exemptions from equality laws are like Muslims who want sharia rule in parts of Britain, despite criticism that his comments were “strange” and ridiculous”.

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more comments on secularism

The Telegraph had this leader comment on the speech by Baroness Warsi: Faith must not be driven from Britain’s public life

Baroness Warsi, the chairman of the Conservative Party, today leads a heavyweight ministerial delegation to the Vatican to mark the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s decision to restore full diplomatic relations between our two states. She has used the opportunity to urge people to be far less timid about their faith and to challenge what she calls “militant secularisation”. It is unsurprising that it has taken a Muslim member of the Cabinet to speak out clearly and forcefully on the importance of faith in the life of the nation; followers of Islam tend to be less mealy-mouthed about their beliefs than many Christians.

Lady Warsi argues that society will be healthier if people “feel stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their creeds”. That means “individuals not diluting their faiths and nations not denying their religious heritages”. She makes an important point. Our history and culture are formed by the Christian faith. The way we are governed is linked directly to the schism in the Church almost half a millennium ago: in England, we have an Established Church of which the head of state is the Supreme Governor…

Andrew Brown wrote at Cif belief that Militant secularists fail to understand the rules of secular debate.

Reading Julian Baggini’s lucid defence of secularism in the light of three years of comments on Cif belief, the point becomes obvious that among the people who most misunderstand it are the militant atheist secularists. But who are they?

There are three kinds of people in Britain today who might be taken for militant secularists: that is to say people who are not just themselves unbelievers, but have an emotional investment in the extirpation of religious belief in others. There are the adolescents who have just discovered “rationality”; there are gay people who feel personally threatened by traditional monotheist morality; and, in this country, there are parents frustrated by the admissions policy of religiously controlled schools…

Catherine Pepinster interviewed Baroness Warsi for the Tablet: Slaying the secular dragon.

…speaking to The Tablet the day before she left, she made it clear that problems with the place of women or sex in the Church was not on her agenda.

“Whenever we talk about faith, the debate always comes back to religion versus sexuality. But when we go to the Vatican that is not the important issue. There are so much more pressing ones,” she said. So forget the hot-button issues of the domestic agenda such as same-sex marriage. Instead she and her delegation spoke about climate change, poverty in the developing world, the environment and inter-faith dialogue.

But above all, Baroness Warsi was using the two-day visit to express her conviction that religion must have a clear role in public life and must not be pushed to the sidelines. In a speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the school for papal diplomats, she endorsed Pope Benedict’s call for religion to have a place in society’s discourse. But the language she used was far more sensational than his, talking of “militant secularisation” gripping Europe. The day before, in her office at the House of Lords, though, her language was a little more thoughtful when she said: “I’m arguing for faith to have a seat at the table, for it to be a voice amongst other voices. More and more other voices are heard and the voice of faith is not heard.”

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Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Queen visits Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace reports: The Queen attends multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace

Archbishop Rowan Williams hosted a multi-faith reception today for Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Lambeth Palace.

His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury and Mrs Williams received Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh at the Main Doors of the Blore Building at Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop accompanied Her Majesty, and Mrs Williams accompanied His Royal Highness, to meet guests first to the State Drawing Room and then to the Pink Dining Room.

The royal couple met representatives of the eight non-Christian religions - the Baha’i, the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian communities - as well as Christian representatives. Each group of faith leaders was gathered around a sacred object selected by them for display at the Celebration as an object of particular significance to the faith or practice of their community, or their life in the United Kingdom…

Scroll down for the full texts of the speeches, and there are audio links as well.

The text of the Queen’s speech is also here.

And see also Sacred objects displayed by faith communities to the Queen.

Media reports:

Press Association Queen says the Church of England is misunderstood

Telegraph The Church is under-appreciated says the Queen and Value the Church’s role, says Queen

Guardian Editorial: Faith and the state: turn the other cheek

Mail Queen stands up for Christianity: ‘Church of England is misunderstood and under-appreciated’

BBC Queen highlights Church of England’s duty to all faiths

New Statesman Nelson Jones Defending the Faith

…In such a context, it becomes politic for the monarch — whose own role is supposed to embody unity rather than division — to assert that the established church has been responsible for Britain’s tradition of religious tolerance and pluralism. Historically, however, this is at best misleading, at worst a deliberate distortion.

In truth, the Church of England fought for centuries to preserve, first its religious monopoly and later its privileged position in society. The right to worship — or not to worship — freely was wrested piecemeal from unwilling Anglican prelates. Well into the nineteenth century Roman Catholics and Jews had limited civil rights. Until the University Tests Act of 1871 — that’s 1871 — non-Anglicans were barred from fellowships at Oxford and Cambridge (though not at University College London, which was founded in 1826 on the radical principle that higher education need not be a monopoly of the established Church)…

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Baroness Warsi's speech at the Vatican

Today the focus of media comment has moved to a speech given by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who is leading the largest ever UK Government delegation to the Vatican, to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. In it she claimed that “a militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies”.

The full text of the speech is published by the Cabinet Office, and is also available here.

In advance of the speech, she also published this article at the Telegraph We stand side by side with the Pope in fighting for faith.

Channel 4 News published this FactCheck article: Is militant secularisation taking hold in Britain? And last night’s news broadcast had further coverage of the story.

Telegraph Baroness Warsi attacks ‘liberal elite’

Guardian Lady Warsi gets rapturous reception at Vatican for speech on faith

Some of the reactions to this:

Guardian Julian Baggini Is religion really under threat? and also
Giles Fraser Richard Dawkins and Lady Warsi should live and let live

Independent Mark Steel If religion is ‘marginal’, I’m the Pope

Spectator Douglas Murray Why Baroness Warsi has it wrong

Cranmer What kind of idiot does Baroness Warsi take the Pope for?

Mail Online George Pitcher Thank God for Baroness Warsi - a Muslim with the courage to defend our Christian nation

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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Religious and Social Attitudes of some British Christians

There was a great deal of comment in the media on Tuesday about a poll undertaken by Ipsos MORI for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

You can read the survey results for yourself. Here is the Ipsos MORI summary:

A poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) in the week after the 2011 Census focused on the beliefs, attitudes and practices of UK adults who say they were recorded as Christian in the 2011 Census (or would have recorded themselves as Christian had they answered the question).

Attitudes

UK Christians are overwhelmingly secular in their attitudes on a range of issues from gay rights to religion in public life, according to new research.

Religion and government

Three quarters (74%) strongly agree or tend to agree that religion should not have special influence on public policy, with only one in eight (12%) thinking that it should.
More oppose than support the idea of the UK having an official state religion, with nearly half (46%) against and only a third (32%) in favour. The same pattern is repeated with the question of seats being reserved for Church of England bishops in the House of Lords: 32% of respondents oppose, with only 25% in favour.
There is overwhelming support for religion being a private, not public, matter. Asked how strongly they support the statement that governments should not interfere in religion, 79% strongly agree or tend to agree, with only 8% strongly disagreeing or tending to disagree…

For full details, see the survey topline, and the full computer tables (both PDF).

Some informed comment about all this comes from Linda Woodhead in Richard Dawkins has uncovered a very British form of Christianity.

There’s nothing new in Richard Dawkins’s findings about the British way of being religious. But it’s always good to be reminded of the findings of a poll commissioned by his Foundation for Reason and Science: that most of us are not “true believers” in either religion or in secularism, and that Britain is neither a religious country nor a secular one, but an interesting mix of both. That doesn’t make us muddled, or woolly, or confused – it just makes us British.

We have always been instinctively wary of the bright-eyed, fanatical enthusiast, of whatever hue. We don’t really do big ideologies or revolutions – and when we do, we never see them through to their conclusion. We prefer modest proposals, pragmatic solutions, and a bit of muddle – so long as it works. As Kate Fox rightly observes in Watching the English, our natural response to anyone who believes in their own propaganda too much is: “Oh come off it.”

And see also Ekklesia ‘Census Christians’ not very committed, opinion research suggests.

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Women bishops: WATCH asks bishops not to amend draft legislation

WATCH Press Release 12.15pm Monday 13 February 2012

Women and the Church (WATCH)

To the Bishops: ‘Keep faith with the Dioceses’ - do not amend the draft legislation for women bishops.

We urge the House of Bishops not to make any change to the draft legislation that would further discriminate against women bishops and those male bishops who ordain women: if they do this then the Measure will be at serious risk of being voted down in July.

Over and over again last week speakers urged General Synod, and the House of Bishops in their deliberations in May, to acknowledge the huge majorities across the dioceses and not amend the draft legislation which already contains substantial provision for those opposed to the ordained ministry of women.

We trust that the House of Bishops has heard this message and in its discussions will leave the draft Measure unamended and in the form that the dioceses have debated and approved.

Reasons for standing by the present compromise
In WATCH’s view, anything in either the Code of Practice or the Measure that tries to spell out what kind of ‘male’ bishop should be offered to parishes that do not accept female bishops would be unacceptable. This is because it would set in law two strands of bishops in the Church of England: those who have had sacramental contact with women, and those who have not. On no other issue about which Bishops disagree (sometimes profoundly) has such a structure been written into law, indeed it is the essence of Anglicanism not to do so.

This debate is about the place of women
The opposition to women bishops is based on their being women - whether that is about an interpretation of the Bible which maintains that women are forbidden to have authority over a man, or about following the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches in not recognising that women can represent Christ at the altar.

Synod agrees that the Archbishops’ Amendment is not the right way forward
We are very pleased that the Archbishops’ Amendment has been fully debated by Synod for a second time, and that Synod has decisively voted not to follow that route.

Women lead the debate
It was particularly significant to see two women leading the debate: surely a foretaste of the way that women will lead as bishops - with wisdom, grace and understanding for those who have difficulty in accepting their ministry.

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Monday, 13 February 2012

African Anglicans meet in Burundi

ACNS carries four reports from the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, which held its 11th meeting last week in Bujumbura, Burundi.

11th CAPA Council opens in Burundi

Hosted by the Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi, the 11th CAPA Council meeting is bringing together Primates or their representatives, clergy and lay people from the 12 Anglican Provinces of Africa along with partners and other observers from around the world.
The Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa, whose secretariat is based in Nairobi, Kenya, is a continental body that brings together the twelve Provinces of the Anglican Church in Africa.
CAPA exists to effectively co-ordinate and provide a platform for that part of the Anglican Communion in Africa to celebrate life and consult and address challenges in the continent. Through fellowship and partnerships, capacity building and the promotion of good governance and social development it seeks to realize God’s promise of abundant life…

11th CAPA Council Meeting - Day 1

Delegations from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Central Africa, the diocese of Egypt, Tanzania, West Africa, South Africa, Indian Ocean, were introduced and brought news and greetings from their respective Provinces. Some of the key points mentioned included widespread numerical growth through evangelism, the need for believers to be nurtured, the need to raise the competence of clergy through training, the multi-dimensional needs of the new nation of South Sudan and the necessity for solidarity with the Christians in North Sudan, and the on-going challenges in Zimbabwe and North Africa.
Partners and observers from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office, the Anglican Alliance, the Anglican Communion Office, USPG, United Thank Offering, Netsforlife, Trinity Church, TEC, CMS Africa, Christian Aid, and ECoH were introduced. The Most Rev. John Chew from the Global South Primates was welcomed…

The final day of the 11th CAPA Council Meeting

The review of the CAPA Constitution was presented by the Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwamba from Botswana diocese, the Province of Central Africa. It was agreed that the current Constitution should remain in place so that further discussion can take place in the Provinces.

…Resolutions were passed, and a communiqué drafted along with an appeal for harmony in and greater understanding between Muslim and Christian communities. These will be released shortly.
The Most Rev. Ian Ernest thanked everyone for their support during his term of office, especially the General Secretary, the Rev. Canon Grace Kaiso and the CAPA secretariat. He wished the newly elected Chair, the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, Archbishop of Burundi, and Vice Chair, the Most Rev. Albert Chama, Archbishop of Central Africa, and other elected officers and Standing Committee members well and assured them of his support in the future.
It was decided that the next CAPA Council would be held in DR Congo…

African Anglicans appeal for harmony, understanding between Muslims and Christians

Anglican leaders from across the continent of Africa have made an emotional appeal to Muslim faith leaders to stand with them in opposition to “tragic violence that is destroying our communities”.
The appeal was issued at the end of a three-day meeting of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa in Burundi where conflict between the two faiths was high on the agenda…

Scroll down at the link above for the full text of the appeal.

Note that in all this there appears to be no mention of participation in the council by representatives of ACNA, GAFCON, AAC, or Anglican Mainstream.

CAPA’s own website is here.

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

opinion

George Pitcher explains on the Mail Online Why I signed the London clergy’s petition for ‘gay weddings’.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times As long as it is not a blessing . . .
And for the New Statesman he writes End of the hairy lefties?

Philip Ball writes in The Guardian that Even atheists must recognise the importance of a sociological study of religion.

Matthew L Skinner writes for The Huffington Post about Mark 1:40-45: The Inconvenient Truth About Taking Care of the Poor.

George Clifford writes for the Episcopal Café: Encourage People to Read the Bible? Maybe not.

Ursula Buchan writes A churchwarden’s lament for The Spectator.

Steve Parish writes in The Guardian about Female bishops and an exercise in diplomacy.

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Friday, 10 February 2012

Local council has no statutory authority for prayers

Updated Friday evening

UK Human Rights Blog Prayer in council meetings was unlawful, rules High Court by Rosalind English

The High Court today ruled that the Devonshire Council had overreached their powers under the Local Government Act 1972 by insisting on the practice of prayers as part of their formal meetings. The ruling will apply to the formal meetings of all councils in England and Wales, the majority of which are thought to conduct prayers as part of their meetings.

The full judgment is here (PDF).

More from Rosalind:

…The issue was solely about whether prayers can be said as a part of the formal business transacted by the Council at a meeting to which all Councillors are summoned. The claimants were not seeking to introduce a bar on acts of worship before the meeting, thus hindering the exercise by Councillors who wished to pray of their right to do so.

The judge granted the declaration sought, that the saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a Council is not lawful under s111 of the Local Government Act 1972, and there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue…

and this:

In this careful and pragmatic judgment, Ousley J demonstrates just the sort of objectivity that Laws LJ identified as the sine qua non of adjudication, in his famous rebuttal of Lord Carey’s call for special protection for religious beliefs. The judge resisted a wider interpretation of the statutory powers, because this

would still require the Court to take a view about the extent to which public prayers in the formal Council meeting were likely to facilitate, or be conducive to or incidental to, the performance of the Council’s functions. That is not a view which the Court should form…It is not for a Court to rule upon the likelihood of divine, and presumptively beneficial, guidance being available or the effectiveness of Christian public prayer in obtaining it.

And she goes on to quote Laws LJ in McFarlane v Relate Avon. Follow the link above to read her whole analysis.

Some media coverage:

BBC Bideford Town Council prayers ruled unlawful

Guardian Council loses court battle over prayer sessions before meetings and Local councils have right to say their prayers, says Eric Pickles

Telegraph Prayers before council meetings ruled unlawful and Bishop of Exeter urges councils to use ‘prayer loophole’

Ekklesia Prayer cannot be made compulsory in councils, court ruling says and Council prayer ruling is about freedom of conscience

Friday evening updates

Heresy Corner Bideford Council: Carry On Praying?

The High Court’s decision in the Bideford council prayers case (brought by the NSS on behalf of an atheist former councillor, Clive Bone) has produced much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Christian rights lobby: the Christian Institute, Christian Concern, various rentaquote bishops and so on. And it has, naturally, delighted secularists, including the NSS’s Keith Porteous Wood, who said that it sent a “clear secular message” about the separation of religion from politics.

The BBC’s Robert Piggott sees the decision as further evidence that “the tide has been flowing pretty firmly against Christianity in public life”.

But for two reasons I think this assessment is entirely wrong. For secular campaigners, this is a very Pyrrhic victory indeed…

Law and Lawyers Prayers at Council meetings

Religion Law Blog Council Prayers

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General Synod - Friday press reports

The Church Times will publish its detailed reports from General Synod next week, but today they publish these news items.

Ed Thornton and Glyn Paflin Women vote now rests substantially with the Bishops
Madeleine Davies Synod condemns ‘outrageous’ attack on the sanctity of life
Gavin Drake Dr Williams issues warning on Nigeria

All three are available to non-subscribers.

And The Lead asks What really happened in the Church of England’s debate of female bishops?

In Christian Today is Bishop defends presence in House of Lords

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Thursday, 9 February 2012

General Synod - Thursday press reports

John Bingham in The Telegraph Women bishops a step closer after Church of England vote

Ruth Gledhill in The Australian Leaders lose on female bishops

Trevor Timpson for the BBC Women bishops law must not be changed, say campaigners

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General Synod - Thursday's business

This page will be updated during the day.

Order Paper for the day

The final day’s business of this group of sessions started with worship led by the Deaf Anglicans Together representatives.

Synod then moved onto Additional Eucharistic Prayers. These are prayers intended for use when many children are present, and were being returned to Synod from the revision committee. Synod accepted the committee’s report and did not ask for any further revision.

These prayers will not be authorised for liturgical use unless and until they receive final approval at a later meeting of Synod.

Papers for Additional Eucharistic prayers
GS 1822A Additional Eucharistic Prayers
GS 1822Y Report by the Revision Committee

Synod then moved onto the final drafting of the draft legislation to allow women to become bishops. The only proposed amendments were Drafting Amendments (amendments where only the wording of the Measure is altered and not its substance) which are supposed to be non-controversial.

There was a vote by houses and the final drafting was passed by all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops28 0 2
Clergy149 14 8
Laity132 37 10

It is likely that those who voted against were voting against the general principle of the legislation rather than against the final drafting.

Papers for final drafting
GS 1708B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1709B Draft Amending Canon
GS 1708-9Z Report by the Steering Committee

The morning’s business ended with a presentation on Higher Education Funding Changes

Background paper for this item

GS Misc 1008 Higher Education Funding Changes

Here is the official summary of the morning’s business.
Summary of business conducted on Thursday 9th February 2012 AM

The afternoon session opened with a debate on Reform of the House of Lords.

The debate was on this motion moved by Professor Anthony Berry (Chester)

That this Synod request that the Archbishops’ Council establish a working group with members from each House of the General Synod to prepare the Church of England’s official response to the Government’s consultation on the reform of the House of Lords and that any such Church of England response should be tabled at General Synod in February 2012 for debate and approval.

Mrs April Alexander (Southwark) moved an amendment, which was accepted by Synod and which reworded the motion to read:

That this Synod, welcoming both the Archbishops’ submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the draft Bill on House of Lords Reform and the extension of the Episcopal group on Lords Reform to include members of the other two Houses of Synod:

(a) invite the extended group to bring to the February 2013 group of sessions
(i) an assessment of the implications for the Church and nation of any Bill to be brought forward by the Government, and
(ii) recommendations for changes in custom and practice to accommodate any new requirements placed on the Church; and

(b) recognising the unpredictable nature of the passage of any such Bill through parliament, request that the extended group allow Synod members to contribute to published statements by alerting them in advance, by email where necessary, and inviting comments.

Synod voted on parts (a) and (b) separately. Part (a) (and the preamble) was passed, but part (b) was not. So the motion, as passed, was:

That this Synod, welcoming both the Archbishops’ submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the draft Bill on House of Lords Reform and the extension of the Episcopal group on Lords Reform to include members of the other two Houses of Synod invite the extended group to bring to the February 2013 group of sessions
(i) an assessment of the implications for the Church and nation of any Bill to be brought forward by the Government, and
(ii) recommendations for changes in custom and practice to accommodate any new requirements placed on the Church.

Papers for this item
GS 1856A and GS 1856B

Synod then moved onto a debate on Health Care and the Church’s Mission. The motion before Synod was:

That this Synod, mindful of Our Lord’s ministry of healing and his charge to his disciples to heal the sick in his name:

(a) affirm the ministry of all who promote health and wholeness in body, mind and spirit, and call upon Her Majesty’s Government to ensure that chaplaincy provision remains part of the core structure of a National Health Service committed to physical, mental and spiritual health;

(b) call upon Her Majesty’s Government to apply as the test to any proposed changes to the NHS whether they are best calculated to secure the provision throughout the country of effective and efficient healthcare services provided free at the point of delivery and according to clinical need;

(c) commend the work of mission agencies and the networks of the Anglican Communion in embodying the churches’ contribution to health and wholeness and promoting fairer sharing of health resources worldwide.

One amendment to the motion was carried (to add some words to paragraph(a)) so that the motion became:

That this Synod, mindful of Our Lord’s ministry of healing and his charge to his disciples to heal the sick in his name:

(a) affirm the ministry of all who promote health and wholeness in body, mind and spirit, and, recognising in particular the role of chaplains in the NHS as an expression of the Church of England’s commitment to minister to all in the community, whether as patients or healthcare
workers, call upon Her Majesty’s Government to ensure that chaplaincy provision remains part of the core structure of a National Health Service committed to physical, mental and spiritual health;

(b) call upon Her Majesty’s Government to apply as the test to any proposed changes to the NHS whether they are best calculated to secure the provision throughout the country of effective and efficient healthcare services provided free at the point of delivery and according to clinical need;

(c) commend the work of mission agencies and the networks of the Anglican Communion in embodying the churches’ contribution to health and wholeness and promoting fairer sharing of health resources worldwide.

The motion (as amended) was carried by 208 votes in favour with none against and one recorded abstention.

Background paper for this item
GS 1857 Health Care and the Church’s Mission: Report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council

The Archbishop of Canterbury then paid tribute to John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, who will be retiring before the next meeting of General Synod.

Here is the official summary of the afternoon’s business.
Summary of business conducted on Thursday 9th February 2012 PM

That completed the business of this group of sessions. General Synod next meets from 6 to 10 July 2012 in York.

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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

General Synod - Wednesday night press reports

Michael White in The Guardian Fratricidal tensions at the Church of England Synod

Riazat Butt in The Guardian Church of England reaches compromise on women bishops

Avril Ormsby for Reuters Church of England takes step towards allowing women bishops

Christian Today Church of England nears consensus on women bishops

Nelson Jones in the New Statesman When is a bishop not a bishop?

Torey Lightcap for The Lead Another step in female-bishop process in Church of England
[The last part of this appears to be copied from my article here on Thinking Anglicans.]

And two that I missed earlier.

Christian Today Archbishop seeks greater provision for opponents of women bishops

Christian Today India Church of England’s legislation on women bishops ‘needs more work’

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Archbishop of Canterbury and women bishops

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke during this (Wednesday) morning’s debate on women bishops. There is a video, an audio file, and a transcript of what he said on his website.

Archbishop Rowan speaks in Synod debate on women bishops

In his remarks the Archbishop spoke about at two things.

First then – I’d like to pick up some of the questions that were asked yesterday about this question of ‘derivation’ and ‘delegation’, and see if that can be clarified at all for members of Synod.

and

Now, the second point relates to the second principle that I enunciated at the beginning – provision for minorities that respects theological integrity and pastoral continuity.

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General Synod - Wednesday's business

Update Thursday night I have corrected the voting figures on item 35; the number of bishops voting against was 16 (and not 15).

This page will be updated during the day as business proceeds.

The day started with a service of Holy Communion.

Synod then moved onto this motion on Recent Violence in Nigeria proposed by the Bishop of Durham

That this Synod, gravely concerned at the desperate plight of Christian communities in parts of Nigeria, as described in GS 1861, request the British Government to do all it can to support those in Nigeria seeking to protect religious minorities of all faiths and enable them to practise their religion without fear.

There is a brief background paper (GS 1861).

The Archbishop of Canterbury made this contribution to the debate.

The motion was carried with 344 votes in favour, none against and one recorded abstention.

Synod them moved onto the first of two items of business on the legislation to allow women to be bishops. This was the report (GS 1847) of the Business Committee on the reference of this legislation to the diocese. A couple of items were omitted from the report, and are listed in Notice Paper 10.

The motion before Synod was ‘That the Synod do take note of this Report’. Motions of this type allow a general debate on the report. Synod duly took note of the report and then adjourned for lunch.

Here is the official summary of the morning’s business.
Summary of business conducted on Wednesday 8th February 2012 AM

Synod resumed at 2.30 pm.

The Diocesan Synod Motions on this topic, taken after lunch, are below the fold.

Initially the motion from Manchester was moved. The proposers of the other two motions have spoken, but will move their motions later. This procedure allows a general debate to be held on all three, before Synod moves onto debating and voting on each one specifically in turn (in the order 36, 35, 13).

4.50 pm All motions and amendments have now been moved. Voting will take place shortly.
5.05 pm Pete Spiers’ amendment (item 36) was carried on a vote by houses, voting figures below.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops40 5 1
Clergy122 70 1
Laity107 85 4

Following this amendment, the text of item 35 (a proposed amendment to item 13), became:

35 (as amended by item 36) Leave out all the words after “That this Synod” and insert
“(a) noting the significant support the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure has received in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity of diocesan synods, and
(b) desiring that the draft Measure be returned to the Synod for consideration on the Final Approval Stage substantially unamended so that it can be seen if the proposals embodied in it in the form in which it has been referred to the dioceses can attain the level of support required to achieve Final Approval,
request the House of Bishops in the exercise of its power under Standing Order 60(b) not to amend the draft Measure substantially.”.

5.25 pm Item 35 (as amended by item 36) was carried on a vote by houses, voting figures below

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops26 16 5
Clergy128 64 0
Laity111 85 1

5.30 pm Item 13 (as amended by item 35) was then carried on a show of hands. Here is the final text of the motion as passed by Synod.

13 (as amended by item 35)

That this Synod,
(a) noting the significant support the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure has received in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity of diocesan synods, and
(b) desiring that the draft Measure be returned to the Synod for consideration on the Final Approval Stage substantially unamended so that it can be seen if the proposals embodied in it in the form in which it has been referred to the dioceses can attain the level of support required to achieve Final Approval,
request the House of Bishops in the exercise of its power under Standing Order 60(b) not to amend the draft Measure substantially.

Synod then took a ten minute break before moving onto a debate on its standing orders. There was then a delay as too many members had taken the opportunity to have a cup of tea, and some had to be called back to make up a quorum.

The only item requiring debate was a proposed change to standing orders to make the Chair of Synod’s Business Committee an elected position, rather than a position appointed by the Archbishops’ Council and subject to confirmation by Synod.

The Bishop of Willesden proposed an amendment to restrict the position to members of the houses of clergy and laity (ie not a bishop). This was defeated with 99 votes in favour and 103 against, with 9 recorded abstentions.

The original proposal was then carried on a show of hands.

There was not time to take a following motion, so this concluded the day’s business.

Here is the official summary of the afternoon’s business.
Summary of business conducted on Wednesday 8th February 2012 PM

Motions before Synod in the afternoon

The Ven Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochdale (Manchester) to move on behalf of the Manchester Diocesan Synod:

13 That this 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 proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the Revision Stage for the draft Measure.

The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett (Southwark) to move as an amendment on behalf of the Southwark Diocesan Synod

35 Leave out all the words after “That this Synod” and insert
“(a) noting the significant support the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure has received in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity of diocesan synods, and
(b) desiring that the draft Measure be returned to the Synod for consideration on the Final Approval Stage substantially unamended so that it can be seen if the proposals embodied in it in the form in which it has been referred to the dioceses can attain the level of support required to achieve Final Approval,
request the House of Bishops not to exercise its power under Standing Order 60(b) to amend the draft Measure.”.

The Revd Canon Pete Spiers (Liverpool) to move (with the permission of the Chair) as an amendment to item 35:

36 Leave out all the words after “request the House of Bishops” and insert
“in the exercise of its power under Standing Order 60(b) not to amend the draft Measure substantially.”

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General Synod - Wednesday morning press reports

Ekklesia C of E General Synod hears of climate change chaos in Bangladesh

Mark Hennessy in The Irish Times Church of England synod to decide on women bishops

Christian Today Church of England’s legislation on women bishops ‘needs more work’

BBC General Synod discussing women bishops compromise bid

Lancashire Evening Post Are we ready for a female bishop?

Richard Vernalls in the Worcester News Women should be bishops, says city’s top churchman

Matthew Davies in Episcopal News Service Church of England resumes women bishops debate

John Walsh in The Independent Church debate: Who’d be a bishop?

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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

General Synod - Tuesday afternoon press reports

Riazat Butt in The Guardian Church of England votes to increase marriage and funeral fees

Press Association C of E wedding fees to rise by 40%

The Guardian offers this Head to head between Rosie Harper and Adrian Furse: Should the Church of England allow female bishops?

The Telegraph CoE synod: Cost of weddings and funerals to dramatically rise

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General Synod Questions on Sexuality Reviews

There were a number of questions asked relating to the two recently announced House of Bishops working groups dealing with sexuality issues. None of these questions were reached during the session, so here are the written answers that would have been given.

Judith Maltby asked
Q. Given the inclusion of a man who is not a bishop in the group to advise the House of Bishops on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality, are there any plans to include some women members in order to achieve at least a partial gender balance on this currently all-male group addressing the complex issue of human sexuality?

The Archbishop of York to reply:
A. The Archbishop of Canterbury and I made the appointments to this group, after consultation with Standing Committee of the House. It was, like the parallel group on civil partnerships, established as a small episcopal group. We concluded, however, that there was advantage in inviting a distinguished and independent outsider to chair and facilitate the process.

We do not intend to enlarge the membership of the group but it will be open to the group to consider how others can help it in its work, including, if it so decides, through inviting individuals to serve as consultants or assessors.

Giles Goddard asked:
Q. In the interests of transparency and of gaining the confidence of the Church of England in their reports, how are the terms of reference for the House of Bishops’ working groups on human sexuality and civil partnerships to be agreed and when will they be published?

The Bishop of Sodor and Man to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. The 1 July statement from the House of Bishops constitutes the terms of reference for both groups.

Stephen Coles asked
Q. What provisions are being made to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Anglicans are consulted by both the group reviewing the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships and that advising the House on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality.

The Bishop of Sodor and Man to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. Before Christmas I wrote on behalf of the civil partnership group to a number of groups inviting them to submit representations and have now received replies from them all and some submissions from others. These include a detailed submission from the LGBT Coalition and some of its associated bodies. I understand that the group on human sexuality is to have its first meeting shortly and will be considering then how it is going to go about its task.

Stephen Coles asked:
Q. To what extent were the provisions of the Equality Act taken into account by the House of Bishops when they declared a moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships to the episcopate?

The Bishop of Sodor and Man to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. On this as on other matters where legal issues are at stake, the House had the benefit of support from its Legal Adviser who had been involved both in the preparation of the relevant papers and was present at the discussion which took the decisions set out in the 1 July statement.

April Alexander asked:
Q. Recent press statements (5 January 2012 and 1 July 2011) on human sexuality and on civil partnerships indicate that the appointed working groups undertake to “draw together material from the listening process”. Can further information be provided about this process, including such matters as who has listened to whom (in broad terms), when they listened, what they heard and how they overcame the difficulty that homosexual priests do not feel free to declare themselves in order to participate?

The Bishop of Gloucester to reply on behalf of the Chairman:
A. The House of Bishops’ mandate for drawing together material from the listening process was set out in its statement of 1 July and given to the group of which I am now a member. We have a more extended timescale than the group reviewing the 2005 statement on civil partnerships and are just about to have our first meeting. So I can’t say much today about how we shall be setting about our task. But I can give an assurance that we shall certainly want, among other things, to assemble and reflect on the very considerable range of material and experience that has emerged from the listening process around dioceses since 1998.

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Resourcing Christian Community Action

The Church of England has announced a new project to resource Christian Community Action.

How to serve your community’s needs without reinventing the wheel in every parish: that is the challenge posed by a new project to be launched by the Archbishop of York at this week’s General Synod.

The report from Professor Hilary Russell - and a new website - respond to Gavin Oldham’s Following Motion in the “Big Society” debate at Synod in November 2010. More than 45 projects and initiatives are covered in detail in the report and form the core of the website.

Full details are below the fold.

Resourcing Christian Community Action: Parishes and Partnerships
07 February 2012

How to serve your community’s needs without reinventing the wheel in every parish: that is the challenge posed by a new project to be launched by the Archbishop of York at this week’s General Synod.

The Most Revd Dr John Sentamu emphasised how the nation is facing a prolonged economic downturn which will hit many local communities very hard. Every community will be affected by the recession and the need to build up our social bonds has rarely been stronger.

The report from Professor Hilary Russell - and a new website - respond to Gavin Oldham’s Following Motion in the “Big Society” debate at Synod in November 2010. More than 45 projects and initiatives are covered in detail in the report and form the core of the website.

The Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod (GS1815) have committed themselves to three goals for the present quinquennium - one of them is to find new ways to serve the Common Good of all. The challenge is, “How can the experience developed in churches be shared throughout the church so that people thinking how to serve their community’s needs do not have to reinvent the wheel, parish by parish?”

“The Church of England will not forget the hardest pressed communities,” Dr Sentamu said. “We are present everywhere, and we will remain present. Our calling is to build community and neighbourliness with the whole people of the nation.”

He added: “This is a good example of the Church of England using its national profile to develop resources for the local church to use in ways only locally based Christians can define and decide. Now we must make sure it is known about in the places where it can really help.”

The Church of England has a wealth of experience and skill in serving local communities, built up over decades of Christian witness and action for stronger bonds between people and for supporting the lonely and vulnerable. People can now go into the website, starting with the question or issue that motivates them, and find answers, ideas and examples. They can learn from the mistakes of others and discover what approaches work best.

Synod Member Gavin Oldham said: “This report and website brings together current best practice in Christian community action with the resources and knowledge base needed to multiply those good works across the country. It is indeed a mine of information to help local leaders and social entrepreneurs make their initiatives successful.

“It includes a wide range of support services, access to funding, and help with organising volunteers and administration: all based on a thorough investigation by Professor Hilary Russell over the past year. We hope its publication will lead to increasing awareness of the Church’s efforts to contribute to the common good, which are based directly on the Christian gospel’s core values.”

Notes

In November 2010 the General Synod approved a following motion to its ‘Big Society’ debate. It was a call to action, and it has resulted in a major feasibility study over the past year conducted by Professor Hilary Russell from Liverpool John Moores University, with a steering group comprising Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs in the Archbishops’ Council, Tim Bissett, Chief Executive of the Church Urban Fund, and Gavin Oldham, who tabled the following motion in Synod.

The work is now complete and there are two outputs: the report itself; and a comprehensive website www.how2help.net or www.churchofengland.org/how2help.

It is not a comprehensive digest of community action within the Church of England; it is estimated that over 23 million hours of voluntary work is contributed each month outside normal church activities, and the report could not hope to cover all that takes place. However it draws on a total of 46 projects and other initiatives from 36 out of the 41 mainland dioceses.

Some examples of local action from the report:
(These are three examples drawn from the projects which the report and website cover in much fuller detail)

1. St Luke the Physician Church and Neighbourhood Centre, Longsight, Manchester
Longsight is an area south east of Manchester city centre with high levels of unemployment and social and economic deprivation. Built as a combined Church and Neighbourhood Centre, St Luke’s has a multi-ethnic congregation including West Indian and Black African members. The Centre has provided informal day care for more than twenty years for people suffering from stress and living with long term mental health needs.

“St Luke’s is such a lovely place, I think because of the variety of people and the different things going on. And we try, as much as possible, to be accepting of people as they are. It’s not always easy - we have our moments even between the staff! Sometimes, if you are tired it can be depressing to see just what hard lives some people have. But when you see people slowly emerging from their shell, interacting and gaining confidence, it’s very positive and the hard work seems really worthwhile.”

2. The Feast
The Feast in Birmingham aims to help young people of faith overcome barriers of fear, prejudice and apathy between religions and cultures, and empower them to be peacemakers and agents of social change in their communities.

“If the church is going to engage with the world as it is, not just how we remember it to be, then helping young Christians befriend Muslims has to be taken seriously by the church. Whenever we’ve asked Christian teenagers where they learn about Islam they always say either school, friends or the media. They never mention church. Youth Encounter wants to play its part in changing that answer.”

The British Council of Churches set out four principles of dialogue which many people have used since and which inform the Feast’s Faith and Young People events:
• Dialogue begins when people meet each other
• Dialogue depends on mutual understanding and mutual trust
• Dialogue makes it possible to share in service to the community
• Dialogue becomes the medium of authentic witness

3. Kairos Partnership, Hereford
The Kairos Partnership is a charity supported by the Diocese of Hereford but separate from it that works with local faith groups to start and develop projects to help their communities to reduce deprivation which may be due to economic factors, lack of transport or other circumstances.

Kairos works with any faith-based community group (Christian, Muslim, Jewish or other recognised faith) that needs help to turn an idea into a workable project, or to grow a small project into a bigger one. The company will, if necessary, act as an accountable body for funding and assist in making bids, developing a business plan etc.

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General Synod - Tuesday's business

Order paper for Tuesday’s business

The first item of business was Parochial Fees.

Some, but not all, of the amendments listed in the order paper were carried. The amended Fees Order was then approved by Synod.

Background Papers for this debate
GS 1852 Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2012
GS 1852X Explanatory Memorandum
GS Misc 1015 Draft Fees Order, An explanation of the proposed fee levels

Synod then moved onto the Draft Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Measure

Papers for this debate
GS 1814A Draft Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Measure
GS 1814Y Report by the Revision Committee

The final business in the morning was the Draft Diocese in Europe Measure

Papers for this debate
GS 1853 Draft Diocese in Europe Measure
GS 1853X and Explanatory Memorandum

Here is the official summary of the morning’s business.
Summary of business conducted on Tuesday 7th February 2012 AM

The afternoon started with a presentation by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich on the Draft Code of Practice (GS Misc 1007) required by the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.
Presentations at Synod allow members to ask questions, but not to make speeches.

After the presentation Synod moved onto The Ecclesastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Consequential Provisions) Order 2012

The amendment in the order paper was agreed, after which the order was approved.

Papers for this item
GS 1858 The Draft Order
GS 1858X and Explanatory Memorandum

As Synod finished this business earlier that expected, a gap opened up in the agenda which was filled with this Chichester diocesan synod about the Appointment of Archdeaccons originally planned to be taken tomorrow.

That this Synod request that Canon C 22.1 be amended to read “No person shall be capable of receiving the appointment of archdeacon unless he has been six years complete in holy orders at the time of appointment

At the end of the debate the Bishop of Chichester successfully called for a vote by houses. The motion was defeated in all three houses.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops9 21 0
Clergy31 118 1
Laity53 84 9

The day’s business finished with a presentation by Mrs Sally Keeble (Director of the Anglican Alliance for Relief, Development and Advocacy) about the work of the Alliance, followed by questions.

Here is the official summary of the afternoon’s business
Summary of business conducted on Tuesday 7th February 2012 PM

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General Synod - Tuesday morning press reports

updated Tuesday at noon and in the afternoon

Andrew Brown in The Guardian General Synod: the perfect forum for Anglicans who want to avoid decisions

Riazat Butt in The Guardian Church of England has ‘no plan B’ on female bishops

The Australian Anglican male co-bishop talk rubbished

Christian Today Call to Church of England to defend traditional marriage

Steve Doughty in the Mail Online Legalising assisted dying would be a disaster that undermines sanctity of life, Archbishop warns

Updates

Peter Mullen wrote this comment article for the Telegraph: Let us pray for those against women bishops.

John Bingham in The Telegraph Archbishop Rowan Williams: assisted suicide could spell ‘disaster’

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General Synod: Emergency debate on violence in Nigeria

There is a change to the agenda for Wednesday morning. See GS 1861 which contains a background briefing note by the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby.

Recent violence in Nigeria
In view of the recent serious violence in Nigeria the Bishop of Durham travelled to the country at short notice on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet members of the Anglican Church in Nigeria and others caught up in the deteriorating situation there.

Following the Bishop’s return we have decided, in the exercise of our powers under Standing Order 4 (b) in relation to urgent or other especially important business, to direct the addition to the agenda for the February Group of sessions of a short debate. This will enable the Synod to hear from the Bishop of Durham, to reflect on the attached briefing note and, if it agrees, to pass a short motion that the Bishop will move on our behalf in the following terms:

“That this Synod, gravely concerned at the desperate plight of Christian communities in parts of Nigeria as described in GS 1861, request the British Government to do all it can to support those in Nigeria seeking to protect religious minorities of all faiths and enable them to practise their religion without fear.”

+ Rowan Cantuar: + Sentamu Ebor:
3 February 2012

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Monday, 6 February 2012

LGB&T Anglican Coalition Act of Witness

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition will hold an Act of Witness at General Synod on Thursday 9 February. The poster advertising this event can be downloaded here.

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Procedures when debating diocesan synod motions

On Wednesday General Synod will be holding a debate on two diocesan synod motions relating to women bishops. The details of this have already been explained here.

There were several other dioceses that passed resolutions in support of the Archbishops’ Amendment, although many more dioceses rejected such an amendment. However, it turns out that all those who did will get some preferential treatment in the debate, as revealed by this Question and Answer from tonight’s Questions session. As this was the very last question on the list, it was not reached during the session, which is why I am reporting it now.

The Revd Hugh Lee (Oxford) to ask the Clerk to the Synod:

Q. As it is normal practice, where more than one diocese has submitted a DSM in identical or similar terms, for the diocese(s) concerned to be invited to nominate someone who could speak on behalf of their diocesan synod in the General Synod debate on the DSM and then to draw this to the attention of the person chairing the debate, is it also normal practice to invite the diocese(s) whose synods had rejected a motion in identical or similar terms to those of the DSM to nominate someon who could speak on behalf of their diocesan synod in the debate on the DSM and then to draw this to the attention of the person chairing the debate?

Dr Colin Podmore to reply as Clerk to the Synod:

A. The reason for the practice to which the question refers is that a motion moved at the instance of a diocesan synod can only be moved once in the same, or a substantially similar, form, yet it would be discourteous to a diocesan synod that submitted a motion listed in Special Agenda IV if it (or a motion in a substantially similar form) were debated without a representative being called to speak.

That consideration does not apply in the case of motions that diocesan synods have rejected, or have passed without submitting them for inclusion in Special Agenda IV. However, individual members may of course seek to speak in the debate.

In any event, the overriding duty of the Chair in all debates is to ensure that there is a balance of speakers for and against the motion and any amendments.

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General Synod - Monday's business

The Church of England General Synod opened this afternoon. I will update this page with reports of the Synod’s business during the day. The full agenda is here.

There is a live audio link from Synod here.

The Church of England’s own summary of the day’s business is here.

Monday’s Business

Order Paper 1

The Archbishop of Canterbury moved a Loyal Address to the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee; Synod members were all in favour.

Synod debated the report of the Business Committee. This is largely an opportunity for members to complain about items that are not on the agenda, eg same-sex marriage, and how the debate on the Manchester and Southward motions on women bishops has been arranged.

The dates of Synod sessions in 2014-2015 were agreed. I have posted these dates here.

The Archbishops’ nomination of Rebecca Swinson for a five-year term on the Archbishops’ Council was accepted. Andrew Britton’s membership of the Council was extended for twelve months to 30 September 2012.

Independent Commission on Assisted Dying

Mrs Sarah Finch (London) moved her private member’s motion:

That this Synod express its concern that the Independent Commission on Assisted Dying is insufficiently independent to be able to develop proposals which will properly protect the interests of vulnerable and disabled people.

Mr Philip Fletcher (Archbishops’ Council) proposed this amendment, which was carried.

After the words “That this Synod” insert “(a)”.
After the words “Assisted Dying” leave out “is” and insert “was”.
And
After the words “disabled people” insert -
“;
(b) endorse the responses to the Commission on Assisted Dying referred to in paragraphs 7 and 8 of GS 1851B;
(c) affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected; and
(d) celebrating the considerable improvement in the quality of care of the dying brought about by the hospice and palliative care movements and by the input of clinicians, clergy and others, encourage the Church’s continued involvement in the wider agenda of the care of those approaching the end of their lives and the support of those caring form them.”.

The amended motion then read:

That this Synod
(a) express its concern that the Independent Commission on Assisted Dying was insufficiently independent to be able to develop proposals which will properly protect the interests of vulnerable and disabled people;
(b) endorse the responses to the Commission on Assisted Dying referred to in paragraphs 7 and 8 of GS 1851B;
(c) affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected; and
(d) celebrating the considerable improvement in the quality of care of the dying brought about by the hospice and palliative care movements and by the input of clinicians, clergy and others, encourage the Church’s continued involvement in the wider agenda of the care of those approaching the end of their lives and the support of those caring form them.

The amended motion was carried with 284 votes in favour and none against. There were 4 recorded abstentions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in this debate and has published this summary of his speech.

Background papers for this debate: GS 1851A and GS 1851B

Synod then moved onto the final business of the day: Questions.

Some live blogs from Synod

General Synod blog
Jeremy Fletcher
Riazat Butt

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reports of Bishop of Salisbury interviews

There have been several recent reports of an interview in The Times given by the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam. The original newspaper articles remain behind a paywall. The bishop also spoke on the BBC radio programme Sunday yesterday.

The BBC programme can be found here (available on iPlayer or as podcast).

The Diocese of Salisbury has these reports:
Briefing note following the interview published in The Times on Friday 3 February
Bishop urges open debate - Bishop Nicholas said on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme this week that there are more views on civil partnerships in the church than have been expressed officially.

Changing Attitude has The Bishop of Salisbury first to make public his support for gay marriage and Pete Broadbent predicts Synod will be talking about gay marriage in the tea room this week

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Anglican Covenant: opposition grows in England

Updated 11 Feb to add Gloucester voting figures

On Saturday both Derby and Gloucester dioceses voted decisively to reject the proposed Anglican Covenant. Canterbury voted strongly in favour.

In Derby the voting was:

Bishops: 0 for, 1 against
Clergy: 1 for, 21 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 2 for, 24 against, 2 abstentions

In Gloucester the voting was:

Bishops 1 for, 0 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 16 for, 28 against, 1 abstention
Laity: 14 for, 28 against, 6 abstentions

Update: from the comments below, we now have figures for Canterbury:

Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions
Clergy: 26 for, 14 against, 0 abstentions
Laity: 39 for, 13 against, 0 abstentions

Recently, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition announced the appointment of Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, DD, as a Patron of the Coalition. The full press release is here (PDF).

…“Anglicanism was born in the Reformation’s rejection of an unwarranted and unhistorical over-centralization of ecclesiastical authority,” according to Professor MacCulloch. “This pernicious proposal of a Covenant (an unhappy choice of name if you know anything about our Church’s history) ignores the Anglican Communion’s
past, and seeks to gridlock the Anglican present at the cost of a truly Anglican future…

Also a paper written by Peter Doll, Canon Librarian of Norwich Cathedral, in support of the Covenant, was comprehensively critiqued by Jonathan Clatworthy and also by Lionel Deimel.

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Petition: allow CofE clergy to bless civil partnerships in church

This petition has been organised by Changing Attitude:

House of Bishops and General Synod: Allow priests in the CofE to choose to bless civil partnerships in church

We support the growing number of Church of England clergy who wish to bless civil partnerships in their churches.

Many lesbian and gay Christians wish to have their civil partnerships registered in their parish church by their parish priest in the presence of their community. They wish to affirm their love and commitment in the presence of God in their spiritual home.

Since December it has been legally possible to bless civil partnerships on religious premises. It is time for the Church of England to openly affirm the love, ministry and fidelity of all LGBT people, supporting them in their journey in faith.

We ask the General Synod of the Church of England to allow churches wishing to register civil partnerships the freedom to do so under the new legislation.

We ask the House of Bishops to give clergy the freedom to register civil partnerships in church followed by a service of prayer and dedication.

For more background on this, see Changing Attitude launches petition to allow priests to bless civil partnerships in church and also this earlier article: London clergy challenge Civil Partnership ban.

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Lords Spiritual: a problem of transparency and legitimacy

Scot Petersen has written at OpenDemocracy about the bishops in the House of Lords. See Lords Spiritual: a problem of transparency and legitimacy.

…For purposes of the upcoming synod debate, however, the following question by Baroness Young of Hornsey merits attention:

If someone says, in relation to the appointment of Bishops, that the Bishops come from a relatively narrow spectrum of society and that they have separate rules of appointment, separate discipline and no women, does not all that undermine the notion of legitimation either through democratic election or through a rigorous independent appointments procedure? (p. 14)

The archbishop’s response was a restatement of the passage quoted above. But recent events have shown that the episcopal appointments procedure is neither legitimate, rigorous nor independent. In fact, the appointments procedure, which is conducted in secret by the Crown Nominations Commission, is not fit for purpose. A single case study will illustrate the point…

The synod debate in question is discussed in this earlier TA article.

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Early Day Motion on Women Bishops

An Early Day Motion has been filed in the House of Commons by Frank Field, MP.

Early day motion 2688

That this House welcomes the moves by the General Synod of the Church of England to pass legislation permitting women to be bishops; notes that the Synod has now concluded its consultation with the dioceses on the Women in the Episcopate: draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure; further welcomes the result of those consultations, with 42 out of 44 dioceses voting in favour; is encouraged by the overwhelming support shown by 85 per cent. of bishops, 76 per cent. of clergy and 77 per cent. of the laity voting in favour; encourages the House of Bishops to commend the Measure for final approval as currently drafted; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to work with the governing authorities of the Church of England including the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops and the General Synod to ensure that the express wishes of the overwhelming majority of those consulted across the Provinces of Canterbury and York are met by expeditiously tabling the Measure in Parliament for its approval.

A press release from Frank Field gives background information:

MPs call on the Church of England to “get on with it” and pass the necessary legislation to allow for the ordination of women as Bishops.

A group of MPs today begin a campaign to seek support for the consecration of women bishops. The MPs have tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons to coincide with the meeting of the General Synod which starts on Monday.

The EDM aims to prevent members of the General Synod employing delaying tactics to prevent the decision coming to Parliament for approval. Any such move will have little if any support from MPs who wish for the consecrations to proceed as quickly as possible.

The Synod has now concluded its consultation with the Dioceses on the “Women in the Episcopate: draft bishops and priests (consecration and ordination of women) Measure”. The MPs believe the results of this Diocesan consultation are overwhelming: there is firm support for the ordination of women as Bishops. The EDM makes clear that no delay by Synod is necessary or appropriate.

In November 1992 the Synod voted in favour of the Women Priests Measure, and the initial discussions of the ordination of women as Bishops began twenty years ago. In 2005 the Synod voted to remove the ‘legal barriers’ to allow for the ordination of women as Bishops. The signatories of the EDM believe that any further delay will look exactly like what it is: an attempt to thwart the repeatedly expressed will of General Synod on the issue of opening the Episcopate to women.

The EDM’s primary sponsor, Frank Field MP said: “The Bishops and General Synod need to simply “get on with it”. 20 years is too long for debate. The consultation exercise showed that there is a substantial support for the Measure and I hope the Synod will see sense when voting.”

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Saturday, 4 February 2012

opinion

Simon Jenkins writes about his Epiphany in a bookshop. His article prompted this editorial at Anglicans Online.

Giles Fraser compares his new surroundings in the Guardian newsroom with his former workplace at St Paul’s Cathedral: Thinking Aloud podcast: a period of noisy reflection.
And in his weekly Church Times column he writes that Atheists can’t borrow the clothes of true faith.

Savi Hensman writes for Ekklesia about Women bishops and the church’s core purpose.

Martin Beckford in The Telegraph asks Will the Church of England ever find peace? “Arguments about women bishops will dominate public proceedings of the Synod, but gay marriage is one of the burning issues behind the scenes.”

Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian about Anglican Mainstream and the enemies of Christianity. “The anti-gay group deserves the censure it has received – unlike a small Evangelical Christian group in Bath.”

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Friday, 3 February 2012

LGBTAC: 'Embrace Civil Partnerships' - Bishops told

Press Release from the LGB&T Anglican Coalition

‘Embrace Civil Partnerships’ - Bishops told.

2nd February 2012 - for immediate use

The time has come for a change in stance on Civil Partnerships is the message from pro-gay groups in the LGB&T Anglican Coalition.

In its submission to the House of Bishops review group on Civil Partnerships, (made public today) the Coalition calls on the Church of England to allow churches to register Civil Partnerships, authorise services of Thanksgiving and Dedication, and end the ban on Bishops in Civil Partnerships.

With over 47,000 Civil partnerships had been registered by the end of 2010, the submission notes that “As social attitudes towards those in same-sex relationships have become increasingly open and accepting, the Church of England is becoming increasingly isolated. This is in turn damaging both our mission and our ability to provide pastoral care to those in our parishes, congregations, and clergy.”

On offering Civil Partnerships in Parish Churches, the Coalition has already identified 95 churches who want to press ahead but General Synod would need to approve the application. Although negative statements have been made by the Church of England’s Press Office,

“the fact that there has been no possibility of discussion within the Church about whether individual churches should be allowed to register their for Civil Partnerships is in itself a retrograde position for the Church of England to be in.”

On services of Thanksgiving and Dedication, the Coalition has called for an experimental liturgy to be introduced in the same way that such services were permitted following marriage after divorce in the 1990’s.

“The present situation where services of blessing are proscribed and the creation of public liturgies deemed to be wrong, is creating pastoral tensions, ecclesiastical ambiguity, and a culture of double standards… As a minimum step, therefore, the Church should permit services of thanksgiving and dedication to take place in pastoral response to the large number of civil partnerships. To refuse to respond in such a way would confirm fears that the present ban is motivated by prejudice rather than theology or religious belief. “

On the current ban on appointments of openly gay clergy to be Bishops the Coalition calls for an immediate end to the moratorium:

“One of the most pressing needs is to see an end to the moratorium on appointment of bishops in civil partnerships even if celibate. There is no justification for the current moratorium and it should be repealed immediately.”

The submission also warns against putting up barriers to such appointments:

“Furthermore, any attempt to deter or exclude such candidates by singling them out for intrusive questions is not only unjust and hurtful to the individuals concerned but also damaging to mission and ministry.”

In response to the submission, the House of Bishops review group has invited members of the Coalition to meet with them to discuss the issues further.

The Coalition is also organising an Act of Witness at General Synod drawing attention to the many hundreds of LGB&T clergy who minister in the Church of England despite the discrimination and suspicion which they often suffer. The Act of Witness will take place on Thursday 9th February, 8:30-10am in Deans Yard, Westminster.

The full text of the submission is available as a PDF file from here.

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more reactions to the Sentamu interview

There is a news report in the Church Times of reactions to the Archbishop of York’s interview by Madeleine Davies headlined Sentamu’s words on gay marriage backed by MPs.

Benny Hazlehurst, who is quoted in that news story, has published God, Marriage and the State giving more background on how marriage has changed.

For more on the demonstration outside York Minster, see local press reports here, and here.

The Church Times has a leader: In the end, it comes down to a word.

…It is good that the C of E is examining its earlier reserva­tions about civil partnerships. Experience has proved them to be serious affairs, with many qualities — dedication, nurture, love, faithfulness — that look like marriage. Libby Purves has quoted the saying: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it probably is a duck… People who want to marry and treat one another properly should not be made second-class.” If Dr Sentamu and others wish to argue differently, they need to make a stronger case for discriminating against same-sex couples than merely appealing to “tradition and history”.

The Spectator has splashed out with a cover story headlined Sentamu for Canterbury!

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Two area bishops appointed in Southwark diocese

From the Diocese of Southwark: Two new Area Bishops for Southwark Diocese.

Downing Street has announced this morning that the Rev Jonathan Clark has been appointed the 10th Bishop of Croydon and the Venerable Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE has been appointed the 12th Bishop of Woolwich. The Revd Jonathan Clark succeeds the Rt Rev Nick Baines who is now the 10th Bishop of Bradford and the Venerable Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE succeeds the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun who is now the 10th Bishop of Southwark. They will be consecrated in Southwark Cathedral on 21 March 2012…

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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Full transcript of Sentamu interview with Telegraph

The Archbishop of York has published this transcript of his interview with Martin Beckford of the Daily Telegraph.

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London clergy challenge Civil Partnership ban

Updated again Friday morning

A group of clergy in the Diocese of London have signed a letter calling for the Church of England to reverse its ban on civil partnership ceremonies being held in churches.

This is reported fully today in The Times but that material is all behind a paywall. Here are some other reports:

BBC Church of England clergy challenge civil partnership stance

AFP Church of England clergy rebel on gay ceremonies

Mail Online Nearly 100 clergy revolt over Church ban on ‘gay weddings’

Text of letter to The Times:

We, the undersigned, believe that on the issue of holding civil partnership ceremonies in Church of England churches incumbents / priests in charge should be accorded the same rights as they enjoy at present in the matter of officiating at the marriage of divorced couples in church. Namely, that this should be a matter for the individual conscience of the incumbent / priest in charge.

We would respectfully request that our views in this regard are fully represented in Synod.

Updates

Changing Attitude has now published the full list of signatures to the letter, along with a covering letter sent to the clergy members of General Synod from the London diocese. See Signatories on the letter to The Times and clergy proctors of London Diocese.

The Bishop of London has issued this: Clergy letter about civil partnerships in our churches

I am of course aware of the letter that a number of clergy in this Diocese has signed regarding civil partnerships in our churches. Their request to General Synod is based on very proper pastoral concern and it is right that this matter continues to be discussed openly…

The Church Times has a report: London clergy seek right to choose together with the full list of signatories.

…The letter challenging this ban originated at St Luke’s, Chelsea, where the Rector is Prebendary Brian Leathard. On Wednesday, he said that his motivation had been pastoral: “More and more people are coming to us, and feel that we are turning them away without being able to hear their story. They have a genuine desire for the Church’s fullest ministry, for us to bless their loving relationships.”

His request is for “something akin to the remarriage of divorcees when, under guidelines and in consultation with the bishop, priests act in accordance with their con­sciences”. The letter asks for permis­sive legislation: “There will be priests who do not want to do this, and I would respect their desire not to.”

He disagreed with the view that the present system spared the clergy from the responsibility of rejecting individual couples. “For those of us at the front line, there is no sense of hiding behind a blanket ban: we are still turning people away.”

St Luke’s has not approached all the London clergy; none the less, Prebendary Leathard said: “This is a substantial proportion. We should like our General Synod represent­atives to hear this groundswell, and represent those views in the Synod.”

Guardian Riazat Butt Bishop of London dismisses calls for civil partnerships in churches

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