Saturday, 31 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: Manchester Diocesan Synod

Updated Saturday afternoon to add numbers of abstentions
Updated Sunday to correct date of Southwell & Nottingham synod

Manchester diocesan synod voted on the Anglican Covenant motion this morning.

The motion in favour of the covenant was defeated in all three houses.

Bishops: 1 for / 2 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 15 for / 25 against / 0 abstentions
Laity: 12 for / 23 against / 7 abstentions

With this result the current figures are 25 diocesan synods against and 15 in favour of the Covenant.

The remaining four dioceses will vote after Easter: Southwell & Nottingham (21 April), Chichester (21 April), Newcastle (28 April) and York (28 April).

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 31 March 2012 at 11:31am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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opinion

Sarah Dylan Breuer writes: Don’t make me Moses: On spiritually hazardous uses of models and metaphors.

Andrew Nunn (the Dean of Southwark) preached this sermon at the Consecration of the Bishops of Croydon and Woolwich.

Peter Price (the Bishop of Bath and Wells) preached this sermon at a commemoration service for Archbishop Oscar Romero: Church ‘obsessed with morality at the expense of justice’.

Paul Brandeis interviewed Elaine Pagels for The Huffington Post: Elaine Pagels’ New Book Offers ‘Revelations’ On The Book Of Revelation.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 31 March 2012 at 11:00am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 30 March 2012

Comments on an archbishop's resignation

Much has been written about the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his acceptance of the Mastership of Magdalene College Cambridge. Much of this has not been worth reading, but here are some of the better articles.

Benjamin Myers in Times Higher Education: An inclusive mission

Stephen Crittenden in The Global Mail: The Philosopher Priest

Giles Fraser in The Guardian: Rowan Williams was brilliant, but failed to bridge chasm of divided church

George Conger in the Church of England Newspaper: The Rowan Williams years and Overseas reactions to Dr. Williams’ resignation

The Tablet has this editorial: Wanted: Superhuman Anglican.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 30 March 2012 at 9:23pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Consultation opens on the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury

Link to advertisement added

Press release

Consultation opens on the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury

30 March 2012

Announcements in the Church Times, Church of England Newspaper and The Times have started the consultation process ahead of consideration by the Crown Nominations Commission as to who will follow Dr Rowan Williams as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

This is the first time the process for nominating a new Archbishop of Canterbury has begun with such an announcement, following changes to introduce more transparency in the appointment of bishops.

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams will be stepping down from the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury on 31st December 2012.

Any person wishing to comment on the challenges and opportunities that should be taken in to account in considering the appointment of his successor or who wishes to propose candidates should email, by Monday 30th April, to abc.vacancy@churchofengland.org .

Comments and proposals can also be sent in writing to one of the following:

Sir Paul Britton,
Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments
c/o Honours and Appointments Secretariat
Admiralty Arch
The Mall
London
SW1A 2WH

Ms. Caroline Boddington
Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments
The Wash House
Lambeth Palace
London
SE1 7JU

The linked press release gives more detail on the procedure. The same material can also be found here.

This link shows the advertisement.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 30 March 2012 at 6:40pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Church press on the Anglican Covenant defeat in England

The Church of Ireland Gazette has this editorial opinion: Anglican Covenant, Anglicanism and The Church of Ireland.

It might well be said that the unthinkable happened last weekend, with the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant coming to grief in the Church of England of all places (report, page 1). Yet, that is precisely what happened, and it will surely go down in the annals of Anglican history. The Covenant had been intended as an agreement with procedures that would help keep the Anglican Communion in one piece when facing contentious issues. Undoubtedly, it arose as a result of the inter-Anglican same-sex relationships controversy that has now seen its own fraught manifestation in the Church of Ireland playing out since last autumn and occasioning, earlier this month, a unique Bishops’ Conference on the topic for General Synod members.

One aspect of the Church of England débâcle that no doubt will be the subject of careful consideration in the relevant quarters is the fact that in some of the diocesan synods the voting was very close. In theory, following reflection at the English General Synod on what has transpired, the Covenant could be put back on the table in the Church of England after a lapse of three years, but there are at least two reasons why this is unlikely: first, as the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has pointed out, the Covenant is facing difficulties in some other parts of the Communion and, second, in any case, the passage of time and considerable disagreements about it have left the Covenant unable really to deal with the differences in the Communion over same-sex relationships. Other divisive issues could, of course, arise, but it is difficult to see all the requisite superabundance of energy actually now being summoned to recover and progress the Covenant (perhaps).

The moral of the story has at least two dimensions. First, from a practical perspective, when faced with a divisive crisis, setting up a bureaucratic procedure that is going to take years to get anywhere, if it is to get anywhere at all, is hardly a good idea. If anyone thought that ‘buying time’ would allow the same-sex relationships imbroglio to subside, that was a very mistaken notion, and we in the Church of Ireland do need to take note of that as we face our own difficulties over the issue.

Second, from a more conceptual perspective, we now know, as surely as we can know, that Anglicanism is set to remain a Communion of wholly autonomous Churches, bound together by ‘bonds of affection’. It should be added, however, that such mutual affection is far from a weak ideal; it is, in fact, a considerable calling and it is surely true that at times we do have to work at loving one another. There has been talk about being in communion implying ‘interdependence’ and thus justifying central regulation, however light, but that interdependence argument is actually quite vague because everything in the world is interdependent and, from an ecclesiological perspective, all Christians of whatever denomination, in communion or out of communion, are interdependent. Thus, as Anglicans, we are all, across the globe, now challenged to ponder our affection for one another and, where it is waning, to seek to nurture it carefully and prayerfully….

The Church Times has this leader: After the Covenant.

ANYONE offered a welcoming doughnut and a seat near the projector on arrival at church on Sunday would probably have guessed that it was one of the growing number of Messy Church services. But even if things looked normal, they weren’t. After the diocesan votes on the previous day, it is all Messy Church. The Anglican Covenant — an attempt to introduce order to the Communion — was tipped into oblivion, at least as far as the Church of England goes.

Without the Covenant, it was argued, national Churches had no formal obligation to consider the “relational consequences” (a coinage of the Covenant text) of their actions on other Churches in the Communion. Dr Williams warned that, without the Covenant, he found it “hard at present to see another way forward that would avoid further disintegration”. One of the troubling aspect of the Covenant debates — such as they have been — is the impression given by critics that they can not only live with disintegration but positively welcome it, if it means not having to relate to people with whom they disagree fundamentally.
In the end, Anglicans have discovered what another ecclesial body might have told them from the start: in the present age, a text cannot hold Churches together in the way that a person can. Given that no text will be perfect, a degree of affection is needed to persuade people to subscribe. An individual can earn that affection; a text (poetry excepted), never — especially a text monitored by a standing committee that few understand and none recognise. Time and again in the General Synod, affection for Dr Williams carried members along; but he was absent in the diocesan synods, and the link was broken…

Giles Fraser writes Covenant is dead. Long live unity.

I WILL not disguise my joy at the death of the Anglican Covenant. And death it is — despite the fact that some people will inevitably try to give its corpse the kiss of life. The idea that the Church of England has given it so emphatic a thumbs-down, especially in the face of huge episcopal and archiepiscopal lobby­ing, is evidence of how un­popular the idea is in the pews.

Here, the majority of bishops have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with the centre of gravity of the Church of England. It is not that we do not care about our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Communion. It is simply that we want our Christian solidarity to be expressed through our Anglican heritage, our common baptism, and the development of friendships — and not through a treaty that can be haggled over by church politicians, the purpose of which was always to isolate those Churches that had a different view of sexual ethics…

And there is a news report by Ed Thornton Challenges remain, Primate warns, after dioceses block Anglican Covenant.

…Speaking on Monday, Dr Williams said: “This is, of course, a disap­pointing outcome for many of us in the Church of England and many more in the Communion. Unfor­tunately, the challenges the Covenant was meant to address will not go away just because people vote against it.

“We shall still have to work at vehicles for consultation and manag­ing disagreement. And nothing should lessen the priority of sus­taining relationships, especially with some of those smaller and vulner­able Churches for whom strong international links are so crucial.”

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, a patron of the Yes to the Covenant Coalition, said on Tuesday that he was “disappointed”; but “we have to trust the mind of the Church. I simply hope that the Anglican Communion can flourish a different way, without what I thought was its best hope.”
The Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, who voted against the Covenant in Oxford diocesan synod, said that its defeat in the C of E was an “opportunity to grow up, to take stock, and to get real. It’s very sad that a large number of bishops were out of touch on this one.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 30 March 2012 at 8:12am BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: London Diocesan Synod

London diocesan synod voted on the Anglican Covenant motion this evening.

The motion in favour of the covenant was lost, being defeated in both the houses of laity and clergy.

Bishops: 2 for / 1 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 17 for / 32 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 26 for / 33 against / 2 abstentions

These are the confirmed figures taken from the diocesan website, please ignore earlier incorrect results taken from a garbled tweet.

With this result the current figures are 24 diocesan synods against and 15 in favour of the Covenant.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 8:01pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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C of E Group on human sexuality appoints advisers

Church of England press release:

Group on human sexuality appoints advisers

29 March 2012

The group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling to advise the House of Bishops on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality has appointed three advisers. They are the Revd Dr Jessica Martin, Priest-in-charge of Duxford, of Hinxton and of Ickleton, Dr Robert Song, Head of Durham University’s Department of Theology and Religion, and the Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney.

Jessica Martin reflected on and wrote about the House of Bishops statement Some Issues in Human Sexuality in her former role as a Cambridge academic. Robert Song is a Senior Lecturer in Christian Ethics and President of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics. Rachel Treweek has been an Archdeacon, first in Northolt and now in Hackney, since 2006.

The House of Bishops announced on 1 July, 2011, that it intended to draw together material from the listening process undertaken within the Church of England over recent years in the light of the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution. It also committed itself to offering proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process. The task of Sir Joseph’s group, announced in January, is to help the House discharge its commitment to produce a consultation document…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 1:53pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Dissolving the Court of Lambeth Palace

George Pitcher wrote an article for last week’s edition of the New Statesman which is now available to the public.

See How Rowan took on the establishment - and lost. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, longed to take risks but was thwarted by Church courtiers and cronies more concerned with their own survival.

The article should be read in full, but here is a sample:

…There is now an opportunity for renewal. Rowan has announced his departure at the end of the year. The chiefs of staff at Lambeth Palace and Church House, too, will soon be on their way. The new Archbishop of Canterbury has a golden opportunity to streamline and to make the support structures of the Church of England and, by extension, the Anglican Communion, more effective for and better suited to the 21st century. Something similar has already been achieved in the civil service; it’s high time that the administration of the English Church underwent another reformation.

Here are my suggestions, born of bitter experience but offered without rancour. The new archbishop should sweep away the top-heavy management of Lambeth Palace, discarding the courtly structures in favour of a small personal staff. He probably needs no more than a diary secretary, a chaplain and a junior press officer. All other executive functions would move to Church House in Westminster, where the Archbishop has an administrative office. There would be a single chief of staff, with oversight over both the Archbishop’s and the Church of England’s staff. The next most senior position is another single post that could merge all functions - call her or him, say, director of strategy and communications - to which all public affairs and media functions would report…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 12:27pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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What the Strasbourg Court didn't say

Recently, there were claims in the British press that the European Court of Human Rights had issued a new ruling to the effect that “same sex marriage is not a human right”. These claims appeared in the Daily Mail, and in the Telegraph, though the latter subsequently amended its article to remove the errors that had been brought to their attention.

The situation was well explained in this article at The Blog That Peter Wrote titled The Case Against Same Sex Marriage.

…The Mail today reported on the Strassbourg case of Gas/Dubois v France. It relates to a lesbian couple in a French civil union, who complained that they were discriminated against because they could not adopt as a couple. The ruling is in French and is here. My French is no longer fluent, but I waded through it and also looked at the English summary which can be downloaded here if you are interested. The court found against the couple and expressly recognised (as it has done before) that a signatory state has to the right to discriminate against same-sex couples by not allowing them the right to marry if it so chooses.

The Mail, and the Telegraph [See Footnote] in a near virtual copy of the original article curiously reported that “the ruling also says that if gay couples are allowed to marry, any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples”. That is a pretty startling aspect that would drive a horse and cart through the government’s statement to the contrary.

It is also, as far as I can see, entirely wrong. There is nothing that I can find in the French ruling or the English summary to this effect. It is important to note that if there had been, of course, it would have been obiter in the sense that the court was looking at whether the couple had the right to adopt under a civil union, not considering hypothetical situations that do not exist. Further, the English law doctrine of binding precedent does not apply to ECHR judgements, so it would additionally have provided persuasive guidance rather than hard case law to be followed. But again, let’s get back to the point: it’s not in the ruling…

And he concludes:

Let me summarise: the Gas/Dubois ruling expressly confirmed the right of ECHR states to discriminate against gay people in matters of marriage. It did not discuss what I think is a key question of the interplay of the Article 9 Right of Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion with the right of a gay person not to be discriminated against, where a state does have same-sex marriage. The Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Belgium all have full same-sex marriage. Any court actions in these countries attempting to force a clergyman to marry against his conscience in these countries would, I am sure, have been widely reported. Certainly nothing has reached Strassbourg.

This is only my opinion, but I think it is widely fanciful to suppose that, in the light of its repeated view that gay people can be discriminated against by their countries, Strassbourg would currently take on the church in this way and rule that the rights of a gay person to get married in church outweigh Article 9 rights. It is scare-mongering, it is conjecture, and it is not based on any jurisprudence I am aware of to pretend it is fact this would be the case…

Links:

Court judgment (only in French)

English summary of court judgment

Telegraph article as amended

Daily Mail article (has not been corrected)

And just today, there is a detailed discussion of this case, and its press coverage at UK Human Rights Blog titled Can a homosexual person adopt his or her partner’s child? The case of Gas and Dubois v France.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 8:41am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: further reactions to its English rejection

Bishop Alan Wilson has written Boot and Reboot?

The boot goes into the Anglican Covenant. Time to reboot?

We could try to defibrillate the whole thing hoping that somehow this process that has just split the Church of England down the middle will somehow transmute into a great Focus of Unity. That way madness lies — stupidity that repeats the same mistake over again, hoping for a different result. Another very English option is to pretend nothing really happened, sit on our hands going “ho-hum” whilst, as Covenant supporters sometimes prognosticated, the sky falls in, or not.

Wouldn’t it be healthier to acknowledge reality? Take this as an invitation to look at the painful image in the mirror. Bishops were largely out of touch. In spite of, nay, because of our infantilised “Daddy knows best” culture, Daddy got it wrong. The troops did not buy a well-intentioned attempt to lick us into denominational shape. Much heavy covenant sell failed to persuade. It did not explain why or how bureaucratic accountability would improve on a free relationship of equals. Always start with “why?”

Bishop Graham Kings has written Communion Connections:Web of Mutuality or Fragmentation?

…It seems to me that there are three options for the future shape of the Anglican Communion. First, the ‘web of mutuality’ manifested in the Covenant, which provides autonomy and interdependence with accountability. This is the broad centre ground of those who vote for the Covenant, and includes the leaders of the Communion-minded Global South Anglican movement, based in Singapore.

Second, ‘confessionalism’, gathered around the Jerusalem Declaration of the conservative Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), the follow up group to the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON). Based currently in Nairobi, FCA hosts a conference in London from 23-27 April, at which some members of the Global South Anglican Movement will also attend.

Third, ‘independent autonomy’, following the radically liberal current leaders of The Episcopal Church, in the USA, (TEC).

Following further likely controversial decisions of TEC’s General Convention in July, there may well be more fragmentation between the first two and the third options. These decisions, together with the English vote, may lead to the Anglican Communion declining into a Federation or Association…

Benjamin Guyer has written Defending the Bishops which is a reply to Diarmaid MacCulloch’s article in the Guardian linked here previously.

…MacCulloch’s arguments are weak at best. But there is something more going on here than poor reasoning, for MacCulloch is advancing an idiosyncratic argument in favor of populism. On the one hand, vox populi non vox Dei est (the voice of the people is not the voice of God). The bishops are not now, never have been, and never will be under any obligation simply to follow the laity. The Church of England is the whole ecclesiastical body. To borrow from St. Paul, the body is “made up of many parts” (1 Cor. 12:12). There is no theological reason why one ecclesiastical office should be collapsed into another. Curiously, and in an oversimplification bordering upon historical falsehood, MacCulloch asserts that once upon a time the British episcopal churches “wanted to monopolise every form of religious expression.” But by demanding that the bishops sacrifice their voice, it is MacCulloch and his supporters who desire such monopoly. MacCulloch’s anti-authoritarianism thinly veils his own longing for domination and control.

Since at least the British civil wars of the 1640s, marginal groups with revolutionary intentions have claimed that they alone speak for “the people.” But such totalizing declarations should be met with considerable skepticism. Claiming to speak for the people may be both an act of deception and an act of manipulation. Of course, the Anglican Covenant is about the Anglican Communion, not about sexuality. This is why sexuality is not discussed in the Covenant at all. Only a grand conspiracy theory can hold otherwise. Such theories may appeal to some of the now-aged children of the 1960s, but we live in the 21st century. And today MacCulloch’s writing has been shown — yet again — to be selective, speculative, tendentious and agenda-ridden.

Benny Hazlehurst has written Anglican Covenant - Rest in Peace.

…The fact that so many clergy and lay people voted against their Bishops showed that when they really looked beneath the surface of the proposed Covenant, they found it wanting. And in doing so time and time again, they defeated the platform. And where Bishops had the courage of their convictions and voted against, they found themselves at one with their flock, rather than trying to drag them along in humble submission.

There are those who are still trying to pretend that the Covenant is still alive, desperately trying to breathe life into its limp body, while claiming still to feel the faintest pulse. They are mistaken.

What is needed now is to recognise the will of the Synodical process, and express deep and sincere thanks to those who genuinely tried to find a way forward for the Anglican Communion in the form of a Covenant – and to let it now Rest in Peace.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 at 8:00am BST | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

more reactions to the Anglican Covenant's rejection in England

Yes to the Covenant has issued this press release (not yet on its website):

ANGLICAN COVENANT SUPPORTERS EXPRESS ‘DEEEP REGRET

Supporters of the Anglican Communion Covenant have expressed their deep regret at the decision by the majority of Church of England Dioceses not to support the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. Although in total more people in Diocesan Synods voted for the Covenant than against it, the rules required a majority of both clergy and laity in favour in each Diocese in order for it to go through. The decisions means that the Covenant has now been officially rejected by the Church of England, and will not be going forward for ratification by the General Synod later in the year.

Prudence Dailey, a member of General Synod and co-founder of the ‘Yes to the Covenant’ campaign, said: ‘I deeply regret what I believe to be a profoundly mistaken decision, especially when the General Synod had previously given the Covenant such overwhelming support. Many in the worldwide Anglican Communion were pinning their hopes on the Covenant as the only way forward, and I cannot help wondering what they—and especially those Provinces that have already ratified the Covenant—will make of us in the Church of England’.

She indicated that she hoped those dioceses yet to vote would still take the voting seriously to enable the mind of the whole Church of England to be reflected, and that many of them would vote in favour. Although this would not affect the outcome, it would be symbolically significant, she explained.

‘At the same time’, she said, ‘it is now necessary to look forwards rather than back. Many Provinces have already ratified the Covenant, and others may well do so; and its provisions will remain in force for those who have signed up to it. The new Archbishop of Canterbury has now potentially been left with an even more difficult and challenging task than his predecessor, but I hope and pray that a way can still be found to keep Anglicans together in a meaningful and coherent sense’. It remained to be seen whether or not it would still be possible for the Church of England to remain in any sense at the heart of the Anglican Communion, she added.

Andrew Brown has written at Cif belief about The Anglican schism. The international Anglican communion was always a rather ridiculous notion, but liberals may not like what replaces it

Historians know it is difficult to date a schism, just as it’s difficult to point to the precise row when a marriage breaks down. But in his article for the Guardian, Diarmaid MacCulloch might, I think, have pointed out that the end of the covenant also marks the end of the Anglican communion, which was always a slightly ridiculous conception, and more of an idea than an administrative reality. I still think that the single most perfectly comic line that George Carey ever delivered in his previous role as archbishop of Canterbury, was his statement to the UN general assembly that “The Anglican communion, with 80m members, is well placed to be a major player”.

Carey’s grandiosity can be put in proportion by remembering that 30 million of the Anglicans he purported to lead when he said that, were in England, most of them quite unaware of his existence.

But that doesn’t mean the communion was nothing but a comedy act, nor that its end is an entirely good thing. Christians ought to be able to agree without discipline, and for many years it appeared that the Anglican communion might offer a model for how they could do so across huge cultural and national boundaries. What, after all, did the church in New Zealand have in common with that in Nigeria, except for the accident that both descended from British colonies? For nearly 150 years, the idea of the Anglican communion seemed to supply some kind of answer: they cared about each other, and cared to some extent for each other. Once every ten years, their bishops would come to Canterbury to demonstrate this, at a shindig called the Lambeth conference…

The Anglican Communion Institute has published The Communion After Williams.

…Given the current state of the Instruments of Communion – Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC – it is likely that many African and Asian churches will simply choose not to participate in these councils and relationships. The Covenant, precisely in its likely rejection by the Church of England and other Western churches, can now provide an alternative means of Anglican witness for non-Western churches that is nonetheless able to maintain its links with ongoing Communion structures. Saying “No” to the Covenant is something the Covenant itself acknowledges as possible, and churches like England’s are exercising that choice. But no one can say “No” in such a way as to co-opt the choice of others to say “Yes”, and it is for those who embrace the Covenant now to chart its common usefulness, which remains one of rich possibility. In general, the key to the Covenant’s dynamic adaptation to the needs of its adopting members lies in the fact that its ongoing shape and application is under the exclusive governance of those who have adopted it. And key to its potential unifying role in the future are its origins, content, and intrinsic interest in the older structures and membership of the Communion itself.

Three elements now place a wedge between any future covenanting Anglican churches and not only the Church of England, but the current Instruments of Communion themselves. First, the Covenant itself grants a functional role to the Archbishop of Canterbury within the Instruments of Communion (3.1.4); second, after its recent legal reorganization, the ACC is now an English company, whose membership for purposes of English law is the Standing Committee, of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is an ex officio member; third, Paragraph 4.2.8 of the Covenant limits participation in the Instruments for purposes of the Covenant to “those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.” It is difficult to see, then, how the current Instruments can function for the Covenant, without the Church of England, in the absence of substantial clarification of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as a “representative” of the Church of England. The problem with the current Instruments is only magnified by the near certainty that other western churches, who collectively exercise disproportionate influence over the Instruments, will refuse the Covenant as well.

Fortunately, the Covenant already lays out the procedural means for resolving these difficulties through its amendment provision. Paragraph 4.4.2 provides that any “covenanting Church” (or Instrument) can propose an amendment, which will take effect when ratified by three quarters of the covenanting Churches. A proposed amendment is to be submitted “through” the Standing Committee, which solicits advice and makes recommendations; but the Standing Committee’s role is mandatory not discretionary. It has no discretion to refrain from sending the proposal to the covenanting Churches for ratification. If for any reason the Standing Committee failed to send the proposed amendment out as required in dereliction of its duty, the covenanting Churches could simply deem that procedural step waived. And it must be emphasized that neither the Instruments nor the non-covenanting Churches have any ability either to amend the Covenant or to interfere in the decision of the covenanting Churches to amend. The Covenant now lies outside their control. The Covenant offers a way out of the impasse Williams’ resignation has now exposed. And it does so in a fashion that is continuous with the Communion’s own movement and spirit of counsel – it is, in other words, ecclesially legitimate…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 8:17am BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Monday, 26 March 2012

Anglican Covenant rejection in England: various reactions

Updated

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued this press release.

The Guardian has published this article by Diarmaid MacCulloch The Anglican church can start afresh. The recent vote against the Anglican covenant is hugely significant. But are the bishops ready to listen?

…So now Anglicanism needs to move forward and forget this sorry diversion, into which many perfectly well-meaning people poured a huge amount of energy over a decade when they might have been doing something useful. Woe betide any attempt to revive it, though I notice that the secretary general of the Anglican communion (now there’s an office that sounds ripe for culling) is clearly determined to keep it alive. To judge by a press statement he issued after the votes, he simply hasn’t understood the scale of the catastrophe the covenant has suffered at the hands of ordinary English Anglicans.

Anglicanism has the chance to rediscover painful lessons from its chequered past. After the 16th century Reformation, Scotland, Ireland and England all had churches with bishops. All three churches wanted to monopolise every form of religious expression throughout the realm. All failed.

In the end, episcopal churches were disestablished in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but even the established Church of England learned that it could not boss around an entire nation, and had to accept that it ministered within a country of many faiths and none. That is a precious lesson to teach its many sister churches worldwide. Try and lay down the law in that delicate, nuanced thing that is religious belief, and you end up damaging or hurting a great many people.

Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don’t expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don’t agree with them. Now Anglicans can start listening afresh. The present archbishop of Canterbury has their warm good wishes, as he prepares to use his many talents and graces in a different setting. They should ask the next man or woman in the job to reconnect with the church and the nation.

Fulcrum has published this article by Andrew Goddard The Anglican Communion Covenant and the Church of England: Ramifications.

Executive Summary

  • The Church of England cannot reconsider the covenant until 2015.
  • Although diocesan votes are quite strongly against, actual votes cast remain marginally for the covenant and English supporters need to continue advocating for the covenant and its vision.
  • The covenant will continue to be considered around the Communion – eight provinces have embraced it and ACC in November will take stock but cannot end the process. * Other provinces should be encouraged to adopt the covenant despite the English decision.
  • The Church of England remains a full member of the Communion.
  • Although the CofE’s representatives cannot now participate in decision-making about the covenant within the Instruments of Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as an Instrument rather than a provincial representative, may be able to do so.
  • There continue to be 3 visions of communion within the Communion – (1) the covenant vision of autonomy and interdependence with accountability, (2) the confessional GAFCON vision and (3) the TEC autonomy-as-independence vision. Only the first vision is likely to get the support of most provinces as, though different, it is compatible with the second but not the third vision.
  • The Communion now must choose between two main paths of significant reconfiguration – (A) A covenant-focussed Communion but with the Church of England outside the covenant, (B) A looser, more incoherent Communion with various networks within or possibly separate from it.
  • Archbishop Rowan’s via media approach of holding the Communion together by enabling conversation within the framework of upholding the Windsor Report, Lambeth I.10 and the covenant now needs major restructuring if it is to survive.
  • Neither the Communion nor the Church of England can remain unchanged by this development which makes it harder for Anglicanism’s distinctive historic tradition and global communion of churches to “survive with all its aspects intact”.

Anglican Mainstream has published Anglican Communion Covenant will not be debated by CofE General Synod.

…Bishop Michael Nazir Ali said that “I am disappointed that the Anglican Communion Covenant, even in its watered down version,has failed to gain the support of the Church of England. This now means that the Jerusalem Statement (2008) is now ‘The only game in town.’”

In which connection, there is this announcement of a GAFCON meeting in London in April.

Update

Here are two more analyses:

Pluralist Analysis of the Anglican Futures

In terms of the Anglican Communion, the balkanisation that was taking place will now obviously continue. There will be those Anglicans who do use the Covenant, which will be like a declaration to each other of being relatively conservative. There will be those Anglicans of the Jerusalem Declaration (who may and may not also Covenant - see below why probably not) who are producing a strongly doctrinal Protestant version of Anglicanism. Then there will be those leaving open a more flexible future outside any Covenant.

Whatever happens, Anglicans of the confessional and doctrinal type are going to be competitive. I can’t see the Covenant as a process being sufficient for them, but then they have additional statements. The real issue for them is how they try on international oversight via their own Primates’ Council and attempt to compete using fellowship structures. Churches ‘taken on’ by them will have to force the GAFCON/ FCA into independence, possibly then forming an Anglican Church of Northern Europe (or similar title) to parallel ACNA (or have one ACN).

The fact is that if an Anglican congregation decides to ignore the diocesan bishop and seek fellowship structures and international oversight instead, the congregation will lose its church building and the parish restored. Those seeking other oversight will have to leave and be self-sufficient, and this is the means by which ‘entryism’ if practised becomes separation. There aren’t the property issues as in North America but there are issues of dioceses and structures.

The Church of England will have competition within from outside as one faction but it will also have those who dream of Covenanting. These hopefuls (of reintroducing legislation) will include diocesan bishops who can behave as if they are Covenanting. They might even declare themselves ‘Windsor Compliant bishops’, but some would do so knowing they didn’t carry their own dioceses with them. But dioceses cannot join the Covenant, and it was invasive of Rowan Williams to suggest that some American bishops could escape their own province. Only by being competitive, can they: canon law is by Church, not Communion or Covenant. One could only see such an outcome of ‘Windsor Compliants’ popping up within the Church of England if the Conservative Evangelicals were invasive in terms of competition and nothing much was being done about them…

Paul Bagshaw A personal postmortem

…The Church of England

  • The defeat will echo round the CofE’s structures of governance for some time to come.
  • It puts a question mark against the relationship of bishop to diocese (or, at least, to diocesan synod). Some will draw the lesson that new ways must be found to reduce opposition to the leadership; others, that better - more open, more 2-way communication - working relations between leadership and the rest of the diocese is needed.
  • Synodical government itself came under great strain. Win or lose, the tactics used by some bishops, and the Covenant’s inherent overweaning character, was designed to marginalise voters and thus, to diminish the whole system of synodical government.
  • This was possible because it had been steadily weakened over years. The normal tone of deference, the occasional note of ‘fear’ of opposing the bishops, the appeal to loyalty as a motive to vote, all undermine rational and prayerful decision making.
  • The premium placed on the univocal character of the House of Bishops in recent times may either be reinforced or called into question.
  • Will liberals feel emboldened again (after 20 years of Evangelicals making the running)?
  • If so, will an increasingly liberal Church of England move further away from the churches of the Global South, schism or no schism?
  • Establishment will be untouched by this - though it might have been had the Covenant been implemented…

Peter Carrell The Anglican Association and the Anglican Communion

Ideas have their time and some ideas find their time does not come according to their supporters timetable. The Anglican Covenant may prove to be such an idea as a proposal for the Anglican Communion. (It has clearly proved in the last few days to be an idea whose time has not yet come for the Church of England). As the Living Church editorial I pointed to yesterday says, we can look back to 1963 and the Toronto Congress to see that the notion of mutual responsibility and interdependence has charted the evolution of the Communion for nearly fifty years:

“The [No Anglican Covenant] coalition’s opposition to the Covenant has principally centered on a sustained disinterest in global Communion structures, funded by an unhappy amnesia (at best, ignorance at worst) regarding the modern evolution of the Anglican Communion. Among other things, prescribed reading for all members of the NACC, and those tempted to follow them, would include the report from the 1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto, Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, which charted the course for inter-Anglican conversation of the last half century in a visionary, missionary mode.”

Will future historians look back and see that the Anglican Covenant’s rejection by sufficient member churches to prevent its effective implementation was just a hiccup on the way to fulfilment of the Toronto vision? Were that to be so then the next period of Communion life will likely show signs of the situation being a hiccup rather than a dead end. Here is how our global life might play out over the next few decades…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 March 2012 at 8:51am BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: analysis of the voting so far

Alan Perry has been keeping tally of the voting statistics in English dioceses, and following last Saturday’s six further results, he has issued the following report:

…There was some confusion in the tally of Oxford’s votes, which has made the update of the statistics difficult, because I had to decide how to include them. There is no doubt about the end result in Oxford: the Covenant proposal was defeated in the House of Clergy. (Oxford, recall, is the home of the Yes to the Covenant campaign.) In the end, I chose to average the numbers, rounding. So, reported numbers for Oxford are:

Clergy: 14/15 for, 36/38 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 32/35 for, 24/29 against, 3 abstentions.

I have included:

Clergy: 15 for, 37 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 34 for, 27 against, 3 abstentions.

Bearing that in mind, total voting statistics now stand at:

Bishops: 79.5% for, 14.1% against, 6.4% abstentions
Clergy: 45.7% for, 50.1% against, 4.3% abstentions
Laity: 48.6% for, 46.4% against, 5.0% abstentions

Overall: 48.1% for, 47.2% against, 4.7% abstentions
Overall (clergy and laity only): 47.3% for, 48.1% against, 4.7% abstentions

The overwhelming support for the Covenant by the bishops pushes the total to a slim plurality of support for it, but when their votes are excluded from the counting (as their votes don’t actually count in the diocesan totals) the reverse is true. Except amongst the bishops, it is clear that the members of the diocesan synods that have voted to date are almost exactly evenly divided as to whether the Covenant ought to be adopted by the Church of England, though there is a significant margin and a majority against adoption amongst the clergy…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 10:40pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Little Gidding Pilgrimage

Saturday 19 May

For nearly 400 years pilgrims have been drawn to Little Gidding in the north of the diocese of Ely, ever since the saintly Nicholas Ferrar and his family lived there in the early seventeenth century.

You are warmly invited to join the annual Pilgrimage to Little Gidding
commemorating the life and example of Nicholas Ferrar.

This year’s pilgrimage is led by Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely and President of the Friends of Little Gidding.

Join the celebration of Holy Communion in Leighton Bromswold Church
whose restoration was funded by George Herbert and directed by the Ferrars

Share lunch with fellow pilgrims

Enjoy the gentle walk through the Huntingdonshire countryside
from Leighton Bromswold to Little Gidding
(about five miles along the country roads, with three short stations for prayer and rest)

Gather round the tomb of Nicholas Ferrar for prayer

Sing Evening Prayer at Little Gidding ‘where prayer has been valid’
(preacher: Bishop Stephen; choir: the Hurstingstone Singers)

Delight in Tea and conversation at Ferrar House

For more details see www.littlegidding.org.uk/pilgrimage or see below the fold.

Timetable for the day

10.30am: Holy Communion at Leighton Bromswold Church
12 noon: Pilgrims’ Lunch
1pm: First Station at the Hundred Stone at Leighton Bromswold, and start of Pilgrimage Walk
2pm (approx): Second Station at Salome Wood
2.45pm (approx): Third Station at Hamerton (refreshments and toilets available)
3.45pm (approx): Fourth Station at Steeple Gidding Church
4.15pm: Fifth Station — Prayers at the Tomb of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding
followed by Pilgrimage Evensong and Tea

What is the Pilgrimage about?

Born in London in 1592, Nicholas Ferrar gave up a life in commerce and politics to move to Little Gidding, with his mother and his brother and sister and their families, establishing a life of prayer and charitable works. Ordained deacon, he was the leader of the household, foremost in the life of prayer, study, and work, setting an example of devotion and spiritual life to the English Church that has stood as a beacon to those who have followed. Nicholas died on 4 December 1637, and his devout life and example have consecrated Little Gidding as a holy place to this day. Our pilgrimage to his grave not only honours his memory and devotion, but also binds us into that same story.

The Pilgrimage is also an occasion for companionship and discussion, reflection and prayer, exercise and enjoyment of the countryside.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 6:49pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Have eight provinces adopted the Covenant?

The Secretary General writes: “I have received notifications from eight Provinces…” but this is not the whole story.

The promoters of the document have insisted that it has to be adopted exactly as it stands, and that adopting it only in part, or with amendments to the text, is not an option.

Item: he lists Southern Africa, which has not yet completed its process.

Item: he lists Ireland, which insisted that it had “subscribed” and evidently thought that it was important not to have used the word “adopted”. This may be an Irish subtlety too far for the rest of us to understand.

Item: he lists South East Asia which can only be said to have adopted the existing text by the application of Humpty Dumpty logic. Here is the link to the full text of their Preamble to the Letter of Accession.

So I would say that at the present time the number of adopters is really only six (including Ireland).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 3:16pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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English Covenant votes - press reports

A few reports have already appeared in the press about the rejection of the Anglican Communion Covenant by a majority of Church of England diocesan synods.

Avril Ormsby for Reuters English church votes down pact to unite Anglicans

BBC Half of the Church of England’s dioceses reject unity covenant including Analysis by Robert Pigott

The Independent CoE votes against covenant on divisive issues

And there is a mention towards the end of this article by Cole Moreton and Edward Malnick in The Telegraph Twitter users invited to help choose the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 11:27am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 24 March 2012

opinion

Rachel Held Evans has written 15 Reasons I Left Church and 15 Reasons I Returned to The Church.

Bart Ehrman asks in The Huffington Post Did Jesus Exist?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 5:35pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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The Secretary General on the Anglican Communion Covenant

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has just issued this press release.

The Secretary General on the Anglican Communion Covenant
Posted On : March 24, 2012 3:58 PM | Posted By : Admin ACO
ACNS: ACNS5076
Related Categories: ACO

In the light of today’s news about the decisions of the dioceses of the Church of England about the Covenant I wanted to clarify the current situation across the Anglican Communion.

In December 2009, as requested by the Standing Committee, I sent the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant to all the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion asking that they consider it for adoption according to their own internal procedures.

I have received notifications from eight Provinces that they have approved, or subscribed, the Covenant or, in the case of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, have approved pending ratification at the next synod which is usual procedure in that Province.

These Provinces are:
The Church of Ireland
The Anglican Church of Mexico
The Church of the Province of Myanmar
The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
The Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America
The Church in the Province of the West Indies

What next steps are taken by the Church of England is up to that Province. Consideration of the Covenant continues across the Anglican Communion and this was always expected to be a lengthy process. I look forward to all the reports of progress to date at the ACC-15 in New Zealand in November.

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:39pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Normal service resumed

We have now resolved the problems with the TA server (installing new hardware and late nights getting the software running properly on it!).

Commenting has now been re-enabled.

Simon K
(TA techie)

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 3:42pm GMT | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant: six more Diocesan Synods

This Saturday six more diocesan synods voted on the Anglican Covenant motion: Blackburn, Exeter, Guildford, Lincoln, Oxford and Peterborough.

Three Synods voted against (Guildford, Lincoln and Oxford) and three in favour (Blackburn, Exeter and Peterborough). With these results the current figures are 23 diocesan synods against and 15 in favour.

It is therefore impossible for a majority of the 44 dioceses to vote in favour. Consequently the proposed adoption of the Covenant cannot return to the General Synod in this quinquennium (ending in 2015). After that any consideration of the Covenant would have to start again and include a new reference to the dioceses.

Blackburn: covenant accepted

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 40 for / 7 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 33 for / 16 against / 1 abstention

Exeter: covenant accepted

Bishops: 3 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 28 for / 8 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 30 for / 20 against / 2 abstentions

Guildford: covenant rejected

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against
Clergy: 14 for / 22 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 23 for / 18 against / 2 abstentions

Lincoln: covenant rejected

Bishops: 0 for / 3 against / 0 abstentions (corrected figures)
Clergy: 6 for / 28 against / 3 abstentions
Laity: 2 for / 34 against / 2 abstentions

Oxford: covenant rejected (some uncertainty in exact figures, apparently the tellers did not agree, but definitely lost in house of clergy)

Bishops: 3 for / 1 against
Clergy: 14 or 15 for / 36 or 38 against / 2 abstentions
Laity: 32 or 35 for / 24 or 29 against / 3 abstentions

Peterborough: covenant accepted (please ignore earlier figures to the contrary)

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against
Clergy: 22 for / 19 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 28 for / 13 against / 7 abstentions

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 9:19am GMT | Comments (56) | TrackBack
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Friday, 23 March 2012

Reduced service

We are experiencing a few technical difficulties with the Thinking Anglicans server. Unfortunately this means that it is not currently possible to add comments to the site. We are working to restore normal service and will do so as soon as possible.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Friday, 23 March 2012 at 9:35am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

General Synod - February 2012 - questions and answers

The full set of questions and answers from last months’ Church of England General Synod is now available.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 at 10:51pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Church services after a Civil Partnership

Updated 26 March

There has been some correspondence recently in the Church Times about this, following a mention by Giles Fraser in his 10 February column of the legal opinion of the Chancellor of the Diocese of London, Nigel Seed. See this letter on 17 February from Gavin Foster, then this letter from Nigel Seed on 2 March, and a further letter from Gavin Foster on 16 March. Most of this is now subscriber-only again. No doubt there will be more to come… What is described as a final letter from Nigel Seed is now here (scroll to bottom):

…Mr Foster has come up with something entirely different because he has not approached the matter with an open and independent mind. He has started from what he believes the Statement was intended to say and has then interpreted what he says he thinks the Statement means, even though that is not what the words actually say…

The chancellor’s legal opinion referred to is now available in full at Inclusive Church: see Church Services after Civil Partnerships - advice for clergy.

Mr Foster has also written at Fulcrum: Church Services after a Civil Partnership Registration: What is and is not permitted?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 at 10:30pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Church of Nigeria reacts to Archbishop of Canterbury's Resignation

from the website of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

Church of Nigeria reacts to Archbishop of Canterbury’s Resignation

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002 when it was a happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.

It might not have been entirely his own making, but certainly “crucified under Pontius Pilate”. The lowest ebb of this degeneration came in 2008, when there were, so to say, two “Lambeth” Conferences one in the UK, and an alternative one, GAFCON in Jerusalem. The trend continued recently when many Global South Primates decided not to attend the last Primates’ meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed”.

For us, the announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction. To this end, we commit our Church, the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) to serious fasting and prayers that God will do “a new thing”, in the Communion.

Nevertheless, we join others to continue in prayer for Dr. Rowan Williams and his family for a more fruitful endeavour in their post – Canterbury life.

+Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 3:58pm GMT | Comments (60) | TrackBack
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Retirement age for archbishops and other clergy

Discussion of who might become the next Archbishop of Canterbury has included the question of how long potential candidates could serve before they had to retire. It seems helpful to set out the law on this matter.

In the Church of England there is a compulsory retirement age of 70 for all clergy (with just a few exceptions, none relevant to archbishops or bishops) in the following categories:
  • Archbishop
  • Diocesan Bishop
  • Suffragan bishop
  • Dean of a cathedral church
  • Residentiary canon in a cathedral church
  • Archdeacon
  • Incumbent of a benefice
  • Vicar in a team ministry
  • Vicar of a guild church
This is set out in section 1 of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975, and the schedule to the measure.

However in certain circumstances such clergy may continue to serve for a limited period past 70. For archbishops this is for a maximum of one year, provided that the Queen considers it desirable and authorises it. This is set out in section 2 of the measure.

2 Archbishop may continue in office for certain period after attaining retiring age at discretion of Her Majesty.

Where Her Majesty considers that there are special circumstances which make it desirable that a person holding the office of archbishop should continue in that office after the date on which he would otherwise retire in accordance with the foregoing section, She may authorise the continuance in office of that person after that date for such period, not exceeding one year, as She may in her discretion determine.

I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that Her Majesty would, as usual, exercise her powers under the measure on the advice of her prime minister. The British constitutional convention is that she always accepts that advice, as for example she does when appointing bishops and archbishops.

Similarly diocesan bishops can be given a year’s extension by their archbishop. For example, the current Bishop of Manchester has been given such an extension and will retire on his 71st birthday. A diocesan bishop can give a two year extension to parish clergy and a one year extension to other clergy in his diocese. Details are in section 3 of the measure.

There are further provision relating to the retirement of archbishops and bishops in the Bishops (Retirement) Measure 1986, but these relate only to the process, and not to the principle of a maximum retirement age.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 2:50pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Bishop of Liverpool on the Anglican Covenant

Updated

The Diocese of Liverpool voted yesterday to reject the Anglican Covenant. The presidential address to the diocesan synod by the Right Reverend James Jones can be found in full as a PDF file here.

Update the full address can now be seen on video here.

A press release about it from the diocese: The Anglican Covenant will undermine not save the Communion.

In his Presidential Address to the synod of the Diocese of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones readdresses his longstanding concerns about the creation of the Covenant. The Bishop will tell synod “far from being the salvation of the Communion the Anglican Covenant would undermine it”.

Bishop James set out six key concerns over the Covenant.

  • That in a litigious world where the religious dimension makes this more fraught the Covenant with “its explicit threats of ‘relational consequences’ will be making our Communion more vulnerable to those forces that propel people forward in litigation.”
  • That the Communion will become increasingly absorbed by internal order which will take time money and energy – he will state “my heartache here is that those precious gifts of time, money and energy should be directed to the mission of God”.
  • That the church “has been born for mission” and the Covenant can introduce a dynamic the makes the communion resistant to change. As he says “instead of setting us free to engage with a changing world it freezes us at a given point in our formation, holding us back and making us nervous about going beyond the boundaries and reaching out into God’s world.” The Bishop argues that the “church must be free to go into all the world and to engage with new cultures enabling us all to learn Christ”.
  • Pointing to the Diocese of Liverpool’s relationship with the Diocese of Akure and the Diocese of Virginia he will say “the beauty of the Communion is that it allows for such ad hoc partnerships to spring up all over the world” and that “we learn most about the Gospel form those who differ from us”. The quasi legal nature of the Covenant will threaten that dynamic.
  • That through the Bible, the Creeds, the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the 39 Articles and Book of Common Prayer we have sufficient credentials for our common life.
  • Bishop James also talked about the act of grace that it is to be in Christ stating “when we are in Christ, we are in Christ with everybody else who is in Christ, whether we like it or not- or them or not…”

The Bishop’s address continues his long stated contribution around how we should relate to those with whom we have differing theological or political viewpoints. From “Making space for truth and grace” to his speeches on the environment; relationships with other faiths and on the Ordination of women to the Episcopate the Bishop has urged a greater understanding of the opinions of those with whom we disagree. This is an approach the Bishop himself has taken within the Diocese of Liverpool as the diocese works together to pursue the mission of God in our region.

As Bishop James concludes “The Church of England and the Anglican Communion have over the centuries developed a generous embrace allowing seekers to taste and see the goodness of God. Within our borders there is a generous orthodoxy. There is space for the seeker to breathe, to enquire, to ask questions, to doubt and to grope towards faith and to find God. That I believe is a space within the Body of Christ worth preserving.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 2:05pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 17 March 2012

opinion for St Patrick's day

Greg Tobin asks in The Huffington Post Who Was the Real Saint Patrick?

Also in The Huffington Post Pierre Whalon writes about Human Rights and Religion: The Highest Possible Stakes.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Unleashing the power of viral video.

Deirdre Good and Julian Sheffield write for the Daily Episcopalian that Lent is for our sake, not Jesus’.

Christopher Howse writes for The Telegraph about Devotional high noon at St Paul’s.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant: this Saturday's votes

This Saturday another five diocesan synods voted on the Anglican Covenant motion: Chester, Ely, Liverpool, Norwich and St Albans. The motion passed in Chester and Norwich, and was defeated in Ely, Liverpool and St Albans.

Chester: covenant accepted

Bishops: 3 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 22 for / 14 against / 5 abstentions
Laity: 26 for / 23 against / 5 abstentions

Ely: covenant defeated

Bishops: 1 for / 0 against / 1 abstention
Clergy: 16 for / 23 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 19 for / 19 against / 0 abstentions

Liverpool: covenant defeated

Bishops: 0 for / 2 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 10 for / 26 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 8 for / 28 against / 5 abstentions

Norwich: covenant accepted

Bishops: 3 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 26 for / 10 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 19 for / 15 against / 1 abstention

St Albans: covenant defeated

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against
Clergy: 21 for / 31 against
Laity: 17 for / 44 against

With today’s results, the current count of diocesan votes is 12 in favour and 20 against. 22 Noes would mean that the Covenant would not come back to the General Synod for approval.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 9:44am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Friday, 16 March 2012

Rowan Williams announces his retirement

Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop of Canterbury to be Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge

Archbishop Rowan Williams has today announced his acceptance of the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge with effect from January 2013. He will therefore be stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of December 2012.

Dr Williams’ intentions have been conveyed to The Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and who formally appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury…

Bishopthorpe Palace press release: Statement Regarding Archbishop of Canterbury Stepping Down

Following the announcement this morning that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will be stepping down from his present office at the end of December, The Archbishop of York has released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be stepping down at the end of this year.

Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry. It has been life-giving to have led missions together, gone on retreats and prayed together. In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful. He is a real brother to me in Christ…

General Synod members have been sent a copy of a note from the Secretary General (GS Misc 1019) to which is attached “Outline Of Procedures For The Appointment Of An Archbishop Of Canterbury”. We have made this available as a web page. Most of this GS Misc paper is also available here.

The Anglican Communion Office issued this press release: Archbishop of Canterbury announces he is stepping down at the end of the year.

Magdalene College Cambridge has issued this press release.

10 Downing Street issued PM Statement on resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lambeth Palace Archbishop’s interview with Press Association

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Church of Ireland conference on human sexuality

Updated Sunday

As previously announced, a major conference was held last week at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

There have been two official press releases about this event:

Update From Bishops’ Conference, ‘Human Sexuality In The Context Of Christian Belief’ (This includes summaries of the main presentations to conference seminars.)

Conference Statement By Archbishop Of Armagh And Archbishop Of Dublin

The Church of Ireland Gazette this week carries this front page news article: Slieve Russell conference showed Church of Ireland’s ‘instinct for unity’, says Archbishop of Armagh and scroll down on that page for a separate editorial comment on the conference.

Other press reports:

Irish Times Archbishop upbeat on same-sex forum
Gay Christians (editorial)

Belfast Telegraph
Respect key in gay ‘marriage’ debate (editorial)
Church of Ireland bishops back ‘traditional marriage’

Belfast Newsletter
Archbishop Alan Harper Human sexuality in the context of Christian belief

Updates
Another Belfast Newsletter item: Church hails ‘relaxed’ talks on homosexuality

A letter to the editor of the Irish Times from Gerry Lynch Church of Ireland gay conference and a longer blog article by the same author: Reflections on the Church of Ireland homosexuality conference, and praise for Archbishop Harper.

A statement by Changing Attitude Ireland is reproduced below the fold.


PRESS STATEMENT

CHANGING ATTITUDE IRELAND RESPONDS TO THE CHURCH OF IRELAND CONFERENCE ON HOMOSEXUALITY

10/3/2012

Changing Attitude Ireland, the Church of Ireland pro-gay group, has responded to the Church of Ireland’s two day (March 9-10) conference on sexuality. This special conference of members of General Synod has been taking place in the Slieve Russell hotel in Co. Cavan. It was called following the controversy over the same sex civil partnership in 2011 of Dean Tom Gordon.

The Secretary of Changing Attitude Ireland, Canon Charles Kenny, said: “While I welcome the holding of the special conference to discuss homosexuality, I am concerned at the insufficient contribution by gay and lesbian people. Of the many conference sessions over two days only one 45 minute session was allocated to gay speakers.

“Changing Attitude Ireland has tried to make up for this deficit on the contribution of gay members of the Church by hosting a fringe gathering of gay, lesbian, bisexual persons and heterosexual members of the Church in the foyer of the hotel”.

At this unofficial ‘Listening Exercise” the Rev’d Mervyn Kingston a retired Church of Ireland clergyman with 34 years of ministry in the dioceses of Down, Connor and Armagh spoke. He is the editor of “Share your story: Gay and Lesbian Experiences of Church”. He told the gathering: “I entered into civil partnership in Northern Ireland in 2005, two years before my retirement from ministry in 2007”.

Mr Kingston also said that he was the terminally ill clergyman who had been refused ‘Permission to Officiate’ by the Bishop of Down, the Rt. Rev’d Harold Miller in 2007 and by the Bishop of Connor Rt. Rev’d Alan Abernethy in February 2012. He asked if this action by both Bishops was any less harsh than similar action taken against the conservative Rev’d Jim Packer by Bishop Michael Ingham in the liberal Diocese of New Westminster, Canada.

Mr Gerry Lynch, Committee member of Changing Attitude Ireland who attends St George’s church Belfast said: “As a faithful communicant member of the Church of Ireland and a gay person, once again the leadership of my Church has made sure my voice has been silenced at an event specifically aimed at discussing my position in the Church. Not a single gay person who worships in the Church of Ireland has been invited to speak at the Conference. Not a single gay woman, from the Church of Ireland or elsewhere, was invited to speak.

“The Bishops of the Church of Ireland have been promising since 1998 to begin a process of listening to the LGBT members of their flock. These promises have been honoured mainly in the breach. Further promises have been made to me personally by Bishops over this weekend, but given their past record, I will believe those promises when I see them fulfilled.”

Mr Lynch is the author of “I think my son or daughter is gay: Guidance for parents of gay children in the Church of Ireland”.

Dr Richard O’Leary, co-editor with Canon Ginnie Kennerley of the new book “Moving Forward Together: Homosexuality and the Church of Ireland” said, “As a gay member of the Church who was present at the past four meetings of General Synod, I have never heard a single Synod speaker speak in public as a gay person. Some gay, lesbian and bisexual members of the Church’s General Synod and at this special conference are afraid to speak up as gay. A problem of homophobic attitudes in the Church of Ireland needs to be acknowledged and changed.”

Canon Kenny added: “I regret that the conference has not been able to include any of the above speakers in its official programme (especially when we discover that two seminar slots had unexpectedly become free on Saturday morning). All members of General Synod would have benefitted from hearing their stories.”

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Equal civil marriage consultation

The government’s long-promised consultation has been published.
Equal civil marriage consultation

This consultation sets out the government’s proposals to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage.

The key proposals of the consultation are:

  • to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage i.e. only civil ceremonies in a register office or approved premises (like a hotel)
  • to make no changes to religious marriages. This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman
  • to retain civil partnerships for same-sex couples and allow couples already in a civil partnership to convert this into a marriage
  • civil partnership registrations on religious premises will continue as is currently possible i.e. on a voluntary basis for faith groups and with no religious content
  • individuals will, for the first time, be able legally to change their gender without having to end their marriage

Current legislation allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, but not civil marriage.

The full details of the consultation are included in the pdf version of the consultation document.

The Church of England has published its initial response to this:

Initial response to Government consultation on same-sex marriage

The Church of England/Archbishops’ Council will study the Government’s consultation on whether to redefine marriage to accommodate those of the same sex and respond in detail in due course. The following summary of the Church of England’s position has been posted at www.churchofengland.org:

“The Church of England is committed to the traditional understanding of the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“The Church of England supports the way civil partnerships offer same-sex couples equal rights and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples. Opening marriage to same-sex couples would confer few if any new legal rights on the part of those already in a civil partnership, yet would require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone.

“The issue of whether marriage should be redefined to include those of the same-sex is a more complicated picture than has been painted. Arguments that suggest ‘religious marriage’ is separate and different from ‘civil marriage’, and will not be affected by the proposed redefinition, misunderstand the legal nature of marriage in this country. They mistake the form of the ceremony for the institution itself.

“Currently, the legal institution of marriage into which people enter is the same whether they marry using a civil or a religious form of ceremony. Arguments that seek to treat ‘religious marriage’ as being a different institution fail to recognise the enduring place of the established church in providing marriages that have full state recognition. The Church of England will continue to argue against changing the definition of marriage, which has supported society for so long.”

ENDS

The summary of the Church of England’s position, and a selection of recent comments by bishops, can be read at:
http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/same-sex-marriage.aspx

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Religious views about proposed changes to marriage law

First, Cardinal Keith O’Brien wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that We cannot afford to indulge this madness.

There were many articles in response, but Cardinal O’Brien jumps the shark by Nelson Jones covers most of the ground. And for more detail there is Gay Marriage, the Universal Declaration and a Cardinal by (h/t Adam Wagner).

Last Friday the Church Times had this report: Clergy speak out in support of proposal for gay marriage.

Meanwhile the Tablet had Can marriage ever change? Homosexuality and the Church Timothy Radcliffe, Martin Pendergast & Tina Beattie.

On Sunday morning, the Archbishop of York appeared on the Andrew Marr TV programme, see BBC Archbishop Sentamu: Don’t change gay marriage law.

And the following letter was read in all RC parish churches in England and Wales: Archbishops Vincent Nichols and Peter Smith Pastoral Letter on marriage.

Fulcrum has published Should we Redefine Marriage? by Andrew Goddard.

John Milbank has written Gay Marriage and the Future of Human Sexuality.

Here’s the list of serving Church of England diocesan bishops, who have signed the Coalition for Marriage petition, as of Wednesday evening, 14 March:

Rt Revd Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester
Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford
Rt Revd Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter
Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle
Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry
Rt Revd Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough
Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
Rt Revd Timothy Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield

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The Times interviews the Dean of St Albans

Yesterday The Times published an interview with the Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John.
The original report is behind the Times paywall, but the URL for subscribers is here: Church is the last bastion of prejudice, says gay priest by Ruth Gledhill.

The full text of the Dean’s answers to Ruth Gledhill’s questions is reproduced below the fold.

1. Do you agree with what David Ison said about gay marriage?

Yes, and I admire him for saying it.

2. What are your views generally on gay marriage?

I have always believed that the only possible Christian model for a same-sex relationship is monogamy. I wrote a booklet about it in 1991 called ‘Permanent Faithful Stable’ which will be republished later this year. At that time I took the view that it didn’t matter whether we call it a marriage or not – what really matters is the nature of the relationship and the commitment on which it rests. In a sense that is still true. But of course the obvious, natural term for monogamy is marriage, and most people instinctively refer to civil partnerships as marriages anyway. So I think ‘marriage’ probably is the best term to use for same-sex as well as well as heterosexual monogamy, and it also has the great advantage of making clear that both should be given equal respect.

3. Are you willing to chart your theological journey to that point?

I start from the fact that the Church calls marriage a sacrament because the covenant of love between the married couple reflects the covenant of love between Christ and his Church, and so becomes a channel of God’s own love into the world. The secure framework of marriage helps you to keep loving through the bad times, and in the process it teaches you a deeper sort of love – the sort that involves the will and self-sacrifice and not just feelings. Growing in that sort of love means you are growing in the image and likeness of God.

That is the traditional understanding of Christian marriage. But the big point is, exactly the same love and commitment are possible between two people of the same sex as between two people of different sexes, and it is not immediately clear why the Church should regard such a relationship as ethically or spiritually inferior to a heterosexual marriage.

Of course the procreation of children by two same-sex partners is not possible. But the Church has never seen procreation as a necessity for marriage, and so has always married partners past the age of childbearing. Even in Genesis the first reason given why God created Eve is not childbearing but because ‘God saw that it was not good for man to be alone’. While the Prayer Book states that marriage was ordained first for ‘the procreation of children’ the modern marriage service begins by emphasising the quality of relationship between marriage partners ‘that they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind.’

So same-sex monogamy seems to me to be spiritually indistinguishable from a marriage between two people who are unable to have children together. Admitting same sex couples to marriage would extend the sacrament, not undermine it. Like the Church’s decision to admit women to the sacrament of ordination, it is a lot less revolutionary than it seems at first sight. The ordination of women has not fundamentally changed the priesthood, but has extended and enriched it. The same would be true of extending the sacrament of marriage to people of the same sex. It is not the physical gender of the people involved that matters, but the quality of their commitment and their response to the call of God.

It is often assumed that scripture rules out same-sex monogamy, but that is not true unless you read scripture in a selectively literal way. In the few places where homosexuality is mentioned in the New Testament the texts show no awareness that some people are homosexual in orientation. When St Paul condemns people who ‘exchange’ heterosexual intercourse for homosexual, he is assuming that this is a perverse choice on the part of naturally heterosexual people who are simply choosing the alternative out of an excess of lust. What is being criticized in these passages is the kind of homosexual activity that was most visible in the Hellenistic society around him – promiscuity, prostitution and paedophilia. The case of two responsible, adult, homosexual Christians wishing to commit to each other in love for life is simply never envisaged.

It is also important to notice that those who choose to interpret the apparently anti-gay passages in Paul literally are usually much less literal when it comes to what Paul has to say about the place of women, or re-marriage, or slavery.

4. What is your opinion of the secular, political debate on the issue?

What really pleases me is that the call for same-sex marriage comes from gay people themselves. In the past gay people were often accused of being inherently promiscuous, uninterested in or incapable of permanent relationships. Civil partnerships have shown that to be the lie that it always was. The truth is that the great majority of people, gay or straight, know that their best chance of happiness and fulfilment lies in finding a partner to love and grow together with, someone who will be there at the end of the day and at the end of their life. That is not a heterosexual hope or a homosexual hope, it is just a human hope.

It is illogical to argue that same-sex marriage somehow undermines heterosexual marriage. On the contrary, it confirms the value of marriage and extends its blessings to many more people. From a purely secular viewpoint it is clearly good for the whole of the society when people commit to each other and care for one another without being reliant on the state – and this will become more important as we all live longer.

I was very struck by David Cameron’s statement that he is in favour of same-sex marriage, not in spite of being a conservative but because of being a conservative. I am not a political animal, but I want to say something very similar as a priest. I am in favour of same-sex marriage not because I am a wild liberal but because I am instinctively a traditional Anglo-Catholic. I believe in the sacrament of marriage; I believe we all need a disciplined framework for faith and love; and I believe we all need God’s grace and blessing to live by it. I think most of the 120 or so priests in the London Diocese who recently petitioned for the right to bless civil partnerships would say the same.

5. What do you think of what George Carey has been saying and his new Coalition 4 Marriage?

They seem to ignore the fact that the ten other countries which have already legalised same sex marriage have not experienced any of the horrors that they keep predicting. Marriage and family life in those countries have not been harmed in any way. The ‘slippery slope’ argument that same-sex marriage will somehow lead to polygamy or incest or increased debauchery is particularly illogical and rather insulting. Nor am I impressed by the argument that we should not use the law to bring about social change. If we had not made changes in the law discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and the disabled would still be firmly in place.

6. What message do you think the church opposition gives long term about the church and Christianity and does this worry you in any way?

It is enormously worrying. In the sixties the Church of England was in the forefront of the movement to decriminalise homosexuality. The fact that fifty years on the Church is seen as Enemy Number One of gay people is a disaster, both for our own morale and for our mission to the country. The Conservative Party realised ten years ago that the equal treatment of gay people had become a litmus test of basic human decency and changed its view; but it is a test the Church now spectacularly fails. We have become the last refuge of prejudice.

It is worse because the Church’s opposition to gay relationships is so patently unprincipled. In the Church of England we readily bless the second and even third marriages of couples who never darken our doors, yet we reject hundreds of our own faithful clergy and laypeople who long to bring their love and commitment before God and ask his blessing. While we dare to preach justice and equality in Christ’s name to the world, we seek exemptions to equality laws when it comes to our own employment and disciplinary practices. While we threaten to demote or debar American and Canadian Anglicans for appointing openly gay bishops and blessing gay unions, we are trying to appease homophobic Anglican churches in Africa which support extreme social and legal measures against homosexuals.

Not only gay people are repelled by all this. Many more people of goodwill who instinctively expect the Church to uphold justice and truth are scandalised when it so obviously does not. If secularism has gained ground in Britain in recent years, along with the demand that the Church of England must be disestablished and surrender its voice in national life, then it is our mishandling of the gay issue more than anything else that has brought it about.

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Monday, 12 March 2012

Who is at cross purposes?

Updated Wednesday

There has been a deluge of comment about the Eweida and Chaplin cases.

First, David Barrett at the Telegraph wrote that Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government. Well, not really first, as this whole story had been reported in the Mail on Sunday last December by Jonathan Petre in Ministers won’t back cross-ban Christians: Ex-archbishop condemns ‘illiberal’ assault on faith.

Then, John Bingham in the Telegraph wrote: Archbishop of Canterbury: wearing a cross just decoration, says Dr Rowan Williams.

And Boris Johnson wrote, also in the Telegraph that It’s a huge mistake to forbid a tiny act of Christian worship.

Confused? Well, several people will explain it for you:

Nelson Jones at the New Statesman explains Why the government is opposing the right of two workers to wear crosses at work in Cross Purposes?

Andrew Brown at Cif belief has Cross purposes? Nadia Eweida and the meaning of religious symbols.

And Nick Baines has Cross words (again).

Updates

Here is the Statement of Facts about these two cases, as submitted to the Strasbourg court.

According to this BBC report from April 2010,

The NHS trust’s uniform and dress code prohibits front-line staff from wearing any type of necklace in case patients try to grab them.

It offered Mrs Chaplin the compromise of wearing her cross pinned inside a uniform lapel or pocket, but she said being asked to hide her faith was “disrespectful”.

She said the hospital had rejected any of the compromises she had suggested, such as wearing a shorter chain.

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Archbishop prays with the Pope

Anglican Communion News Service reports: Roman vespers unite Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury in prayer.

Anglicans and Roman Catholics share a somewhat turbulent history, but differences were brushed aside March 10 when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI prayed together during an ecumenical vespers service at San Gregorio Magna al Celio in Rome.

The service marked the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Italy’s Camaldoli monastic community, which includes a presence at San Gregorio, a site of major significance to the origins of the Church of England.

Both Christian leaders, who held a private meeting earlier in the day to discuss human rights issues and concerns for the Holy Land, delivered a homily during the vespers and lit candles together in the chapel of St. Gregory…

Lambeth Palace has these texts:

Archbishop’s homily at Papal Vespers, San Gregorio Magno al Celio

Monastic Virtues and Ecumenical Hopes - Archbishop’s address at San Gregorio Magno

Archbishop’s sermon at St Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome

Monks and Mission: a perspective from England address at the Abbey of Monte Cassino

Episcopal News Service has Video: Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at Rome’s Episcopal church

Vatican Radio has these:

Full text: Pope Benedict XVI at ecumenical Vespers

Pope and Archbishop Williams discuss human rights, evangelisation and Middle East

And there is a transcript of the Vatican Radio interview here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 6:12pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: today's Sunday programme interview

On today’s BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme, there was a short item about the Anglican Covenant. Edward Stourton interviewed Diarmaid MacCulloch and Graham Kings.

The Diocese of Salisbury website carries a complete transcript of it: Transcript BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme 11 Mar 12. Discussion on the Anglican Communion

The BBC page for that programme is here. The audio is available as a podcast, as well as on iPlayer. The relevant section is also available here.

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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Further critiques of the Anglican Covenant

Updated Monday

Paul Bagshaw has analysed the text of the video made on Monday of this week by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His article is titled Archbishop, I beg to differ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is clearly anxious that the Covenant project is endangered in England. There is still a long way to go and neither side can be confident of victory for a few more weeks.

So, to shore up support, Rowan Williams has had to put out an appeal on YouTube. He has also sent it to those Dioceses which have yet to vote on the Covenant and asked diocesan officers to circulate it…

Andrew Davison has revised his earlier article to include some comments arising from the video, and the revised version is available here.

…In a statement on the Anglican Covenant of 5 March 2012, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote that the legal, fourth part of the Covenant does not erect a disciplinary system to force anyone to do anything. That is accurate, unfortunately, only in the most technical sense. The law of England does not force me not to steal or murder. However, it would impose punishments if I did, and that would be quite a disincentive, were I so tempted. Similarly, the Covenant does not force any Province to act one way or another, in that technical sense. It is, all the same, coercive and punitive: it is difficult to understand the exclusion of Provinces from full membership of the Communion as anything but a threat and a punishment…

And Malcolm French has written this: There was no YouTube in 1867.

…At the end of the day, only 76 of 144 bishops attended the first Lambeth Conference. Archbishop Longley’s assurance that the conference would neither have nor claim the status of a Pan-Anglican synod failed to reassure either Archbishop Thomson or Dean Stanley. Thomson and most of the bishops from the northern province refused to attend. Stanley refused to allow Westminster Abbey to be used for any part of the event. Bishop John Colenso of Natal, prefiguring the eventual unpersoning of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson in 2007, was simply not invited.

Of course, Longley won the immediate skirmish. The conference did not claim any synodical authority, and its resolutions were not binding on Anglicans at home or abroad.

But here’s what didn’t happen.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury didn’t put out a YouTube video essentially calling Archbishop Thomson’s and Dean Stanley’s views “completely misleading and false” - and not only because there was no YouTube in 1867.
  • The Bishop of St. Asaph didn’t bleat on to The Times that critics of the conference idea were fascists - and not only because the term “fascist” hadn’t been invented yet.
  • The Bishop of Sherborne didn’t wander about the country claiming that anyone who didn’t support the conference idea was being disloyal to Archbishop Longley - and not only because the bishopric of Sherborne didn’t exist…

Update
Alan Perry has published Of Archbishops and Videos.

…But the biggest problem, as the Archbishop sees it, is not any quibbles obscure Canadians like me might have with sections 1-3. No, there is apparently some false propaganda circulating. As the Archbishop puts it:

one of the greatest misunderstandings around concerning the Covenant is that it’s some sort of centralising proposal creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line. I have to say I think this is completely misleading and false.

I would be more convinced if he were to demonstrate, citing the actual Covenant text of course, precisely why these concerns are “misleading and false.” Without doing so, he engages in unsupported assertions and even verges on ad hominem attacks.

The fact is, as I have already demonstrated, that the so-called dispute-settling process in section 4 of the proposed Covenant is vague, arbitrary and intrinsically unfair by design. And it is designed to determine winners and losers. Either an action by a Church is compatible or incompatible with the Covenant. And the decision is final, with no mechanism for further discussion or appeal.

Oh, says the Archbishop, “what the Covenant proposes is not a set of punishments, but a way of thinking through what the consequences are of decisions people freely and in good conscience make.” Given the vagueness of the process, it’s not much of a way of thinking through anything. We don’t even know how to start the process. It’s that unclear. I challenge the Archbishop to demonstrate where the Covenant text says how a question is to be raised, as it quaintly puts what elsewhere would be called lodging a complaint. It’s simply not there in the text…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 3:23pm GMT | Comments (55) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant: more diocesan votes

Today the Anglican Covenant motion comes to another six diocesan synods: Carlisle, Ripon & Leeds, Bath & Wells, Coventry, Southwark and Worcester.

Ripon & Leeds, Southwark and Worcester have each rejected the Covenant. Modern Church gives the voting as follows

In Ripon & Leeds the voting was :

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 12 for, 22 against
Laity: 8 for, 17 against

In Southwark the voting was:

Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 10 for, 27 against, 2 abstentions
Laity 21 for, 32 against

In Worcester the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 5 for, 19 against
Laity: 6 for, 22 against

Those three results take the running total to 16 dioceses against and 8 in favour. Rejection by 22 diocesan synods means that the Covenant will not come back to the General Synod, and can’t be approved by the Church of England.

Update
Further update on Monday to correct numbers of abstentions at Bath & Wells

The remaining three results took the running total to 17 against and 10 in favour.

In Carlisle the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 19 for, 13 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 33 for, 17 against

In Bath & Wells the voting was:

Bishops: 0 for, 1 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 17 for, 22 against, 0 abstentions
Laity: 18 for, 23 against, 4 abstentions

In Coventry the voting was:

Bishops 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 22 for, 7 against
Laity: 26 for, 2 against

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 1:36pm GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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opinion

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times writes Beyond two dimensions: fail better.

Nick Baines has preached a sermon about The Spread of Truth.

Alicia Jo Rabins writes in The Huffington Post about Esther, Vashti And Other Badass Women In The Bible.

Also in The Huffington Post Matthew L Skinner asks John 2:13-22: Where Can God Be Found?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 9 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: following motion from diocesan synods

Updated Monday

A following motion is being proposed in a number of diocesan synods where the Anglican Covenant is being debated. The latest wording of this is as follows:

A following motion to the Article 8 reference of the Anglican Covenant

Version five:

‘This Diocesan Synod, following the reference from the General Synod of the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant, requests the General Synod to debate the following motion:

“That this Synod:

(a) rejoice in the fellowship of the world-wide Anglican Communion, which is rooted in our shared worship and held together by bonds of affection and our common appeal to Scripture, tradition and reason;

(b) thank the Archbishop of Canterbury for his tireless efforts throughout the Communion to sustain and strengthen unity in difficult times; and

(c) call on the House of Bishops:

(i) to find ways to maintain and reinforce strong links across the world-wide Anglican Communion and to deepen the Church of England’s involvement with the existing Communion ministries and networks (especially the continuing Indaba process);
(ii) to publicise and promote this work within the dioceses of the Church of England in order to broaden understanding of, and enthusiasm for, the Anglican Communion; and
(iii) to encourage a wide understanding of, and support for, the next Lambeth Conference.” ’

Update

So far this motion has been passed in Bath & Wells, Chelmsford, Worcester, and with some amendments, also in Southwark.

It is scheduled for debate in St Albans, Chester, Oxford, Guildford, Exeter, and London.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 12:06pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Child protection in Chichester Diocese

Previous reports on this topic can be found here, and also here.

Last week, these two statements were issued by the Acting Bishop, Mark Sowerby. These relate to recent arrests of clergy.

Pastoral Letter
Media Statement

Also, there were New additions to Safeguarding Review page:

  • Letter from Bishop Mark Sowerby:

I am very glad that we have now published the full text of the Baroness Butler Sloss Report along with its addendum together with the Roger Meekings Report and the baroness’s comments upon it. This is in line with our desire to be open and honest about the cases that have come to light in the Chichester Diocese. I am grateful also to Bishop Paul Butler for the apology he has issued on behalf of the wider Church of England. I should like to underline, once again, the regret we feel in this diocese about past failings and which was expressed in Bishop John and Bishop Wallace’s apology to all the victims. The Chichester Diocese wishes to be transparent about the past and to be rigorous and cooperative in its safeguarding today and into the future.
+Mark Horsham
Acting Bishop of Chichester

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more from opponents of the Anglican Covenant

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued a press release, available as a PDF here:

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has added three new Patrons to its special group of eminent Anglicans opposing the proposed Anglican Covenant. The new Patrons are

  • The Rt. Revd. James White, Assistant Bishop of Auckland, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
  • Dr. Muriel Porter, OAM, journalist and author, Anglican Church of Australia
  • The Revd. Canon Dr. Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University, Church of England.

…“The disturbing theological vacuity of the Covenant document nonetheless comes with a hidden iron fist: do not be misled by its rhetoric of friendly collaboration between national churches,” writes Prof Coakley. “The Covenant bespeaks a quite different ecclesiology from that of Cranmer’s ‘blessed company of all faithful people,’ and profoundly alters what it means to be Anglican. The deepest theological challenges of our day cannot be answered by hapless bureaucratic manipulations of our theological tradition.”

Diarmaid MacCulloch has recorded a video in which he opposes the Covenant: see Diarmaid MacCulloch Adds To The Video Debate.

And, he also written a covering note Historical Problems with the Anglican Covenant for a learned paper The Anglican Covenant and the Experience of The Scottish Episcopal Church: Rewriting History for Expediencies Sake.

I would like to recommend most highly this historical article by the Ven. Edward Simonton, Archdeacon of Saint Andrews in the Diocese of Montreal. It is a marvelously clear, learned and well-informed introduction to the history and significance of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, which reveals just how shoddy and ill-informed are the historical arguments which have been used to promote the introduction of a so-called ‘Anglican Covenant’. Simonton guides his reader through the history of a Church in Scotland which is a complete contrast to that of the Church of England, yet which is just as ancient in its episcopate. This is particularly important because one of the planks of the ‘Covenant’ is that the Anglican identity, on which its attempt at universal discipline is based, looks to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Prayer Book. This is simply not so in the case of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which one has to remember was up to 1707 a Church in an independent kingdom, Scotland…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 at 9:21am GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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Dean of Liverpool

Liverpool Cathedral has announced that Canon Pete Wilcox is to be the next Dean of Liverpool.

Updated at 8.20 am to add the Number 10 press notice

The Revd Canon Dr Pete Wilcox is to be the next Dean of Liverpool
March 07

The new Dean of Liverpool is to be the Reverend Canon Dr Pete Wilcox, Downing Street has announced this morning. He becomes the seventh Dean, succeeding the Very Rev Justin Welby who was appointed Bishop of Durham.

Canon Pete Wilcox comes to Liverpool from Lichfield Cathedral where he has been Canon Residentiary since 2006. Speaking of his appointment Canon Pete said “I am thrilled to be joining such a gifted team at Liverpool Cathedral, at a time of great opportunity for mission. I look forward to getting to know the City of Liverpool and the wider diocese, having heard so many good things about both.”

Pete, who is married to the writer Catherine Fox, is due to be installed in the Cathedral in September 2012.

The Right Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool said “Canon Pete Wilcox comes to us with a wealth of experience in mission and with the right gifts to lead the Cathedral. I warmly welcome the Crown’s appointment and look forward to working with the Dean in building up the Church and reaching out to the world. The opportunities at the Cathedral are limitless.”.

Meanwhile Acting Dean and Canon Precentor Myles Davies said “Canon Pete Wilcox comes to us with an excellent reputation for his work in Lichfield. On behalf of the Chapter and Company of Liverpool Cathedral I am delighted to welcome him to our fine city and magnificent building.”

Canon Pete Wilcox will be spending the morning at Liverpool Cathedral touring the building as he starts to get to know the Cathedral, its staff, congregations and visitors. He said “It will be a great privilege to work with Chapter colleagues, staff and volunteers as well as our ecumenical, local government and business partners to help build on the fine work I have inherited.”

Pete is excited by the challenges that lay ahead. He said “As the seventh Dean of Liverpool, I will be determined to ensure this magnificent building remains accessible to all. Over the years Liverpool Cathedral has been a focal point for the city in times of great joy and immense sadness; it stands as one of the icons of the city, welcoming visitors from across the world and has been inspiring many for generations. It bears witness to the good news of God’s love as revealed to us in Jesus. This is as powerful and necessary today as it was when this extraordinary place was built.”

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Dr Pete Wilcox (aged 50) studied history at Saint John’s College, Durham. He trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at Preston on Tees, in the diocese of Durham from 1987 to 1990. From 1990 to 1993, while completing a doctorate at St John’s College, Oxford, he was Non Stipendiary Minister at Saint Margaret with Saint Philip and Saint James, with Saint Giles in the Diocese of Oxford. From 1993 to 1998 he was Team Vicar at Saint Edmund’s Chapel, Gateshead, in the diocese of Durham and Director of the Cranmer Hall Urban Mission Centre. From 1998 to 2006 he was Priest-in-Charge at Saint Paul’s at the Crossing, Walsall in the diocese of Lichfield. Since 2006 he has been Canon Residentiary at Lichfield Cathedral.

Pete is married to the writer Catherine Fox. They have two adult sons.

He has a passionate interest in all ball sports, especially (as a fan of Newcastle United) football. He is the author of three books, including ‘Talking the Talk: The Fall of King David for Today’ (Lutterworth, 2011).

The Diocese of Lichfield has published this: Canon Pete Wilcox’s Liverpool appointment.

Update The official Number 10 press notice is now (8.20 am) online, and is copied below the fold.

Dean of Liverpool
Wednesday 7 March 2012

Reverend Canon Peter Jonathan Wilcox, MA, DPhil, Canon Residentiary of Lichfield Cathedral in Lichfield Diocese, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Liverpool.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Peter Jonathan Wilcox, MA, DPhil, Canon Residentiary of Lichfield Cathedral in Lichfield Diocese, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Liverpool on the elevation of the Very Reverend Justin Portal Welby, MA, as Bishop of Durham on 29 September 2011.

Notes for Editors

The Reverend Canon Dr Pete Wilcox (aged 50) studied history at Saint John’s College, Durham. He trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at Preston on Tees, in the diocese of Durham from 1987 to 1990. From 1990 to 1993, while completing a doctorate at St John’s College, Oxford, he was Non Stipendary Minister at Saint Margaret with Saint Philip and Saint James, with Saint Giles in the Diocese of Oxford.

From 1993 to 1998 he was Team Vicar at Saint Edmund’s Chapel, Gateshead, in the diocese of Durham and Director of the Cranmer Hall Urban Mission Centre. From 1998 to 2006 he was Priest-in-Charge at Saint Paul’s at the Crossing, Walsall in the diocese of Lichfield. Since 2006 he has been Canon Residentiary at Lichfield Cathedral. Pete is married to the writer Catherine Fox. They have two adult sons. He has a passionate interest in all ball sports, especially (as a fan of Newcastle United) football. He is the author of three books, including ‘Talking the Talk: The Fall of King David for Today’ (Lutterworth, 2011).

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 at 7:49am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Dean of St Paul's

updated Tuesday afternoon

From the Number 10 website this morning.

Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral
Tuesday 6 March 2012

Very Reverend David John Ison, BA, PhD, Dean of Bradford, in Bradford Diocese, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral of Saint Paul in London

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend David John Ison, BA, PhD, Dean of Bradford, in Bradford Diocese, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral of Saint Paul in London, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Graeme Paul Knowles, AKC, on 31 October 2011.

Notes for Editors

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison (aged 57) was born and brought up in Brentwood, Essex. After taking a Combined Studies degree at the University of Leicester he trained for ordination at St John’s College, Nottingham. He served his title at St Nicholas and St Luke Deptford in the diocese of Southwark from 1979 to 1985, while also writing a PhD in church history at King’s College, London to develop skills to work in training people for ministry. From 1985 to 1988 he was Lecturer at the Church Army Training College in Blackheath. In 1988 he became Vicar at Potters Green in the diocese of Coventry, where he worked to physically and spiritually rebuild the church. In 1993 he moved to Exeter as Diocesan Continuing Ministerial Education Officer to take on a variety of roles in training and supporting clergy in their ministry, and in 1995 also became a Residentiary Canon at Exeter Cathedral. Since 2005 he has been Dean of Bradford, where he has enabled the Cathedral to play a significant role in the life of the city and the diocese of Bradford.

David is married to Hilary, who is also an ordained priest and works in London for the Church of England’s Ministry Division. They have two married daughters and two sons, and became grandparents two years ago.

His interests include history and current affairs, interfaith relations, DIY and scuba diving; and he drives a kit-car he made himself.

The Diocese of Bradford has this story: The Dean of Bradford to be Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Paul’s Cathedral has this, Appointment of David Ison as Dean of St Paul’s, and notes that he will be installed as Dean on Friday 25 May 2012.

updates

Diocese of London New Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral announced

BBC Dean of Bradford to head St Paul’s Cathedral

and three reports based on a piece by Martha Linden for the Press Assoication
The Guardian New dean appointed at St Paul’s Cathedral
Yorkshire Post Dean of Bradford appointed to St Paul’s
Independent David Ison appointed St Paul’s new dean

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 6 March 2012 at 9:15am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Monday, 5 March 2012

more support for the Anglican Covenant

Updated

The Archbishop of Canterbury recorded this video at lunchtime today, according to a comment here earlier. There is a transcript as well.
Archbishop: why the Covenant matters.

Mark Chapman has published at Living Church an article titled Spatial Catholicity.

Fulcrum has published several articles:
Anglicans and Covenants: A Very Brief History by Benjamin M. Guyer
The Anglican Communion Covenant: Fighting to preserve and enhance something deeply valuable by Stephen Kuhrt
Are we Anglicans or Baptists? by John Watson

Update
Five Reasons FOR the Covenant by Gregory Cameron

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 9:45pm GMT | Comments (64) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: two bishops defend it

This week’s Church Times carries a letter from the Bishops of Bristol and Oxford, which is behind the paywall this week, but is freely available from the Diocese of Bristol’s website at Bishops of Bristol and Oxford’s Anglican Covenant letter.

With a large number of dioceses soon to debate the Anglican Communion Covenant, and with there being in some quarters suspicion or even hostility towards it, we would urge pause for reflection as to what is at stake, both for the Anglican Communion as a whole and for our own Church of England.

The Covenant process has been developed with the full participation of all the churches of the Anglican Communion. It is likely the most consulted-over document the Communion has ever known. At heart, it offers a way for the churches to renew their commitment to each other and to express their common Anglican identity and mission. It’s something our own church has been at the centre of shaping and developing…

And it concludes with this:

The Anglican Communion Covenant is currently under consideration in all the churches of the Communion, according to their own processes for adoption. Already nine have decided to adopt it . A luke-warm response, or worse, rejection, of the Covenant in the Church of England would meet with bewilderment in the wider Communion. Some would ask with the prophet Isaiah, “Can a mother forget her children?”

But it would also impoverish the Church of England. Our church life and mission is infinitely the richer for the relationships we share around the Communion. The Covenant offers us a precious opportunity to consolidate those relationships and to demonstrate our commitment to one another as churches. Let’s not miss this opportunity offered to us in our time.

A detailed and comprehensive response to this letter has been published by Paul Bagshaw and can be read at What is not being said about the Covenant? It needs to be read in full, but here is an extract:

I choose to believe that many, perhaps the majority, of the English bishops are personally committed to the Covenant - but always and only in broad generalisations.

In essence we are told: the Covenant is A Good Thing, it doesn’t change anything but is vital to keeping the Communion together, and the consequences of not passing it are horrendous.

But this advocacy never seems to address what any critical reader of the Covenant text might ask:

  • The bishops’ say there are no new powers or structures; but what does the text actually contain?
  • And if there are no new powers or structures then how can choosing or rejecting it possibly make so much difference?
  • In particular, if the Covenant leaves provincial autonomy just where it was then how can it have any effect on future decisions a province might contemplate?
  • In sum: what’s so wrong with the Communion that we currently have that it will fall apart without the Covenant, but which the Covenant - by merely restating what we already know and practice - can possibly resolve?

I struggle to see the logic.

But I do see something missing. The ultimate power of Section 4 of the Covenant is to exclude an offending province by recommending to every other province that they turn their backs on it. All lesser powers of exclusion and demotion stem from this central power…

Alan Perry has compiled aggregate voting statistics here. It would be very interesting to compare the voting totals in each diocese with the corresponding totals for the recent parallel voting on women bishops, to see what the comparative levels of attendance were.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 8:39pm GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: two more diocesan rejections, one in favour

Today the dioceses of Bradford, Chelmsford and Hereford voted on the Anglican Covenant. Chelmsford and Hereford rejected the proposal, Bradford voted in favour.

The running totals are therefore 13 against, and 8 for.

In Chelmsford the voting was (Corrected):

Bishops: 2 for, 1 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 27 for, 29 against, 7 abstentions
Laity: 31 for, 30 against, 3 abstentions

In Hereford the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 15 against, 1 abstention
Laity 21 for, 23 against, 1 abstention

In Bradford the voting was:

Bishop: 1 for, 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 9 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 16 for, 15 against, 3 abstentions

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 6:50pm GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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opinion

Riazat Butt writes in The Guardian about The women who oppose female bishops.

Also in The Guardian, Julian Baggini asks Why do the religious insist on presenting a united front?

Michael L Cooper-White writes in The Huffington Post about Genesis 17:1-7, 5-16 and Mark 8:31-38: God the Game-Changer.

Giles Fraser wrties for the Church Times: Correct the false ideas of dominion.

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia asks Is making staff work on Sundays discriminatory?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Cutting Edge Consortium holds national equality conference

The Cutting Edge Consortium has announced its Third National Conference, to be held on Saturday, 21 April 2012 at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square in London, from 10am until 5pm. Its specific theme will be: LGBT Lives: Achieving our equality - challenging faith-based homophobia & transphobia.

The keynote speakers for the 2012 Conference are Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, Aidan O’Neill QC from Matrix Chambers, and Angela Eagle MP Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.

Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association and Sarah Veale, Head of Equality and Employment Rights at the TUC, Phyllis Opoku-Gymah PCS and Black PRIDE, and Jennifer Moses from NASUWT the education Union will also address the Conference.

More details are at this page.

To register for the conference, go over here.

Details of more speakers and the extensive programme of workshops for the day will be announced soon.

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Church of England: Sexuality Working Group asks for contributions

Press release from Church House Westminster: Group on human sexuality invites submissions.

23 February 2012

The group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling to advise the House of Bishops on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality has invited submissions. Written submissions can be sent, to arrive by 31 May, to: Sexuality Working Group, c/o Central Secretariat, Church House, Gt Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ or sexualityworkinggroup@churchofengland.org. The group will also invite oral evidence at a later stage.

The House of Bishops announced on 1 July, 2011, that it intended to draw together material from the listening process undertaken within the Church of England over recent years in the light of the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution. It also committed itself to offering proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process. The task of Sir Joseph’s group, announced last month, is to help the House discharge its commitment to produce a consultation document.

The full text of the 1 July statement can be found at:
http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1289380/gsmisc997.pdf.

The press release announcing the working group can be found at:
http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/01/group-to-advise-house-of-bishops-on-human-sexuality-announced.aspx”>http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1289380/gsmisc997.pdf.

The press release announcing the working group can be found at:
http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/01/group-to-advise-house-of-bishops-on-human-sexuality-announced.aspx.

Earlier in the month some Questions were asked at General Synod about the terms of reference for this group. See General Synod Questions on Sexuality Reviews.

Also at that General Synod, the LGB&T Anglican Coalition undertook an Act of Witness, see the press release here (PDF) and pictures here.

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Friday, 2 March 2012

Anglican commission consultants reinstated as full members

The Anglican Communion News Service reports: Consultants reinstated as full members on IASCUFO

Two consultants of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) have been reinstated as full members at the request of the Commission’s chairman.

The redesignation of Dr Katherine Grieb and Archbishop Tito Zavala as consultants took place as a result of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams’ Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion issued in May 2010.

This latest decision follows a request by IASCUFO chairman Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi that Archbishop Williams reconsider the application of the letter to IASCUFO so that the consultants can be reinstated as full members for the sake of the work of the Commission.

Acknowledging that members of IASCUFO are present in virtue of skills relevant to the work of the Commission and are not present as representatives of their Provinces, Archbishop Williams has requested that the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon reinstate Archbishop Zavala and Dr Grieb.

ENS reported this as Consultants reinstated as full members on ecumenical commission

…Williams’ request concerning Grieb came in May 2010 following the consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool, who is openly gay, and his decision about Zavala was made in October 2010 because the Southern Cone had failed to clarify whether it was still involved in cross-border incursions into other provinces.

Grieb is an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary. Zavala was bishop of Chile at the time but has since been elected as archbishop of the Southern Cone province.

The request to reinstate the members fully was made by IASCUFO chairman Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of the Anglican Church of Burundi.

Williams, according to an article from the Anglican Communion News Service, has asked the secretary general of the Anglican Communion to reinstate Grieb and Zavala “acknowledging that members of IASCUFO are present in virtue of skills relevant to the work of the commission and are not present as representatives of their provinces.” Yet when the sanctions were imposed, Williams cited developments and actions taken by the individuals’ provinces.

The May 2010 sanctions impacted other Episcopalians serving on ecumenical bodies. Two were asked to leave the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue and one member each stepped down from the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission and the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission.

One Episcopal Church member serving on the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council was initially removed but later reinstated as a consultant after it was agreed that that body is not an ecumenical dialogue but the coordination of work by full communion partners.

At the time, no mention was made about ecumenical commission members from other provinces — such as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – that had been involved in cross-border interventions in the United States.

An annotated version of the full IASCUFO membership list was published here, in October 2010.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 March 2012 at 10:50am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant: another result and some comment

The Diocese of Sodor and Man voted yesterday against the Anglican Covenant. The voting was as follows:

Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions

Clergy: 5 for, 12 against, 0 abstentions

Laity: 21 for, 15 against, 1 abstention

This means that 11 dioceses (25%) have now voted against the covenant, and 7 dioceses (16%) have voted in favour of it.

The letter in last week’s Church Times from Diarmaid MacCulloch is now available to non-subscribers, see The Anglican Covenant: worse than schism?. The original version of this letter is copied below the fold.

Liam Beadle has written an essay titled The Anglican Communion Covenant: A Church of England Objection from an Evangelical Perspective which is also available as a PDF file.

It would be interesting to conduct a survey of what it is that English Anglicans most value about their Church. It might be its worship; it might be its restraint; it might even – particularly if we are asking a group of evangelicals – be its formularies, namely the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. It should therefore be startling to Anglicans that we are being asked to agree to a covenant which ignores our liturgical tradition, responds to a presenting issue, and adds to our formularies. Several dioceses in the Church of England have already voted against the proposed Covenant, and in this short paper I seek to explain my own reasons for rejecting it…

Original version of the letter to the Church Times

Anglican Covenant: where next?

Twenty years into the reign of that good and pious monarch George III, in 1780, John Dunning MP tabled a motion in the House of Commons that ‘The influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished’. It was passed, despite much fury from the government of the day (which had just inadvertently created the United States of America by its stupidity). Dunning’s Motion did not end the efforts of the executive to accrue power and centralise; those efforts are with us still. Nevertheless, to use a phrase which Dunning would not have recognised, but would have relished, it was a reality check: it reminded royalty and the executive to preserve a delicate balance amid parliamentary politics and not try undue self-assertion. Although George III was pretty cross at the time, his successor still sits on her throne, while the descendants of many monarchs contemporary with King George look back on the guillotine, the firing-squad or ignominous exile.

A triumphalist whiggish anecdote from British history, yes, but on the weekend of 18 February, a very whiggish event happened in England. Four Anglican diocesan synods were asked to vote in favour of the Anglican Covenant, with every pressure from the executive (that is, the vast majority of the Bench of Bishops), and all four synods declined to do so. It was a sign that the incoherence of the arguments in favour of the Covenant was beginning to become clear. We have been assured that the Covenant is vital for the future of the Anglican Communion, and so not to approve it will lead to break-up and theological incoherence. Equally, we have been assured that the Covenant has been watered down so much that it won’t change very much really, so it is perfectly safe to vote for it. Above all, not to vote for it will be very upsetting for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who supports the Covenant. This argument, widely if a little surreptitiously canvassed, irresistibly reminds me of a MacCulloch family anecdote: my grandfather was taking morning worship in St Columba’s Episcopal Church, Portree, around 1900. It was a hot day; a party had come to church from one of the great houses on the Isle of Skye, and one of the young ladies said to her hostess in a stage whisper, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to faint’. The matriarch majestically retorted ‘You will do no such thing. It would be disrespectful to Almighty God, and distressing for Canon MacCulloch.’ Although the admonition was on that occasion successful, that is no way to do theology. The future of Anglicanism can’t be decided on whether a momentous theological decision will hurt any one person’s feelings.

The Anglican Covenant is bad theology for many reasons: the most important of which is that it gives to central bodies the authority to decide who is fully an Anglican, in a way that offends every canon of Anglican history. It also makes an elementary mistake about discipline in our tradition. There is no question but that the Covenant originated in a wish on the part of certain primates of the Communion to put the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada in the Naughty Corner. If anyone tries to deny that, let she or he read a collection of essays from 2002, To mend the net, co-edited by Archbishop Drexel W. Gomez of the West Indies (Chairman of the Covenant Design Group, no less) and by Archbishop Maurice W. Sinclair of the Southern Cone. Now it is obvious that every body with a common purpose needs rules which may amount to discipline; but discipline in our Church is exercised against erring individuals, not against entire ecclesial bodies which have in prayer and careful thought about real pastoral situations, have come to their own decision about what is right for their own situation in a God-given place. It is a nonsense to try to spank an entire Church, although authoritarian-minded folk have often tried it over the centuries of Christian history. On 18 February, four Anglican dioceses made that point. So far, ten dioceses in England have voted down the Covenant, and only five have voted for it. Now, perhaps, 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.

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 March 2012 at 10:15am GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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