Sunday, 30 September 2012

More about the Crown Nominations Commission

Updated yet again Sunday 4.50 pm

The Church Times has republished its earlier article with a new headline: No agreement at the CNC.

THE Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which met last week to choose a new Archbishop of Canterbury, has been unable to agree on the two names it submits to the Prime Minister. A short statement put out by the C of E communications department on Friday does not admit this as such, but this is the only reasonable interpretation of the phrase: “The work of the Commission continues.”

All meetings of the CNC are confidential, and it was a new departure this time to let it be known that a meeting was taking place. Church House staff were careful beforehand not to be drawn on whether this was the CNC’s final meeting, with good reason as it now appears…

…The rules for the CNC state that its 16 voting members must be two-thirds in favour of each of the two candidates submitted to the Prime Minister, i.e. the favoured man must secure 11 votes.

The reference in the statement to an autumn announcement indicates that another meeting will be scheduled soon.

Further press speculation can be found in several places:

Sunday Telegraph Cole Moreton and Edward Malnick Critics attack ‘secrecy’ of Archbishop selection

Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre Hunt for next Archbishop reaches deadlock after ‘snubbing’ frontrunner Sentamu and
A N Wilson Our C of E is a cracked old antique - and if we chose the wrong Archbishop it might fall apart in his hands

Guardian Caroline Davies Archbishop of Canterbury succession talks ‘deadlocked’

Sunday Times Jonathan Wynne-Jones Church split over Sentamu

The above link is not to the complete article, however the following one tells us what is in it.

Reuters Anglican church deadlocked over new leader: report

…According to the Sunday Times, the panel has a three name shortlist:

  • Bishop of Norwich Graham James, 61, a keen amateur actor and cricketer who said last week he would “hope and pray” someone else gets the job.
  • Archbishop of York John Sentamu, 63, a Ugandan-born traditionalist who holds the second most senior post in the Church of England and writes a column for the Sun newspaper.
  • Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, 56, a former oil industry executive who has been a bishop for less than a year…

BBC Sunday programme podcast dated today can be downloaded here. Item starts 29.5 minutes in and runs for about 7 minutes.

BBC New Archbishop of Canterbury decision ‘may take months’

The choice of a successor to Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury may not take place for several months, the Church of England has said.

It comes after speculation that the latest meeting of the panel given the task of nominating a new Church leader had not chosen a candidate.

Officials reiterated that the work of choosing a successor could go on throughout the autumn.

Dr Williams will step down in December after 10 years in the post.

The most recent meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission set up to choose Dr Williams’ successor ended on Friday evening and it has not ruled out holding further meetings.

No announcement was expected this weekend as any successful candidate would have to be endorsed by the prime minister and the Queen.

However, in response to intense speculation that the commission had failed to agree a candidate the Church confirmed that the decision could take several weeks or even months to emerge.

Officials stressed that the group had all of autumn to decide, conceding only that it would want to avoid having no-one to replace Dr Williams when he steps down at the end of the year.

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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dioceses Commission latest

We reported yesterday that the Dioceses Commission is to proceed with its plans to amalgamate the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield.

All three diocesan bishops have now commented on this announcement.

The Diocese of Ripon and Leeds has reproduced the CofE press release, and added this note at the end:

Bishop John Packer says he welcomes the announcement: “I am pleased that the Dioceses Commission have decided to proceed with their proposals for a new diocese based on the three dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield after taking into account the large number of submissions they have received. I look forward to the publication of the revised scheme at the end of October, and to exploring the mission opportunities it offers for the Synods to consider in March.”

Nick Baines, the Bishop of Bradford has written on his blog, West Yorkshire diocese proposals, and says:

I welcome the decision by the Dioceses Commission to go ahead with their proposals for a new diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales. The publication of the revised scheme next month will provide greater detail which all three dioceses will consider before they vote on the scheme next March. I look forward to this further opportunity to explore how a new, bigger diocese could enhance the work of the church in this part of the country. As we explore the potential, and the pros and cons, it will test our creative vision, prophetic courage and commitment, and will ensure that our eventual decisions are fully informed and made for the right reasons.

The Diocese of Wakefield has published Dioceses Commission: Latest with this comment:

The Bishop of Wakefield is looking forward to an open and honest debate in the parishes after the news that the Dioceses Commission has decided to proceed with its proposal to merge the three dioceses of Wakefield, Bradford and Ripon and Leeds into one super diocese.

Bishop Platten said: Now that the Dioceses’ Commission has decided to proceed with its proposal we look forward to an open and honest debate within the Diocese of Wakefield. It will be important that people holding a range of views on the proposal have an opportunity to contribute to a wide-ranging and fruitful discussion before the Diocesan Synod votes next March.’

Earlier Stephen Platten wrote Bigger is not Beautiful and Jonathan Greener, Dean of Wakefield wrote We must not sacrifice the vital heritage of our great cathedrals

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opinion

David Lose writes for The Huffington Post about What the Bible Says - And Doesn’t Say - About Women.

ABC Religion and Ethics has these two articles.
John Milbank After Rowan: Priorities for the Anglican Communion
Stanley Hauerwas The place of the church and the agony of Anglicanism

Today’s Guardian has this editorial: Unthinkable? elect the archbishop of Canterbury.

Matthew Grayshon writes for Fulcrum about Gay Partnership: Marriage or Union.

Ian Stubbs writes for The Independent about Homophobia in the Church: Why I would break the law in support of LGBT people.

Alan Weston interviews the new Dean of Liverpool for the Liverpool Daily Post: Big Interview: Dr Pete Wilcox, the Dean of Liverpool.

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Friday, 28 September 2012

Update on Crown Nominations Commission

Updated yet again Saturday morning

The CofE Communications Office issued this Update on CNC this evening.

Update on CNC
28 September 2012

This week’s meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has been accompanied by much speculation about possible candidates and the likely timing of an announcement of the name of who will succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury when he steps down to become Master of Magdalene College.

The CNC is an elected, prayerful body. Its meetings are necessarily confidential to enable members to fulfil their important responsibilities for discerning who should undertake this major national and international role. Previous official briefings have indicated that an announcement is expected during the autumn and that remains the case; the work of the Commission continues. There will be no comment on any speculation about candidates or about the CNC’s deliberations. Dr Williams remains in office until the end of December.

ENDS

Notes

CNC background Q&As can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/03/outline-of-procedures-for-appointment-of-an-archbishop-of-canterbury.aspx

Membership of the CNC can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/05/results-of-house-of-bishops’-election-for-cnc.aspx

Tomorrow’s edition of The Times carries a story by Ruth Gledhill headlined Church of England fails to agree successor for Archbishop of Canterbury and which begins:

The body responsible for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to agree who should be the successor to Dr Rowan Williams.

Despite a three day session, aided by prayers invoked on Twitter with the hashtage #prayforthecnc, the 16-member committee has been unable to decide on who should take on the job that the present incumbent today implied was “impossible”.

A source told The Times that a decision on who should succeed Dr Rowan Williams was not expected soon. “A decision is not imminent,” he said…

John Bingham at the Telegraph has Secretive committee still ‘discerning’ next Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lizzy Davies at the Guardian has Church of England end three days of talks with no new archbishop.

Andrew Goddard has written at Fulcrum a very clear account of the procedures which apply. See On (not) choosing a new Archbishop.

…The vote takes place by successive secret ballots with the bottom candidate being eliminated. Crucially, however, a candidate needs to get 2/3 of the vote to be able to be nominated. As a result, it is quite possible to reduce the list to two candidates and face an impasse. A simple majority (9-7 in this case) is not sufficient. A candidate to be agreed and forwarded to the Prime Minister requires 2/3 of the members to vote for them. Normally that means they need 10 votes but with 16 voting members it means they need the support of 11 candidates. In other words, if 6 members are unwilling to vote for a candidate, members will keep voting until a candidate has 11 votes. If that does not happen then deadlock has been reached and the CNC composition means there are fewer experienced mediators who have worked through such difficult situations in the past and may recognise the need to shift their vote to assist the process.

This 2/3 requirement means that candidates with strong support but also determined opposition may be unable to reach the requisite number of votes. That scenario is quite possible in relation to some of the names likely being considered given the composition of the CNC. With six candidates from the diocese of Canterbury, if they are united or almost united in their opposition to a particular candidate then they may be able to block him.

The further complication is that if this hurdle is overcome then there is another one still to be faced because the CNC is required to submit two names to the Prime Minister (even though he now will simply forward the first name). This means that voting starts again with the original shortlist (minus the elected candidate) in order to get a second name. This nomination also needs the support of 2/3 of voting members.

In summary, to reach a decision there must be two candidates able to secure the support of 11 or more members. Six members determined to block a particular candidate favoured by the other 10 can therefore bring the whole process to a halt…

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Dioceses Commission announces draft scheme

The Dioceses Commission has announced this morning that it is to proceed with its plans to amalgamate the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield.

Dioceses Commission announces draft scheme
28 September 2012

At its meeting on 26 September the Commission was able to complete its consideration of all the submissions made to it on the draft Reorganisation Scheme for the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield. It carefully considered the representations made to it, both at this stage and earlier, and has unanimously decided to proceed with a draft scheme bringing all three dioceses together.

The Commission firmly believes that the scheme represents a once-in-a generation opportunity for reinvigorating mission which should be grasped. It intends to issue a revised scheme embracing all three dioceses by the end of October, together with a fresh report which will both address concerns that have been put to the Commission, and set out the benefits to mission that it believes will come from a new single diocese.

The current diocesan map in the region owes more to history than the way these communities are now shaped. The Commission received overwhelming evidence that the Church’s structures no longer reflect current social, economic and demographic realities on the ground, and that the Church needs a single diocese to engage effectively in mission with the people and communities of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The Commission believes that the benefits to the Church’s mission and ministry in West Yorkshire and the Dales will only be fully realised by a scheme embracing all three dioceses. They each have their own distinctive contribution to make, and have a part to play in creating something new, rather than recreating an older model.

Chair of the Commission, Professor Michael Clarke, said: “On behalf of the Commission I would like personally to thank everyone who has made representations to us. A revised scheme will be published next month, and all three dioceses will then have a chance to decide whether they share our vision, which has been drawn from our discussions in Yorkshire over the past two years, that the proposals will better enable them to advance their mission to the communities which they serve. The Commission is clear that this represents a remarkable and unique opportunity for the Church of England.”

There are notes to the press release below the fold.

Notes

1. The Dioceses Commission published a draft scheme to amalgamate the West Yorkshire dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield on 1 November 2010. This followed extensive consultation within the dioceses involved prior to that stage. The statutory six month consultation period on the draft scheme ended on 30 April 2012. Full details of the proposals can be found at http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/dioceses-commission/yorkshire.aspx.

2. In June 2012 the Commission decided to proceed with a scheme on the basis that the details would be worked out over the summer.

3. Having decided that there would be a scheme, the Commission, under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007, needed formally to decide whether or not to amend it in the light of the representations made. It plans to issue the details of its revised scheme - together with supporting documentation - by the end of October. It is the Commission’s intention that its papers would be accompanied by an executive summary with a pastoral letter from its Chair to parishes. It will inevitably take a little while to finalise the documentation following the Commission’s meeting on 26 September, hence the short delay before it can all be issued.

4. The Commission’s scheme and its report on it will be submitted to members of the Diocesan Synods of the dioceses affected, so that the Synods can then decide whether or not to support the Commission’s proposals. That decision needs to be made by the end of March next year, with the intention that the General Synod would be invited to debate the scheme in July. The earliest any of the proposals could be implemented would be in the autumn of 2013.

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

General Synod - November timetable

The Church of England has issued the outline timetable for the November meeting of General Synod. This is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD: NOVEMBER 2012

Timetable

Monday 19 November

2.15pm – 7 pm

Worship and formal business
Report by the Business Committee
Anglican Consultative Council meeting: presentation and questions
Anglican Communion Covenant: Report on the Reference to Dioceses
Questions
[brief evening worship]

Tuesday 20 November

9.15 am – 1 pm

9.15 am Holy Communion
10.30 am Legislative Business:
Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and Draft Amending Canon No.30

2.30 pm – 7 pm

Legislative Business:
Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of women) Measure and Draft Amending Canon No.30 – continued
[brief evening worship]

Wednesday 21 November

9.30 am – 1 pm

Worship
Diocesan Synod Motion: Southwell and Nottingham: Amendment to Canon B 12 and Regulations
Private Member’s Motion: John Freeman: Living Wage
Dates of groups of sessions in 2013

2.30 – 5.30pm

Farewells
Youth unemployment
Farewell to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Contingency business:
Report of the Standing Orders Committee

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

CNC speculation

The Crown Nominations Commission started its final meeting to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury earlier today.

The Church of England has published a Prayer for the Crown Nominations Commission.

There is much in the press today about the meeting, not all of it serious.

Church of England Newspaper The candidates for Canterbury

Lizzy Davies in The Guardian Group choosing new archbishop of Canterbury meets at secret location

The Guardian’s interactive guide: pick your own Archbishop

Ben Quinn in the Christian Science Monitor As Anglican Church picks new leader, gay marriage weighs heavily

Adrian Hilton in the Mail Online The 105th Archbishop of Canterbury is about to be revealed

Channel 4 News Who will be the new archbishop of Canterbury?

The BBC has several stories.
New Archbishop of Canterbury to be chosen
Mick Robson and Megan Lane Archbishop of Canterbury: Runners and riders
Alex Strangwayes-Booth Dr Rowan Williams: Poll finds 53% consider him ‘good leader’
Bishop ‘prays not to be Archbishop of Canterbury’

Reuters Anglican church chooses new leader to weather storms

Nelson Jones in the New Statesman The secret search for the next Archbishop of Canterbury

The Daily Mash Bishops fighting to the death

Finally the Plumstead Letters blog has Elect to Leave [very rude but very funny].

It’s not clear from the reports whether the meeting will finish on Thursday or Friday, but in any case do not expect an immediate announcement. After the meeting the chair (Lord Luce) has to write to the Prime Minister with two nominations for archbishop (the first choice and a reserve). The Prime Minister will send the first name to the Queen. This person also has to be asked if he will accept nomination and given time to reply. Before any public announcement the person chosen has to have a criminal record check and a medical. Finally a convenient day for the announcement had to be found. Typically for diocesan bishops this takes two months, although in one case last year it was only a month.

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Monday, 24 September 2012

George Pitcher on the next Archbishop of Canterbury

In a major article in the New Statesman, George Pitcher, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s secretary for public affairs from 2010-2011, ponders the challenges confronting the Archbishop’s successor: Between church and state.

Politicians are accustomed to the media distorting whatever they have to say for dramatic effect – every discussion is a row, every initiative a push for power. So it is with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Anglican apparatchiks have been busy playing down the suggestion that their Church is planning to appoint a “global president” to relieve the next archbishop of some of the workload. The line is that Dr Rowan Williams, in a valedictory interview in the Daily Telegraph, merely said that the job was too big for one person. The Telegraph thought otherwise.

But the story stirred some emotions, not least relief that Tony Blair had converted to Roman Catholicism and so would not be available for the job. And it drew attention to just how political is the role of archbishop of Canterbury. Not only is Williams presented as a more virulent opposition to the present government than the Labour Party, but what he has to say is presented in the media about as sympathetically as Boris Johnson’s denials that he wants to be prime minister…

John Martin writes for The Living Church about the Horse Race for Lambeth Palace and concludes with

Odds are strong that the commission will name Richard Chartres as a short-term “caretaker” to give Justin Welby time to gain more experience as a bishop before taking the reins at Lambeth Palace.

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Saturday, 22 September 2012

opinion at the equinox

Updated Sunday author of third item corrected

Excuses for Not Going to Church are examined on The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley blog.

Derek Flood asks in The Huffington Post Did Jesus Die to Save Us From God?

Theo Hobson Mark Vernon writes for The Guardian that Christianity must admit to the bad news before it can spread the good.

Stephen Kuhrt writes for Fulcrum that Cricket reaches the parts that Theology never can.

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Charlie Richardson’s priest was flawed, but embodied Jesus’s love of the fallen.

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Equal civil marriage: further developments

In late July, we reported that Prime Minister criticises Church on same-sex relationships, and that this had prompted Anglican Mainstream to write a response. Today, Anglican Mainstream has published the response it received from David Cameron and you can see the correspondence at The Prime Minister writes to Anglican Mainstream.

The government ministers responsible for equalities changed in the recent reshuffle, and the new Secretary of State with responsibility for this (replacing Teresa May) is Maria Miller. She recently wrote this article: The state shouldn’t stop people marrying unless there is a good reason. Being gay is not one of them and recorded this video for Out4Marriage.

Two earlier articles on the topic that appeared on Law and Religion UK in June are:

The Campaign for Marriage has published a summary of the legal opinion provided by Aidan O’Neill (PDF) on a variety of scenarios that could arise if the legislation is enacted. This is well worth reading.

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Andrew Brown reviews the candidates for Canterbury

Andrew Brown has written an article for today’s Guardian headlined Archbishop of Canterbury succession race begins in earnest.

Next Wednesday, four women and 15 men on the Crown Nominations Commission will gather for two days of prayer and horsetrading to replace Rowan Williams as archbishop of Canterbury. We know who they are, and when they will meet – but not where, so they can’t be doorstepped.

Only three members of the commission, chaired by the former Conservative arts minister Lord Luce, are bishops. One of the women and two of the men have no vote, but are there to advise. Five, including one of the women, are priests. The rest are lay people. Almost all the parties of the church are represented and there is even Dr Barry Morgan, a Welshman, to represent the rest of the world for the first time in this process. They will pick two names to present to the prime minister, who is bound to choose the first, unless he proves unable to take the job…

Update Now Charles Moore at the Telegraph has written The last thing the Church of England needs is a pleasant middle manager.

Who would you like to be your next Archbishop of Canterbury? You may think this an odd way to put it. You may be Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, atheist, or just vague. How can the Archbishop of Canterbury belong to you?

Yet if you live in England, he does. The Church of England is “by law established”, and so it is there for any citizen who wants it. The Queen is the Church’s Supreme Governor, and her people, regardless of what they believe, are its people. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who stands at the Church’s head, must serve them. He belongs to them.

But we shall not choose him. This process is nowadays controlled by something referred to, with varying degrees of affection, as the Wash House. The Wash House is the old laundry of Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop’s London residence, and it is now inhabited by the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC). If it has dirty linen, it does not wash it in public: next week, the CNC will meet at a secret location to consider its shortlist and try to come up with two names – the first being its choice, the second being its “appointable candidate” if things go wrong – for who, at the end of this year, should succeed Rowan Williams and become the 105th man (the law still requires it be a man) to sit on the throne of St Augustine…

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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

women bishops: some responses to the revised clause

Updated again Friday evening

Forward in Faith has published this statement:

Members of Forward in Faith can take some comfort from the House of Bishops’ recent decision to resist calls to delete clause 5(1)(c) of the Women Bishops’ draft Measure, added by the House in May. The revised clause, with the welcome language of ‘respect’ at its heart, indicates that the theological convictions held by traditional catholics and orthodox evangelicals on this disputed question continue to occupy an authentic and honourable place in Anglican teaching and practice.

Should this draft legislation receive Final Approval in November, the proposed Code of Practice will assume huge significance in setting out the manner in which the new clause 5(1)(c) will be interpreted and implemented. There is, therefore, a good deal more work to be done on the legislative package as a whole before its full implications for traditionalists can be properly assessed.

In the meantime, attention returns to the text of the draft Measure as a whole, in advance of the debate on Final Approval. The question for members of General Synod remains the same: is this legislation fit for purpose in meeting the needs of all members of the Church of England, both those who welcome, and those unable to receive, the development of ordaining women as bishops?

WATCH has also issued a statement:

Today the House of Bishops announced that it had voted by a large majority to substitute a new set of wording in place of the controversial Clause 5(1)c.

WATCH is pleased that the House of Bishops listened to the anxieties voiced concerning their amendment to the legislation in May, and is encouraged by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recognition of the enrichment that the ordained ministry of women has brought to the Church of England and her mission.

WATCH is, however, disappointed that the House of Bishops did not feel able to withdraw Clause 5(1)c completely.

It will take time to explore the implications of the new wording fully and WATCH will now begin a process of consultation with members and others before issuing any further comment.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said

“The House of Bishops has today confirmed its commitment to having women as bishops and has attempted to find a new way forward that will ensure the draft legislation is passed by General Synod in November. Time will tell whether the new Clause 5(1)c will produce the desired outcome.”

Update REFORM has now made a further comment which you can see here.

No new statement has yet appeared from REFORM but a spokesman is quoted in this report from the BBC Women bishops: Anglicans still unsure over new wording.

…The Reverend Paul Dawson, spokesman for the conservative evangelical group Reform, said the new clause was “not going to win any more votes from our constituency.”

Of the previous House of Bishops amendment, he said: “Although we weren’t entirely happy with that, there was a sense in which we could probably have lived with it.”

Reform is holding a conference later this month which he said would discuss “Assuming this goes through as it is, what do we do then?”

Already young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy were unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church, said Mr Dawson…

A letter has been sent to the House of Bishops by a group of senior women clergy. The full text is published below the fold.

The Church Times reports in an article Amended women-bishops clause speaks of ‘respect’ what the Catholic Group in the General Synod said:

…On Monday, the Ca­tholic Group in the General Synod said that it was grateful to the House of Bishops for “retaining the life­belts in Clause 5(1)(c)” but “con­cerned that they have let some of the air out of them by reducing ‘is consistent with’ to ‘respects’”. The Group “continues to have grave doubts about the sea­worthiness of this ship [the Measure] and the reduction in the effect­ive­ness of the lifebelts gives it less confidence in the proposed voyage”.

Church Society reports that:

…This month, the Society’s council will be writing to the House of Bishops expressing our guarded support for the suggested rewording of clause 5(1)c. We shall express that while finding a form of words we can agree on is important, ultimately our primary concern is protecting the place of biblical ministry consistent with 2,000 years of Christian tradition.

Text of Letter from Senior Women Clergy

To: Members of the House of Bishops

Dear Bishops

We are writing in response to the announcement of the amended wording of 5.1.c.

We would have preferred the deletion of the clause. However, in the light of the process that has brought us to this point the new wording addresses enough of our concerns to enable us to encourage General Synod to vote for the final approval of the Measure.

An important part of the process will be ensuring together that the Code of Practice provides sufficient clarity and guidance.

We continue to hope that grace and generosity will characterise the Church within which women are consecrated as bishops and where all will have the potential to flourish.

We are committed to continuing our engagement with those whose views differ from our own.

With thanks and prayers for the coming months

Yours sincerely

The Reverend Canon Sarah Bullock, Bishop’s Advisor for Women’s Ministry, Diocese of Manchester
The Venerable Dr Anne Dawtry, Archdeacon of Halifax
The Venerable Penny Driver, Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness
The Venerable Christine Froude, Archdeacon of Malmesbury
The Venerable Karen Gorham, Archdeacon of Buckingham
The Reverend Canon Jane Hedges, Canon Steward & Archdeacon of Westminster
The Venerable Canon Janet Henderson, Archdeacon of Richmond
The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
The Reverend Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Dean of Women’s Ministry, Diocese of London
The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, Dean of Birmingham
The Very Reverend June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury
The Venerable Jane Sinclair, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey
The Reverend Canon Celia Thomson, Canon Pastor, Gloucester Cathedral
The Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney
The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury
The Venerable Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield
The Reverend Lucy Winkett, Rector, St James’s Piccadilly

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Saturday, 15 September 2012

opinion

Eric Pickles writes in The Telegraph that A Christian ethos strengthens our nation.

Mark Vernon writes in The Guardian that Rowan Williams, we’ll miss you.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 15 September 2012 at 11:00am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 14 September 2012

Anglicans and Attitudes towards Gay Marriage

British Religion in Numbers has published statistics about Anglicans and Attitudes towards Gay Marriage.

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Chichester safeguarding: no response from Lambeth Palace

Updated Saturday afternoon

Here’s a follow-up to our earlier article on the BBC news reports.

According to today’s Church Times in a news article Sussex children’s officials called for Benn’s suspension which is for subscribers only:

…A Chichester diocesan spokesman said on Wednesday: “East Sussex County Council have properly raised matters of concern with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office, whose responsibility it is to comment at this stage. We would refer to the interim report of the Archiepiscopal Visitors, which contains substantial recommendations regarding the Clergy Discipline Measure and the issue of neutral suspension.”

…Lambeth Palace declined to comment.

In the earlier BBC report, it had said:

…On 7 June, a letter from Lambeth Palace to Mr Dunkley said the Church understood their frustration at the apparent lack of progress or action, but had to follow the rule of law and be above any risk of legal challenge, which meant the work had to be careful and painstaking.

That letter said: “Any process of suspension involves us jumping through several hoops and we are by no means certain that the evidence for such a step will be sufficient.

“I would add that the Church is not like other organisations in terms of employment arrangements.”

The letter also highlighted that the diocese had been subject to “one of the heaviest sanctions the Church can impose” - the visitation process…

But Lambeth Palace had also declined to comment to the BBC.

Update

The Eastbourne Herald has published an article titled Calls grow for Bishop Benn’s resignation.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Women Bishops: Draft Legislation

Updated Thursday morning

The final text of the controversial clause 5(1)(c) to be presented to General Synod in November has been agreed by the House of Bishops; it is given towards the end of the press release reproduced below.

NEWS from the Church of England
12/9/12 - For immediate release

Women Bishops: Draft Legislation

The House of Bishops has today by an overwhelming majority settled the text of the legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The House of Bishops made clear its desire for the draft legislation to be passed into law when it goes forward for final approval to the Church of England’s General Synod in November.

Speaking on behalf of the House at the conclusion of their meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams said:

“Before turning to the matters we have been discussing, I want to say, on behalf of the Bishops, that our thoughts and prayers are very much with the people of Liverpool and all affected by the Hillsborough tragedy on this day when the report is released. The Bishop of Liverpool has done a great service in steering this work to a conclusion and helping us as a nation to confront this deeply traumatic memory.”

Dr. Williams continued:

“Since women were first made priests in the Church of England in 1994, their ministry has hugely enriched both church and society. It has become increasingly clear to most of us that barring women from becoming bishops is an anomaly that should be removed, for the good of the Church’s mission and service.

“In July this year, the General Synod asked the House of Bishops to reconsider an alteration it had made to the proposed legislation on this subject. The Bishops have taken very seriously the anxieties expressed about the possible implications of their amendment and there has been widespread consultation since then. We are very grateful for all the points and suggestions offered by synod members and others.

“In light of this consultation, the Bishops have discussed the measure again and are now bringing forward a new text that expresses both our conviction of the need to see this legislation passed and our desire to honour the conscience and contribution of those in the Church of England whose reservations remain.

“It is particularly significant and welcome that the new text emerged not from the House of Bishops itself but rather from a serving woman priest.

“I hope all members of Synod will now reflect carefully on what the Bishops have decided and will continue to give thought and prayer to how they will vote in November.”

“I am convinced that the time has come for the Church of England to be blessed by the ministry of women as bishops and it is my deep hope that the legislation will pass in November.”

At its meeting in July the General Synod asked the House of Bishops to reconsider a provision in the legislation - Clause 5(1)(c) of the draft measure.

The new amendment submitted by the Rev. Janet Appleby during the consultation process received overwhelming support from the House of Bishops in both their discussions and in the final vote.

In discussion the Bishops welcomed the simplicity of the new text, its emphasis on respect and the process of dialogue with parishes that it will promote.

The final text proposed by the House of Bishops is:

Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c): “the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which parochial church councils issue Letters of Request under section 3”

The House also agreed to establish a group to develop the illustrative draft Code of Practice published in January to give effect to the new provision.

Update
The Archbishop of Canterbury has recorded a podcast about the new text proposed by the House of Bishops. It can be downloaded from the beginning of Archbishop speaks about women bishops draft legislation. A transcript is also available.

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Upper Tribunal hears fourth appeal by RC adoption agency

Updated Saturday morning

In August 2011, we reported that the RC adoption agency, Catholic Care, had been given leave to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, after three earlier appeals had all failed.

Now, more than a year later, that appeal is being heard. Third Sector Online reports Upper Tribunal hears latest Catholic Care appeal today.

The Upper Tribunal will today hear the latest appeal by the charity Catholic Care against a ruling preventing it from excluding gay couples from using its adoption service.

It is the fourth in a series of appeals by Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) since the Charity Commission refused its request in November 2008 to change its charitable objects in order to restrict access to its adoption service to heterosexual couples.

The charity has argued that if it did not discriminate in this way it would lose its funding from the Catholic Church and would have to close the service.

Today’s appeal, which will be heard by Mr Justice Sales at the Rolls Building in London, is against the charity tribunal’s rejection of its request to change its objects in April 2011. The hearing is scheduled to last two days…

Frank Cranmer has some analysis at Law and Religion UK Catholic Care and adoption by same-sex couples – the story continues.

Updates

Third Sector has two reports from the hearing:

Charity tribunal ‘misdirected itself’ over Catholic Care, Upper Tribunal told

Overturning Catholic Care decision could set dangerous precedent, says Charity Commission

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

East Sussex County Council criticises Chichester Diocese

The BBC has two articles tonight reporting on this:

East Sussex council: Children ‘unsafe in Chichester diocese’

Social care chiefs do not believe children’s safety is assured within services provided by the Diocese of Chichester, letters have revealed.

BBC South East Today obtained copies of the letters from East Sussex County Council to the Archbishop of Canterbury under the Freedom of Information Act.

The correspondence called for the immediate suspension of the Bishop of Lewes, the Right Reverend Wallace Benn.

Neither the Church of England or Bishop Benn have commented…

And Letters to archbishop raise Chichester diocese child safety fears has a video report with considerably more detail about the extensive correspondence with Lambeth Palace staff.

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more commentaries on the European Court hearing

Earlier TA articles here and then also here.

Rosalind English wrote at UK Human Rights Blog Are Christians really marginalised in this country?

Frank Cranmer has given a reply to her in his article at Law and Religion UK Marginalised Christians? Chaplin, Eweida, McFarlane and Ladele – again. He also links to some other relevant articles.

The weekly roundup article at UK Human Rights Blog by Sam Murrant Azelle Rodney, Gay Rights and the Cabinet Shuffle – The Human Rights Roundup discusses the cases at some length (scroll down to Christians in the margins) again with links to a number of other articles.

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Monday, 10 September 2012

Reform responds to House of Bishops Standing Committee

REFORM has replied to GS Misc 1033 with the following letter:

Rod Thomas wrote to William Fittall, General Secretary of General Synod

RESPONSE BY REFORM TO SECRETARY GENERAL ON GS MISC 1033

Dear William,

In GS Misc 1033, you sought views on Clause 5(1)c of the draft Women Bishops Measure prior to the formulation of proposals for the September meeting of the House of Bishops. My purpose in writing is to let you know how members of the Reform network have responded to your request and to the situation in which the General Synod now finds itself.

As you will know, conservative evangelicals have always been assured that their theological outlook relating to male headship in both church and family life will have a respected position. We have argued that to achieve this, any legislation for women bishops should introduce appropriate safeguards - and these should be mainly on the face of the Measure, rather than in a Code of Practice. The latter should be seen as elucidating the basic provision of legislation.

To this end, we have sought over the years to put the case for legislative provision which would achieve four safeguards:

1. Enabling vows of canonical obedience to be taken with integrity.

Such vows are made to the Lord Bishop and his (or in the possible future, her) successors. Those of us who believe in male headship would be unable to make these vows if they were subsequently taken to apply to spiritual oversight exercised by a female bishop. This is not a purely theoretical issue; it is of real practical significance. Already a large number of young men who would otherwise have applied for ordination training have stood aside from doing so - and there is every indication that this number will rise catastrophically from our point of view if the present draft legislation gains final approval. As you know, we sought to address this problem by making proposals for the transfer of Episcopal jurisdiction. When this proved unacceptable, we suggested a way of applying the ‘London Scheme’ to the national church by providing for jurisdiction to be ‘ceded’ rather than delegated. As it is, the present draft Measure seeks to provide some reassurance by distinguishing between delegation and derivation. This is helpful, but our conversations with prospective ordinands have shown that much more work needs to be done if the distinction is to be seen as more than an exercise in semantics.

2. Providing for non-discrimination in selection processes.

The experience of conservative evangelicals in the US and Swedish churches has shown that with the passage of time, attitudes to those who are opposed to female Episcopal oversight harden. In this country, the briefing produced by WATCH prior to the July 2012 General Synod also indicated a desire to see arrangements put in place that were temporary rather than permanent. This demonstrates how necessary it is to provide clear safeguards against discrimination in selection procedures if we are to feel assured about our longer term future. At the moment, such provision is contained within the illustrative Code of Practice - and presumably the argument is that this is equivalent to the present provision in the Act of Synod. However, with the passage of the Women Bishops legislation, the situation will be very different from 1993. This has led us, therefore, to question whether putting such a provision in a Code is adequate, given that changes to a Code require only simple majority voting in the General Synod.

3. Providing for Episcopal Representation.

While Clause 5(1)c of the draft Measure was designed to provide important new reassurances for traditional catholics, it had real significance too for conservative evangelicals. The Archbishop of Canterbury was good enough to spend some time discussing the draft Measure with me last May and he was concerned that I should understand that while substantive changes to the draft Measure might not be possible, the proposed new clause did represent an important peg on which provisions in the Code of Practice could be hung. I was therefore encouraged to see the clause both as providing an important acknowledgement of the need to accommodate our theological position and as a reassurance that there would be now be some legislative weight behind the assurances of the two Archbishops in the foreword to the illustrative Code, that some bishops sympathetic to our theological position would be appointed.

We are very grateful for these assurances about the appointment of bishops, but it has to be said that without the sort of legislative underpinning provided by Clause 5(1)c, it is difficult to see how they might work in practice. The Pilling report recognized discrimination against conservative evangelicals over Episcopal appointments, yet what has happened in practice since then? Despite very encouraging appointments of evangelicals, no conservative evangelical bishops who hold to male headship have been appointed. With the retirement of the Bishop of Lewes, we are now in the extraordinary situation of having no serving bishop of our theological outlook anywhere within the Church of England. As a result, a substantial section of the Church of England has no Episcopal representation; this is deeply alienating.

4. Affirming our Theological Outlook.

We have been very concerned at the way in which the arguments in favour of women bishops have developed over time. At the most recent General Synod, we were told that we did not have a gospel theology. Positions which respected ‘equality’ and ‘justice’ were regarded as gospel positions, while our views on the biblical references to creation order were seen as antithetical to the Gospel. This was not just hurtful. It seemed to suggest that biblical theology could only be legitimate if it supported pre-conceived notions of ‘human rights’. Developments such as these strike at the heart of Anglican formularies. Canon A5 states that the Scriptures are the primary grounds of the Church’s doctrine. Article 6 affirms that we can only be required to believe what is in Scripture. We believe that if this position is to be maintained, then our theological outlook needs to be explicitly recognized as legitimately Anglican. There have been many public statements to this effect, but now that we are facing such opposition, these statements need legislative expression. Again, Clause 5(1)c went some way towards doing this by referring to theological conviction. To remove any such reference would be profoundly counter-productive.

The Options in GS Misc 1033 *

It will, I hope, be apparent from what I have said above that any diminution in the effect of Clause 5(1)c would further undermine our confidence in the draft Measure. Thus while we appreciate all the work that has been done in formulating the options in GS Misc 1033, we cannot support options 2-7 as they stand. Each would materially undermine what little Clause 5(1)c originally gave.

Option 2 would be wholly out of keeping with the effort the House of Bishops has made to make the protective provision for traditional evangelicals and catholics more acceptable to them.

Option 3 would remove from Clause 5(1)c a key element that is of significance to evangelicals - namely an implication that bishops who believe in male headship will continue to serve within the Church of England. The phrase ‘consistent with’ implies that some ‘Scheme’ bishops will need to share the theological outlook of petitioning parishes. The suggested alternatives - ‘respect’ or ‘take account of’ - have no such implication. Furthermore, by prefacing the clause with the words ‘the manner in which’, the impact of the clause moves from ‘outcome’ to ‘process’ in a way which will have widely varying and uncertain results.

Option 4 not only removes the implication that serving conservative evangelical bishops will be available, but also deletes all reference to theological conviction. This means that the process of selection will be open to accusations of sex discrimination and that the theological convictions underpinning the letters of request will not be properly recognized.

Option 5 has attractions because it envisages dialogue, but ultimately cannot be supported because it will give rise to varying outcomes across dioceses and fails to rely on the appointment of any conservative evangelical bishops.

Option 6 introduces the interesting possibility of substituting the ‘position’ of the PCC for the term ‘theological conviction’. This would, in practice, appear to provide for the same possibilities as does the current Clause 5(1)c - but would only do so if the words ‘consistent with’ were re-introduced. Just to ‘respect’ or ‘take account of’ a PCC position adds virtually nothing to the original legislation. As it stands, therefore, we cannot support option 6.

Option 7 suggests that all it does is to add mention of a process to option 6. In fact it completely removes the potential significance of option 6 by substituting a process for an outcome. It therefore significantly diminishes the effect of the Clause and would lead to varying outcomes between dioceses.

Proposal

Having opposed options 2-7 as they stand, we do nevertheless appreciate that the House of Bishops may wish to introduce changes to Clause 5(1)c in order to address some of the concerns voiced at the General Synod last July. We therefore welcome the proposal that has been made by Clive Scowen for retaining Clause 5(1)c but refining the reference to theological conviction and removing the words ‘ as to the consecration and ordination of women’ are removed. As an alternative, an amended option 6, including the words ‘consistent with’ might be appropriate.

Finally, I would like to put on record my gratitude to the House for the work it has done in seeking to address the many concerns that have been expressed over the draft Measure. Reform members met nationally for prayer last June and we will continue to hold you and all the members of the House in our prayers over the next few weeks.

Yours sincerely

Rev’d Preb Rod Thomas
Exeter 120
Chairman, Reform

*For the background to the options follow this link to the Church of England web site.

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Sunday, 9 September 2012

WATCH responds to House of Bishops Standing Committee

WATCH (Women and the Church) PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release SUNDAY 9th September 2012

A WATCH response to the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee Press Release of 5th September

WATCH is very encouraged to see that complete withdrawal of Clause 5(1)c received the most positive response in the Church of England’s summer consultation process (see GS Misc 1033).

Clause 5(1)c, was inserted by the House of Bishops in May and has caused widespread dismay. We are hopeful that the House of Bishops will realise, from the overwhelmingly negative response to this amendment, that Clause 5(1)c cannot stay in the legislation as it is, if they wish to see the legislation pass through General Synod in November.

We also note that, although groups representing those opposed are lobbying to keep the existing proposed amendment, they have not said they will vote for the legislation even if the current Clause 5 (1)c remains. If 5(1)c was insufficient for those opposed, then any diluted form of wording is even more unlikely to gain their support for a General Synod vote, whilst remaining potentially problematic for those who welcome the episcopal ministry of women.

We continue to urge the House of Bishops to adopt a cautious approach and not to introduce new and untested wording into the draft legislation at this late stage. The consultation period was extremely brief and the various options considered have not therefore been subject to any sustained scrutiny.

WATCH therefore considers that the wisest course is to return the legislation to General Synod in November in a form that is as close as possible to that approved by 42/44 dioceses; removing Clause 5(1)c and offering Clause 8(2) as reassurance to those opposed.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said, “We very much hope that whatever emerges from the House of Bishops on Wednesday will unequivocally affirm the ministry of ordained women and avoid any suggestion of a question mark hanging over their orders.”

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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hurd Report: the 2001 review of the See of Canterbury

In commenting on today’s interview given by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Telegraph reference has been made to the Hurd report.

See these ACNS press releases from September 2001:

But the full text of the report which was previously published on the websites of both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office is no longer available at either place (both sites have undergone several major rebuilds since 2001, so that is not altogether surprising).

I have therefore made the full text of the report available here.

Information on Lord Hurd of Westwell is available here.

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opinion

Andrew Brown argues in The Guardian that You can’t dance to atheism.
He has also written Don’t just blame ‘religion’ when parents refuse to let desperately ill children die.

Rod Thomas asks in The Church of England Newspaper Where are the Reform Bishops?

David Lose asks in The Huffington Post Was Jesus a Jerk?

In a reminder of how things used to be, The Guardian has this From the archive, 8 September 1979: Robert Runcie is to be the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 September 2012 at 11:00am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Telegraph interviews Rowan Williams

Update (Saturday 9.15 am) The Anglican Communion Office has responded with this Correction to The Telegraph article.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has responded to an article in today’s The Telegraph newspaper that inaccurately stated: “The Anglican Church is drawing up plans… that would see the introduction of a ‘presidential’ figure to take over some of the global role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

“The opening paragraph of this article is mischievous,” said Canon Kenneth Kearon. “There are no such plans. The Archbishop of Canterbury simply said in the interview that he could see that in the future there might be some reflection on how the administrative load associated with the Anglican Communion might be better shared.

“The Anglican Communion has several decision-making bodies, one of which is meeting in a few months’ time. Nothing like what this newspaper has suggested is on the agenda.”

The Telegraph today has a major interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

John Bingham and Benedict Brogan My job is too big for one man, says Archbishop of Canterbury

The outgoing leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans suggested a form of job share after admitting that he had failed to do enough to prevent a split over homosexuality.

Dr Williams said a new role should be created to oversee the day to day running of the global Anglican communion, leaving future Archbishops of Canterbury free to focus on spiritual leadership and leading the Church of England…

Benedict Brogan Archbishop of Canterbury interview: I don’t think I cracked it

…Does it worry him that, of the three main party leaders, two are atheists, and the third - David Cameron - says his faith comes and goes like “Magic FM in the Chilterns”? Doesn’t it make them unreliable allies against those secularising forces? “It does give me some concern. That means we have, as people of faith, to encourage our own folk to be a bit more willing to go into politics, and get their hands dirty.”

Nothing illustrates better the insensitivity to minorities than Mr Cameron’s wish to legalise gay marriage. Dr Williams is critical of the “embarrassment” the Prime Minister has caused the Church. A “very inadequate” consultation overlooked the legal position of the Churches and marriage. By opposing the change, however, the Church attracted accusations of homophobia, and for good reason, he thinks. It has been too – he says “lily mouthed” before correcting himself: “We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams: Church ‘wrong’ not to promote homosexual equality (audio recording)

In his last major interview before he steps down later his year, the Archbishop reaffirmed the Church’s opposition to same sex marriage and warned it would lead to a legal “tangle”.

But he added that the Church had been “wrong” in the past in its approach to homosexuality.

“We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that,” he said.

Dr Williams was speaking as Faith in the Public Square, a collection of his lectures dealing with subjects as diverse as human rights, secularism and multiculturalism, is published…

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Friday, 7 September 2012

Dean of St Albans writes about same-sex marriage for Church Times

The following article was published last week in the Church Times, and is reproduced here by permission.

Time to tell the truth about gays

Same-sex marriage can be as holy and covenantal as the heterosexual kind, argues Jeffrey John

WHEN I was a teenager, I once plucked up courage to ask a vicar what he thought about the issue of gay relationships. After a long pause and a deep breath, he finally replied: “Well, Jeffrey my boy, I suppose we must try to keep an open mind about the whole filthy business.”

My early wrestling with the “gay issue” brought me to a conclusion that has never wavered. Unless you are genuinely called to celibacy, the God-given framework for being homosexual is the same as for being heterosexual: monogamy. It has always seemed obvious to me that being in a committed relationship with someone you love and trust to share your life with is likely to maximise the health and happiness of both of you. Yes, it is hard; yes, it can go wrong; but, whether we are gay or straight, most of us know it is the best bet, and want to live that way. At the purely practical level, marriage is good for everybody.

Those are the arguments that politicians use in favour of same-sex marriage, and they are good ones. But Christian theology has deeper reasons for saying that monogamy is good. When we love one another in a fully committed way, so that the love does not depend on eros, but on faithful self-giving to the other, then marriage reflects Christ’s union with the Church, and God’s with his people. Our covenant with each other reflects God’s own kind of covenanting love.

The fact that we are capable of loving as God loves us is the main reason why we say that we are made in God’s image. For most of us, loving someone in that way - the mystery of losing ourselves in love, to find a better self in union with another - is the best inkling we get in this life of the kind of ecstatic union with God which is what heaven will be.

This covenant theology of marriage does not depend on gender or childbirth. Even in Genesis, the reason why God makes Eve is because “God saw that it was not good for man to be alone.” When Paul talks about the theology of marriage, it is never with respect to childbirth. What matters is that the covenant between the couple reflects God’s covenant with us. That is why the Church has always married couples even where childbirth is impossible.

Theologically, ethically, and sacramentally, there is no difference between a gay couple and a heterosexual couple who cannot have children. So, yes, same-sex marriage can be as holy and sacramental as heterosexual marriage. Yes, God is in favour of gay marriage, and so should the Church be.

But, of course, it isn’t. In its reply to the Government’s consultation about gay civil marriage, the Church of England’s official spokesmen described same-sex marriage as a “hollowed out” version of real, heterosexual marriage. The obvious and insulting implication is that a gay marriage is empty, missing some all-important ingredient X.

Well, I would like to hear what that ingredient X is. I would like to know what is absent in my own relationship of 37 years, and in the relationships of thousands of other similar same-sex couples, which makes them “hollow” and deficient by comparison with heterosexual marriages. I have been observing all this for a long time, and I do not believe that ingredient X exists.

IRONICALLY, the Church knows more about homosexuality than most institutions. Most of the lifelong gay relationships I know are between Christians - many of them clerics. My partner and I met at theological college, where about three-quarters of the students and staff were gay (and the college was not unique in that respect).

Once the relationship began, I went to own up to the college principal, expecting to be thrown out. His response was: “Thank God for that. You’re such a bloody miserable academic introvert - loving somebody will make you a better person and a better priest.” They were the wisest words that I ever heard him utter. But, of course, they could not be said in public.

This is the real problem. For decades - perhaps centuries - the Church’s leadership has had a public attitude to gayness, and a private one. I have yet to meet a bishop or archbishop who, in private, is unsupportive, or seriously believes that such a relationship is a sin. The only sin is in telling the truth about it. Twice I have offered my resignation, in exasperation at all the lies, only to be told: “Don’t be naïve. We need honest chaps like you.”

It is obvious that a number of bishops are gay, and some are, or have been, in gay relationships, yet they constantly refer to gay people as if they were somebody else. For all the fuss that was made about Bishop Gene Robinson, there are probably more gay bishops in the C of E than in the Episcopal Church in the United States. The difference is that the Americans tell the truth.

Canon Giles Fraser put this nicely in a recent article. Mostly, he said, people complain that the Church does not practise what it preaches; but, on this issue, we do not preach what we practise.

THE Church possesses a gospel for gay people, but it cannot speak it openly to those who most need to hear. It cares too much about its own institutional politics to care about this large section of God’s people. It wants to keep the privileges of establishment as a Church for the whole nation, but, in order to appease its own extremists here and abroad, it demands exemptions from equality and human-rights legislation that everyone else accepts as common decency.

By opposing almost every advance that gay people have made since decriminalisation, and now by opposing same-sex civil marriage, it has turned itself into the enemy number one of gay people - despite its being one of the gayest organisations in the country.

This is a disaster for the Church’s mission, its integrity, and its morale. “A lying mouth destroys the soul,” Wisdom says. It is time for the truth that sets us free.

The Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John is the Dean of St Albans and the author of Permanent, Faithful, Stable: Christian same-sex marriage (DLT, new edition 2012).

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reports on European Court hearing of religious discrimination cases

Gavin Drake reports today for the Church Times Lawyer: No discrimination if employees can resign

CHRISTIANS cannot claim that they have suffered religious discrimination at work if they have the freedom to resign and look for another job, a British-government lawyer told the European Court of Human Rights this week.

James Eadie QC made his comments as he outlined the Government’s position in four cases: those of Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, who claim that they lost their jobs with British Airways (BA) and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust respectively, over their refusal to remove a cross or crucifix; Lillian Ladele, a registrar with the London Borough of Islington, who objected to being required to perform civil-partnership ceremonies; and Gary McFarlane, who was dismissed from his position as a counsellor with the Avon branch of Relate, after his supervisors said that his religious beliefs would prevent him offering psychosexual counselling to same-sex couples (News, 31 August)…

Earlier reports:

Mail Steve Doughty Christians ‘must choose between job or their faith’: Government lawyers claim at European court

Telegraph Bruno Waterfield Christians should ‘leave their beliefs at home or get another job’

Independent Terri Judd Christians fight for rights at work in European court

Christian Institute Govt lawyer: Christians should leave faith at home or resign (includes video link to Dinah Rose QC speaking on behalf of Ms Ladele)

An official video recording of the entire proceedings can be found here.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Women in the Episcopate: The Next Steps

Updated Wednesday night

The Church of England has this morning issued this report from the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops: Women in the Episcopate: The Next Steps.

Women in the Episcopate: The Next Steps
05 September 2012

The Standing Committee of the House of Bishops has set out the next steps in the Church of England’s debate on Women Bishops.

Following the decision of the General Synod on 9th July 2012 to refer the matter back to the House of Bishops for further consideration, the Standing Committee has met to consider the options available when the House meets in Oxford on September 12.

At its meeting yesterday the committee considered all the submissions received in response to a request for members of General Synod and interested groups to suggest possible ways forward, in addition to taking account of comments from the Steering Committee responsible for taking the draft legislation through the General Synod.

In total 120 submissions were received: 17 were from bishops, 33 from clergy members of the General Synod, 48 from lay members of the Synod, 7 from groups and 15 from other individuals who do not sit as members of Synod.

Of the seven options presented in the paper the two which received the greatest level of support are options 1 and 2: retaining Clause 5(1)(c) in its present form or deleting it without replacement. 35 correspondents expressed a preference for retaining the provision (option 1) and 41 for deleting it (option 2). Option 3 attracted relatively little support whilst options 4 to 7 attracted some support and also some criticisms. In addition a few new options were suggested by respondents.

In terms of groups representing particular opinions on this issue the submissions from WATCH - advocating women in the episcopate - firmly supported Option 2 whilst Reform and the Catholic Group - opposing women in the episcopate - firmly favoured option 1.

Having considered and discussed the submissions received, the Standing Committee resolved to invite the House of Bishops to consider the Committee’s assessment of the seven options in GS Misc 1033 and of the additional suggestions received during the consultation process. Members of the House have the right to table amendments before 5pm on Tuesday September 11th.

The amendments will be voted upon at the meeting of the House of Bishops by simple majority. If no amendment were passed the draft Measure would return to the General Synod unchanged (option 1 from GS Misc 1033).

The amendments that the Standing Committee has suggested for discussion in the light of the consultation are as follows:

  • (Option 2 from GS Misc 1033) Delete clause 5(1)(c)
  • (Option 4 from GS Misc 1033) Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c):
    “the selection, after consultation with parochial church councils who issue Letters of Request under section 3, of male bishops and male priests to exercise ministry in the parishes of those councils,”
  • (New option suggested by a Synod member) Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c):
    “the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which parochial church councils issue Letters of Request under section 3,”.
  • (Option 5 from GS Misc 1033) Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c):
    “the selection, following consultation with parochial church councils who issue Letters of Request under section 3, of male bishops and male priests, the exercise of ministry by whom appears to the persons making the selection to be appropriate for the parishes concerned,”.
  • (Option 6 from GS Misc 1033) Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c):
    “the selection of male bishops and male priests the exercise of ministry by whom respects the position, in relation to the celebration of the sacraments and other divine service and the provision of pastoral care, of the parochial church councils who issue Letters of Request under section 3,”.

The General Synod will vote on the draft Measure at its meeting in London on 19-21 November.

We linked to GS Misc 1033 here.

Update The press release includes this summary of GS Misc 1033.

The discussion document GS Misc 1033 was issued on 25 July and set out 7 options making clear that these were not an exhaustive list:

Option 1- Retention of Clause 5(1)(c) in its current form.

Option 2 - Deletion of Clause 5(1)(c).

Option 3 - Replacement of “consistent with” by “respect” or “take account of”.

Option 4 - Focus on broad subject area and perhaps process.

Option 5 - Focus on suitability/appropriateness.

Option 6 - Revised formulation of what parishes need (inserting references to the position of PCCs in relation to the celebration of the sacraments etc).

Option 7 - Option 6 plus some process.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 5 September 2012 at 12:10pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

General synod - report of proceedings

The verbatim record of the July meeting of the Church of England General Synod is now available for download: Report of Proceedings: July 2012.

There is also a Summary for parish magazines (two A4 pages) prepared by the Communications Office.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 5 September 2012 at 9:55am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 1 September 2012

European Court to hear UK religious discrimination cases

Updated again Monday evening

Next week, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will hear four cases relating to alleged religious discrimination in the UK.

The Church Times has a report by Gavin Drake titled Strasbourg to hear religious-discrimination cases.

The Law Society Gazette has an article by Joshua Rozenberg Religious beliefs should be respected - when rights are not impeded .

John Bingham reports for the Telegraph on the evidence submitted by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali: Human rights ‘agenda’ is new totalitarianism, bishop warns judges.

The evidence submitted by the National Secular Society can be read here (PDF).

A press release from the Christian Legal Centre can be read here.

The official press release from the European Court of Human Rights is available here (PDF).

Updates

Frank Cranmer at Law and Religion UK has posted links to many documents (including two responses from HM Government) that have been published by Christian Concern, go to Eweida, Chaplin, Ladele and McFarlane: appeals to the European Court of Human Rights for those, and for a discussion of the contributions from Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Lord Carey.

Laura Donnelly Telegraph A cross to bear

Craig Mackenzie Mail Online ‘Why I will fight to bear my Cross’: Four devout British Christians take their battle for religious freedom to human rights judges

The National Secular Society has a press release here, which includes links to two earlier court documents known as Statement of Facts: these are what the UK Government documents are responses to.

Owen Bowcott Guardian Christian rights cases go before Strasbourg court

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Carey blasts Cameron for going back on his promise as UK fights for a ban on crosses at work

Rosalind English UK Human Rights Blog Religious freedom in UK to be considered by Strasbourg Court

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 September 2012 at 12:32pm BST | Comments (60) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

opinion at the end of August

Francis Spufford writes for The Guardian about The trouble with atheists: a defence of faith.

Marcus Borg writes for The Huffington Post about A Chronological New Testament.

Rachel Mann writes in The Guardian that The church is our best hope against the zombies.

The Church Times has this leader: Baptism for all.

Mark Sandlin writes for The God Article that there is Far Too Little Sabbath in the Sabbath.

Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph about a Big question from Stephen Hawking.

In the What I’m really thinking series in The Guardian this week is the woman priest.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 1 September 2012 at 11:00am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion