Peter Ormerod The Guardian We need the Church of England more than ever. That’s why we need it to die
Frank Cranmer Law & Religion UK The end of banns in England?
Lizzie Lowrie Saltwater and Honey The Mug
Updated on Friday to add questions 36 and 37 and their answer below the fold
In the Questions session at this week’s General Synod the Secretary General was asked about turnout in the recent elections to Synod. In reply he gave these figures, together with those from 2010 for comparison.
|Highest turnout clergy||67.96||(Birmingham)||75.00||(Ely)|
|Lowest turnout clergy||45.60||(Hereford)||43.20||(Bristol)|
|Highest turnout laity||72.10||(Guildford)||64.13||(Chelmsford)|
|Lowest turnout laity||29.82||(Hereford)||37.83||(Lincoln)|
|Highest turnout clergy||69.00||(Sodor & Man)||73.90||(Sodor & Man)|
|Lowest turnout clergy||39.86||(Liverpool)||46.50||(Liverpool)|
|Highest turnout laity||56.96||(Chester)||54.70||(Sodor & Man)|
|Lowest turnout laity||34.74||(Liverpool)||36.30||(Liverpool)|
Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the Business Committee:
Q36 Despite the fact that electors had nearly three weeks to return their voting papers in the recent General Synod election, the turnout in most dioceses was depressingly low—under 50% for the House of Laity election in 22 of the 33 dioceses that have posted the figures on their websites, and under 40% in four dioceses (Manchester 35.39%, Oxford 38.28%, Peterborough 30.79% and Salisbury 35.44%). Will the Chair of the Business Committee confirm that the Elections Review Group will look into the reasons for the low turnout and also bring forward legislative proposals to make provision for online voting in 2020 as agreed by Synod at the November 2013 Group of Sessions?
Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chair of the Business Committee:
Q37 Has the Business Committee considered bringing to the new Synod early in this quinquennium options as to how the electorate for the House of Laity might be formed for future elections, in time for any change which the Synod might consider appropriate to be implemented in time for the 2020 elections, and, if not, will it now do so?
The Revd Canon Sue Booys to reply as Chair of the Business Committee:
A With permission, I will take these questions together. All these issues are important potential areas for consideration by the Elections Review Group, a sub-committee of the Business Committee, which will be established early in this new Quinquennium. Synod members wishing to request further work on these and other matters should write to the Clerk to the Synod, requesting that they be tabled for consideration when the Elections Review Group is re-formed, which is likely to be early in 2016.
Suffragan Bishop of Sherborne: Karen Marisa Gorham
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 26 November 2015
The Queen has approved the nomination of Venerable Karen Marisa Gorham to the Suffragan See of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Karen Marisa Gorham, BA, Archdeacon of Buckingham in the diocese of Oxford, to the Suffragan See of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury in succession to the Right Reverend Graham Ralph Kings MA PhD, on his resignation on the 15 July 2015.
Notes for editors
The Venerable Karen Gorham (age 51) holds a BA from the University of Bristol and trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. Prior to ordination she worked as an administrator with BTEC and the Royal Society of Arts and as a Pastoral Assistant in Essex and Hull. She served her title at Northallerton with Kirby Sigston in the diocese of York from 1995 to 1999. She was ordained priest in 1996 and in 1999 went on to become Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s, Maidstone in the diocese of Canterbury. During this time she was also Assistant Director of Ordinands and Area Dean of Maidstone.
In 2006 she became an Honorary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral. She took up her current role as Archdeacon of Buckingham in 2007. Karen has been a member of the Church of England General Synod for 12 years, and for the last 2 has served as a member of the Panel of Chairs.
Her interests include travel and walking, the coast and Celtic spirituality. She enjoys days out with friends and an occasional visit to a good restaurant to sample the taster menu. Karen has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts since 2012.
The Salisbury diocesan website has this: Karen Gorham to be New Bishop of Sherborne, and Oxford has this: Archdeacon Karen to be Bishop of Sherborne.
The new bishop will be consecrated on 24 February 2016.
Updated Thursday morning
Business on Wednesday 25 November
Church of England press releases
Concern for the planet is not a Christian ‘add-on’, Archbishop of York tells Synod
General Synod backs work to help vulnerable refugees [See below the fold for the text of this press release]
Synod agrees to cut red tape to secure future for vulnerable churches
Archbishop of York’s Climate Change Presentation at Synod
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Justin Welby says UK military action in Syria ‘almost inevitable’
Antony Bushfield Premier Synod votes to back “military force” to create safe route for refugees
Florence Taylor Christian Today Justin Welby endorses use of force in Syria
Independent Catholic News Coptic Bishop speaks on migration crisis during CofE Synod
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Churches launch call to prayer to reverse negative views of Jesus and Christianity
John Bingham The Telegraph Rural vicars ‘drowning’ amid battle to keep empty churches open
General Synod backs work to help vulnerable refugees
25 November 2015
The General Synod has given its overwhelming backing to work by parishes and dioceses to support the resettlement of vulnerable Syrian refugees, in a debate focusing on the humanitarian response to the migrant crisis.
Members of the General Synod approved a motion welcoming the scale of aid provided by the Government for those suffering as a result of the conflict in Syria but called for significantly more Syrian refugees to be allowed to resettle in this country than the Government’s target of 20,000 over five years.
The Synod urged parishes and dioceses to work in partnership with local authorities and other community organisations to provide practical help for the resettlement of vulnerable refugees and to pray for all those seeking both to address the causes as well as the symptoms of the crisis.
Synod members called upon the Government to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that vulnerability to religiously motivated persecution is taken into account when determining who is received into Britain.
The motion also called upon the Government to work with international partners in Europe and elsewhere to help establish safe and legal routes to places of safety, including this country, for refugees who are vulnerable and at severe risk.
Members of the General Synod further voted to call upon the Government to take a ‘fair and proportionate’ share of refugees now within the European Union, particularly those with family already legally resident in the UK.
Moving the motion, Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, spoke of work already under way by Anglicans to help vulnerable refugees both in Britain and in Europe. He added that it was ‘hard to imagine’ a list of British values which did not include the word ‘hospitality’ - which stands ‘close to the heart of the Christian gospel’.
“Many in the churches believe that, if we put our backs into working with others to create the capacity, we can make 20,000 a number that can be comfortably exceeded,” he said.
“After all, it is not money that will do most to enable people driven from Syria to make new lives. It is practical care from a community, inviting them in, suggesting in many practical ways the possibility of hope and the promise of safety.”
To read Bishop Paul’s speech in full see here.
Updated Wednesday morning and evening
The Tenth General Synod of the Church of England was inaugurated this morning (Tuesday) with a service in Westminster Abbey, after which Synod members moved to the Synod chamber in Church House for an address by The Queen.
Report by the Abbey: HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh attend Synod service
Text of the sermon at the Abbey by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household
Archbishop [of Canterbury] welcomes The Queen to General Synod
Text of The Queen’s speech at the Inauguration of the Tenth General Synod of the Church of England
Speech of Thanks to Her Majesty The Queen from the Archbishop of York
Reports on the morning’s activities
Gavin Drake for the Anglican Communion News Service: Queen Elizabeth speaks on Christian Unity and Primates Meeting
John Bingham The Telegraph Queen tells CoE to learn art of peacemaking amid splits over sexuality
BBC News Queen calls for unity at Church of England general synod
Madeleine Davies Church Times ‘Our persecutors already see us as one’, Papal official tells Synod
Sean Smith The Tablet Church of England should be bridge between Catholics and Evangelicals, Pope’s preacher tells synod
Reports from the afternoon
Text of Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address
Official brief summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod November 2015 - Tuesday PM
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England could scrap reading of marriage banns
John Bingham The Telegraph Ditch the mitre? I’d look ‘underdressed’ in inner city, says bishop
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian How the mitres have fallen: bishops’ headwear is personal choice, says C of E
Updated Monday evening
The questions and answers have been published this morning.
Here are some recent online articles.
Bishop of Sheffield Reform and Renewal: the Noddy and Big Ears Guide
Harriet Sherwood The Observer Welby bids to defuse Church of England’s ‘demographic time bomb’
Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service C of E proposes to repeal obsolete Medieval laws
This refers to this paper GS Misc 1128 - Consultation on possible Statute Law (repeals) Measure. The consultation closes on 29 January 2016.
Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Wedding banns face axe after 800 years as senior clergy think practice of reading out names ahead of ceremony is ‘antiquated’.
BBC News Marriage banns ‘should be axed’ urges clergy member
Stephen Trott’s motion is contained in notice paper 4, and reads:
“That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland since 1997, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.”
Stephen Lynas We’ve only just begun…
Updated again Monday morning
The official press release with this headline is here:
The Church of England has said it is “bewildered” by the refusal of the country’s leading cinemas to show a 60 second advert of The Lord’s Prayer, adding that the “plain silly” decision could have a “chilling effect” on free speech.
The Church’s response follows its launch of a new website to promote the renewal of prayer in a digital age.
The website JustPray.uk creates a place for prayer with advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The site also provides a “live prayer” feed of prayers being prayed across the globe via Twitter, Instagram and Vine.
The Church has produced an advert promoting the new website to be shown in cinemas from December 18 2015 as part of the ad reel before Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The 60 second advert features Christians from all walks of life praying one line of the Lord’s prayer and includes weight lifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support centre, school children, a mourner at a graveside, a festival goer and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Church has announced today that the country’s three largest cinema chains Odeon, Cineworld and Vue - who control 80% of cinema screens around the country - have refused to show the advert because they believe it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”…
The Daily Mail has detailed coverage of this story: Archbishop Welby’s fury at cinema ban on ‘offensive’ Lord’s prayer: Church threaten to sue after plug pulled on advert due to be shown to millions at Christmas.
Towards the end of the article there is this:
…At the end of August, a bemused Rev Arora spoke to Andy Edge, commercial director for Odeon and a board member of DCM, who agreed to try to resolve the issue.
However, in another email sent on September 16, DCM’s finance director Paul Maloney told Rev Arora: ‘Having fully looked into the matter, I am afraid we will be unable to take forward the proposed Church of England campaign … DCM has a policy not to run advertising connected to personal beliefs.
‘Our members have found that showing such advertisements carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.
‘We at DCM had first-hand experience of this risk when we and our members received considerable negative feedback from audiences following our decision to allow both Yes and No campaigners to run adverts in the lead up to the Scottish independence referendum.
‘Having learned from this … the board of DCM took the decision not to run any advertising promoting any religion or political views.’
The Church’s chief legal adviser, Stephen Slack, then wrote to the UK Cinema Association, an umbrella organisation that took over the dispute from DCM, saying the decision was ‘extremely disappointing’.
He warned it could ‘give rise to the possibility of legal proceedings’ under the Equality Act, which outlaws commercial organisations from refusing services on the grounds of religion.
However, the Association’s chief executive Phil Clapp said the DCM was within its right to refuse to show the film.
Rev Arora said: ‘In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech.’ Last night Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: ‘Religious freedom is a cornerstone of British values. The public will find it surprising, particularly at this time of year, that cinemas have reacted in this way.’
Here is a link to the DCM advertising policy document. The key paragraph which prohibits all religious advertising is this:
Religious Advertising means… advertising which wholly or partly advertises any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief (including any absence of belief) or any part of any religion, faith or such equivalent systems of belief.
Some further media coverage:
…Rev Arun Arora, the Church of England’s director of communications, told the Telegraph: “If they want to be consistent on not carrying any ads that have any connection with religious belief, I’d like them to cancel all ads linked to Christmas as a Christian festival.
“If they’d like to apply it consistently, ban every ad that mentions Christmas.”
He said DCM’s decision, which was condemned by atheists and other faith groups alike, was “chilling in terms of limiting freedom of speech”.
Yorkshire Evening Post Bishop of Leeds Bishop of Leeds: Lord’s Prayer cinema ban is due to “illiteracy of a liberal culture”
Guardian Giles Fraser Banning the Lord’s Prayer from cinemas is nonsense on stilts
According to a new article this morning in the Daily Mail
…Yesterday it emerged that DCM, which controls 80 per cent of UK cinema advertising and is jointly-owned by Odeon and Cineworld, was so eager to host the advert in July that an agent offered the Church a 55 per cent discount.
But on August 3, he claimed the cinemas would refuse to show the clip, saying ‘our hands are tied by these guys’.
Executives later said that DCM had turned the advert down because its policy prevented it airing trailers ‘connected to personal beliefs’.
Finance director Paul Maloney emailed the Church in September claiming DCM decided not to show any political or religious adverts following complaints during last year’s Scottish referendum, when it allowed both Yes and No campaign videos.
In an email on September 17, he said there was ‘no formal policy document’ on religion.
But yesterday DCM claimed its decision was based on its ‘policy of not accepting political or religious advertising content for use in cinemas’ – pointing to a document on its website as evidence.
Analysis by the Mail reveals this document’s creation date was last Friday – just two days before the farce was revealed by the Mail on Sunday.
DCM did not respond last night to questions about when the policy had been written.
Alan Billings Church Times Social cohesion can defeat terror
Jayne Ozanne Church of England Newspaper Confession Time
Here is the response issued by Affirming Catholicism:
Affirming Catholicism response to the proposals on modifying the rules relating to the seal of the confessional
Peter Hitchens The Spectator The Church of England’s shameful betrayal of bishop George Bell
Church of England Newspaper editorial The rule of the lynch mob
His Honour Alan Pardoe QC Church Times The Church of England media statement about Bishop George Bell
Jeff K Clarke 2 Reasons NOT to Keep Christ in Christmas
Andrew Lightbown A focus of unity? Really?
Today, the Church Times has this news report by Tim Wyatt Public statements on sex can be a bar, CNC is advised.
And, it has a leader article, Lawful, but doleful that unpacks what is actually going on here:
…If hard cases make bad law, they also prompt bad guidance. The hard case in this instance is the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, and, although not named, this guidance is essentially about him. He is not a conventional hard case, of course: the difficulty he has caused the church hierarchy stems from his popularity with successive CNCs. Their deliberations are confidential, but it is well known that, besides his appointment as Bishop of Reading in 2003, subsequently withdrawn, he has come close to being chosen for the sees of Southwark, Exeter, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich…
And, it later continues:
…the new guidance repeats the view that it would not be illegal to discriminate against someone (i.e. Dr John) on the grounds of his past statements on sexuality if it were felt that these prevented his being a focus of unity, a fundamental element of episcopal ministry. The fragility of this argument when compared with the weight given to candidates’ views on other subjects is what has led to this succession of legal clarifications, especially in the light of Dr John’s threat of a legal challenge after the Southwark fiasco. The difficulty of making general rules from individual cases is that they must be applied indiscriminately. The recent appointment of the chairman of Reform, a conservative Evangelical campaigning group, to be Bishop of Maidstone might be questioned in the light of this guidance…
The Church of England has just published its Financial Overview 2013 which draws together the finances of the Church of England into one place. It aggregates financial information from over 12,000 parishes, 44 dioceses, 41 cathedrals and 3 National Church Institutions as the press release below explains.
New report consolidates finances of the Church of England
10 November 2015
The Church of England has published a new overview of its finances for the 10 years from 2004-2013, drawing together information from over 12,000 parishes, 44 dioceses, 41 cathedrals and three National Church Institutions (NCIs) into one place.
The report finds that the church’s overall income in 2013 was just over £1.41 billion, over half of which was from donations from parishioners, fundraising and grants. It also shows that the majority of the income from the NCIs is from the Church Commissioners, an investment fund of around £6 billion which uses its returns to support the mission of the church across the country.
Carol Fletcher, Senior Financial Planner for the Church of England, said “Bringing together statistics from across the Church of England is a great way of showing the extent of what we do and how we function. Through our investments, trading income and of course the generosity of parishioners, we have been able to continue in our mission to be a Christian presence in every community.”
The report also reveals:
Weekly giving per parishioner has increased across the period of the study.
Two thirds (67%) of the Church of England’s income comes from parishes, 9% from dioceses, 9% from cathedrals and 15% from the NCIs (predominantly the Church Commissioners).
Expenditure in 2013 was slightly higher than income, at just under £1.43 billion. Just over half of expenditure was for clergy stipends, clergy housing and parishes, and cathedral operating costs.
Caring for church buildings, including cathedrals, represents 13% of overall expenditure.
The report is available to download here.
The Church of England is made up of a number of distinct but interconnected organisations, all of which are independent bodies. The Financial Overview amalgamates the finances of the Church of England to show its scale as if it were one, consolidated organisation.
The three National Church Institutions covered by the report are the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners, and the Church of England Pensions Board.
This is a copy of the article I recently wrote for Stonewall, and is reproduced here with their agreement.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton is a priest of the Church of England. He works for the NHS as a chaplain in a hospital in Lincoln, and was recently offered a new job as a chaplain at a hospital in Nottinghamshire. But because he married his partner, this offer to work was revoked. Why? Because Jeremy is gay and his partner is male.
Last week, Jeremy lost his claim of discrimination against the Church of England in an employment tribunal. The court ruled that the Church’s refusal to issue Jeremy a license to work in a different NHS hospital, in a different diocese, because he is in a same-sex marriage, was in fact an act of direct discrimination. But shockingly they ruled this discrimination lawful, because there are religious exemptions to the Equality Act 2010, despite this post being in the NHS.
Jeremy has been in a long-term relationship with his male partner for over seven years. They never entered a civil partnership. When the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act 2013 was passed, they immediately decided to get married. Before the ceremony could take place, in February 2014, the CofE’s House of Bishops issued a statement (Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage) that said clergy were not free to enter a same-sex marriage. They said it was contrary to the Church’s doctrine on marriage. They also said that in future they would not ordain any person who had already entered such a marriage. Despite this, Jeremy and his partner married on 12 April.
Jeremy’s domestic arrangements were never a secret and always well-known to all the Church authorities. He still holds a bishop’s licence to work as a hospital chaplain in Lincoln diocese, and he formerly also had permission to preach or take services in the Southwell and Nottingham diocese, where he lives. However, soon after he got married, he was no longer allowed to preach in Southwell and Nottingham. Around this time, Jeremy applied for a more senior NHS chaplaincy post, much closer to his home, and the NHS trust decided he was the best candidate. But when the trust applied to the local Nottinghamshire bishop for Jeremy to be licensed, the Nottinghamshire bishop refused. Jeremy therefore took the diocese to an employment tribunal.
The tribunal found that the Church of England has a doctrine of marriage which excludes the possibility of same-sex marriage. It also said that the statement made in February had warned clergy that entering such a marriage would remove them from being “in good standing”. The court held that a matter of doctrine was involved: clergy were not allowed to enter same-sex marriages. And this meant that bishops were entitled to withhold licenses from clergy in same-sex marriages, provided that the post also was “for the purposes of a religious organisation”. In the court’s opinion Jeremy’s post of NHS chaplain was indeed for such purposes.
So where does this leave us? First it is extremely likely that the case will be appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. And then a definite legal precedent, one way or the other, will be set that will be binding on other courts. Second, it raises questions not only for the NHS, but also for other secular bodies (schools, police, prisons, universities, etc.) that currently employ Church of England priests as chaplains. They might want to review the terms on which they do so, to avoid being similarly treated – or dictated to – by the Church. Third, it will lead to renewed concern in Parliament about the extent of the religious exemptions that are currently allowed, and whether they should be reviewed. These are far more wide-reaching than in any other European country. The establishment status of the Church of England will also be questioned yet again.
But more important than any of these is the PR disaster for the Church of England that this case has already created. The public simply does not comprehend why the Church’s official bodies, as opposed to its members generally, are so set against same-sex marriage. Why is a person’s sexual orientation accepted, but their relationship is not? Why is it OK to be gay and a priest, but it’s not OK to want to make the person you love your husband, and still expect to keep your job.
This is a mixed message, and seems to go against a core teaching of the Church that God is love. How, if this is true, can the Church refuse to recognise loving same-sex relationships? If God made us all different, why should we all act the same? This is incredibly difficult to reconcile for LGBT people of faith, and it can create an ever-widening chasm for some people between a strongly held belief in God and a very real sense of rejection from the Church.
At the end of a very long consultation about the precise wording of the Gift Aid declaration HMRC published a new series of template declaration forms to be used by charities from April 2016. The intention of the new wording is to emphasise to donors that, in order for the charity to claim Gift Aid on their donations, they must have paid tax at least equal to the amount claimed. It was assumed that the new wording would be obligatory from that date; however, in response to requests from charities – mainly, but not exclusively, the Churches – that they be allowed to continue to use their present stocks of pre-printed Gift Aid envelopes with the out-of-date wording, HMRC has made an extremely helpful concession, as follows:
“Following approaches made to HMRC by various charities and churches that hold stocks of pre-printed Gift Aid donation envelopes that were ordered and printed just before the new Gift Aid declarations were published on our website, it has been agreed that charities, churches, cathedrals, parishes etc. can use up their current stock of pre-printed Gift Aid collection envelopes beyond April 2016.
Our guidance will continue to recommend that charities introduce the new wording by April 2016, because we want to reduce the numbers of non-taxpayers that currently complete Gift Aid declarations.
The Gift Aid legislation has not changed and consequently previous versions of the Gift Aid declaration and Gift Aid envelopes used by donors after 6 April 2016 will still be valid and can be accepted by charities and churches” [our emphasis].
The e-mail concludes by asking the original recipient to forward the message to his network of contacts within the Church of England. But its interest is much wider than that, so we thought we should publicise it on the blog.
The concession extends to all charities but it is likely to be of particular importance to Churches because, unlike the vast majority of secular charities, they have weekly collections during services. Nevertheless, we would agree with HMRC that charities and Churches should, if at all possible, introduce the new wording by April 2016, if only in the interests of good housekeeping.
[This was originally posted on 10 November 2015 on the Law & Religion UK blog but is copied here with permission as it needs the widest publicity possible before church treasurers start binning their out-of-date Gift Aid envelopes.]
Readers may recall that at General Synod in July, John Ward asked a Question of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as reported fully here. This in turn followed from a previous Question asked in February, also reported here. The incidents to which reference is made in the questions occurred in September/October 2014 and in October/November 2013.
The guidance document to which the question refers has now been published: ARCHBISHOPS’ GUIDELINES ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF “CHOOSING BISHOPS – THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 (REVISED)” (GS Misc 1044).
This document is dated March 2015, and as explained in its first section, it was revised following the passage of the women bishops legislation in 2014. Presumably therefore there was an earlier version of this guidance issued in 2013, shortly after the issue of GS Misc 1044 itself.
Pages 3 and 4 of this newly published guidance constitute a section entitled: The relevance of a candidate’s previous public statements on human sexuality.
This portion is copied in full below the fold, but you need to read the whole document to get the context. However, you will note that GS Misc 1044 itself contains no reference to this topic.
The relevance of a candidate’s previous public statements on human sexuality
14. The focus of the Legal Office note is the imposition of a requirement of one of the kinds described in paragraph 7. The imposition of such a requirement is a significant thing, its effect being completely to exclude from consideration those whose circumstances are inconsistent with the requirement. But, as noted above, if a requirement is not imposed the fact that a candidate falls into one or other of the two categories is to be ignored and may not be the subject of any further discussion or questioning.
15. It is possible that a further issue may arise in the course of the CNC’s deliberations which is distinct from the possible imposition of a requirement. That is whether, when considering whether the candidate can fulfil the fundamental calling of a bishop to be a ‘focus of unity’, the CNC can nonetheless lawfully take into account the content and manner of any public statements previously made by him or her about the Church’s traditional teaching on same-sex relations.
16. Taking a consideration of this kind into account is different from imposing a requirement. Rather, in terms of the Equality Act, it involves the application of a ‘criterion’, in the light of which (amongst other criteria) the decision on nomination would be made.
17. A discussion of this kind would not have involved indirect discrimination under the Equality Act, had the Act applied, even if in practice such a discussion might put a homosexual candidate at a disadvantage when compared with heterosexual candidates. The concept of ‘indirect discrimination’ under the Act does not extend to a situation in which a criterion is applied as a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim; and a criterion designed to assess how well a candidate would, if nominated, be able to fulfil a fundamental aspect of a bishop’s role would have passed that test.
18. It would accordingly be open to the CNC, in principle, to have a discussion of this kind, in an appropriate case. Were it to do so, then the criterion would need to be weighed alongside others. So it would be for each individual member of the CNC to decide how much weight to attach to it.
19. However, it would be essential that any discussion of this issue was confined to weighing the implications of the candidate’s previous public statements for his or her ability to act as a focus of unity, rather than taking account of the implications of his or her sexuality or status as a civil partner. The latter would involve taking account of irrelevant, and unlawful, considerations, since those matters have either to be addressed through the imposition of a requirement or left out of account altogether.
20. In addition, the mere fact that a candidate had publicly questioned the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality, or indeed that of the Anglican Communion as articulated in Lambeth 1:10, would not be sufficient to raise any issue from this point of view: that is something that clergy are free to do. An issue could only arise as a result of the way in which that disagreement had been expressed.
21. Particular care would be needed in handling any considerations relating to the Anglican Communion. An adverse reaction in the Anglican Communion to the candidate’s appointment on account of his or her previous public statements could in principle be a relevant consideration in so far as it touched on the candidate’s ability to be a focus of unity in the Church of England– e.g. because it could fuel controversy within the Church of England of such a kind as to make it more difficult for the candidate to act as an effective focus of unity.
22. However, in practice considerable care needs to be taken in evaluating considerations relating to the Anglican Communion, where concerns about the candidate’s appointment may well be based at least as much on his or her sexuality or civil partner status as on the nature of his or her previous public statements.
Anglican Catholic Future has published this Statement on the Seal of Confession.
Anglican Catholic Future responds to the current consultation on the seal of confidentiality associated with the ministry of confession and absolution out of a confidence in the abiding worth of that practice, and of its absolute confidentiality. This ministry has a distinctive part to play for many in fashioning a life of continued conversion to Christ. We hope that the attention now being paid to it by the working group, and by the General Synod, will lead to a renewed appreciation of the part that it occupies in the mission of the church, and the spiritual life of its members, and could occupy even more fully. We hope that every diocese will provide instruction for existing priests in this manifestation of the love of God, and that every training institution will provide instruction for those in preparation for priestly ministry.
The full text of the statement is available on the ACF website in PDF format here.
Andrew Brown The Guardian ‘We need to talk about Jesus’: cue cringing embarrassment
Sarah Pulliam Bailey The Washington Post The Episcopal Church’s first black leader — and its ‘tortuous’ path toward integration
Updated yet again Thursday teatime
The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham has issued this press release
The Employment Tribunal that heard the case brought by Jeremy Pemberton against Bishop Richard Inwood has released its findings, dismissing all the claims brought against the Bishop.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.
“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.
“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds. We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality.”
The Claimant’s lawyers have issued this statement:
“We are obviously very disappointed by the Employment Tribunal’s decision; our lawyers have considered the judgment and are in the process of preparing the Grounds of Appeal for submission to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. We would like to thank all of those who have supported us through this litigation process thus far.”
The full text of the judgment can be downloaded from here.
LGCM has issued this response: Justice for Jeremy – we fight on.
Peter Tatchell has issued this response: Tribunal rules Church can dictate who NHS employs.
Four Three blog articles in response:
Initial press coverage of this case:
Newark Advertiser Jeremy Pemberton loses discrimination case
Nottingham Post Gay priest not discriminated against, employment tribunal rules
Church Times (article revised) First gay marriage priest Jeremy Pemberton loses employment tribunal
Lincolnshire Echo Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton was not discriminated against
The Anglican Church of Canada’s report on changing the Canadian marriage canon was published in September, see earlier article.
The Anglican Journal reports: Bishops plan February meeting to discuss marriage canon.
At their autumn meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont., members of the House of Bishops agreed to convene a special meeting from February 23-26 to discuss the report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon.
In a communiqué released October 26, the bishops said this meeting would “pay particular attention to the theology of marriage, the nature of episcopacy, and the synod’s legislative process” and “wrestle with how to honour our roles as guardians of the Church’s faith and discipline and signs of unity both locally and universally.”
The question of legislative process—how General Synod 2016 will approach the divisive vote on whether or not to allow same-sex marriage—has raised some anxiety among bishops, and was brought up in the communiqué.
“We are concerned that parliamentary procedure may not be the most helpful way to discern the mind of the Church, or of the Spirit, in this matter,” it stated. “We would ask those in charge of designing the process whereby the draft resolution comes to the floor…to consider ways in which trust and understanding can be deepened and promoted…”
The full text of the communiqué is available here: Communiqué from the House of Bishops.
There was also this report from ACNS “Deep pain” anticipated as Canada prepares to debate same sex marriage.