I reported here on the rules that had been made for the election of senior women representatives to attend meetings of the House of Bishops. The rules contained a few errors
and these have now been corrected.
The date by which the first elections must be completed remains 1 October 2013, so the first representatives will be able to attend the next regular meeting of the House of Bishops, which is in December.
Updated again Wednesday morning
The more detailed list showing speakers names is over here.
Two bishops engaged in the debate, the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Hereford.
The debate continues on Wednesday.
There is already a Second Marshalled List of Amendments here. There is now a Revised Second Marshalled List.
David Pocklington has listed out what happened yesterday to each amendment that was discussed, see Same Sex Marriage Bill – Committee Stage, 1st Day.
Andrew Brown has written John Sentamu and the Church of England’s slow retreat on gay marriage.
…The archbishop, John Sentamu, asked: “What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them? However, that is a big question, to which we are going to come. I am afraid that now is not the moment.”
No. It isn’t. That moment passed years ago, when civil partnerships were first brought in, and the archbishop’s was one of the loudest voices demanding that the Church of England have nothing to do with them. The bishops still don’t realise what damage they did then…
Paul Johnson has written at ECHR Sexual Orientation blog Same-sex marriage in England and Wales - more references to the ECHR.
David Pocklington has written again, Clarifications from withdrawn amendments, Same Sex Marriage Bill, Day 1 which adds a lot of useful explanation about the various amendments discussed.
Chris Sugden has written an Update for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Updated Monday evening
There is a revised Marshalled List of amendments.
David Pocklington has written another very helpful article at Law & Religion UK entitled Same-Sex Marriage Bill – further legal issues. He comments:
… With the exception of the amendments relating to holding a referendum on the Act, (which would take place after the Act had gained Royal Assent, but before its other provisions come into force), the majority concern the clarification of issues specific to groups who are likely to be impacted by its provisions: followers of Judaism, [clause 5, amendment 21]; or Sikhism [clause 5, amendment 22]; or by challenges to their actions in relation to these and various equality provisions; publicly held appointments, [clause, amendment 5]; registrars, [clause 2, amendment 15 to 18]; teaching, [clause 7, amendment 23].
A number of amendments refer to “exercising a function that is a function of a public nature for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998”, one of the “grey areas” of particular interest to the Church of England which was discussed at length in the ‘Prayer to Annul’ debate on 15 December 2011 and is reported here. Other proposals seek to identify and protect the concept of “traditional marriage”, [clause 1, amendment 7], or “matrimonial marriage”, [clause 12, amendment 46].
In addition, potential new provisions include requirements for the Secretary of State to: create a statutory list of religious bodies owning or controlling premises that they do not wish to be eligible to undertake an opt-in activity, [clause 1, amendment 6]; and review the operation and effects of the Act to be reviewed, two years and five years after it is passed, [clause 15, amendment 47]…
The uncorrected Hansard report, running three hours behind real time, can be found here. (This link will only work until Tuesday morning).
The Archbishop of York spoke in this debate, and has published his text here.
There is a news report in the Telegraph Archbishop of York: would the church rather bless sheep and trees than gay couples?
TA readers may recall that back in June 2011, a document was published by the Church of England, which was numbered GS Misc 992 entitled Choosing Bishops - The Equality Act 2010. We reproduced the full text of this document here at the time and it attracted some comment then.
In fact the identical document had been leaked to the Guardian newspaper the previous month when it attracted quite a lot of media comment.
Today, the Church of England released a new document, numbered GS Misc 1044, which is described as an update to the earlier one, but whose content is in some respects quite different. The cover note observes that the update has been made to take account of the decision taken by the House of Bishops in December in relation to civil partnerships and the episcopate.
We reported on that in House of Bishops decisions taken in December, and then again here, and finally, when in January the Church of England eventually issued a press release, in Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE.
The new document is now reproduced in full here.
The old document is still available here, and readers may find it instructive to look at the two side by side.
John Bingham has written today in the Telegraph about this document, see Archbishops to ask clergy: ‘Are you having gay sex?’
Updated Friday evening and Sunday lunchtime
In their first meeting, Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis both spoke this morning of the bonds of “friendship” and “love” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The two leaders agreed that the fruits of this dialogue and relationship have the potential to empower Christians around the world to demonstrate the love of Christ.
The Archbishop and the Pope agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes “the common good” to help those suffering in poverty.
Archbishop Justin said that Christians must reflect “the self-giving love of Christ” by offering love and hospitality to the poor, and “love above all those tossed aside” by present crises around the world.
The Pope said those with the least in society “must not be abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers”.
They also agreed on the need for Christians to act as peacemakers around the world, which they acknowledged could only be done if Christians “live and and work together in harmony,” the Pope said…
The article includes the texts of the addresses that the two men gave in public after their private conversation.
Ed Thornton of the Church Times writes that Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis speak up for the poor at first meeting
The Telegraph reports that Pope Francis tells Archbishop of Canterbury to stand firm on traditional family values.
Martha Linden writes for The Independent that Pope Francis meets Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in Rome.
BBC News has Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope meet for first time.
The Washington Press carries this piece from Associated Press Pope meets Archbishop of Canterbury, seeks to promote marriage as UK heads to gay marriage.
Catherine Hornby of Reuters writes Pope Francis and new Anglican leader meet, note differences. The Huffington Post carries the same article under the headline Pope And Archbishop Of Canterbury Meet, Note Differences On Women Ordination, Gay Rights and adds a gallery of photographs.
Lizzie Davies of The Guardian, who is in Rome, writes that Pope and archbishop of Canterbury find common ground at talks in Rome.
Gerard O’Connell of Vatican Insider writes that Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury have very friendly and successful first meeting.
Updated Friday afternoon twice
The usual pre-synod press release has been issued by the Church of England today, and is copied below. It provides a summary of the business to be transacted.
I have listed the available online papers here.
Agenda for the July 2013 General Synod
The General Synod meets in York on 5th - 9th July for the first time since the rejection of the draft legislation on Women Bishops last November. A large period of time on the Saturday will be devoted to work on this issue with a debate on the Monday. The Friday afternoon will see the first Presidential Address by the new Archbishop of Canterbury, which will be an opportunity for him to outline the main challenges facing the Church of England over the coming period.
The meeting of Synod will also include debates on Safeguarding following the Chichester Commissaries’ reports and Welfare Reform and the Church. There will also be a vote on the Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme.
The agenda provides for the Synod to meet in private on the morning and afternoon of Saturday 6 July for reflection and facilitated discussion on the issue of Women Bishops. Some of this time will be spent in groups and some in plenary. The group work will take the form of 24 groups of 20 people with a trained facilitator, with Synod members from each House in the groups. On Monday morning there will be a debate on a motion from the House of Bishops which proposes that draft legislation be prepared and introduced at the November group of sessions on the basis of option one in the report from the working group. Synod members will have until 10am on Sunday to table amendments to the Motion.
On Sunday afternoon at 5pm there will be a debate on a Motion on Safeguarding as a follow-up to the reports of the Commissaries appointed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct a visitation into safeguarding in the Diocese of Chichester. This will take the form of motion endorsing an apology by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for past errors within the Church of England and agreeing plans to take further legislative and non-legislative steps to improve the Church’s policies and practices on safeguarding. These include planned changes to the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) which will be consulted on over the summer and brought to the Synod in draft legislation in February 2014. In addition there are plans to carry out an audit of diocesan safeguarding resources and practices, and to do more work at national level on developing and implementing safeguarding policies and supporting dioceses with training and roll-out of these polices.
On Sunday evening there will be a debate on Welfare Reform and the Church. This will be an opportunity for Synod members to discuss how the Church is and should be responding to the changes to the welfare system being introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions and in particular how the impact on low income households is being felt at parish level.
Saturday evening will see a debate on Challenges for the Quinquennium. It is exactly half-way through the Synod’s current five-year term (Quinquennium) and this will be an opportunity for the Synod to take stock of how the goals set at the beginning of this period are being met and any further areas of work required. The main themes are:
Contributing as the national Church to the common good
Facilitating the growth of the Church
Re-imagining the Church’s ministry
The debate will be an opportunity for Synod members to add their own views on how the Church is responding to these overall themes and to prepare the way for more focused debates on each of them in future.
Legislative business will be taken on Saturday afternoon, Monday morning and afternoon and Tuesday morning. A key item, for the Monday afternoon, will be the proposed Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme which aims to bring together the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield and create a new Diocese of Leeds (also to be known as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales). The Archbishop of York has authorised the Diocese Commission to lay the draft Scheme before the General Synod, even though the Diocese of Wakefield has not given its consent to the scheme.
Other items of legislative business arise from the work of the Elections Review Group, a sub-group of the Business Committee, relating to how members of the General Synod are elected. The Synod will also be debating a second report from the Elections Review Group on possible changes to the electorate of the House of Laity and the options for using online voting in future.
Contingency business takes the form of a Diocesan Synod Motion (DSM) from the Diocese of London on the Review of the Workings of the General Synod. This calls for the Business Committee to look at a number of areas including the frequency and length of groups of sessions, the ways in which debate takes place and decisions are made and whether the current synodical framework and structures are still fit for purpose. This DSM will be taken if there are any gaps in the Synod agenda.
The General Synod will meet at York University from 4.15 on Friday 5 July until lunchtime on Tuesday 9 July.
Read the full Agenda.
Madeleine Davies reports on this morning’s press briefing in the Church Times: Synod: ‘There will be arguments’ despite group talks.
Sam Jones writes for The Guardian: Church of England synod told not to delay over women bishops
Online copies of the papers for the July 2013 meeting of General Synod are now available online; they are listed below, with links and a note of the day they are scheduled for debate.
In addition a zip file of all papers circulated today is available,
The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1889) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.
The Church of England’s own list of papers is presented in agenda order.
Papers for debate
GS 1886 - Women in the Episcopate [Monday]
GS 1888 - Full Synod Agenda
GS 1889 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]
GS 1890 - Appointment of the Clerk to the Synod [Friday]
GS 1891 - Appointment of the Chair of the Appointments Committee [Friday]
GS 1892 - Appointment of the Chair of the Finance Committee [Friday]
GS 1893 - Appointment of the Chair of the England Pensions Board [Friday]
GS 1894 - Appointment of the Auditors to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]
GS 1895 - Progress on meeting challenges for the Quinquennium [Saturday]
GS 1896 - Safeguarding: Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports [Sunday]
GS 1899 - Draft Resolution for Approval [Monday]
GS 1900 - The Archbishops’ Council’s Draft Budget and Proposals for apportionment for 2014 [Monday]
GS 1901 - The work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1902 - Draft Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]
GS 1903 - Draft Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1904 - Draft Clergy Representation (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1905 - Draft Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1902-05x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1906 - The work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1907 - Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2013
GS 1908 - Clergy Discipline Appeal (Ammendment) Rules 2013
GS1907-08x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1909 - Amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
GS 1909x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1913 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Monday]
GS Misc 1044 - Choosing Bishops - The Equality Act
GS Misc 1048 - Simplification Group Report
GS Misc 1049A - Moving Towards a New Dioceses for West Yorkshire and the Dales
GS Misc 1049B - The New Diocese and the Mission of the Church
GS Misc 1049C - Yorkshire Scheme for Financial Estimates
GS Misc 1050 - Statement from the Archbishop of York
Annex 1 - Blackburn Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 2 - Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 3 - Draft Wakefield Diocean Synod notes
Annex 4 - Bradford Diocesan Synod notes
GS Misc 1051 - Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CD Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1052 - Clergy Discipline Amendment Rules as amended by CDA Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1053 - Code of Practice amended July 2013
GS Misc 1054 - Making New Disciples
Forecast of future General Synod business
This forecast should not be read as more than a broad indication of business that may come to the Synod in 2013 and 2014. Timings are therefore approximate and not a guarantee that they will be dealt with at the Synod session indicated.
One or more reports are usually taken at each group of sessions.
One or more Diocesan Synod Motions and one or more Private Members’ Motions are customarily included in the Agenda for each group of sessions (see Special Agendas III and IV).
Updated Friday morning
Three days have now been allocated for the committee stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Monday 17th, Wednesday 19th, and Monday 24th June.
So far, three pages of amendments have been tabled, all can be reached via this page.
Update a Marshalled List is now available here. Several amendments include bishops as sponsors.
David Pocklington at Law & Religion UK has an informative post: Same-Sex Marriage Bill – some legal issues.
Conservative Christian opposition to the bill continues, see The House of Lords, Church of England Bishops and the Same-Sex Couples bill by Chris Sugden at Anglican Mainstream.
The statement by the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual was reported here.
The Church of England Briefing Note issued for the Second Reading of the bill can be found here. It indicates the type of amendments that may be pursued by the bishops.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will be meeting Pope Francis for the first time tomorrow.
The Guardian has two articles looking forward to this visit.
Sam Jones Justin Welby and Pope Francis meet in hope of finding common ground
Andrew Brown Shift in style as outsiders Justin Welby and Pope Francis get together
The Tablet reports that Welby and Pope meet to review relations between Churches.
Alessandro Speciale of Religion News Service writes Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury to meet for the first time.
First there is this press release.
Tuesday 11 June 2013 12noon
WATCH (Women and the Church) Response to the House of Bishops’ report GS1886
Press Release Summary of WATCH’s response:
WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse. We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] is that the Church of England should now commit itself fully and unequivocally to all orders of ministry being open to all, without reference to gender. It would, in the view of the House sit very uncomfortably with that if the [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.” We agree wholeheartedly with their conclusion that Option One offers the best way forward. WATCH’s full response can be found on the attached document. The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said: “It is very heartening to see the House of Bishops give such a strong lead to enable the Church to open all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The gifts of ordained women should be welcomed and celebrated by the Church and all the signs are that the Bishops are now committed to making that happen.”
And then there is this detailed response.
WATCH response to GS 1886 ‘Women in the Episcopate – New Legislative Proposals’
WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women, without equivocation.
The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse.
(1) Following the meeting of the House of Bishops on 20-21 May, the report of the Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, together with a report by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on behalf of the House, was issued on 25th May. The WATCH committee has taken time to consider the implications of the report, before issuing this response.
(2) We wish to register our thanks to the House of Bishops and the Working Party for seeking an early resolution within the Church’s own processes to a situation which is undesirable and untenable for the Church of England, and which hinders our mission and credibility in society at large.
(3) Members of General Synod will devote a significant proportion of the July group of sessions to discussion of the matter, and we urge General Synod to support the motion as proposed in the report, following the House of Bishops’ guidance in seeking to frame legislation within the parameters of the Working Group’s ‘option one’.
(4) The Archbishops’ report displays a significant change in tone towards the prospect of having women in the episcopate, and we are greatly encouraged by the positive commitment to this now being demonstrated by the House of Bishops. This, we hope, may go some way to repairing the damage done by the outcome of the Synod vote in November, which is noted in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the report.
We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] is that the Church of England should now commit itself fully and unequivocally to all orders of ministry being open to all, without reference to gender. It would, in the view of the House sit very uncomfortably with that if the [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.”
(5) The principles underlying the Working Party’s thinking (namely, simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality [Annex para. 32f]) seem to us broadly good ones, and we recognise the challenge inherent in moving from principle to legislation.
(6) We welcome particularly the Working Party’s recognition that support for women’s ministry is grounded in theological conviction (Annex paras 37 and 53), something which seems often to have been regarded as the preserve of opponents of the ordained ministry of women.
(7) In this vein, we welcome the commitment to avoiding ‘unacceptable theological or ecclesiological confusion for the whole Church of England’ (Annex para. 31) as we regard such confusion as detrimental to the health and mission of the whole Church of England.
For this reason, we are pleased to see noted as elements of the vision in Annex para. 24 (copied in the Archbishops’ report para. 12) that: • Once legislation has passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being equally open to all, without reference to gender, and will hold that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to the office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience; Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter. It seems to us very important that, as Annex para. 39 notes, ‘There should no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests.’
(8) Should General Synod follow the House of Bishops’ leadership in commending Option One, the question will arise as to what should be the nature of the provision for those unable to accept the ordained ministry of women, a House of Bishops’ Declaration or an Act of Synod. It seems to us that there would be merits and drawbacks to each, and that (as for all parties) the detail of the content would be paramount.
(9) We were encouraged to see that there was little support in the House of Bishops for Options 3 and 4, and we would find ourselves unable to support Option 2. The strong support among laity and clergy alike at every synodical level for the previous draft legislation, together with the 2/3 majority achieved in Synod last July in favour of the adjournment of the debate to allow reconsideration of the first iteration of Clause 5(1)(c), convince us that there is no appetite in the Church at large for enshrining discrimination in statute. Even if such discriminatory provision could command the requisite majorities in any General Synod, it is clear that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be unable to recommend such a Measure in Parliament.
We are therefore convinced that the wisest course would be for Synod to follow the House of Bishops’ lead in eschewing any discrimination in law, and thus to allow the Church of England to resolve the matter via her own processes.
(10) Encouraged as we are by the positive tone of the Archbishops’ report, we nevertheless retain some concerns about assumptions. In particular, we again wish to highlight the use of ‘majority/minority’ as shorthand for ‘support/opposition’ to the ordination of women. It is clearly true that, in numerical terms, these are equivalent; however, as we have previously pointed out, ordained women constitute a cultural minority within the Church of England, particularly as regards senior and stipendiary posts. Moreover, we are concerned that such shorthand pays little regard to those – most especially lay people – in favour of women’s ministry in areas where the diocesan hierarchy is predominantly opposed. It seems to us that any pastoral care for ‘minorities’ must, on the basis of reciprocity, take this into serious account. In this connection, we note with concern the overwhelmingly clerical emphasis of the Working Party’s report.
(11) We are interested by the recurrent language of ‘mutual flourishing’. ‘Flourishing’ is, we note, a word with uncertain biblical and liturgical resonances, normally indicating (as in the Prayer Book and Common Worship burial and funeral orders!) impermanence and transience.
We wonder whether it might be more helpful and hopeful for all parties to consider the health of the whole Church, growing together: such growth together in Christ demands coherence of orders, necessitates proper regard for weaker and more vulnerable members (determined on bases other than simply numerical ones) and would enable us to be more credible and more effective for the society we all seek to serve.
WATCH National Committee 10th June 2013
The Dean of Durham wrote on The Bishops and Same-Sex Marriage
…As to what the bishops say about marriage, I agree that the proposals are not nearly strong enough on marriage as a covenanted relationship of fidelity. In this respect, the Archbishop is right: same-sex and other-sex marriages would not be entirely equal. But for this reason, I don’t think it is correct to speak about the measure as ‘redefining’ of marriage. The public covenant between two people who love and wish to belong to each other can and should be precisely the same in both. It’s no more a redefining of marriage than the remarriage of divorced people. In some ways, that is the more radical step to take because it entails considering in what way a covenant that has been broken for whatever reason could be entered into a subsequent time with another partner. So if the church is (largely) content to bless and even solemnise such marriages, this next step of making the institution more inclusive should not necessarily pose new difficulties. To enlarge the scope of an institution is not the same as changing its essential meaning.
There is something worryingly familiar about the bishops’ statement however. It is too often the case that the church is on the back foot, at first resisting social change that is wanted by the majority, then coming round to it slowly and grudgingly. This was precisely the case when artificial contraception was being debated in the early 20th century. Lambeth Conferences were root and branch opposed to the idea that sex could be for recreation as well as procreation. It would have been better to adopt the Gamaliel position of saying ‘let us wait and see whether this might be of God’. Much the same can be said about women as priests and bishops in the church.
If you scroll down my blogs on this Woolgathering site, you’ll find my piece on Gamaliel and equal marriage. It’s clearer now than then which way history is moving. It’s not too late for the Church of England to be on the right side of it this time. Without grudge.
Michael Portillo is reported to have said this on a television programme:
“I think it is a good moment to reflect on the fact that whilst this has been presented as an issue that has caused enormous problems for David Cameron and splits within the Conservative Party – actually the problems are really with the Church of England and indeed with the Catholic Church.
“[They] just do not know how to deal with the issue of homosexuality and gay priests and gay bishops and so on. And that is where the division is and the churches are haemorrhaging membership like water disappearing from a bath and they don’t have any way of dealing with this problem.”
Savi Hensman wrote at Ekklesia Church of England’s stance on marriage and sexuality still unclear
Some people may be understandably confused about the Church of England’s position on same-sex partnerships and equal marriage. Official statements, the publicly-voiced views of senior clergy and broader opinions among church members point in different directions. Part of this is to do with realism, but shifts in understanding also play a part.
At the beginning of the week of a House of Lords debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, proposing marriage equality in England and Wales, it might have seemed that the ‘party line’ was clear. Policy and study documents suggest that, while lay Anglicans may conscientiously believe that physically intimate same-sex partnerships can be right, they are in fact wrong, and lifelong celibacy is preferable for those attracted mainly to the same sex.
Issues in human sexuality, a statement by the House of Bishops in 1991, took this line, and urged that clergy abstain from sexual relationships with members of the same sex, though hostility to lesbians and gays was deplorable and intrusive questioning about private lives was discouraged…
Gerry Lynch wrote A Farewell Discourse: The Hard Truths That Set Us Free
…I’ll briefly review the Church of England’s record on LGBT issues, and then I’ll review Justin’s record, which is typical of most Evangelical clergy and pretty much every Evangelical bishop of his generation. I could write an equally critical article about Liberal Catholic bishops, but it would be involve different criticism and, let’s be honest, that’s not who has been driving the agenda on sexuality issues in the Church of England for a long time.
This is, unfair as it may seem, the sum total what you have managed to communicate to LGBTs over the past two decades. It may not be what you wanted to communicate, but it’s what you did.
Over the past 15 years, there has been a revolution in how same-sex relationships have been treated in law in the United Kingdom, as in most Western societies. The Church of England opposed nearly every step of that process, and in the few cases where it didn’t do so formally as a denomination, its Evangelical wing did so vociferously in the media, usually led in the public charge by Archbishop Carey and other senior bishops. And I mean every step – the equalisation of the age of consent; the abolition of the hateful Section 28; the granting of adoption rights to same sex couples; same-sex marriage. The introduction of civil partnerships was accompanied by an attempt to strip them of any social or spiritual meaning and constant denigration of gay and lesbian relationships; it remains forbidden to give civil partnerships any blessing in church. The outlawing of discrimination in employment saw the Church of England attempt to carve out as wide a scope as possible where it could continue to discriminate against queers. And, yes, it was about orientation rather than practice – ask Jeffrey John.
That is the record. There is no point in trying to minimise or obfuscate it. A couple of hours with Google and Hansard will reveal it in almost every detail…
07 June 2013
Bishops and Church leaders call on Government ministers to apologise
An alliance of Churches representing Christians from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland has written to the Prime Minister asking for an apology on behalf of the Government for misrepresenting the poor.
Church leaders, including the Right Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, and the Right Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, pointed out that in recent weeks senior members of the Government have given out misleading and inaccurate information about people on benefits. Outlining the inaccuracies, they asked for them to be corrected and for an apology to be offered to those who were misrepresented.
“We are concerned that these inaccuracies paint some of the most vulnerable in our society in an unfavourable light, stigmatising those who need the support of the benefits system,” the letter states. “No political or financial imperative can be given to make this acceptable.”
April saw some of the most controversial and wide ranging changes to the benefit system in a generation. In their letter, Church leaders, including the leaders of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church, said that while they hold no common view on welfare reform, they all share the belief that that those in receipt of benefits are loved and valuable.
“What unites us is the belief that the debate around these reforms should be based on truthful information,” they write. “We ask you, as Prime Minister and as leader of the Conservative Party, to ensure that the record is put straight, and that statistics are no longer manipulated in a way which stigmatises the poorest in our society.”
The full text of the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Appendix one to the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Appendix two to the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Madeleine Davies of the Church Times has a round-up of opinions in Traditionalists slam women-bishops plan (although it’s not just about the “traditionalists”).
We have already published the full texts of the responses from Reform, Affirming Catholicism, Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group in General Synod.
Other recent articles include:
Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church asks Should bishops fly?
Chris Sugden writes for the American Anglican Council: Let’s be inclusive about this.
Update The rules for electing the regional representatives were amended on 14 June 2013. Full details are in my article here.
At its meeting of 7 February 2013 the House of Bishops decided that eight senior women clergy, elected regionally, will participate in all meetings of the House until such time as there are six female members of the House. The necessary changes to the House’s Standing Orders were made at its meeting in May 2013.
Also available is the official summary of decisions made by the House at its May meeting.
Further information about the House of Bishops is available here.
First, a statement from one of the bishops who was not present in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Gloucester has issued this The Marriage (same Sex Couples) Bill.
… I accept that the bill has now received overwhelming support in both Houses of Parliament and that the task of the Church, through the bishops, is now to respect the view that has been so clearly endorsed and to argue for any amendments that might make the legislation more acceptable to those whose consciences are troubled.
I share the view expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the debate that the Church has not often served the LGBT communities in the way it should. I hope we shall be more affirming and supportive for the future and in particular that the House of Bishops Working Party on Human Sexuality, of which I am a member, will be able to help the Church towards a more positive valuing of committed and faithful homosexual partnerships.
In the light of the suggestion in the Telegraph that bishops had been put under pressure by Church of England officials to abstain from voting on the Bill, I need to say very firmly that no such pressure was put on me (nor, I think, on any bishop). The pressure that we have experienced has been an unprecedented campaign of letters, emails and phone calls from those urging us to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill…
And before the vote the Bishop of Lichfield had published this: Bishops in the House of Lords & the Marriage Bill.
Today, the Church Times carries a report of the debate by Madeleine Davies Bishops gather in Lords to vote against gay-marriage Bill which also notes that several Christian peers spoke in favour of the bill.
And there is a leader article, signed by Paul Handley, under the title More than one voice. This should be read in full, but it concludes this way:
…No legislation framed at such a juncture is going to be perfect. But, whatever the flaws of this Bill, it is important that the present debate is seen for what it is: a test of the Church’s ability to address people who are, by and large, more compassionate and accepting than the Church is currently perceived to be. The general population sees marriages that do not look like marriages, cohabitations that do, and same-sex relationships that can look like either. For their part, many in the Church see only an ideal - which is odd, given the pastoral encounters that churchpeople have, and the range of relationships that exist in most congregations.
Once the legislation is passed, as we assume it will be, there will not be an opportunity for a clearer, more nuanced debate. This is it. Hereafter, the Church’s pronouncements on marriage will be coloured by the reputation it gains now. At present, this appears to be censorious, and out of touch with reality. Its criticisms of poor legislation are interpreted as simple prejudice. In reality, the Church is divided on this issue, and it is vital that those who have a more confident view of marriage, and a more open view of sexuality, make their voices heard.
Updated Thursday afternoon
Church of England press release
Statement from the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
05 June 2013
“Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales. It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other Members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape. The concerns of many in the Church, and in the other denominations and faiths, about the wisdom of such a move have been expressed clearly and consistently in the Parliamentary debate. For the Bishops the issue now is not primarily one of protections and exemptions for people of faith, important though it is to get that right, not least where teaching in schools and freedom of speech are concerned. The Bill now requires improvement in a number of other key respects, including in its approach to the question of fidelity in marriage and the rights of children. If this Bill is to become law, it is crucial that marriage as newly defined is equipped to carry within it as many as possible of the virtues of the understanding of marriage it will replace. Our focus during Committee and Report stages in the coming weeks and months will be to address those points in a spirit of constructive engagement.”
Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester
Convenor of the Lords Spiritual
The statement published above has been reported in the Telegraph by John Bingham in this way: Church of England gives up fight against gay marriage
The Church of England has effectively accepted defeat over gay marriage signalling that it will no longer fight against a change in the law.
In a short statement, the established Church said that the scale of the majorities in both the Commons and Lords made clear that it is the will of Parliament that same sex couples “should” be allowed to marry.
The Bishop of Leicester, who leads the bishops in the House of Lords, said they would now concentrate their efforts on “improving” rather than halting an historic redefinition of marriage.
It represents a dramatic change of tack in the year since the Church insisted that gay marriage posed one of the biggest threats of disestablishment of the Church of England since the reign of Henry VIII.
And it comes despite a warning from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, that the redefinition of marriage would undermine the “cornerstone” of society…
…And he [Bishop of Leicester] made clear that the bishops would look not only at strengthening opt-outs for those who oppose a new definition of marriage but at the future practicalities for people in same-sex unions.
He signalled that bishops would seek to introduce a notion of adultery into the bill and extend parental rights for same-sex partners.
Under the current bill people in a same-sex marriages who discover that their spouse is unfaithful to them would not be able to divorce for adultery after Government legal experts failed to agree what constitutes “sex” between gay or lesbian couples.
The bishops are also seeking to change a provision which says that when a lesbian woman in a same-sex marriage has a baby her spouse is not also classed as the baby’s parent.
The result is that in some cases children would be classed as having only one parent…
Reform says Women Bishop Proposals may bar many evangelicals from parish ministry
New proposals for introducing women bishops run counter to the Church’s desire to see those on both sides of the debate flourish in the Church of England, according to Reform, the evangelical Anglican campaigning network.
Speaking after a meeting of the Reform trustees, chairman Prebendary Rod Thomas said today (5th June) that the paper which will be considered by next month’s General Synod, contained some very encouraging sentiments, but these were not reflected in the substance of the proposals.
Preb. Rod Thomas welcomed the vision articulated in the paper for mutual flourishing; the re-iteration of the Lambeth1998 statement that both those in favour of women bishops and those who had theological objections to their introduction were loyal Anglicans; and the recognition that it would be wrong to make such meagre provision for opponents that they would see themselves as being treated on sufferance. He said that Reform members would also be likely to welcome the proposal that provision for opponents should be consistent across all dioceses and that there should be a clear process for dispute resolution.
However, by presenting a motion to next month’s General Synod that committed the future legislative process to the least generous of the options outlined in the paper, the legitimate concerns of many evangelicals were likely to be overlooked. In particular, the proposal for unqualified changes in both legislation and canon would leave many evangelicals in an impossible situation. Clergy who believe the Bible teaches male headship would be unable to take vows of canonical obedience to female bishops and this would effectively prevent them from undertaking much parish ministry.
Other concerns identified by Reform were:
- The requirement for General Synod to vote on a way forward without having sight of the proposed provisions for those who were opposed on theological grounds to the Episcopal oversight of women;
- The insecurity of the proposed methods for making provision (ie either an Act of Synod or a declaration by the House of Bishops) which can be changed at any stage in the future by a simple majority vote of the General Synod or House of Bishops; and
- The proposed removal of the current legislative provisions by which parishes can request the appointment of male priests. This could leave them vulnerable to legal challenge under Equality legislation in the future.
Prebendary Rod Thomas, who took part in the facilitated discussions with the House of Bishops Working Group earlier this year, said that the Church’s synodical process left little room for substantive changes to the proposals. The majority, who favour the introduction of women bishops, are likely to vote the proposals through by simple majority until the time comes for a vote on final approval. Only then, when the majority required in each House of Synod is 2/3, will the views of the minority really count. ‘I have to hope that Synod agrees to amend the motion before it in July’, Preb Thomas said. ‘Failure to do so will make our efforts to find an agreed way forward very much more difficult to achieve.’
Before the voting yesterday Andrew Brown had written at Cif belief The rump church opposition to gay marriage is naked patriarchy with the strapline:
It’s not the bill but evangelical opposition to it that weakens the status of the church and diminishes Christianity’s role in society
Andrew concludes this way:
…The fiasco over gay marriage is part of a general defeat for conservative Christians right now. The other wing, often involving the same people, is the collapse of resistance to women bishops in the Church of England. When I read that Conservative evangelicals are outraged at the prospect of admitting that women are lawfully bishops and their superiors and feel that they will have to lie or leave the church, as a recent press release stated, I want to break out the world’s smallest violin and play a jig on it.
All of their arguments have broken down into naked patriarchy, and that really isn’t an attractive sight, as the story of Noah makes clear.
There will always be conservative Christians, of course; and there will always be silly liberal policies which they are right to resist. But for the foreseeable future there won’t be any credible conservative Christian organisations to voice their fears.
And Paul Johnson had written on his ECHR Sexual Orientation Blog about UK Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and the ECHR:
…At the heart of legal arguments made by religious opponents of the Bill is the now regularly expressed fear that the rights of religious organizations are being trampled on by homosexuals in Strasbourg. Yet the reality is the opposite of this and the Court has repeatedly held that, in the sphere of relationship rights, it is for the member state to determine its own legal landscape. In this respect it is worth recalling the opinion of David Thór Björgvinsson (judge for Iceland, a member state that permits same-sex marriage) in Burden v the United Kingdom which, in reflecting on the development of civil partnership legislation in the UK, stated:
…it is important to have in mind that each and every step taken in this direction, positive as it may seem to be from the point of view of equal rights, potentially has important and far reaching consequences for the social structure of society, as well as legal consequences […] It is precisely for this reason that it is not the role of this Court to take the initiative in this matter and impose upon the Member States a duty further to extend the applicability of these rules with no clear view of the consequences that it may have in the different Member States. In my view it must fall within the margin of appreciation of the respondent State to decide when and to what extent this will be done.
After the vote, there were some positive religious responses;
Some other comment articles:
Savi Hensman at Ekklesia has written Christians divided as Lords back equal marriage Bill.
Damian Thompson wrote at the Telegraph Gay marriage is not a faith issue, says Archbishop of Canterbury. That sounds like a pretty big concession to me.
Stephen Hough writes in the Telegraph Equal marriage: could Justin Welby’s support save the Church of England?
The Prime Minister’s Office has announced that the next Bishop of Manchester is to be the Rt Revd David Walker, the suffragan Bishop of Dudley in the diocese of Worcester.
Approval of the nomination of the Right Reverend David Stuart Walker, MA, Suffragan Bishop of Dudley, for election as Bishop of Manchester.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend David Stuart Walker, MA, Suffragan Bishop of Dudley, for election as Bishop of Manchester in succession to the Right Reverend Nigel Simeon McCulloch, MA, on his resignation on 17 January 2013.
Notes for editors
The Right Reverend David Walker (aged 56) studied theology at Queen’s College, Birmingham. He served his first curacy at St Mary Handsworth, Sheffield from 1983 to 1986. From 1986 to 1991 he was Team Vicar and Industrial Chaplain at Maltby Team Ministry, Sheffield. From 1991 to 1995 he was Vicar of Bramley and Ravenfield, Sheffield before becoming the Team Rector of Bramley and Ravenfield with Hooton Roberts and Braithwell. He was made Honorary Canon of Sheffield Cathedral in June 2000. Since 2000 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Dudley in the diocese of Worcester. He has held a number of significant governance roles within the social housing movement as well as serving on Equality and Diversity Panels for the Homes and Communities Agency and the National Policing Improvement Agency.
David Walker is married to Sue and they have two children. His interests include politics, cricket, rambling, mathematical puzzles, reading and communications. He is an active researcher, using statistical methods to investigate the beliefs and practices of churchgoers.
The Diocese of Manchester has its own announcement here, which is copied below the fold.
John Bingham of the Daily Telegraph anticipated the official announcement by several hours with this piece: Outspoken cleric set to become Bishop of Manchester.
Charlotte Cox of the Manchester Evening News writes that New Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, is outspoken critic of Government reforms.
Ed Thornton of the Church Times writes that Bishop of Dudley to move to Manchester.
Announcement from the Diocese of Manchester
The new Bishop of Manchester
Published: 05 June 2013
The Prime Minister has announced that the next Bishop of Manchester will be the Rt Revd David Walker. He is currently the Bishop of Dudley.
An experienced and highly regarded spiritual leader, Bishop David is passionate about issues that affect social housing, asylum seekers and the benefit cuts. In early 2013 he questioned both the content and presentation of government policy. Bishop David grew up in Greater Manchester and went to Manchester Grammar School.
Bishop David said; “I feel very honoured to have been asked to be the next Bishop of Manchester. I was born and grew up here and I’m delighted that I will now have the opportunity to give something back to the place that gave me my start in life. I am looking forward to working with the people and communities of what is one of the most richly diverse places in the world. I believe that the Christian faith and the Church of England have a great contribution to make to that richness and I am thrilled at being given a role that will allow me to be part of that.
“I ask the people of Manchester to hold me in their prayers as I prepare to take up my new role here.”
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Manchester said; “Four candidates were interviewed for this post. During interviews, Bishop David emerged as the ideal choice to be the next Bishop of Manchester. Following prayer and reflection it was agreed to ask the Prime Minister to appoint Bishop David and we are delighted that he has agreed.”
David Stuart Walker was born on 30 May 1957 and educated at Manchester Grammar School and King’s College, Cambridge. He took part in the International Mathematical Olympiad - the pinnacle of mathematical competition among high school students - in 1975.
After a period of study at Queen’s College, Birmingham he was ordained in 1983. His career began with a curacy at St Mary Handsworth, after which he was Team Vicar at Maltby, then Bramley before becoming a bishop. He has been Bishop of Dudley since 2000. He is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Glyndwr University.
David is married to Sue and they have two children.
Bishop David’s interests
Bishop David has particular experience in Social Housing, having served on the Board of the National Housing Federation from 1996 to 2002. He is a former Chair of South Yorkshire Housing Association and of Safe Haven (a non-profit asylum seeker accommodation service provider).
He currently chairs a small Special Needs Housing Association in Dudley which works particularly with faith based groups. He served on the Housing Management Policy Action Team set up by the Social Exclusion Unite, and wrote a regular column in Housing Today. Until 20120 he was Chair of HACT (Housing Authorities Charitable Trust) which is one of the leading national charities, working with the voluntary sector to help housing providers better meet the needs of tenants. He was also chair of CHADD (Churches Housing Association of Dudley and District) - Church-based special needs housing associations.
Bishop David served on the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights panel for the College of Policing and until recently was on a similar body for the Homes and Communities Agency.
Bishop David recently questioned the way politicians were exaggerating the negative impact of immigration, which he said was “wholly disproportionate” to the real threat.
Bishop David was one of 43 bishops who signed a letter arguing that benefit cuts would have ‘deeply disproportionate effect’ on children.
How the bishop was chosen
Hundreds of people attended meetings to help identify the type of person the next Bishop of Manchester needed to be and to help explore what the task was for the next decade. From this process a Statement of Need was drawn up. A shortlist of candidates was drawn up and four candidates were interviewed.
The vote in the House of Lords on Lord Dear’s fatal amendment was 148 in favour of the amendment, i.e. to deny the bill a Second Reading, and 390 against the amendment. Accordingly, the bill was approved on Second Reading by a voice vote.
There were 14 Church of England bishops present and voting, of whom 9 supported the Dear amendment and 5 abstained. We will publish the names of the bishops as soon as they are available.
Bishops who supported the Dear amendment:
Bishops who abstained:
St.Edmundsbury & Ipswich
The official analysis of the voting can be found here:
Contents: 148 | Not Contents: 390 | Result: N/A
Contents Total: 148
Liberal Democrat 2
Not Contents Total: 390
Liberal Democrat 73
The Board of Affirming Catholicism issues a strong welcome for the House of Bishops new legislative proposals to admit Women in the Episcopate of the Church of England (GS1886): simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality - and support for Option One.
and an accompanying paper setting out their views in detail. This is copied below.
Statement on the new Legislative Proposals to admit Women in the Episcopate of the Church of England (GS 1886)
Affirming Catholicism welcomes the publication of the new Legislative Proposals to admit Women in the Episcopate of the Church of England and the associated Report from the House of Bishops
We believe that the five elements of the underlying vision (laid out in § 24 of the proposals), as amended by the House of Bishops (presented at § 12 of their report), offer a very good basis for the drafting of new legislation:
Affirming Catholicism particularly welcomes the first and second of these general principles, which make it clear that there can be no ambiguity over the ordination or consecration of women. We also endorse the continued commitment to the minority within the Church of England who cannot recognise these ordinations, expressed in the fourth and fifth, and share the concern for the ecumenical context expressed in the third.
This vision is helpfully elaborated in §§ 32-43 which set out the underlying principles which must govern any legislation: simplicity, reciprocity, and mutuality.
The principle of simplicity affirms that “the existing, already complex, structures of the Church of England will not be changed” and in particular that “the position of each diocesan bishop as Ordinary will remain unaltered.” In consequence, “all licensed ministers will continue to owe canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop in all things lawful and honest and take an oath to acknowledge this duty” (§ 33).
In our view, this principle ensures the preservation of the Church of England’s catholic ecclesiology; it is vital that should underlie any proposals for legislation. We note the similarity of the oath “of canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop in all things lawful and honest” to the oath of allegiance sworn to the Queen (arguably a consecrated woman!) at ordination.
The principle of reciprocity affirms the willingness of all members of the Church of England, regardless of their views, to cooperate in mission and ministry (§ 35). It also recognises the importance of – where necessary – making special arrangements both for those who cannot receive the priestly or episcopal ministry of women, and for those who affirm that ministry.
We welcome the assertion that “once the Church of England has admitted women to the episcopate … there should no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests” (§ 39) and the suggestion that “In dioceses where the diocesan bishop does not ordain women it will be particularly important that a bishop who is fully committed to the ordained ministry of women is given a role across the whole diocese for providing support for female clergy” (§ 40), noting however, that support for laity and male clergy who affirm the ordination of women may also be appropriate and necessary.
The principle of mutuality “will mean that the majority and the minority will be committed to making it possible for the other to flourish”; it articulates an ongoing commitment to the appointment of traditionalist clergy to senior posts, including as bishops (§§ 41, 43).
We applaud the recognition of the need for an on-going relationship between those who hold the majority and the minority opinions, which we believe to be vital to the mission of the Church of England.
Taken together, these principles reveal the Church of England’s strong commitment to holding all groups together under common episcopal authority whilst respecting their differences. This seems to us a very positive set of principles on which to proceed.
Affirming Catholicism also welcomes the suggestion that the legislation should “deliver new Canons C 2 and C 4 which deal with the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate without the need for separate canons which are gender specific” (§ 54) whilst offering provision for the minority which allows them to continue to flourish. The precise form of this provision will depend on the way forward agreed by General Synod.
The working party suggests four possible ways forward:
1. This, the simplest way forward, would involve: a measure and amending canon which would made it lawful for women to become bishops; the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, together with the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod; a formal declaration by the House of Bishops and/or by the making of a new Act of Synod making provision for those who do not recognise the sacramental ministry of women; and provision of monitoring body and a dispute resolution procedure to ensure fair treatment under these provisions. (§§ 79-88; HOB Report §§ 14, 28)
2. This would look like option 1, but would include a provision in the Measure to couple it with an Act of Synod agreed by the Synod before final approval of the Measure; it might also include a requirement requiring that neither the Act of Synod nor the Measure could not amended or repealed without two-thirds majorities in each House. (§§ 89-95)
3. This would put in place a House of Bishops’ declaration or Act of Synod in relation to episcopal ministry and would also retain some elements of the 1993 Measure in relation to priestly ministry. (§§ 96-109) The working party is uncertain of the wisdom of this way forward, and in the House of Bishops it found only limited support.
4. The final option is to include more detail in the measure, as in the draft measure which was defeated in November. (§§ 110-120) Neither the working group nor the House of Bishops favours this route.
The House of Bishops has indicated its preference for the first of these options. Affirming Catholicism strongly endorses that preference. We recognise that the details of the provisions for the minority through an associated Act of Synod and/or declaration by the House of Bishops, still need to be worked out, and these must be clear before General Synod is asked to proceed. While we note that in law there is little distinction between an Act of Synod or a Declaration by the Bishops, and that neither can create “enforceable rights and duties”, we would welcome the provision of a dispute resolution procedure overseen by a monitoring body; this, we believe, would guard against failure to comply and against divisive use, whilst fostering trust. Moreover, we believe that Option 1 will best preserve the catholic nature of the Church of England, by encouraging all groups to recognise each other and to work together in a spirit of trust and generosity.
Finally, Affirming Catholicism applauds the bishops’ sense of urgency. Much damage has been done by General Synod’s rejection of the draft legislation in November 2012 and it is important to find a way forward before more people leave the Church of England. For the well-being of the church, we would not wish to cede the initiative to Parliament.
Affirming Catholicism, June 2013
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith have issued this statement on the House of Bishops report GS 1886 Women In the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals. They do not like the bishops’ proposals.
WOMEN IN THE EPISCOPATE: NEW LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
STATEMENT FROM FORWARD IN FAITH
We are grateful for the work of the working group whose report is annexed to the House of Bishops report GS 1886 (‘Women in the Episcopate – New Legislative Proposals’). We strongly welcome the House of Bishops’ endorsement of the group’s five-point vision (para. 12 of the House’s report).
However, we are puzzled by the conclusions that the House has apparently drawn from the working group’s report.
We continue to believe that a solution to address the new reality of women bishops will need to build on the existing framework which has enabled us to live together in the Church of England over the last twenty years. We agree with the view that there can be ‘no cheap trust’. Our future can only be based on a mutually trusting relationship. The proposal of legislation which sweeps away existing legal security damages trust.
In November, an attempt to push through a Measure with legal provisions which no representative of the minority recognized as remotely adequate failed – after much prayer and invocation of the Holy Spirit. We are puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that its new proposals, which would involve no legally binding provision at all, are more likely to gain the necessary majorities.
As an organization whose members are overwhelmingly lay, the fact that the House of Bishops’ proposals would involve a significant shift of power in favour of incumbents and bishops is of particular concern to us. So too is the fact that the proposals would expose lay representatives, as well as incumbents and priests in charge, to the risk of incurring significant costs in defending themselves against legal challenges.
We still hope that the ‘new way forward’ promised in February will involve prayer, reconciliation, mutual respect and consensus. We welcome the facilitated conversations as a means of moving towards this end. We do not believe that the House of Bishops’ preferred option (Option 1) represents the mind of the whole Church of England.
We therefore hope that the General Synod will choose a way forward which builds on the existing arrangements rather one which destroys them. Such legislation would be far more likely to secure final approval in the shortest possible time.
Our comments and questions are set out in more detail in the document which accompanies this statement.
+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
Dr Lindsay Newcombe
4 June 2013
The comments and questions are below the fold.
GS 1886 – COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS FROM FORWARD IN FAITH
1. In commenting on the ‘Report from the House of Bishops’ on new legislative proposals, we begin by reiterating that we are not trying to prevent women from becoming bishops in the Church of England.
2. Rather, we are trying to ensure that new legislation will provide a firm basis for those who uphold the traditional understanding of the Church and its ministry and sacraments to continue to flourish within the Church of England. We cannot see that the House of Bishops’ proposal would achieve this.
3. The Secretary General’s note about ‘a new way forward’ (GS Misc 1042), circulated in February with the agreement of the House of Bishops, reported that the facilitated conversations revealed ‘strong support for giving the highest priority to finding a solution which will enable legislation to be approved by Synod on the fastest possible timetable’ (para. 9) – involving final approval by the present Synod. We are puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that its new proposals will achieve this.
4. The House of Bishops’ proposal would transfer power from the laity (who currently have the ability to pass the legally binding Resolutions A and B) to bishops, patrons, and incumbents or priests in charge, who would be free to take ‘discretionary decisions’ (GS 1886: Annex, para. 88) about appointments and ministry in parishes, ‘taking such account as they wished of any statements declarations or guidance that the House of Bishops might have made nationally’ (Annex, para. 83). As the great majority of Forward in Faith’s members are laypeople (including very large numbers of lay women), we note this with particular concern. We are also puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that this new proposal is more likely to commend itself to the House of Laity than the Measure which failed in November.
5. Reference is made to the legal right of representatives of the laity to veto parochial appointments. However, we note that if the Bishop suspends presentation to the living, as happens in a great many cases, parish representatives have no legal right to veto the appointment of a priest in charge.
6. We note with concern that, as the report admits, there would be a possibility of litigation against lay representatives exercising their veto on the presentation of an incumbent, in which case they would be ‘personally exposed to having to defend (at their own cost) their decision’ (Annex, para. 133). Again, we are puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that this new proposal is more likely to commend itself to the House of Laity than the Measure which failed in November.
7. We further note with concern that an incumbent or priest in charge who declined to nominate a female curate ‘would be in a similar position’ (Annex, para. 134).
8. GS 1042 included four propositions from the working group which ‘commanded a wide measure of endorsement’ in the facilitated conversations (para. 17). The fourth of these (paras 28-9) was that any new package would need to fulfil two objectives:
The House of Bishops’ new proposal is to repeal the 1993 Measure (including Resolutions A and B) without replacing them with any legal provision at all. This cannot fulfil the objective of providing ‘a greater sense of security for the minority’ than the Measure which failed in November.
9. While trust and grace are obviously important elements in the life of the Church, we agree with the Church Times in noting:
10. The 1993 settlement included elements that are difficult for female priests and their supporters. It also included elements that are difficult for us. That is the nature of compromise. Despite those elements of difficulty, we continue to believe that the 1993 settlement has essentially worked and that only a solution which builds on it rather than destroying it stands any chance of commending itself to a sufficiently broad range of members of the Church of England and of the General Synod.
11. In November 2012 a legislative process that had begun six years earlier (with the appointment of a legislative drafting group) ended in failure. At no stage in the process had there been any evidence that the legislation would command the support of the necessary two-thirds in the House of Laity. The fact that the legislative process was nevertheless pursued to its predictable conclusion has been hugely damaging for the Church of England’s credibility. To embark upon a fresh legislative process on the basis of proposals that would appear to stand even less chance of commanding the necessary breadth of support would be highly irresponsible.
12. We continue to be committed to playing our full part in working to identify a way forward that is based on consensus and will command the necessary breadth of support.
4 June 2013
The Church of England issued this briefing note to members of the House of Lords in preparation for the Second Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. It includes a Q and A section which goes into a number of details.
For convenience of comparison, here is a link to what was issued at the time of the Report/Third Reading in the House of Commons.
Updated Tuesday lunchtime
The Hansard report of the first day of debate is now available starting here at 3.10 pm, and continuing at 6.01 pm, after a half hour interruption for other urgent business, over here. The debate adjourned at 10.46 pm. It will resume today at around 3 pm.
A full index of speeches by speaker is here (scroll down).
Links to speeches by bishops and former bishops:
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s own record of his own speech can be found on his own website.
In his speech Hansard says he said that:
…Although the majority of Bishops who voted during the passage of the Civil Partnership Act through your Lordships’ House were in favour of civil partnerships a few years ago, it is also absolutely true that the church has often not served the LGBT communities in the way it should…
Whereas in his own transcript he says that he said:
Although the majority of Bishops who voted during the whole passage of the Civil Partnerships Act through your Lordships’ House were in favour of civil partnerships a few years ago, it is also absolutely true that the church has often not served the LGBT communities in the way it should. [emphasis added]
Update Hansard has been modified, and the word “whole” has been [re-]inserted in the sentence in the official record. Those who have studied the analysis linked below will see why the inclusion of this word is so significant.
TA readers will recall that back in June 2012 we published this detailed analysis of how the bishops spoke and voted on this matter, prepared by Richard Chapman: The Lords Spiritual and Civil Partnerships Legislation.
Updated Thursday 6 June
The Church Times is reporting: Traditionalists saddened by latest women-bishop proposals. The traditionalists referred to are the Catholic Group in General Synod.
THE House of Bishops preference for the provision of women bishops, “option one” (News, 31 May), has been severely criticised by the Catholic Group in General Synod as a “step backwards”.
In the first detailed traditionalist response, the group’s chairman, Canon Simon Killwick, says that they are “saddened” by the Bishops’ preference, accusing them of “closing down debate before it has started”.
The statement is not yet on the Group’s own website, but can be read at the end of the Church Times article.
The Group has now sent us a copy of their statement and this is copied below the fold.
Statement on behalf of the Catholic Group in General Synod
ONE STEP FORWARD ~ ONE STEP BACK
We welcome the report of the Working Party set up by the House of Bishops (annexed to GS 1886) as a significant step forward towards legislation for women bishops in the Church of England.
The Church of England needs a settlement which will provide both for women bishops, and for those who are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops, on grounds of theological conviction – convictions which are supported by Holy Scripture, and the consensus of the wider Church. We recognise in the five propositions in the report, taken together, the possible basis for a settlement - with the exception of the reference to canonical obedience.
What is needed now is the building of a sufficiently large consensus behind legislative proposals that they are capable of comfortably receiving the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three Houses of the Synod.
We are saddened by the selection of option one (the simplest possible legislation) by the House of Bishops at this early stage. This feels like a step backwards in the process, closing down debate before it has started, and rendering facilitated conversations between Synod members pointless. Option one will not help to achieve a consensus; it will not create legislation capable of achieving the required majorities. It would tear up the current settlement over women priests, and replace it with arrangements which no one would be obliged to follow. The effects would be felt most by the laity, who would not only lose their existing legal rights, but could also be open to legal challenge under the Equality Act. Option one would unbalance the five propositions, giving most weight to the first two, and less weight to the other three.
The option preferred by the bishops relies simply on trust to provide for those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops and priests. We regulate other areas of church life in great detail by law – measures, canons and regulations – and we see no justification for abandoning that approach in relation to one of the most controversial areas of our church life. Were option one to be accepted, we would be in the strange situation that who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist would be governed by grace and trust, while who administers Holy Communion would be determined by regulations made under canon.
We believe that the way forward lies in holding together all of the five propositions, without giving any of them more prominence than the others. The retention of Resolutions A and B from the current settlement would provide the essential underpinning for any future arrangements to honour the last three propositions; the arrangements need to be secure, and not dependent on the discretionary decisions of individual bishops, clergy, PCCs, patrons and parish representatives. Further consideration still needs to be given to issues concerning the jurisdiction of diocesan bishops, and oaths of canonical obedience – consideration which had the support of majorities of the General Synod and the Revision Committee at different times in the past.
We will continue to reflect and pray, and consult with others, before deciding what amendments to propose to the Synod in July, in order to move the process forwards and build consensus.
Canon Simon Killwick
(Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod)
Bishop Alan Wilson has published an analysis of the constitutional implications of bishops supporting Lord Dear’s fatal amendment under the title Perils of the Aristocracy: A Political Scientist Writes…
The political scientist in question is Dr Iain McLean, Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Fellow of Nuffield College, and Vice President for Public Policy of the British Academy.
His analysis is reproduced in full below the fold.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary advisers to the bishops who tweet at @churchstate have denied that any advice to abstain etc. has been issued to bishops as described by John Bingham in the Telegraph.
There are reports that the Lords Spiritual, or some of them, will support Lord Dear’s “fatal motion” to deny the Bill a second reading. This would be disastrous to the mission of the Church of England. The Bishop of Leicester, as Convener of the Lords Spiritual, should do all in his power to ensure that at least a majority of the bishops present do not support the fatal motion.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, who has led the bishops in the House of Lords on the issue, said: “We clearly cannot support the Bill because it is contrary to the Church’s historic teaching on the nature of marriage.” He said, however, that he would want to recognise “that the Government has done a great deal to accommodate some of the Church’s concerns, and to make it clear that individual clergy cannot be proceeded against by anybody”. “Hard work” had been done “to ensure that the Canons of the Church of England will not contravene the civil law of England”…. Bishop Stevens said that the House did not traditionally take a vote at this stage, but that this might happen. Individual bishops would then have to decide how to vote (Church Times 24.05.13)
The Bishops of Leicester and Chester have put their names down to speak in the debate, as have Lord Carey of Clifton and Lord Harries of Pentregarth.
Six reasons why supporting the fatal motion would be disastrous for the C of E’s mission.
- The core proposal is to allow same-sex civil marriage. The elected house of Parliament supports this by a majority of 2 to 1. The people support it by a stable majority. Although religious people are less supportive than non-religious people, Anglicans are close to evenly divided. The unelected house needs to move very cautiously in the face of these figures. The statutory regime for civil marriage in England & Wales was created in 1753 and has been changed numerous times, with civil divorce being permitted since 1857. The civil marriage regime is not a creature of canon law, despite a recent mistaken claim by the Archbishop of York.
- Success of the fatal motion would violate the religious freedom of those who in conscience wish to solemnize same-sex weddings: currently the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Unitarians, Liberal Judaism and Reform Judaism. All of these have suffered from religious discrimination in the past. British Quakers came to unity in 2009 in support of same-sex marriage in Meetings according to the usage of Friends. The Quaker method relies on discernment of the inner Light, not on majority rule. If there is not unity as to the leadings of the Light, Quakers do not take a position. Their position on this matter should therefore be given considerable deference. An explanation of the Quaker theology behind it is here.
- As the bishop of Leicester’s reported remarks acknowledge, the Government has put very substantial protections in place for the religious freedom of those whose conscience does not permit them to approve of or take part in same-sex religious weddings. If the fatal motion succeeds, the Lords Spiritual will have no further opportunity to improve the protection of conscientious objectors because the bill will be enacted under the Parliament Act without Lords’ consent (see below).
- The Church of England often states that the role of the Lords Spiritual is to provide a religious perspective on current moral issues. But on this subject religious opinion is divided. See above; also the http://www.salisbury.anglican.org/news/bishop-restateshttp://www.salisbury.anglican.org/news/bishop-restates from the Bishop of Salisbury to Lord Alli. When religious opinion is divided, the only proper course for a religious representative in the legislature is to plead for freedom of conscience. That must mean, equally, the freedom of Quakers to conduct same-sex marriages, and the freedom of Anglicans to refuse to conduct them.
- Opposition to the will of the Commons (on this matter, and on the matter of women bishops) imperils the future right of bishops to sit in the legislature. If the bishops, or their convener, support the Dear motion, it is extremely likely that a proposal to remove them from the legislature will be in both the Labour and the Liberal Democrat General Election manifestos for 2015.
- If carried, the Dear motion will lead only to the Commons’ use of the Parliament Act 1949 to pass the Bill without Lords’ consent. Even if the Prime Minister does not want to invoke the Parliament Act, there is a sufficient majority in the Commons to ensure that it will be invoked if needed. The Lords Spiritual should consider what happened in 1832 and in 1911.
Oliver Wright in the Independent has an interview with Labour peer Lord Alli: Lord Alli: ‘I was called sinful and dirty. And that was in a Lords debate’. It includes the following comments on the bishops:
…He divides the opponents of gay marriage into two distinct categories. “There are those who have deeply held religious views and then there is a second group who oppose now but will probably repent later.
“They were the type of people who voted against the equalisation of consent and regretted it. They are the people who voted against civil partnerships and regretted it. And I’ll believe they’ll vote against gay marriage and they’ll regret it in five years’ time.
“I telephone them, I write to them I text them I try and make them turn up. I try and discuss the issues that worry them. It’s all the things you would expect me to do.”
But he is also attempting to persuade the Bishops – 26 of whom have seats in the Lords – not to present a unified front against gay marriage and to recognise that they do not speak for the whole Church when they oppose it.
To this end he recently had a meeting with the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, that led to a rather remarkable public letter from the Bishop of Salisbury that challenged Church of England orthodoxy.
“I said that I knew there were people in the Church – such as the Bishop of Salisbury – who were supportive of gay marriage and I asked him [that] if I went to see him and asked him to do a piece would he have your blessing? He said ‘Absolutely. And that goes for any bishop.’”
So that’s what Alli did; leading to a 1,200-word letter from the Bishop, now being sent to every peer, in which he explains why he does not agree with the current orthodoxy.
Alli thinks there are more who share the view of the Bishop of Salisbury but for political reasons find it harder to speak out. “You go to a meeting and they give their position and their eyes almost roll as they are leaving the room,” he says.
“Some of them don’t fundamentally believe their own position on this.”
He also points out the inherent contradiction in the Church of England’s position – that while they are protected from having to conduct gay marriages they don’t want to give other groups the freedom to do so.
“They argue religious freedom except where they don’t like it. They don’t want gay marriage – so that means the Quakers can’t have it or the liberal Jews can’t have it. They’re in a pretty hypocritical place.”
John Bingham reports in the Telegraph Bishops under pressure to abstain in gay marriage vote.
Despite vocal opposition from the Church to the Government’s plans to allow same-sex couples to marry, it is understood that senior officials have personally urged bishops to stay away from this week’s vote.
They fear that a large bloc of clerics turning up to vote down the bill could rebound on the Church, reopening questions over the right of bishops to sit in the Lords and even raise the prospect of disestablishment.
They have also told bishops privately that they are convinced the bill, which includes legal “locks” to prevent clergy being forced to carry out same-sex weddings against their beliefs, is the “best” they could hope to achieve…
…In a letter to be handed in to Lambeth Palace this morning, 30 leaders of independent churches, including a string of so-called “black majority” churches, warn that the church of England faces a “defining point” over the issue of same-sex marriage.
It is understood that the Archbishop intends both to speak and vote against the bill. But officials are anxious not to be seen to be taking on the Government over the issue. Last night Lambeth Palace confirmed that Archbishop Welby would attend but declined to comment on how he would vote.
A recent Church of England briefing note to MPs warmly praised the Government for introducing legal protections for clerics.
A total of 26 bishops are entitled to sit in the Lords - although the bishops’ bench is currently reduced with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, recovering from a cancer operation, and the see of Durham left vacant by Archbishop Welby’s promotion to Canterbury.
But under current convention they take turns to sit in the Lords, with usually only two bishops in attendance for most debates.
Officials in Church House are said to have urged bishops to limit their numbers to around six at the most for the controversial debate. It is thought that up to 10 of them could defy the advice and vote against the bill.
The officials are said to be afraid that were the bill to be defeated by a handful of votes, the bishops would be singled out for blame.
One senior source said that officials in the Church had begun to “call the shots more and more” during the last 10 years, under the tenure of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams.
“What they are scared of is that this goes down by a few votes and then the bishops are seen as having swung the vote,” said one…
The Archbishop of York announced yesterday that he had undergone surgery for prostate surgery.
Statement From The Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
Thursday 30th May 2013
Following an operation today, the Archbishop has released the following statement…
I am thankful and grateful for Mr Bill Cross, and his surgical team at St James’ Hospital Leeds, who today operated on me for a locally advanced cancer of the prostate. I am also grateful to the nursing staff who are caring for me.
I am thankful, too, for all of you who regularly pray for me and support me, especially my staff at Bishopthorpe Palace.
I will be out of action for some time, and will continue to value your prayers. I look forward to resuming my ministry as soon as possible.
As I have often said, during the most trying times, I have derived great comfort from the words of the Taizé chant, ‘Aber du weißt den Weg für mich’, adapted from a passage in Letters and Papers from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (a German Pastor and Theologian executed by the Nazis in 1945):
“God, gather and turn my thoughts to you. With you there is light, you do not forget me. With you there is hope and patience. I don’t understand your ways, but you know the way for me.”
I wish you all joy in the Lord.
on the Feast of Corpus Christi
The many press reports include these:
Ed Thornton in the Church Times Dr Sentamu treated for prostate cancer
Press Association (in The Guardian) John Sentamu, archbishop of York, has surgery for prostate cancer
Tim Ross in The Telegraph Archbishop of York has prostate cancer surgery
Kevin Rawlinson in The Independent Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, treated for prostate cancer
Dr Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, has written this Letter to a Saloon Bar Moralist.
Thank you for your letter. The more people apply their first principles to this question, the closer we will come to a way forward so thank you for trying. I am sure many people, especially those of a certain age will share it instinctively, driven by a primal feeling of disgust about gay sex.
What I am finding also, however, is that your views appear anything but natural to vast numbers of people who simply see gay people as people, not defined by their sexual practices. The opposite answer is as clear to them, as yours is to you and the minority of my correspondents your letter represents…
Updated Friday morning and evening and Friday 7 June
Today’s issue of the Church Times has several articles about the latest proposals from the House of Bishops. Ed Thornton and Glyn Paflin report on them in Next step proposed on women bishops.
In Bleak outlook, says opponent Madeleine Davies reports on several responses to the proposals, in particular this one:
WHILE it might be “difficult for anyone to claim outright victory”, the way forward to women bishops mapped out by the House of Bishops, looked like “outright defeat”, the chairman of Reform, the conservative Evangelical network, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said on Tuesday…
And there is this Leader comment: No cheap trust.
Yes2WomenBishops has issued several tweets including the following:
Church Times Leader gets a couple of important facts wrong. (1) senior women clergy were not at the last House of Bishops meeting and …
(2) proposal is NOT to pass the measure then develop the provisions for opponents - will all be done at the same time
So essentially the whole basis for the article is wrong!
Here’s an excellent legal briefing on the oath of canonical obedience and why it is essentially meaningless http://ecclesiasticallaw.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/canonical-obedience/ …
Subsequently the Church Times has published a correction to its leader in response to point (1).
The paper copy of the Church Times dated 7 June 2013 carries this correction on page 8: ” The official women observers were not present at the last House of Bishops’ meeting, as we stated in last week’s leader comment. Also, “option one” allows for the provision for those who object to women bishops to be decided before final approval of the main Measure.”
Church Society has issued a press release: Church Society calls on House of Lords to put the brakes on Same Sex Marriage Bill. The full text is copied below the fold.
Church Society calls on House of Lords to put the brakes on Same Sex Marriage Bill
Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society, has written to the Lords Spiritual to express concern about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which will be debated in the House of Lords next week.
The debate may focus on the notions of ‘rights’ and ‘equality.’ As Christians, we support and should defend the legal equality (properly defined) of all those who experience same sex attraction, and recognise them as made in the image of God. What this Bill would actually achieve, however, is not a great advance for minority rights but a fundamentally-flawed redefinition of a basic institution for every single one of us.
The formularies of our church and the law of the land define and recognise marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for as long as they both shall live. It was designed thus by God to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and his people. It has been thus since the creation of the world. The new definition proposed by the Government removes the requirement for consummation from our legal understanding of marriage, and tampers with the very idea of faithfulness in what it says about adultery. It unravels something inexpressibly precious which societies at all times and in all places have perceived as unique and essential.
Moreover, the Bill does not merely ‘open up’ marriage to a new group of people, as many are portraying it. Rather, it enforces and compels everyone in our country to hastily accept the creation of an entirely new socio-legal structure for all of us, which possesses neither an underlying consensual basis or a democratic mandate, and is actually only sought by a small minority of the gay community. Such grand-scale societal re-engineering cannot be mitigated with a few small legislative concessions to Church of England clergy or to employees with conscientious objections to the theory of same sex ‘marriage’ — in which the Bill is woefully deficient in any case, and which would quickly be eroded not least by test cases attempting to push the boundaries even further.
It is always dangerous to tamper with the foundations of a structure. To undermine marriage by redefining its very meaning as this Bill proposes to do, will have a crumbling effect on our culture as a whole. This is certainly not the way to heal the social unrest and family breakdown which are now all too prevalent in Britain and which affect every parish church in the land.
The House of Lords exists precisely to put a brake on this kind of rushed, ill-conceived legislation which has not made an appearance in any election manifesto or Queen’s Speech. Unless it is rejected by the Lords, we will all have to live with both the predictable and the many unforeseen consequences of this ideologically-driven false step for many decades to come. We must hope and pray that the Lords reject it, for the glory of God and the good of our nation.
Diocese of Salisbury press release: Bishop restates gay marriage is an endorsement of the institution of marriage and “a matter of justice” which begins thus:
The Bishop of Salisbury writes today that “The possibility of ‘gay marriage’ does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people. Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage.”
In a letter delivered to Lord Alli at the House of Lords, Bishop Holtam believes that civil partnerships have been a natural precursor of gay marriage being recognised in law: “Open recognition and public support have increased in civil partnerships those very qualities of life for which marriage itself is so highly celebrated. It is not surprising this now needs recognition in law.”
Replying to a letter from Lord Alli of Norbury who requested that Bishop Holtam clarify his position on the issue as a member of the House of Bishops for members of the Upper House, Bishop Holtam stresses that this issue is about justice: “In the current debates it is striking that within the Anglican Communion one of the strongest supporters of same sex marriage is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. From his experience of the racism of Apartheid he sees same sex marriage as primarily a matter of justice.”
Bishop Holtam states: “there are a variety of views within the Church of England where we are experiencing rapid change similar to that in the wider society. This is complex to express, partly because there are those who see this issue as fundamental to the structure of Christian faith.”
In his letter the Bishop of Salisbury also observes that the church has adapted its approach to marriage in light of social change including the widespread availability of contraceptives so that couples may choose to have children; the acceptance of divorce and possibility of marriage in church after divorce so that not all marriages are lifelong, and the acceptance of couples living together before marriage by a Church that still teaches sexual relationships are properly confined to marriage…
The full text of the letter from the Bishop of Salisbury to Lord Alli is available below the fold. It is also on the Diocese of Salisbury website (link in press release), and on the Daily Telegraph website.
Telegraph Edward Malnick Opponents of gay marriage like supporters of apartheid, says senior bishop
Lord Alli of Norbury
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW
29 May 2013
Thank you for asking me to set out why I am sympathetic to the possibility of equal marriage and have a different view from that stated in the Church of England’s response to the Equal Civil Marriage consultation. That response from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in June 2012, written in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops, was prepared under the pressure of the government’s absurdly short period for consultation on a major legislative social and legal change. The Archbishops affirmed what the Church has always taught (with Judaism and Islam) that marriage is a gift of God in creation, the lifelong union of a man and a woman. A subsequent document has been produced by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission on ‘Men and Women in Marriage’. That this is ‘for study’ indicates a discussion continues to run within the Church of England. This was acknowledged in a recent briefing from the Church of England to MPs for the Commons Report stage which stated: “the Church of England recognises the evident growth in openness to and understanding of same sex relations in wider society. Within the membership of the Church there are a variety of views about the ethics of such relations, with a new appreciation of the need for, and value of faithful and committed lifelong relationships recognised by civil partnerships.”
You, as a gay Muslim, will not be surprised that there are a variety of views within the Church of England where we are experiencing rapid change similar to that in the wider society. This is complex to express, partly because there are those who see this issue as fundamental to the structure of Christian faith. It is also complex because of the worldwide nature of the Anglican Communion in which what might be said carefully in one cultural context (for example, the USA) can be deeply damaging in another (for example, parts of Africa). Change and development are essential in the Church, as they are in life, and part of the genius of a missionary Church is its ability to root the good news of Jesus Christ in varied cultures in every time and place. One of the difficulties now is that globalisation and communication mean it is much more difficult for Christianity to develop in this culturally sensitive way. There has been a very uncomfortable polarisation of views even in our own country.
Whilst marriage is robust and enduring, what is meant by marriage has developed and changed significantly. For example, the widespread availability of contraception from the mid- twentieth century onwards took several decades to gain acceptance for married couples by the Lambeth Conference in 1958. The newer forms of the Church of England’s marriage service have since recognised that the couple may have children. Over the last fifty years the Church of England has come to accept that marriages intended to be lifelong can break down and that on occasion marriage after divorce can be celebrated in the context of Church. It is also the case that most couples now live together before they marry. This happens without censure from the Church which continues to conduct these marriages joyfully even though the Church’s teaching is that sexual relationships are properly confined to marriage.
The desire for the public acknowledgement and support of stable, faithful, adult, loving same sex sexual relationships is not addressed by the six Biblical passages about homosexuality which are concerned with sexual immorality, promiscuity, idolatry, exploitation and abuse. The theological debate is properly located in the Biblical accounts of marriage, which is why so many Christians see marriage as essentially heterosexual. However, Christian morality comes from the mix of Bible, Christian tradition and our reasoned experience. Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience. For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or Apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.
The pace of change with regard to same sex relations has been considerable. The Wolfenden report (1957) and Sexual Offences Act (1967) decriminalised homosexual acts in private between men aged over 21 years in England and Wales. This received cautious support from the Church of England at the time. The changes they introduced are now unchallenged and wholly welcomed.
At the co-educational North London Grammar School I attended from 1965-72, there were 2 effeminate gay lads in my year who were no threat to the rest of us but who were regularly beaten up just for being different. At times school for them must have been a brutal experience. What they went through was unkind and unjust but I don’t remember a teacher intervening on their behalf. I am thankful things have changed and we now have a greater sense of equality and fairness. In the current debates it is striking that within the Anglican Communion one of the strongest supporters of same sex marriage is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. From his experience of the racism of Apartheid he sees same sex marriage as primarily a matter of justice.
When the proposal for civil partnerships was debated in 2004 the Church of England was largely hostile. I am grateful that in the Archbishops’ opposition to equal marriage they have expressed their support for civil partnerships and I hope this will help the Church of England towards affirming these relationships liturgically. Like the Archbishops now, I used to think that it was helpful to distinguish between same sex civil partnerships and heterosexual marriage. Many in the churches think the commonly used description of civil partnerships as ‘gay marriage’ is a category error. However, the relationships I know in civil partnerships seem to be either of the same nature as some marriages or so similar as to be indistinguishable. Indeed, the legal protection and public proclamation which civil partnership has afforded gay relationships appears to have strengthened their likeness to marriage in terms of increasing commitment to working on the relationship itself, to contributing to the wellbeing of both families of origin, and to acting as responsible and open members of society. Open recognition and public support have increased in civil partnerships those very qualities of life for which marriage itself is so highly celebrated. It is not surprising this now needs recognition in law.
The possibility of ‘gay marriage’ does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people. Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage. The ‘quadruple locks’ contained in the Bill provide extraordinarily robust protection for those religious bodies, including the Church of England, unwilling or unable to conduct same sex marriage without accusation of being homophobic.
This subject provokes strong feelings but in most churches a variety of views will be found. I hope this letter helps to say briefly why there is a greater variety of views within the Church of England than can be expressed in the formal statements of the Church or House of Bishops. At its best the Church is committed to the Spirit of God leading us into all Truth in what is a complex period of social change.
The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam
The Bishop of Salisbury
The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, announced today that he will retire in September.
The text of the lecture has been published by Theos, and can be found here: Does Establishment have a Future?
The same page has links to recordings of the lecture itself, and the following Q&A session.
Last week, The Tablet carried an (unsigned) editorial comment about the impact of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on the establishment of the Church of England. The full text of this article is, with the express permission of the Editor of The Tablet, reproduced below the fold.
Editorial from The Tablet issue dated 25 May 2013
The Church of England’s position as “the Church by law established” has been weakened by the progress of the legislation to permit the marriage of same-sex couples. Not only is the law on marriage under review, but so is the nature of the Church-State relationship.
What is surprising is how few in the Conservative Party, trad itionally the party of throne and altar, seem to be aware of this. It is as if the nation is taking a significant step towards disestablishment in a fit of absent-mindedness. Perhaps not so absent-minded on the part of the more vociferous secularists, however, who have been aware all along of the potential for the gay-marriage issue to further their own agenda. They needed the Church to do its best to stop the legislation, and fail. Although the battle is not yet finished, events do appear to be going their way.
The clergy of the Church of England solemnise about a quarter of all marriages in England, and so far the law of marriage they administer has been the law of the land. This is unlike the case of the Catholic, Jewish or Muslim communities, who have their own marriage laws, customs and courts where their own doctrines of marriage take precedence. Thus the law of the land can say two people are married, but the internal regulations of each faith community can still maintain that they are not. They can ignore the civil recognition of gay marriages if they want to, in a way the Church of England cannot. At least until the gay-marriage legislation becomes law, those that the common law of England says are married are those the Established Church says are married, and vice versa, with no distinction. In a briefing note to MPs, the Church of England explained that “the assertion that ‘religious marriage’ will be unaffected by the proposals” was misleading, as “at present there is one single institution and legal definition of marriage, entered into via a civil or religious ceremony. Talk of ‘civil’ and ‘religious’ marriage is erroneous…”
Henceforth, if and when gay marriage becomes law, the Church of England will be like the Catholic, Muslim and most Jewish communities in having a definition of marriage that excludes same-sex couples. The Government has drafted legal protection for the Church of England that in effect bans it from marrying gay couples. But that will put in place the very distinction between “civil and religious marriage” which the briefing document rejected, the absence of which has until now been one of the defining characteristics of the Church of England’s unique status.
So the Church is being forced to move towards becoming a private self-governing institution with its own internal rules, alongside other institutions in civil society – in other words, towards disestablishment. Some inside the Church of England will welcome that as good for the Church. But the larger question for the rest of society, including other faith communities, is whether that is good for everyone else. Indeed, some outside will hail it as a further step towards the exclusion of religion from the public square, where faith becomes a purely private matter. That is precisely how the victory for gay marriage has been greeted in France. At least the French have had a better idea of what is at stake.
Revised Tuesday lunchtime
Andrew Brown has analysed the proposals for the Guardian in Church of England leaders propose female bishops by 2015.
The bishops of the Church of England have published a plan to consecrate female bishops by 2015, after the defeat of legislation last autumn. It would end 20 years of bitter struggle with a clear decision in favour of progress.
The proposals, published on Friday and backed by both archbishops, offer a nearly complete victory for the female clergy and their supporters outraged by the failure of the earlier legislation…
Tom Heneghan Reuters Church of England unveils plan for women bishops in 2015
Jonathan Petre in the Mail on Sunday reports that Church leaders may ask Queen to dissolve Synod if it continues to oppose creation of women bishops.
Senior bishops have raised the prospect of asking the Queen to dissolve the Church of England’s ‘Parliament’, the General Synod, if it continues to oppose the creation of women bishops.
The unprecedented proposal was made in a confidential meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury last week and reflects Church leaders’ frustration with the Synod for narrowly defeating legislation in November to allow women priests to become bishops…
Ed Thornton and Glyn Paflin wrote in the Church Times House of Bishops sets out next steps on women in the episcopate.
…Speaking on Friday, Bishop Stock said that “we have a choice of proceeding by grace or by law. As you go down the options, more law goes into it. It seems wise to start with maximum grace and see where that gets us; that’s where the House of Bishops would like to start.”
Bishop Stock said that small-group facilitated discussions among Synod members would take place on the Saturday of the Synod’s meeting, and warned of the danger of returning to “a zero-sum game”. “We’re hoping people will not start to take positions and sides too soon. . . This is a real attempt to see how we can begin to honour each other rather than be suspicious of each other.”
He went on: “People now really do want to look at a more positive way of being together rather than being in separate silos where you have no real contact with each other. There are various signals about that, and a new way of working.”
It would be “entirely open to anybody to produce an amendment” in the Monday debate, but “the Bishops thought this is where we ought to start.”
The first response from the Conservative Evangelical wing was published by Cranmer’s Curate on Sunday and then, after one modification, taken down. It has now appeared here: CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops and part of the article is copied below the fold.
CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops
By Julian Mann
Special to virtueonline
May 27, 2013
The latest legislative proposal for a single clause women bishops’ measure reflects the clear choice of the Church of England hierarchy to follow the world and not the Word by imposing a uniform, secular model of leadership on parishes.
The liberal establishment is desperate to get this legislation through the General Synod as soon as possible because it is terrified of the backlash from the metropolitan elite in Westminister if the Church of England repeats its failure to embrace political correctness. The failure of the General Synod to pass the women bishops’ measure in November led to outrage in the British Parliament.
Members of Parliament cheer-led by the Prime Minister - who has admitted that his faith fluctuates like the signal from his local radio station in the Chiltern hills - fell over themselves to denounce the Church of England for failing to ‘get up with the programme’. One newspaper columnist acidly observed that people who could not care less about the Church of England suddenly started developing ‘bilious opinions’ about women bishops.
There was even talk of banning ecclesiastical bottoms from the ermine benches of the House of Lords because they were so out of touch with societal opinion.
More sinisterly, homosexualist parliamentarians were quick to realise that acceptance of women bishops was an essential precursor to the capitulation of the Church of England to their agenda.
Campaign group for the traditional integrity, Proper Provision, has just issued a statement explaining in stark terms what the single clause option announced last week would mean for conservative evangelicals.
This breath of realism in advance of the July Synod meeting shows the real spiritual and moral battle ground on which conservative evangelicals are to pray and to take action and to make sacrifices so that the local churches we love can remain faithful to the revealed, apostolic Word of the Lord Jesus Christ and not be neutered by the world.
The House of Bishops have decided that “the moment has come for demonstrating how the Church of England can manifest its commitment to remaining a broad church without having to rely on legislation to do so”.
They are therefore recommending to General Synod that we move forward with “Option 1” (of the four offered by the Working Party).
In short this is the “Single Clause” option - with a non-legally binding declaration from the House of Bishops/ an Act of Synod (not available in July) which would set out recommendations for arrangements for those whose theological conviction does not enable them to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.
We must however remember that NONE of the options provided jurisdictional provision (despite the Working Party recognising that this is what we had said was required).
All four options REQUIRE Conservative Evangelical Ministers to:
- Swear the oath of Canonical Obedience to their Diocesan (male or female)
- Accept that they hold a “dissenting” view because “the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter”
- Play a “full part” in the lives of the Dioceses and Deaneries in order to ensure that the “majority” flourish.
This option also has the potential to put our PCCs, incumbents and patrons at risk of being challenged under the Equality Act if there is a disagreement over the appointment of a male incumbent/nomination of a female curate in the future. The document makes clear that this will be at their own cost.
It would clearly be a disaster if a measure of this nature were passed but we must pray that people recognise the clarity of the decision the Church is making - we may be saying “yes” to women bishops but we are also saying “no’ to those who hold the dissenting view.
Despite all the talk about mutual flourishing and loyal anglicans this option will have the effect of reducing the breadth of churchmanship in the Church of England and unchurching large numbers of clergy and laity.
- Conservative Evangelical ministers will either have to lie (when taking their canonical oath to a woman) or leave.
- Conservative Evangelical laity will have to risk court action if they appoint the man of their choice.
- All Conservative Evangelicals will have to live as oxymorons - loyal dissenters.
Please pray for all those who will be making decisions about how to move forward on this issue.
The Church of England has published this press release: New legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops published. The full text is copied below.
The proposals are contained in this document (PDF): Women In the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals (GS 1886).
The report of the Working Group established by the House of Bishops is at the Annex of the document.
New legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops published
24 May 2013
The Church of England has published, today, new legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops which will be debated by the General Synod in July.
This will be the first occasion that Synod members have met since November 2012, when the previous legislation narrowly failed to secure the requisite majority in all three Houses, despite a 73% majority overall.
The proposals from the House of Bishops accompany the publication of a report of a Working Group which it had established in December. The Working Group’s report sets out four possible options for the shape of the new legislation. Of these the House of Bishops has recommended “the simplest possible legislation” (option one) which reads:
“A measure and amending canon that made it lawful for women to become bishops; and
“The repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.”
In addition, option one involves arrangements for those who, as a matter of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests being set out either in a declaration from the House of Bishops or in a new Act of Synod.
The short report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House sets out the text of a motion which invites the Synod to reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency, require the legislative process to begin in November so that it can be concluded in 2015 and specify that the legislation should be in the simplest possible form.
The Business Committee of the General Synod met earlier this week and has scheduled the debate for the morning of Monday, 8 July in York. In addition, Synod members will spend a substantial amount of time in York on the Saturday in facilitated conversations, in which the various options can be explored further.
The Chair of the Working Group, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said on behalf of the Group:
“The mandate given to the Working Group in December reflected the House of Bishops’ view that new proposals would need both greater simplicity and a clear embodiment of the principle articulated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference that ‘those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans’.
“This mandate did not simply reflect the House of Bishops’ assessment of what was achievable, it also reflected its view of what was desirable - namely that the Church of England should retain its defining characteristic of being a broad Church, capable of accommodating a wide range of theological conviction.”
Bishop Nigel continued:
“Given this range of views it is essential to be clear on whether the Church of England is still willing to leave space for those who dissent from its decision. We have approached our task on the basis that the Church of England is so willing.
“To expect unanimity on where the limits of diversity should be drawn may be unrealistic, given the variety of strongly held views which exist and are maintained with integrity. Nevertheless it is necessary to see whether there might be an approach which could command a sufficiently wide measure of assent to enable progress to be made.
“We are perhaps at a moment when the only way forward is one which makes it difficult for anyone to claim outright victory.”
Concluding his statement, Bishop Nigel said:
“The Synod, guided by the recommendation that the House of Bishops has now made, needs in July to come to a clear decision about the proposals and options laid before it and give a mandate for the introduction of a draft measure and amending canon in November.
“That decision-making process will be greatly assisted by all Synod members having first the opportunity in York for facilitated listening and engagement of the kind that the group has found so helpful in producing this report. To that end, we are grateful to the Business Committee for making space for this to take place on the Saturday of our July meeting.”
The Church Times has this news article: Gay-marriage Bill passes from the Commons despite rebels which reports on what may happen in the House of Lords:
…Lord Dear, a crossbencher who is expected to lead the opposition to the Bill in the House of Lords, told The Times that he might table a “fatal motion” to kill it off.
On Wednesday, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, who has led the bishops in the House of Lords on the issue, said: ”We clearly cannot support the Bill because it is contrary to the Church’s historic teaching on the nature of marriage.”
He said, however, that he would want to recognise “that the Government has done a great deal to accommodate some of the Church’s concerns, and to make it clear that individual clergy cannot be proceeded against by anybody”. “Hard work” had been done “to ensure that the Canons of the Church of England will not contravene the civil law of England”.
Bishop Stevens said that he intended to seek more concessions from the Government: further guarantees for teachers in church schools “to teach a traditional view of marriage”, and a “freedom-of-speech amendment to ensure those who argue for a traditional view of marriage are not treated as if they are in contempt of the law or behaving prejudicially”.
The Bill will receive its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 3 June. Bishop Stevens said that the House did not traditionally take a vote at this stage, but that this might happen. Individual bishops would then have to decide how to vote…
The timetable for the July group of General Synod sessions at York has been published. The business items are listed below. * against a time means “not later than”.
GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2013 Timetable
Friday 5 July
[1-2.30 pm House of Laity]
4.15 pm – 6.15 pm
4.15 pm Opening worship
Brief response on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee Report
*5.25 pm Approval of appointments
*5.45 pm Presidential Address
8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Questions
Saturday 6 July
9.30-1pm Reflection, discussion and worship in small groups
2.30 pm Further group discussion followed by private plenary session
8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Progress on meeting the Challenges for the Quinquennium
Sunday 7 July
10.00 am Holy Communion in York Minster
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
2.30 pm Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Miscellaneous Provisions Measure/Amending Canon No. 31 – Revision Stage
*5.00pm Safeguarding: Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports
8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Welfare Reform and the Church
Monday 8 July
9.30 am – 1 pm
9.30 am Morning Worship
Women in the Episcopate: Report from the House of Bishops
Legislative Business Any items of legislative business from Special Agenda I proposed to be dealt with under the Procedure for Deeming will be debated at this point if a debate is required. If debate is not required on any of these items, the First Report by the Business Committee on the Work of the Elections Review Group will be taken.
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
2.30 pm Legislative Business Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation
Financial Business Archbishops’ Council budget
8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Farewell to the Bishop of Exeter
Church Commissioners Annual Report
Archbishops’ Council Annual Report
Tuesday 9 July
9.30 am – 1 pm
9.30 am Morning Worship
Legislative Business: Any unfinished business
The Work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee (if not taken on Monday)
Legislative Business Amending Canon and Amending Rules giving effect to the proposals contained in the First Report by the Business Committee on the Work of the Elections Review Group
The Work of the Elections Review Group: Possible changes to electorate for House of Laity and online voting: Second Report by the Business Committee
*12.30pm Farewell to the Bishops of Gibraltar in Europe, Hereford and Liverpool
Updated Saturday afternoon
St John’s Nottingham organised an event recently titled Diocesan Church Growth Strategies - A consultation for Southern Dioceses.
David Keen has published a series of articles on his blog about this event, which you can read starting with this one.
This link will take you to all the posts in reverse date order.
But see the update below for a much easier way to navigate through all this.
The Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the conference too.
And there is a final post on the role of the national church.
There is now an overview post with links to all the others, at Diocesan Church Growth Strategies - Pulling it All Together.
The following statement was released tonight (scroll down).
Statement on Safeguarding from the House of Bishops of the Church of England
21 May 2013
In its discussions on the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults during its meeting in York, the House of Bishops recognised the critical nature of safeguarding, discussed past failures and committed itself to a step-change in the way it is practised so as to enable the Church to fulfil its vocation as a place of safety for all. The House committed itself to creating a climate of transparency and trust with profound listening to survivors of past clerical and ecclesiastical abuse.
The House of Bishops considered the report and recommendations of the report of John Gladwin and Rupert Bursell QC to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Diocese of Chichester and repeated the continuing best practise of the Church - as contained in current guidelines from 2004 - that there remains a duty on all clergy to report to relevant authorities and the police any allegation of abuse from a child or vulnerable adult.
Whilst supporting the continuing good work of diocesan child protection officers and the best practise of safeguarding guidelines currently in operation in the Church, there was also a recognition that there was no room for complacency particularly at a time when cases from past decades were being brought to light.
These steps included the undertaking of an audit of safeguarding provision in every diocese, the review of risk assessment procedures and the review and development of national core materials for safeguarding training. These measures will be accompanied by further work on proposals for legislative change which will be brought to the Archbishops’ Council.
The following statement has been released tonight.
Statement on Women in the Episcopate from the House of Bishops of the Church of England
21 May 2013
At its meeting in York the House of Bishops of the Church of England has committed itself to publishing new ways forward to enable women to become bishops.
In its discussion on the issue of women in the episcopate, the House received and approved for publication the report from the Working Group on Women in the Episcopate which was set up on 11 December to prepare new legislative proposals following the General Synod’s rejection of the last legislation on 20 November 2012.
The report of the Working Group presented four new options as a way forward and proposed that the General Synod should consider those options at its meeting in July. The Working Group also proposed a timetable which would involve the legislation starting its formal stages in the Synod in November and receiving Final Approval in 2015.
The House of Bishops has agreed that the report of the Working Group should be published with a separate report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House setting out the House’s recommendations to the General Synod. The House has also asked the Business Committee of the General Synod to arrange for a substantial amount of time to be available at the General Synod in July for facilitated conversations in small groups before the Synod comes to a decision on the way forward.
The House also approved the necessary changes in its standing orders to ensure the attendance of senior women clergy at its meetings. These changes were proposed following the House’s decision at its meeting in December to ensure the participation of senior female clergy in its meetings until such time as there are six female members of the house, following the admission of women to the episcopate.
Fulcrum has published an article by Andrew Goddard which is titled Men and Women in Marriage: Study or Ignore? It starts out this way:
No recent report from the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) has caused as much media confusion and engendered such vehement repudiation and anger as the publication of Men and Women in Marriage on April 10th. Some erroneously claimed the church was now more flexible on blessing gay partnerships but the press release made clear this was false. It quoted FAOC’s Chair, the Bishop of Coventry, stating “the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone”. The Church Times, in a short, dismissive comment, advised “the kindest thing to do with the new report Men, Women and Marriage is to ignore it”.
These responses show just how volatile this subject is in the Church of England and how difficult many find it to engage in constructive theological discussion. Despite some weaknesses, the six-part, 50-paragraph document represents a valuable contribution which richly repays the careful study called for by the Archbishops. The rapid campaign to sideline and silence it by opponents is an illuminating and worrying sign of where things may be headed in the Church of England.
The document’s purpose and central claim
A common complaint has been that the document does not reflect the diversity of views among Anglicans on the subject of marriage. This fails to understand its clearly stated purpose. Aware of government plans to redefine marriage in English law to include same-sex couples, last year FAOC requested and was authorised to produce a summary of the Church of England’s understanding of marriage and in particular its doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman. Its report complements the Church of England submission to the government consultation which opposed “equal marriage” (to a similar outcry from the usual suspects) but with limited theological rationale.
As the report’s first part makes clear, the document is therefore not a contribution to wider debates on human sexuality. That will appear from the group under Sir Joseph Pilling whose crucial report is due to be submitted to the House of Bishops by the end of this year. Indeed, sensitivity about not encroaching on that report has weakened this one which simply expounds the definition of marriage found in various Church of England documents. It does so to resource Christians in publicly defending marriage and to correct misunderstandings of marriage liable to have negative consequences. It is especially defending the claim that “the sexual differentiation of men and women is a gift of God” (para 3, citing Genesis 1.27-8). Rather than condemn and dismiss it for not setting out the views of those who reject church teaching, critics need to refute this central claim or show why it is no longer essential to the church’s teaching on marriage…
Updated Friday evening and again Sunday afternoon
Update Sunday afternoon The entire briefing paper has now been published as a press release here.
The Parliamentary Unit, Mission and Public Affairs Division and Legal Office of the Church of England, at Church House, Westminster has issued this briefing note. It begins this way:
The House of Commons will consider the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill at Report Stage and Third Reading on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st May.
A Church of England briefing for MPs in advance of the Bill’s Second Reading was published in February. That briefing summarised the principled reasons why the Church could not support the Bill and included a detailed Q&A on some of the more commonly asked questions (and misconceptions) about the impact of the legislation on the Church of England. It can be seen here.
This briefing should be read alongside the document produced for Second Reading and focuses on some of the issues that are likely to arise during debate on Report and Third Reading.
The Church of England cannot support the Bill, because of its concern for the uncertain and unforeseen consequences for wider society and the common good, when marriage is redefined in gender-neutral terms.
We are grateful for the positive way in which the Government has sought to engage with the Church of England on the detail of the Bill prior to Report and Third Reading.
We do not doubt the Government’s good intentions in seeking to leave each church and faith to reach its own view on same-sex marriage and offering provisions to protect them from discrimination challenges. The ‘quadruple lock’ does, in our view, achieve the Government’s policy intentions in this area and we believe it is essential that the various locks in the Bill are preserved. The Church of England, whose clergy solemnize around a quarter of all marriages in England, has not sought or been granted any greater safeguards in substance than those provided for other Churches and faiths.
In our Second Reading briefing we said:
“The Church of England recognises the evident growth in openness to and understanding of same-sex relations in wider society. Within the membership of the Church there are a variety of views about the ethics of such relations, with a new appreciation of the need for and value of faithful and committed lifelong relationships recognised by civil partnerships.”
“Civil partnerships have proved themselves as an important way to address past inequalities faced by LGBT people and already confer the same rights as marriage. To apply uniformity of treatment to objectively different sorts of relationship – as illustrated by the remaining unanswered questions about consummation and adultery- is an unwise way of promoting LGBT equality.”
“The continuing uncertainty about teachers, the position of others holding traditional views of marriage working in public service delivery, and the risk of challenges to churches in the European courts despite the protections provided, suggest that if the legislation becomes law it will be the focus for a series of continued legal disputes for years to come.”
Those concerns are now the subject of several amendments at Report and Third Reading.
The following commentary does not address specific amendments, but is a guide to Church of England concerns on the presenting issues…
The paper carries a footnote which reads:
It draws on the formal position on same-sex marriage as set out in the official Church of England submission to the Government’s consultation of June 2012, which was agreed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council.
A press release has been issued, titled Opposite-Sex Civil Partnerships. The full text is copied below the fold. The same wording is contained in the briefing paper.
Opposite-Sex Civil Partnerships
We agree with the Government’s view that the Bill should not be amended to introduce an option of civil partnerships for couples of the opposite sex.
We believe that this would introduce further confusion about the place of marriage in society. We remain unconvinced that the introduction of such an option would satisfy a genuine and widespread public need, other than for those who pursue ‘equality’ as an abstract concept.
There has been little public evidence to suggest that significant numbers of opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry would opt instead for a civil partnership. We are not convinced that any clear new social good is created by this further innovation in civil partnerships and therefore they are best left as they are at a time when considerable uncertainty is being caused by the fundamental change in the nature of marriage.
In our submission to the Government’s consultation on the Bill in June 2012 (available here), we acknowledged that there is an inherent illogicality in introducing gender-neutral marriage whilst retaining same-sex civil partnerships.
“It is very doubtful whether the proposed continued limitation of civil partnerships to same-sex couples would withstand legal challenge, were the main proposal concerning the redefinition of marriage to be implemented.”
At the time this formed part of our wider concerns about anomalies created by the proposals to legislate. We do not believe however that introducing opposite-sex civil partnerships by amendment to the Bill to remedy what is largely a conceptual anomaly is in the broader interests of strengthening marriage as an institution. For the avoidance of doubt, this view is endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
We acknowledge that the availability of same-sex civil partnerships has continuing value for gay and lesbian people, including those gay and lesbian Christians who accept the Church’s doctrine of marriage.
Updated Wednesday morning, Thursday morning
The Church Commissioners for England have issued their Annual Report and Accounts for 2012 today, together with a press release which is reproduced below. General Information about the Church Commissioners is available here.
Church Commissioners announce annual results for 2012
14 May 2013
The Church Commissioners have today published their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2012, announcing a 9.7 per cent total return on their investments during the year and confirming the fund’s strong long-term performance.
The Commissioners’ fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money, and has performed in line with or better than its target return of RPI +5.0% p.a. and its comparator group over the past, three, 10 and 20 years.**
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: “2012 has proved to be a better year for markets following 2011’s challenging environment and we have performed very satisfactorily. The fund grew by 9.7%, comfortably exceeding the inflation plus five per cent return target. The Assets Committee made wise decisions keeping away from certain longer term bonds, within equities our managers significantly outperformed the market and our residential and rural property holdings performed strongly.
“Much of our expenditure, representing 15 per cent of the cost of the Church’s mission, is devoted to clergy pensions, but in partnership with the Archbishops’ Council we aim also to invest in Church growth and in maintaining a nationwide Christian presence, identifying areas of need and opportunity in all contexts.”
The Commissioners - who contributed nearly £210 million in 2012 towards the cost of supporting the mission of the Church of England - manage assets which were valued at £5.5 billion at the end of 2012. More than half of their current distributions meet the cost of clergy pensions earned up to the end of 1997. The generous giving of today’s parishioners accounts for around £700m of the Church’s annual budget.
Writing in the report’s foreword Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, reflected on the long term success of the fund: “The best way to judge the investment performance of an endowment fund like the Church Commissioners is to examine the results over a lengthy period of time. This shows whether the workings parts of the investment process are in good order.
“From 2003-2012 the Commissioners funds grew by 9.1% per annum. This exceeded our target, which was the rate of inflation in the period plus five percentage points, which was 8.3% per annum. Our performance was nearly a percentage point better than that of similar funds.
“Finally, in reviewing past performance, it is interesting to review the 20 year record. It would be difficult not to be proud of it. Inflation ran at 2.9% during the period. Add five percentage points to establish our target: 7.9%. The Commissioners’ assets, however, grew through this long 20-year period by 9.9%. In other words, a substantial amount of extra resources has been created to put at the service of the Church.”
The Commissioners’ overall 9.7 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 8.4 per cent for 2012. Over the past 10 years, total returns averaged 9.1 per cent per year, against the comparator group’s 8.3 per cent per year. Over the past 20 years, the Commissioners outperformed the comparator group with an average annual return of 9.9 per cent against 7.8 per cent.
The Commissioners manage their investments within ethical guidelines with advice from the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
The fund is held in a broad range of assets. Returns contribute to the ministry of each of the Church’s 44 dioceses by: paying for clergy pensions for service up to the end of 1997; supporting poorer dioceses with the costs of ministry; funding some mission activities; paying for bishops’ ministries and some cathedral costs; and funding the legal framework for parish reorganisation.
In 2012, the Church Commissioners continued to provide significant support to encourage the growth of the Church’s existing ministries and new opportunities. Along with the Archbishops’ Council the Commissioners have earmarked £12 million (2011-2013) for research and development funding to help understand better which parts of the Church are growing and why, and to seek to develop that growth.
The main items of expenditure were (with 2011 figures in brackets):
Watch the video on the work of the Church Commissioners and the 2012 annual results.
** as measured overall these time periods by the WM All Funds universe.
The Church Commissioners picked up two awards at last month’s Portfolio Institutional awards: Best charity/endowment/foundation and Best investor in property -
Three papers write about what the report has to say about Barclays Bank.
Hannah Kuchler in the Financial Times Barclays let down society, says Church
Jill Treanor in The Guardian Barclays has ‘repeatedly let down society’, says Church of England
Victoria Ward in The Telegraph Church accuses Barclays of “letting down society”
Bishop Wallace Benn, who was Bishop of Lewes until October last year until his retirement, has this morning issued a public statement (dated 11 May) concerning the dismissal of complaints made against him under the Clergy Discipline Measure.
The full text of his statement is copied below the fold, and is also available here.
PUBLIC STATEMENT by Rt. Revd. Wallace Benn
Bishop of Lewes between June 1997 and October 2012
Dismissal of all actual and attempted Clergy Discipline complaints
As of 10 May 2013, all complaints against me under the Clergy Discipline Measure have come to an end without any misconduct of any kind having been established. No complaint against me has been allowed to proceed beyond the preliminary stages of the process.
Since November 2011, the Safeguarding Advisory Group of the Diocese of Chichester, its Chairman (Mr Keith Akerman) and the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (Mr Colin Perkins) have tried to make a number of complaints against me under the Clergy Discipline Measure.
All their efforts were misconceived and unjustified, as has now been established. The decisions that none of the complaints should be allowed to proceed have been made in part by the Archbishop of York and in part by the Right Honourable Lord Justice Mummery, sitting in his capacity as President of Tribunals. Some of the complaints have been dismissed on their merits and the rest on the basis that they have been made outside the time allowed under the Clergy Discipline Measure and where no good grounds exist for any extension of time.
All the facts relating to my conduct about which complaint was sought to be made were known to the Diocesan Bishop or Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor in office at the time of the conduct in question or both, yet nobody saw any grounds for complaint at the time, either against me or against any other Diocesan official.
Comments on media reporting
Since the first attempt to complain against me was made in November 2011, I have declined to make any substantive public or press comment on the matter. I have done so on legal advice and in light of the Code of Practice issued under the Clergy Discipline Measure, which states (at para 264):
The media may be particularly interested in complaints of misconduct against the clergy. Unfortunately, media coverage in advance of any determination of the complaint can be speculative and misinformed, which can damage not only the complainant and the respondent, but also the local church or community and the wider church. For this reason, it is advisable for anyone involved in a complaint who is approached by the media to refer the enquirer straightaway to the appropriate communications officer…
It is a matter of deep regret that some of those with knowledge of the fact of and the substance of the complaints against me have repeatedly chosen to leak information, much of it partial and inaccurate, during the formal legal process.
Apart from an admission by Lambeth Palace in November 2011 of a leak to a journalist by a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff, the source of the leaks has not been identified amongst the small group privy to the relevant information. After November 2011, the leaks did not stop. This has led to repeatedly unfair media reporting, in circumstances where, on advice, I have been unable publicly to defend myself.
The media coverage during the process did not escape the attention of Lord Justice Mummery. With the process complete, I can now quote from Lord Justice Mummery’s decision letter dated 29 January 2013 addressed to Mr Akerman and Mr Perkins by which he refused to allow the bulk of their complaints to proceed. He said this, under the heading “Coverage in the media”:
“I should add that this letter is sent only to the persons directly concerned with its contents. It is an impartial judgment on disciplinary matters. It is made by an independent judge. The decision is based on a full and careful consideration of the relevant evidence submitted and the legal arguments advanced.
I cannot emphasise too strongly that this is not an interim, final or comprehensive report prepared for publication, such as would follow a full public inquiry.
In particular, the decision is not intended to be used to further the one-sided and unjust process of trial in the media by the dissemination of unproven, possibly unfounded, allegations. It is absolutely contrary to basic principles of justice that the media should be used to judge the cause; that anyone, however well intentioned, should be a judge in their own cause; and that any person should be condemned in the media or elsewhere without being heard.
However, I write and send this Decision Letter on the realistic assumption that, in some form or other and by some means or other, it is likely to receive a degree of media exposure, possibly selective. Indeed, I have very recently been informed by you, when inquiring into the progress of your applications, that you are “aware of a number of pending and new cases, which may result in extensive media coverage in the very short term with the potential for adverse consequences for the Church.”
I do not know who is responsible for the media coverage. As there is a fundamental right to freedom of expression there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. Those responsible for the “extensive media coverage” of unproven allegations may wish to consider at some point how they would react if they were on the receiving end of the full glare of a media circus.”
From my perspective, these last 18 months have certainly involved, as Lord Justice Mummery described it, a one-sided and unjust process of trial by media. I and, at times, my family have indeed been on the receiving end of a media circus, orchestrated by unknown people with, it seems, no interest in the truth or the ministry of the church.
Comments on the complaints
Lord Justice Mummery commented that the various applications made to him by and on behalf of the Safeguarding Advisory Group were “the most time-consuming matters brought under the Clergy Discipline Measure since it was introduced.”
The incoherence and complexity of the Safeguarding Advisory Group’s attempts to mount complaints against me served to delay the resolution of even the preliminary stages of the matter and to obscure the fundamental absence of any evidence of misconduct on my part.
To expose with clarity the unfairness of the complaints against me and the absence of any misconduct on my part was a task which occupied my legal team for many hours and I am grateful to God for their efforts and for the success of those efforts.
In a recent private letter to a survivor of sexual abuse by Reverend Roy Cotton, which was made public by the BBC, the Bishop of Chichester said that there was “deception and cover-up” and “ineptitude and irresponsible lack of professionalism” in the Church’s handling of Mr Cotton. I agree; and it is a matter of great regret.
The Bishop of Chichester has confirmed publicly and in writing to me that he did not, and did not intend to, refer to me or any conduct on my part. I have never met with Mr Akerman or the Safeguarding Advisory Group – despite my requests to do so. I regret their decision to seek to pursue misguided disciplinary complaints against me without first taking the trouble to invite me to address their concerns at a meeting.
The actions of clergy who have engaged in the abuse of children appal me and the ongoing effect on survivors is of the highest concern to me.
Throughout my time as Bishop of Lewes I have at all times tried to assist the Diocese to deal appropriately with safeguarding issues. I have also welcomed and given my full support to the efforts made and being made to improve the practices and procedures within the Diocese for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.
But none of what has happened in the past can justify the attempts which have been made to cast me in the role of a scape-goat without regard to where the truth lies and where the blame ought to lie.
11 May 2013
Lucy Kellaway has interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Financial Times: Lunch with the FT: Justin Welby. “The Archbishop of Canterbury talks to Lucy Kellaway about baiting bankers, trusting God over Google and having pizza delivered to Lambeth Palace.”
It’s well worth reading.
Updated Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning
Madeleine Davies reports in the Church Times on a joint investigation by The Times and The Australian: C of E accused of cover-up over child abuse.
The Times story is behind its paywall, but other UK media have online reports.
David Batty in The Guardian Church of England facing new child abuse allegations
Rob Williams in The Independent Former Archbishop of York accused of covering up allegations of Church of England abuse
Alice Philipson in The Telegraph Former Archbishop of York accused of covering up abuse allegations
BBC Lord Hope denies abuse claim ‘negligence’
The Archbishop of York has issued the following statement.
Robert Waddington - Independent Inquiry To Be Established
Saturday 11th May 2013
A statement from the Office of the Archbishop of York regarding allegations relating to the late Robert Waddington follows…
‘The Archbishop of York is in the process of setting up an Independent Inquiry specifically into the issues surrounding the reports relating to alleged child abuse by the late Robert Waddington. When any church related abuse comes to light the Church’s first concern must be for the victim offering support and apologising for the abuse, acknowledging that the effects can be lifelong. When the Inquiry makes its report the Archbishop will make its findings public. The Church of England continues to review its Child Protection and Safeguarding policies regularly to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all. Child abuse is a heinous and personally damaging crime, it is therefore incumbent on the Church to treat such matters with the utmost seriousness.’
Notes to Editors:
1. The Terms of Reference and membership of the independent inquiry will be announced in due course.
2. The Archbishop of York is not available for further comment on this matter at the current time.
The Sunday papers carry reports of the setting up of an inquiry.
Jamie Doward in The Observer Church to set up inquiry into claims of abuse by former dean of Manchester
Josie Ensor in The Telegraph Archbishop of York to launch inquiry into Church sex abuse claims
BBC News Inquiry into CofE cleric abuse claim set up
The final event in this year’s Westminster Faith Debates series took place last week. The debate itself is reported here.
As explained in the advance press release
A YouGov poll commissioned for the final 2013 Westminster Faith Debate on assisted suicide this Thursday sheds light on the reasons people have for supporting or opposing a change in the law on assisted suicide – a change which would make it possible to help someone with an incurable disease die without risk of prosecution for doing so.
And it continues with this:
Most religious people ignore their leaders and support a relaxation of the law.
An absolute majority of religious adherents – i.e. those who identify with a religious tradition – support assisted suicide: 64% of religious people support a change in the law on euthanasia, 21% think the law should be kept as it is, 14% don’t know (sums to 99 due to rounding).
The only constituencies for which this is not true are Baptists, Muslims and Hindus. (See Appendix 3)
Adherents of all other traditions favour a change in the law. In doing so many are rejecting the official message given by their religious leaders.
- Anglicans are in favour of change by a margin of 57% (total in favour 72%) - which is greater even than the general population at 54% (total in favour 70%). Only those who say they have those “no religion” show greater support – by a huge margin of 72% (total in favour 81%).
- Roman Catholics are in favour of change by a margin of 26%,
- Jewish people are in favour of change by a margin of 48%
- Although many Hindus don’t know, those with a view are in favour of change by a margin of 8%.
Those who actively participate in a church or other religious group – rather than merely identifying with a religion – also support change (49% support, 36% against, 15% don’t know; see Appendix 3 for a breakdown by tradition)
Those who say they have “no religion” are most likely to support a change in the law – 81% for, 9% against. The vast majority (87%) do so because they believe in a person’s right to choose when to die.
The full results of that survey are available (PDF).
The survey is discussed in some detail by Clive Field in an article at British Religion in Numbers titled Assisted Dying and Other News
The British public overwhelmingly (70%, with just 16% in disagreement) favours a change in the law to enable persons with incurable diseases to have the right to ask close friends or relatives to help them commit suicide, and without those friends or relatives running the risk of prosecution (as is currently the case). Moreover, while those who profess no religion are especially likely (81% versus 9%) to support reform, even people of faith back it overall (64% versus 21%), with the conspicuous exception of Muslims, who take the contrary line (by 55% to 26%). A plurality (49%, with 36% against) of individuals who actively participate in a religious group also wants to see the law amended. Not until we reach the ‘strict believers’ – the 9% of the population who take their authority in life from religious sources, who certainly believe in God, and who actively participate in a religious group – is there a religious core hostile to legalizing assisted dying and thus in tune with the teaching of many mainstream faiths and denominations. These believers’ motivations are that ‘human life is sacred’ (80%) and/or ‘death should take its natural course’ (69%).
… Assisted dying has been a contested matter for decades. The campaign organization now known as Dignity in Dying was founded as the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society as far back as 1935. Soon afterwards, in 1937, Gallup conducted the first opinion poll on the subject, asking its sample whether ‘doctors should be given power to end the life of a person incurably ill’, and finding that 69% thought that they should. The proportion in favour of physician-assisted suicide has grown since, hovering around four-fifths in six British Social Attitudes Surveys from 1983 to 2008; in 2008 it stood at 82% (90% for those of no religion, 85% for Anglicans, 75% for Catholics, 70% for other Christians, and 63% for non-Christians). Endorsement of non-doctor-assisted suicide has run at a somewhat lower but still high level; a question worded not dissimilarly to that in the Westminster Faith Debates poll, asking about a change in the law to enable friends and relatives to assist in a suicide, was posed by YouGov on five occasions between 2008 and 2012, recording majorities for legislative reform of between 68% and 74%. However, it should be noted that the public is less approving of suicide in instances where an incurable disease does not exist; indeed, in the most recent (January 2013) Angus Reid poll only 29% of Britons deemed suicide in general to be morally acceptable.
Today’s Church Times publishes a letter from Professor Linda Woodhead under the headline Unhelpful comments from Church House in which she says that “the Church of England’s Communications Office is making the C of E look ridiculous”.
…The C of E Communications Office simply attacked the survey (which it did not ask to see), and concluded: “This survey adds nothing of value to the current complex debate on assisted suicide, but seeks to reduce to ‘sound-bites’ issues that deserve proper and full consideration.”
In fact, the survey adds considerable new knowledge. Its findings were extensively debated at the Westminster Faith Debate on euthanasia last week. It was also featured in The Times, the Telegraph and Guardian, BBC News Online, The Washington Post, the BMJ, on Radio 4, and elsewhere.
Last week, another large poll reported in The Independent found that many single Christians felt isolated and out of place in their congregations. A C of E spokesperson (unnamed) commented: “If the church doesn’t fit then try another one.”
“Get lost” is not a good message for the Church to give, whether directed at serious research, or at the Christians whose views it reports.
In the Independent today there is an article by Frank Field MP titled The new Archbishop should stop this gesture politics. It begins:
It is about time the Church became serious about politics. The debacle over its opposition to the Government’s welfare reform programme offers the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, a God-given opportunity to totally reshape the role of bishops in the House of Lords.
A week before the House of Lords voted on key aspects of the Government’s welfare cuts [in March], 43 bishops issued a statement to the effect that this was the most vicious attack on children since Herod slaughtered the innocent. The welfare cuts are serious in the impact they will have on the living standards of some families, but let’s leave aside the judgment as to whether the cuts were almost of a criminal nature. What did the bishops do?
And it continues with this:
…Why doesn’t the Archbishop introduce his own House of Lords Reform Bill? It would surrender most of the bishops’ places that lie unused which should then be redistributed to the different denominations. This bill should give the Archbishop the power to appoint bishops and senior women to the places that would be designated to Anglicans.
Included in the redistribution of seats should be those groups who assert that they have no faith in a Godly presence, but have shown themselves to be concerned about the ethical standards by which individuals and groups live their lives. It would be up to those groups to elect their representatives. If they fail to do so they will find that the political tide runs strongly against them.
Such a move would set both the temper and basis for further reform. It would speak loudly on how voters regard representation as being a fundamental part of our democracy. It would also set in hand how the new House of Lords would be elected, but not on absurd party lines…
The Independent also has a news report about this, Exclusive: Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, urged to scrap most bishops’ seats in House of Lords
A Church of England spokesman said: “This article is an interesting contribution to debate but it does not look as if there is a favourable political context for returning to the subject of constitutional reform just at the moment.” Lambeth Palace did not comment.
Some Church figures believe that Mr Field has misunderstood the way the bishops in the Lords work, saying they do not “vote as a bloc”. They said six bishops voted a total of 14 times on welfare on 19 March.
And an editorial: Editorial: The bishops in the House of Lords are the least of the problem.
There is a curious mistake running through all three of these pieces, namely that the number of seats for bishops is misstated. The correct number is 26.
Updated Thursday afternoon and evening
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has announced that the Dioceses Commission Draft Reorganisation Scheme for the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield will be put to General Synod. Because the Diocese of Wakefield voted against it, the scheme could only be sent to General Synod with the authorization of the Archbishop.
The full statement from the Archbishop is here. This includes the text of the paper which will be sent to General Synod members to explain his decision to authorise the Dioceses Commission to lay the draft scheme before the General Synod.
The Church of England communications office has released this Statement from Dioceses Commission.
Of the three dioceses, only Bradford has so far published anything on its website: Diocesan reorganisation referred to General Synod.
The Diocese of Ripon and Leeds has now responded: Welcome for Archbishop’s decision on Diocesan Reorganisation.
And so has Wakefield: Archbishop of York decides to take super diocese proposal to General Synod.
Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has been looking at the requirement that some votes at General Synod require a two-thirds majority. She argues that this requirement should be applied earlier in the synodical process, and not left to the very end as at present. Read her argument here: Synod voting and 2/3 majorities: A discussion paper.
Updated Tuesday night
There are several reports in this morning’s national press.
Sam Jones in The Guardian Church of England reports rise in Christmas worship
BBC Church of England attendances ‘stabilising’
Huffington Post UK Church Of England Christmas Attendance Up But It’s Not Good News For Archbishop Of Canterbury
Steve Doughty in the Mail Online Hark! The flock’s back: Church attendances up… but it’s only at Christmas
Archbishop Cranmer comments in his blog: CofE annual statistics 2011 - good news and bad
Several local papers and websites report on their local figures, for example:
The Northern Echo Church attendance down by 8 per cent in Durham diocese but up by 7.4 per cent in Ripon and Leeds
Network Norwich and Norfolk Norwich fights back on ‘Most Godless City’ tag
Portsmouth News Church figures show decline in Portsmouth attendance
Statistics for earlier years can be found here.
Clive Field of British Religion in Numbers has a more balanced analysis: 2011 Anglican Statistics and Other News.
Andrew Brown looks at the figures for The Guardian: Anglican faith in church attendance is not enough.
Church annual statistics for 2011
07 May 2013
The Church of England today released its annual statistics for 2011 revealing a strong growing trend for Christmas attendance, an increase in child and adult baptisms and a growing stability in weekly service attendance.
Christmas 2011 drew 14.5% more worshippers to Church of England services than attended in 2010, reaching a total of 2,618,030. Whilst one of the factors for such a high annual increase include the poor weather on Christmas Day in the previous year 2010, initial returns from 2012 suggest a further increase in Christmas attendance on these high 2011 figures revealing a growing trend for church going at Christmas.
The number of christenings increased by 4.3% and was accompanied by a rise of just over 5% in adult baptisms with a combined total of 139,751 baptisms - meaning that the Church of England conducted an average of over 2,600 baptisms each week during 2011. Thanksgivings for the birth of a child also rose; an 11.9% increase taking numbers to 6,582.
Average Weekly Attendance nationally fell by less than half of one per cent (0.3%) to 1,091,484 a stabilising of average weekly attendance figures. Almost half of the Church of England’s regional areas saw growth in Church attendance, with 20 out of 44 dioceses showing increases. Nationally there was a 1.2% increase in children and young people attending to 216,928.
Weddings saw a slight decrease of 3.6% in 2011, to 51,880, whilst the number of wedding blessings (Services of Prayer and Thanksgiving following a civil ceremony) was up by 4.5%. The wedding figures confirm the trend of the past decade where the Church of England married an average of 1,000 couples every week.
Church of England Clergy and lay ministers conducted 162,526 funerals in 2011, a fall of 2.8% on the previous year, reflecting figures from the Office for National Statistics which showed a fall of 1.8% in deaths in England and Wales in 2011. On these figures the Church of England conducted an average of over 3,000 funerals every week in 2011 - over 400 every day.
Welcoming the publication of the statistics, the Rt. Revd. Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said:
“These figures are a welcome reminder of the work and service undertaken by the Church of England annually. 1,000 couples married, 2,600 baptisms celebrated and over 3,000 funerals conducted every week of the year.
“The attendance figures are heartening, especially the very strong growth in Christmas day attendance. The encouraging news of further growth to come even on these high figures is very welcome and points to a growing trends. Also welcome is the stabilising of the numbers of those who attend church services on a weekly basis. With almost half of our dioceses showing growth, there is a quiet confidence underlying these figures.
“The growth of the numbers of children and young people attending is an encouragement and reflects the investment made by churches across in the country on youth and children’s workers to serve not only the church but the whole parish.”
“The increase in the number of adults being baptised and those families bringing their children to be Christened is also good news showing growth in the numbers of those both coming to faith and reflects the wide nature of the ministry offered by the Church - for all of life from the cradle to the grave.”
Updated Friday night
Lambeth Palace announced this evening that the final report for the enquiry into the operation of the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester had been published.
The full text of the report (a 4.8 MB pdf file) is available for download.
Here is the accompanying press release.
Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation – Final Report Published
Friday 3rd May 2013
The final report for the enquiry into the operation of the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester has today been published.
The report was written by Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC who were appointed in 2011 as the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s commissaries to carry out the enquiry.
In responding to the final report, Archbishop Justin has made the following statement:
“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to not only the Commissaries for their care and concern in the course of carrying out this Visitation, but also to the survivors of abuse who have been able to share their experiences. The hurt and damage that has been done to them is something the Church can never ignore and I can only repeat what I have said before - that they should never have been let down by the people who ought to have been a source of trust and comfort and I want to apologise on behalf of the Church for pain and hurt they have suffered. I remain deeply grateful for their cooperation in the work of the Visitation.
I would also like to thank Bishop Martin and diocesan staff for their assistance and cooperation with the Visitation, and their continuing work with the police and statutory authorities in helping to turn around safeguarding in the diocese.”
In December 2011 the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC to carry out the enquiry. They were tasked with advising the Archbishop on any steps that need to be taken to ensure the highest possible standards of safeguarding in the dioceses. This involved examining current child protection arrangements as well as making recommendations for the future.
The Commissaries recommendations were published in an interim report in August 2012 and the full text of that report can be read here.
We would encourage anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward – their privacy and wishes will be respected. A special helpline has been set up in conjunction with the NSPCC on 0800 389 5344. Victims can also make a report to police.
We would urge anyone with any concerns about a child protection issue to contact the police.
The Church of England press office has issued this statement.
Response to Final Report of the Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation
03 May 2013
The Bishop of Southwell and Notts, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said: ” The publication of the Commissaries Final report encourages both the Diocese of Chichester and the National Church to move forward in responding to the mistakes made and the lessons learned. Nationally we have been working hard behind the scenes on turning the recommendations made into action; this work continues. In Chichester itself whilst there have been terrible failures in the past and there is much work to be done I am confident that Bishop Martin and the Safeguarding Team are well placed to ensure that the diocese is safe in its practices now and in the future. I would also like to repeat the statement I made at the publication of the interim report last summer.”
And there is a statement from the current Bishop of Chichester.
Bishop Martin responds to the Archbishop’s Visitation report
“We welcome the Final Report that brings the Archbishop’s Visitation to a formal conclusion. This is the moment for us to record our profound thanks to Dr Rowan Williams, who instituted the visitation while he was Archbishop, to the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev’d and Rt Hon Justin Welby, and to the Commissaries themselves, the Rt Rev’d John Gladwin and His Honour Judge Rupert Bursell QC.
“The Visitation has enabled us to comprehend the damage done to so many people’s lives. I hope that all victims and those affected recognise in the words of the Interim and Final Reports that their concerns have begun to be heard, their determination recognised, and their extraordinary courage honoured.
“We believe that there may be many more victims of abuse who have never come forward to report their experiences. We wish to reassure them that we will listen to and respond in any ways that are appropriate to a report of abuse by priests or Church workers.
“Finally, we welcome the attention drawn in the Interim and Final Reports to the scope of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003. It is vital that our procedures engender trust and confidence among our partner agencies, among survivors and their families.”
Update - early press reports
Madeleine Davies in the Church Times: Chichester Visitation concludes with warning against complacency
BBC Diocese of Chichester child abusers ‘may have gone unrecognised’
Victoria Ward in The Telegraph Church of England urged to take ‘urgent’ action on child abuse
Ben James in The Argus (a local paper published in Brighton, in the diocese of Chichester) More church child abuse cases may yet to be uncovered
As previously mentioned, last week’s Church Times carried an article by Jane Shaw titled Men, women, and difference. This is reproduced below, with the permission of both the author and the Church Times.
Men, women, and difference
The ‘complementarity’ of the sexes is a comparatively new invention, argues Jane Shaw
I shall never forget the comment of a senior English churchman: that he could envisage Adam and Eve sitting across the camp-fire from each other, just as he and his wife did in their drawing room. An image of a man and woman wearing fig leaves, but sitting in chintz-covered armchairs, drinking sherry, immediately sprang to my mind.
The churchman’s comment exemplifies the kind of ahistorical thinking in the new report by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, Men, Women and Marriage (News, Leader Comment, 12 April). It has received almost universal condemnation, not only for its content (or lack thereof), but also for its poor argument.
The leader comment in this paper advised readers to ignore it, and most will. Nevertheless, its publication opens the opportunity for some real education on the subjects about which it purports to inform us. As the leader said, the report “speaks of a unique relationship between a man and a woman without ever explaining this contention. Seldom clear, the text adopts a particular obscurity whenever a contentious matter is touched upon, such as the complementarity of the sexes.”
The report provides no history of sexual difference, nor of its accompanying bugbear: the “complementarity” of men and women. Under the sweeping assumption that both sexual difference and gender-complementarity are universal and timeless concepts, the possibility of same-sex marriage is rejected. Yet, for the past several decades, historians of medicine have convincingly shown that both are modern concepts, emerging in particular political and social circumstances in the West.
Before the modern period, scientists - still relying on ancient sources such as Aristotle and Galen - understood woman as an imperfect version of man. They believed that there was “one sex”, hierarchically arranged. Women and men were seen as having the same sexual organs; it was just that women’s were on the interior.
The point is illustrated by the French essayist Montaigne’s retelling of a folk tale about a woman, Marie Germain, who jumped over a ditch while chasing pigs through fields: her genitals dropped - and she became a man.
This “one-sex” idea was challenged in the Enlightenment, in part through science; but that science was driven by political change. The old hierarchies were being questioned. Universal rights were being championed, but was everyone really equal? The answer was sought in the supposed “facts” of biology.
The search for anatomical sexual differences was driven by an increased sense that women were intrinsically different from men - and, on those grounds, should not receive the same rights. The result was the articulation of two sexes.
But, you might say, despite all this, sexual difference is true. Yes and no: it is less clear-cut than we might imagine, as medical cases of those who find themselves biologically between the sexes illustrate. But the important point is that sexual difference was imbued with political ideology from the beginning.
Out of all this came the notion of the complementarity of the sexes. This is the idea that women and men have distinctly different qualities (rooted in biology), and that this suits them for different (but “complementary”) roles in life.
This suited the economic climate of newly industrialised Britain very well. As work became separated from home, the middle and working classes emerged. Separate spheres for work and home developed, and home came to be seen as the special domain of women - at least, middle-class women - whose “natural” characteristics of gentleness and passivity made them keepers of morals and preservers of the hearth.
Preachers took on gender complementarity with enthusiasm, especially those of the Evangelical Revival. New ideas about the differences between men and women were given a theological grounding, and blended with old ideas about the subordination of women.
Women were seen as spiritually equal, but, in practical terms, socially subordinate. These ideas were taken around the world by missionaries and imperialists alike, and imposed on completely different cultural arrangements of the sexes and kinship relations.
These ideas did not go uncontested. Women argued for their admission to higher education and for universal suffrage, for example.
YET such ideas continued to have an impact on theology, most notably in the work of Karl Barth, who insisted that the “distinctive natures” of men and women were “the command of God”. For Barth, these distinctive natures led to sex-differentiated functions, which were absolutely rigid. As he wrote: “The sexes might wish to exchange their special vocations, what is required of the one or the other as such. This must not happen.”
One of the great problems of all this thinking is that concepts of sexual difference and complementarity that our ancestors would barely have recognised 300 years ago, let alone 3000 years ago, are regularly mapped back on to the Hebrew scriptures, especially the creation stories in Genesis 2.
Unfortunately, the new report on marriage appeals to just this sort of ahistorical thinking. And that does no one any favours at all.
Many people have suggested that we need a history of marriage, which the new report does not provide. I agree; but we also need to understand how gender relations in the modern period have been powerfully shaped by particular ideas about sexual difference and gender complementarity, which are relatively new, and have never been universally accepted.
The ideas about women and men which emerged with the notion of sexual difference were made to fit a particular kind of middle-class fam-ily arrangement. Some found that it suited them; some did not. This is why Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique 40 years ago, and this is why movements for the liberation of women and of gay people followed.
None of this is to question the clear value of marriage as a building-block of society. It is to suggest that, in thinking through a distinctly Christian view of marriage, we need to recognise that ideas about gender relations have always been specific to context, and always will be.
The Very Revd Dr Jane Shaw is the Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, in the United States.
The Revd Lucy Winkett spoke at the London WATCH Meeting at St James’s Piccadilly on 17 April 2013.
Here is the text of her address: ‘I used to be Snow White..’
“I gave a talk recently in Winchester about women and Christianity. It was for a general audience and so I’d used as the title of the talk not a Bible verse or a line from a saint. It wasn’t even themed on Mary Magdalene or a feminist theologian. My text came from the Hollywood star Mae West, who memorably said “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted”.
It is a secular expression of a spiritual truth I think; that human beings move between innocence and culpability, perpetrator and victim as easily and delicately as a flake of snow.
I don’t intend to rehearse the history you all know, but for women, particularly women in religion, the movement has historically been one way and permanent. In this church, consecrated in 1684, as in churches throughout this city, women have lived and died listening every Sunday to preachers tell them they are responsible as Eve’s inheritors, of all the sin in the world.
In the UK in our own day however, I don’t think this is the primary problem for Christian women. From a position of historic exclusion, things have moved quite rapidly for women in a large range of areas of public life; politically, socially, and even in religion. In the UK now, the only areas of public life from which women are excluded are those protected by organised religion and, my main point this evening, women in the church are often stuck between the myths that are told about us, even those we sometimes tell about ourselves. Historically the place of women in Christianity has been polarised by the two Marys; virgin or whore. And in the debates about women and ordination, a similar, less sexualised but no less powerful polarisation happens; we are either heroines or witches, either cast as potential saviours of the Church of England or a symptom of all that is wrong with it. Complex myths, stories and assumptions are at work here and the debate as it is currently couched has often got stuck.
And like many of you, I have given many talks on this subject over the years; we have made our case, we have developed our own liturgies, we have done our own Bible interpretation, we have legislated, discussed “concessions”, we have drafted letters, crafted motions for synods at every level. Some of you will have been involved from the MOW days and will have been sending letters, now emails to your elected representatives both church and state for over 30 years.
But we meet now, twenty six years after women were ordained deacon, and six months after the General Synod rejected the legislation to consecrate women And I want to say, before anything else, what I have heard many of you say: that we are tired. We are tired of the row, tired of the endless meetings, committees, synods, tired of hearing the same words not only coming from the mouths of those opposed to women’s ordination but from our own mouths. We are tired of seeing the disappointment in the faces of those opposed to our ordination, when they wish with all their hearts that we were not here and that that the church could be as it was.
There is, it seems to me, what we might call a stuckness of spirit – that the new Archbishop of Canterbury is attempting to unstick by using professional mediators, trained to ask different questions, trained to get us to name what it is in our guts that gives us hope but what also grieves us.
After the vote last November, I and I heard this from many others, was surprised by the strength of my feelings. I was told of the result on my mobile phone in this courtyard in the rain, moments before the beginning of a large service at which I was preaching. Sadness, some feelings of humiliation, and, dressed as I was in my cassock and surplice ready to process into church, stuck in a bewildered loyalty to an institutional church that had detonated its credibility. I like many of you ordained and lay, heard this news, cried briefly, and walked back into church again. And over the past months, some very difficult things have been said that have their roots in very difficult feelings and reactions.
I was challenged by a woman who has been part of MOW for years; after years of campaigning, she wanted to challenge us because the church had not been transformed as she’d hoped. Had all that work been worth it, she wondered aloud?
I was challenged by a priest in a Deanery Synod debate because he genuinely believes that if legal separation is not afforded him to ensure sacramental security, then promises made to him at his ordination will have been broken and while he couldn’t bring himself to blame me personally publicly, the blame was undoubtedly there fuelling his distress.
It seems hard to find the taboo breaking, transgressive, poetic soul of Jesus of Nazareth in the points of order, the agendas and debates.
The Christian Church has for centuries had a problem with ungoverned female energy (Marina Warner Six Myths for our time p7). It is a feature of all world faiths that part of the apparatus of religion pertains specifically to women and their treatment and behaviour. As an agent of social control, Christianity in the West has been effective in developing sets of behavioural rules to control women’s energy and sexuality.
Because of this, Christian women have had a mountain to climb. From our invisibility in the Scriptures to the clear teaching of their responsibility for sin, there have been limited options for women to find ways to express their faith in Jesus Christ and their passion for making the world a better place. In reality of course, in contradiction to St Paul, women have always taught men: mothers have taught their sons the Lord’s Prayer, and have within the home, often been the prime arbiter of right and wrong when guiding their children. Women have therefore exercised power in a hidden and unacknowledged way. It is the role of women in public religion that has caused these reflections. Professor Sarah Coakley has commented that the ordination of women and therefore the presence of women at the altar celebrating the sacraments has caused a cosmological disturbance. (Transformations Conference Lambeth Palace 2012). Something new is unfolding and our theological task is to continue to reflect on what that newness is, and what it teaches all of us, lay and ordained, about God and the world.
For our theological reflections to have roots in spiritual reality, then it has to start not with us, but with God.
First, in a recognition that for every person, male, female, lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual, black brown white our identity is not primarily located in our relationships with each other – which are secondary, but in God’s relationship with us.
Another reflection that follows from this, particularly with reference to our gender is that our identity is embodied. As the former Archbishop noted in his Theos lecture of 2012, we notice that our bodies are different from one another, that they wear out, and that we are going to die.
As a result of our noticing our gendered bodies, we are called to accept difference, to expect change and expect death.
Does this give us a way into a theology of gender that recognises difference, expects change over time and accepts death, and that knows ourselves to be ourselves only in relation to others when we know ourselves to be ourselves first in relation to God?
After the vote last November, I discerned a collective desire to have a “duvet day”. The impulse after an event like that is to put our head down, hunker down, don’t engage; go and do something that I can see what it’s for.
This means too that we move from bafflement – I don’t understand men/women – through tolerance – I accept that you’re different and we’ll agree to disagree – through to respect – still implying distance but with more emotional commitment – through to attentiveness.
I as a woman see this man, different from me, exercising usually more power than me, as first of all someone in relationship with God, before he is in relationship with me. As ++Rowan has commented elsewhere, the meaning of the incarnation can be described as the revelation that another person is someone from whom God cannot bear to be parted. Primarily that.
Discussions about gender in the church induce weariness because the discussions are so narrow, and are freighted with our fear about who we are, who the other is, and how far we are expected to go to accommodate their difference. They are also freighted with a history of exclusion, sometimes prejudice dressed up as theology, and a frustration with the church structures that persistently seem to be creaking and grudging in their celebration and acceptance of women in authority. Some of the tiredness is because we are in deep waters here, and the murky mixed motives that are always present when power is part of the equation, can confuse and misdirect our energies.
But theologically, alongside social change, I want to suggest that the need for our half-changed world to change further is urgent. Men and women have their vital and different roles to play in imagining this change. Because the prize is very great. Today, the traditional Christian categories of virgin and whore do not have to confine or define modern female scientists, philosophers, mothers, theologians, plumbers, company directors and this is a cause for rejoicing for proponents and opponents of women’s ordination alike.
One of the main points of contention it seems to me is whether the principle of justice is applicable in this debate. Supporters of women’s ordination say yes: and it’s true to say that for most people who live their lives without reference to organised religion (the majority of people in the UK) this is also the case. An innate sense of “fairness” leads most people to say “well if they want to, why shouldn’t they be able to. After all, we’ve had a woman Prime Minister and the Head of the Church of England is a woman”.
Opponents will address this issue of justice with the adage “equal but different”. That it is not about whether women are equal to men or made in the image of God: of course they are: but this has no bearing on whether or not we should be ordained or consecrated bishop.
This is a fundamental mis-communication and is why, when those supporting women’s ordination make analogies across other campaigns, such as the anti apartheid movement, or the civil rights movement, such fury is provoked from opponents who do not want to be cast as allies of those who opposed heros such as Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King.
I understand this reticence on behalf of those who do not believe women should be ordained: and I’m very wary of the potential for self righteousness among those of us making our kind of argument. I’m also wary of the dangers of self understanding as a persecuted minority that is just under the surface for any of us (most recently articulated by George Carey whose observations I think were insulting to Christians who really are persecuted in countries like Nigeria and Iran.)
But I want to say unequivocally that justice is a theological issue. Fairness, the value much loved of politicians, is, to be frank, not so much, but justice is. This doesn’t mean “sameness” or “wanting to be included” or even, to borrow a phrase from the Northern Ireland peace process “power sharing”, although all of these motivations make an appearance of course.
Women bishops are the presenting issue at the moment but it is about much more than this; it is about the liturgical proclamation of a new future in the celebration of the eucharist. The just relationships rehearsed at the eucharist are nothing less than the foretaste of the heavenly banquet; the inauguration of the mysterious “basilea” , the kingdom, or new realm of God. This is highways and byways theology where all are welcome and each member of the body is able to fulfil their God given role in that body. The argument I’m making is that because of the incarnation, unless we believe in imitation rather than discipleship, there is theologically no category of humanity, based on ontology, that should be restricted in the way that women are currently in the Christian church.
So without intending any insult to those who oppose our presence in the church, I have no shame in drawing inspiration from Rosa Parks, who when she refused to give her seat on the bus to a white man in Alabama in 1955, said “the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”.
And I pray too that the rather bewildered loyalty we have talked about tonight turns into something more healthy, and that our collective desire to hunker down and leave it all to someone else is not the last word.
The call of the new future is, in the end, an expression of deep and living hope, which is described by the American theologian Walter Wink in the most wonderful way and with which I end this address. This is why we must organise, and show up to meetings in the evening after a long day. This is why we have to encourage one another because the church, as we saw from the public reaction after the vote last year, is a signifier, a lightning conductor still in a secularised society, for the deep hopes implanted in humanity for a better and more just world.
Hope imagines the future and then acts as if that future is irresistible.
May it be so.”
We reported on 10 March that: Dean of Jersey suspended for safeguarding failure.
Subsequently, we omitted to report that on 26 March the Diocese of Winchester published terms of reference for a Visitation.
Yesterday, the diocese published this press release: Dean of Jersey Apologises and Confirms Commitment.
THE VERY REVEREND ROBERT KEY, the Dean of Jersey, has today apologised for mistakes in the handling of a safeguarding complaint and added his own apology to that of the Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury to the vulnerable person at the heart of this matter.
He has confirmed that he shares the Bishop of Winchester’s and Archbishop of Canterbury’s stated commitment to safeguarding in the Diocese and the wider Church. The Dean was speaking following meetings with the Bishop last week.
The Bishop acknowledges that, although mistakes were made, the Dean believed he was acting in good faith. Following the commitment that the Dean has made, the Bishop has decided that he will issue a new Commission to the Dean with immediate effect. The Bishop and the Dean have also agreed that, in the light of these recent events, there are areas in Jersey Canon Law which would benefit from further review and they are committed to working together as necessary to revise them.
The Dean said: “I regret mistakes that I made in the safeguarding processes and I understand that, upon reflection, it would have been more helpful if I had co-operated more fully with the Korris Review. I now add my own apology to that of the Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury to the vulnerable person at the heart of this matter. I will be cooperating with the Visitation and Investigation announced by the Bishop on 26 March. Together, the Bishop and I are committed to the importance of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in Jersey and to working to ensure the safeguarding procedures of the Diocese achieve this as part of the whole Church’s mission.”
The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, said: “Safeguarding must always be of paramount concern and is a vital part of the Church’s mission. We will now press ahead with the Visitation and Investigation and see them through to their conclusions, as we all have important lessons to learn. At the heart of this matter is safeguarding the vulnerable who have frequently been let down by the Church. The Dean’s apology is a welcome one, and I am glad that he has joined with me in reaffirming our commitment to safeguarding. I am also glad that the Dean has promised his full cooperation with these inquiries. I wish to assure the Dean and the people of Jersey of my prayers as we go forward together.”
And the Jersey Evening Post reports Dean of Jersey is reinstated.
THE Dean of Jersey has been officially reinstated after apologising for mistakes made in the handling of a complaint from a parishioner about sexual misconduct.
Almost two months after being effectively suspended by the Bishop of Winchester after an independent review found that he did not follow proper practice or take the complaint seriously, the Dean, Very Rev Bob Key, returned to normal duties at 9 am this morning. The decision from the Bishop, the Right Rev Tim Dakin, followed meetings between the two men last week.
Mr Key led Sunday’s 10 am service at the Town Church, which was attended by the Bailiff, Sir Michael Birt, and the Lieutenant Governor, General Sir John McColl, and has said he will cooperate fully with an on going investigation into the matter.
There is discussion of all this by Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK Church Safeguarding in Jersey – Progress.
Updated Sunday afternoon
Edward Malnick and John Bingham in The Telegraph tonight report that Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop.
The Diocese of Manchester has instructed the official panel appointing its new bishop to select someone who can establish “positive relationships” with gay Anglicans and non-worshippers.
The panel, which met on Friday, was told that the successor to the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, who retired earlier this year, should build on “significant engagement” with “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities” in Manchester…
If the usual timetable has been followed, this week’s meeting of the CNC will have chosen a name to send to the Prime Minister, but we will have to wait for a month or so for the official announcement of who is to be the next Bishop of Manchester.
Updated Saturday evening
Yesterday’s Church Times has an article by Linda Woodhead about a survey that “suggests that non-churchgoing Anglicans may be much more important to the Church and its future than the dismissive word “nominals” implies.”
The article is only available to Church Times subscribers, but British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) has a summary in Profile of Anglicans and Other News. The survey shows that self-identifying Anglicans divide into four categories.
Godfearing Churchgoers (5% of Anglicans)
Mainstream Churchgoers (12% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Believers (50% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Doubters (33% of Anglicans)
The BRIN article also reports on surveys on St George’s Day and Student faith.
Jonathan Clatworthy has written about the survey of Anglicans for Modern Church: On not going to church.
…By taking its cue from the same-sex-marriage debate, and being drawn into tendentious pronouncements about men and women, the report wastes an opportunity to say something positive about marriage in relation to what would once have been termed “living in sin”. The authors elevate marriage above other forms of relationship without ever defining it: are couples deemed to be married if they have not passed through what the report calls “the regulation of formalities”, for example? It argues that the Church’s permitting marriage after divorce has not materially changed its teaching. Yet the prevalence of divorce has done more damage than any other factor to the concept of marital fidelity. Finally, the lack of attention given to relationships before marriage means that the report fails to address the source of the greatest pressure on young people: the severance of sex and commitment.
It is generally unfair to criticise a work for not being something else. We have not dwelt on the sins of commission - the obscure language, the unsupported pronouncements - but in this instance, the sins of omission have created the greatest disappointment. Marriage is a precious element in our society, and it needs a more robust defence.
There is also an excellent article by Jane Shaw titled Men, women, and difference which discusses the complementarity of the sexes as a a comparatively new invention. Sadly this is subscriber-only but for those who can read it the link is here.
Wycliffe Hall announced earlier this week that their new principal is to be the Revd Dr Michael Lloyd.
Dr Lloyd is Chaplain of Queen’s College, Oxford. He brings nine years’ experience of teaching in theological colleges, as a Tutor in Theology at St Paul’s Theological Centre (a constituent part of St Mellitus College, London) and formerly a Tutor in Doctrine at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He was Honorary Curate and Director of Training at St James the Less, Pimlico. His prior ministry was as Chaplain of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and earlier as Chaplain and Director of Studies in Theology at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He is the author of a popular-level systematic theology, entitled Café Theology, and is one of the regular voices on the Godpod (a theological podcast).
Dr Lloyd holds degrees in English from Cambridge University, Theology from St John’s College, Durham and a DPhil in Theology from Oxford University, where his doctoral thesis was on the problem of evil. He loves walking, theatre, cricket, music and Handel operas…
Madeleine Davies reports in the Church Times that Students dub next Principal of Wycliffe ‘Dr Evil’.
The press release includes these comments.
The Rt Revd Michael Hill, Chairman of Council said:
“I am truly delighted with Michael’s appointment. He brings a depth of biblical knowledge and theological teaching, together with an experience of the life of theological colleges to bear on this new ministry. We have every confidence that he is the person to lead Wycliffe forward in these challenging times for theological education and training. We look forward to welcoming him into the life of the college and he can be assured of our prayers as he contemplates this new phase of his ministry.”
Dr Michael Lloyd said:
“At a time when Christianity is under more intellectual attack than it has been since the eighteenth century, we need Christian leaders of impressive intellectual ability, rigour and creativity. As a Permanent Private Hall of Oxford University, Wycliffe is in an outstanding position to give its students the academically excellent education that they will need if they are to make the case for the Christian faith in the contemporary climate, and to shape that climate. I am determined that Wycliffe should build a reputation for being a warm, respectful, encouraging and secure place for women to train alongside men, for all forms of ordained ministry. And I am passionate about Wycliffe training students who will speak to the wider society and not just to insiders, and who will be fluent in the language of the culture, and not just the dialect of the church. I am enormously excited by the prospect of working with the Staff, Council and Students towards these goals.”
Updated Friday to add Church Times and Independent articles.
The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group has today published its Executive remuneration policy.
The accompanying press release starts
The national investing bodies of the Church of England have today published a policy on executive remuneration adopted on the recommendation of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).
With the UK company AGM season getting under way, the national investing bodies will use the policy to determine their voting on remuneration reports and their engagement on executive remuneration with the companies in which they hold shares.
EIAG Chair James Featherby said: “Executive directors perform difficult and important roles that require high levels of skill, enterprise and innovation. All staff should be rewarded fairly and executive director roles understandably command good salaries. Our recommendations focus on bonuses. We want to see lower annual bonuses and greater emphasis on rewarding executives who manage ethical, social and environmental issues well and so deliver enduring corporate success over periods of five to seven years.”
The full press release is copied below the fold.
There is, not surprisingly, much press interest.
John Bingham in The Telegraph Church of England’s £8bn assault on ‘culture of entitlement and greed’ in City bonuses
In an overhaul of its own investment policy to be announced today, the Church – which controls more than £8 billion of assets – announced it will attempt to vote down any bonus worth more than an executive’s basic salary…
Rupert Neate in The Guardian CofE tells its fund managers to vote down excessive bonuses
The Church of England has instructed its fund managers to “challenge the bonus culture” and vote down pay policies that grant bosses more than 100% of their salary in annual bonuses…
Hannah Kuchler in the Financial Times Church loses faith in big bonuses
The Church of England has vowed to vote against outsized bonuses and short-term incentives as it tries to revive the spirit of last year’s shareholder spring at upcoming annual meetings…
Madeleine Davies in the Church Times Church investors urged to challenge ‘vastly unequal’ bonuses
Bonuses awarded to executive directors that exceed 100 per cent of their basic salary, should be challenged by the national investing bodies of the Church of England, a new policy published by the Church’s Ethical Advisory Group (EIAG), states.
The policy on executive renumeration has been adopted by the investing bodies, which will use it to determine their voting on the renumeration reports of the companies in which they hold shares…
John Collingridge in The Independent Church of England brings multi-billion voting clout into play against excessive City bonuses
The Church of England plans to use its £3 billion voting clout to tackle excessive City bonuses as it seeks to reignite last year’s “shareholder spring”.
The Church, which holds a significant amount of its £8 billion assets as shares in companies, said it will challenge the City’s bonus entitlement culture by rejecting soaring director pay deals as the annual meeting season gets under way.
Church of England ethical investment Executive Remuneration
19 April 2013
The national investing bodies of the Church of England have today published a policy on executive remuneration adopted on the recommendation of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).
With the UK company AGM season getting under way, the national investing bodies will use the policy to determine their voting on remuneration reports and their engagement on executive remuneration with the companies in which they hold shares.
EIAG Chair James Featherby said: “Executive directors perform difficult and important roles that require high levels of skill, enterprise and innovation. All staff should be rewarded fairly and executive director roles understandably command good salaries. Our recommendations focus on bonuses. We want to see lower annual bonuses and greater emphasis on rewarding executives who manage ethical, social and environmental issues well and so deliver enduring corporate success over periods of five to seven years.”
The policy states that the EIAG and national investing bodies “value the contribution to society of those who lead our public companies”. It accepts that, while “it is a fundamental tenet of Christianity that all individuals are equal before God”, differentials in remuneration can be justified.
“But”, the policy states, “it is important that such differentials are justified by some reasonable calculus linking higher rewards to greater contribution, skills and responsibility and that those who are lower paid are also rewarded fairly”.
The analysis in the policy of trends in executive remuneration finds that, in FTSE 100 companies as a whole, executive remuneration has become misaligned with revenues, profits and shareholder returns.
Concerns focus on annual bonuses which “appear to have come to be regarded as an entitlement” for executive directors and can encourage corporate short-termism.
The policy recommends a number of principles for executive remuneration.
It states that “the national investing bodies should challenge the bonus culture” and should not expect executive directors in receipt of competitive salaries to be awarded annual bonuses of more than 100% of base salary for target performance.
“Awards of more than 100% of base salary can only be justified if an executive director has delivered extraordinary results through exceptional performance to the significant benefit of shareholders.”
The policy stresses the importance of schemes prioritising long-term over short-term performance. It argues that companies should have long-term incentive plans for executive directors covering periods of five to seven years which should be paid in shares held for the long-term.
Companies are encouraged to reward performance on ethical, social and environmental issues as well as financial issues. They should, for example take into account “ethical business conduct such as tax, bribery and treating customers fairly”, “respect for human rights and co-operation with those seeking to create the right conditions for a just society (e.g. NGOs, government)”, and “environmental sustainability (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, water efficiency)”.
Finally the policy states that “companies should approach remuneration and reward in a holistic way for all staff… They should disclose the way in which they monitor and manage internal pay differentials and trends”.
The Church of England’s National Church Institutions are all transparent about the remuneration they offer and the differentials within their organisations. Their annual reports each disclose remuneration ratios - both between the highest and lowest paid in the organisation, and between the highest paid and the median.
The policy concludes: “The system and culture of executive remuneration that has developed over the last 30 years, today faces unprecedented questioning. Turning the tide will take courage and leadership from both the non-executive directors who determine remuneration and the executive directors who receive it… We will work collaboratively and in particular support companies who take risks and model a different way of doing things.”
The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) makes recommendations on ethical investment policy to the Church of England’s three national investing bodies. These are the Church Commissioners for England, the Church of England Pensions Board and the CBF Church of England Funds managed by CCLA. Together they hold assets in excess of £8bn. For further information visit www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/eiag.
The EIAG includes representation from the General Synod, the Archbishops’ Council and the Council for Mission and Public Affairs as well as the investing bodies.
The EIAG has no investment powers of its own but acts in a wholly advisory capacity. It is the responsibility of the Trustees of each separately constituted investment body to decide whether to implement the advice given.
The national investing bodies were active participants in the ‘Shareholder Spring’ in 2012. They pulled together a coalition of investors with more than £1.5 trillion of investments to write to the Daily Telegraph to express concern about executive remuneration as last year’s AGM season opened and supported only about a third of UK remuneration reports.
The new ethical investment policy on executive remuneration.
The Church Times has an article by Madeleine Davies headlined Committee member writes alternative marriage paper.
Much of the article is devoted to summarising that paper, which TA readers will already have seen here. But the article also contains some additional information:
…Speaking on Monday, Dr Methuen said that the article was published “as a contribution to the current debate”. The Commission’s paper was published a month earlier than originally planned, so that the publication of the two coincided.
The Commission’s paper was a response to its task to produce “a theological justification of the Church of England’s current position. This is obviously something very different from what my own piece is doing,” Dr Methuen said. “There is always a balance to be struck between the views of the individual members of the Commission, and the work the Commission produces…
…On Monday, the Revd Thomas Seville CR, a member of the Commission, said that the report was “as clear as it could be” on the question of what it refers to as “accommodations” for same-sex couples.
“The issue of producing a report in soundbites, which has its temptations, is that you end by giving people something superficial. ‘Well-designed accommodation’ is a good one, it leaves things open which we should not really have been speculating on.” The Commission had been “mindful” of the fact that the Pilling Review, which is looking at the Church’s approach to sexuality, is due to report: “We did not want to be messing up their patch,” he said.
The Commission had been “very concerned not to make judgements or condemnation about other forms of relating, but we were stating positively what the Church of England actually taught.” There was much discussion of the FAOC paper, but it was agreed that it should be sent on to the House of Bishops Standing Committee, and then to the House of Bishops.” Fr Seville said he hoped that the Commission would look at the issues raised in Dr Methuen’s paper in the future…
The article does not explain why the report was published a month earlier than planned.
Updated again Saturday
The Archbishop of Canterbury will have two separate meetings today relating to LGBT issues:
A meeting between the LGB&T Anglican Coalition and the Archbishop has been arranged for the 18th April. Major points which the Coalition wishes to put to the Archbishop are as follows:
How does the Archbishop intend to get a better understanding and appreciation of the frustration LGBT Christians are experiencing in the Church of England and what plans does he have to address this? How aware is the Archbishop that some parishes are inhospitable places for LGB&T people? Will he take a lead in helping to make it a safer place for them? If so, how and when does he propose to do this? How much experience does the Archbishop have of transgender people, and what are his thoughts and plans for greater transgender inclusion in the Church of England. What are the Archbishop’s views on the Church of England permitting churches to offer prayer and dedication (or prayer and thanksgiving) for couples who have had a civil partnership (or civil marriage) ceremony? What are the Archbishop’s views on liturgies of blessing for same sex couples? What protection can clergy who are in Civil Partnerships expect from diocesan bishops who are openly hostile to such couples and are perceived as deeply homophobic? What opportunities might there be for the care of LGB&T ordinands at theological colleges? The Archbishop’s views on the need for greater education on LGB&T issues within the Church of England. The Archbishop’s views on the House of Bishops reports on Civil Partnerships and Human Sexuality.
Second in the afternoon he will meet Peter Tatchell. There is a press statement about that also: Archbishop Welby to meet Peter Tatchell. This follows the open letter he sent to the archbishop which TA reported here.
There are several reports of the second meeting in the media; the press release from Peter Tatchell is here: Archbishop Welby struggles to support gay equality.
Telegraph Archbishop backs law change to allow straight civil partnerships
Independent New Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, backs civil partnerships for heterosexual couples
Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury ‘supports civil partnerships for heterosexuals’
Reuters Anglican head holds talks on gay marriage with activist
Peter Tatchell has written this further article: Discrimination is unchristian. The church must stop it.
…Archbishop Welby is clearly struggling to reconcile his support for loving, stable same-sex relationships with his opposition to same-sex marriage. I got the impression that he wants to support gay equality but feels bound by church tradition. He accepts that discrimination is not a Christian value but can’t bring himself to state publicly that banning gay couples from getting married is discrimination and wrong.
The Archbishop told me “gay people are not intrinsically different from straight people” but there is an “intrinsic difference in the nature of same-sex relationships” and this is a sufficient reason to deny gay couples the right to marry, even in civil ceremonies in register offices. When pressed to say why this “intrinsic difference” justified banning same-sex marriage he merely replied: “They are just different.”
I’m an optimist. I want to believe the best in people. That’s why I am hopeful that in time the Archbishop will resolve his moral dilemmas and encourage the church to move closer to gay equality. He struck me as a genuine, sincere, open-minded person, willing to listen and rethink his position. I’m ready to give him a chance. Time will tell…
At the General Synod meeting last November, some Questions were asked about the report that has recently been published.
The full transcript of Questions and Answers is available here, but the section relating to the report (pages 43-44) is copied in full below the line.
Readers may wish to ask themselves whether the report that has now been published fits the description given in the answer:
…The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since.
The full text of the 1999 document mentioned above can be found here: Marriage: A Teaching Document (PDF).
18. Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Is it the case that the Faith and Order Commission has been invited by the House of Bishops to undertake work in relation to the Church’s teaching on marriage and, if so, who will be conducting that work on the Commission’s behalf?
19. Miss Rachel Beck (Lincoln) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Given the concern expressed at the last group of sessions that the full diversity of beliefs on the issue of same-sex marriage that exist within the Church were not fully represented in the response submitted to HM Government’s consultation on the issue of same-sex marriage, can the House ensure that in any request for work in this area to the Faith and Order Commission it would be encouraged to look at the subject in all its fullness, a fullness which includes debating the possibility of blessing same-sex marriage?
The Archbishop of York (Dr John Sentamu), replied as Chairman of the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee:
With permission, Chair, I will answer these Questions together.
At a meeting of the House of Bishops Standing Committee earlier this year the Bishop of Coventry, as chair of the Faith and Order Commission, asked whether the Committee wished the Commission to undertake any further work on the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since. The work is now well advanced.
Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark): At best, this sounds like a missed opportunity, given the amount of recent work on these matters, which deserves more serious –
The Chairman: You are making a speech, not asking a question.
Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark): I am coming to the question – which deserves more serious consideration than is possible in a short document. Who is advising the Commission and when will the report be published?
The Archbishop of York: That document has been asked for by the Standing Committee of the House. It will then go to the House of Bishops to decide how, when, where and what will be published after consultation with the House. That is the process.
The Reverend Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente who is Vicar of St James, New Malden, has written a detailed critical article about the marriage report. You can read about it on the Inclusive Church website, here.
‘Men and Women in Marriage’ does not emanate from the church as a whole, not even from its synod. It was devised because the Faith and Order Commission suggested under their own steam to the bishops that it would be ‘timely to produce a short summary of the Church of England’s understanding of marriage.’ The bishops agreed. The document that ensued is unfortunately neither distinctly Anglican, nor a summary of anything, nor is it short. Any attempt to make sense of it needs to be a bit lengthy. I am as sorry about this as I am about the introduction’s rather disingenuous claim that the whole thing is merely offered to you for study. Issues in Human Sexuality was similarly ‘commended for study’ but seems to have acquired more authority than canon law and is still sadly used to bludgeon gay faithful and liberal clergy some 25 years later. Never lose heart however, the document is shockingly careless in its scholarship, sometimes poorly argued, but very conveniently divided into small paragraphs easy to confute…
We last reported on this in March when the synods of the three dioceses most affected voted on the proposals, with two in favour and one opposed.
The final vote was on Saturday when Blackburn diocesan synod voted in favour. The diocesan website has this report.
Blackburn Diocese has voted to accept the recommendations of the Dioceses Commission in relation to the proposed creation of a new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.
The vote means that a cluster of parishes currently sitting in Bradford Diocese may now move within the borders of Blackburn Diocese. The decision is part of ongoing work to create a new combined Diocese via the dissolution of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds…
Now all the votes are complete, and as consent has not been given by one of the dioceses directly affected, the next step is for the Archbishop of York to decide whether to allow the scheme to go forward for debate at General Synod meeting (possibly in July).
Alan Wilson has added this graphic comment: Kismet.
Jonathan Clatworthy has added a further piece: Cuckoo in the nest?
From the USA, Mark Harris has written Is it time for Anglican communion by free association?
Anne Brooke has written Equal Marriage: the Work of The Devil?
Jonathan Clatworthy at Modern Church has written a response to the CofE report, which is titled Marriage and Diversity.
This is a response to the document Men and Women in Marriage by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, published on 10 April 2013. The accompanying press release makes clear its purpose, that ‘public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone’, so there should not be public blessings of gay partnerships.
Much of the document is a general account of the purpose of marriage, and is to be commended. As such it is timely. Over the past 60 years the Church’s earlier restrictive teaching about marriage, partnerships and sexual relationships has been rejected and then forgotten by British society at large, which now openly tolerates a wider range of relationships and often expresses moral indignation at those who disapprove of gay partnerships or single parents. However a complete free-for-all is also unsatisfactory. Most people need some guidance, and the experience of the ages does reveal that some types of relationship are more satisfactory than others. For the Church to revisit its teaching on marriage with the positive aim of offering pastoral guidance on relationships is much needed.
Sadly, Men and Women in Marriage does not perform this role. Instead it aims to rescue as much as it can from earlier restrictive teaching, offering minimal concessions to alternatives. It does this by appealing to natural law to affirm the role of marriage but then departing from natural law to define it very tightly and to treat marriage so defined as the ‘norm’ (§§48, 49)…
And Jonathan has also written in a lighter vein: We don’t want the riff-raff having marriages.
…The document tells us that ‘public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do, and this statement is offered as a resource for that’ (§4). Yet the authors know perfectly well that Christians believe and act in a wide variety of different ways, many quite contrary to what the document recommends. In other words, while claiming to tell us how Christians believe and act, it is really telling us how they think Christians ought to believe and act. It is an example of that technique we used to associate with conservative evangelicals, of claiming that anyone who disagrees with their opinions cannot be a Christian.
Perhaps the saddest thing about it is that it’s yet another example of the batten-down-the-hatches mood in the Church’s higher echelons. After a disastrous year last year – Anglican Covenant, women bishops, gay marriages – they still haven’t, apparently, learned that they can’t stop the world. If they think gay partnerships, divorce et al are all to be condemned, they should explain their reasons and allow truth to emerge from open debate – not pontificate from on high, and so erroneously, about ‘how Christians believe and act’.
One cannot help suspecting that this document is all about power relations in the hierarchy. The proposal for an Anglican Covenant began as an attempt to ‘discipline’ churches with openly gay bishops. That and the chaos over women bishops revolved around threats of schism. At times of intense disagreement, some are quick to put on their boxing gloves while others are determined to keep the peace, whatever the cost to those whose needs don’t fit the theory. We should be able to do better than this.
The Church Times has published the following leader comment:
THE kindest thing to do with the new report Men, Women and Marriage is to ignore it. It contributes nothing new to the present debate about how different forms of relationship might constitute marriage. It speaks of a unique relationship between a man and a woman without ever explaining this contention. Seldom clear, the text adopts a particular obscurity whenever a contentious matter is touched upon, such as the complementarity of the sexes. Yet it combines this with a dogmatism that is at odds with its purpose as a study document. What on earth were the Bishops thinking when they agreed to its publication?
A member of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England, The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, has published an article at Our Kingdom under this title: Marriage: one man and one woman?
This week the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission published a statement on marriage. (PDF) It makes the case that marriage is between one man and one woman. Traditionally this has been true in England for a long time, and the Commission (made up of bishops, clergy and laity who advise the church on doctrine) was asked to offer a theological justification for the Church of England’s current position. But is this the way marriage has always been conceived? And does it have to be?
The launch of Anglican Catholic Future will take place at a Mass on Thursday 18th April at 7pm at the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch. The celebrant will be the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, and the preacher will be Fr Peter Groves, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Oxford.
The website is here.
The launch statement reads:
Over the past two years a number of us in the Catholic tradition who love the Church of England have been meeting to pray and think about how this Catholic identity and inheritance, mission and vision, might be celebrated and strengthened. We feel it is timely to launch this initiative to meet the challenges of our time, and in doing so our aim is to complement rather than compete with existing Catholic groupings, which is why we are deliberately adopting a network model of association.
This is our working statement. We hope you will join us in this new venture of faith.
As Anglicans from across the Church of England who have been formed and nourished in the Catholic tradition, we have established a network to help to inspire and equip clergy and laity for the work of Christian mission and ministry rooted in Catholic practice, piety and theology. By returning to the fundamentals of the apostolic faith, but without recourse to political agendas and party rivalries, we seek the renewal and revitalisation of the church’s mission and apologetic proclamation.
The Catholic identity of the Church of England has suffered a crisis stemming from a preoccupation with divisive issues. As a result the Catholic tradition in Anglicanism has become fragmented and nerveless. Many who hold this tradition dear feel that the time is right to rediscover our Catholic roots and values for the sake of the church’s witness in our land.
Following the imperatives that guided our Catholic forebears in the Church of England we will focus on
* spirituality and the life of prayer
* liturgy and worship
* vocation and priesthood
* social justice.
We will seek to model a style of discipleship faithful to the riches of our tradition, which encourages us to be creative and credible, imaginative and generous.
Generosity requires dialogue with other Christian traditions, especially those with whom we share a common heritage of spiritual understanding within the Western Church. Such dialogue will be pursued in an eirenic rather than a combative spirit.
We believe that the time has come for the implicit Catholic identity of our church to be made explicit. We look back to the Oxford Movement and the tradition on which it was built, and forward to the revitalisation of our church and nation as we recall our secularising culture to its spiritual inheritance.
Updated again 9 am Friday
Bishop Alan Wilson wrote Gay Marriage: Must Try Harder. Here’s a portion, but do read it all:
The Lion has Roared. The faith and order commission of the General Synod, no less, has uttered its mind on marriage equality.
Marriage is the faithful committed permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman central to the stability and health of human society
What would happen if we simply substituted “between two people”?
Well, very little has happened, actually, in jurisdictions that have done that.
Belgium remains, after ten years, a drably conventional place, where people are married and given in marriage.
In Belgium, Gay people are not forced to marry people of the opposite sex and pretend to be what they are not. A small number of them choose a life of marital commitment together. Er, that’s it.
But apparently this is what will happen in the UK:
When marriage is spoken of unclearly or misleadingly it distorts the way couples try to conduct their relationships and makes for frustration and disappointment. The reality of marriage between one man and one woman will not disappear as a result of any legislative change, for God has given us this gift and it will remain part of our created human endowment. The disciplines of living in it may become more difficult to acquire and the path to fulfillment in marriage and in other relationships more difficult to find.
Really? How would that be? Has anyone ever met any couple to whom this happened?
Changing Attitude has three articles:
Colin Coward Church of England refuses to bless gay relationships – another nail in the coffin and
The Telegraph’s inaccurate optimism about gays in the Church
and Christina Beardsley Keeping us all in order.
Tobias Haller has written Status Quo Vadis.
Maybe the Beaker Folk have understood the report best, Ceremony of Not Blessing Things We’d Rather Not Think About.
Mark Vernon has written Where’s the good news? Here is an extract, but again do read it all:
…3. What is dismaying, then, is not that there is no overt policy change. Rather, it is the poor quality of the theology, history and psychology on display in the document. This highlights the deeper impact of a prior policy constraining a genuine process of discernment and exploration. The document reads defensively and often rather literally-minded. There is little good news in it, not fundamentally because there is no policy change, but because it conveys such a narrow vision of human love and sexuality.
4. The non-negotiable, hard place is that marriage is a ‘creation ordinance’, defined as between a man and a woman, as apparently implied in Genesis. This is either making the norm the rule or reducing the rich myths of Genesis to a formula. If it’s the former, it’s simply a category error. If it’s the latter, it’s an appallingly reductive reading of scripture that strips it of life. (In fact, the Biblical treatment often amounts to little more than proof-texting. For example, St Paul in 1 Corinthians is cited to show that men and women are ‘not independent’ of each other, which is tantamount to a truism, the proof-texting charge evidenced as if that was St Paul’s last word on the matter.)
5. The idea that Genesis sanctions the nuclear family is, actually, a modern idea: I believe it can be traced to John Locke’s 1690 Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government. Then, a legal definition of marriage was required because before, committed relationships had gained their social sanction by being made before God. Also, before then, families rarely looked like Adam and Eve under the fig tree because people died too often: hodgepodge families seem far more likely to have been the norm. (The document inadvertently shows it’s modern roots by quoting the slightly earlier Jeremy Taylor. Presumably one of the committee had a dictionary of quotations to hand, as there is no sign that Taylor’s thoughts on love and friendship are reflected upon in any deep way. Further, Taylor is quoted as if in support of marriage as a paradigm of society, when the word ‘society’ did not mean a form of social organisation at the time, but merely human company.)
6. The point about modern prejudices is important because it makes the report blind to the diversity of relationships available to Christians in the medieval and ancient periods. We live in an exceptional age in which marriage has a monopoly. As writers from Alan Bray (The Friend) to Rowan Williams (Lost Icons) have argued, ours is actually the idiosyncratic period, one that has depleted our relational imaginations. (In a presumably unintentionally humorous moment, the document considers the ‘exogamy’ of the Old Testament, arguing that it was intended ‘to be of limited scope’. Lucky Abraham.)
7. The document says that the lack of a clear understanding of marriage makes for ‘disappointments and frustrations’. I doubt whether marriage guidance experts would agree. Rather, it’s an inability to tolerate difference and diversity in marriages that makes it so rigid and unbearable that it falls apart in people’s hands.
8. Discerning the goodness of God in the natural world is advocated. Now, of course, natural goodness is tricky to discern in a fallen world. The document nods to the arts and sciences in helping with that. But a paragraph or two after this moment of openness, it shrinks back to a narrow biologism that would embarrass even Richard Dawkins: our biological existence, apparently, means one man, one woman. The fact that homosexuality exists in nature is ignored. God can bless same-sex swans raising cygnets together, but not same-sex humans…
Lesley Crawley has usefully provided us with a wordle of the report in her article: How would you describe marriage? and also So has the Church of England changed its stance on Blessing Civil Partnerships?
Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington have written Men and Women in Marriage and the Church of England
…The Report itself actually has very little to say about same-sex relationships (it is, after all, about marriage) other than a rather gnomic statement in paragraph 49 about
“… accommodations for specific conditions, bearing witness in special ways to the abiding importance of the norm. Well-designed accommodations proclaim the form of life given by God’s creative goodness and bring those in difficult positions into closer approximation to it. They mark the point where teaching and pastoral care coincide.”
The problem, it strikes us, is this: that the Church appears to be trying to have it all ways at once. Either you decide on biblical grounds that same-sex relationships are wrong in all circumstances and stick to that (which is an entirely consistent position even if it is one that looks increasingly at odds with the views of wider society) or you decide that they are not – in which case when you try to accommodate them you run the risk of getting tangled up in conflicting arguments in the way that is currently engulfing the C of E. But seeming to suggest that same-sex relationships are not always wrong and then maintaining that, nevertheless, they are basically second-class strikes us as the worst of all worlds – and much the most difficult position to defend, whether intellectually or pastorally.
Updated again Friday morning
Confusing headlines in this morning’s newspapers:
Telegraph John Bingham Church of England gives blessing to recognising civil partnerships
A report from the Church’s doctrine watchdog urged priests to devise “pastoral accommodations” for gay couples” and to be “flexible”.
It said the aim was to enable them to enjoy a “closer approximation” to marriage.
The senior bishop who drafted the missive to priests insisted that it did not amount to a policy u-turn and that an official ban on formal “blessings” for civil partnerships remained in place.
But he said it was clear there was a need for committed same-sex couples to be given recognition and “compassionate attention” from the Church, including special prayers.
Liberal priests, who already conduct unofficial dedication and thanksgiving for gay couples who are not allowed to marry, said it amounted to the first official endorsement for what they do…
Guardian Sam Jones Church of England rejects blessings for same-sex couples
The Church of England has ruled out offering blessings to same-sex couples, insisting that such public gestures belong only to heterosexual marriage.
The announcement – made in a report from the church’s faith and order commission entitled Men and Women in Marriage – comes weeks after the outgoing bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, suggested the church consider blessing gay couples as it should “bless true love wherever such love is found”.
The report stresses the church’s immutable definition of marriage as “a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society”, but recognises the existence of same-sex relationships, which it terms “forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form God has given us”.
The bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the commission, repeated the church’s commitment to providing “care, prayer and compassion” to those who cannot be married in church, but drew the line at blessings for gay couples. “Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone,” he said…
The headline in The Times last night read Bishops stop short of giving blessing to civil partnerships but a subscription is needed to read the full article. Headline now changed to: Bishops devise way of ‘accommodating’ same-sex couples.
A new report on marriage has caused dismay among parts of the Church of England because of its failure to offer official blessings to civil partnerships.
The report, commissioned by the House of Bishops, stops short of endorsing formal public blessings and instead offers priests vague instructions to “devise accommodations” for same-sex couples in their parishes.
These would include “prayer, care and compassionate attention” but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, the Bishop of Coventry the document’s co-author, said…
Church of England priests have been told to provide “accommodations” for gay couples in a new report.
This will include “prayer” and “compassionate attention” but not “formal public blessings” in the report, written by the Bishop of Coventry and entitled “men and women in marriage”.
It is understood that these prayers could take place inside parish churches.
The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry said the church remained against same-sex marriage but wished to set “disagreements against a more positive background of how Christians have understood and valued marriage.”
Setting out guidelines, Rev Cocksworth writes: “The form of prayer will depend upon the particular circumstances of the particular case.
“But we are talking about that sort of pastoral care if you like, and prayer, rather than something which is more formal and more public. This is part of the private, the personal, compassionate attention that a priest would give to people. It is not about public, formal recognition.”
The bishop said it is up to parish priests “to make informed, sensible, loving and careful judgments”.
But “what the church doesn’t offer the parish priest is a service of blessing or public recognition”…
The Church of England yesterday signalled that gay couples should be able to have their relationships blessed in church.
It said priests may ‘devise accommodations’ for same-sex couples ‘who seek to engage with the challenges of life responsibly’.
It suggests that public prayers which recognise gay relationships could be introduced in church services by sympathetic clergy.
Yesterday’s paper, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby and the leading bishops, does not change the CofE laws which say homosexual activity is sinful and ban priests from blessing gay relationships.
But it appeared to encourage same-sex couples, saying the Church must show a ‘degree of flexibility’ over gay relationships, and adding: ‘the Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional conditions as simply closed.’
The proposal will infuriate traditionalists and is likely to reignite the bitter conflict within the Church over same-sex relationships.
The document likened the case of same-sex relationships to the controversy a decade ago over the remarriage of divorcees.
This ended with divorcees officially allowed to have second weddings in church, if they can find a sympathetic priest, even though CofE doctrines say marriage is for life…
Church Times Madeleine Davies Marriage: a ‘gift from God’ that does not include same-sex couples, says report
AN uncompromising document released this week reinforces the ban on public forms of blessing for those in same-sex relationships. And it states that, although the introduction of same-sex marriage will not make heterosexual marriage “disappear”, it may make “the path to fulfilment, in marriage and in other relationships, more difficult to find”.
…The report does not affirm those in “human relationships which fall short of marriage relationships”, in contrast to the response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, published last year, which stated that “same-sex relationships often embody genuine mutuality and fidelity” ( News, 15 June). Its language is more guarded, stating that: “in pastoral responses, a degree of flexibility may be called for in finding ways to express the Church’s teaching practically. . . The Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional circumstances as simply closed.”
..The Church, the new report suggests, can “devise accommodations for specific conditions, bearing witness in special ways to the abiding norm”. On Tuesday, Dr Cocksworth said: “The Church is here for all people, and those who find themselves in same-sex relationships and have committed to those, the Church treats those people with respect, with compassionate attention, with care and with prayer. The exact form of that prayer will depend on the case itself, the situation that is before the pastor.”
The document itself does not restate the ban on blessing same-sex relationships, but Dr Cocksworth said that the “well-designed accommodations” it mentions were “different from formal public blessings”. The press release accompanying the report states: “The document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone…”
A further version of this report is in this week’s Church Times with the headline Marriage is a gift, ‘but not if you’re gay’.
Independent Outgoing Bishop of Liverpool wants ban lifted on same-sex partnership blessings and the ITV report on which this is based is here: Church of England conducting blessings for gay couples.
Updated to include Notes
“Men and Women in Marriage” – new document from Faith and Order Commission
The Church of England’s view of the long-established meaning of marriage has been outlined in a new report - “Men and Women in Marriage” - published this week by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission.
The publication (attached) includes a foreword from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which commends the document for study. The report sets out the continued importance and rationale for the Church’s understanding of marriage as reflected in the 1,000 marriage services conducted by the Church of England every week.
The document also seeks to provide “a more positive background on how Christians have understood and valued marriage” arguing that marriage “continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”.
The report takes as its starting point the Church’s basic premise that “marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and means of His grace”. The document also seeks to enlarge the understanding of marriage defined as “a faithful, com mitted, permanent and legally sanctioned relations hip between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society.”
Recognising the ongoing debate around marriage in society the report acknowledges that marriage “like most important undertakings in life, can be lived more successfully or less successfully. Mistakes are made, by couples, by their friends and relatives, and sometime by pastors and institutions of the church… Lack of clear understanding of marriage can only multiply disappointments and frustrations. Public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do and this document is offered as a resource for that.”
The Bishop of Coventry Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Commission said: “The Church has a long track record in conducting and supporting marriage, drawing from the deep wells of wisdom which inform centuries of shared religious and cultural understandings of marriage. There is a danger in the current debate of picking apart the institution of marriage which is part of the social fabric of human society.
“This report seeks to celebrate all that is good about marriage in its ability to bring together biological difference and the generative power of marriage to bring forth life. It also recognises that there are forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form the God has given us.
“This report also underlines the role of the Church in seeking to provide care, prayer and compassion for those who for whatever reason are unable to receive the gift of marriage in the form that the Church has understood it and continues to uphold. Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone.”
A PDF copy of the report which is numbered as GS Misc 1046 is available here.
The Faith and Order Commission (FOAC) advises the House of Bishops, the General Synod and the Council for Christian Unity on ecclesiological and ecumenical matters and acts as a theological resource for the Church of England as a whole. More information can be found at http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/work-other-churches/ccu/faith-and-order-commission.aspx
Members of the Commission
The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry (Chairman)
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
The Right Revd Dr Brian Castle, Bishop of Tonbridge
The Right Revd Dr Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
The Right Revd Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester.
The Revd Canon Professor Loveday Alexander
The Revd Dr Cally (Carolyn) Hammond
The Revd Dr David Hilborn
The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen
The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris
The Revd Dr John Muddiman
The Revd Professor Oliver O’Donovan
The Revd Thomas Seville CR
Dr Mike Higton
Dr Cathy Ross
Secretary of the Commission
Dr Martin Davie
A draft report from the Commission was considered by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in December 2012 who authorised the Standing committee of the House to approve the final text and authorise publication. The Standing Committee approved the report in March 2013.
We overlooked the verbatim Report of Proceedings of last November’s General Synod when it was published, but it is available for download: Report of Proceedings November 2012.
Reports back to February 2007 are available from this page and in most cases audio files are also available.
WATCH (London) Invitation
Preparing for Elections
Everyone is welcome to St James’s Church Piccadilly (nearest underground Piccadilly Station, Piccadilly Line or Green Park Station, Victoria and Jubilee Lines) on Wednesday 17 April 2013 from 6.45pm - 9.15pm
This event will provide an opportunity for us to prepare for the forthcoming elections to Deanery Synods now and in 2014 at which members vote for those standing for General Synod.
It is crucial we are prepared for this as soon as possible so that the expressed wishes of those in the Church who support Women Bishops can be properly represented.
Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly will give a key-note address.
The Revd Stephen France, Rector of Christ Church Brondesbury in the London Diocese will take us step by step through the synodical processes to secure a General Synod lay membership which represents far more accurately than the present House of Laity the overwhelming desire of church people to welcome women as bishops.
Pamphlets giving clear guidance will be provided at the meeting for distribution in your parishes. Individuals who have been closely involved in Synod’s various efforts to achieve women in the episcopate, members of General Synod past and present and from the National WATCH committee will be on hand to hear your views and experiences.
There will be time for questions and comments. We will end with Compline.
Light refreshments will be available.
Ed Thornton reports in the Church Times: No excuses on poverty goals, religious leaders warn G8.
EIGHTY religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have signed a letter warning the G8 group of world leaders not to use the financial crisis as an “excuse” to delay fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The letter was published in the Financial Times on Friday, 1000 days ahead of the deadline to meet the MDGs. The G8 leaders are scheduled to meet in the UK in June…
The full text of the letter can be read on the Lambeth Palace website (scroll down) and the full list of signatories is below the letter.
Financial crisis is not an excuse for missing Millennium Development Goals, say religious leaders. Supporters encouraged to add their voices on Twitter using#1000DaysToGo
With 1000 days left to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has joined religious leaders across the G8 urging governments to keep their promises on foreign aid.
Archbishop Justin is among 80 religious leaders who have signed a letter to the Financial Times today, urging G8 countries to follow the UK in meeting existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid.
With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the religious leaders argue, the UK Presidency of the G8 has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries…
Here are some recent items about women bishops and women’s ministry.
GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) has published a spring newsletter. The major item in this is The central principle of justice and liberation for all women, the address given at the GRAS Conference and AGM held on 2 March 2013 by the Revd Canon Jane Charman.
Today’s Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 was about Women and the Christian faith.
Jane Garvey looks at the position of women in the Christian faith. Jane visits the Coventry parish of the Reverend Katrina Scott. Also taking part are the Rev’d Lorna Hood, Moderator Designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and also on the Woman’s Hour Powerlist; the Rev’d Anne Stevens, Vicar of St Pancras Parish Church, London, and part of the current consultation on women bishops and a member of WATCH (Women And The Church) which is campaigning for women bishops; Sister Catherine Wybourne, a Roman Catholic nun who runs a contemplative community in Herefordshire and Tweets under the name DigitalNun.
The programme can be listened to for the next seven days on the BBC iPlayer.
Damian Thompson reports in The Telegraph that Russian Orthodox tell Archbishop of Canterbury: ordain women bishops and you can forget about unity.
Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times about a new book, Women and Men in Scripture edited by Stephen Croft and Paula Gooder: Support for women bishops ‘is biblical’.
The Sunday Times commissioned a poll to provide it with a news story for Easter about the Church of England. This newspaper is behind a pay wall, but Reuters has this report: UK poll points to mistrust of clergy, lack of moral leadership.
Only around a half of Britons trust the clergy to tell the truth and a similar proportion think the Church of England does a bad job of providing moral leadership, a poll showed on Sunday.
The survey by pollster YouGov commissioned by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper further showed that 69 percent of respondents thought the Church of England, mother church of the world’s 80-million-strong Anglican communion, was out of touch.
Forty percent of those polled said they did not trust priests, vicars and other clergy to tell the truth, and overall doctors, teachers and judges were rated as more trustworthy.
Fifty-four percent believe the Church of England has struggled to give moral leadership, the poll found…
Clive Field at British Religion in Numbers has reported at length on the survey, see Easter Day with the Sunday Times. Here’s a small extract, but do read the whole analysis.
…Trust in clergy
54% have a great deal or fair amount of trust in priests, vicars, and other clergy to tell the truth, rising to 73% among Christians, with 40% having little or no trust in them. Clergy are the sixth equal most trusted profession on a list of eighteen occupations, the range being from 83% for family doctors to 13% for estate agents.
Church of England
31% contend that the Church of England is doing a good job in providing moral leadership, over-60s (38%) and Christians (55%) being especially inclined to think so (54% for Anglicans). A majority (54%, including 65% of Liberal Democrats, who are committed to disestablishment, and 37% of Anglicans) rates it as doing a bad job, with 16% unsure.
Still more, 69%, feel that the Church of England is out of touch, with particular highs for UKIP voters (75%) and Scots (76%). Even 53% of Christians take this line. Just 21% of all adults view the Church as being in touch, and no more than 28% of over-60s and 41% of Anglicans. 10% express no opinion on the subject.
A plurality (49%) say the Church of England is wrong to oppose same-sex marriage, including 66% of 18-24s, 63% of Liberal Democrats, 60% of Scots, and even 37% of Anglicans. 37% support the Church’s position, with 57% for the over-60s and 52% of Anglicans. 13% are undecided.
78% feel that the Church of England should allow women bishops, including 89% of Liberal Democrats, 85% of Anglicans, 83% of Conservatives, 82% of women and Scots. Opponents of women bishops number 9% overall but 19% of Catholics, 15% of UKIP supporters, and 13% of Londoners. 13% do not know what to think…
YouGov has published the full results of the poll on its own website, and they can be downloaded as a PDF from here.
Updated Wednesday evening
The Church of England has published the results of a survey by ICM which are available in full as a PDF file here.
The press release which accompanied this is here: Four out of five believe in the power of prayer.
Four out of five British adults believe in the power of prayer, according to a new ICM survey in the run-up to Easter. Holy Week and Easter are the most important period in the Christian calendar, marking the last days of Jesus’ ministry, his death on the Cross and resurrection to new life…
As the notes to the press release explain:
The question asked was: “Irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, what would it be for?.”
There has been some criticism of the claims made in the press release, see
Huffington Post Church Of England Accused Of ‘Dishonesty’ In Prayer Survey
British Humanist Association Church of England spins Prayer Survey
New Statesman Church of England commits sins against statistics
TA readers may wish to study the full results of the survey for themselves and comment on whether they think the wording of the press release was justified.
The British Religion in Numbers website has published this detailed critique by Clive Field of the press release and the survey, and of other reports of it in the media: Prayer in a Spin.
…The Church based its claim on a misreading of the fact that 81% of the 2,015 adult Britons interviewed online by ICM Research on 13-14 March 2013, in a poll commissioned by the Church, had replied ‘something’ in answer to the question ‘irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, what would it be for?’ This was slightly below the figure (85%) in the equivalent poll this time last year…
The Church of England issued this update this afternoon.
Update on progress on women bishops legislation
26 March 2013
The consultation document on women bishops issued on 8 February generated 376 responses by the closing date of 28 February. Of these, 10 were from organisations and three from bishops. Of the remaining 363 submissions, 154 were from General Synod members and 209 from others.
The working group has met twice in March and has further meetings scheduled for April and May. It remains on track to report to the House of Bishops before the meeting of the House on 20/21 May, when the House will be deciding what proposals to bring to the Synod in July. At its April meeting the group is having further facilitated conversations with those who joined it for the earlier discussions at the beginning of February.
The consultation document on women bishops was issued as below
The Church Times carries this news report of its own interview with the archbishop: No ‘chucking out’ over women.
The actual interview with Ed Thornton is available in full here: ‘You don’t have to agree to be in the same Church’.
Anglican Mainstream has published this: Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Southern Cone write to Archbishop Welby.
Today’s Guardian has this editorial: Archbishop of Canterbury: good and God.
At the Telegraph Damian Thompson writes on his blog The new Archbishop of Canterbury, enthroned today, must wish the gay issue would go away. But it won’t.
Colin Coward wrote at Changing Attitude Justin Welby speaks of stunning quality of gay relationships.
Updated Friday morning
Justin Welby was installed as Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England in a service at Canterbury Cathedral this afternoon. This event is commonly called his enthronement, although this word does not appear in the order of service.
Articles looking ahead to the service
The Archbishop’s website published this on Tuesday: What happens when an Archbishop is enthroned?
Robert Piggott for the BBC How new the Archbishop of Canterbury will be enthroned
Order of Service: “The Inauguration of the Ministry of the One Hundreth and Fifth Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Portal Welby”
A recording of the service is available to UK viewers on the BBC iPlayer for the next seven days.
Reports of the service
The Anglican Communion News Service has these Photographs from the Enthronement.
BBC Justin Welby is enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury [includes video highlights]
Paul Handley, Ed Thornton and Rachel Boulding in the Church Times Dancing welcome for Archbishop Welby
John Bingham in the Telegraph Justin Welby enthroned as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
Sam Jones and agency in The Guardian Justin Welby enthroned as archbishop of Canterbury
Also in The Guardian Justin Welby enthroned as new archbishop at Canterbury Cathedral – video
and Archbishop of Canterbury enthronement - in pictures
Liz Dodd in The Tablet Welby enthroned as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
Cheryl Mullin in the Liverpool Echo Justin Welby is enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury [includes photographs]
Matthew Davies at Episcopal News Service
Archbishop of Canterbury enthroned in ancient splendor [includes video]
Video: Designer Juliet Hemingray on the archbishop’s vestments
For comparison, here are highlights of the enthronement of Geoffrey Fisher in 1945.
Update Friday morning
The paper edition of The Guardian printed this photograph as a double page spread.
The Enthronement in pictures from Canterbury Cathedral
Anglican Communion News Service Archbishop Welby enthroned in Canterbury Cathedral
Quentin Letts in the Mail Online African dancers, bongo drums and a Punjabi hymn… the oh-so modern arrival of Britain’s new Archbishop [lots of photographs]
Sam Jones in The Guardian Justin Welby enthroned as new archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury has given TV interviews to several journalists ahead of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral this afternoon.
Meanwhile John Bingham at the Telegraph reports on Archbishop Justin Welby’s olive branch to gay rights groups and also Archbishop ‘convinced’ role will eventually be held by a woman.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, who will be enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral later today, sent a message to Peter Tatchell, the veteran human rights campaigner, last night inviting him to meet face-to-face.
In was in response to an open letter in which Mr Tatchell accused the Archbishop of being “homophobic” by opposing gay marriage and said that Anglicans had “colluded” in extreme suppression of homosexuality in Africa.
The gesture is likely to further infuriate leaders of the Anglican Church in Africa and the southern hemisphere – several of whom are said to be preparing to snub the Archbishop by absenting themselves from a celebratory get-together for primates after the enthronement.
The invitation for a meeting is in stark contrast to the relationship between gay rights groups and previous Archbishops…
The Open Letter to Justin Welby from Peter Tatchell can be found here.
The Guardian has several articles:
Peter Walker Archbishop of Canterbury admits to gay ‘challenge’ for church and Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury – in his own words
Andrew Brown Justin Welby’s ascension shines light on powerful evangelical church
Andrew Atherstone Justin Welby is no fluffy spiritualist – he’s the tough leader the church needs
And there is another article by Andrew Atherstone published at Fulcrum (though written for Church Society) Archbishop Welby and the E-Word.
The BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday includes in today’s episode an interview with Archbishop Justin Welby. The programme can be downloaded from here, and the interview starts at about 26 m, 40 s into the programme.
According to Anglican Mainstream there is also an interview in today’s Sunday Times magazine section. See here.
And, according to Jonathan Petre in today’s Mail on Sunday Archbishop Welby faces boycott by Anglican leaders over plans to allow gay clergy to become bishops.
…According to leaked documents seen by The Mail on Sunday, at least three senior African archbishops have privately urged conservative colleagues to shun the gathering.
In the documents, the Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, said he recommended that ‘we show our commitment to the Anglican Communion by being present for the service at Canterbury Cathedral . . . but do not participate in the “collegial time” being proposed by Archbishop Welby’.
He said the new Archbishop of Canterbury had ‘given us no clear indication of the matters for discussion’ and that primates ‘who have led the way in promoting false teaching’ will be welcomed by Dr Welby.
He said his views were shared by the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, and the Primate of Uganda, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, but sources said the African and Asian archbishops would not make a final decision about attending the meeting until this week….
The conference Women Bishops: Church in all its Fullness announced previously took place yesterday.
This page has links to both audio recordings and texts of all the main speeches.
The same text materials are also linked from this page.
From the Diocese of Liverpool press release: Bishop James Presidential Address March 2013:
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones has said that it maybe time for the church to ask the question about the blessing of civil partnerships. In his Presidential Address to the Diocese of Liverpool Synod the Bishop said “if the Church now recognises Civil Partnerships to be a just response to the needs of gay people then surely the Church now has to ask the question whether or not it can deny the blessing of God to that which is just”…
The full text of his address is available here (PDF).
Iain Dale interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury on his radio show, and reported afterwards on his own website: Archbishop Softens Line On Gay Marriage
ID: You said once that you’re always averse to the language of exclusion and what we’re called to do is love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us, how do you reconcile that with the church’s attitude on gay marriage?
JW: I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that. I think that where there is… I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way… you know that the love that there is is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say. And civil partnership is a pretty… I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage…
ID: But if it could be made to work in a way that’s acceptable to the church you would be open to discussions on that?
JW: We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life. And it’s such a radical change to change that I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.
There is a link to the audio recording of this here.
Subsequently, Savi Hensman has written about this for Cif belief in The archbishop of Canterbury must follow up on praise for gay relationships.
…Welby could start by taking action to protect LGBT lay people in every parish, celibate or otherwise, from discrimination, and clergy from invasive questions. There are disturbing instances where people are made to feel unwelcome or humiliated and this should stop.
He could also encourage more thinking about how churches provide, and could improve, pastoral support for same-sex couples, including celebrating civil partnerships. In time, the Church of England might agree an order of service which clergy could use if they wished.
While all Anglican churches should indeed consult others in the communion before major decisions, this cuts both ways. The archbishops most opposed to greater inclusion have resisted repeated calls by international gatherings since 1978 for “deep and dispassionate” study of the issues, taking account of scientific research, and for dialogue with homosexual people and support for their human rights. Yet these leaders have not even bothered to explain why. Their treatment of their LGBT members falls far short of gospel values of love and justice.
Within the Church of England and beyond, Welby could promote awareness and discussion of developments in theological thinking on sexuality, including marriage. Overseas leaders could participate, but would have to engage seriously with others’ arguments.
The current situation is harming LGBT people and Christian witness in England. It is time to start moving forward on inclusion.
Updated 22 March
The Archbishop of Canterbury is undertaking a Journey in Prayer in the days leading up to his enthronement in Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March.
There are reports of each day on the Archbishop’s website, which we link below, together with any other reports that we see.
Ed Thornton reports on the pilgrimage for the Church Times: Thousands greet Welby as he prays his way to Canterbury.
The Hansard record of yesterday’s ten minute rule debate in the House of Commons is now available: Bishops (Consecration of Women).
A recording of the debate can be watched on Parliament TV, starting at 12:37:30.
Alternatively (and more conveniently) the BBC includes video of just this debate in its report: Labour MP bids to bring in female bishops despite Church opposition.
The Church of England has today announced the appointment of Dr Jacqui Philips as Clerk to the Synod in succession to Colin Podmore.
Church announces new director of the Central Secretariat and Clerk to the Synod
11 March 2013
The Church of England today announced the appointment of Dr Jacqui Philips as Clerk to the Synod in succession to Colin Podmore, who steps down on 31st March.
Dr Philips will take up the role on 8th April and will be acting Clerk to the Synod pending the approval of her appointment in July at General Synod.
The role of Clerk to the Synod is one of the responsibilities of the Director of the Central Secretariat who, as well as managing the team that supports the General Synod, Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops, also oversees the Church’s safeguarding, research and statistics work and ecumenical affairs.
Announcing the appointment, the Secretary General of the Church of England, Mr William Fittall, said: “Jacqui brings to the role a wealth of experience and a wholehearted commitment to the work of the Church of England. There was a strong field of applicants for this senior post and we are delighted that as the outstanding candidate Jacqui has accepted this role.”
Responding to the news of her appointment, Dr Philips said: “I am excited at the prospect of taking up this post and contributing to the work of the Church of England. I am looking forward to enabling and celebrating the work of the Church at a national and local level during these times of both opportunity and challenge for the Church of England.”
Jacqui Philips (41) studied English at Cambridge, did an MA in seventeenth century studies at Durham and then obtained an Oxford DPhil on the literature of John Bunyan. After a year as a parliamentary researcher, she became Public Affairs manager for the Bio Industry Association. Following spells on public policy issues for Barclays Bank and in the CBI Brussels office she became Head of Public Affairs for the Royal and Sun Alliance in 2005. She moved from there in 2008 to become Director, European Government Affairs and industry Relations at MetLife, a major US company with growing operations in Europe. In 2012, she took a short career break to explore opportunities in the not-for-profit-sector and to study for a Certificate in Theology course at St Mellitus College.
Under Standing Order 123A, the appointment will be subject to the approval of the General Synod in July.
Synod members have been sent a note (GS Misc 1043) giving more details of the recruitment process.
Updated again Friday morning
The Diocese of Winchester on Saturday issued this announcement:
THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER has today withdrawn the commission of the Dean of Jersey, the Very Reverend Robert Key, effectively suspending him. The Dean of Jersey’s suspension follows the publication today of an Independent Report [see PDF file here], commissioned by the Diocese of Winchester’s Safeguarding Panel. This has found that there were a number of failures in the implementation of policies, in relation to a safeguarding complaint in 2008.
The report raises concerns that the Dean of Jersey did not comply with key safeguarding procedures in dealing with the complaints of a vulnerable adult parishioner, who had made a complaint about abusive behaviour by a Churchwarden in Jersey.
Following the announcement of the suspension, the Bishop will now begin an investigation into the conduct of the case by the Dean of Jersey and other matters raised by the report. The report describes a number of areas where proper practice was not followed including an apparent failure to take the complaint seriously, a perceived lack of neutrality, poor communication and lack of action.
The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, who is responsible for the Church of England in the Channel Islands said, “Firstly I want to give my unreserved apologies to the complainant for her treatment. Protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of the Church of England’s mission. With that comes a duty to ensure those in need are properly looked after. It is vital that robust safeguarding policies are in place and, above all, that they are properly implemented.
“This Independent Report suggests that, put simply, our policies were not implemented as they should have been. I am particularly disappointed that the Dean of Jersey refused to cooperate with the review and I have now ordered an immediate and thorough investigation. In the wake of the report, difficult but necessary and decisive actions are required to ensure that, in the future, procedures will be followed properly.”
Andrew Robinson, Chief Executive of the Diocese of Winchester said, “The Diocese takes its safeguarding duties very seriously. This is why we commissioned the Independent Report and is why we have taken action to ensure our safeguarding polices are robust and adhered to. We are determined to learn from the mistakes made in this particular case and shall be enhancing our safeguarding procedures and policies.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury has published this: Archbishop supports response to Winchester safeguarding report.
Law and Religion UK has published Review of Church’s safeguarding provisions in Jersey.
See also the
three five (so far) links to informative articles on this case by Peter Ould, earlier ones noted in the comments below.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written this further comment (item dated 11 March): Universal and specific.
From the website of the Children’s Society:
Archbishops and bishops unite with charity in child poverty call
Dozens of Church of England bishops, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, have joined The Children’s Society to call for urgent steps to prevent hundreds of thousands of children being plunged into poverty.
The welfare benefit up-rating bill – currently before parliament – will limit the amount by which most key benefits and tax credits can rise each year to only 1%, regardless of how much prices increase. This is well below the rate of inflation predicted by the Treasury, and the government estimates this will push 200,000 more children into poverty.
We have joined forces with bishops in the House of Lords to table amendments which would remove support paid for children from the bill. Peers are set to debate these amendments when the bill reaches report stage in the Lords (on 19 March)…
From the website of the Archbishop of York:
Archbishops Call For Vulnerable To Be Protected In Welfare Benefit Up-rating Bill
So far 43 Bishops have signed an open letter backing The Children’s Society campaign (the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are prevented from signing open letters or backing campaigns by convention).
Archbishop of Canterbury: Archbishop joins urgent child poverty call
News reports of this:
Telegraph Edward Malnick Archbishop of Canterbury attacks Government welfare reforms (scroll down for the actual text of the letter)
Before any of our readers get too excited, I should point out that the Archbishop does not allow comments on his blog.
BBC Radio 4 Monday 4 March
This morning the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is waking up to one of the biggest crises in its modern history. A few weeks ago, Cardinal Keith O’Brien was expecting to be in Rome electing the next Pope. Now he’s in disgrace, vowing that he’ll never again take part in public life .
We still don’t know the details of what he did, simply that he’s admitted to sexual misconduct amongst his fellow priests. Charges of hypocrisy have been swift to follow. This month last year, the Cardinal was on this very programme attacking gay marriage as evidence for the “degeneration of society into immorality”. Indeed, he insisted: “if the UK does go in for same sex marriage it is indeed shaming our country.”
So why is it that all the churches - and not just the Roman Catholic church - seem to attract so many gay men who are themselves so virulently hostile to homosexuality? Perhaps it has to do with a misplaced sense of shame about being gay, a sense of shame that they go on to reinforce by being vocal supporters of the very theology that they themselves have been the victims of. As the novelist Roz Kaveney tweeted yesterday: “I feel sorry for O’Brien. I hope one day he realizes that the sense of sexual sinfulness the Church forced on him was an abuse.” And that “O’Brien needs to distinguish between his sexual desires and his bad behavior and not see all of it as sin.” I totally agree.
The election of a new Pope provides an opportunity for real change. The culture of secrecy that fearfully hides this bad behavior - and not least the clerical abuse of children - needs dismantling from its very foundations. Inappropriate sexual relationships, relationships that trade on unequal power and enforced silence, are the product of an unwillingness to speak honestly, openly and compassionately about sex in general and homosexuality in particular. The importance of marriage as being available to both gay and straight people – and indeed to priests - is that it allows sexual desire to be rightly located in loving and stable relationships. I know there are people who see things differently, but I’m sorry: the churches condemnation of homosexuality has forced gay sex into the shadows, thus again reinforcing a sense of shame that, for me, is the real source of abuse.
Things may now be changing. It is encouraging that four priests have had the courage to speak out against a Cardinal – though one of them has expressed the fear that the Catholic church would “crush him” if they could. This is precisely the climate of fear that does so much to create the conditions of clerical abuse.
“It seems to me that there is nowhere to hide now,” said Diarmaid MacCulloch, the professor of the history of the church at Oxford University in a recent interview. He goes on: “We have had two Popes in succession that have denied that the church needed to change at all. The Roman church has to face realities that it has steadily avoided facing for the last thirty years.” And I might add, not just the Roman church, but my own church too.
It is described as:
…a conference for all those in favour of women bishops
Christ Church, New Malden, Saturday 16th March 2013 10.00 am – 3.00 pm
Organised by Fulcrum and Yes2WomenBishops
Speakers – Jody Stowell, Stephen Kuhrt, Rachel Treweek
Price £15 (lunch provided)
Stephen Kuhrt writes about it for the CEN and Fulcrum: Women Bishops: Church in all its Fullness.
To sign up go here.
Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford, has announced that he will retire on 24 September 2013.
Women and the Church (WATCH) has made a formal response to the consultation.
The main body of the response is in this document (PDF):
The WATCH response to GS Misc 1042 Women in the episcopate: a new way forward.
Or it is available here as a normal web page.
There are several appendices:
Updated Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening
The final version of the proposal to replace the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield by a new diocese of Leeds (or West Yorkshire and the Dales) was discussed by the three diocesan synods this morning.
Bradford voted in favour.
Voting: 90 for, 4 against, no abstentions
Ripon & Leeds voted in favour.
Voting: 70 for, 18 against, 2 abstentions
Wakefield voted against.
Voting: 40 for, 76 against, 4 abstentions
The Church of England quickly issued this press release after the votes.
Results of vote on new single diocese for West Yorkshire
02 March 2013
Bradford and Ripon & Leeds dioceses today voted in favour of a scheme from the Dioceses Commission to reorganise Church of England structures in West Yorkshire and the Dales. Wakefield diocese rejected the scheme.
The neighbouring dioceses of Blackburn and Sheffield receiving six and two parishes respectively from the area of the proposed new single diocese also need to vote on the scheme: Sheffield gave its consent on 16 February; Blackburn votes on 13 April.
The overall proposal is to replace the existing dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and create a new single one.
Now consent has not been given by at least one of the dioceses, it is up to the Archbishop of York to decide whether to allow the scheme to go forward for debate at General Synod (possibly in July). This could happen if he is satisfied either that
(a) the interest of the diocese is so small that the withholding of consent should not prevent the scheme being submitted to the General Synod; or
(b) there are wider considerations affecting the province or the Church of England as a whole which require the scheme to be submitted to the General Synod.
The Archbishop won’t be in a position to announce his decision until after Blackburn diocese’s vote is known in mid-April.
Speaking today after the votes, Chair of the Commission, Professor Michael Clarke said: ‘It is good to know that the Dioceses of Bradford and Ripon & Leeds support the Commission’s proposals. Looking at the voting in Wakefield, there is significant support there, even though the vote was lost.. The process, however, continues. Blackburn votes next month. It will then be for the Archbishop of York to decide how to take this forward.’
The three diocese have also issued their own press releases.
The Radio Leeds Johnny I’Anson programme gave extensive coverage at intervals to this story this morning. This included interviews with Nick Baines, the Bishop of Bradford, (starting at 1 hour 9 minutes) and Stephen Platten, the Bishop of Wakefield, (starting at 2 hours 7 minutes).
From Downing Street:
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Julian Tudor Henderson, MA, Archdeacon of Dorking, for election as Bishop of Blackburn in succession to the Right Reverend Nicholas Stewart Reade, BA, on his resignation on the 31st October 2012…
From the Diocese of Blackburn:
From the Diocese of Guildford:
From the Church Times:
…Unlike his two predecessors - the Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, who retired on 31 October; and the Rt Revd Alan Chesters - Archdeacon Henderson is willing to ordain women as priests. He said on Friday that he was “in favour of women serving as bishops”, although he voted against the draft women bishops Measure in November ( News, 23 November).
Archdeacon Henderson said in a statement issued by Church House: “Let me be clear, I am in favour of women serving as bishops and will want to introduce a change in the current diocesan pattern by ordaining women as deacons and priests.
“But I hope my vote at General Synod last November will be a reassurance to those opposed to this development, that I want to be a figure of unity on this matter and will ensure there is an honoured place for both positions within the mainstream of the Church of England. Might Blackburn be a model for the rest of the Church of England!”
Another excellent response to the consultation (which has a deadline of today “if possible”) comes from Jonathan Clatworthy.
This is a personal statement but the main points aim to express the theological tradition of Modern Church, which has supported the ordination of women since the 1920s. I support a simple measure which removes the obstacles to the consecration of women on exactly the same terms as men.
The focus is on how to handle the theological disagreements.
No legislation will last long unless it is both self-consistent and theologically coherent. Legislation containing contradictions will fail the test of time, however strong the short-term pressure for fudge.
Currently there is no genuine theological debate between the two sides. This is partly because of the polarisation of views, but also largely because there is no agreement on how to do our theological disagreeing. It is an epistemological issue rather than a theological one…
Press release from Lambeth Palace
Thursday 28th February 2013
Archbishop of Canterbury announces new Chaplain
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of the Reverend Dr Jo Bailey Wells as his new Chaplain, based at Lambeth Palace. Her primary focus will be for the spiritual life at Lambeth Palace and for supporting the Archbishop’s pastoral and liturgical ministry.
Speaking about her new position, Dr Jo Bailey Wells said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be joining Archbishop Justin’s team at Lambeth as he takes on a heavy but exciting mantle. I look forward to supporting him personally and pastorally - above all by praying for his flourishing in that role - and so to facilitating the wider flourishing of God’s people in God’s church.”
The Reverend Dr Jo Bailey Wells was ordained in 1995. Her ministry thus far has focused on nurturing faith, mentoring vocations teaching Old Testament and training leadership - in Cambridge, in the United States and in South Sudan. Previous positions include Dean of Clare College Cambridge and most recently Director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina. She holds degrees from Cambridge, Minnesota and Durham and has written two books, God’s Holy People (Sheffield: 2000) and Isaiah: A Devotional Commentary for Study and Preaching (BRF: 2006).
Speaking about her appointment, the Archbishop said:
“Jo is an outstanding speaker, scholar and pastor, with a very wide experience of the Anglican world. I am delighted that she has been agreed to come and work with me at Lambeth.”
The Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, reported a couple of weeks ago on the reactions to his recent public statements.
Read it all but I particularly liked this bit:
One lay comment sticks in my mind. The gentleman pointed out that a positive sense about homosexuality has been building in British society since the 1920’s. The resulting tsunami arrived in the 1990’s in the fields of education, culture media and sport, public life, the law, the military (in which he had been a senior officer), the police. In each of these areas of national life the overwhelming, when it came, was sudden and, surprisingly, almost entirely benign. The Church had parked itself in a siding in the 1990’s, and everyone else, as he put it, was somewhere round Birmingham by now.
The bishops, I was told, had simply taken the easiest way out — try to agree with everyone as much as possible, make generally safe noises about change, be nice to individual gay people whilst constructing fences against their full acceptance, humour reactionaries under a banner of inclusivity, generally treating past certainties as though they still applied as much as possible. As a military man he could say you cannot run any institution, least of all a Church, on niceness, evasion, pusillanimity, cowardice and hypocrisy. That’s one military view, anyway.
The Diocese of Sheffield has issued this press release: A statement from the Bishop of Sheffield on the Ordination in Kenya of Pete Jackson.
The Bishop of Sheffield today issued the following statement on the Ordination in Kenya of Pete Jackson:
“On Sunday 10th February I received a short note informing me that Pete Jackson had been ordained in Kenya the previous day to serve the Church plant in Walkley in Sheffield. This news was a complete surprise.
“In 2003, Christ Church Fulwood planted a new church, Christ Church Central, in the centre of the city led by the Revd. Tim Davies. Despite extensive discussions, the plant could not be contained within the legal structures of the Church of England.
“The Diocese of Sheffield has a strong commitment to mission, to evangelism and to church planting of all kinds. Shortly after I became Bishop in 2009, I invited the community of Christ Church Central to explore with me the possibility of making a Bishop’s Mission Order to regularize their life once again within the Diocese of Sheffield and the Church of England. After careful consideration, this offer was declined by Christ Church Central because of alleged wider differences between Christ Church Central and the Church of England.
“In 2012, Christ Church Central established a new church plant, Christ Church Walkley, with the support of Christ Church, Fulwood. This new plant was established with no consultation with the Diocese or with St. Mary’s Walkley, the local parish. Although there has been some local contact between St. Mary’s Walkley and the new plant, no-one in the Diocese was given any notification of the plans to ordain Pete Jackson in Kenya on 9th February.
“I will be entering into correspondence in the next few weeks with the various parties involved in the decision to ordain Pete Jackson in this way to explore their motives and reasons for acting in the way that they have. I will also be making contact with the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd. Eliud Wabukala and with Pete himself.
“As a diocese we are particularly concerned to offer our support and prayers to the parish of St. Mary’s Walkley who quite understandably have found these developments unsettling. Bishop Peter will be present with them on Sunday 3rd March. We also hold the Revd. Pete Jackson and Christ Church Walkley in our prayers. We know that neither community will be helped by being the focus of an ongoing wider controversy.
“As a diocese we continue in our commitment to mission, to the making of disciples and to joyful and creative church planting within the order and polity of the Church of England.”
26th February, 2013.
Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has written this excellent response to the Consultation document on women bishops legislation.
David Pocklington has published two articles at Law & Religion UK about the Consultation document on women bishops legislation.
The second includes this comment.
The above analysis suggests that whilst the four propositions developed by the Working Group provide a broad framework within which to proceed, these need to be finessed further to maximize the benefit of the progress achieved to date. This would include.
- more formal declaration of the objectives a) to provide a clearer focus for the group’s work, and b) to give a signal to those outside the group of the expected outcome;
- minimization of “soft law” instruments within the “package” which is developed, which would rely [on] a combination of primary and secondary legislation coming into force at the same time;
- a statement on the expected time-scale, identifying key milestones and reviews of progress.
But do read all of them both.
Anglican Mainstream has published the following press release: Ordination in Kenya of Minister in Anglican Church Plant in Sheffield
In Sheffield, South Yorkshire, statistics show that only 3% of the population regularly attend church. Back in 2002 the leadership team at Christ Church Fulwood were invited by senior diocesan staff to investigate the possibility of church planting, with the aim of sharing the Gospel with people who had moved into the new residential developments in the city centre. Despite extensive discussions, diocesan support for this initiative was withdrawn, but with mission our priority Christ Church Central was “born” in October 2003 as “a church for people who don’t go to church” outside the formal structures of the Church of England.
Nearly 10 years later both parent and daughter churches have continued to grow numerically and partnered one another in mission to the city. An expression of this partnership was the planting of Christ Church Walkley last year, with the initial members drawn from both congregations living in the area. Pete Jackson, who has been one of the associate ministers at Christ Church Central, is the founding minister.
Although recommended by the Reform Panel of Reference and trained at Oakhill Theological College, Pete had not been ordained since Christ Church Central was not part of Sheffield Diocese. Concern that his ministry and that of the new church should be appropriately recognised led us to consult the leadership of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), who subsequently wrote to the GAFCON Primates’ Council with a request that they should facilitate Pete’s ordination.
We are immensely grateful for the leadership of the Archbishop of Kenya, Eliud Wabukala, as chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, and to the Bishop of Kitui, Josephat Mule, who ordained Pete as a deacon in the Anglican Church of Kenya on Saturday 9th February. We see this event as the latest expression of Gospel partnership between the churches in Sheffield and Kenya. Tim Davies’ father was Provost of Nairobi cathedral in the 1970s, Tim was born in Kenya and is himself an honorary canon of All Saints Cathedral Nairobi. Christ Church Central already supports mission partners in Nairobi…
The statement is signed by:
Tim Davies, Senior Minister, and Jane Patterson, Trustee, Christ Church Central
Jane Patterson is a General Synod member from the Diocese of Sheffield and a member of the Crown Nominations Commission.
The Diocese of Sheffield has issued this:
ORDINATION IN KENYA
Reports are now circulating in the public domain of an ordination in Kenya in recent days. The Communications Office was inundated with calls wanting clarification and comment.
+Peter has issued the following statement today:
“The Diocese of Sheffield was made aware last week that Pete Jackson from Christ Church Walkley had been ordained in Kenya on Saturday 9 February 2013. This came as a total surprise as we had no prior knowledge or communication regarding this. We continue to seek further clarification and dialogue with those involved in the ordination at various levels and are taking advice so that we have a comprehensive picture of what took place. This will enable us to reflect further on the developments and their implications.”
(+Peter is the Bishop of Doncaster)
Monday 18th February 2011
Archbishop’s new Director of Reconciliation
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of Canon David Porter as Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace. Canon David will work part time on the Archbishop’s personal staff, seconded by Coventry Cathedral where he remains Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry - bringing first-hand knowledge of the Cathedral’s eminent and longstanding reconciliation work to Lambeth Palace and the wider Church.
The focus of Canon David’s role will be to enable the Church to make a powerful contribution to transforming the often violent conflicts which overshadow the lives of so many people in the world. His initial focus will be on supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
Canon David brings extensive front-line experience in the area of reconciliation having served on the Northern Ireland Civic Forum, chairing its working group on peacebuilding and reconciliation, as well serving as a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council. Since September 2008 David has been the Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral, England. An experienced community relations activist, peacebuilding practitioner and community theologian he has thirty years experience in regional, national and international faith based organisations.
Speaking about his new position, Canon David Porter said:“How we live with our deepest differences both within the Church and our increasingly fractured world, is one of the major challenges to the credibility of Christianity as good news.”“It is a privilege to be asked to take on this responsibility for Archbishop Justin and I look forward to working with him in serving the Church in making reconciliation and peacebuilding a theological and practical priority in its life and witness.”
Speaking about the appointment, Archbishop Justin said:“I am delighted to welcome Canon David Porter, Canon for Reconciliation at Coventry, who will join my personal staff part time as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation. David brings a wealth of experience in reconciliation and peacebuilding from his work in Northern Ireland and through the Community of the Cross of Nails in Coventry. Conflict is an ever present reality both in the Church and wider society. Christians have been at the centre of reconciliation throughout history. We may not have always handled our own conflicts wisely, but it is essential that we work towards demonstrating ways of reducing destructive conflict in our world - and also to setting an example of how to manage conflict within the Church.”
Information about Canon Porter and the Coventry Cathedral Ministry of Reconciliation is below the fold.
Canon David W Porter - Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry
David is Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral. Previously he was co-founder and Director of ECONI (Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland). An experienced community relations activist, peace building practitioner and community theologian, David is honorary Research Fellow in Peace Studies at Coventry University. In 2006 he was Visiting Practitioner Fellow at the Centre for Reconciliation, Duke University Divinity School.
From 2007 until 2011 David was a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council and a trustee of Warwickshire based peace building charity, CORD. In 2007 he was appointed by the British government to the independent Consultative Group on the Past. Chaired by Lord Eames their report to government in 2009 set out proposals for how to deal with the legacy of the troubles in Northern Ireland. In 2000/03, David served on the Northern Ireland Civic Forum, chairing its working group on peace building and reconciliation. He is an honours graduate in Theology from the London School of Theology, with a Masters in Peace Studies from the University of Ulster.
Coventry Cathedral Ministry of Reconciliation
Coventry Cathedral is one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation. Following the destruction of the Cathedral in 1940, Provost Howard made a commitment not to revenge, but to forgiveness and reconciliation with those responsible.
Using a national radio broadcast from the cathedral ruins on Christmas Day 1940 he declared that when the war was over he would work with those who had been enemies ‘to build a kinder, more Christ-child-like world.’
It was this moral and prophetic vision which led to Coventry Cathedral’s development as a world Centre for Reconciliation, which over the years has provided inspiration and support to many Christians addressing ongoing conflict in contemporary society. A major part of this ministry was the establishment of the Community of the Cross of Nails, which today is an international network of over 170 CCN Partners in 35 countries committed to a shared ministry of reconciliation.
The Cathedral’s work for reconciliation has involved it in some of the world’s most difficult and longstanding areas of conflict. Building on this experience we are committed to develop our ministry as a centre for excellence to resource the church in the practical outworking of reconciliation as an integral part of Christian worship, witness and discipleship
On Thursday, a retired priest, who had pleaded guilty last December to various sexual offences, was sentenced to prison, see these news reports:
Chichester Observer BREAKING NEWS: Former priest sentenced for child sex offences
Evening Standard Paedophile priest jailed for 1970s child abuse
This prompted the following official statements:
Archbishop of Canterbury: Statement on the sentencing of Robert Coles
Yesterday, the following news report appeared:
Today Anglican Mainstream has published Press Statement by Bishop Wallace Benn: “No ineptitude on my part and no cover up” originally issued on Friday.
This statement discloses that:
“the Complaint made against me personally under the Clergy Discipline Measure concerning Mr Coles has been dismissed on its merits…”
and the statement gives details of the process by which this happened:
…In March 2012, the Chairman of the Safeguarding Advisory Group, Mr Keith Akerman, and the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor, Mr Colin Perkins, sought to make a complaint against me under the Clergy Discipline Measure, on the basis that it was misconduct for me (1) not to inform the Police directly of what Robert Coles had said, or to direct Mr Reade to do so; and (2) not to inform the Police directly of what I had been told about Robert Coles by the clergyman in another Diocese.
On 18 October 2012, the Archbishop of York concluded, at the preliminary scrutiny stage, that both complaints against me in respect of Robert Coles should be dismissed on the ground that they lacked sufficient substance to proceed.
In reaching that decision in relation to the first complaint, the Archbishop of York emphasised:
The Diocesan Child Protection policy of 1997, which required “any allegation of abuse against a church worker, clerical or lay, or any relevant incident in any way to do with the life of the parish or church organisation, should immediately be referred to the Diocesan Child Protection Advisor.”
The absence of any evidence to show whether Mrs Janet Hind had considered whether the matter should be reported to the Police and, if so, by whom.
The absence of any evidence that I had disregarded advice from Mrs Janet Hind in this matter.
The Diocesan Child Protection policy of 1997 also stated that: “The Diocesan Advisor, if appropriate, will make sure that a referral has been made to the local social services office and will liaise with that department and the police during any child protection investigation.”
I understand that a similar complaint by the same complainants was made against the Right Reverend Nicholas Reade, the recently retired Bishop of Blackburn. I understand that it has also been dismissed.
In reaching his decision in relation to the second complaint, the Archbishop of York concluded that he was satisfied that I “had passed or discussed or shared” the letter from the clergyman in another Diocese with the Child Protection Advisor when I received it. He further concluded that there was no evidence that the Child Protection Advisor advised me to report the letter myself to the Police. The Archbishop of York dismissed the complaint against me on the ground that it lacked sufficient substance to proceed.
On 29 January 2013, the Right Honourable Lord Justice Mummery, sitting as President of Tribunals, dismissed an appeal by Mr Akerman and Mr Perkins against the dismissal of these complaints against me by the Archbishop of York…
There have not been many accounts of the hearings in the media this week, but here are a few:
Ed Thornton Church Times Fittall: gay marriage ‘not on horizon’
John Bingham Telegraph Gay marriage: no opt-out for Christian registrars
David Williamson Wales Online Gay Welsh cleric Jeffrey John gives fierce defence of same-sex marriage
Joseph Patrick McCormick Pink News Dr Jeffrey John: Allowing individual parishes to decide on equal marriage ‘more Christian’
Mark D’Arcy BBC Trench Warfare (and scroll to the bottom for link to his podcast report)
Isabel Hardman Spectator Exclusive: Tory MPs push government for French-style ‘civil union’ weddings
Updated finally on Friday morning
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is now being scrutinised by a Public Bill Committee.
Today was the first day of taking evidence, and those appearing included representatives of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Church in Wales. The second day will be on Thursday.
The evidence sessions can be watched via Parliament TV, at the following locations
Hansard written record of proceedings:
The committee has started to publish memoranda submitted in written evidence. Of particular interest may be this memo from Lord Pannick QC.
Follow this link, and scroll down for others.
Last week the House of Bishops decided to give eight senior women clergy the right to attend their meetings. They stated that the “eight members would be elected regionally from within bishops’ senior staff teams (that include deans, archdeacons and others)”.
This article is an attempt to compile a list of the eligible women.
1) At present there are four women deans.
|Frances Ward||St Edmundsbury|
2) This list of women archdeacons is extracted from Wikepedia. I know of some acting archdeacons omitted from the Wikipedia list, but they are all men. It is possible that some women are also omitted.
|Nicola Sullivan||Wells||Bath & Wells|
|Penny Driver||Westmorland and Furness||Carlisle|
|Jane Sinclair||Stow and Lindsey||Lincoln|
|Joanne Grenfell||Portsdown (designate)||Portsmouth|
|Jane Hedges||Westminster||Royal Peculiar|
|Jane Steen||Southwark (designate)||Southwark|
|Dianna Gwilliams||Southwark (acting)||Southwark|
|Sarah Bullock||York (designate)||York|
|Suzanne Sheriff||York (temporary)||York|
3) It is not clear to me precisely who the “others” will be. Diocesan websites do not usually give a list of the members of the bishop’s senior staff, and the Church of England Year Book never does.
It might be thought that Diocesan Advisors in Women’s Ministry (DAWMs) (listed here) would all be members of the bishops’ senior staff, but I know that this is the case in only some dioceses.
4) Readers are invited to submit (via a comment) the names of any women clergy (other than deans and archdeacons) who are members of their bishop’s senior staff.
Church of England press release: Consultation document issued by working group on women bishops legislation:
08 February 2013
A consultation document setting out a new way forward in enabling women to become bishops in the Church of England has today been sent to all General Synod members.
The document draws on the facilitated conversations arranged by the Working Group on women bishops legislation held earlier this week and the meeting of the House of Bishops on February 7.
The consultation document can be read here. (PDF)
Statement following the meeting of the House of Bishops PR28.13
The facilitation process referred to was set out in PR160.12 on 11 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/statement-from-the-house-of-bishops-on-defeat-of-women-bishops-legislation.aspx
Membership of the working group was set out in PR169.12 on 19 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/working-group-on-new-legislative-proposals-on-women-bishops-announced.aspx
We have made a webpage version of the consultation document available here.
Following yesterday’s decision by the House of Bishops to give eight senior women clergy the right to attend their meetings these reports have appeared in the press.
Madeleine Davies in the Church Times: Women dignitaries to be elected as Bishops’ ‘participant observers’
Sam Jones in The Guardian Church of England’s house of bishops to allow female clergy into meetings
John Bingham in the Telegraph Church of England to give women clerics ‘observer’ status in House of Bishops
WATCH has issued this statement.
WATCH (Women and the Church) welcomes House of Bishops’ Statement
WATCH welcomes yesterday’s statement by the House of Bishops endorsing ‘robust processes and steps’ towards preparing legislation to make women bishops in the Church of England ‘at the earliest possible date’. Any such legislation will need to be unequivocal in its affirmation of women as priests and bishops and provide an institutional environment in which women’s ordained ministry can truly flourish.
The news that eight senior women are to attend the House of Bishops’ meetings is also to be welcomed. The presence of women in this previously all-male group will be very helpful in preparing the House to receive its first female bishops and in the development of new enabling legislation.
The electronic voting results of the House of Laity meeting held on 18 January 2013 are now available. As usual these take the form of a pdf file, arranged by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically.
For convenience I have put the results into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) and added absentees and vacancies. I have also provided a webpage version of the spreadsheet.
A verbatim transcript of the meeting is also available.
07 February 2013
The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today expressed its encouragement and support for new robust processes and steps in bringing forward to General Synod the necessary legislation to consecrate women to the episcopate.
At a special meeting at Lambeth Palace today, the House reviewed the progress to develop proposals to enable women to become bishops at the earliest possible date. The meeting also considered changes to future meetings so as to ensure that eight senior women clergy will be participants in all meetings of the House and its standing committee.
The House was briefed on the two meetings held in January by the working group under the chairmanship of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. All 10 of the members of the working group attended the House of Bishops meeting. The House also received an account of the intensive, facilitated conversations held by the group with 15 others from a wide range of viewpoints on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The House was encouraged to hear of the constructive manner in which everyone had joined together in the search for a way forward. It agreed that the working group should shortly issue a consultation document that would give an outline of the discussions of the past weeks, set out some emerging ideas and provide General Synod members with an opportunity to have an input into that conversation prior to the working group meeting again on 4 March.
The House affirmed the nature of the facilitation process and encouraged opportunities which may be available to extend this process further at a diocesan and regional level. There was also support for the facilitation process to continue in parallel with the fresh proposals that will be brought to General Synod in July.
Following the discussion with the working group, the House went on to consider issues arising from its current all male membership. It decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The intention is that eight members would be elected regionally from within bishops’ senior staff teams (that include deans, archdeacons and others). The necessary change to the House’s Standing Orders will be made in May.
In addition, the House agreed to a special meeting on 19 September when the College of Bishops and a group of senior female clergy will meet to take forward the range of cultural and practical issues about gender and ministry in the Church of England arising from the ‘Transformations’ initiative that was launched at Lambeth in September 2011.
The facilitation process referred to was set out in PR160.12 on 11 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/statement-from-the-house-of-bishops-on-defeat-of-women-bishops-legislation.aspx
Membership of the working group was set out in PR169.12 on 19 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/working-group-on-new-legislative-proposals-on-women-bishops-announced.aspx
Updated again Tuesday morning
The House of Commons committee hearings will commence on 12 February.
The committee is inviting the public to submit written evidence. The closing date is 12 March, but earlier submissions are encouraged.
Amendments are being filed by MPs and updated lists of them will be published regularly. The first set of them is here.
Update 11 February A few more amendments are now here.
Update 12 February Further amendments and a list of witnesses for this week here.
Just before the Second Reading, ResPublica published this “Green Paper” by Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond: Marriage: Union for the future or contract for the present (PDF).
A shorter version of this paper is published at ABC Religion and Ethics under the title Marriage equality or the destruction of difference?
The speech made in the Second Reading debate by Sir Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner, can be found here.
David Pocklington has written at Law & Religion UK an article titled Tenuous European links to same-sex marriage, which deals with claims made elsewhere that recognition of same-sex marriages will become a “European requirement”.
The Guardian has a detailed analysis of the Second Reading vote.
As the intensive facilitated discussions on legislation to allow women to be bishops start today WATCH has published these two articles, from which I have extracted a few key paragraphs.
The issue in front of us is not primarily doctrinal. That hurdle was jumped in the 1970’s and the church has not retreated from its clear commitment that there are no theological principles in our understanding of the tradition preventing women entering holy orders.
The issue is, therefore, fundamentally about the order of the church. The order of the Church of England is that if you are ordained deacon you may be ordained priest after one year and if you are ordained priest you may be ordained Bishop after 6 years and if you are over 30 years of age. Canon C2 sets out the refinements of this. Driving a permanent wedge between the priesthood and the episcopate is destructive of our tradition and order.
That is one of the reasons why the language of reception was used when women were admitted to the priesthood. The experience of this ministry would seal the issue. There can be no doubt that the period is reception is long passed. When the Archbishop Rowan suggested that, in theory, it was possible for the church to reverse its decision to ordain women into the priesthood, he very quickly had to retract. There is no doubt reception time is done.
Within the Church of England defending the rights of some individuals and groups to discriminate against women currently has a high priority and is connected in many minds with upholding freedom and diversity. By contrast witnessing to the equal dignity and worth of women in society has a low priority. It is not a moral imperative for us. Opponents of women’s ministry have worked hard to alter our perceptions in this way, to present gender discrimination as a respectable alternative position within the life of the Church and themselves as victims of intolerance. This reversal of values seems perverse and incomprehensible, even morally repugnant, to those outside the Church.
I voted for the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure last November, having persuaded myself that it was the best of the options available to us. I wanted to respect the views of others and make gracious provision for those who tell us they are struggling with this issue for theological reasons. I particularly wanted to find a way for the Church of England to break out of the current impasse and move forward with the pressing missional task that is before us.
I have come to understand that what I did was wrong. I was supporting a lesser good at the expense of a greater good. We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby became the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury at lunchtime today, when his election was confirmed at a ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Archbishop of York gave this Welcome to Archbishop Justin Welby.
St Paul’s Cathedral has this report of the ceremony, Justin Welby is made Archbishop of Canterbury at St Paul’s, with links to photographs and the order of service.
The Archbishop is now The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby following his appointment to Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.
Following the consecration of Glyn Webster, an election has been held to elect his successor as prolocutor [ie chair] of the lower house [ie clergy] of the Convocation of York.
The Venerable Cherry Vann, the Archdeacon of Rochdale, was elected unopposed.
Amongst other things the prolocutor is an ex officio member of the Archbishops’ Council.
The Church of England has issued this press release: MPs briefed on Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and the Church of England which links to this briefing document (PDF).
The Church of England’s Parliamentary Office has provided a briefing note to MPs on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and the Church of England prior to the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on February 5.
The briefing sets out why the Church of England cannot support the Bill and addresses some of the concerns that have been voiced by MPs about the Bill in relation to the Church of England. These include why specific wording is needed to give the Church of England the same protection as other faith groups and how the devolved legislative powers of the General Synod work.
We have made a webpage version of the briefing note available here.
The summary of the briefing note says:
The Church of England cannot support the Bill, because of its concern for the uncertain and unforeseen consequences for wider society and the common good when marriage is redefined in gender-neutral terms.
This reshaping and unnecessary politicising of a fundamental social institution, which predates church and state, did not feature in party manifestos, was not included in the last Queen’s Speech and has no mandate from the Government’s own consultation exercise. The legislation has also been prepared at great haste and as a result relies on an unacceptably wide use of secondary legislation.
We do not doubt the Government’s good intentions in seeking to leave each church and faith to reach its own view on same sex marriage and including provisions in the Bill to protect them from discrimination challenges. If the Bill proceeds into law it is essential that the various ‘locks’ in the Bill are preserved as drafted. The Church of England, whose clergy solemnize around a quarter of all marriages in England, has sought no more safeguards in substance than those provided for other Churches and faiths.
The Church of England recognises the evident growth in openness to and understanding of same sex relations in wider society. Within the membership of the Church there are a variety of views about the ethics of such relations, with a new appreciation of the need for and value of faithful and committed lifelong relationships recognised by civil partnerships.
Civil partnerships have proved themselves as an important way to address past inequalities faced by LGBT people and already confer the same rights as marriage. To apply uniformity of treatment to objectively different sorts of relationship - as illustrated by the remaining unanswered questions about consummation and adultery- is an unwise way of promoting LGBT equality.
The continuing uncertainty about teachers, the position of others holding traditional views of marriage working in public service delivery, and the risk of challenges to churches in the European courts despite the protections provided, suggest that if the legislation becomes law it will be the focus for a series of continued legal disputes for years to come.
Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times: Women-bishops summit next week. She reports that ““Intensive” facilitated discussions are to be held on Tuseday and Wednesday next week by the working group on women bishops”.
The chair of the working group has sent a statement to all General Synod members (GS Misc 1041), and this is copied below.
GS Misc 1041
Women Bishops: Working Group on new legislative proposals
Please see below a statement which the Chair of the Working Group has asked to be circulated to Synod members.
31 January 2013
Synod members will have seen that, on 11 December, the House of Bishops established a working group drawn from all three Houses of Synod to advise it on the preparation of fresh legislative proposals to be brought before the Synod in July. The Archbishops announced the names of the ten members of the Group on 19 December.
We held our first meeting on 3 January and met again yesterday. At our first meeting we decided to invite 15 people to join us for intensive facilitated discussions on 5/6 February. We sought nominations for some of these places from interested groups and issued some invitations to named individuals.
We thought long and hard about the best arrangements and came to the conclusion that an event of this kind, at which we could do intensive and focused work with the help of outside facilitators, would be what was most productive at this stage of the process.
After our conversations conclude at the end of Wednesday afternoon the Working Group will be meeting the Archbishops and other members of the House of Bishops Standing Committee that evening in preparation for a special meeting of the House of Bishops on Thursday 7 February.
It will be for the House to decide what should happen thereafter in the light of the conversations that have happened. My expectation is that the House will issue a statement and give the working Group a fresh mandate for the next phase of its work. I would also hope that, shortly thereafter, there will be an opportunity to circulate a consultation document enabling all Synod members to make a contribution. Given the timescale to which we are working we shall probably need to seek responses by the end of February.
The ten of us who have been appointed to serve on the Working Group – 4 bishops, 3 clergy and 3 laity – are very conscious of the weight of expectation and responsibility placed on us. Do pray for us and for all those involved in the various discussions during the week of 4 February
+Nigel St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
Justin Welby and his wife were interviewed at the Trent Vineyard Church in Nottingham on Sunday. The church website has this description
John Mumford talks to Archbishop of Canterbury Elect, Justin Welby, and his wife Caroline. They discuss their faith, the ‘journey to Canterbury’, and their hope for the Church.
and there are links to audio and video of the hour-long interview here.
Ed Thornton reports on the interview for the Church Times as Welby told CNC: ‘appointing me would be absurd’.
Exeter and Liverpool therefore join the queue of dioceses (behind Blackburn, Manchester, Durham, and Bath & Wells) awaiting consideration by the Crown Nominations Commission. In addition, if and when reorganisation of the three West Yorkshire dioceses is finally agreed, the new diocese will also have to join the queue. There is only one unallocated slot in the CNC’s programme for 2013, so at least one out of Exeter and Liverpool will have to wait twelve months or more for their new bishop to be chosen, and then probably several more months before he actually takes up his post.
I maintain a list of vacant diocesan sees.
This press release: Free Church of England Orders recognised.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have recognised the Orders of the Free Church of England under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. The Measure gives the Archbishops authority to determine whether the Orders of any Church are ‘recognised and accepted’ by the Church of England.
The recognition of the Orders of the Free Church of England follows approximately three years of contact between the bishops of the Free Church of England, the Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission, which recommended that the Orders of the Free Church of England be recognised. That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops…
Much information about the Free Church of England can be found on its websites:
The following pages may be of particular interest:
One FAQ is this:
Is the Free Church of England an Anglican Church?
The Free Church of England is required by its Constitution to ‘conform to the ancient laws and customs of the Church of England’. Our doctrinal basis, structures, organisation, worship, ministry and ethos are therefore recognisably ‘Anglican’. Anyone coming from an Anglican background would find much that was familiar to him or her – including the layout of our Churches, robes, churchwardens, church councils and the like. Our worship is that of the Book of Common Prayer or conservative modern-language forms that belong to the Anglican tradition.
The Free Church of England is not a member of the Anglican Communion – though the Provinces that make up the Communion are currently re-defining their relationships with each other and with the See of Canterbury. Since the 1870s the Free Church of England has been in full communion with the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States and Canada. The REC is a full member of the recently-formed Anglican Church in North America. The fact that the ACNA has been recognised by some Provinces of the Anglican Communion means that the Free Church of England now stands in some degree of relationship with them, though the precise details have not yet been worked out.
The Rt Rev James Jones has announced that he will retire as Bishop of Liverpool on his 65th birthday in August.
The bishop has released this letter.
The 18 January issue of the Church Times carries an eight-page supplement: “women bishops theological debate” with this introduction:
CLEARING the way for women to be consecrated bishops in the Church of England is unfinished business after the defeat in the General Synod last November. In the pause before the fine detail is discussed yet again, we thought to answer readers’ questions about what exactly were the theological objections. We commissioned four main pieces, for and against women bishops, from Evangelical and Catholic viewpoints (encountering a few refusals along the way). We invited the contributors to consult whom they wished, and most filed in time for us to show the pieces to the others, to allow emendations and additions. There are also a few other pieces we thought illuminating. These are, of course, not definitive. As Edward Dowler suggests in the final piece, there are vaster areas of theological reflection about authority and gender with which the Church ought to engage. But, for the time being, we hope that these pages might provide a useful insight into the most pressing issues in the debate.
There is also this related editorial: An issue of unity,
The nine articles themselves are behind the Church Times paywall and so only available to subscribers. But versions of two are available elsewhere: An Ordinary Radical Event is an extended version of the article by Judy Stowell, and Veni Sancte Spiritus - but please don’t tell us anything we’d rather not hear is an earlier version of that by Edward Dowler.
Rachel Weir, the chair of WATCH, has responded to this CT supplement with Last year’s words belong to last year’s language … And next year’s words await another voice…..
In an eight page feature, nine articles are printed only three of which take a positive line on the ordination of women (and only one is actually written by a woman). Many of the rest seem to assume that having women as priests/leaders in the church is an interesting hypothesis to which they would not themselves subscribe!
There is clear bias of content here but there also seems to be a wilful blindness to the fact that women are already ordained as priests in the Church of England. The theological ‘rightness’ of this reform was decided back in 1975 when General Synod decided that there is ‘no fundamental objection to the ordination of women as priests’ and that decision was enacted in 1994 in the first ordinations.
So why is it that the Church Times is running a series of articles this week that seem to be trying to re-open the debate?
The offense to women clergy is extraordinary. Since 1994, over 5,000 women have been ordained and have served faithfully in ministries throughout the land. Many already exercise considerable authority and ‘headship’. The Church of England simply couldn’t survive without her women priests.
Another response comes from Miranda Threlfall-Holmes who writes about Loyal Anglicans : A historical view.
A few years ago, the Church of England’s General Synod passed a resolution declaring that both those who agree and those who disagree with the ordination of women are ‘loyal Anglicans’.
Since then, this phrase has been repeatedly quoted by those who disagree with women’s ordination. Look here, the argument runs. We are loyal Anglicans - Synod has agreed - and we cannot be called disloyal just because we don’t support the church’s decision to ordain women. You have to let us have everything we feel we need to flourish. Separate bishops. Separate dioceses, preferably, but failing that certainly separate Chrism masses, separate ordination services, separate selection conferences. It isn’t disloyal or separatist to ask for these things, we are assured: how can it be, when we know everyone involved is a ‘loyal Anglican’?
Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the illogicality of basing your argument on a declaration that both sides are loyal, and then using that declaration as an excuse for disowning your opponents as invalid innovators who are not loyal to the inheritance of faith.
Instead, I want to consider the phrase ‘loyal Anglicans’ as a historian. Because from a historical perspective, this phrase ‘loyal Anglicans’ is a very richly evocative phrase.
It is hardly going too far to say that the entire basis of Anglicanism is loyalty. Loyalty to the Crown over the Pope, mainly. And secondly, loyalty to a prescribed way of doing things rather than to our own ideas.
But if Synod’s statements are to be taken as the grounds for argument, there is no getting away from the fact that Synod has said that women can be ordained. That women can and should become bishops, that there are no fundamental theological objections to women’s ordination. And since Synod has declared women can be ordained, there is no grounds for refusing to accept that your (male) bishop is a loyal Anglican, let alone demanding an alternative one with whom you can agree.
We should stop the creeping separation that we have allowed to infiltrate the Church of England since the Act of Synod. Let’s all go to the same Chrism masses, the same ordination services. Let’s enact unity, rather than talking about it. Or let’s stop, please, claiming to be loyal.
Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has published a very helpful summary of the bill in Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill: the published text.
Adam Wagner at the UK Human Rights Blog has written Equal marriage on the way as Bill published.
The Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued this statement opposing the bill.
Maria Miller, the Secretary of State responsible for the bill, appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Today on Friday morning, and the full interview is available here: Maria Miller: Churches ‘free to choose’ on gay marriage.
Colin Coward has commented at Changing Attitude on the CofE’s official statement in Church of England’s attitude to civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.
Ed Thornton reported for the Church Times that Stevens holds line as Government publishes same-sex marriage Bill.
David Hope, the former Archbishop of York preached at yesterday’s consecration of Glyn Webster as the Bishop of Beverley. The full text of his sermon is online here.
Minster FM has a report of the sermon - Former Archbishop of York Attacks Church Bureaucracy - but there is much more in the sermon than that so do read the full text.
There are photographs of the consecration here, although they are muddled up with ones of the announcement of the appointment last August.
The Church in Wales has issued this: Marriage (Same Sex Couples ) Bill - A statement:
Marriage (Same Sex Couples ) Bill - A statement
25 January 2013
Since the Statement to Parliament by the Minister for Women and Equalities on 11 December 2012, the Government has worked to understand and accommodate the position of the Church in Wales in its equal marriage Bill. As a disestablished church with a legal duty to marry the Church in Wales is uniquely placed. The Bill provides protection for the Church whilst still enabling it to make its own decision on same-sex marriage.
Under the Bill, the duty of Church in Wales ministers to marry will not be extended to same-sex couples. However, should the Church’s Governing Body decide in the future that the Church wishes to conduct such marriages, there is provision in the Bill for the law to be altered without the need for further primary legislation by Parliament. Instead, a resolution from the Church’s Governing Body would trigger an order by the Lord Chancellor for the necessary legal changes to be made.
The Church of England has issued this: Bishop of Leicester responds to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill:
25 January 2013
The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, has today made the following statement on the publication of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
“I am grateful to the Secretary of State and her officials for the constructive way in which they have consulted with the Church on the issue of effective legal safeguards. I acknowledge the progress made on that front, and the commitment of the Government to ensuring that the churches concerns are properly accommodated in the draft legislation. As we have repeatedly made clear to officials, we regret that more time has not been made available before publication of the Bill to give every detail the attention it deserves. We will wish to comment further when we have had the opportunity to examine the provisions in the Bill more closely.
“The Church of England however continues to hold the view, set out in doctrine and Canon law, that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. It is a social institution that predates both church and state and has been part of the glue that has bound countless successive societies together. I welcome the opportunity that civil partnerships have given to enable same sex couples to mark and celebrate their commitment to each other. Further, I recognise that there is a range of views amongst the membership of the Church of England. I do not however believe that holding to a traditional understanding of marriage is, or should be, regarded as a discriminatory position.
“Many principled and practical concerns about legislating to redefine marriage were set out in the Church of England’s submission to the Government consultation in June 2012. For the Church of England, in common with other denominations and faiths, one central test of this Bill is whether it will preserve and guarantee religious practice and religious conscience. We recognise that the Government has sought hard to do so in the drafting, but as the legislative process continues we shall wish to press serious questions about the implications for wider society, for the significance of procreation and upbringing of children as part of the purpose of marriage, the effect on teaching in schools, and the work of chaplains and others with religious convictions who are involved in public service delivery.
“We have also continued to raise questions about whether it is wise or appropriate to legislate at speed on a matter of such fundamental importance to society, when the proposal was not in any major party manifesto, the Coalition Agreement or the last Queen’s Speech. The lack of a clear mandate and the absence of an overwhelming public consensus for change ought at least to give pause for thought.”
The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, answered several questions in the House of Commons yesterday, including these on women bishops and the related topic of how representative is the House of Laity.
Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What assessment he has made of whether the informal discussions amongst General Synod members in February 2013 will lead to significant progress on enabling women to become bishops.
Sir Tony Baldry: I refer the hon. Lady to the letter from the secretary-general of the General Synod, which was placed in the Library of the House on 19 December. I understand that the working group established by the House of Bishops had a good first meeting on 3 January. It meets again next Wednesday. The facilitated discussions in early February will be followed immediately by a further meeting of the House of Bishops. I know that all concerned understand the urgency of the situation.
Diana Johnson: But does the hon. Gentleman accept that the document that was produced and put in the House of Commons Library shows no acceleration of the usual glacial way in which the Church of England operates? Does he also accept that in 2015 we could still find ourselves dealing with an unrepresentative laity stopping the Measure? Surely we can do more something more quickly.
Sir Tony Baldry: The hon. Lady is being uncharacteristically uncharitable. Anyone present at the meeting in the Moses Room with the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate would have been left in absolutely no doubt that the Church is determined to take the matter forward with all due speed and diligence. A working group was set up immediately and facilitated discussions will take place next week. It is important to try, as quickly as possible, to find a way forward that enables fresh legislation to be brought before the General Synod in July.
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): What steps are being considered within the Church of England as to how the House of Laity may be made more representative of church congregations.
Sir Tony Baldry: Last year, the Synod voted to explore alternatives to the present system under which the House of Laity is elected by deanery synod members. I understand that the report, with options for change, will be discussed by the synod at one of its meetings this year.
Martin Vickers: I thank the Church Commissioner for that reply. The unrepresentative nature of the House of Laity is clearly holding the Church back, involving it in interminable, internal debates. Very few congregations are aware of the process of election and very few members of congregations get involved in election. Will he use his good offices to ensure that, as a matter of urgency, new proposals are brought forward?
Sir Tony Baldry: I think my hon. Friend’s comments will be shared by many throughout the Church, which is why it is exploring alternatives to the present system under which the House of Laity is elected by deanery synod members. I am sure that the comments my hon. Friend makes will be borne in mind when that report comes to be debated later this year.
Marriage (Same Sex Couples)
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Secretary Maria Miller, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Theresa May, Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary Eric Pickles, Hugh Robertson, Lynne Featherstone, Mrs Helen Grant and Jo Swinson, presented a Bill to make provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales, about gender change by married persons and civil partners, about consular functions in relation to marriage, for the marriage of armed forces personnel overseas, and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 126) with explanatory notes (Bill 126-EN).
The Leader of the House of Commons announced that the Second Reading (first stage of actual debate) of the bill will take place on 5 February.
The text of the bill, and an explanatory note, are available here.
The impact assessment is also linked from that page.
Meanwhile, some news reports and comment:
Yesterday was also one of the days for Questions to be asked of the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry. In relation to this topic, and on the related topic of Civil Partnerships, here is what he said:
Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): What recent representations he has received on the implications of same-sex marriage for the Church.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The Church has had a series of discussions with the Government Equalities Office and officials over the past few weeks regarding the drafting of the Government’s Bill. There have also been meetings between senior Church representatives and the Secretary of State.
The Church of England’s position on the issues of principle were set out clearly in the published submission from the two archbishops last June. I understand that the Bill is to be published later today, and I would prefer to defer any further comment on the detailed drafting of it until Second Reading, which I understand will be soon.
Miss McIntosh: I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Will he give an indication of the timetable that the Church would need in order to implement the rather complicated system envisaged in the Bill?
Sir Tony Baldry: That will depend largely on the timetable set out in the Bill, and my hon. Friend gives me the opportunity to clarify one important point. The Church of England is not asking for any special treatment or protection under this legislation; the issue is simply that the Bill should be drafted to ensure that the Church of England has the same freedoms as all other Churches and denominations to decide these matters for itself, and that, of course, must reflect the unique legal position of the Church of England.
Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): Speaking as someone who had a heterosexual marriage celebrated and registered in church, I hope that the Church Commissioners will explain to Colin Hart, the self-appointed campaign director of the so-called Coalition for Marriage, that having unity and diversity is a good idea, and that nobody in the Church of England ought to be worried about same-sex couples having the same opportunities of marrying as those of the opposite sex.
Sir Tony Baldry: These are issues that we will each have to address on a free vote on the Bill’s Second Reading, which I understand will take place soon. It may be for the convenience of the House if I give a brief summary of the submissions made by both archbishops in response to the Government’s earlier consultation, so that there is no ambiguity about the Church of England’s position. In their summary, the two archbishops said:
“The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable ‘all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.’ Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history…To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships. We also believe that imposing for essentially ideological reasons a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage would be deeply unwise.”
And here on Civil partnerships:
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What the policy of the Church of England is on celebrating civil partnerships.
Sir Tony Baldry: The Church of England’s position remains as set out in the House of Bishops pastoral statement of July 2005. A working group chaired by the former Northern Ireland Office permanent secretary, Sir Joseph Pilling, is reviewing the Church’s approach to sexuality more generally and will submit a report to the House of Bishops by the end of this year. A private member’s motion seeking to authorise the registration of civil partnerships in Church of England churches is due for discussion in the General Synod in due course.
Mr Bradshaw: As the hon. Gentleman will know, a number of senior Church of England bishops have, in the context of the debate on same-sex marriage, expressed their support for civil partnerships, but would the Church of England’s opposition to same-sex marriage, and the distinction it tries to draw, be more credible and have more authority if it allowed Church of England parishes that want to conduct civil partnerships to do so?
Sir Tony Baldry: The right hon. Gentleman makes his point well. Given the sensitivity of the issue, the most sensible thing for me to do is to ensure that his comments and those of any other right hon. and hon. Members are drawn to the attention of Sir Joseph Pilling.
Enough Food for Everyone If is a national campaign, launched today, involving 100 organisations that have come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger. The Church of England is a member of the campaign and has issued this press release about its involvement.
In today’s age of plenty there is no reason why anyone should go without, IF ….
23 January 2013
The Bishops of Hereford and Derby today challenge governments, companies and citizens to take the necessary steps to reduce the millions currently going hungry, as a coalition 100 organisations come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger - IF.
Speaking as the Lead Bishop on rural issues, the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, said: “Today, the world produces enough food to feed all seven billion of its inhabitants, but nearly one billion still go without. The growing levels of food insecurity in an age of plenty challenge the Gospel message of abundant life.”
Bishop Anthony continues: “As a Church we are called upon both to feed the hungry and to expose and eradicate the causes of debilitating hunger. This year’s IF campaign provides us all with an opportunity to cast a spotlight on our broken food system and to press governments, companies and citizens to take the necessary steps to reduce the millions currently going hungry.”
In a podcast released to mark the launch of the IF campaign, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, who will be speaking at the campaign launch, said: “IF is a very small word but it can have enormous consequences and this campaign asks all of us to use the word ‘IF’ for ourselves - our spending, our resources, our praying, our hopes for a better world in 2013.”
Bishop Alastair continues: “It’s a national campaign, an international campaign, drawing people together - IF. IF we can join together then many more people can be lifted out of hunger. Let all of us hear that word: “If you wanted to, you could help me more.” And let each of our hearts reflect on that word: “If we tried harder we could make a huge difference.” And that’s what this year of 2013 is all about and what our endeavours are about as we join with others for this campaign.”
The Church of England is a member of ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF. This is a national campaign involving 100 organisations that have come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger. For more about the campaign and its launch please visit the campaign website at www.enoughfoodif.org.
The Church of England will be using the UK Presidency of the G8 to focus on two key concerns: hunger and sexual violence in conflict. To learn more about the Church’s work in both these areas please visit this website.
The Bishop of Derby’s podcast can be found at this link.
The following press release has been received:
22 January 2013
Lancashire clergy write to the Archbishop of York
Over fifty clergy from the Diocese of Blackburn have written to the Archbishop of York, urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain women as priests, and fully affirm their ministry.
The letter was co-ordinated by the Vicar of Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, and has been signed by fifty-five clergy from across the diocese who are keen to see a supporter of women’s ministry appointed as Diocesan Bishop.
Mr Newlands said, “Many churches across the diocese have been greatly enriched by the ministry of women, and we believe that to fulfil his calling as a focus of unity, the next Bishop of Blackburn should affirm the ministry of all the priests in the diocese who hold his licence.”
The Crown Nominations Commission will be meeting at the end of January to choose the name that will be submitted to the Queen who formally makes the appointment. An announcement is expected within the next weeks.
The last two diocesan bishops have not accepted the ordination of women as priests and the signatories to the letter have urged the Archbishop and members of the Crown Nominations Commission to ensure that the 9th Bishop of Blackburn is a supporter of the ministry of women priests in the church.
For further information please contact:
The Revd Chris Newlands, Lancaster Priory.
The first meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission for the See of Blackburn was held on 10 January. The second meeting is due to be held on 30/31 January.
The Government’s Succession to the Crown Bill will receive its second Reading and complete its remaining stages in the House of Commons today (Tuesday 22 January 2013).
The Church of England has issued this briefing for MPs welcoming or agreeing to all the clauses in the bill, and to the way in which it is being fast-tracked.
Law & Religion UK has published a second article by Dr Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit: Succession to the Crown Bill: possible untoward effects?
Amongst other things the article considers the fears expressed by some people that the clause in the bill allowing heirs to marry Catholics without disqualification would somehow open up the Crown to Roman Catholics. But Morris writes
The Bill does not disturb the requirements that no Catholic may succeed, that the heir must be in communion with the Church of England, must make a declaration on accession that swears fidelity to the Protestant faith, and must swear at coronation to uphold the Church of England. It is therefore the case that heirs who become Catholics are still barred from the throne.
The Church of England website has this press release about this afternoon’s debate.
House of Laity rejects vote of no confidence
18 January 2013
The House of Laity, meeting in Church House, Westminster today, rejected a motion of no confidence in its Chair, Dr Philip Giddings, with 47 voting for the motion and 80 voting against.
The motion was brought by Mr Stephen Barney, a lay canon of Leicester Cathedral, who said he had lost confidence in Dr Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity following Dr Giddings’ speech in the debate on women bishops legislation in November. In a letter to all members of the House of Laity before the debate, Mr Barney said, “Whatever we decide, I hope it will contribute to resolving this issue in the long term, for the flourishing of all.”
After the vote, Dr Giddings told the House: “Mr Chairman I am grateful for that vote of confidence but I need to, in a sense, take my medicine. There are clearly a substantial minority of the House who do not have confidence in me. I intend to continue in office but I shall take careful advice from colleagues about how we proceed from here. And in particular I think we need to have some kind of debate about what are the expectations of chair and vice chair in matters of this kind. I hope and pray that we can now put this behind us and the temperature can be lowered and that we can seek to work together for the sake of God’s mission to this country.”
There are several online press reports of the debate.
Madeleine Davies and Ed Thornton in the Church Times House of Laity bid to oust Giddings fails
Sam Jones in The Guardian Female bishops: house of laity chair survives no-confidence vote
Lauren Turner in The Independent Women bishops: Church leader Dr Philip Giddings wins confidence vote
John Bingham in The Telegraph Spectre of gay bishops feud returns amid Church debate on women
Matthew Davies of Episcopal News Service England’s laity rejects ‘no confidence’ vote in their chair
Christian Today Church of England: Philip Giddings survives lay vote
Andrew Brown of The Guardian has this comment: God’s hand in General Synod politics.
The motion before the House was:
That this House have no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of this House.
Immediately before the vote was due to be taken, a motion to pass to next business (and thereby cancel the vote on the main motion) was moved, but overwhelmingly lost.
The main motion was defeated with 47 votes in favour, 80 votes against and 13 recorded.
After the debate Dr Giddings said that he would continue in office, but that there was a need for a debate on the role of the chair of the house.
The Anglican Mainstream website carries this editorial (reprinted from New Directions): Special meeting of the House of Laity. It starts:
We are appalled by the news that there is to be a special meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod to have a vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings. Dr Giddings spoke up for proper and fair provision for those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate. He has been accused of impartiality, a charge not levied against those leaders in other Houses who spoke out firmly in favour of the legislation and indeed in one case against any provision whatsoever for us.
and later continues:
In response to Bishop Jonathan Baker’s fine reflection on the vote in synod the website ‘Thinking Anglicans’ has been awash with misconceptions and in some cases simple untruths. Many commentators have become fixated with the idea that there is a See of Ebbsfleet. Given that Ebbsfleet is a suffragan see of the Archbishop of Canterbury and on the official advert declaring a vacancy in the see it was called the See of Ebbsfleet, one wonders why people are getting so irate. It is of course because they dislike what the See of Ebbsfleet and indeed the other Catholic sees stand for. They dislike the sense of coherence around a bishop that has grown up in our constituency. They cannot understand the world in which we operate, supporting one another and meeting together, because we share a common faith and a common vision. [emphasis added]
Unlike the Anglican Mainstream website, we are open for comments.
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK looks ahead to tomorrow’s meeting with these Questions for the House of Laity (and the Church), and suggests that members of the House of Laity might ponder the following:
But do read the whole article.
As Friday’s meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod approaches with its motion of no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of the House, James Townsend looks ahead to the meeting with Philip Giddings – the mood of the House is yet to settle.
Townsend is a lay member of Synod from the diocese of Manchester. He predicts “a reasonably high turnout of between 75% and 79%”, and his soundings suggest that the voting on the no confidence motion will be close.
Anglican Mainstream has published House of Laity Meeting on Friday January 18 with views from Bishop Jonathan Baker, Canon Stephen Barney, Peter Ould, Tom Sutcliffe and Stephen Trott.
The Anglican Church in North America included this comment in its latest Communique:
We noted the communication of the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) concerning the recent decision of the House of Bishops in the Church of England to allow those in civil partnerships to be eligible to serve as bishops. This impacts both the doctrine of marriage and that of episcopacy. The Nigerian bishops wrote:
When the Church of England failed to exercise its legal and moral right to opt out of the civil partnerships legislation in 2005 warnings were given in England and around the Anglican Communion that this was a first step towards the recognition and institutionalization of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10. Sadly those warnings were ignored and we now face the next step in a process that could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion….
As a House of Bishops, while we acknowledge that we all fall short of God’s call to holiness, we dare not compromise the clear teaching of our Lord on faithfulness within Holy Matrimony and chastity outside of it. Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.
The College agreed with the principle articulated in the Windsor Report that “what affects the communion of all should be decided by all.” The experience in North America has been that that the theological departures from historic Anglican norms have brought devastating consequences. The admonishment from the Nigerian Bishops will, if heeded, avoid further anguish.
A statement has been issued from the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion:
We, Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, are deeply concerned and worried by the recent decision of the Church of England’s House of Bishops which approves that clergy livingin civil partnerships can be candidates to the episcopate.There is already an ambiguity regarding civil partnerships per se. We learnt that most civil partnerships, according to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, take place among the most sexually active age group. In addition dissolutions of civil partnerships are now increasing especially in the last few years. This puts into question the motives behind this civil partnership and adds to our confusion in the Global South.
When the Church of England allowed civil partnerships in 2005, they said that “The House of Bishops does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that therelationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.” Now, with allowing candidates for episcopacy to do the same, to whom should they give assurances? Clarification on this point is needed.
Sadly, both the decision to permit clergy to enter civil partnerships and this latest decision which some call it a “local option,” are wrong and were taken without prior consultation or consensus with the rest of the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is still facing major challenges of disunity. It is contrary to “the inter-dependence” which we try to affirm betweenchurches within the Communion. Moreover, it does not only widen the gap between the Church of England and Anglicans in the Global South, it also widens the gap between the Anglican Communion and our ecumenical partners. Further, it jeopardizes the relationship between us Anglicans living in the Global South and followers of other faiths, and gives opportunities to exploit such departure of moral standards that this type of decision may provide.
The Church, more than any time before, needs to stand firm for the faith once received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles and not yield to the pressures of the society! In other words, the Church needs to be “salt” and “light” and to present a distinctive message from that of the secular world around us.
We strongly urge the Church of England to reconsider this divisive decision.
+ Mouneer Egypt
The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee
The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh
Primate of All Nigeria Bishop of Abuja
Vice-Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee
++ Ian Maritius
The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee
The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok
Primate of South East Asia Bishop of Kuching
Hon. General Treasurer, Global South Primates Steering Committee
++ Stephen Yangon
The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo
Primate of Myanmar Bishop of Yangon
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee
The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala
Primate of Kenya Bishop of Nairobi
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee
The Most Revd Bernard Nhatori
Primate of Burundi Bishop of Matana
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee
The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala
Primate of the Southern Cone Bishop of Chile
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee
The Most Revd Kahwa Henri Isingoma
Primate of Congo Bishop of Kinshasa
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee
Madeleine Davies in the Church Times looks ahead to next week’s meeting of the General Synod’s House of Laity with Lay rebel explains his Giddings challenge.
Another letter to members of the House of Laity about next week’s meeting has reached us; this time from Tony Berry, a lay member from Chester diocese.
Dear Fellow member of Synod;
We are to debate a motion of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at our meeting on the 18th of January.
There appear to be three areas of concern; Leadership, Representation and Accountability. The debate on the Women Bishops measure provides a kind of critical incident through which these may be viewed. The comments below follow the three issues.
It may be that the chair of the House of Laity is not expected to be a leader or to exhibit leadership. In the debate the chair (having as I understand it) voted in July 2010 for the clause defining the principle of provision by delegation (itself carried by 393 to14) and voted to send the measure to the dioceses, then chose to be led by the minority in speaking and voting against the measure. This after the measure had had a ringing endorsement from the dioceses and the support of more than 2/3 of lay people.
In his speech he (three times) used the phrase “there must be a better way” without giving any indication of what he might have had in mind. It would have been an act of leadership (given the lay votes in the dioceses to at least given some indication of what a better way might be. Instead there was emptiness, an emptiness that was widely shared.
[continued below the fold]
However the opponents of the WB measure appeared to have had a common rubric for the debate; “This is not about women Bishops, it is about the provision, there must be a better way”. So far from the lay chair speaking as an individual he was it appears party to an organised process to wish for a better way but to have no idea (or no idea to be admitted) of what that might be. Note that the provision only exists because of the objections to women bishops so the provision has everything to do with women bishops. In this respect the lay chair ignored the other Bishops’ amendment which distinguished between delegation of institutional authority (surely the church has this authority) and the derivation of orders. This amendment did underscore the provision in the measure by making it clear that the Episcopal orders are not delegated.
It may be the case that the lay chair and others thought that by using their blocking minority in the house that they could persuade the new archbishop to change the measure for them. The lay chair appears to be seeking “provision” that would see other lay people in parishes being denied the Episcopal and priestly ministry of women when in parishes that joyfully accept women’s ordained ministry all male orders are welcome; doubtless you will have your own views on the fairness of this.
The lay chair spoke of the “unchurching” of some objectors if the measure was passed. This is an old ploy, to threaten, to choose to be a victim and to then blame others for the self imposed condition. So he was prepared to lay down 3,500 serving women priests for the sake of his friends. And incidentally just because Paul lived in a sexist culture we do not and there is no reason why we should and certainly no reason to subject women to male dominance.
The lay chair appeared to accept the argument that as men may be or are the head of a household so men should exercise headship in the church. This weak argument by analogy rests upon socially constructed gendered roles. There is a stronger argument by analogy which is; to participate in God’s creation of human beings is the most wonderful thing we humans can do. To create humans requires the product of the male testes and the female ovaries to be brought together in an act of mutuality (the woman is not a mere receptacle). This mutuality, the wonderful jointness of creation, provides a splendid analogy for the mutuality and sharing in family, social and church life where we could celebrate mutual dependence and not use trivial ideas of male dominated complementarity. Again in our culture most marriages are partnerships of equals and the idea of male headship in marriage is rather quaint. And it is not surprising that the decision caused by the blocking minority of our house produced such widespread consternation in the dioceses and parishes together with incredulity bordering upon contempt in the country in which our church is supposed to be the national church.
The lay chair did not comment upon the odd and questionable role of lay evangelical women in the debate and in the vote. Here we had examples of such synod members exercising headship in the church (when they argue that women should not do so) and exercising that headship in order to deny that women should exercise headship. The lay chair might have noted this anomaly and asked such women not to vote at all as even to register an abstention was to exercise headship. At the time of the suffragette movement there was a general view that significant numbers of women did not want the vote, it seemed odd to them then to have the vote, it does not now. Very few women do not exercise their right to vote now as a matter of principal.
The lay chair asked that no decision be taken without consensus. Well if he believed that he would not have been party to any contested election in the church. But after twenty years of women priests and nearing ten years of debate on women bishops it was clear enough that his statement regarding consensus was just a kind of resistance tactic, a desperate seeking of avoidance of decision; an abdication of leadership. And let us remember that in July 2010 General Synod had not accepted the third province (a non runner), had rejected separate dioceses and automatic transfer by almost 2/3 majorities, had (just) rejected co jurisdiction but to the extent that it would never have attained a 2/3 support. Also note please that co jurisdiction would have had a women bishop in co jurisdiction with a male who did not accept that she had any jurisdiction; just how many insults do women have to bear?
The lay chair knew as did we all of Tom Sutcliffe’s letter in which Tom wrote that those who claim that the “measure makes provision” were lying. Note that Tom did not qualify the word provision. Any lay chair in a role of leadership must have taken up this issue in the debate for to let it go by was to accept unacceptable behaviour in the house of laity. Before the November meeting of Synod I took the matter up with the clerk to the synod and he referred it to the lawyers, but unlike parliament we have no rules about accusing others of lying so nothing could be done.
It could be said that in going against the expressed wishes of the lay people in the dioceses the lay chair was being brave; well maybe. But it was the act of following the objectors and not leading on behalf of the laity that was the failure of leadership. He noted that he had voted for women priests’ measure as there was the parallel Act of Synod to be brought forward at a later date.
So the whole church now knows that far from representing the house of laity the current lay chair represents only a small section of it. Now by virtue of office the lay chair sits on various bodies including the Group of Six which decided whether the revised measure brought to Synod would have to be referred to the dioceses. It would be useful to know how the lay chair and the lay vice chair voted on this matter as it would clarify their positions; surely it is not enough to hide behind a cloak of confidentiality on such a crucial issue. However in all of these other roles and settings every other person will now know, if they did not know previously, that the current lay chair is not their point of reference for the views of the house of laity. In this critical incident of the debate on the WB measure the current lay chair has lost credibility in role with the great majority of the laity in the church and has lost credibility in other roles as well. He is in office but not in authority. As this becomes clearer the current lay chair whatever the vote on the 18th may well need to consider his position.
The lay chair spoke of the need to have diversity and difference acknowledged and respected; that is true enough for us all. However when slavery was abolished there were no special provisions for those who wished it to continue because to continue slavery would be to legitimise a continuing domination of the enslaved, even where deep acculturation had so accustomed some to slave hood that they wished it to continue. It would also permit the cruelty and corruption of the slave owners to continue. There is a sense in which no provisions should be made for those who wish for whatever reasons they might advance wish to continue in the church the domination of women by men with or without the connivance of other women. A university teacher can hardly claim innocence in the history of female emancipation.
You may agree, as do I, that the lay chair has a right to his opinions. But in most other walks of life to stand so determinedly against the prevailing well argued and agreed position of the great majority of lay people would mean a speech from the back benches following a resignation. That would have been a very honourable position to take. It would have underlined that idea that the lay chair is accountable to the electorate for his actions.
Now you may see the meeting on the 18th as unnecessary, unfortunate, and expensive. Some members have reported that they will not attend. There are two ways to avoid the expense, a withdrawal of the motion of no confidence or the resignation of the current lay chair.
Clearly this motion of no confidence raises significant considerations in respect of Leadership, Representation and of Accountability. These are serious matters, not to be dismissed lightly, not to be laughed off as the action of the winners of the great and long standing church debate about women bishops, surely not to be ignored as bad manners or decided upon “party” lines. So let us have a proper debate about these issues.
Ed Thornton in the Church Times has this report: Civil partnerships: ‘We should have shown workings’.
…Speaking on Monday, Bishop Paterson said that the group - whose other members were the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher - had produced a 20-page report for the House of Bishops in May last year.
The group’s report examined three questions: should the moratorium be maintained or not? If not, should there be any additional requirements made of candidates for the episcopate that would not be made of those seeking a parish appointment? If so, what should those additional requirements be?
Bishop Paterson said that although the group “did make a proposal”, he could not say what it was. In addition, it had assumed that it would be asked to produce a final report. In May, however, the House of Bishops standing committee took over responsibility for the review.
The standing committee produced a shorter document, which was discussed by the Bishops when they met in December at Lambeth Palace. The Bishops issued a paragraph, included in a summary of decisions, on 20 December, which “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.
Bishop Paterson said: “It is fair to say that what came out at the end did not represent the fairly considerable amount of work by our group and the standing committee. But something had to be said by the end of the year, because it had been promised…”
News from Canterbury
The link (a 3 MB pdf file) also includes photographs.
TO ALL AND SINGULAR CHRISTIAN PEOPLE whom the underwritten shall or may in any way concern ROBERT ANDREW WILLIS DL, DCL, DD DEAN of the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ Canterbury GREETING in the Lord Everlasting
WE DO MAKE IT KNOWN to you universally by these presents that the See of Canterbury being vacant by the resignation of The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas Williams late Archbishop and Pastor thereof We the College of Canons aforesaid by virtue and authority of The Queen’s Licence granted to us for the Electing another Archbishop and Pastor of the said Church assembled together in our Cathedral on this Tenth day of January in the year of Our Lord Two thousand and thirteen and making a College of Canons there and observing the Laws and Statutes of this Kingdom and the ancient customs of the Cathedral Church in this behalf to be observed did elect THE RIGHT REVEREND JUSTIN PORTAL WELBY, Master of Arts, by Divine Permission Lord Bishop of Durham, to be Archbishop and Pastor of the said Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ Canterbury
[signed] Robert Willis
Readers are referred to the Appointment Of Bishops Act 1533 for the background to this news. They may also find this press release from Lambeth Palace helpful: Bishop Justin now Archbishop of Canterbury Elect.
Archbishop Cranmer has written on his blog an article entitled The revenge of the liberal laity. In it he quotes the full text of a letter from Gavin Oldham, a lay General Synod member from the diocese of Oxford. In it Oldham explains why he will be voting for the vote of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at the meeting of the House next week.
Here is the letter.
Dear friends in Christ,
On 18 January the House will be debating a ‘No Confidence’ motion in its Chair, a motion which has arisen directly from the General Synod debate on women bishops in November. I have given my support to the motion being debated, and it is my intention to support the motion on the day unless by the grace of God there is clear evidence of change.
I owe it to my friends in the House who voted against the women bishops’ legislation to explain why I have given my support, and how my views have changed since that day in November. Let me first explain that I have been a member of the General Synod since 1995 representing Oxford diocese: as does Philip Giddings, who I have been fortunate to regard as a friend over these last 17 years. I am also a member of EGGS, as he is and, although I have been a consistent supporter of women bishops, I regard myself very much as an Evangelical, albeit one who places a high importance on the place of reason alongside scripture and tradition.
This is not in any respect a personal issue.
[continued below the fold]
Over the past years my position on women bishops has been to support the maximum provision for those who have found it difficult to accept the change, consistent with the solution being convergent for the Church as opposed to divergent. I explained this position in July 2012 at the meeting of the House which took place before General Synod. I have never been prepared to contemplate a solution which could evolve into a schism.
However my position has hardened considerably since the November debate, as I have come to realise that it is the destructive ideology of male headship which lies at the root of our problems.
Our deadlock over women bishops has, of course, resulted from a combination of Anglo-Catholic and conservative Evangelical opposition. The Anglo-Catholics naturally look to Rome for a lead, and while Rome might prefer to see a clear resolution of the matter within the Church of England, it is not about to give that lead.
However it is the concept of male headship, espoused by many of my Evangelical friends as theology, which presents the major problem: as was clear from speech after speech during our debate. For while valid questions may have been asked about the representative quality of the House of Laity in the General Synod, the Church should – and does – acknowledge the vibrancy and growth of Evangelical churches which have so much to offer. This vibrancy is not dependent on the adoption of male headship ideology by conservative Evangelicals, but on the working of the Holy Spirit through people of faith.
I have come to realise since the November debate that male headship is to be seen alongside a number of similar major historical issues where prejudice and discrimination have been justified by selected biblical references. These include slavery, national socialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Male headship has its roots in the same soil of prejudice and discrimination. It is another elitist creed which, in my view, has no place in the Church of England, nor indeed in the Christian faith.
It may be helpful to consider these selected biblical references through the filter of the two great commandments from which hang all the law and the prophets. For example, how can a man who is a male headship advocate claim to ‘love his neighbour as himself’ if he is not prepared to accept that she can carry the same roles within the church? Obviously it can’t be ‘as himself’, or perhaps he is denying that women are his neighbours by virtue of their gender? I don’t think Jesus was making that distinction.
The Bishop of Liverpool spoke clearly in the debate setting out how he had come to understand St. Paul’s teaching, and why it should not be used as a prop for male headship ideology. The bishops are the seat of theology within the Church, and I do feel that conservative Evangelicals should listen carefully to, and be prepared to accept, what they say.
The ideology of male headship has come to have assumed the status of doctrine, but even doctrine is shown as capable of change from a biblical perspective. St Peter was clearly of the doctrinal view that the Gospel was meant only for the Jews, and yet his vision at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10) made clear that he must change. And thank God that he did, because otherwise we would not have the opportunity to receive Christ’s salvation today.
So I have come to realise that male headship ideology must be confronted and not appeased, just in the same way that St. Peter confronted his erstwhile interpretation that the Christian faith was reserved for the Jews. Male headship is simply the latest in a long line of elitist creeds, and it is time to consign it to history, as with the others.
Finally, let me say again that the 18 January debate is not personal: it is about the integrity of the House of Laity. Nobody will be more delighted than me to see Philip being prepared to encourage Evangelicals to pursue their zeal for Christ unencumbered with elitist ideology. With best wishes
Updated 4.15 pm
The Bishop of Salisbury has issued this statement: The Church of England and the criterion for episcopacy.
…The other, chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, considered the implications of civil partnerships in relation to the episcopate, something which had not been dealt with explicitly in the pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005.
In December the House of Bishops confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.
This information has been available since the Summary of Decisions of the House of Bishops was posted on 18th December. It is good deal less dramatic than has been presented in the media in the last few days.
It might be helpful to note that other criteria are also used in the selection of bishops. The substance of this is contained in the service for the ordination and consecration of bishops…
Church Society has issued this press release:
Civil Partnerships and Christian Leadership
The church is open to all people, whatever their sexual orientation, to respond to Jesus’ call to “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark chapter 1 verse 15). We stand in firm agreement with the church’s clear and biblically-faithful statement that sex is exclusively for heterosexual marriage.
We recognise how pastorally unhelpful the existence of civil partnerships is for gay, lesbian, and bisexual disciples in our congregations who are positively committed, in response to God’s word, to celibacy and fleeing sexual sin daily. Like many heterosexual believers, some have given up long-term relationships in their pursuit of Christ-like godliness in this area, often with great pain and immense difficulty. Our prayers are with them, and we would ask the whole church to be sensitive and supportive, as they look to Christ Jesus our only Lord and Saviour.
In this context, we do not believe that church leaders at any level should confuse and undermine the call of the gospel — to deny oneself and follow Jesus — which unfortunately would be the case if those who have chosen a different path by entering civil partnerships are permitted to undertake authorised public ministry in the church.
Church Society Council
Canon Chris Sugden has quite a lot to say about the topic in this article.
Savi Hensman has written at Ekklesia about how Uganda archbishop highlights Anglican differences on sexuality.
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has issued this statement: The Church of Nigeria Responds to the Church of England Bishops and Civil Partnerships. Full text below the fold.
1. The Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) meeting for their annual retreat held from Jan 7/11, 2013, at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha Otor, Delta State, Nigeria, heard with dismay the news of the recent action of the Church of England House of Bishops. The decision to permit homosexual clergy in civil partnerships to now be considered for the episcopacy is one step removed from the moral precipice that we have already witnessed in The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada.
2. When the Church of England failed to exercise its legal and moral right to opt out of the civil partnerships legislation in 2005 warnings were given in England and around the Anglican Communion that this was a first step towards the recognition and institutionalization of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10. Sadly those warnings were ignored and we now face the next step in a process that could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion.
3. We are also grieved by the timing of this decision coming only days before the retirement of Archbishop Rowan Williams and before Bishop Justin Welby becomes the new Archbishop of Canterbury. We urge the House of Bishops to reconsider their decision so as to allow for a full, prayerful and sober reflection on the call on all clergy, especially bishops, to live holy lives and not encourage what are, at best, morally ambiguous partnerships that make it impossible for a bishop to be a wholesome example to the flock. Especially since the supposed assurances of celibacy, while perhaps well intentioned, are both unworkable and unenforceable.
4. As a House of Bishops, while we acknowledge that we all fall short of God’s call to holiness, we dare not compromise the clear teaching of our Lord on faithfulness within Holy Matrimony and chastity outside of it. Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.
5. In all of this we continue to give thanks for the mercy of God newly revealed to us in this season of The Epiphany and we are filled with gratitude for the millions of faithful Anglicans within the GAFCON/FCA community who have not ‘bowed the knee’ to the contemporary idols of secularism and moral expediency.
6. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Updated to add yesterday’s Questions in the House of Commons
Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK have published a follow-up article on the Succession to the Crown Bill: La Reine (ou le Prince) le veult?. We covered the earlier article here.
The new article looks at the proposal that an heir to the Crown should be allowed to marry a Roman Catholic, and what the Canons of the Roman Catholic Church have to say about such a mixed marriage. It also includes links to press reports that the Prince of Wales and the Bishop of Leicester (convenor of the Lords Spiritual) have expressed their concerns about the proposal.
However The Telegraph reports that Nick Clegg reassures Prince Charles and Church of England over royal succession. This refers to an answer that the Deputy Prime Minister gave in the House of Commons yesterday. It was one of several Topical Questions (and answers) that can be read in Hansard. I have extracted the ones about the Succession to the Crown Bill below.
Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing forward legislation on the succession to the Crown. However, does he think that it is necessary to push it through in one day as if it was emergency terrorism legislation, when Parliament has a job to do to ensure that it is correctly drafted and that any concerns or unforeseen difficulties are addressed properly?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Making a small, concise amendment to an Act that has been on the statute book since 1701 is hardly acting hastily.
Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): 1700.
The Deputy Prime Minister: I am being corrected by the historians on the Opposition Benches. None the less, this is something that has been on the statute book for more than 300 years. Let us remember that this is a very specific act of discrimination against one faith only. The heir to the throne may marry someone of any religion outside the Church of England—Muslim, Hindu and so on—but uniquely not a Catholic under the terms of the Act of 1700 or 1701. This is a precise change and it is being co-ordinated precisely with all the other realms that have to make the identical change in their legislation.
Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Can the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House that the Succession to the Crown Bill will give the public confidence that the relationship between Church and state will be unaltered, even if a future monarch should marry a Roman Catholic and the ensuing child is a Catholic?
The Deputy Prime Minister: I can give the hon. Gentleman complete reassurance that the provisions in the Bill will not in any way alter the status of the established Church in this country and the monarch as head of that Church. We have had monarchs who have married Catholics. I think Queen Anne of Denmark was married to James I of Scotland—I may be corrected by our historian, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), from a sedentary position. There is absolutely nothing in the provisions that will alter the status of the Church in the way feared by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner).
Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I wish the Deputy Prime Minister a happy new year. Was one of his new year resolutions to decide that, if he thinks a policy is right, it should be rushed through in a day? Will he answer properly a question he has been asked before? Why will the succession Bill be rushed through in a day under emergency legislation procedures? Those procedures should be used only for emergency legislation, which the succession Bill is not.
The Deputy Prime Minister: I wish the hon. Gentleman a happy new year too—and Mrs Bone. It is important to stress that the Bill is not a capricious legislative initiative on behalf of the Government. It was solemnly agreed at the Commonwealth summit in Perth by all the Commonwealth realms. It has also been subject to extensive discussion between officials in the Cabinet Office and the royal household, and between Governments and officials of this country and of the Commonwealth realms. We have said that we will take the lead in setting out the legislative provisions for the other Commonwealth realms. The legislative change is very precise, which is why we are keen to proceed as quickly as possible.
The website for the Archbishop of Canterbury has been updated to refer to Justin Welby.
The content from the time of his predecessor Rowan Williams has been archived here. I’ve tried a few old links and it looks as if they all correctly redirect to the archive site.
8 January 2013. For Immediate Use
LGB&T Anglican Coalition Press Statement
On the admission of Bishops in Civil Partnerships to the Episcopate
The LGB&T Anglican Coalition welcomes the House of Bishops decision, confirmed on the 4th January 2013, to lift its moratorium of July 2011 on clergy in civil partnerships being nominated as episcopal candidates, even when living in conformity with the House of Bishops guidelines Issues in Human Sexuality.
The Bishops have decided that the requirements in its 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships, whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England, will apply equally in relation to the episcopate.
We had been shocked and saddened by the imposition of the moratorium, pending the outcome of the review of civil partnerships by the House of Bishops working party chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man. Although the lifting of the ban is only a small step it removes a glaring injustice, and was one of many recommendations in the LGB&T Anglican Coalition’s submission to the Church of England working party on civil partnerships.
However, as we noted in that submission:
It is important that any appearance of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity against those who have made considerable sacrifices (which some might regard as excessive) to comply with current church teaching be avoided… any attempt to deter or exclude such candidates by singling them out for intrusive questioning, or because their views on the theology of sexuality differ from the current Church of England position when in fact bishops have a wide range of opinions on all manner of theological issues, is not only unjust and hurtful to the individuals concerned but also damaging to mission and ministry.
We are glad that the House has addressed this particular issue, but are surprised and disappointed that this appears to be the only outcome, even though the review was expected to be complete by the end of 2012. We look forward to seeing the full report. The recent unveiling of the government’s equal marriage proposals makes the House of Bishops review of civil partnerships even more relevant and we urge the House to publish its report as soon as is practically possible.
We also look forward to hearing from the wider review by the House of Bishops working party on sexuality which is chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling and which is due to report later this year.
With the outcomes of these two major working parties at its disposal, together with Archbishop-elect Justin Welby’s commitment to end church-based homophobia and to listen carefully and prayerfully to LGB&T people, the Church of England is well placed in 2013 to become a more generous, humane and Christian community for the people we represent, their families and supporters. We believe that valuing and supporting committed and loving partnerships, regardless of whether the partners are celibate, is vital for the integrity and credibility of the Church’s mission and ministry.
Updated again 10 pm
Melanie McDonagh writes for the Spectator that Gay bishops and women bishops are not the same issue.
Giles Fraser writes for the Guardian Why gay bishops have to lie.
Colin Coward wrote at Changing Attitude Civil partnerships, the episcopate and the House of Bishops furore.
LGCM issued this press release: Go-ahead for bishops in civil partnerships welcome first step.
The Independent has this editorial: The unholy row over gay Christians.
Catholicity and Covenant has published two articles: Charity, moral imagination and discipleship: some reflections on the CofE House of Bishops statement and GAFCON, the CofE and civil partnerships.
Colin Coward has published again at Changing Attitude Archbishop of Kenya criticizes C of E decision on partnered gay bishops.
And, Colin has asked, and received, responses to queries from both the Bishop of Sodor & Man, and the Secretary General. Read about them in
Changing Attitude asks for Sodor and Man working party report to be published and then in
Why did the HoB take a decision about the eligibility of clergy in CPs becoming bishops?
The Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali has weighed in here.
The BBC reports on a Mixed response to CofE decision to allow gay bishops.
Emily Dugan writes in The Independent that a Fresh storm hits C of E after move to allow gay bishops.
Barbara Ellen writes in The Observer that Gay sex is in the closet, but don’t blame the church.
Victoria Wright in The Independent has these useful Dos and Don’ts for gay Bishops in the Church of England.
On BBC Radio 4 yesterday Norman Russell and Peter Selby debated the issue on the Today programme, and later Giles Fraser and Lynette Burrows debated it on the PM programme (between 17 min 23 sec and 24 min 20 sec).
And this morning there was Richard Harries and Michael Lawson on the Sunday programme (between 34 min 28 sec and 43 min 32 sec).
Jerome Taylor writes in The Independent that the Primate of Kenya hits out at Church of England lifting of gay bishop ban.
The primate’s full statement can be read on the Anglican Mainstream website.
Alan Wilson writes A chink in the walls of Kafka’s Castle?
For Ekklesia Symon Hill writes Gay bishops: C of E offers crumbs from the table
and Savi Hensman writes The Church of England and gay bishops – has sexuality policy shifted?.
Taylor Carey writes for Lay Anglicana about Men in Pink: The Church of England’s Gay Bishop Decision.
Carrie Pemberton writes No sex please, we’re gay British bishops.
Archbishop Cranmer writes that Homosexuality is an issue blown out of all proportion.
On Thursday, before the press announcement of Friday, Fulcrum published a long article by Andrew Goddard titled Church of England Bishops and Civil Partnerships.
Tucked away within a wider press release just before Christmas it has been announced that at their December meeting the Church of England’s House of Bishops decided that “the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” and that “the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”. The announcement is already beginning to gain attention and speculation as to its significance including at Changing Attitude and Thinking Anglicans but its full import remains largely unconsidered. What follows seeks to set this decision in context and highlight important questions that remain unanswered and issues that need addressing…
This evening, Anglican Mainstream has issued this statement:
As made clear in the Ordinal, Bishops of the Church of England promise both to fashion their own life and that of their household according to the way of Christ and to be guardians of the Church’s doctrine. Given the ambiguous nature of civil partnerships, it would not be credible for a person in such a partnership to make such promises. Most people assume that civil partnerships are sexual relationships. It is casuistical to claim that they are not. This is presumably why many clergy in such partnerships refuse to “give assurances” to their bishops that theirs is a “non-sexual” relationship. Since a decision to move from the current position would be a grave departure from the Church’s doctrine and discipline it should be made by Bishops in Synod not by Bishops alone. Otherwise it looks too much like salami-slicing away at the Church’s teaching. A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church. Such an appointment would be a very divisive move both within the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.
Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Secretary)
The Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council has issued this statement:
PRESS RELEASE from the Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council
At the very least, the House of Bishops’ “Statement Regarding Clergy in a Civil Partnership as Candidates for the Episcopate”, will spread confusion and at worst will be taken as an effort to conform to the spirit of the age. By its timing, the Bishops appear stung by the national reaction of outrage to the rejection by General Synod of legislation to legalise the consecration of women as Bishops. If by this statement they are trying to mend fences with the general populace, showing they are truly in touch with the mind of the nation, they are profoundly out of touch with the reality of civil partnerships, most of which are seen as a focus for sexual activity, not simply an arrangement for tax purposes.
Some bishops are known to be lax about questioning civil-partnership clergy about their sex lives. Yet the Bishop of Norwich has reported that the House of Bishops believes it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. As an argument, it has some merit. But the fact is this is not a justice issue, it is an issue of example setting to the nation. It is no surprise the BBC reported the statement as “Church removes bar to gay bishops”. That’s all most people will hear, even though under the media breath there is reference to the requirement of celibacy and traditional teaching.
The church has a poor record already on that kind of discipline. And while some Bishops are known to duck the question, the watching world may well conclude that same sex relationships are simply OK for followers of Jesus Christ. What will happen if same sex marriage is finally approved? Will the House of Bishops have another meeting to approve the next step: bishops married into same sex partnerships? Will anybody then believe there can be gay marriage without gay sex. Christians are supposed to be different and follow the teaching of Christ. The House of Bishops knows that, but on the face of the present statement they appear more concerned to avoid criticism from the watching world than to be faithful to scripture, and wise in the timing and content of its public pronouncements.
Venerable Michael Lawson Chairman, the Church of England Evangelical Council
Anglican Mainstream has also reproduced its 2005 letter to the House of Bishops.
Before today’s press release which was issued at 5pm (see preceding article) this topic had been reported on by the Church Times this morning, and also covered in this earlier TA article, dated 28 December.
This morning’s Church Times article: Bishops lift ban on consecration of civil-partner clerics by Ed Thornton.
…Shortly before Christmas, Church House published a 13-point summary of business conducted by the House of Bishops when it met on 10 and 11 December. Point 7 of this, which has caused some confusion in online forums and among campaigners, said that the Bishops “considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality”. This group was set up in January 2012, with a wider remit than the group chaired by Bishop Paterson, which was looking specifically at civil partnerships ( News, 6 January 2012).
The summary said that the Bishops did “not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” until the Pilling group concluded its work later this year. It did not mention the work of Bishop Paterson’s group.
The summary, however, went on to say that the Bishops “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.
This amounts to a lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships as bishops…
This news report was updated at 5 pm to include the press release statement from the Bishop of Norwich.
Subsequently, there have been numerous media reports:
Guardian Peter Walker Church of England rules gay men in civil partnerships can become bishops and
at Cif belief Andrew Brown Gay bishops ruling makes Church of England’s position more coherent
Telegraph Sam Marsden Anglican church lifts ban on gay men in civil partnerships becoming bishops
Independent Jerome Taylor Gay bishops allowed – but they can’t have sex and
A gay bishop might be the painful medicine the Anglican Communion needs
The Church of England today issued a press release with this title: Statement Regarding Clergy in a Civil Partnership as Candidates for the Episcopate.
The Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, today issued the following statement on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Church of England:
“The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005 did not address specifically whether clergy who entered such partnerships should be considered for the episcopate. What the House has now done, following the work undertaken by the group chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man set up last year, is to look at the matter again last month.
“The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate. There had been a moratorium on such candidates for the past year and a half while the working party completed its task.
“The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England. But these, along with the candidate’s suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case.”
The House of Bishops issued a statement detailing the business carried out at their meeting on 20 December 2012 which can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/house-of-bishops-summary-of-decisions-published.aspx
Paragraph 7 of that statement reads “The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.”
The statement follows on from the House of Bishops consideration of this matter on 1st July 2011 “Civil partnerships and same-sex relationships: a statement by the House of Bishops of the Church of England” which can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2011/07/civil-partnerships-and-same-sex-relationships-%E2%80%93-a-statement-by-the-house-of-bishops-of-the-church-of-england.aspx
The 2005 statement “House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships” can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2005/07/pr5605.aspx
When republished by the Anglican Communion News Service this article had the following additional note:
Editor’s note: From House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships 25 July, 2005 ‘The House of Bishops,’ [the statement] says, ‘does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.’
Issues in Human Sexuality made it clear that, while the same standards apply to all, the Church did not want to exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and instead chose to enter into a faithful, committed relationship. ‘The House considers that lay people who have registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion.’
And when republished by Episcopal News Service it had an even longer additional note:
…The 2005 statement said in part that House of Bishops “does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.”
That 1991 document said that “clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships. Because of the distinctive nature of their calling, status and consecration, to allow such a claim on their part would be seen as placing the way of life in all respects on a par with heterosexual marriage as a reflection of God’s purposes in creation. The Church [of England] cannot accept such a parity and remain faithful to the insights which God has given it through Scripture, tradition and reasoned reflection on experience.”
Despite the need “to avoid public scandal,” the document rejected possible calls for bishops to be “more rigorous in searching out and exposing clergy who may be in sexually active homophile relationships,” First of all, the bishops said, it would be “grossly unfair” to assume that two people of the same sex living together were “in some form of erotic relationship.” Second, “it has always been the practice of the Church of England to trust its members and, and not carry out intrusive interrogations in order to make sure they are behaving themselves.”…
Law & Religion UK has published an article by Dr Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit: Succession to the Crown Bill: some reflections. This is of Anglican interest as the Monarch is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
The Succession to the Crown Bill aims to achieve three things:
- primogeniture gender neutrality;
- removal of marriage to Roman Catholics as a disqualification for succession; and
- limitation to the first six in line to the throne of the sovereign approval requirement for proposed marriages.
The content of the proposals is admirably explained in the relevant House of Commons Library research paper RP12/81.
The answer (it’s 4 February 2013) has been placed on the Archbishop of Canterbury website.
When will Justin Welby officially become Archbishop of Canterbury?
Dr Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, stepped down from the position on 31st December 2012. Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, was named as his successor on 9th November 2012.
Bishop Justin’s name was submitted to the Prime Minister by the Crown Nominations Commission after a consultation process to determine the needs of the diocese, the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Consideration of the candidates took place over several months, then the Commission voted to identify a recommended candidate and a second appointable candidate. These names went forward to the Prime Minister.
In this case the recommended candidate was Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham. The Queen approved Justin Welby for election to the position of Archbishop of Canterbury, and an announcement was made by 10 Downing Street on 9th November 2012.
On 10th January 2013, the College of Canons will meet in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral to elect Bishop Justin as the new Archbishop, having received a Congé d’Elire from the Crown confirming that the See of Canterbury is vacant.
A legal ceremony, the Confirmation of Election, will take place on 4th February 2013 at St Paul’s Cathedral. The Dean of Canterbury will confirm to a commission of diocesan bishops that Bishop Justin has been elected according to statute. At this point, the office of Archbishop is conferred on Justin Welby - until then he remains Bishop of Durham.
The Enthronement will take place on 21st March 2013 at Canterbury Cathedral. The new Archbishop will be placed on two thrones - the diocesan throne in the Cathedral Quire as the Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, and the Chair of St Augustine as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Law & Religion UK has published 2012 and 2013: retrospect and prospect.
This is a very comprehensive review of recent and forthcoming issues of a legal kind that affect Christians in England, and the Church of England in particular. Some of these have been discussed here previously, particularly those that relate to equality legislation or to discussions at General Synod.
The whole article is well worth a read, but in particular do scroll down to find a very valuable list of Bills before Westminster Parliament, 2012–13, and also a list of cases currently before the European Court of Human Rights.
The list of events in 2013 include:
10 January: the College of Canons to meet in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral to elect Justin Welby as the new Archbishop, having received a Congé d’Elire from the Crown.
4 February: Ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral where the Dean of Canterbury will confirm to an episcopal commission that Justin Welby has been elected and will then become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.
21 March: Enthronement of Justin Welby at Canterbury Cathedral as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury
Paul Bagshaw is publishing an important series of articles on his blog about the electorate for elections to the House of Laity of the CofE General Synod, and of diocesan synods. In them he argues that this electorate should be all those on parish electoral rolls, rather than the lay members of deanery synods as it is a present.
He starts with
in which he writes:
The present system
At the moment those on the electoral roll of a church vote for Deanery Synod members. These people then vote for Diocesan and General Synod members.
This system of indirect voting means that there is no accountability from governing bodies to the people in the pews - the people who very largely pay for the Church. Where there is no accountability, the people don’t count.
The consequences of change
It isn’t possible simply to change the voting system as though it was a technical matter with no other implications.
- The marginalization of the laity is a cornerstone of our present synodical system.
- To change the franchise would be to change the whole set of relationships which currently structure the church - clergy:laity, diocese:parish, General Synod:parish.
- Inevitably too the present kingpins in this structure - bishops and parish clergy - would also have to modify the ways they work and their relationships with the people around them.
The fundamental change will be to treat each enrolled member as a fully adult member of the Church. I think such change will be beneficial - and equally that it will be resisted.
Subsequent articles to date are:
How we got here (briefly)
One member : One vote - simple!
General Synod votes for direct election of lay representatives (almost)
2011 debate on lay representation - background paper 1
2011 debate on lay representation - background paper 2
Let’s have a review - the GS debate on representing the laity, 2011
The articles can also be all be read on this one page.
Paul Bagshaw has also written this background article
and this related article:
We published the official summary of what was decided at the December House of Bishops meeting here.
Two articles have since appeared which discuss this.
David Pocklington wrote at Law & Religion UK Decisions by the House of Bishops and most of his analysis concerns the actions related to Women in the Episcopate. But he also notes:
…The House of Bishops is currently considering two aspects of human sexuality: one group is providing advice on the bishops’ review of the 2005 civil partnership statement, the membership of which was announced on 1st December 2011 another group to advise the HoB on the more general issues relating to human sexuality. The membership of this group was announced on 5th January 2012. With regard to the latter, the House considered an interimreport from the group, but pending the conclusion of its work in 2013, (i.e. the preparation of a consultation document), announced its intention not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. However, it confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate…
Christina Beardsley wrote at Changing Attitude Whatever happened to the HoB working group on civil partnerships?
…Paragraph 7 says that the House considered an interim report from the working party on sexuality chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling. It continues:
Pending the conclusion of the group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.’
There is no mention of the working party on civil partnerships, chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, which was formed prior to Sir Jospeh Pilling’s group, and was due to ‘report to the House in time for the House to reach conclusions during 2012.’
It does look though, from paragraph 7, as if one important outstanding matter has been decided, namely, that a member of the clergy who is in a civil partnership is no longer automatically debarred from nomination to the episcopate. This appears to lift the ban on such nominations that was introduced when the working parties were announced in July 2011…
Frank Cranmer continues his series of articles for Law & Religion UK with Church and State III – the European dimension.
The LGB&T Anglican Coalition welcomes the government proposals published on 11 December, and in particular the following points:
However, as Anglican Christians, laity and clergy, we are disappointed that the proposals to exclude both the Church of England and the Church in Wales appear to impose an additional barrier should these churches decide in future that they wish to marry same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. If this were the case, it would reduce religious freedom.
As a Coalition we have repeatedly pointed out that the Church of England’s official submission did not reflect the views of the many members of the Church of England who are in favour of equal marriage, and we are also aware that there is support among many in the Church in Wales. These churches should be as free to opt in as any others.
The Archbishop of Wales has made it clear that any additional obstacle would be unwelcome. The Church of England’s leadership is reportedly shocked at such an outcome, though it appears to reflect precisely what the Church requested in its submission, published in June. Church reactions to the Government’s proposals do confirm that the Church of England’s official position is out of touch, not only with a significant number of its own members, but with the majority body of public opinion.
We will be advising the organisations in our coalition to invite all of their members to write to their MPs calling for a review of the implications of the so-called quadruple locks in the proposed legislation, especially the fourth, which relates to the Church of England and the Church in Wales. In our view this fourth lock would inhibit the religious freedom of the people we represent, and who are in favour of equal marriage in these churches.
The Secretary General has prepared an explanatory memorandum outlining the legislative process that would need to be followed by the Church of England to enable women to become bishops. Although prepared for members of the two Houses of Parliament it has been issued to members of General Synod and made available online.
I have also placed an html version online here.
The memorandum concludes, “It would, therefore, be possible for legislation introduced in 2013 to complete all its stages in the lifetime of this Synod, which ends in July 2015. Pending the discussions with all interested parties in the early months of 2013 it is too soon, however, to offer a confident prediction of what the timescale will be given the imperative need to avoid a second failure.”
The summary of decisions taken by the House of Bishops at its latest meeting (December 2012) has been published.
The summary can be read below and has been posted on the Church of England website.
HOUSE OF BISHOPS - SUMMARY OF DECISIONS
A meeting of the House of Bishops was held at Lambeth Palace on 10-11 December 2012. Those matters reported below reflect the items discussed and decisions agreed upon.
1. The House considered the consequences of the 20 November General Synod vote on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. The House recognised and felt the profound and widespread sense of anger, grief and disappointment experienced by so many in the Church of England and beyond.
2. The House considered that the present situation was unsustainable for all, whatever their convictions, and affirmed that the Church of England now had to resolve the issue through its own processes as a matter of great urgency. It was agreed that a statement from the House of Bishops on this issue would be released as soon as possible after the conclusion of the meeting.
3. The House expressed its gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events had left so many feeling undermined and undervalued.
4. The House had the benefit of four senior female members of General Synod participating in their discussion. The House agreed to hold an event in early 2013 to which lay and ordained women will be invited, to discuss how the culture of its processes and discussions might be changed and a more regular contribution from women secured.
5. The House also set up a working group drawn from all three Houses of Synod (the membership to be determined by the Archbishops and announced before Christmas), to arrange facilitated discussion with a wide range of people of a variety of views in the week of 4 February and to advise the House so that it can decide in May what fresh legislative proposals to bring before the next meeting of the General Synod in July.
6. The House considered a number of items relating to appointments, personal data and ministry and:
7. The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.
8. The House was updated in relation to a draft document in preparation from the Faith and Order Commission in relation to the doctrine of marriage. The House agreed that, once further revisions had been made, it could be issued with the agreement of the Standing Committee as a FAOC document and commended for study.
9. The Archbishop of Canterbury briefed the House on recent events throughout the Anglican Communion.
10. The House approved new policies in relation to Local Ecumenical Policy.
11. The House approved a proposal to update the publication of Bishops’ Working Costs.
12. The House was briefed in relation to ongoing work by the Archbishops’ Task Group on Spending Plans.
13. The House was briefed on the published results of the 2011 Census. The House noted a statement which had been made on the results.
Paul Johnson has written an article for the Jurist titled Same-Sex Marriage To Be ‘Illegal’ in the Church of England and Church in Wales. He argues that the effect of an on-going human rights debate in the British Isles and the European Court of Human Rights may have a detrimental effect on the same-sex marriage debate in the UK…
I found this paragraph particularly interesting:
…On the basis of a growing moral panic about human rights in the UK, the government has announced deeply problematic legislation. Whilst they will extend marriage to same-sex couples in England and Wales, they will also amend the Equality Act 2010 to establish a form of legal discrimination in marriage based on sexual orientation. They will also write legislation to make same-sex marriage in a Church of England or Church in Wales church “illegal.” The UK government will, therefore, follow a number of other states, such as those African states like Nigeria, that are regularly held up in the UK as the embodiment of homophobia, and introduce legislation designed to prohibit same-sex marriage in a particular context…
Paul also wrote this article last June: Same-Sex Civil Marriage Gives Deference to Church of England Canon Laws
Scot Peterson has written an article, now republished at Law and Religion UK titled Same-sex marriage, National Churches and the quadruple lock.
On 11 December the government announced its response to the consultation on same-sex marriage that took place from 15 March to 14 June 2012. The initial consultation concerned how (not whether) to proceed with same-sex civil marriage. In its response to the initial consultation, the Church of England failed to respond to the question that the government had asked. It took the position that all marriage (civil or religious) was the same and that same-sex marriage should not be offered by the state. The church failed entirely to say how it could be offered, arguing that same-sex marriage should not be offered at all, even by the government in non-religious ceremonies…
And he concludes:
It seems clear that the constitutional, political and legal complexities of the law of marriage in Wales surprised the government. But good, sensible argument, not a generalized attack on the government’s competence is needed. And extending the omnishambles argument to the Church of England is entirely unfair given that Church’s general, public refusal to cooperate with the consultation in the first place.
The Church of Wales may have received a temporary scare, which will make it think twice in the future about trying to ride on the coat-tails of its established equivalent in the east. The Church of England may have received its just deserts for being obstinate. But the government should not be the target of general criticism for an honest mistake on an obscure point of law, which was unforeseeable when the Church in Wales did not address this point, or any other, in its response to the consultation.
The problems in this bill can easily be corrected. This is a cross-party question of policy that addresses a felt need by LGBT people and religious freedom for minorities like Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews as well as for those, like the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, who disagree. It should not be turned into a political football.
Anya Palmer has written in the Solicitor’s Journal_ One step forward, two steps back.
The government’s decision to make it illegal for the Church of England to conduct same-sex marriages leaves Anya Palmer questioning its position in society.
The agenda and supporting papers for the meeting of the House of Latiy to be held on 18 January 2013 have been published.
I have copied the agenda below.
The press have been advised that this is a public meeting and that it will be chaired by the Rt Worshipful Charles George QC, Dean of the Arches.
HOUSE OF LAITY
Notice is hereby given of a meeting of the House of Laity to be held at 1.30 p.m. on Friday 18 January 2013 at Church House, Westminster.
Westminster SW1P 3AZ
18 December 2012
Chair of the House of Laity: HL01A and HL01B
Canon Stephen Barney (Leicester) to move:
1. ‘That this House have no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of this House.’
Notes to the agenda are below the fold.
1. This meeting has been convened under Standing Order 2(c) of the House.
2. Canon Stephen Barney has prepared a note (HL01A) explaining his reasons for seeking this meeting. Members are also referred to HL01B, which is an unedited transcript of Dr Giddings’s speech during the debate on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1708D) at the November 2012 group of sessions of the General Synod.
3. It would help if members who wished to speak in this debate could, if at all possible, notify the Secretary of the House in advance either in writing or at firstname.lastname@example.org. A request to speak form is included with this agenda.
4. Members who wish to reclaim expenses associated with attendance at this meeting should discuss this with their diocese or, where their expenses are met centrally, with the Synod Support Unit. Diocesan Secretaries have been informed that the meeting is to take place.
19 December 2012
Bishops’ office and working costs published
The 2011 office and working costs of bishops in the Church of England are published today. Figures for individual bishops were first published, for the year 2000, in December 2001. Bishops’ office and working costs were previously published as a total figure. The latest report reflects the recently introduced block grant funding to support bishops’ ministry.
Total expenditure by and on behalf of bishops in 2011 totalled £17,013,912 (2010 £15,983,479) including an increase of £782,216 in legal costs incurred.
The report includes a full description of the important role played by bishops locally, regionally and nationally.
The 113 diocesan and suffragan bishops of the Church of England institute and support the ministry of all clergy and lay ministers in their dioceses, as well as providing pastoral support to them. Each diocesan bishop has ultimate oversight of several hundred clergy, Readers and lay workers and of a diocesan budget and portfolio of assets. In addition to diocesan responsibilities, such as ordinations and diocesan festivals, and engaging with the communities which they serve, bishops often chair or serve on national and international Church boards and councils, as well as large charities, special commissions or public inquiries. They are involved in the growing work towards visible unity with other denominations both nationally and internationally and in work with other faiths.
Twenty-six diocesan bishops sit in the House of Lords: at least one is present every day and others will attend according to the subjects under debate that day. The Bishop of Sodor & Man sits in the Tynwald.
Following the meeting of the House of Bishops earlier this month when they said that they would appoint a working group to assist them in formulating new legislative proposals on women bishops the Archbishops have today announced the membership of the group.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have announced the membership of the new working group established by the House of Bishops following the defeat of the women bishops’ legislation.
The group includes members of all three houses of the General Synod - Bishops, Clergy and Laity - and a senior member of clergy who is no longer on the Synod. The members are:
The Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (chair)
The Rt Rev Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry
The Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester
The Rt Rev Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
The Very Rev Vivienne Faull, Dean of York
The Ven Christine Hardman
The Rev Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Dr Philip Giddings
Dr Paula Gooder
Mrs Margaret Swinson
The group’s task (see PR 160.12) is to assist the House when it meets in February and again in May to come to a decision on the new package of proposals which it intends to bring to the Synod in July. The group has been tasked to arrange facilitated discussions in February with a wide range of people of a variety of views. It is expected to have two initial meetings in January.
Once draft legislation is ready for introduction to the Synod there will be a separate decision, in the usual way, about the membership of a new Steering Committee. That Committee will have the responsibility for the management of the legislation through Synod. Steering Committees are always composed of members of Synod who support the legislation.
The membership of the Revision Committee is settled after first consideration of the legislation.
Andrew Brown at the Guardian has written Church of England traditionalists are running out of hiding places.
A backlash against the female bishops vote and gay marriage ruling has put church conservatives on the back foot.
On the face of it, this autumn has seen two resounding defeats for the liberals in the church of England, over female bishops and gay marriage. But it may be just as true that these have been two really pyrrhic victories for the traditionalists.
On female bishops it looks already clear that the best the traditionalists can hope for is an orderly retreat. I don’t think they had any idea how angry their opponents would be, nor how numerous. It really has been something like a revolution, in that the old power structures are quite inadequate to contain the real power of the laity. You can see that from the way that the supposed representatives of the laity in the General Synod, the house of laity, were the people who most diverged from sentiment in the pews.
Even in the house of laity the opponents were a minority, but they were a significant minority. That significance may now be over…
And he concludes with this:
…Where gay marriage is concerned the position is not nearly so stark. Fear of a wider evangelical backlash (for all I know, quite justified) led the bishops into their “quadruple lock” jail where now a liberal Anglican who wants to marry a gay couple is breaking the law in the way that no other minister of religion would be. It seems to me inevitable that some vicar nearing retirement will carry out a gay wedding in his church once these are legal and then wait for martyrdom. The resulting kerfuffle will only dramatise the difference between legal establishment, where the church’s bureaucracy is bound into the state, and what one might call emotional or effective establishment, where the church is a natural theatre of society’s self-understanding – a way to think about who we are, both as individuals and as a country. That’s not a distinction to which a wise archbishop would want to draw attention, but it’s going to be hard to avoid.
Following Frank Cranmer’s article Church and State – an idiot’s guide at Law & Religion UK the site now has this follow-up about primary and secondary Church legislation.
Here’s a brief extract:
It [the recent debate in the House of Commons] also exposed a number of common misconceptions and gaps in understanding of the relationship between Parliament and the Church of England, which are unlikely to be restricted to the Lower House. Indeed, Stephen Slack, the Registrar and Chief Legal Adviser to the General Synod, notes, [(2012) 14 Ecc LJ 54-55]:
“in the case of the draft legislation relating to women in the episcopate, members of Synod can wrongly assume that preliminary debates of this kind have conclusively settled the Synod’s position in relation to issues that have been debated, when in fact they remain open for subsequent further debate and decision in the course of the legislative process itself.”
But do read it all.
Updated yet again 7 pm
Father Philip North, who earlier this year was appointed to be the new Bishop of Whitby in the Diocese of York, has announced he is withdrawing from the role. He has notified the Archbishop of York and his current bishop, the Bishop of London, of his decision. He will now remain as Team Rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras in North London.
Philip North commented, “It was a great honour to be chosen for this role and I had been very much looking forward to taking up the position. However, in the light of the recent vote in the General Synod and having listened to the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, I have concluded that it is not possible for me, at this difficult time for our Church, to be a focus for unity. I have therefore decided that it is better to step aside at this stage.
“I have reached this decision after a time of deep reflection and feel sure that it is for the best. I now look forward to refocusing my energies on the pastoral needs of my Parish.”
The Bishop of London added, “I can understand the reasons for Philip’s decision. He is a gifted and energetic priest and I am glad that he remains in this Diocese to continue his outstanding work in Camden Town.”
The original news of his appointment was (rather belatedly) reported in this news item with a headline about a quite different appointment.
Ed Thornton at the Church Times has a report of what is meant by “the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland” see “I would not be a focus for unity”: Philip North withdraws from Bishop of Whitby post.
…The churchwarden of St Oswald’s Church, Lythe, in Whitby, John Secker, wrote a letter to the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, dated 28 November, which gathered a number of signatories.
The letter said: “We are puzzled, dismayed and very disappointed that for the third time running we have been assigned a Bishop of Whitby who does not accept the ordination of women priests. . .
“We are aware that some parishes, some clergy, and some of the laity in the Whitby bishopric do not accept the validity of women priests but, as in the rest of the country, a substantial majority of us do. So why should we have to have a bishop who does not accept them? We assume that there must be some sort of rationale behind the decision, but you should be aware that many of us feel aggrieved and overlooked.”
In a reply, dated 6 December, Dr Sentamu wrote: “Whatever fears there may be about Revd North’s ability to work with all in the Archdeaconry [of Cleveland], I am confident that he will not only live up to Bishop Martin’s example, but also go beyond it in his valuing of the ministry of his female colleagues.
“Clearly the appointment of Revd North has also been made as part of our accommodation for our petitioning parishes in this diocese. The fact is that the vast majority of our petitioning parishes are in the Cleveland Archdeaconry and so the see of Whitby is the obvious choice for such episcopal provision where the diocesan bishop is an outspoken advocate of women’s ministry. . .
“I deeply regret that this appointment should be seen as in any way indicating a lack of respect and value for women’s ministry in this Diocese and in the Church as a whole. I would hope that my words and actions elsewhere would be ample proof to the contrary.”
The Evening Standard has Clergyman says he will not take up bishop job, as Church of England crisis deepens
The Diocese of York has now issued this announcement: Fr Philip North withdraws from Bishop of Whitby post
…Yesterday, Archbishop Sentamu wrote to all clergy and Readers in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland to say, “It is with sadness that I have heard from Revd Philip North of his decision to withdraw his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Whitby.
“This has come as a great disappointment to me personally and I am sure to many in the wider church, the Diocese and the Archdeaconry of Cleveland.
“Philip North is not a single-issue priest. As a gifted pastor-teacher he is deeply committed to the flourishing of the diverse ministries of all God’s people - lay and ordained. His dynamic vision for making Christ visible in mission and ministry, as well as serving the poor, would have been a great asset to us all.
“I am returning to the Diocese later tomorrow, having been in Uganda to attend the Installation of the new Archbishop.
“The question of the appointment of a new bishop will be first referred to the Dioceses Commission. As many of you may know, the Dioceses Commission will be reviewing our Diocese, its structures, boundaries and delivery of mission. As to the timing of when this will happen, the Dioceses Commission will let us know.
“Please pray for Philip and all those in the Cleveland Archdeaconry at this time.”
John Bingham at the Telegraph has Priest forced to stand aside as bishop over traditionalist view on women.
Anya Palmer has written Church “shocked” to get what it lobbied for
Suggestions that CoE never asked for gay marriage ban need to be taken with a pinch of salt
The Guardian reported on Friday (14 December 2012) that the Church of England and Church of Wales have expressed their “complete shock” at proposals to ban them from conducting marriages for same sex couples. The piece ends with Ben Bradshaw MP quoting the Bishop of Leicester as saying the CoE was very upset about this “because it gave the impression that the Church of England were unfriendly towards gays.”
But is the Church of England really unhappy with the proposed ban?
…The only on-the-record statement from the Church of England in the Guardian report is from “a spokesman” claiming that the CoE was not consulted on the proposed “quadruple lock”. The spokesman does not confirm that the CoE does not want a ban – all he or she confirms is that the CoE claims it was not consulted.
Personally I find it difficult to believe the CoE was not consulted.
Firstly, because when the government’s proposals were outlined, on Tuesday 11 December, the Church of Wales immediately stated it did not agree, whereas the Church of England neither disagreed nor made any claim that it had not been consulted. Here is the statement the CoE put out on Wednesday 12 December:
Far from suggesting the CoE has not been consulted, the statement asserts that it has been listened to:
“This is not a question of the Government and Parliament imposing a prohibition or ‘ban’ on what the Church of England can do. It is instead the Government responding to the Church’s wish to see the status quo for the Church of England preserved.” [Emphasis added]
The statement clearly approves of the proposal that the CoE not be given a right to opt in:
“For Parliament to give the Church of England an opt-in to conduct same sex marriages that it hasn’t sought would be unnecessary, of doubtful constitutional propriety and introduce wholly avoidable confusion.”
If that doesn’t say “we don’t want an opt-in, thank you” I am not sure what would.
This statement was presumably approved at a high level. It has not been retracted. At no point has the Church of England stated on the record that it does not want the additional bar.
And secondly, I don’t believe the CoE was not consulted because the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has now put out a statement expressly denying that the CoE was not consulted…
Sam Jones at the Guardian had Government’s gay marriage plan a mess, says Labour
Savi Hensman at Ekklesia has Equal marriage confusion: owning up.
…The government would appear to have blundered in its attempts to head off the more alarmist opponents of equal marriage. But it cannot be blamed for the perception that the C of E is “unfriendly to gays”.
Church leaders have openly and persistently discriminated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, to the extent of asking lawyers to come up with excuses for blocking even celibate gays who seek full inclusion from being considered as bishops.
They have also criticised other Anglican provinces for treating LGBT people equally, and sought to give greater power to anti-inclusive churches to hinder progress in other countries.
The official consultation response on equal civil marriage was not only heavily negative but also raised alarms about human rights law and the position of the Church of England as an established church.
Exaggeration and misinterpretation of these warnings was not properly addressed by church authorities unwilling to admit in public that many at all levels of the Church of England want greater inclusion…
Fraser Nelson writes in the Sunday Telegraph that Britain is getting a glimpse of the crazy world of culture wars.
…But the news, in recent days, has started to sound a little more American. MPs have been quoting the Bible in just the same way, and getting themselves just as wound up. David Cameron’s plans for gay marriage, which were controversial enough in the first place, have been made even more so by his decision to let such unions take place in churches. After two years of trying to discuss this rationally, tribal battle has now broken out. A group of liberal Tories calling themselves the “Freedom to Marry” alliance are up against a group of less organised, lesser known and less telegenic Conservatives who are popping up on TV to denounce the Government. The ordinary viewer may conclude that the Tory party is going through one of its periodic bouts of madness.
I suspect that, by now, even Cameron is wondering if this has not all spun out of control. It’s perfectly easy to see his original logic. As a matter of principle, he believes in marriage and would like it to be accessible to everyone. If the Unitarian Church and certain strands of Judaism want to marry gay couples on their premises, then why should government stand in their way? For the record, I quite agree. Religious freedom in Britain ought to be universal, extended to the handful of churches or synagogues who want same-sex marriage. To lift the ban ought to be a technical issue, an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 requiring no fanfare…
Ed Malnick has a report in the Sunday Telegraph inaccurately headlined Anglican vicars threaten to defy gay marriage ban.
Leading Anglican campaigners have warned that Government plans to exempt the Church from the new legislation will lead to hundreds of homosexual clergy and worshippers marrying in Quaker and Unitarian services and then returning to the Church.
In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, dozens of clergy, including Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, today urge homosexual Anglicans to follow this course of action.
“Until the Church of England allows us to solemnise same-sex marriages in our churches, as a matter of pastoral expediency we will counsel lesbian and gay members of our congregations to marry in those churches willing to celebrate faithful same-sex relationships,” the letter, which is also signed by scores of lay members of the Church, states.
The 150 signatories warn: “If the bill is enacted in its present form, in 2014 married lesbian and gay Anglicans, lay and ordained, will be worshipping and ministering in parishes of the Church of England.”
The presence of married homosexual couples, including clergy, in the Church will force its leaders to confront the growing debate over sexuality, the letter suggests…
The letter itself, with signatories, appears here (scroll down).
Vicky Allan in the Sunday Herald writes that Love will burst through any lock.
When it comes to keeping intruding gay couples out of the premises of the institution of marriage, there is only one security measure up to the job – the Westminster quadruple lock.
Like many aspects around last week’s launch of the bill to introduce equal marriage in England and Wales, this term used to describe the multiple layers of protection that will be afforded the clergy to allow them to act as their beliefs dictate – measures which include a ban on same-sex marriages being conducted by the Church of England and Church of Wales – comes edged with hysteria. Only the paranoid, fearful and homophobic, surely, would seek more than, say, a standard basic lock. Yet two archbishops in the Church of England declared they still wanted to see the “shambolic” gay marriage bill stopped. For them, even the Westminster quadruple lock was not enough.
So, it was a relief when, on Wednesday, the Scottish Government published its draft legislation for our own bill, and there were no strange multi-layered locks and no ban for the Church of Scotland, only talk of allowing churches to opt in or opt out, and protecting both churches and individual celebrants through changes to the Equalities Act…
…The results of a Mail on Sunday poll, conducted by Survation, suggest strong support for gay rights across a wide range of issues among most voters, but with sharp differences between the young and old.
Overall, six out of ten support the gay marriage plan. Among the under-35s, it soars to 73 per cent; by contrast, 56 per cent of over-55s are against…
The Church Times leader today: The Church that says ‘No’
…The chief problem for the C of E is not so much the Government’s new understanding of marriage as its understanding of establishment. Writing in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, said: “I will never bring in a law that would impinge, in any way, on the Church’s power to decide who it marries and who it does not.” But the Church does not have the power to decide. It is the right of any couple, provided neither has a living spouse, to marry in their parish church. If the new legislation passes, therefore, it will introduce a new discrimination, and cede power to the Church that it did not have before. Perhaps some might approve of this new autonomy, but it has a significant implication for establishment, and at a personal, not an abstruse constitutional, level.
Marriage is defined neither by the state nor the Church. Couples commit themselves to each other in ways that seem best to them, and, if it conforms to the general understanding of marriage, that is what they call it. The state recognises this aggregate definition and legalises accordingly. Hence the latest move to recognise the desire of many same-sex couples to call their union “marriage”.
In a charged atmosphere of reform, the simple restating of the present blanket ban could not be a neutral act, especially when wrapped in the Government’s protectionist language, designed, we presume, with its own back-benchers in mind. However mollifying various sections of the Church have been in the past, Tuesday thus established the C of E as a gay-unfriendly institution: the Church that says “No.” Religion has been a key part of marriage for many, but this is not a given. The Church has the privilege of blessing the unions that people bring to it. Since the blessing it offers or withholds is God’s, it needs to be sure that its interpretation is sound and explicable. Many believe that it is not. The way of testing this in the C of E is through the amending of canons - a long and, on such a divisive issue, tortuous process. The Government proposes to leave Churches to make up their own minds. In the mean time, there are the twin concerns of public perception and mission. A greater enthusiasm for the blessing of same-sex partnerships in church would be one effective way of countering the negative impression given this week.
In this week of the second Sunday in Advent, readers are invited to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this very helpful article by Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK.
When matters touching on relations between religion and the state are discussed it not infrequently happens that the terminology becomes hopelessly confused and misused – sometimes by people who really should know better. So the following is a cut-out-and-keep guide to the absolute basics of Church and State.
First, there are four separate territories in the United Kingdom…
Madeleine Davies has two articles in today’s Church Times.
House of Bishops to revive hopes for women bishops
MPs ‘take up the fight’ over women bishops
David Pocklington fo Law & Religion UK has written Towards Women in the Episcopate – I.
Julian Joyce of the BBC has written Women bishops: Ordinary churchgoers could shape CofE’s future.
[There is a mistake in a sidebar to this article. PCCs do not elect deanery synod members. They are elected by the annual parochial church meeting.]
Updated yet again 23.00 with statement from DCMS
There are multiple reports in the media this morning.
Church Times see preceding article.
Sam Jones Guardian Church of England and Church in Wales protest at gay marriage ban
The Church of England and the Church in Wales have expressed their “complete shock” at the government’s plan to ban them from offering same-sex marriages, claiming they were not consulted over the proposed legislation, which would make them the only religious organisations to be legally barred from conducting the ceremonies…
…The Right Rev Tim Stevens, bishop of Leicester and the Church of England’s lead spokesman in the Lords, told a closed meeting of bishops, Lords and MPs that the government had not consulted the church on the proposal, adding that the church had never sought the government’s so-called “quadruple lock” on gay marriage. He also expressed his regret at the government’s lack of consultation.
A Church of England spokesman confirmed that the church had not been consulted over the government’s plans, saying: “Bishop Tim is correct that the first mention of a ‘quadruple lock’ came when the secretary of state announced it in the Commons. We had not been privately informed of this prior to the announcement.”
Miller had been due to meet the Church of England representatives last Thursday but she cancelled the meeting at the last moment…
John Bingham Telegraph Church accuses Maria Miller of ‘omnishambles’ over gay marriage announcement
…Although the meeting went ahead in Mrs Miller’s absence, the bishop was given a general briefing about legal provisions to enable gay couples to marry without churches which chose not to carry out the ceremonies facing challenges under human rights laws.
The first that officials at Church House in Westminster knew of a special legal bar, specifically aimed at the Church of England, was when Mrs Miller made her statement.
MPs expressed amazement when Bishop Stevens set out the sequence of events during a meeting yesterday with the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to discuss the separate crisis over women bishops.
Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP, who was present, said: “He said that ‘the Government did not consult us on this and we wish they had sought our advice’ – it was pretty strong.”
He went on: “At the end Bishop Justin simply said I really have nothing to add to what Tim has said, I agree with every word that he has said.”
Mr Gardiner added: “I think that there was shock on the part of the Church leaders that the Government had not even thought to consult with the bishops on this.
“The Government has behaved in an extraordinarily high-handed and cack-handed way.”
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport insisted it would have been “inappropriate” to tell the Church of England about the provision before it had been announced to Parliament.
But senior Church of England officials likened the cancellation of the meeting and failure to brief the Church to an episode of the satirical programme The Thick of It.
“It is an ominshambles,” said one. “This is legislation on the hoof, it has been a botched job.”
A spokeswoman for the department said: “Clearly, it would have been inappropriate to discuss the fine detail of our proposals prior to them being announced in Parliament.
“But the Church made clear to us its wish to see legal provisions which would ensure that their position on not conducting same-sex marriages would continue.”
Questions are now being asked about why the Church of England did not express this surprise about the fourth lock earlier in the week. See this blog post: The Church of England, #equalmarriage And The Truth
The Church of England was quick to explain that the Government was not giving them any extra protections but respecting their right to opt-in constitutionally if they so wished. Their press release is here (it is their second version. The first was entitled “Equal Marriage and the Church of England”. Obviously that couldn’t stand, so it has been changed to “Same-sex Marriage and the Church of England. Note the “Same Same Marriage” reference in the left hand sidebar which I like to think suggests someone at the press office wasn’t happy with the need to change the title!). An excellent explanation of the Quadruple Lock and the Church of England’s position can be found here. But let us quote from the press release.
For Parliament to give the Church of England an opt-in to conduct same sex marriages that it hasn’t sought would be unnecessary, of doubtful constitutional propriety and introduce wholly avoidable confusion.
The Church of England, on the 11th, was extremely clear they didn’t want an opt-in as they already had one…
…Now the main issue the Church of England representatives have is that they were not consulted on the details of the proposals. Given their initial press release afterwards (where they expressed satisfaction with what the Government was proposing in terms of legal protections) I find this very disingenuous. Do these representatives want marriage equality in the church? The Bishop of Leicester, quoted in the story, certainly doesn’t…
And now the BBC has this report Gay marriage: Church says government move ‘absurd’
The day before the PM’s remarks, CofE officials had met for talks on the issue with officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
“What is clear is that the amount of detail given by officials from the department certainly wasn’t the level of detail revealed on the floor of the House” five days later, said a CofE spokesman. “It think that’s surprising, at the very least.
“There is this sense of the government slightly making it up on the hoof. This is an important and serious issue and a complex area of law. Doing all this on the hoof is absurd.”
But a DCMS statement said: “It is just not true to say that we have not properly discussed our proposals with the Church of England.
“As part of our consultation process, and before we finalised our proposals, Government officials met the Church of England at a very senior level.
“The Church made clear to us its wish to see legal provisions which would ensure that their position on not conducting same-sex marriages could continue. While it is inappropriate to share the exact nature of legislative proposals before announcing them to Parliament, discussions with the Church were quite specific about the quad lock.”
The CofE spokesman said there was no wish for “protection or exemption for ourselves in ways that are any different from any other Church”, though it was accepted that its unique position as the established Church would require particular legislation.
“If, despite our opposition, the legislation goes through, we support the government intention of leaving the choice of conducting same-sex weddings with all Churches and faiths.”
He added: “The Church’s position is about the meaning of marriage; the Church’s position is not about being anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) - we fully support civil partnership.”
The DCMS itself has published this on behalf of Maria Miller: Equal marriage and the Church of England.
…We discussed our plans with the Church of England
Some have suggested that the Church of England didn’t know in advance about the legal protections we were proposing. This is simply not correct. We sat down and had detailed, private discussions with them prior to my statement in Parliament. But of course, the rules of the House of Commons mean that the detail of legislative proposals is presented to Parliament before anyone else. We will continue to discuss our plans with them going forward, and those meetings have already started…
Jerome Taylor wrote this at the Independent on Tuesday. I think it is the best analysis I have seen so far.
Census, gays and a very bad day for the Church of England
The historical goodwill of the British public towards Anglicanism is starting to run dry - and this anti same-sex marriage stance will only drain further support
New census data revealed this morning showed that just shy of 1,100 people in England and Wales ditch their Christian identity every day.
Meanwhile the only organisation that has a duty to marry British citizens will, the government announced this afternoon, be legally allowed to discriminate once more against gay men and women. Not a good day for the Church of England. If I were a Lords Spiritual right now, I’d be rather nervous about keeping my job. The established church has never looked so out of touch with the rest of Britain…
And on the equal marriage legislation, he said this:
Out of touch
The Church hierarchy’s official opposition to equal marriage legislation, meanwhile, is likely to erode support for Christianity even further over the next ten years – especially among younger generations who simply aren’t as bothered about what people do with their genitals in loving, committed consensual relationships to the same extent that perhaps their parents or grandparents are.
It’s important to note that much of the Church of England is not anti-gay marriage. There are wonderful, inclusive Anglican congregations that welcome gay couples and plenty of Anglicans who support equal marriage rights. But a chuck are opposed and the Church hierarchy has decided to go for a de facto oppositional stance until they can sort out what their ecclesiastical approach to same sex relationships is (which given how long it’s taken to sort out the issue of women could take some time).
The government’s announcement today that the Church of England will be legally banned from having gay marriages – as opposed to other religious groups who will be allowed to opt out – should halt concerns that the definition of marriage is somehow being threatened in canon law. The Church now has a “quadruple” legal lock that Europe and our courts simply would not be able to interfere with. For much of the anti-gay religious right, though, I fear even that won’t be enough.
However they try to portray this as a “religious freedom” argument, they are ultimately anti-gay marriage and determined to sink it however they can. The fact that no religious group would ever be forced to conduct gay marriages – or that plenty of religious groups believe their right to religious expression is currently being impinged because they can’t conduct gay weddings – falls on deaf ears.
The additional legal protections for the Church of England, of course, now means that the chances of Britain’s established church embracing gay men and women in marriage is now further off than ever. So an already out of touch church will become further disconnected while most of the people it is supposed to minister to march on. If the established church isn’t careful, the distance will become simply too wide to bridge.
The Church Times reports this morning: Same-sex-marriage Bill will lock C of E’s right to abstain by Ed Thornton
THE protection for the Church of England to be contained within the Government’s same-sex-marriage legislation was a surprise to church representatives, it emerged this week.
On Tuesday, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller, announced that the Bill would include a “quadruple lock” of measures that would “protect religious freedom”. These would specify that it would be illegal for any Church of England minister to conduct a same-sex marriage.
But at a meeting with Parliamentarians on Thursday, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, said that this level of protection had not been mentioned in meetings with the Government. He regretted that no prior consul[t]ation had been sought…
And there is this sidebar
The legal position
IF, once the same-sex marriage legislation is passed, a parish priest decides to break the law and marry a same-sex couple, it will be to no avail: the marriage will not be valid.
This is because the legislation will not alter the Church of England’s canons, one of which - Canon B30, paragraph 1 - states that marriage is “of one man with one woman”.
The Government’s legislation does not, therefore, make it illegal for C of E ministers to marry same-sex couples, as some reports have suggested: it merely reinforces what is already the case in canon law.
Since canon law is also part of public law, the Government has had to make it specific that same-sex marriage legislation does not apply to Church of England marriage rites.
The Government is not attempting to alter canon law for two reasons: first, it is responding to requests from Church House officials that it permit the Church to maintain its existing position on marriage; second, it is preserving a long-standing tradition that Parliament does not legislate for the Church of England in matters of doctrine and practice.
It would be up to the General Synod, therefore, to pass legislation changing the C of E’s doctrine and practice of marriage. A legislative package would have to include an Amending Canon redefining the nature of marriage, and the passing of a Measure (the General Synod’s equivalent of an Act of Parliament) which altered both statute law concerning C of E marriage rites, and the marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer.
If passed by the Synod, the Measure would require parliamentary and, ultimately, royal assent.
This post from Ministry of Truth Making sense of Cameron’s ‘Quadruple Lock’ on Equal Marriage gives a great deal of detail.
…Okay, so why has the government now put religious marriage on the table when, previously, it was only offering to support same-sex civil marriages?
The answer to this lies in the legal advice that the government will have received prior to the publication of its response to the consultation on equal marriage in which they will have been told that by affording legal recognition to civil same sex marriages they would be paving the way for a legal challenge under article 9 of European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of thought conscience and religion.
To be absolutely clear on this, as this is an issue that has been widely misrepresented by opponents of equal marriage, the issue here is not that affording legal recognition to civil same-sex marriage would allow gay couples to use current equality legislation or the European Court of Human Rights to compel the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, or any other religious group or denomination to set aside their theological/doctrinal objections to same-sex marriage. Even without the proposed ‘quadruple lock’ the likelihood of either the High Court of England and Wales or the European Court of Human Rights forcing any religious organisation to carry out same-sex marriages against its wishes is somewhere on a par with the chance of my being elected the next Pope. The High Court does not, as a matter of principle and long-standing convention, issue rulings on matter of theology while the European Court’s preferred approach to religious cases is perhaps best characterised as ducking the issue by batting the matter back to national governments/courts under their margin of appreciation.
What was highly likely, had the government not made some provision for religious same-sex marriages, was a legal challenge to the government, and not to any individual church, under article 9 of ECHR from one or more of those denominations that has already indicated that it does wish to be able to conduct religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, a list which currently includes the Unitarians, Quakers and Liberal Jews. From the point at which secular law recognises same-sex civil marriages their ceases to be any viable legal argument for restricting the ability of religious denominations to recognise and conduct same sex marriages, if that is consistent with their theological position, solely on the basis that other religious groups are, themselves, opposed to that same practice….
And, regarding the fourth lock in particular:
…Unlike other churches and religious organisations, the Church of England, as the established church, is legally obliged to conduct marriage ceremonies for anyone who asks subject only to the rules of canon law and secular provision of the Marriage Act 1949 (and subsequent amendments) irrespective of the actual religious beliefs of the parties who wish to marry. As long as both parties are content to be married under the rites of the Church of England, legally able to marry and are willing to comply with the Churches administrative requirements, e.g. the posting of banns, etc. then, save for an explicit legal exemption relating to divorcees whose former spouse in still alive, the Church has a legal duty to perform the ceremony.
This being the case, the government cannot merely leave the option open without creating a constitutional problem by giving rise to a potential conflict between statute and canon law, one that can only be resolved in one of two ways given that the Church remains, at least for the time being, opposed to carrying out same-sex marriages; the government must either legislate for the Church of England in line with current canon law, in which case statute law must specify that it remains unlawful for ministers of the Church of England to marry same-sex couples, or it must remove from law the Church’s legal duty to perform marriages for any heterosexual couple who asks to be married under the rites of the Church.
As this second option would entail the Church taking a very clear step on the road to disestablishment, the government have chosen to take the first option and maintain a consistent position between statute and canon law by retaining a ban of same-sex marriages within the Church of England in statute law…
John Bingham at the Telegraph wrote: Gay marriage: Church of England signals it could ‘live with’ Government plans
…Church officials have acknowledged that they could potentially “live with” the proposals drawn up by Government lawyers to prevent churches facing human rights challenges to force them to conduct weddings for homosexual couples.
It comes in marked contrast to claims earlier this year that same-sex marriage could pose the biggest threat to its position as the established church since the reformation.
The incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has made clear that he is opposed to same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile the House of Lords heard on[e] claim that several bishops secretly support the principle of gay marriage but are afraid to speak out because it would contradict the official policy of the Church…
The Hansard transcript of yesterday’s House of Commons debate on women bishops is now available here.
There is also a video recording.
Press reports inlcude:
John Bingham Telegraph Church urged to put faith in Parliament over women bishops crisis.
WATCH has today issued this response to yesterday’s statement from the House of Bishops.
Response to the House of Bishops Press Statement of 11th December, 2012
WATCH welcomes the House of Bishops’ expression of gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, its acknowledgement of the anger, grief and disappointment so widely expressed during the past weeks and the commitment of all its members to making an effective response.
The House of Bishops’ willingness to consider questions regarding culture, processes and how women might more regularly contribute is also encouraging. We believe this will best be realised through the admission of women to the episcopate and will continue to work for the full inclusion of women at every level in the Church of England.
WATCH support the House of Bishops’ belief that a future legislative package would benefit from greater simplicity. A single clause measure is entirely consistent with that aim and would affirm that those who assent to the ordination of women to the episcopate are, in fact, loyal Anglicans from whom no ‘protection’ is needed.
WATCH remains clear that after ten years of searching for a compromise in law without success, a single clause measure is the best way forward now. Provision for those opposed can be made outside the Measure. This is the way that every other Province of the Anglican Communion with women bishops has proceeded.
We look forward with interest to the Archbishops’ announcement of the membership of the proposed working group and hope that it will be properly representative of the widespread support for women bishops clearly demonstrated at local level through Diocesan Synods.
We hope that future discussions will be guided by the principle that women are as central to the whole life of the church as men. It will be essential that such discussions uphold General Synod’s decision of 1975 there is ‘no fundamental objection to ordination of women to the priesthood’, and also that of 2006 which recognised that admitting women to the episcopate is ‘consonant with the faith of the church’.
Rachel Weir, WATCH CHAIR, commented
“There can be few issues that have undermined the Church’s credibility more than its recent rejection of the women bishops legislation. The entire country is watching as we try to find a way forward. Supporters of women bishops are prepared, if necessary, to wait for a new synod to get this right. It is time for a clear and unequivocal endorsement of women’s ordained ministry embodied in a single clause measure.”
The Church of England has issued an explanatory note:
The full text is reproduced in full below the fold. Now moved to here and the title changed from “Equal Marriage” to “Same-sex marriage”.
Apologies for the broken link earlier. One would not have expected the CofE website to move such an important statement so soon after its publication without inserting a forward to the new location.
And the page has been moved yet again. 17 December.
The following explanatory note may be helpful in the context of yesterday’s Government statement and subsequent press coverage.
In her statement to the House of Commons on 11th December on the Government’s proposals for Equal Marriage, the Secretary of State said:
“because the Church of England and Wales have explicitly stated that they do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages the legislation will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to marry same-sex couples. Mr Speaker, this provision recognises and protects the unique and Established nature of these churches. The church’s canon law will also continue to ban the marriage of same-sex couples. Therefore, even if these institutions wanted to conduct same sex marriage, it would require a change to primary legislation at a later date and a change to canon law. Additional protection that cannot be breached.”
Press and political commentary on this has given rise to the impression that extra safeguards have been put in place for the Church of England, which give legal protection above and beyond that for other denominations and faiths. Some have said that this amounts to Government deciding to give preferential treatment to the Church of England on the question of legal protection for religious organisations not wishing to perform same-sex marriages. Others have questioned why the Government should explicitly write in to primary legislation that it would be “illegal” for the Church of England to perform same sex marriages when it will not be so for other denominations and faiths, taking this to mean that it places additional legislative barriers in the way of the Church of England in the unlikely event that it should wish to change its current position.
Such questions are understandable, but are based on a misunderstanding of the Church of England’s established status and its relationship with Parliament on matters relating to Canon Law.
This is not a question of the Government and Parliament imposing a prohibition or “ban” on what the Church of England can do. It is instead the Government responding to the Church’s wish to see the status quo for the Church of England preserved and accepting, as for other churches and faiths (though the legal framework is different for them), that it is not for the Government and Parliament to determine matters of doctrine.
As explained in the Church of England’s submission to the Government’s consultation in June 2012 (here: http://tinyurl.com/bsn6dxt), the Canons of the Church of England define marriage, in accordance with Christ’s teaching and the doctrine of the Church, as being between a man and a woman. Because the Canon Law of the Church of England is also part of the public law of the land and cannot be in conflict with statute law, it is important that any legislation for same-sex marriage makes it clear that it does not apply to marriage according to the rites of the Church of England. The legislative drafting of what is needed for the Church of England is necessarily unique because of that; and because Church of England clergy normally have a legal duty to marry people by virtue of their office. The Government, in accepting that the legal effect of the Canons of the Church of England need to be preserved (in line with its assertions about protection of religious liberty), have committed to drafting legislation on same sex marriage accordingly.
The effect of what the Government has proposed is to leave decisions about the doctrine and practice of the Church of England with the Church of England. Any change to the Church of England’s doctrine and practice of marriage would require legislation by the Church’s General Synod. In addition to an Amending Canon that redefined the nature of marriage such a legislative package would also involve the General Synod passing a Measure (the General Synod’s equivalent of an Act of Parliament) that altered both the statute law concerning marriage according to the rites Church of England and the marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer.
All Synod Measures require parliamentary consent. The usual process of parliamentary scrutiny for legislation submitted by the Church is that it goes first to the Ecclesiastical Committee and then has a single debate in each House before the Measure goes for Royal Assent. As the General Synod’s devolved legislative powers includes the ability to amend Westminster legislation it would not require separate, additional legislation on the part of Parliament to enact any change to the Church’s practice on marriage. Talk of additional ‘barriers to opt-in’ for the Church of England following the Secretary of State’s announcement is therefore misplaced.
For Parliament to give the Church of England an opt-in to conduct same sex marriages that it hasn’t sought would be unnecessary, of doubtful constitutional propriety and introduce wholly avoidable confusion.
In addition, as the Bishop of Leicester said in the House of Lords on 11th December in response to the Government statement “our concern here is not primarily for religious conscience or the protection of the Church of England’s position, but rather a more fundamental concern for stable communities”. The arguments set out in the Church of England’s submission in June to the Government’s consultation (here: http://tinyurl.com/bsn6dxt) spell out those concerns in detail.
11 December 2012
Marriage is not the property of the Government nor is it the property of the Church, the Rt Rev Tim Stephens, Bishop of Leicester, reminded Parliament in a response to the Government statement on equal marriage in the House of Lords, today.
While the forms and legalities around marriage had evolved over time, he said, one fundamental feature had remained the same throughout: that marriage is a union of one man and one woman, a social institution that pre-dates both Church and State and has been the glue that has bound countless successive societies together.
The Bishop asked for assurances that, for example, teachers would not be disciplined for upholding traditional religious teachings and that proper time would be given for consultation.
The Bishop of Leicester’s response in full:
“Those of us on these benches entirely share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Laming, that we are all equal in the eyes of God. That is why many of us supported civil partnerships as we believed that the rights and obligations that flow to those who wish to formally mark and celebrate their commitment to each other should not be denied to people simply because of their sexuality.
“However, my Lords, civil partnerships, while conferring virtually the same legal benefits, are not the same as marriage. Marriage is not the property of the Government nor is it the property of the Church; and while the forms and legalities around marriage have evolved over time, as the noble lady minister has pointed out, one fundamental feature has remained the same throughout: that marriage is a union of one man and one woman, a social institution that pre-dates both Church and State and has been the glue that has bound countless successive societies together.
“Does the Minister recognise that our concern here is not primarily for religious conscience or the protection of the Church of England’s position, but rather a more fundamental concern for stable communities? Can the Minister assure us that teachers for example in Church schools will not be disciplined for upholding traditional religious teachings? Can the Minister assure this House in spite of the accelerated pace of this process, proper time, even over a Christmas holiday, will be given for adequate consultation with the Church of England’s Canon lawyers on the legislative drafting. Can the Minister assure us that the great majority of members of the Church of England and other faiths will not be labelled as prejudicial to gay people for taking a traditional stand, and perhaps most troubling my Lords is the fact that the Government and Opposition have together in their proceeding with this Measure led to division, not only within the country where polls consistently show half the population against this change, but also between the political class and the vast majority of practicing religious people. What plans does the Government have for working towards a degree of consensus on this matter?”
The House of Bishops of the Church of England met yesterday and today at Lambeth Palace and considered the implications of the General Synod’s recent rejection of legislation to enable women to become bishops. The House had the benefit of participation in its discussion of the Very Rev Viv Faull, the Venerable Christine Hardman, Dr Paula Gooder, and Mrs Margaret Swinson, who had all previously served on the Steering Committee or Revision Committee for the legislation.
The House expressed its ongoing gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events should have left so many feeling undermined and undervalued. Effective response to this situation is a priority on which all are strongly agreed.
The House acknowledged the profound and widespread sense of anger, grief, and disappointment felt by so many in the Church of England and beyond, and agreed that the present situation was unsustainable for all, whatever their convictions. It expressed its continuing commitment to enabling women to be consecrated as bishops, and intends to have fresh proposals to put before the General Synod at its next meeting in July.
The House will be organising an event early in 2013 at which it will share with a larger number of lay and ordained women - in the context of prayer and reflection - questions about the culture of the House’s processes and discussions, and how women might more regularly contribute.
In order to avoid delay in preparing new legislative proposals, the House has set up a working group drawn from all three houses of Synod, the membership to be determined by the Archbishops and announced before Christmas.
This group will arrange facilitated discussions with a wide range of people of a variety of views in the week of February 4th, when General Synod was to have met.
The House will have an additional meeting in February immediately after these discussions, and expects to settle at its May meeting the elements of a new legislative package to come to Synod in July.
For any such proposals to command assent, the House believes that they will need (i) greater simplicity, (ii) a clear embodiment of the principle articulated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference “that those who dissent from as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans”, (iii) a broadly-based measure of agreement about the shape of the legislation in advance of the beginning of the actual legislative process. These concerns will be the focus of the working group in the months ahead.
The House endorsed the view of the Archbishops’ Council that the “Church of England now has to resolve this issue through its own processes as a matter of great urgency”.
Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con):
On the principle of this matter, I sometimes think that we are talking at cross purposes. For me, there is absolutely no dispute that the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert), my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr Blunt) and I were all created equal in the image of God. That is not the issue. For the Church of England, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the distinctiveness of men and women, so removing that complementarity from the definition of marriage is to lose any social institution where sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged.
Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab):
Marriage has changed over the centuries, has it not? For centuries, the Church of England’s doctrine was that the primary purpose of marriage was the procreation of children, but many heterosexual couples either are unable to have children or choose not to have them. Marriage today is, for very many people, about many other things—companionship, sharing one’s life, mutual support and so on. As I said to the Minister yesterday, I find it difficult to believe that any Christian, including many Anglican bishops and clergy, would not want that for every member of their parish. Will she therefore consider not putting such an ultimate lock on the Church of England, so that there is freedom for the Church of England? Those in the Church of England all voted to keep slavery for 30 years, but eventually they changed their minds.
Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab):
The Minister just spoke about the special protection for the Church of England. The Church of England plays a special role in this country as our established Church, so is she satisfied that it is once again opting out of equalities legislation?
The remarks of the Bishop of Leicester have been published previously.
Lord Harries of Pentregarth:
Is the Minister aware that, notwithstanding the official position of the Church of England on this, a good number of its members warmly welcome the Government’s position on this? Is she aware that privately, a fair number of individual bishops in the Church of England also support it, but are not able to say so publicly at the moment because of the political situation in which the Church of England now finds itself?
The government has announced its plans for same-sex marriage.
The press release is here.
The consultation response is here.
And here is the official fact sheet.
Here is the key section of the press release:
The Government reiterated today its absolute commitment that no religious organisation, or individual minister of religion, would be forced to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. European law already puts protection for religious freedom beyond doubt (under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights) but the Government intends to go even further and put in place a ‘quadruple lock’ in domestic law.
The legal locks, which will be on the face of any primary legislation, are:
- no religious organisation, or individual minister, could be compelled to marry same-sex couples (or to permit this to happen on their premises);
- it will be unlawful for religious organisations, or their ministers, to marry same-sex couples unless the organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to do so (and that would mean the religious organisation itself opting in, the presiding minister having consented and the premises in which the marriage is to be conducted having been registered);
- the Equality Act 2010 would be amended to ensure that no discrimination claim could be brought against religious organisations or individual minister for refusing to marry a same-sex couple (or allowing their premises to be used for this purpose); and
- the bill will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples, or to opt-in to do so. Canon law – which bans the marriage of same-sex couples – will continue to apply. That means that it would require a change in both primary and Canon law before Church of England and Church in Wales would be able to opt in to conduct same - sex marriages.
This Wednesday there is a debate in the House of Commons scheduled, as shown here.
This will be a backbench debate, something introduced by the current Government as a way for backbench MPs to have more of a voice in the House. The business is chosen by the Backbench Business Committee. In this particular case it will be a general debate sponsored by Ben Bradshaw MP and with no substantive motion before the House. Mr Bradshaw argued his case for holding the debate before the Committee on 27 November, and the uncorrected transcript of his representations can be found here.
A transcript of the earlier session of Questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner can be found here.
Updated Monday afternoon to include full text of email to members of the House of Laity
The date of the meeting of the House of Laity to debate a motion of no confidence in its chair, Dr Philip Giddings, has now been confirmed as 18 January 2013. Members of the House were sent this email this morning:
Dear Members of the House of Laity
An extraordinary meeting of the House has been called to debate a motion of no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of the House. Sufficient of you indicated your support under the provisions of Standing Order 2(c) of the House to require the meeting to take place.
Given the nature of the motion that will be before the House, the Standing Committee has determined that the meeting should take place as soon as possible and has consequently called the meeting for Friday 18 January 2013. The meeting will take place from 1.30 p.m. in the Assembly Hall in Church House, Westminster.
Tea and coffee will be available free of charge in the Bishop Partridge Hall. Cold snacks will also be available for a charge.
If members wish to claim expenses incurred in attending the meeting, they will need to agree this with their diocese. Those members whose expenses are met centrally will need to agree reimbursement with the Synod Office as usual.
The Standing Committee has agreed that there will be only one item on the agenda - namely, the motion of no confidence - and that no other business will be in order.
I shall circulate an agenda and supporting papers this week.
With all good wishes
The Archbishops’ Council
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3AZ
Dr Giddings’ local paper, the Reading Post, has published this article by Linda Fort: Top church of England figure faces no confidence vote.
In light of yesterday’s announcement, it may be helpful to reprise what the Church of England has said in the recent past about the government’s proposals concerning same-sex marriage.
Here is the original consultation document. Among other things it said:
We have listened to those religious organisations that raised concerns about the redefinition of religious marriage. We are aware that some religious organisations that solemnize marriages through a religious ceremony believe that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
That is why this consultation is limited to consideration of civil marriage and makes no proposals to change the way that religious marriages are solemnized. It will not be legally possible under these proposals for religious organisations to solemnize religious marriages for same-sex couples. There will therefore be no obligation or requirement for religious organisations or ministers of religion to do this. It will also not be possible for a same-sex couple to have a civil marriage ceremony on religious premises. Marriages of any sort on religious premises would still only be legally possible between a man and a woman.
Here is the press release issued on 12 June about the CofE’s response: A Response to the Government Equalities Office Consultation -“Equal Civil Marriage”- [from the Church of England].
And here is the actual response made by the CofE published that day: A Response to the Government Equalities Office Consultation -“Equal Civil Marriage”- from the Church of England
You can follow Thinking Anglicans reporting of the ensuing news coverage by following this link and scrolling to June 2012.
Then in July, at General Synod, a lot of Questions were asked about this response. Here is a copy of the official transcript of the Questions with Answers.
Yesterday, the following further press release was published in response to what has been described as a U-turn by the government on the issue of religious participation in same-sex marriages. Like the official response it is totally anonymous. Unlike the first one, it makes not even a small attempt to mention that there is a wide range of views on this topic held by members of the Church of England.
Updated Monday morning
Financial Times Gay marriage clash looms for Cameron
Blogs and opinion:
James Townsend The consequences of the women bishops vote start to roll in
…I am relatively relaxed about Gay Marriage – I would never campaign for it, but then could never bring myself to oppose it. However, many of the traditionalists who voted against women bishops have done themselves a great disservice because they care rather more about protecting the institution of marriage than they do about women bishops.
The Prime Minister’s original position not only respected the right of churches to opt out of Gay Marriage (I haven’t yet heard anybody suggest that churches should be forced to conduct gay marriages), but including a legal ban making it non-negotiable. His new position won’t change things very much for the Church of England. The only shift is that people like the Quakers, who choose to recognise Gay Marriage, will be able to do so.
Nevertheless, we can see a hardening of the government’s position which is a direct consequence of the women bishops vote. They are less interested in accommodating the needs of a group of people who increasingly look like nutters on the sidelines.
The great tragedy is that there are some decent (non-bigoted) arguments against redefining marriage to include gay relationships. Unfortunately the debacle of women bishops, which has served nobody, means they are likely never to be listened to again.
Changing Attitude Changing Attitude welcomes government plans for gay marriage in church
Christian Concern Government breaks promise on same-sex marriage in churches
Maria Miller ‘We should not stand in their way’
…And I know concerns have been raised by some faith groups about our plans and what they will mean for them. I have put it on record many times, and I will say again, that I will never bring in a law that would impinge – in any way – on the Church’s power to decide who it marries and who it does not. No religious organisation, or individual, should ever be forced to conduct same sex marriages. The European Convention on Human Rights already guarantees freedom of religion, and this cannot be breached. We should not confuse this issue, as many do, with some cases currently going through the EU courts about the right to wear items such as crucifixes – this is about a fundamental religious tenet. But in spite of this guarantee, I will also be bringing forward additional watertight legal locks on the front of any primary legislation introduced, to ensure that these protections are iron clad.
Now, many religious organisations have pointed out to me that these protections would be stronger if we changed our original proposal to ban all religious organisations from conducting same sex marriages. Some, like the Quakers, Liberal Jews and Unitarians, have also said that they want to be able to conduct same-sex marriages, in the same way that they can conduct civil partnerships. My own personal view is that we should not stand in the way of this, especially if it means that those that don’t want to will be even further protected. It is a fundamental point of religious freedom that religious bodies should be able to make their own decisions on this issue.
For me, far from being a radical departure, this is simply one more in a long line of reforms which have strengthened marriage, ensuring it remains a modern and vibrant institution. Over the coming weeks and months I will continue to work closely with faith and other interested groups on how best to implement our plans…
The LGBT Anglican Consortium has issued this press statement:
The LGB&T Anglican Coalition is delighted that David Cameron has said the government’s proposals on equal marriage will include an option for ceremonies to take place on religious premises.
This outcome concurs with our own submission to the government’s consultation, and those of our partner organizations.
It is a matter of regret that the latest official Church of England response makes absolutely no mention of the breadth of views on this matter within the Church itself.
Independent editorial: When Tories dig their heels in
Quakers in Britain Quakers welcome steps towards equal marriage
Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement on same sex marriage today, the Church of England issued the following statement.
It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole. Our concern is for the way the meaning of marriage will change for everyone, gay or straight, if the proposals are enacted. Because we believe that the inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good, our defence of that understanding is motivated by a concern for the good of all in society.
The proposition that same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. To that extent, the Prime Minister’s claim that he supports same-sex marriage from conservative principles is readily understandable. However, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women. This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation.
To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.
We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.
Given the absence of any manifesto commitment for these proposals - and the absence of any commitment in the most recent Queen’s speech - there will need to be an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with these proposals and make them a legislative priority.
We welcome the fact that in his statement the Prime Minister has signalled he is abandoning the Government’s earlier intention to distinguish between civil and religious marriage. We look forward to studying the Government’s detailed response to the consultation next week and to examining the safeguards it is proposing to give to Churches.
The Council of Reform today urged the Church of England’s House of Bishops not to concentrate exclusively upon discussing the issue of the Consecration of Women to the Episcopate when it meets next week, but to focus additionally on the much more pressing and significant issue of the threat to marriage.
Following a 24 hour meeting in Sheffield, the Council issued an urgent statement that said,
“It is understood that Government proposals for a new law on so called “gay marriage” may be imminent and that the proposals may require consummation for a “gay marriage” to be legally valid. Everybody’s marriage will be affected by the result. In law, marriage is a sexual relationship. Incapacity and wilful refusal to consummate a marriage are grounds for annulment, and adultery is one of the five facts which demonstrate irretrievable breakdown. Significantly, it appears that parliament will leave the crucial and delicate task of defining same-sex consummation to the judiciary. However, when consummation is redefined, marriage and marital breakdown are themselves redefined and accordingly the meaning of marriage will be fundamentally altered for all.
Critical as it is to resolve our current difficulties over women bishops, we urge the House of Bishops, during their meeting, additionally to do all that is required to implement immediately a strategy for the preservation of marriage as it has been traditionally understood throughout history and across cultures. We look to them to mobilise the Church in England and specifically the Church of England to defend marriage.
The first priority must be for the Archbishops to invite the leaders of all Christian denominations in this country to ask the millions of Christians in this country to join together in a national day of prayer.
The Council had a fruitful discussion about options for resolving the dilemma over women bishops and continue to pray for a successful outcome to discussions in the New Year.
There are numerous press reports today concerning the results of the consultation on Equal Civil Marriage, which are due to be reported publicly next week.
The story appeared first in the Evening Standard under the headline EXCLUSIVE: Prime Minister David Cameron backs gay weddings in church. The newspaper then published this editorial comment: Gay marriage in church is a basic right.
Other British media followed: