Sunday, 30 November 2003

world opinions

Peter Akinola’s opinions on ECUSA, and a lot of background information on him, are reported at length in this interview by the Associated Press.

An ethnic Yoruba from southwestern Nigeria, Akinola abandoned a chain of cabinetmaking shops and postal agencies in the country’s Muslim-dominated north to “follow the calling of the church” in 1968.
These days, Akinola boasts of creating a diocese in Abuja, “from nothing on the ground. No church, no land, no money.” Two decades ago, parishioners worshipped “under trees, others in classrooms,” while today there is a cathedral and several parish churches.
Nigerians still regard him as a “big man” who, traveling in a chauffeur-driven, bulletproof Mercedes, rubs shoulders with the rich and powerful.
For instance, President Olusegun Obasanjo, a longtime friend who hails from Akinola’s hometown of Abeokuta, sent a three-man delegation to congratulate him for being elected leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella group uniting the nation’s 60 million Christians.
During a recent meeting with foreign journalists, church employees greeted Akinola with a combination of affection and obeisance. They chuckled, and kneeled to the archbishop, who laughingly referred to them as “you bushmen.”

Sarah Wildman lives in Washington DC. She writes for The American Prospect that “Conservative Episcopalians huffing over the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson are standing on the wrong side of history — their own church’s.” Read Gay Rites Movement.

Tom Harpur is a columnist for the Toronto Star. In his opinion, Alpha’s a giant leap backward.

Alpha is a reactionary, essentially fundamentalist, strategy. It will not satisfy the demands of the Spirit today for radical change. The churches must find another way.

Margaret Rodgers of Anglican Media Sydney writes in this month’s Southern Cross Ripples from ECUSA action felt far and wide

America is the beacon of democracy in the world. Yet it is not always a blessing to other nations. For the US often seems to determine what is, in its judgment, the right way forward, and it then proceeds to move relentlessly in that direction, however much the rest of the world dissents or protests.
This is apparent in US foreign policy. It also seems to be an underlying, though perhaps unconscious, driving force in much of the decision-making of the liberal elements in the Episcopal Church of the USA.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 November 2003 at 4:20 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 29 November 2003

Saturday religion roundup

Earlier this week, Church asked to disinter ‘Harold’ in the Guardian. A church court was asked to give permission to open a medieval tomb which may conceivably contain the bones of King Harold, last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England.
And yesterday, The Times reported on Churches unite for justice in housing market. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday challenged the morality of the property market, arguing that it was “divorced” from people’s needs and left those working in essential services unable to afford a home.
Today, the Guardian has a comment column by Jewish academic Geza Vermes on What’s sex got to do with it?
Meanwhile the Telegraph has a useful column on Muslim God and Christian God by Christopher Howse.
The Times has Priest turns property tycoon to put churches in profit which is about a new company called Ecclesiastical Property Services. If this company has a website, I didn’t find it yet.

The same paper’s At Your Service column has a description of what happens at St Philip and St Jacob Bristol. This may or may not be the kind of thing that David Stancliffe was writing about recently but I’m pretty sure it’s what John Ewington dislikes not to mention Prudence Dailey.

The music is the main variable, with traditional organ-led services only about once every two months. Today the worship leader is 27-year-old Adam Stone, a student at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school. He describes his music as “U2-ish soft-rock”, and his band has drums, a piano and bass, acoustic and electric guitars. Sometimes there is half an hour of solid singing, punctuated by the occasional guitar riff. “It’s great to get into the presence of God and stay there for a while,” he says.
Perhaps the most notable innovation is a very large screen attached to the partition between the nave and the chancel. When a lady stands up to ask the congregation for help with some church maintenance work there appear on the screen two towering clip-art men - one holding a ladder, and another knocking a nail into a wall. During the sermon I look on in wonder as the preacher’s main points - as well as assorted quotations from the Bible - swoop jauntily into view.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 November 2003 at 11:10 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 28 November 2003

Australian news and views

Updated 29 November
Peter Jensen agrees with Peter Carnley. About asylum seekers that is.
‘God’s Own Country’ Would Turn Away Jesus - Archbishop is in the Scotsman this morning.
Archbishop slams refugee stance is in the Melbourne Age. And it is even on ICWales and South African News24 but no mention of this on Anglican Media Sydney yet.
Update
Here now is the full text of that speech from AMS and a BBC report.

The religious affairs editor of the Australian, James Murray has written Who decides who’s a Christian? in which he criticises Peter Jensen’s “assumption of the right to interfere in the affairs of other churches.”

Jensen is on record as saying that truth is more important than unity, but the claim to be the possessor of the truth is surely a dangerous one. With the assumption of power as an archbishop and the influence of abundant funds - $3billion was mentioned - a heady combination threatens the integrity of the Anglican Church in Australia.

The differing views of other Sydney Anglicans are mentioned in this report.

Update
The Sydney Morning Herald has published this opinion column
Conquer the Sodomites! The St Jensen’s Parish Newsletter.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 28 November 2003 at 11:30 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 26 November 2003

News from home and abroad

David Stancliffe was reported by the Telegraph to be unhappy with the quality of many CofE church services. Our services are dire, says CofE’s head of worship.
The BBC reports on someone trying to improve the quality of sermons who has written one about U2, Vicar preaches U2 to the masses. (A book full of these is about to appear.)
Here’s a bishop who is angry and upset about something different, Bishop not impressed with Bok management.
The Telegraph today has reported Rowan Williams’ Christmas message as Archbishop pleads for Anglican truce.

In Canada, Michael Peers has announced the members of a task force that will consider alternate episcopal oversight, Task force will examine alternate episcopal oversight.
In Australia, Peter Carnley has criticised the Foreign Minister, Anglican primate criticises Downer while the Australian, a national newspaper reports that the Church ‘still employs pedophiles’ and The West Australian in Perth reports on nationwide falling attendance figures. Meanwhile Peter Jensen seems to have denied reports that he was wooing Uniting Church members to join the Anglicans.
The Church in Ghana says it is vehemently opposed to any form of unnatural, carnal behaviour.
The Nigerians plan to open a branch in the USA for Nigerians there, Sequel to consecration of gay Bishop: Nigerian Anglicans plan US branch.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 November 2003 at 10:07 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 23 November 2003

Sunday news

Istanbul: updated links on this are here.

Another George Carey interview, this time on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme. Listen to it here (Real Player required).
Update:
and another, on BBC TV’s Breakfast with Frost. Here is the transcript of the interview.

And here is the full transcript of that Australian TV interview with Peter Jensen. An Australian news story based on it has two headlines:
Melbourne Age Archbishop flags split over gays
Sydney Herald Sydney archbishop could abandon Canterbury’s authority
Anglican Media Sydney is unhappy about that second headline.
Update
Not all Sydney Anglicans are happy about what Jensen said, Jensen threatens to switch allegiances in Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Telegraph reports that:
Archbishop gives his ‘full backing’ to pro-life campaigner and also has a long interview with Joanna Jepson. The view of the West Mercia Police on this is reported here. Here are some earlier reports:
Curate takes police to court over abortion of cleft-palate foetus
Ruth Gledhill gave some background in Curate tells of past that led to fight on ‘eugenic’ abortion.
The issue is discussed in today’s Sunday Times by Tom Shakespeare and also by Minnette Marrin.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 November 2003 at 2:58 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 22 November 2003

CofE response on civil partnerships

On Friday, it was announced by the DTI that a bill to provide for civil partnerships will be brought forward soon (it is expected to be included in next week’s Queen’s Speech). It was also reported that 74% of organisations and 84% of individuals supported the proposals.
The full DTI report on the consultation is available to download in either pdf format here or Microsoft Word format here.

Here are the salient points relating to responses from religious organisations.

2.13 Of those representing nationally-based religious groups:
53% (9 responses) supported the principle of a civil partnership scheme;
47% (8 responses) opposed, or did not offer an opinion on, the principle of a civil partnership scheme;
For example, the Church of England, the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Salvation Army, the Methodist Church and others.

2.14 Of those representing individual religious groups and congregations:
15% (3 responses) supported the principle of a civil partnership scheme;
85% (17 responses) opposed the principle of a civil partnership scheme.
These were largely Baptist, Evangelical, Free and Congregational churches.

Religious concerns
3.10 A number of people commented on the proposals on religious grounds. Some felt that any legal recognition of same-sex couples was contrary to the teachings of the Bible and other religious texts. Some said “holy matrimony is not the same as a homosexual liaison” and it would be “deeply offensive to Christians to equate the two”.
“As a Baptist Minister, I cannot see how gay relationships can possibly be equated to marriage. Marriage is a unique institution because it allows for the possibility of children being conceived and nurtured. In marriage, a man and a woman make an exclusive commitment to each other. Whilst I recognise that this does not always work out in practice, no comparable situation can ever apply with homosexual couples.”
3.11 Others made it clear that they felt civil partnerships were entirely compatible with their religious beliefs.
“As a Church of England priest, I warmly and wholeheartedly endorse the proposals for Civil Partnership registration for lesbian and gay couples. Justice for all is one of the central Christian teachings, and at the heart of the Bible. Lesbian and gay people who have made a commitment in a relationship deserve the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples who marry.”
3.12 Others said that religious organisations should be free to choose whether their faith should allow or forbid same-sex registrations.

The DTI says:
It is not for the Government to interfere in matters that are clearly for religious groups to decide for themselves. These are decisions best left to individual faiths. The registration of a civil partnership would be a purely civil process and involves no religious element.

Below is the full response that the Archbishops’ Council sent to the Department of Trade and Industry on behalf of the Church of England on 30 September. The original is downloadable here in Microsoft Word format. The DTI’s original invitation to consult is a pdf document that can be downloaded here.

CIVIL PARTNERSHIP
Church of England Response to DTI Consultation Document

1. The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Consultation Document which the Government issued on 30 June.

Background

2. The Church’s approach to ethical issues is founded on Holy Scripture, interpreted in the light of Tradition and Reason. As our knowledge and understanding of the world and the mysteries of humanity grow, so we are called to engage prayerfully and thoughtfully both with new issues and with other issues which, though familiar, may need to be explored afresh. This is a process requiring great wisdom and patience, not least on moral and ethical issues at a time when views in our society have been in considerable flux.

3. It has always been the teaching of the Church of England that marriage - that is, faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationships between a man and a woman - is central to the stability and health of human society. In our view it continues to provide the best context for the raising of children. For that reason it warrants a special position within the social and legislative framework of our society. We remain committed to this principle of marriage and to a unified recognition of its meaning by the law of our country.

4. Sexual activity outside marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual has, of course, been known throughout recorded history. Nevertheless, the almost universal Christian tradition has been to regard it as a falling short of God’s purposes for human beings. That remains the declared position of the Church of England, though there is a continuing internal debate over the acceptability of sexually active relationships between gay and lesbian people who are in faithful and committed partnerships. A discussion document providing a comprehensive guide to that debate will be published by the House of Bishops in November.

5. Alongside this approach to sexual ethics, the Church also attaches high importance to the promotion of social justice and the safeguarding of human rights. As a result the Church has, on occasions, taken a positive view of particular legislative changes where there has been a need to remedy injustices in our diverse society, even where the result may have been to facilitate developments about which the Church has had particular concerns given its doctrine and teaching. An example would be the law relating to divorce.

6. It is with these two key considerations in mind that the Archbishops’ Council has approached the Government’s proposals: the need to do nothing to devalue or undermine marriage and the family; and the importance of using the law of the land to promote justice and human rights.

What we welcome

7. We welcome the Government’s recognition of the distinctive place of marriage in the law of our country and the need to preserve it. We note that the consultation document states at para 1.3 that “it is a matter of public record that the Government has no plans to introduce same-sex marriage”.

8. We support the Government’s wish to encourage long-term stable relationships as being more in the interests of society as a whole than a culture of transient or promiscuous relationships. Fair treatment for such relationships within a framework of legal rights and safeguards may well help to promote this objective.

9. We also endorse the Government’s intention to recognise the rights of individuals within same sex relationships in relation to such matters as protection from domestic violence, the registration of a death and inheritance matters including tenancy succession. The law no longer reflects current social patterns and needs amendment to remedy injustice.

10. The consultation document, including in the foreword by the Minister of State, Jacqui Smith, refers to the importance of securing culture change through legislation. If this means the promotion of greater mutual acceptance of others, the embracing of diversity within our society and the repudiation of homophobia then we agree. Society is stronger and more harmonious if we each respect the decisions which adults make about the ordering of their own lives so long as those decisions are not clearly to the detriment of others.

What we question

11. If, however, culture change means the promotion of the view that it is discriminatory to distinguish between marriage and same sex relationships, then it is not clear what the Government’s declared recognition of the distinctive place of marriage means in substance. We believe that it is in the interests of society for marriage to continue to enjoy a unique status. We seriously question whether there will in practice be a sufficient distinction in law between marriage and registered same-sex partnerships if the proposals outlined in the consultation paper are implemented.

12. Secondly, there is an ambiguity at the heart of the Government’s proposals about the nature of the proposed partnerships and about what precisely the couple are promising to be to each other. This is reflected in the shifting language in the document between “gay, lesbian and bisexual” couples in some places and “same sex partnerships” (potentially a wider category) in others. In a matter of this kind clarity is crucial.

13. The extremely close parallel between the new arrangements and the legal framework for marriage is likely to deter some people who might otherwise register - for example those who choose to share a home with others for a substantial period and may wish to benefit from the new partnership provisions in relation to successor tenancy rights but are not homosexual. Conversely, gay and lesbian couples will receive less protection than they might expect from a legal framework so akin to marriage - no apparent protection against sexual infidelity within a supposedly exclusive relationship, no equivalent to a nullity process should a sexual relationship be wilfully refused, no specific provision for dissolution on grounds of refusal to live together.

14. We would urge the Government to be clearer and more consistent over what it is trying to achieve. Is the primary aim to remedy injustice and create some new legal rights and safeguards for those who are not married but who may wish to share important parts of their lives with each other, whether or not within a sexual relationship? If so, the logical approach would be to remove the prohibited degrees of relationship, thereby enabling, say, two brothers or two sisters to access the new set of rights. Indeed, if this is the primary aim it could be argued that they should not be confined to same-sex couples.

15. If, on the other hand, the Government’s primary aim is to confer rights on gay and lesbian people in long-term, committed relationships, the logic would be for the legal framework to acknowledge the sexual nature of the relationship. The hybrid nature of the present proposals is a recipe for confusion.

16. We are also concerned about what the document says in relation to the treatment of children. In particular we have reservations about the use of the problematic phrase “children of the partnership” in paragraph 8.3, presumably to refer to the children of one party who are being brought up by a parent and their partner. It is very important that the difference in role and status of actual biological or adoptive parents and those parents’ partners (whether spouses, registered partners or unregistered partners of either sex) should not be blurred. Members of registered partnerships should not have greater rights or responsibilities towards the children of their registered partners than husbands or wives have over their spouse’s children.

Conclusion

17. We shall want to look particularly carefully at the details of the new legislation to see evidence of the Government’s assurance that it “has no plans to introduce same-sex marriage”. As they stand these proposals risk being seen as introducing a form of same-sex marriage with almost all of the same rights as marriage. We accept that there are issues of social justice which need to be addressed in the light of changing patterns of relationship in our society. We believe that it would be possible and indeed right to do so, consistently with safeguarding the special position of marriage. While accepting the case for conferring some new rights on adults who wish to share important parts of their lives with each other, we have significant concerns about the proposed new partnership arrangements and the uneasy compromise they appear to represent.

18. A schedule of more detailed points is attached.
30 September 2003

Archbishops’ Council
Church House
Great Smith Street
LONDON
SW1P 3NZ

ANNEX

1 Paragraphs 1.4 and 2.8 We recognize the force of the arguments against including opposite-sex couples in the proposed scheme of registration. Any such approach would risk confusing the role and position of marriage. We would urge the Government not to be ambivalent about marriage but to support the function and purpose it has in society and to encourage cohabitants to consider it. There is, nevertheless, a need for specific measures to address the considerable hardship suffered by some cohabitants after relationship breakdown or death of a partner.

2. Paragraph 3.2 We are doubtful whether it is prudent to allow those who are not yet adults to enter into this long-term legal commitment. We recognize that any notion of different ages for marriage and for same-sex partnerships is contentious and raises questions of justice and human rights. Nevertheless we do not see it as axiomatic that the minimum age for this new form of partnership simply has to mirror that for marriage. In addition the issues here are rather different than in relation to the age of heterosexual and homosexual consent. We note that a number of countries, including in the EU, do impose a qualifying or minimum cohabiting period before partnerships can be registered. While we do not press for that, the case for setting a minimum age limit of 18 merits further consideration.

3. Paragraph 3.3 We suggest that the definition of “exclusivity” has to be clearly explained to avoid problems of ambiguity (see para 12).

4. Paragraph 4 Under the proposals in the consultation paper the signing of the register of same sex partnerships is the act by which the partnership comes into effect. There is some concern here about the privileging of the act of writing over that of speaking, which may cause problems for the less literate or those with learning difficulties.

5. Paragraph 4.13 Marriage attracts certain rights, privileges and responsibilities because of its public nature. Whilst we recognize the very real threat of homophobic violence, we agree with the Government that civil partnerships could not work without the public nature of the registration. It cannot be kept private. Those who enter into such legal arrangements have to be willing for the fact of them to be on the public record.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 November 2003 at 2:56 PM GMT
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Saturday roundup

Another reminder that news stories about the Istanbul bombings including today’s updates, are over here.

Canada
Last week in the Vancouver Sun: Top African Anglicans’ stake in B.C. “Their opposition to blessing homosexual relationships is rooted in religous struggles at home”.
Yesterday, Anglican truce threatened by war of words was published on canadianchristianity.com.
Also on Thursday, Same-sex battle may force ‘schism’ in the Vancouver Sun.

From today’s London papers:
What the Synod can learn from synagogues in The Times discusses Progressive Jewish views on homosexuality, and a story about tin churches, Faith in a flatpack reports on how you used to be able to buy them at Harrods.

In Australia, several trailers for a TV programme to be shown tomorrow:
Religious turf wars and
Sydney Archbishop eyes Anglican schism

Also the list of Formal Statements relating to the episcopal consecration of Gene Robinson has been substantially updated since it was first published.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 November 2003 at 12:58 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 21 November 2003

internal disputes - not American

Note: reports about the Istanbul bombings are on the main TA blog.

The Church Times has an exclusive story about an internal dispute in the Church in Pakistan, which is rather complex: ‘United Church’ bitterly divided over property

A conflict over property from the days of British India, worth millions of pounds, has increased in vehemence after a forged claim that the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan supports gay clergy, and a further claim that he supports the drinking of alcohol. The Church’s one million members are now split into two factions.
The appointment of the Bishop of Hyderabad by a disputed synod is being contended; courts are being used; and even the approval of a new translation of the Bible by the Pakistan Bible Society has been challenged, because the Moderator is the society’s chairman.

The Lagos Vanguard has a headline Akinola Warns Against Power Tussle in Anglican Church which turns out to be about an internal Nigerian problem, although the details are unclear.

… Peter Akinola has cautioned against power tussle in the Anglican church to avoid the wrath of God. Akinola issued the warning at the inauguration of the diocese of the Anglican Church in Okirika, Rivers.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 November 2003 at 12:42 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 20 November 2003

Bishops utterances

The Church of England Newspaper has published an interview with George Carey in which he gives his views on current church matters. Sinister developments in the Communion. Unfortunately, the web page ends abruptly in mid-sentence so the full text is not available.
Update full text available here, courtesy of Kendall Harmon.

In Nigeria the House of Bishops met, and issued this statement
which was also reported in the Lagos Vanguard as Gay Bishop: Severance of Ties With US Anglicans Final - Akinola.

In New Westminster Michael Ingham issued this statement
which was reported in the National Post under Anglican bishop considers locking out dissenters.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 November 2003 at 4:04 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 November 2003

so far this week...

Ruth Gledhill reported in The Times on Monday on the proposal to transfer the funds they give to cathedrals and bishops to the dioceses, Cathedrals fear £30m loss of funding. On Tuesday she reports on the CofE Communications story, Church begins taking the tabloids that was in last week’s Church Times.
The Manchester Evening News had Gay storm bishop to go on leave about Peter Forster’s long-scheduled sabbatical. Not news.
Meanwhile, Rowan Williams was off to Istanbul, where Archbishop to Visit Bomb Blast Synagogues according to PA via the Scotsman.
The Telegraph reports on the Mothers Union in England, Mothers’ Union tells newly-weds to take Aids test.

Some international news:
The Russian Orthodox Church has issued this statement about Gene Robinson, as reported widely elsewhere, for example here Episcopal’s gay bishop completely unorthodox.
The Jamaica Observer headline on Monday was West Indian Anglican Church rejects gay bishop which says the Anglican Church in the West Indies will not break away from ECUSA at this time, opting instead to await the findings of a commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury…
I failed to report that on Sunday the Philadelphia Inquirer said 2 parishes opposed to gay bishop seek Anglican shepherds.
In Africa, Scientists Plan Re-Ignites Debate On Lab Babies reports on Anglican and other religious opposition there to In Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer technology.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 November 2003 at 12:26 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 16 November 2003

Sunday news catchup

The BBC’s Sunday radio programme has a feature on possible changes in the financing of bishops and cathedrals. Listen here with Real Audio. Those interviewed include Vivienne Faull, Colin Slee, David McClean and John Packer.
Insofar as this relates to bishops, it was of course recommended by the Mellows report on Resourcing Bishops published over two years ago, but rather oddly there was no mention of this in the programme, rather the proposals for change were attributed to the Church Commissioners themselves.
Another item discusses the appointment of a Muslim as head teacher of a church school, (listen here). This notion was opposed by George Curry of Church Society.

Predictably, Richard Ingrams supports Peter Forster in the Observer today (second item in column).
And I failed to report last Thursday that Fay Weldon commented at length about him in The Times, This is the age of love thy neighbour or the police will come and get you.
Also, I missed last Wednesday’s letter in The Times from Malcolm Johnson, Church’s pastoral problems change about the bishops’ new study guide on sexuality:

It seems odd to me, however, that in the 358 pages of the report I can find only two short references to civil rights. Much has happened in the last decade. Soon in the pews there will be legally joined same-sex couples (report, November 10), whose position will be akin to divorced and remarried heterosexual couples. Will bishops exercise their discretion so that they too may receive a blessing?
At the hospital bedside and at funerals, the partner must be recognised and cared for, and adopted children of these couples will be brought for baptism and admittance to church schools. These pastoral issues urgently need addressing.
The Anglican Church is running a high temperature at present. Some useful pastoral advice might calm us all down.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 16 November 2003 at 1:19 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday, 15 November 2003

Saturday news

The Belfast Telegraph reports Eames ‘left to pick up pieces’ over gay bishop, which is based on an editorial in the Church of Ireland Gazette, PICKING UP THE PIECES which accompanies a news story, Archbishop Eames seeking ‘path forward’ for Anglican Communion

Who says being a vicar is a safe job? Read this in The Times: Vampire duo jailed for attack on vicar.

But the Independent thinks there is a danger of nobody showing up for church tomorrow, Pubs ready for rush but pews may be empty (Note to the uninitiated: this is about Rugby Union football, the televised game - to be played in Australia - starts at 9 am GMT)

The Press Association (via the Scotsman) reports that RW will be travelling again: Anglican and Orthodox Leaders Top Hold Talks.

Alexander Chancellor, writing in the Guardian will not be sorry if the Anglican Communion falls apart, What an unholy mess. Terry Philpot writes there also about Alan Paton, Remember, the beloved country.

News reports from abroad:
If you have not been following the Canadian saga, this report, Anglicans try new approach in same-sex dispute and the links from it cover the ground quite thoroughly.

And here’s a different kind of story from Africa, Serene Shrine With an Eerie History in the Nation (Nairobi). It’s about the gravesite of Bishop James Hannington.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 15 November 2003 at 11:20 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday opinions

First, an interesting critique of three church websites appeared in yesterday’s Financial Times, but this requires a subscription to link to. Someone else has ignored any legalities and reproduced a large part of it here. After admiring the Church of Nigeria (though not realising the site comes from Texas) and criticising (deservedly) the ECUSA site, he goes on:

Back to base, the Church of England. The site is looking tired, with a heavy blue and purple design, ostentatious use of “frame” navigation (very 1998) and a cringe-making “Welcome to the Church of England!” greeting on the home page. But, like the good old C of E itself, it is relentlessly practical and pragmatic. The first item in the house newsletter, the Gazette, is on “the Church campaign for VAT reform” and there are useful data on church attendances. A section headed “The Church’s view on . . .” covers everything from Sunday trading to child benefit. There is a section on Homosexuality, too. “Page not found” the message reads. The symbolism of the broken link: discuss….

Three very different articles in The Times this week (apologies to those who cannot read these without subscription, I will include extracts here):
Ruth Gledhill writes about the recent LGCM service in Manchester in the regular At Your Service column, which concludes:

Afterwards, as we were leaving, a clergyman whose youth, clean-cut blue cassock shirt and crystal white collar marked him out immediately as an evangelical, came over to chat. “I assume you are here to pray for them,” I said. “No,” he replied. He was there in solidarity, to show his support. He was upset by what has emerged from some sections of the Church in recent months. So all is not lost. Maybe there is hope for the Anglican Communion yet.

The Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes ‘Arguments for the sake of Heaven’ demand a culture of civility in the regular Credo column. Resonance here for Anglicans:

Disagreement is essential to the life of any group. But there is a theology of disagreement. Judaism has a lovely ancient phrase, “arguments for the sake of Heaven”. A civilisation is a conversation scored for many voices.
But that means an active commitment to preserve the protocols of public debate. It means not shutting out the voices of those with whom you disagree. It means modernists not calling their opponents fundamentalists, and conservatives thinking twice before calling the other side heretics.
This is not a call for politeness. It is the recognition that in a world larger and more complex than our imagination can compass, humility is more than a virtue. It is an imperative. It doesn’t make headlines. It isn’t even fun. Unless we can create, within each of our faiths, a culture of civility and respect, we will fail the challenge God is setting us now.

And as a measure of our British secular context, in which the church must operate, see Jeannette Winterson’s There never has been a Pink Plot … and at last we can join the family earlier in the week, in which she says:

The dismay that has greeted the determination of the African Church to shatter the Anglican Communion over the ordination of gay bishops is a measure of most people’s tolerance towards gay people. We simply do not share the savage outrage of those men of God who are anally fixated on what the clergy do in bed.
The Church almost shipwrecked itself over the ordination of women priests; now it is reckless enough to risk centuries of unity and faith over an issue relevant to none but a minority of Bible-thumping evangelicals.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 15 November 2003 at 11:04 AM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 14 November 2003

Friday surprises

This Cheshire story just won’t die. Today, ‘Gays row bishop must go’ says the same reporter, David Holmes, in the Chester Chronicle. Students at University College Chester are demanding the Bishop of Chester resigns as chairman of their governing body after saying gay people should seek medical help in last week’s Chronicle. 99.8% of students said he should resign…
Addition, the Church Times covered the story this way.
The Church of England Newspaper appears to have had a dramatic change of editorial policy. It actually printed two columns that are in opposition to the paper’s well-established hardline view against homosexuality:
Richard Thomas wrote A different evangelical perspective and
Derek Rawcliffe wrote Biblical arguments prove wanting.
Unsurprisingly the actual CEN editorial supports the Bishop of Chester unreservedly.

Both the Church Times and the CEN report the same story with somewhat different emphases:
Muslim to be head of CE aided school and
Concern over Muslim heading Church school.

In the Spectator, Adrian Hilton says that the Act of Settlement must not be repealed, because a Roman Catholic monarchy would destroy our religious and civil liberties, The price of liberty.

Meanwhile in Newsweek, we learn about David Anderson, of the American Anglican Council. Deep in the “War Room,” the battle plan is being honed. The leader talks of “insurgency” and “unconventional war-fare.” Souls Divided. Charming.

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Thursday, 13 November 2003

international press items

from Africa
Archbishop Malango of Central Africa has challenged Michael Peers’ interpretation of the Primates Statement, Archbishop Malango on Adequate Oversight and the Primates Letter.

Gays Are Rebels, Archbishop Nkoyoyo Says in The Monitor (Kampala)
Bishop Senyonjo Backs Gay Clergy in The Monitor (Kampala)
Ugandan lecturers told to marry BBC - this is the same university of which Stephen Noll is vice-chancellor
The Failure of Liberal Protestantism in This Day (Lagos) - opinion column
US Episcopal Church Will Not Cut Assistance to Church of Uganda in New Vision (Kampala).

from Canada
Indigenous bishop, alternative church structures to be studied by Anglicans in the Vancouver Sun

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Wednesday, 12 November 2003

Cheshire rumbles on

The Stockport Express adds its report, Bishop’s gay slur sparks fury while over in Northwich, other clergy are expressing opinions, Holy smoke in gay argument.

The intervention of the police appears to some Americans and even one Canadian to be very odd, see Weblog: Bishop Committed No Hate Crime Saying Gays Can Change and English Tolerance:, or He’s off the hook—but Big Brother’s watching or Andrew Sullivan, and also this one (scroll right to end) which invites readers to let the Chester Constabulary know what you think. Or even contact all the members of the Cheshire Police Authority.
And links to a picture of Chief Constable Peter Fahy.

I think it would be a very good idea for people who support what the Chief Constable said to do just that.

The Cheshire Police website has a page which explains the policy.

The Cheshire Police take homophobic incidents seriously and are working to eliminate homophobic incidents against lesbian, gay and bisexual communities in Cheshire. We are determined to eliminate all such incidents because homophobic incidents hurt more when they are not reported. Help the police to help you.
Updates
Here’s someone who is actually interested in what the bishop had to say.
And holdthefrontpage.co.uk reported on the reporting, Gays ‘should seek a cure’ splash creates media storm.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2003

Tuesday news

Better for one bishop at least.
The Independent notes that Bishop’s ‘psychotherapy for gays’ comments not a crime
So does the Telegraph Police clear bishop in gay row
The Guardian has several readers letters on this in A cure for homophobia.
The story is also reported in the Manchester Evening News, Gay-row bishop not to face ‘hate’ charge
and Cheshire Online, Bishop escapes action

There are also letters in the Guardian, When faith is no longer charitable in response to an opinon column there by Giles Fraser on Monday, The evangelicals who like to giftwrap Islamophobia

George Carey spoke at Princeton University about Islam, Former Archbishop of Canterbury talks of Islam, West, the students there are rather liberal.

The East African published this opinion column, In US, as in Africa, Gene Robinson Has Tested Ecumenical Relations

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had a column In the Northwest: Episcopal leader vies for peace on sexual battlefield.

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Monday, 10 November 2003

Monday blues

Not a good day for bishops.
bad news continues…
Telegraph Bishop’s anti-gay comments spark legal investigation
and a squib in The Times Bishop questions
Cheshire Online Bishop to face quiz by police
Guardian Cathedral £4.5m in debt after millennium fiasco
but here is some good news…
BBC ‘Transfer fee’ for churchman

Evening update

Other earlier coverage of the Cheshire story:
Manchester Evening News Gay? See a doctor says bishop and Police to quiz gay row bishop
BBC Police chief criticises bishop
and the story even made Christianity Today.
Later update
The police have decided not to prosecute the bishop, Bishop won’t Be Prosecuted over Gay Comments.

And a separate story, Gay bishop may divide Irish church

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Sunday, 9 November 2003

British church news

Not a good day for bishops.

Bullying bishops haven’t a prayer as clergy join working classes says the Sunday Times

MEMBERS of the clergy are set to gain full employment rights, ending their centuries-old status as “employees of God”, not entitled to the same protection enjoyed by conventional workers.

Round up all the useful idiots as Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph criticises their involvement in English regional government.

Vanishing Zurbarans and a holy black hole Peter McGill in the Independent reports on the financial crisis in the Church of England

And the BBC reports on what Peter Forster said, Bishop: Gays should see a doctor.

Updates
Peter Forster was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme. Listen to what he said here.
The Press Association has confirmed a report originally made last night on Channel 4 Television News, Gay ‘reorientation’ bishop to be questioned by police.
And now also on the BBC Police question bishop over gay row and
in tomorrow’s Independent Police to question bishop over gay ‘cure’ comment

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Pittsburgh schismatics

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this morning there are three reports relating to yesterday’s diocesan convention

Episcopalians still pulling away
Think Tank: A church divided
A View from the Experts: Schisms are nothing new, but this one could be profound

A press release from PEP who oppose the actions is here.

Addition
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published Vote may move Episcopal Diocese closer to rift

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Saturday, 8 November 2003

international press items

updated 6.30 pm GMT
The Diocese of Pittsburgh voted today to amend its own constitution, Pa. Diocese Votes for Greater Autonomy
The Diocese of Massachusetts seems to be doing something right. Episcopalians work to avoid more division in the Boston Globe reports little sign of divisiveness there.
Similarly in Canada, Buckle withdraws offer to New West parishes suggests that episcopal peacemaking attempts in that country are worthwhile.
The Vancouver Sun also reported this, ‘Flying bishop’ withdraws
Meanwhile, in Alabama, Openly gay bishop accepted by some in Tuscaloosa.
In Uganda however, the government appears to be backing local Anglicans, in Vice President Bukenya Backs Nkoyoyo On Gays.

In the USA, proposals have been made for “Supplemental Episcopal Pastoral Care” which would be something like what we have in the CofE Provincial Episcopal Visitors. The official proposal is described here, but neither the American Anglican Council nor Forward in Faith appear to be happy about it.

And in case you aren’t sure what “Anglican Mainstream” stands for, they have published this FAQ. And if you are not sure quite who they are, here’s a list.

The list on TA of formal statements has been updated today.

Addition
The Boston Globe also carried this: N.H. bishop bars rector from post

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Tablet articles

Due to printing problems this week, the British RC weekly The Tablet has its whole edition online. This has benefit for TA as we can link to their articles about Anglican matters.

Ruth Gledhill Can the Communion hold together?
Andrew Goddard Ecusa goes it alone
Editorial No church without communion
And News from Britain and Ireland which has three Anglican items:
Anglicans and methodists bury differences
Bishops publish new sexuality guide
Archbishop’s ‘regret’ over consecration of gay bishop

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Saturday bonanza

Lots of stories today, to make up for yesterday.
First, more reports on what Peter Forster said:
The Times ‘Gays should seek help to be straight’
The Telegraph Gays need psychiatric help, says bishop
(Do note the URL file name :-)
The Guardian has the identical headline Gays need psychiatric help, says bishop
Next:
The Times catches up on yesterday’s blessings story, Bishop backs same-sex blessings
The East Anglian Daily Times counters Chester with Bishop welcomes practising homosexuals about Richard Lewis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Then, The Times has two very worthwhile opinion columns
Geoffrey Rowell Bishop in Europe A heated disagreement or mutual loss of charity is not a schism
Theo Hobson An established Church of England is a neutered Church
(and in connection with this, here is a radio clip I forgot to link earlier in the week, a discussion on disestablishment on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme last Tuesday (Real Audio required).
And in the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes only incidentally about Anglican liturgy but Sacred mysteries - Older testament better than new is interesting anyway.

Writing for the Washington Post but from London, Glenn Frankel has a major report on Anglican Head Seeks ‘Middle Way’ Issue of Gay Bishop Is Test for Williams

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Friday, 7 November 2003

worldwide news roundup

Christianity Today has published an interesting table of provincial responses to the New Hampshire consecration, The Gay Bishop’s Global Fallout.
Gay Bishop: Nigerian Archbishops Meet On Major Decision from the Lagos Vanguard makes it sound as if that table may be updated shortly.
Following on yesterday’s clutch of Pittsburgh stories, the Post-Gazette reports Episcopalians’ voting here on Saturday could widen rift.
In Canada the Anglican Journal reports Bishops ask for ceasefire in New West dispute.
And from Africa another column in the Johannesburg Star, Hypocrisy is what entered church.

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News on Friday

Very little in the morning papers in Britain. Here is an older item I missed, from 3 November, Q&A: African Anglicans and the gay bishop Ruth Gledhill answers.

However, later in the day, the following stories from a local weekly, the Chester Chronicle appeared:
Bishop tells gays to seek a cure
‘Gays can have their sexuality changed’
and Liberal vice dean calls for church to change attitude.

These remarks (apparently made on Monday) by Peter Forster are all the more surprising in view of what he said on Tuesday, in my presence, part of which is reported by the Church Times in Sex report is not a cudgel, say bishops which says:

“Bishop Forster said the document had only strengthened his conviction that sexual intercourse should remain within marriage; but this view “should not be used as a stick to beat over people’s heads”. The document also upheld the Church’s teaching on inclusivity.

Bishop Forster said: “Here we have four bishops whose views are not identical, but we have agreed this text. That says something in itself. Both sides are explored in depth in this guide.”

The Church Times has coverage of earlier events:
Thousands attend Robinson’s consecration and witness protests
ECUSA won’t heed Eames Commission, say Primates and
UK churchmen voice pain at division, pleasure at honesty

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Thursday, 6 November 2003

Thursday papers

George Carey has written a letter to The Times. So has Tom Wright. You can read them both here. The point made by Tom Wright is taken up in the news story by Ruth Gledhill, Consecration of gay bishop harms Church, says Carey which is however mostly about the launch of Fulcrum and what Tom Wright said at that event last night, which included:

“One of the extraordinary things is that in all the meetings I have had in Durham over the last three or four weeks, nobody has been talking about Gene Robinson, or about sex.”

The Telegraph has found two CofE diocesan bishops who allow blessings, as in Bishops allowing clergy to defy ban on gay prayers.
This matter is also covered in tomorrow’s Church of England Newspaper, here.

The most interesting church story from the USA right now is from Pittsburgh, where the ECUSA diocese holds its annual convention (synod) on Saturday, at which various constitutional amendments, concerning the relationship of the diocese to the national church, will be considered.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has Meeting here could start church split, and this Associated Press report has been syndicated to many papers.
This is the diocese which has a lawsuit pending, filed by one of its own parishes seeking to prevent it separating. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports today that this action was not supported by the national church, Episcopal leaders tried to stop lawsuit.
There is organised opposition to the diocese in the form of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.

But this, from the Johannesburg Star, deals with a much more urgent problem for all Anglicans, African Anglicans should speak out.

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Wednesday, 5 November 2003

press reports

The high level of press interest in Anglican affairs seems to be subsiding, so I have moved my reports back here for a while.

The BBC has this Factfile: Anglican Church around the world which lists the “stance on gay issue” of each Anglican province.

Yesterday, the CofE published a book, which is reported by the Guardian,Church of England ‘obsessed’ with sexual sin and by The Times, Pretend you are gay, Church tells worshippers. Neither of these headlines does justice to the book, which could be a very useful basis for serious study of sexuality issues in parishes and elsewhere. Two of the four bishops on the committee that produced it were among those who signed the Nazgul letter and the other two were supporters of Jeffrey John’s nomination, and all four agreed to the entire text of this book.

The Telegraph did not report on this at all, but a columnist, Janet Daley published her opinions under the heading Gay bishops threaten our foundations.

In Australia Peter Carnley has upset some people by asserting that “Life starts after 14 days”. The story can be found in the West Australian or in the Melbourne Age.

Some more reports from Africa:
The East African Standard, Nairobi Muslims Disown Gay Bishop
The News, Lagos Till Sex Do Them Part
This Day, Lagos Gay Bishop: Conference Praises Anglican Church Action
Johannesburg, Star The Anglican choice

Additions
West African province of Anglican Church breaks away
Pakistani Christians reject gay bishop
Kenya Gay Bishop is Put On Blacklist By Anglicans
Uganda Gay US Bishop Wrong

Further addition
Peter Carnley gave another interview to ABC Radio and you can listen to it here (Real Audio) or read a transcript here.

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Employment law developments

ACAS has published the definitive versions of its guidance documents on both sets of the Employment Equality Regulations 2003:
Sexual Orientation and the Workplace
Religion or Belief and the Workplace
These can both be downloaded from the ACAS website as pdf files now. There are some changes in these from the earlier drafts. More details about this shortly.

Also, Croner’s has reported that the new Employment Relations Bill due later this month is expected to recognise the Church of England as an employer for the first time, thus giving statutory employment rights to the clergy who are currently regarded as being employed by God.

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Sunday, 2 November 2003

The long and short of it

I owe everyone an apology for overlooking this letter in the Sunday Telegraph last week:

Re: The long and short of it
Date: 26 October 2003
The 37 primates who attended the crisis meeting at Lambeth Palace may not agree on everything, but judging by your photograph of them they do have one thing conspicuously in common. With the exception of one, all of them, including our own Archbishop of Canterbury, are wearing trousers that need shortening by two or three inches.
Perhaps they are too saintly to have noticed. But if, as your reporter writes in her accompanying article, “the threadbare fabric of unity is unravelling”, this is not the only thing that will be unravelling, because, as my husband points out, trousers that are too long wear out more quickly than ones that are the right length.
It would be a kindness to the primates if someone suggested that they visit their tailors.
From:
(Mrs) Patricia Davies, London, W4

And today, this response

Re: The wrong trousers
Date: 2 November 2003
Your correspondent noticed the length of the trousers worn by the primates attending a meeting at Lambeth Palace (Letters, October 26), and suggested that they should visit their tailors to have them altered.
Other readers may have noticed the fact that the primates wore trousers at all, and possibly think that they should visit their tailors to be measured for the correct episcopal kit.
Bishops (and, a fortiori, archbishops) cannot be expected to be taken seriously if they cannot be bothered to wear, on formal occasions, the clothes appropriate to their high station - which do not include trousers.
From:
P C Thompson, Worcester

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