Wednesday, 31 December 2003

last news of this year

Stephen Bates reported on the AM petition story in the Guardian, Evangelicals say 13m back anti-gay move which starts:

Evangelicals opposed to gay people within the Anglican communion presented an email petition yesterday to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, calling on him to provide alternative oversight for those congregations which oppose bishops supporting Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire.

You can see a picture of the petition being presented here and you can read the press release they issued. But you still can’t find out which are the 8 dioceses and which are the 249 “parishes and organisations” included as block signatures.

The Bishop of Lichfield was reported by PA via the Scotsman: Bishop Attacks Treatment of Terror Suspects.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message was also reported.

The Canadian Anglican Journal reports on the proposal to have same-sex blessings in the Lutheran Church of Sweden. (British Anglicans are in full communion with the Church of Sweden via the Porvoo Agreement).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 31 December 2003 at 7:10 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | silly stuff

Tuesday, 30 December 2003

anglican news tuesday

See TA blog for yesterday’s Tom Wright interview and related stuff.
Also yesterday, The Times had an interview with David Hope, Let us pray for humility in high places and he also criticised Tony Blair:

In an exclusive interview with The Times today, the Archbishop called on people to pray for Mr Blair and urged the Prime Minister to consider the “higher authority” he would one day have to face.
…He urged Mr Blair and President Bush to heed the message of the Incarnation, that success was ultimately achieved through humility and vulnerability not through worldly power. He gave a warning that they, like him, would one day have to answer before God for their actions. “I want to say . . . that there is a higher authority before whom one day we all have to give an account,” he said.
He added that effective leadership was also vital in a world which is “increasingly unstable, increasingly anxious, a world where terror stalks us on every side”.
“In that sort of climate people do begin to act in more extreme ways because of the fear. Therefore one needs to look to those in leadership positions to exercise a calm, quiet authority,” he said.

Some American reports:
David Steinmetz filed this column in the Orlando Sentinel on 23 December, Staying inside, thinking outside
Laurie Goodstein wrote again in the New York Times about Episcopalians, Changes in Episcopal Church Spur Some to Go, Some to Join
Dave Munday wrote in the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier about a third element in the local Episcopalian scene, A call for tolerance and unity. This is about a via media group in a diocese that already has to contend with the AMiA on its doorstep.

And an interesting item from Nigeria
Kaduna Anglican Turns Out Graduats in Islam And Christianity

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 December 2003 at 10:38 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Sunday, 28 December 2003

Sunday press review

The BBC has two reviews of the year for the Anglican Communion:
This one is a web page, Anglican church rues lost unity and this one is from the Radio 4 Sunday programme, listen here using Real Audio (7 minutes long). If you have audio, do listen to this in full, it is well worth the time to hear what Stephen Bates has to say to Roger Bolton.

In the first item Alex Kirby concludes:

Both camps are sincere, and neither has a monopoly of the truth. But in those parts of the world where sexual definitions are increasingly irrelevant, a church which sets such store by them is left more and more with only itself to talk to, and nobody else remotely interested.

The Sunday Telegraph has a swingeing editorial attack on Rowan Williams, An unworthy Archbishop.

In the Observer Jamie Doward reports on Church ‘weddings’ for same-sex couples which is bound to upset anybody who was not offended by the Telegraph.

Descending further, the Sunday Times has a report that Carey diaries to reveal chats with royal mistress in which we learn, for example, that:

The Queen and the Queen Mother are believed to have got on well with him, but it is not thought Charles held him in the highest regard. The prince, a religious traditionalist who is patron of the Prayer Book Society, is thought to have seen him as a “happy clappy” and

Carey was appointed by Margaret Thatcher not long before she left Downing Street in 1990. “She spoke at me for about 10 minutes and I couldn’t get a word in edgeways.” he said. “Then I mentioned John Wesley because I knew she had had a Methodist upbringing. But she called him ‘that Christian socialist’.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 28 December 2003 at 12:42 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | Opinion

Saturday, 27 December 2003

some earlier stories

…I failed to report when they first appeared.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph was unduly sensationalist in saying Sceptic priests could face trial by heresy courts.

In Nigeria the infamous Bishop Chukwuma again makes news Anglican Bishop Threatens to Withdraw Deacons’ Licences (does Amicus know?)

From Canada a reliable account of the latest, wildly misreported, development in New Westminster, Diocese shuts down church over discipline, same-sex issues and another report on the financial effects of all that.

In Ireland Bishop of Cork: Church’s Bluff is being Called in the Gay Debate

And finally, on a lighter note, Anglican Church in Nigeria offers deal to American Episcopalians

Update
Another Irish report, this one is an editorial opinion from the Limerick Leader. The column refers to this Sunday Times article which I listed some time ago.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 27 December 2003 at 2:51 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | Opinion

after Christmas

Tom Utley writes in the Telegraph about going to the Church of England for Christmas rather than his normal RC church, It’s time to cross the fine line that divides our two Churches.
And Christopher Howse writes in the same paper about music at his RC church, Sing all ye citizens, for heaven’s sake. Hmm.

Meanwhile, both the BBC and the Telegraph report on a survey of clergy conducted by trade union Amicus that finds two-thirds of them feel insecure in their jobs.

In the Guardian Geza Vermes discusses Christmas: fact or fiction
Also in the Guardian Stephen Bates has a reprise of Christmas sermons etc. (his paper did not publish yesterday) in A time for peace on earth - but not in the royal home which includes the remarks of the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
‘Homophobic’ church slated
Time to shake off homophobia

“These are spiritual matters, because hatred may only be cured by a change of heart. We all require a change of heart, because the church not least has contributed to the prevailing homophobic mindset.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 27 December 2003 at 10:10 AM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | Opinion

Friday, 26 December 2003

Christmas sermons

The Archbishop of Canterbury got extensive press coverage for his first Christmas sermon, but the Archbishop of York’s sermon has already been published on the web. The Diocese of York has published the full text of it here.

I will add a link here to the Canterbury sermon when it is available. And here it is.

Press coverage:
BBC Archbishop calls for tolerance
The Times Religions should stand together, says Archbishop
The New York Times carries the Agence-France Presse report Anglican Leader Chides France for Moves Against Signs of Faith
Reuters story was Archbishop calls for multi-faith unity
and the Press Association said Christians, jews and muslims urged to ‘stand together’
AlJazeera said Archbishop attacks French hijab ban
Voice of America Archbishop of Canterbury Calls for Inter-Faith Tolerance
The Independent Stop sniggering at Blair’s faith, says Williams
The Telegraph Williams attacks ‘sniggering’ over religious faith

The Archbishop of York’s sermon got noticed too:
The Times Anglicans ‘must learn to accept sexual diversity’
Press Association (via the Middlesbrough Gazette) Archbishop condemns row over sexuality
BBC Rural areas ‘being put at risk’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 December 2003 at 9:28 AM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Monday, 22 December 2003

internet petition stats

I last posted about the AM petition statistics on 18 December, when I updated my blog entry of 17 December - this is the petition that has provoked two separate threads of ridicule on Ship of Fools (the count there is stalled at slightly over 6 billion).

Following further correspondence with Dr Giddings over the weekend, some slightly improved information is, as of 1230 GMT on the 22nd, available about the block-signups.

I noted on the 17th that I could not be sure which were the four dioceses then claimed in the numeric totals, as only two were clearly named. This situation has not improved:there are still only two clearly named and still four claimed in the numbers although the total of their “votes” has increased from 168,000 on the 17th to 184,300 on the 22nd. No doubt all will be revealed eventually.

However there is clarity about provinces. There are now four named and four counted. Although individual province counts are not revealed by AM, I believe the figures are:
South East Asia 184,000
Uganda 8,000,000
Congo 500,000
Central Africa 650,000
What was confusing me before was that a third province was being claimed but not named as early as 1200 GMT on the 18th, and when a third name (Congo) was revealed on the 19th, a fourth one was at the same time claimed in the numbers.

Still no progress on naming 220 “parishes and organisations”, in case you were wondering if you have been signed-up without your knowledge, you’ll just have to wait.

Updated 2250 GMT
In the last hour, another province was claimed and the count for provinces increased to 9,359,000. So the additional province represents 25,000 people. Could this be the Southern Cone, whose primate’s name has been present on the list all along?
The site now carries the following disclaimer (my emphasis):
… we have received support both from individuals and also leaders of more than 9 million Anglicans around the world following the launch on November 24.
When a parish, diocese, or province is indicated as supporting the Network, their authorized spokesperson has signed on their behalf. That person can be held accountable for the use of his authority. It is of course open to members of that diocese or even parish to disagree and in some cases the numbers recorded on the website are less than the numbers on the roll.
Marvellous.

updated again Tuesday noon
Oh yes and on the signup form it also now says to dioceses (provinces aren’t mentioned on this form anywhere):
(You may send your signatures later, or the relevant resolution of your standing committee relating to the consecration of Gene Robinson)
so a diocese (as represented by a standing committee - American term) doesn’t really even have to agree to the detailed wording of this petition at all, merely have passed a resolution relating to GR.
Even more wonderful. Marvellous. Whatever.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 December 2003 at 7:00 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion | silly stuff

Sunday, 21 December 2003

more comment

Sunday Telegraph
Joanna Jepson Herod was not alone in his fear of the helpless
Melbourne Age
Muriel Porter Time to remember who Mary was (the Bulletin story mentioned here is this one)
Observer
Colin Slee Unholy orders
For the major feature in the Observer today, see the TA blog

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 21 December 2003 at 3:29 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Sunday papers

The Sunday Times reports, Williams voices doubt on terror detentions, that

Rowan Williams has entered the growing row over the detention without trial of terrorism suspects. He fears the alienation of moderate Muslims in Britain.
Speaking in advance of his first Christmas Day sermon as archbishop, he has given a warning that the imprisonment of suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Belmarsh prison, south London, may be sending out the wrong message.

The BBC carries a similar story Archbishop to denounce terror law. (Note: the BBC subsequently posted a revision of this story to include the reaction of the Home Secretary, changing the headline to: Blunkett rebuts terror criticism)

The Sunday Telegraph has Revealed: the medieval church fresco depicting Judgment Day in Coventry

For the major feature in the Observer today, see the TA blog

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 21 December 2003 at 3:22 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Saturday, 20 December 2003

real world news

Some real world items unrelated to ECUSA:
Tutu attacks Mbeki’s stand on Zimbabwe
Anglican bishop in Sudan sees massive church growth
Cleric Tasks Nigerian Leaders On Poverty (Yes, the famous Bishop Chukwuma)
Archbishop’s wife tells of losing babies
Get rid of sexism, Cherie tells Pope
St Nicholas visits Sloane Square
Bishops’ justice call to protest Government policy on detaining foreign nationals suspected of terrorism
Bishop of St Albans makes Christmas call for alcohol education

And a few items that are ECUSA-related:
Limerick Diocese divided by gay debate
The Province of Uganda Writes Presiding Bishop Griswold
Information about how The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission will work

And finally, Australian Radio had this

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 20 December 2003 at 1:53 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

comment from Britain

Some stimulating newspaper columns:
Guardian
Tom Wright Why Saddam is more Herod than Saladin
Giles Fraser Birth - the ultimate miracle
Madeleine Bunting Secularism gone mad
Rupert Shortt reviews Geza Vermes
Independent
Paul Handley How to stumble across the spiritual in the Christmas rush
The Times
Geoffrey Rowell The pit is a place of death, darkness, destruction - and Creation
Andrew Lycett interviews Rowan Williams about poetry, religion and Welshness
Telegraph
Christopher Howse The schoolgirl and one-way diversity

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 20 December 2003 at 1:24 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 19 December 2003

network objective clearly stated

Previously I reported at length on the publication of a New York Times article, and its aftermath. Today that newspaper published Episcopalians Back Away From Break which says (my emphasis added):

…On Tuesday, leaders of the American Anglican Council, which has taken the lead in organizing conservative Episcopalians, contacted The New York Times and said that on Wednesday they would announce the formation of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.
In an interview late Tuesday evening, Bishop Robert W. Duncan of Pittsburgh, the moderator and convening authority of the new network, said: “Thirteen dioceses are coming together to guarantee that the kind of Anglicanism that is authentic Anglicanism throughout the world is represented here in the United States and has its own voice.”
Bishop Duncan said the network would not secede from the Episcopal Church. He said the long-term goal was for foreign Anglicans and other Christian churches to recognize the network as the true representative of Anglicanism in the United States. This, he said, could force the Episcopal Church to back off its decisions on homosexuality.
Bishop Duncan supplied a list of the 13 dioceses that he said had agreed to join the network.
After the article appeared in The Times on Wednesday, clergy and some parishioners contacted church offices to protest their dioceses’ affiliation with the network.
Within two days, bishops of the dioceses of Florida, Central Florida and Southeast Florida had issued statements disavowing their participation. They gave various explanations. One explanation was that although 13 bishops had signed a “Theological Charter” for the new network, they could not include their whole dioceses as members until diocesan committees had been given a chance to approve.
… Bishop Duncan held a conference call with several concerned bishops on Wednesday evening. He said afterward in an interview that he should not have listed the dioceses because the entire effort is still “in utero.”

I already published links to statements made by the bishops of Central Florida and Southwest Florida. Concerning the diocese of Florida, Bishop Jecko has this statement on his own diocesan website which appears to be a slightly later version of what is on KH’s blog.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 December 2003 at 3:06 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

impaired communion (2)

I wrote earlier about impaired communion between ECUSA and various provinces. At that time, I could find web documentation from only six provinces that had formally broken communion, and one (West Indies) that in my opinion had not done so.The CEN was claiming a total of nine.

Since then, I have seen several emails containing such a statement purportedly from the Province of Rwanda but it has still not appeared on the web. The AAC has published a press release which mentions in passing that:

The Church of Uganda … joins seven other provinces (Southeast Asia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, West Africa and Central Africa) within the Anglican Communion - representing over 38 million Anglicans - in severing ties with the Episcopal Church.

This agrees with my interpretation of the West Indian statement. But I still cannot find any provincial statement from either Rwanda, West Africa or Central Africa on the web. If I have missed these, please will someone point them out to me. Why wouldn’t the AAC, or some other manifestation of the ECUSA dissidents and their global supporters, want to publish them?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 December 2003 at 12:42 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Thursday, 18 December 2003

not fit to print?

Yesterday’s report in the New York Times that claimed 13 dioceses had joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes seems to have been inaccurate in various ways. I understand the basis of the report was an exclusive interview with Robert Duncan.

First, the St Petersburg Times reports Bishop denies intent to join splinter group (here’s the missing picture) and this is confirmed on the Southwest Florida diocese’s own website.

Second, as noted in that report, the Central Florida diocese has not joined either:

Both Lipscomb and Bishop John Howe of the Diocese of Central Florida said they were surprised by the New York Times article and insist that the network is not yet a reality.
“I, along with 12 other bishops, signed a letter of intent that said we thought a network was needed at this time,” Howe said.
The idea came after a meeting in London this fall, where church leaders talked of ways that conservative parishes could opt out of liberally-minded dioceses by choosing to be under the authority of a conservative bishop.
At the time, the group had the backing of Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury.
“It was on the basis of that that we signed this memo of intent,” Howe said. “And suddenly, the cart has gone way, way, way before the horse.”
He said Williams recently backed away from the idea, saying that Americans should work it out.

Third, in Pittsburgh where the Tribune-Review said Local bishop to lead ‘network’, it was asserted that many other dioceses named have not approved this action:

Local supporters of the Episcopal Church’s decisions this summer, however, say that despite Duncan’s contention that conservatives are not seeking a split, their actions indicate otherwise.
“Of course, they want a schism,” said Lionel Deimel, president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, which claims between 100 and 150 members. “On one hand, they say the don’t want to break apart, but then they say they cannot remain in communion with the church because of its decisions.”
Deimel, of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, contends that because no formal votes on whether to join the network were taken in those dioceses, they cannot be legitimately counted as network supporters.
“As far as we can tell, these dioceses have not signed onto this,” Deimel said. “This is basically a group of conservative bishops doing their own thing. The level of support they have here, and in the dioceses that have supposedly signed on, is highly questionable.”

And indeed, further down the Florida news report we find:

[Kendall] Harmon said Lipscomb chaired a meeting in Orlando where the new network’s theological charter was drafted. He said an organizational meeting will be held in January in Plano, Texas. Only the dioceses of Pittsburgh, South Carolina and Fort Worth have formally agreed to be part of the group, Harmon said.

[item added at 15.20]
And in the The State a South Carolina paper, Kendall Harmon says

Dioceses formally joining the network as of Wednesday are Duncan’s in Pittsburgh, the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and the Diocese of Fort Worth in Texas.
Ten other dioceses are formally considering joining the network, said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. He said earlier reports Wednesday naming those 10 as having formally joined were premature.

So what kind of a story was Robert Duncan putting out to Laurie Goodstein yesterday? And where is the confirmation of formal diocesan action by Pittsburgh and South Carolina? In Fort Worth, we know the action was taken ‘By joint action of the Bishop and Standing Committee’.
some other press coverage of all this:
The San Francisco Chronicle put it this way:
Old-line Episcopal bishops form rival assembly 13 prelates disturbed by gay’s admission to ranks of clergy
Beliefnet had an excellent detailed report The Schism Begins
The Boston Globe carried this AP report, Episcopal bishops form protest network
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Episcopalians against gay bishop form ‘network’
The Chicago Tribune has 13 Episcopal bishops form rival network, move closer to split
The St Louis Post-Dispatch New Episcopal group will work to oust gay bishop
And the Moonie-owned Washington Times combined news of this with a report that

In a related development, the Religion Newswriters Association, a group of 240 religion reporters for the secular media, voted Bishop Robinson Newsmaker of the Year for 2003. They also voted his ordination as the top religion news story of 2003, followed by stories on religious differences over the war in Iraq.

Also, note this announcement on the AAC site of the January charter meeting

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 December 2003 at 12:27 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Dr Giddings replies

On 5 December I published schismatic statistics, questioning the reliability of the numbers claimed by the petition on “Anglican Mainstream” website. After three attempts to invite Dr Giddings to reply to this criticism I have now received an answer which is reproduced in full below.
Update 18 December
Meanwhile, a coalition of ECUSA groups issued this press release
Anglican Mainstream Christmas Petition Effort Criticized as Deceptive which says in part:

Questionable counting. Most petition signatures are assembled the old-fashioned way, one signature at a time. Electronic websites now permit worldwide sign-up, such as this world-wide effort. Still, one should be able to assume that each signature represents one person. But in this counting, it seems one signature can sign up the whole family, a whole parish, or even a whole diocese. Is this honest? Do all members of such communities really want to be counted?
…Many may not even know that they are being counted as supporters. It matters not whether a bishop has limited the numbers of “signatures” to the proportion he believes support his position. The count was made without asking the individuals where they stood on this statement. Such “mass signatures” account for over 97% of the total signatures on this “petition.”

Comment
There is at the time of writing this not even list of the (currently 4) dioceses currently claimed as mass signatures, never mind a list of the (currently 196) parishes.
Further comment 16.00 GMT 18 Dec
Clearly the arrival of precisely 8 million signatures from Uganda has caused some confusion: the number of provinces has now increased from 1 to 3, and the number of dioceses has decreased from 4 to 3. Presumably some poor province was previously regarded as a mere diocese. But there are still only 2 provinces listed (South East Asia, Uganda) and the names of the 3 dioceses are still not clear: Fort Worth, Kitale Kenya, and ???

Dr Giddings writes:
Sorry - I don’t recall receiving the previous e-mail.

I invite you to re-visit the web-site. On the ‘signing up’ part you will see
< ** Please note - to enter corporate details for a parish / diocese you must be the authorised spokesperson for that community. If submitting for a diocese please enter a contact email>.

Individuals who object can therefore take the matter up directly with the authorised person of the body concerned (which is always the recommended route for complaint-handling). Incidentally you should not assume that ‘the entire membership roll’ was signed up. I know of a number of instances where the number of signatures is lower than the roll number because people have been given, and taken, the opportunity not to be included in the signing-up.

You will also see on the web-site a break down of the signatures received to date: on 12 December it was:

3,369 individuals
9,909 in 2,751 families
54,881 in 182 parishes
168,000 in 2 dioceses
184,000 in 1 province

We have therefore made clear the basis on which the numbers are being counted. Not being a statistician I don’t know what qualifies as < schismatic statistics > but the purpose of inviting people to sign up to the statement is not just to signal the breadth and depth of opposition to the New Hampshire consecration but also to express sympathy and solidarity with orthodox Anglicans in North America who are being intimidated and persecuted by lawsuits, threats of disciplinary action and other means.

Best wishes,
PJG

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 December 2003 at 11:33 AM GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion | silly stuff

network dioceses identified

The New York Times has published a report about this:
Dissident Episcopal Bishops Form New Group in which Laurie Goodstein says

The dioceses that have agreed to join the network are Albany; Pittsburgh; San Joaquin in California; South Carolina; Florida, Central Florida, and Southwest Florida; Dallas and Fort Worth; Quincy and Springfield in Illinois; Western Kansas; and Rio Grande, which includes parts of Texas and New Mexico.

Update: this list published by the New York Times has been challenged. Denials have been issued by Central Florida and Southwest Florida.

In an interview, Bishop Duncan said that the network is not seceding from the Episcopal Church U.S.A.. Instead, he said the eventual goal is for the network to win recognition as the authentic Episcopal Church from Anglican bishops overseas and from Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox denominations that have already condemned the Episcopal Church for its actions.
We’re not leaving, we’re not separating ourselves,” Bishop Duncan said. “What we trust is going to happen is that the rest of the world and the rest of the Christian community are going to bring such pressure to bear on the whole of this church that it steps back from this event.”

The group has also published what it calls a theological charter.

The group now calls itself Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes and its website uses the newly-minted (11 December) URL anglicancommuniondioceses.org whose registered owner is the same group based in Colorado Springs, Communion Parishes, that owns anglicancommunionparishes.org.

Update
Kendall Harmon tells Why Today’s Launch of the Network Matters, and in particular that:

The Network has the full support, already, of some sixteen Anglican primates. The full statement of these primates, yet to be released because signatures are being sought carefully, contains this remarkable section:
“We re-affirm our solidarity with faithful Bishops, clergy and church members in North America who remain committed the historic faith and order of the church and have rejected unbiblical innovation. We offer our support and the full weight of our ministries and offices to those who are gathering in a “Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes” now being organized in North America.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 December 2003 at 11:01 AM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Tuesday, 16 December 2003

bits and pieces

update 22 Dec a full interview in NCR with Mary Tanner is here

Some more from the National Catholic Reporter related to current Anglican-Roman Catholic relations is in this article, scroll about halfway down the page.

On Dec. 11, an eminent English ecumenist, Mary Tanner, lectured at Rome’s Centro Pro Unione. She argued that while the controversy has revealed serious fissures within the Anglican world as well between Anglicans and Catholics, it also reveals the closeness between the two branches of the Christian family. She argued that when Pope John Paul II in early October warned the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, of “new and serious difficulties” related to the ordination of Gene Robinson, it reflected a climate in which the pope felt he could speak the truth as he perceives it in love.

The same journal also published this comment on scripture and homosexuality, Hold the condemnations.

Something different from Nigeria, Clergy Wants Anglicans Separated From Protestants

The Anglican Bishop of Egbu Diocese, Prof. Emmanuel Iheagwam, has decried the situation in higher institutions where Anglican Church faithful are meant to worship with other denominations in the name of “Protestants”.

From Fort Worth, this story about how A local Episcopal group is working to keep its house undivided

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 December 2003 at 4:13 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | Opinion

network fog lifts more

Two fragments of the forthcoming Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations in ECUSA manifesto have emerged on Kendall Harmon’s blog, here and here
while an Advent letter to the diocese of Pittsburgh from the Moderator of the Network, the ECUSA Bishop of Pittsburgh is here.
The article in the Moonie-owned Washington Times to which Bishop Duncan makes reference can be found here.

One has some sympathy for Duncan in relation to this article: it attributed the number of “signatures” then being claimed by the Anglican Mainstream petition, 384,935 - most of which are demonstrably bogus and many of which come from outside ECUSA - as signed-up members of the forthcoming Network. Of course, normally the Washington Times is viewed as one of the ecclesiastical rightwing’s stoutest supporters. It must have been galling to see such a strong natural ally expressing the same opinions of AAC and Network actions as those held by many whom the AAC and its cohorts would normally describe as apostate.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 December 2003 at 1:32 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | Opinion

Saturday, 13 December 2003

anglican news roundup

The Toronto Globe & Mail visited the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Abuja Nigeria, and reported on what it found there, Conservatives could spark Anglican split.
The vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Njabulo Ndebele took a rather different view of life, Those Who Look Through a Keyhole With Two Eyes Are Blind to Humanity’s Riches.

The Telegraph reported and commented favourably upon CofE Bishops’ expenses, and also reported on US parishes revolt against gay bishop.

One vacant deanery was filled this week and The Times got very excited about the possibility that another one would be filled soon. For the benefit of overseas readers unable to access those stories, they claim that June Osborne, currently acting dean at Salisbury has been offered the job. Here’s a copycat article in the Guardian.

The Guardian reported on the royal grave story, No aye for Harold seekers and today it has a leading article, Hell hits back that refers to a Church Times feature which won’t be on the web for 2 weeks or more (sigh).

The list of formal statements on the New Hampshire consecration on the main TA blog has been updated to include the latest information available as of 11 December. I am still looking for the formal provincial statements reported to have been made by Rwanda, West Africa, and Central Africa. Quotations from the statements that are available can be found here.
Addition
I forgot to add this one: Botswana’s Anglican Church Leaders Denounce Gay Bishop (Botswana is a part of the Central Africa province.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 13 December 2003 at 1:13 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | Opinion

Thursday, 11 December 2003

views on New Hampshire

Some articles read recently:
In the Sunday Times (Ireland edition) Irish Bishop says gay clergy are a fact of church life. A couple of excerpts:

THE Church of Ireland should recognise gay relationships in the clergy, according to the Anglican bishop of Limerick.
Michael Mayes, who was a private guest at the consecration of the first openly gay bishop in America, said he had no regrets about attending the ceremony that has caused a global schism in the Anglican church. He called on his own church to accept same sex relationships as “a fact of life”.

Mayes refused to back down yesterday, saying: “Gay relationships have always been there, they didn’t come down in the last shower of rain and the Church of Ireland needs to accept that. There have always been people in these sorts of relationships, so I think the church will have to try and acknowledge that, even though it is very difficult for us.”
He said Bishop Robinson was “innocent of any wrongdoing and he is entitled to be left in peace”.

In the American National Catholic Reporter The Episcopalians? They are us. A long essay.

In the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Episcopal pioneer urges unity at Trinity

The Rev. Fleming Rutledge — a renowned teacher, author and preacher in the Episcopal Church who’s been in Columbus since Thanksgiving weekend — offered wide-ranging views about her denomination’s recent troubles at a forum Monday night.

In the Los Angeles Times Larry Stammer reports Bishop Asserts There’s Room for Gays

In a ringing defense of an openly gay bishop and same-sex unions, Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno declared here Saturday that the Episcopal Church is “a roomy house” for all, and warned that those who leave would be leaving “the presence of God.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 December 2003 at 11:09 AM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News | Opinion

Wednesday, 10 December 2003

loyal episcopalians

Update This ENS story was published on 18 December, Via Media groups resist calls for realignment, redirection

Although it’s not yet clear exactly which are the 13 ECUSA dioceses already participating in the Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations it is clear that in several dioceses people are actively organising themselves to resist the actions of their leaders.
Here are several websites belonging to such groups:
Progessive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh
Albany Via Media
Episcopal Voices of Central Florida
Remaining ECUSA in the Diocese of San Joaquin
Fort Worth Via Media
Other similar groups appear to be organised, though as yet without websites, in Rio Grande, Quincy, and Springfield. I will add new websites to this list as they appear.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 December 2003 at 11:12 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

network fog lifts slightly

I asked recently who exactly was in this Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations. Some partial information appeared today on the website of the ECUSA diocese of Fort Worth.
It includes the signatures of the following 4 ECUSA diocesan bishops:
Edward L Salmon (South Carolina)
James M. Stanton (Dallas)
Jack L Iker (Ft. Worth)
Robert W Duncan (Pittsburgh)
Presumably there are already 9 other dioceses which together with those listed above comprise the 13 dioceses mentioned as initial members. These are likely to come from among the total of 16 diocesan bishops are described (by Anglican Mainstream for example) as “dissenting” (although a total of 43 diocesans actually voted no on the Robinson confirmation) and the other 12 ECUSA diocesan bishops who signed the statement in visible protests at the ECUSA General Convention are:
Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy
James Adams, Bishop of Western Kansas
Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield
Bertram Herlong, Bishop of Tennessee
Daniel Herzog, Bishop of Albany
Gethin Hughes, Bishop of San Diego
John Howe, Bishop of Central Florida
Russell Jacobus, Bishop of Fond du Lac
Stephen Jecko, Bishop of Florida
Terence Kelshaw, Bishop of Rio Grande
John Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida
John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin

A meeting is scheduled, it says, for 19/20 January 2004. No doubt they will identify themselves by then.

Some further extracts from the Fort Worth announcement:
The Network is comprised initially of 13 dioceses. Each has accepted as its founding document a Memorandum of Agreement formulated November 20, 2003, and reproduced below. The Network will continue to operate in good faith within the Constitution of ECUSA, with membership open to all dioceses and congregations sharing the intent of the Memorandum of Agreement.
The Rt. Rev. Robert William Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, has been appointed Moderator and Convening Authority of the Network, and he is charged with taking the necessary steps to obtain recognition of the Network from Anglican Primates and Provinces worldwide, as well as from other churches with which we have ecumenical relationships.
The Network will, in co-operation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican Primates, participate in the provision of adequate episcopal oversight to congregations within ECUSA that request it.
An organizing convocation of the Network is to be held January 19 & 20, 2004, for the purpose of adopting a charter. Each member diocese will be represented at the convocation by its diocesan bishop, two clergy delegates, and two lay delegates.

MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT

The undersigned bishops of the Episcopal Church (“ECUSA”), being of a common mind on the unfortunate divisions and canonical oppression within our Church, declare a need to establish a Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations, and to that end agree as follows:
1. The purpose of the Network is to bring together those dioceses and congregations which hold to the centrality and authority of Holy Scripture and, in keeping with the Preamble to the Constitution of ECUSA, to be faithful in upholding and propagating the historic faith and order; pursuing the apostolic mission to a troubled and fallen church, nation and world.
2. The Network shall be formed and shall operate in good faith within the Constitution of ECUSA.
3. Membership in the Network shall be open to those dioceses and congregations which share the intent of this agreement.
4. We hereby appoint the Rt Rev Robert William Duncan as Moderator and Convening Authority of the Network to be formed.
5. The Moderator shall direct the preparation of an appropriate Charter as the incorporating document for the Network for formal adoption by member dioceses.
6. The Moderator shall appoint a steering committee to provide for the prompt and orderly formation of the Network.
7. The Moderator shall take necessary steps to obtain recognition of the Network from Anglican Primates and Provinces, as well as from other churches with which we have or may have ecumenical contact.
8. The Network, in co-operation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates, shall participate in the providing of adequate episcopal oversight to congregations within ECUSA that request it.
9. The signatory parties may amend this Memorandum of Agreement by subsequent written agreement.
In witness whereof we have fixed our hands this twentieth day of November 2003.
four signatures as above

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 December 2003 at 9:59 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Saturday, 6 December 2003

cathedrals in the news

First, for the lack of deans:
Patience wears thin in long wait for deans in the Church Times
Shortage of deans hits Anglican church in the Guardian
Update 9 December
The Telegraph has also published a version of the original story about the vacant deaneries

Next for threats to the financing of cathedrals and bishops:
Church to ask the faithful for an extra £5m in the Telegraph

The Church of England is preparing to ask churchgoers to find an extra £5 million in donations to support their bishops and cathedrals. The far-reaching plans have been drawn up by a group set up by the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners to review the Church’s parlous finances. The review group wants to save up to £5 million from the £26 million the commissioners pay annually towards the upkeep of the Church’s 113 bishops and staff at its 43 cathedrals.

and in one case for their lack of child-friendliness:
MAGIC AND MELDREWS in The Times (scroll down a long way for this item) and this letter

MaryAnn Sieghart went to the Advent Service at Salisbury Cathedral, where apparently they haven’t yet discovered the concept of issuing tickets to avoid queues.

In order to get seats close enough to the front for the children to be able to see the choir, I had arrived to queue two-and-a-half hours before the service began at 7pm. I also made sure that the children came to join me before 6pm, so that they could take their seats once the doors opened.
When they arrived, however, a steward insisted that we were not allowed to save places in the queue. “But they’re children!” I expostulated. “You can’t expect them to queue for an hour and a half and then wait in the church for another hour.” He did - and next year, he said, they would have to do so.
Inside the cathedral there was more indignity. Each time the children left their seats to explore the building before the service started, an even more officious steward threatened to give the chairs away to somebody else.
Do these people want to encourage us to come to church? Do they not understand the importance of bringing in a new generation? It is astonishing that a cathedral that is so good at putting on a celebration can be so bad at welcoming us to it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 December 2003 at 11:16 AM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Friday, 5 December 2003

schismatic statistics

Update see reply from Dr Giddings here
Considering that one of the key movers in Anglican “Mainstream” is an academic political scientist (and leading General Synod member) who specialises in ombudsman systems, it’s intriguing to see what is happening there with a public petition, designed to show something that everyone already knows, that millions of Anglicans hate the idea of an openly homosexual bishop. But in this case you don’t have to send your name in to get subscribed. Your bishop, or even your archbishop can do it for you, without your knowledge. The subscribed total of names currently includes 168,000 signed up by their bishop in 2 dioceses (Forth Worth, USA and Kitale, Kenya) and another 184,000 in 1 province (South East Asia). Not to mention another 31,467 in 95 parishes whose leaders have signed up their entire membership roll. What’s surprising given their approach is that they have only set a target of 1 million names, when a single transaction from Nigeria or Uganda can easily exceed that figure many times over. But is there any mechanism for aggrieved individuals to seek redress against the misuse of their names in this way, Dr Giddings?

And those are not the only funny figures being used. Elsewhere on that very same web page, we find:

“We in the Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations are deeply grateful to our Anglican brothers and sisters around the globe for your support and prayers. We are now thirteen [emphasis mine] dioceses stretching from coast to coast and from Canada to Mexico. We are congregations in another 36 dioceses. A million signatures by Christmas will make an extraordinary difference to us as we seek an unhindered witness to the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.”
+ Bob Pittsburgh

Now, the Anglican American Council website shows a list of only three affiliated dioceses (Dallas, Fort Worth and Quincy), so this Network must be something else again. And the AAC site lists congregations in many more dioceses than 36. So who exactly are the thirteen dioceses in this network which the petition applauds as follows:

We therefore
Applaud the action of those Bishops in North America
- Who are forming a Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations as suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury, within ECUSA and in good faith with its Constitution.
- Who have designated Bishop Robert Duncan as Convening Bishop (Moderator)
- Who will no longer be at the Lord’s Table with those who have consecrated Gene Robinson (see below).

This is of interest outside the USA because the petition calls on the ABC and other primates individually and severally to do a number of things, including:

- To recognise Bishop Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh) as the duly elected Convening Bishop (Moderator) of the Network and invite him to all events to which the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA is invited.
- To recognise the Convening Bishop (Moderator) in opening ecumenical conversations with other Christian churches.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 December 2003 at 1:50 PM GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion | silly stuff

impaired communion

The CEN reports that:

Nine Provinces of the Anglican Communion: Nigeria, Rwanda, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the West Indies and Central Africa, have formally broken off relations or entered into a state of “impaired Communion” with those elements of ECUSA that have endorsed the episcopacy of Gene Robinson.

Leaving aside the issue of how meaningful it is for a province to formally break off relations with elements of another province, let’s check the documentation available on this, province by province. So far, I can find evidence of only six formal provincial actions that do what the CEN describes, plus one (West Indies) that does not.

Nigeria
The official statement says

We, bishops of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, meeting at St. Cyprian’s Church, Port Harcourt, on November 15, 2003 condemn in its totality this consecration. We and our people will not recognize Gene Robinson and his ministry as bishop.
We continue to stand solidly behind the leadership of the Church of Nigeria in breaking relationship not only with the Diocese of New Hampshire but with all the bishops and dioceses in ECUSA that have joined in this divisive and unscriptural act.
We equally affirm our commitment to the decisions taken at our Theological and Liturgical Conference held in Abuja in July, 2003.
We also renew our mandate that the Primate should continue to act on our behalf as the cases of ordination or consecration of people who are openly gay to holy orders emerge in any part of the Communion in the future.

Rwanda
statement not yet found

West Africa
The only statement found so far is this news story.

Southeast Asia
The official statement says

(i) We do not recognize the ministry of Dr Gene Robinson as a Bishop in the Anglican Church.
(ii) We are no longer in communion with the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA and all those Bishops and Dioceses [Appendix A] who voted for the confirmation of Dr Gene Robinson’s election and those who joined in the consecration of the same.
(iii) We encourage and support our Primate to work with like-minded Primates, Bishops and churches in the Anglican Communion to urge ECUSA to repentance and to return to the faith that has been given to the Church Universal. If ECUSA refuses to repent, we will commit ourselves through our Primate to work with like-minded Primates for the realignment of the Anglican Communion.
(iv) We support the call of the Primates of the Provinces concerned ?to make adequate provision for Episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates. We request our Primate to take an active part whenever required in this matter.
(v) We support and reaffirm ourselves to be in communion with that part of the Anglican Communion including those faithfuls in ECUSA who accept and endorse the principles as clearly defined by Resolution 1.10 [Appendix B] of the Lambeth Conference 1998 and the various Primates’ Meetings since 1998.

We affirm and endorse the Statement of Breaking Communion issued by the House of Bishops of this Province to the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada, dated 6th June, 2003 in consequence of its authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions and the implementation of the same, effective 28th May, 2003.

Tanzania
The official statement says

We declare that, henceforth we are not in communion, namely, communion in sacris, with:
i. Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses;
ii. Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses;
iii. Gay priests and deacons;
iv. Priests who bless same sex unions.

[The declaration above is not limited to any particular province.]

The Anglican Church of Tanzania, therefore, resolves and states that:
It remains in communion with all faithful people of God in ECUSA; Bishops, priests and laity who oppose homosexuality and who uphold the orthodox faith of the Church and the teachings of the Anglican Church as contained, for instance, in the Lambeth Resolutions…

Kenya
The official statement says

… In this case, the Anglican Church of Kenya will not recognize the ministry of this one Bishop.
As Anglican Church of Kenya we reaffirm our commitment to the Lambeth Resolution and the decision of the Primates in respect of same-sex unions. We also reaffirm our commitment to the continued unity of the Anglican Communion.
We give the assurance of our solidarity and Episcopal support to those Bishops, Clergy and laity in various dioceses in ECUSA who continue to uphold the historic faith and order of the Church.
All those Churches of our great Communion that have so far deviated from the norms and the historic faith of the Church have, by their own action, impaired communion.

Uganda
The official statement says

i) We deplore, abhor and condemn in the strongest possible terms the resolution of ECUSA to consecrate Gene Robinson and all other resolutions related to the ordination of homosexuals and blessings of same sex unions.
ii) (a)The Church of the Province of Uganda (Anglican) cuts her relationship and Communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) on their resolution and consequent action of consecrating and enthroning an openly confessed homosexual Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire Diocese in the Anglican Communion; and with any other Province that shall follow suit.
(b) Mindful of the fact that there are a number of Dioceses, Parishes and Congregations in the ECUSA, which are opposed to the resolution and action taken by their Convention and are determined to remain faithful to the teaching of Scripture on human sexuality, to those dear brothers and sisters, we extend our solidarity with them and assure them of our continued prayers.

West Indies
The official statement says

Until that time and dependent upon the findings and recommendations of the Commission we, as a Province, will maintain a formal relationship with the Episcopal Church (USA), as part of the Anglican Communion, while keeping the matter under critical review. However, we cannot accept the ministry of Canon Gene Robinson as a Bishop.

Central Africa
The primate has written this letter to Frank Griswold and earlier he wrote this letter but neither appears to contain any formal pronouncement by the province.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 December 2003 at 10:12 AM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Wednesday, 3 December 2003

Anglican-Roman relations

Update 12 December
The American National Catholic Reporter published this commentary by its Rome correspondent on 5 December.

Update 5 December
The Tablet an English Roman Catholic weekly, has this version of events.
The Church Times has this one.
and Episcopal News Service has issued this denial of one aspect of the Tablet report.

The future of Anglican-Roman Catholic relations is in the news.
First, Lambeth Palace announced on Saturday ARCIC Co-chairman to step down the resignation of Frank Griswold from ARCIC.
Then the Telegraph reported on Monday in Church unity talks fail over gay bishop that the Vatican was preparing to suspend the talks following a final meeting in the New Year.
On Tuesday ACNS issued this statement and the Vatican issued this one.
This further Zenit press release explicitly states that the Vatican’s reason for this is the consecration of Gene Robinson.
The cancelled meeting was to have been held in Seattle. The local RC archbishop there makes some surprising comments in this local report In The Northwest: Tumult over gay bishop threatens reconciliation :

Just back from meetings in Rome, Archbishop Brunett revealed in an interview that Catholic officials have received a startling overture from Episcopalians who refuse to recognize Robinson.
“We were approached by a whole Episcopal diocese about coming into the Roman Catholic church, as perhaps Anglican Rite Catholics,” Brunett said. He declined to identify the diocese.

Archbishop Brunnett also said:

“I can’t tell you how much anger I hear from Anglican bishops around the world,” Brunett said.
“It puts us on the spot,” he added. “We don’t have any disagreement with the Anglican Church. It is that this section of it, the Episcopal Church, has decided to separate itself from the Anglican Communion.”
“The (Episcopalians) who oppose this have nowhere to run,” he added.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 December 2003 at 2:44 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Tuesday, 2 December 2003

another equality milestone

Today, the The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 take effect.
The text of the regulations is here.
The text of the ACAS guidance can be downloaded as a pdf file from here.
The regulations have already been amended to bring occupational pension funds within their scope, and the text of the amendment is here.
For other links covering both this and the sexual orientation regulations, see here.

The Guardian has published useful guides to each of the new sets of regulations:
Sexual Orientation
Religion or Belief
The Guardian also reports that a solution has now been found to the difficulties of the 16 Roman Catholic Sixth Form Colleges who were caught by this legislation.
Over at The Times two columnists discuss these changes: Alan Coren and Libby Purves.
The BBC also has coverage:
Respecting all the workers
Q&A: New anti-discrimination laws and more amusingly
Could an agnostic be bishop?.
This story refers to “A document distributed by Lambeth Palace outlines how parishes need to make the link between such roles and religious belief, if they are to avoid a slew of writs” but I think this is a mistaken reference to the document issued earlier in the year by the Evangelical Alliance.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 December 2003 at 2:42 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Employment Equality | News | Opinion

Monday, 1 December 2003

challenge to new law

Today the Trades Union Congress announced a High Court challenge to the religious exemption clauses of the new employment regulations. TUC challenge government on gay rights. The trade unions involved are: Unison, Amicus, the Public and Commercial Services Union, the RMT and teaching unions NUT, NAS/UWT and NATFE.
Later, the Press Association reported that the Evangelical Alliance has been given permission to argue its case for “religious autonomy” by intervening in the case.

The Alliance - described in court as representing “a multiplicity of Christian organisations” including the Christian Schools Trust - says they have the right to formulate and apply their own policies regarding the employment of gays as clerics and as teachers in faith schools.

Meanwhile similar regulations came into effect in Northern Ireland, and there also they were criticised for containing an exemption for religious organisations. See Gays to Get Legal Backing at Work.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 December 2003 at 10:16 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Employment Equality | News

employment law milestone

By a ironic quirk of the liturgical calendar, the day on which the The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 take effect is St Andrew’s Day.
My article published in the Church Times ten days ago appears below.

The text of the regulations is here.
The text of the ACAS guidance can be downloaded as a pdf file from here.
More advice from the Department of Trade and Industry is available here.
The regulations have already been amended to bring occupational pension funds within their scope, and the text of the amendment is here.
Earlier reports by me can be found here.

From the Church Times 21 November 2003

Burden of proof rests on employer under new law

Want to offer the job only to a heterosexual Christian?
Then watch your step, advises Simon Sarmiento

It will be illegal from early December onwards to discriminate in the British workplace because of religion, belief or sexual orientation. Special exemptions have been granted for religious organisations, but these are narrowly drawn and do not apply automatically.

Two new sets of Employment Equality regulations apply to all employment and vocational training. They cover the processes of appointing Church of England clergy, including bishops. They prohibit direct discrimination in recruitment, promotion, transfers, terms and conditions, dismissals, or vocational training. Only in this area of direct discrimination do special exempting clauses apply.

Indirect discrimination - that is, any unjustified practice which disadvantages people of a particular religion or sexual orientation - the harassment of workers, and the victimisation of complainants or their supporters, are all prohibited for churches, mosques, or temples, just as for everyone else.

Earlier this month, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) published detailed advice on how to comply with these new requirements.

Both regulations allow any employer to claim an exemption from some of the direct-discrimination rules. What is called a Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR) is where “considering the nature of the work and the context”, being of a particular religion, or being of a particular sexual orientation, is “determining”. The appointment of chaplains to hospitals is given as a (religion) example. But additional clauses grant further exemptions to religious organisations.

In every case, a careful procedure must be followed in the appointment process to claim a GOR. Advertisements and other material should explicitly state what GOR is being claimed, and each post must be considered separately, says ACAS. Would-be applicants are at liberty to complain to an employment tribunal that they have been prevented from applying, and that a GOR claim is unjustified. The burden of proof rests with the employer and only a tribunal or higher court can give an authoritative ruling. Under the Data Protection Act, applicants may ask for copies of notes taken during the selection process.

The additional clause is different in each set of regulations. The Religion or Belief clause is more widely available. To claim an exemption on ground of religion, an organisation has to demonstrate first that it “has a religious ethos” but ACAS says that “a GOR exemption cannot be claimed if the nature of the role and the context within which it is carried out is not of sufficient profile or impact within the organisation to affect the overall ethos of the organisation”.

The Sexual Orientation additional clause is quite different. It has to be shown that the specific job is “for the purposes of an organised religion” and that a GOR is necessary (not merely preferable) “so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers”. But it allows a GOR to be claimed, not only for being of a particular orientation, but also for “a requirement related to sexual orientation” (italics mine). This was inserted at the request of the Archbishops’ Council and is intended to allow the application of a “marriage or abstinence” policy. But it will ultimately be for a tribunal to decide if that policy is justified in law.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 December 2003 at 9:44 PM GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Employment Equality