Please note that during October all news reports will appear on the main Thinking Anglicans blog.
Two radio reports today:
Same sex blessings
The worldwide Anglican Communion finally gets to see the Eames Report this month. Named after Archbishop Robin Eames, who chaired the commission, it’s meant to chart a way forward out of the crisis over same sex blessings and the election of the practising homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson. Conservatives in Africa and around the world want The Commission to recommend throwing the Episcopal Church USA – or ECUSA – out of the Anglican Communion. And also to reject the man it endorsed as Bishop of New Hampshire. Many predict schism if the American Church isn’t called upon to “repent”. But as Jane Little reports from New Hampshire the break up is already happening. Listen here (9 minutes)
The long standing row about whether women should be able to become Bishops in The Church of England, and whether one day there might be a woman Archbishop, is coming to a head. Next month the so called “Rochester Report” will be published but its contents have been widely leaked. It will apparently put forward seven options, from which Synod can choose. For Forward in Faith, the organisation which opposes the ordination of women as Bishops, or indeed as priests, there are only two options which they will outline in their own report, to be published next Friday. These are either to maintain the status quo where all Bishops are men, or set up an independent or free province of the Church for those who cannot accept women Bishops. Roger Bolton reports. Listen here (7 minutes)
This week’s Church Times press column by Andrew Brown has further comment on this matter.
After reviewing at length the earlier events all reported here and in earlier entries under the same title, he has the following comment.
The only thing we can conclude from this for certain is that somebody is lying. It’s not just a question of who suggested the term “confessing church”. The contorted passive voice of the ACNS statement is perfectly compatible with the story that it was Dr Williams. I rang Jonathan Jennings at the Lambeth press office again, and asked whether the Archbishop had or had not suggested the phrase. He replied: “I wouldn’t go that far,” which is illuminating, but not of the question I wanted answered.
Beyond the phrase itself are the implications. Mr Minns has stated in print and repeated that Dr Williams made explicit the link with Bonhoeffer; Lambeth has now denied it. There were three people in the room; so at least one, it seems to me, must be lying. I don’t know that it’s particularly blameworthy. This kind of social or diplomatic untruth is told all the time to all sorts of journalists: provoking it is a measure of our success in finding interesting stories. But it is only religious journalists whose job consists, in a large part, of ringing up Christians so that they can tell us lies.
There have been several articles recently that consider this forthcoming report.
The National Catholic Reporter published Anglicans at the crossroads by Austen Ivereigh, who is deputy editor of the London-based RC weekly The Tablet.
The Episcopal Divinity School website has published An Imagined Conversation on the Lambeth Commission with the Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Ph.D.
The Guardian’s godslot today publishes a column by Colin Slee entitled The word on Gene Robinson.
Today the Telegraph carries a story by Jonathan Petre
Archbishop faces fresh crisis over Holy Communion.
This refers to remarks by the Bishop of North Sydney, the Rt Rev Glenn Davis. What happened was that Glenn Davis wrote an article which was published two weeks ago in the Church Times. You can read that here:
What’s all the fuss about?
The link in that to the Carlisle origins of Communion by Extension is incorrect: it should be to this: Extending the boundaries by David Smethurst
The British Roman Catholic weekly The Tablet has printed a report by Richard Major their American correspondent
Carey raises stakes ahead of Eames report:
…After 18 October the struggle will probably be not so much with the leadership of Ecusa, but within individual dioceses and parishes, which will have to decide how to respond to a world in which they might not be able to remain in full communion both with Ecusa and with the see of Canterbury. Ecusa’s relationship with the world’s 75 m. Anglicans, most of whom live in Africa, will also be in doubt. The African provinces have been the most outspoken in their opposition to the consecration of Robinson.
Fr David Moyer, leader of Forward in Faith in North America, told The Tablet that at the minimum Eames must ‘sternly rebuke Ecusa for its go-it-alone attitude’ and offer ‘immediate provision of security for the life and witness’ of conservative clergy. But he said Ecusa had become ‘irreformable’: liberals are in ‘tight control’ of the ship, he said.
At the other end of the spectrum, Integrity, for 30 years the lobby group for Episcopalian homosexuals, refused to believe that Ecusa could be ‘voted off the Anglican island, as in Survivor’. Its president, the Revd Susan Russell, said that ‘prophetic ministry always comes at a cost’. ‘The Church is stronger, the Gospel better served’ because of its change of mind about homosexual acts, she told The Tablet, adding that it was ‘incomprehensible’ that the presence of practising homosexuals in the episcopate might make people feel obliged to secede.
Most parishes and parishioners are dreading what will follow after 18 October - if they have noticed it at all. ‘My people don’t know and don’t want to know and certainly don’t want to decide, but that’s just no longer an option,’ one Episcopalian priest told The Tablet. Another predicted that ‘if the Communion fractures over homosexuality, Anglicanism will become a well-disciplined Church to the right of Rome, leaving Ecusa as just a quaint declining sect of two million bourgeoisie’.
Doug LeBlanc on GetReligion has comprehensively dissected this report, see “Incomprehensible!”
Further to recent discussion on this ACNS has issued the following
Statement from Lambeth Palace on the ‘network’ stories
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, has had a wide range of meetings and conversations with many groups and individuals on all sides in relation to the current concerns in the Anglican Communion. These meetings remain private and confidential.
Amongst those with whom the archbishop met last autumn were those dissenting from the impending consecration of Gene Robinson; those involved wished to discuss the shape that might be taken by groups dissenting from the decision of General Convention but remaining within the structures of ECUSA.
The term ‘network’ was suggested as offering one appropriate model to provide support for those dissenting from the resolution but intending to remain within ECUSA’s structures. The Archbishop felt that this might prove a suitable working concept, but no proposals as to its potential form, structure or outworking were advanced.
In relation to the discussion of the term ‘confessing church’; this concept indicated, in accordance with traditional Protestant usage - that the dissent was understood to be on a matter of conscience that, for the dissenter, touched on the integrity of the church itself. No narrower example or more specific comparison, for instance to the church in Germany in the 1930s, was intended.
It starts out:
THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, gave his personal backing to a new, ultra-conservative organisation for orthodox Anglicans that is poised to become a recognised arm of the Anglican Communion in America.
The Times has learned that Dr Williams, in a private meeting with leading American clergy at Lambeth Palace, advised the setting up of a “network” to provide a home within the American church for those who disagreed with the decision to consecrate the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
Dr Williams went so far as to suggest the new network be called the “confessing” network. This was taken by those at the meeting as a reference to the the “Confessing Christian” movement that stood for the orthodox faith in Germany at a time when the official Christian bodies were being manipulated by the Nazis.
Although Lambeth Palace denied that any such direct link was intended, a spokesman for the Archbishop admitted that the term “confessing church” had been invoked as one way for the conservative evangelicals and Anglican Catholics to describe themselves.
Three separate news stories arrived close together, all containing recent remarks by the Archbishop of Uganda.
First, he recommended to his own clergy that they should use the internet:
Discard Old Preaching - Orombi from the Kampala Monitor via allAfrica.com
The Anglican Archbishop, Luke Orombi, has advised priests to read widely, listen to media reports and surf the internet to be able to relate their preaching to modern developments.
He said Christians are tired of stereotype ways of preaching like quoting verses and reading them over and over again to the congregation…
Second, from New Vision (Kampala) via allAfrica.com
Orombi Decries Evil in Church
The archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, has said the immorality that has been prevalent on the streets has entered the Church.
He called upon priests to show their faith in God by resisting temptations that could lead them into wicked acts.
…”All forms of immorality usually take place on the streets, but now it’s slowly spreading into the Church. These days you even hear that a priest has committed adultery or defiled a child. Where is the Church heading?” he asked…
And third a Statement from the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda which is addressed to ECUSA. Some excerpts:
…For many of us, the internal workings of ECUSA are a mystery. Were it not for the information revealed in these open letters, we would not have known that the UTO grants of the Episcopal Church Women were part of the official ECUSA structure. Nor would we have known that women in the Episcopal Church support the recent heretical and immoral actions of the General Convention, which have caused ECUSA to separate itself from the historic church and the vast majority of the Anglican Communion and Christendom. We are grateful to have this information, and respectfully request that UTO not send us any more funds – even if grant requests have been submitted.
…This state of broken communion saddens us because of the loss of relationships and partners, and we believe it also grieves the heart of God. We continue to pray that ECUSA will repent of its actions so healing can begin, reconciliation be pursued, and communion be restored. We continue to rejoice in the formation and growth of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes in the United States under the leadership of Bishop Bob Duncan, and thank God that there is a faithful remnant of Anglicans in America with whom we can remain in communion. We look forward to deepening our ties and mission partnerships with those parishes and dioceses that are part of this Anglican Communion Network.
From Canada, the Anglican Journal has this report by Marites N Sisson
Church awaits critical commission report which contains quotes from Alyson Barnett-Cowan a Canadian commission member.
Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, a Canadian member of the commission, refused to provide details of the report, but said that all 17 members of the commission — who represent varying, sometimes contradictory voices — agreed on the recommendations. No one, she said, was expected to disassociate themselves from it.
“There was a very strong sense of commitment, of wanting to make it work,” she said.
Ever since a majority of Episcopal bishops supported the ordination of an openly gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire, the Anglican Communion (of which the Episcopal Church is a province) has been subjected to a wrenching civil war. Although schism, or permanent division in the church, has not yet occurred, there has been more than a hint of it in the air.
According to Bishop John Howe of Orlando, who voted against the consecration of a gay bishop, every diocese of the Episcopal Church — traditionalist and liberal — has lost money, members and priests. The large Diocese of Virginia reported some months ago that it had lost more than $845,000 in income and was forced to lower its contribution to the national church by $257,428.
Not all of the costs have been financial. Ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches have been seriously impaired and various provinces of the Anglican Communion around the world have declared themselves in broken or impaired relationship with the Episcopal Church.
Our desire was first to describe to Archbishop Williams our experiences working toward reconciliation and unity in our respective dioceses and in the American province as a whole, what is contributing to that effort, and what is deterring or undermining it. We spoke very candidly about the American Anglican Council and the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, how we are experiencing their activities and actions, and about the activities of bishops from other dioceses and other provinces of the Anglican Communion within our jurisdictions. Second, we sought from the Archbishop some sense of how our continuing efforts might best support him in his work to bring greater unity to the Anglican Communion. Third, we described to Dr. Williams how we felt his ministry and leadership could most support the American Church.
The nature of our conversation was frank and direct, and the Archbishop was both open and responsive. It was, however, a private conversation, and in that respect confidential. In the last year too many people have taken the Archbishop’s remarks in similar consultations and used them publicly to further their particular perspectives and agendas. I know you will understand when I refuse to compromise either his trust or our common work toward unity in the mission of Christ’s Church by repeating here or elsewhere his reflections and responses.
Andrew Brown has commented upon the recent disclosures which were reported here on Friday.
In Dr Williams’ blessing he says in part:
…However, there may be a partial explanation in the arrogance of the Northern, liberal faction in the American church, which regards the Anglican Communion with proprietorial contempt. This really, really, upsets people at Lambeth Palace, and, until recently, they could do nothing about it. Now, of course, they can destroy the liberals by giving their enemies an opening to sue them for everything they own on the grounds that the liberals will be no longer official Anglicans, recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. And it looks as if this is what will happen. What makes me so sure? A tiny story found through Simon Sarmiento: that it was Rowan Williams himself who suggested to the American
bigotsconservatives that they call themselves “The Confessing Anglican Network”, because this name echoed the “confessing” churches which kept the true faith in Nazi Germany.
And so the subtlest theological mind in Britain has reached the point where clergymen who denounce the ordination of practising homosexuals are morally comparable to the Christians who faced jail and execution for resisting the extermination of the Jews. The implied comparison of their opponents actually does bear some thought, which, once, Dr Williams might have given it.
Read it all to see the context in which this comment is put. The reader comments there are also of interest.
Beliefnet published Episcopalians, Anglicans Launch Diplomatic Push Before Commission written by Kevin Eckstrom.
The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan discussed the issues facing the commission in his Presidential Address to the Governing Body.
The Church of England Newspaper published this article: Archbishop’s right to invite under the scrutiny of Eames and also carried this editorial comment (text will disappear so saved below the fold here).
The Church Times carries a news story by Bill Bowder: Report could have a ‘profound impact for good’ says Eames and its op-ed columnist Giles Fraser has an opinion column: The cynical option.
Extract from CEN Editorial
The Anglican Communion, by contrast, seems increasingly to be two different entities held together by a very thin external skin – ferrets in the proverbial sack, to use the language of one’s local hostelry! ECUSA has been stamping on its dissenters at home, using the full force of civil law against clergy and congregations to suppress the traditional ethical way, while appealing for compassion and harmony over here. This ‘good cop – bad cop’ routine has worked wonderfully well for them. It seems that their sudden embassy to the Eames Lambeth Commission, a privilege not accorded to their opponents, has worked to prevent sanctions being implemented on ECUSA. Perhaps the so-called ‘liberal’ squeal of church rage from the Dean of Southwark, noted for his Father Christmas costume, scared the commission, who knows – but Eames has ‘choked’ at the only decision it can make if it is to maintain a single Anglican Communion.
The nature of this division is as deep as it can get, affecting the doctrine of creation, the authority and clarity of Scripture and two millennia of uncontested ethical tradition. The western cultural drift of romanticism and amoral ‘inclusivity’ controls society – must it splinter and take over our church too?
A simple guide to the Lambeth Commission on Communion can be found this week at Anglicans Online written by me.
The full text of what RW has said can be found here
Address at al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo
A press release is here:
Archbishop’s visit to Egypt
The British newspapers report:
Guardian Stephen Bates Anglicans consider gay clergy
Telegraph Jonathan Petre ‘Civil war’ fears over gay bishop
The Times Ruth Gledhill Crisis group fails to resolve Anglican dispute over gays This article gives a lot of space to the paper also published by “Anglican Mainstream” but in fact a copy of material on the site of the Anglican Communion Institute which appears to be the originating body for this article.
Anglican Mainstream, the multinational conservative evangelical group founded to oppose the appointment of Dr Jeffrey John, now Dean of St Albans, as Bishop of Reading, demanded “restorative discipline” on Ecusa that would reduce it to observer status for two years. During that time it should rescind its actions or face outright expulsion.
In a statement signed by leading global evangelical bishops and theologians, including the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, President of the Church of England Evangelical Council, the group insisted thatr Ecusa “must not be able to use the label Anglican in a way that identifies them as part of the Anglican Communion”.
The evangelicals also insisted that Ecusa’s relationship with Canterbury, if it is to continue at all, must be “qualitatively different” from Canterbury’s relationship with what will become the continuing Communion. They would need to have a clearly “diminished” status, Anglican Mainstream said.
There are already indications that if the African and Asian bishops’ demands for discipline against the US are not met, leading bishops will set up a rival Anglican Church with its titular headquarters in an ancient see such as Alexandria. The Primate of Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola, has previously said: “You do not need to go through Canterbury to get to Jesus.”
In the open letter on its website yesterday, Anglican Mainstream said: “If this request (for discipline) is ignored, then plainly we have reached the end of the Anglican Communion in its present form.”
American newspapers mostly carry the AP report previously listed. However, in the New York Times Laurie Goodstein mentions Eames in passing while reporting on a local event: Bishop Says Conflict on Gays Distracts From Vital Issues
Earlier, the Church of England Newspaper had Civil war brewing over Eames recommendations
and the Church Times had ‘No fudge’ as Lambeth report is finalised
The Associated Press filed this: Anglican commission on gays wraps up
and Reuters filed Anglicans hope for “peace and healing” over gays
In this Reuters report dated Monday 6 Sep, Anglican Leaders Seek to Heal Gay Bishops Rift, Paul Majendie quotes Clifford Longley as saying
“I think I put my money on it being a fudge. Temperamentally I do not think they are inclined to go for a fight. Never in the past has any of these commissions come to anything. They have never managed to apply sanctions.”
Today, Wednesday, Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph reports that US bishops fly in for ‘sanctions’ talks , a story which suggests that at least the bishops of Massachusetts, Ohio (retired), Colorado and West Tennessee don’t share Clifford Longley’s optimism.
The Los Angeles Times carries two stories by Larry B Stammer under the heading
EPISCOPAL CHURCH SCHISM
Push to Be Inclusive Creates a Divide
By reaching out to homosexuals, L.A. Bishop J. Jon Bruno alienated three parishes. He’s no stranger to crisis.
A Prelate of Evangelical Intensity
Ugandan berates the American church and says it’s departed from historic teachings.
And the Daily Pilot had this editorial comment:
Church practicing what they preach
There is also material about Los Angeles, including a quote from Archbishop Orombi, in this BBC radio report by the Sunday programme which deals first with the Lambeth Commission story. Listen here (Real Audio)
The Church and homosexuality - Liberal Anglicans in Britain have told us they may seek Episcopal oversight from pro-gay American Bishops if the Church of England supports the Anglican Communion in disciplining the American wing of the church for supporting homosexuality…
This morning on the BBC radio programme Today the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was interviewed by John Humphrys concerning the events of yesterday in Russia. The interview runs for 11 minutes.
News story based on interview:
Massacre tests Archbishop’s faith
Audio recording of interview:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams on the religious aspect of the Russian siege (Real Audio required)
Update As readers might easily miss the TrackBack, here is a direct link to the GetReligion post that reflects on Rowan’s broadcast remarks:
Theodicy on the Radio
Today Jonathan Petre at the Telegraph joins in, with Anglicans to shun gay-row bishops in which he suggests that the recommendations will focus immediate actions on individual bishops rather than on provinces:
Liberal American bishops face having their invitations to Anglican summits withdrawn by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, if they continue to defy the worldwide Church over homosexuality.
Under tough proposals likely to be recommended by the Lambeth Commission next month, the liberal leadership of the American Episcopal Church could be excluded from policy making and shunned by the vast majority of Anglicans. Bishops who publicly support the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson as Anglicanism’s first actively gay bishop last year or who authorise gay “marriages”, both of which breach official Anglican policy, would be penalised.
They would only be readmitted to the councils of the worldwide Church if they reversed their position and repented.
The 19-strong commission, which was set up by Dr Williams to avert a schism over the issue, is to finalise its recommendations at a meeting in Windsor next week, but it is thought to have reached a broad consensus at earlier meetings.
In its final report, which is due to be published in October, the commission is expected to resist calls from hardline conservatives to expel the Episcopal Church immediately.
But if its liberal leadership has not recanted by the time the next Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops convenes in 2008, the whole church could still face ejection.
Although debate over homosexuality will not be stifled, only bishops who abide by the Church’s official line will be welcome at Anglican summits, and new bishops will also be required to sign up to the policy…
The next meeting of the Lambeth Commission is next week. Yesterday a press release from Armagh arrived which said:
THE LAMBETH COMMISSION
Chairman: Archbishop Robin Eames
Press Contact: Rev Brian Parker Tel 028 90 232909 (m) 07775 927 807
1 September 2004
LAMBETH COMMISSION MEETS NEXT WEEK
The Lambeth Commission established by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, to face up to the crisis in the Anglican Communion over sexuality issues, meets next week in St George’s, Windsor to draw up its Final Report.
Under the Chairmanship of the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, the Commission has been working since October 2003 when an emergency meeting of the Anglican Primates requested the setting up of an international commission to suggest ways forward out of the current crisis. Apart from meetings in the United States and England members of the Commission have undertaken many contacts with the 38 Provinces or Churches of the Anglican Communion and have received hundreds of written and oral submissions.
Dr Eames will present the Report of the Commission to the Archbishop of Canterbury in October when it will be released for study throughout the world Church.
The consecration of a practicing homosexual, Bishop Gene Robinson, in the United States and the practice of blessing same sex unions in Canada have provoked a storm throughout the Anglican Communion. Commentators have described it as the most serious divisions ever to emerge in the Church. Already some leaders and Provinces have declared themselves alienated from or ‘out of communion’ with the Episcopal Church, U.S.A. and the Anglican Church of Canada.
While the Commission has not been asked to pronounce on sexuality issues it is expected that its Report will recommend radical changes in the ways Anglicanism relates to its different constituencies. The crisis presents major problems for the Archbishop of Canterbury who is by tradition the leader of the Anglican Communion.
This morning, The Times carries (page 2 of the fullsize paper version) this report by Ruth Gledhill
Anglicans ready to ostracise US church over gay bishop
Parts of this article can also be found online here.
Some further excerpts are below the fold.
This article in the Belfast Telegraph is also clearly from the same source:
Eames tells of sadness at global divisions
Archbishop Eames, before leaving for London to prepare for next week’s meeting, told the Belfast Telegraph today: “This has been the most difficult and challenging task I have ever been given in my Anglican experience. Feelings on all sides of the problem are running high.
“The diversity of our world church family is being reflected in the depth of feeling and the diversity of opinion across the world.”
Archbishop Eames said that the Commission had been working under “extreme pressure” since it was set up by Dr Williams at the end of last year. This followed the appointment of the actively homosexual Dr Gene Robinson as a Bishop in New Hampshire, and also the blessings of same-sex unions by the Anglican Church in Canada.
Already a number of leaders within the 38 Provinces in the world-wide Church have declared themselves to be alienated or “out of communion” with the Anglican Churches in the USA and Canada.
Archbishop Eames said: “When people read our suggestions in the report, I pray that they will be able to see a way forward which is positive and realistic. Apart from the difficulties we have faced, I am saddened at the effect these divisions have had on the real work and mission of the Church in a suffering and bewildered world.”
More from Ruth Geldhill’s report
The Anglican Church in Canada, where the diocese of New Westminster has authorised the Church’s first same-sex blessings rite, is also likely to face disciplinary action, although not as severe as America. The General Synod in Canada agreed this summer to hold off on universal sanction of same-sex blessings. But if the Canadian Church were to pursue this, it too could find itself in the exclusion zone.
…There is certain to be a bitter fight between the different factions before any recommendations are enacted. America is financially powerful and the commission’s recommendations must go first to the primates next February and then to the Anglican Consultative Council, the representative body of the Anglican Communion, before they can be enforced.
Sources at the highest level of the Church are understood to consider the whole situation a disaster for the lesbian and gay community in particular. But disciplinary action against America is thought to be the only way to preserve what little unity remains of the Anglican Church.
Already, some church leaders and provinces have declared themselves “out of communion” with America and Canada. The Nigerian Church is “planting” or founding new evangelical Anglican churches in America in response to the crisis, and bishops in Uganda have taken three parishes in America into their “care”.
The restructuring is the most radical of a number of options that have been considered by the commission. Another way forward would have been to persuade all provinces to agree a joint code of canon law, but it would have taken many years for all the separate synods to agree. This would also have turned the Anglican Communion into a pale shadow of the Roman Catholic Church, with the Archbishop of Canterbury an Anglican pope in all but name.
Instead, it is expected that the Anglican Communion will be reformed into a federation similar to that of the worldwide Lutheran Church.
The Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph all have reports of what Rowan Williams said at the Greenbelt Festival yesterday. The headlines are remarkably diverse. Picture from The Times
Ruth Gledhill The Times
Archbishop says he’s failed to live up to expectations
Stephen Bates Guardian
Archbishop shows frustration over church’s divisive homosexuality row
Jonathan Petre Telegraph
Muslims can go to heaven, says Archbishop
Two extracts, first from the Telegraph
In a rare glimpse of his anger over the row that has overshadowed his first two years at Canterbury, Dr Williams said the debate had lacked grace and patience.
He said that this had been aggravated by pressure groups with entrenched positions who posted instant reactions to events on their websites.
…During a wide-ranging discussion, Dr Williams reflected his disappointment at the tone of the debate on homosexuality, and his dismay at the vitriol of many of the e-mails he had received.
“It is not so much that we have disagreement in the Church - that happens,” he said. “It is more to do with how those disagreements are conducted. The dismissiveness, the rawness of the anger . . . need to be worked with.”
Speaking about the furore that followed the appointment of the gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, a post from which Dr John later withdrew, Dr Williams said that both sides had suffered shock.
…The Archbishop said: “On both sides of the debate as it evolved, quite a lot of people had to learn that the Church of England wasn’t just them, because what I heard a lot of on both sides of the controversy was ‘we thought the Church of England was us and people like us and maybe one or two others who don’t matter very much’.
“I was intrigued by the mirror imaging that went on there. There was a sense on both sides, therefore, of shock and dispossession, that it is not all ours after all. It is not full of faithful evangelicals, it is not full of enlightened liberals.”
And now from The Times
Among the most dispiriting aspects of the job was the tone in which debate was conducted. “It is not so much that we have disagreement in the Church — that happens. It is more to do with the way those disagreements are conducted.” Referring to “the dismissiveness, the rawness of anger” he said: “Somebody some day ought to write a thesis on the spirituality of email because that has something to do with all this. That is what most dispirits me.” Dr Williams continued: “While we may disagree, we have need to learn how to do it with a bit more grace.”
The Archbishop then went on to refer directly to the debate over homosexuality, which culminates this October with the report of his commission into the crisis. He said: “On both sides of the debate as it evolved, quite a lot of people had to learn that the Church of England wasn’t just them because what I heard a lot of, on both sides of the controversy, was ‘we thought the Church of England was us and people like us and maybe one or two others who don’t matter very much’.
“And I was intrigued by the mirror imaging that went on there. There was a sense on both sides, therefore, of shock and dispossession. It’s not full of faithful evangelicals, it’s not full of enlightened liberals. Now have we digested that yet, and what do we do with it when we have. I am not sure I know but that is the kind of work that remains.”
He added: “Very very quickly pressure groups can form and settle and decide where they stand and invest in where they stand. We haven’t had an effective forum in which that process can be slowed, not just for the sake of putting things off but for the sake of mutual understanding. We haven’t found that forum yet. It is not the General Synod, it is certainly not the trading of websites. Where is it? Perhaps where it is or should be is much more at the local rather than the national level.”
The Church Times has some further information on the Sydney proposal first reported here.
Sydney to turn blind eye to lay presidency by Muriel Porter.
Here again is the link to the full text of the proposal on Sydney’s own website.
The CEN website remains frozen on the issue of 23 July, so any report or comment they may have made on this matter is unavailable.
Amnesty International UK published a book at the beginning of July: Sex, Love and Homophobia by Vanessa Baird, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu. The book documents the violent persecution of gays around the world, which has reached “epidemic” levels in some nations, according to the author. More on the book here.
Later in the month at General Synod, the Campaigns Director of AI UK, Stephen Bowen spoke to a lunchtime fringe meeting about the book and nature of AI’s work in this area. He stressed the importance AI places on keeping out of internal disputes within religious or political organisations. Their concern is strictly with the civil rights of millions of human beings.
On 1 July The Times published an article by Desmond Tutu titled Homophobia is as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid. Here’s a short extract:
A student once asked me if I could have one wish granted to reverse an injustice, what would it be? I had to ask for two. One is for world leaders to forgive the debts of developing nations which hold them in such thrall. The other is for the world to end the persecution of people because of their sexual orientation, which is every bit as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid.
… In its new book, Sex, Love and Homophobia, Amnesty International has reported on the stories of people around the world who simply wish to love one another as an expression of their everyday lives, just like anyone, anywhere. These include Poliyana Mangwiro who was a leading member of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe despite Robert Mugabe’s protestations that homosexuality is “against African traditions”. And Simon Nkoli, the ANC activist who after spending four years in prison under apartheid went on to be the face of the struggle for gay rights in the new South Africa.
But the voices of hate, fear and persecution are also strong and lamentably often supported by faith leaders. From Egypt to Iran, Nigeria to India, Burma to Jamaica, gay men, lesbians and transgender people are harassed, imprisoned, beaten and forced from their communities.
Some states even make homosexuality punishable by death. The Churches are not vocal enough in opposing these vicious injustices, while some Christians even encourage such persecution.
LGCM issued a statement the same day titled An appeal to the Bishops of the West supporting the Bishops of the Global South. It starts out:
The majority of homosexual people in the world are not engaged in the present dispute over the ordination of lesbian and gay Christians.
They live in some 80 countries which persecute LGBT people through their penal codes with punishments ranging from death to mutilation and imprisonment.
For these millions, mostly in the Global South, preserving their life and liberty is their daily concern and it is on their behalf we now appeal to you for help.
You have a unique position to help homosexual people. Few, if any of you, would advocate these terrible punishments in your own countries, and we ask you to use your influence to persuade your brother bishops to help remedy these injustices in their homelands.
Read the whole thing here. Individual copies of this letter were sent to:
As a consequence of this letter, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney was invited to consider the following resolution:
The Standing Committee, noting the open letter dated 1 July 2004 sent by the UK Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement to the “Bishops of the West supporting the Bishops of the Global South” (including the Archbishop of Sydney) about the treatment of homosexual people in many Global south countries; and noting paragraph (d) of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality, which says:
(d) while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;
urges the Global South Primates of the Anglican Communion to do all within their power both to encourage the decriminalisation of homosexual activity in their respective countries and to ensure that their words and actions do not in any way encourage violence towards homosexuals.
But after two meetings this agenda item has still not been reached, although two amendments had been filed, which would emasculate or remove entirely the last paragraph.
After all lay presidency is much more important.
As noted by Margaret Rogers in her comment below, the full text of this draft resolution has now been published here, prefaced by an explanatory note.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney has been considering this issue again. They have come to the realisation that any attempt to pass diocesan legislation at diocesan level to authorise lay/diaconal presidency (which in Sydney parlance is called “lay administration”) would be held to be illegal at Australian national church level, and so, after very long discussion, the Standing Committee decided at its 9 August meeting to put to the next diocesan synod a proposal to ignore the law, in the form of a “declaration” which would have moral rather than legal force, but would have the practical effect of protecting anyone in the diocese from legal action by the diocese itself. The effect of the declaration is to give the synod’s approval, if the motion is ultimately adopted, to such law breaking as might be involved in lay and diaconal presidency at the eucharist. Since it involves no legislation and the archbishop is required neither to assent to the motion nor to issue any licences, no illegality by the diocese or its synod or officials can be alleged.
The key paragraphs of the draft proposal are as follows.
DECLARATION OF THE SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF SYDNEY CONCERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
The declaration begins with a series of recitals A to K that support lay and diaconal administration and set out the legal problem. It then proceeds to make its declaration, in these words:
First, the Church Times printed an interview by Bill Bowder
‘Respect must be the basis’.
Second, Peter Akinola has published the following letter. It appears on the official Nigerian provincial website, but as it is impossible to read in the browser that I normally use, I reproduce the wording in full below the fold.
And third, I have added a comment about the job title to my earlier entry here.
And another update (hat tip to KH): BBC Radio Ulster Sunday Sequence interview (Real Audio).
A MESSAGE FROM ARCHBISHOP PETER J. AKINOLA TO +ROWAN ON THE APPOINTMENT OF ACC NEW GENERAL SECRETARY
Monday, 26 July 2004
Primates & Moderators
Grace, love and peace from God our Father to you and all yours.
I write with a heavy heart concerning the recently announced appointment of a new general secretary for the Anglican Consultative Council. To say the least I am very disappointed at the action that fails to take cognizance of the feelings and yearnings of those of us in the global south.
You will recall that when the Primates met in a private session at the Primates’ Meeting, Gramado, Brazil, I expressed the view of many of us with regards to how the ACC secretariat was staffed.
Below are the exact words I used:
“At this time, when the ACO/ACC is committing itself to establishing its new global headquarters in Paddington, London, it is appropriate to ask why it is that the staffs so poorly represent the wider Anglican Communion of the South. Anytime you see any non-Western face at the secretariat, he is either an intern or an office errand boy or a copy typist! We are deeply grateful to those who work for the church in the ACC/ACO at present. Yet, it is surely time to ask that, in the future, staff should also be appointed who reflect the views of the majority of the members of our Communion, two thirds of who live in the global South. It is vital that we have staff, at the most senior as well as junior levels, which represent the viewpoint of the global South of the church”
In his response, ACC chair, Presiding Bishop John Paterson, sought to allay our fears and reassured that in future appointments efforts would be made to erase the impression I referred to above.
We see in this latest appointment that nothing has changed and that what we thought and believe to be a world-wide Communion is actually now being portrayed to be no more than “western section communion”
I must add that I have nothing against the person of the man so appointed.
My grouse is with the system that continues to fail to reckon with the fact that this Church and its structure is no longer the exclusive preserve of any section of the western world. You cannot continue to marginalise and treat as irrelevant a very large section of the Anglican Communion and continue to expect that section for which you have no regard to be happy in the fellowship. And I hope no one is under the illusion that there are no qualified and competent men and women in the two-thirds world to do this job.
This is the Church of God, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Amen and Amen.
The LORD be with you.
The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON, DD
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria.
Canon Kenneth Kearon has been appointed to succeed John Peterson as “Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion”.
Added Comment 1 August
According to his own website, the job title of the present incumbent of this post is
Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council.
The press releases about this appointment listed below use different terminology as shown above. Is this another case of unauthorised title inflation, just like President of the Anglican Communion was under the previous Archbishop of Canterbury?
Official ACNS press release here
Official Church of Ireland press release here
ACNS has published an interview with Robin Eames about the work of the Lambeth Commission. You can read it here. All of it is interesting, but in particular further contributions are still welcome:
5. There has been criticism that only certain voices are being heard by the commission. Is this the case? What were the guidelines that decided who was allowed to present directly to its members?
Well, as I’ve said, very few people have actually had the opportunity to speak to the Commission in person. But I must say that there has been absolutely no intention of listening only to particular voices, or even the loudest voices. From the first, we sent out an open invitation for people to submit evidence to the Commission. Some groups appear to have been waiting for us to take the initiative to contact them. That has not been possible. But can I say again, that we don’t want any voice to go unheard – the opportunity is there for all to make a submission to the Commission. And of course, the individual members of the Commission are listening all the time to the people they encounter in their ministries across the globe.
6. Is the commission still receiving evidence/presentations?
Yes. All are invited, without exception, to make written submissions to the Commission by means of the process set out on our website in the advisory of 18th December last year. Many groups and individuals have already elected to do so, and it is my understanding that all submissions made by this method have been acknowledged and processed for the consideration of the Commission. If anyone feels that any particular voice is going unheard by the Commission, then I urge them to make a submission by this route, bearing in mind the questions with which the Commission has been charged as they are set out in that advisory.
CEN has published a news report Tensions hit Eames Commission. Extracts:
In the wake of claims that the Eames Commission has excluded the voices of gays and lesbians from its deliberations [CEN June 27] comes new word that internal tensions centering round its Steering Committee and staff may divide the Commission.
Some members object to a perceived pursuit by the Commission’s Steering Committee of “enlightened expediency” at the expense of truth. Non-Western members of the Commission are troubled that the steering committee has privileged a European worldview that allows canon law to trump doctrine.
…Archbishop Eames’ press officer, the Rev Brian Parker, said reports of tensions between the staff and members have been overstated. Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, while declining to discuss the internal workings of the Commission, confirmed to us that the second plenary session had been “very frank, very friendly, very cordial and hard-working”.
“Canon Cameron was authorized to speak to the Canadian General Synod by the chair and steering committee,” Mr Parker told us. “The words were his own but the broad outline was discussed at the steering committee.”
Here is a further report on this from the Living Church, via Kendall Harmon:
Lambeth Commission Hears Divergent Reports on U.S. Church’s Health.
Back on 21 June, I reported under the title who said that? that Jonathan Petre had said in the Telegraph that one of the authors of the paper submitted to the Lambeth Commission by Drexel Gomez was none other than Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, a diocesan bishop in the Church of England. I expressed doubt about this. At that time, the papers had been published only on the website of “Anglican Mainstream” and carried no signatures.
But the two documents, Called to Witness and Fellowship and The current crisis in the Anglican Communion – what are the ecclesiological issues involved? have now been published by the Lambeth Commission itself and can be found in pdf format here and here.
We endorse and attach the enclosed paper on “The Current Crisis in the Anglican Communion - what are the Ecclesiological Issues involved?” prepared by a group of eminent theologians in the Communion.
That group of eminent theologians turns out to be:
Professor Oliver O’Donovan (England)
Professor Alister McGrath (England)
The Very Rev Dr Paul Zahl (USA)
Canon Dr Kendall Harmon (USA)
Rev Dr George Sumner (Canada)
Rev Dr Andrew Goddard (England)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)
And the signatories of the other paper which endorses what they wrote are:
Archbishop Drexel Gomez (West Indies)
Archbishop Bernard Malango (Central Africa)
Bishop Gideon Githiga ( representing Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi- Kenya)
Bishop Amos Madu (representing Archbishop Peter Akinola - Nigeria)
Archbishop Josiah Idowu Fearon (Kaduna, Nigeria)
Bishop Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh, USA)
Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti (Recife, Brazil - representing Latin America)
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Rochester, England)
Bishop James Stanton (Dallas, USA)
Professor Lamin Sanneh (Yale, USA)
Professor John Pobee (Ghana)
Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India)
Canon Martyn Minns (USA)
Canon Bill Atwood (USA)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)
Dr Timothy Shah (USA/India)
Mr Craig Nauta (USA)
I still find it extremely surprising that Michael Nazir-Ali subscribes to the argument of the second paper. But that appears to be the case.
A rather disturbing letter from a bishop in Melanesia has come to light. You can read it here.
I know as a matter of fact (I saw the letter) that the covering letter for the communique from eight “global south Anglican primates” meeting held in Singapore a month and a half or so (in Singapore), sent out to other global south Anglican primates for endorsement, went something like this: “Here is our communique, if we do not hear from you otherwise by such-and-such a date, we will deem you to agree with the communique.” It was this communique that was then issued sometime later with “the approval of 22 global south Anglican primates”.
Bishop Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita
Church of the Province of Melanesia
In his speech to the Canadian General Synod on 29 May, Gregory Cameron said:
…a state of broken Communion now exists between ECUSA and some twelve to eighteen provinces of the Communion.
In an earlier note I discussed his separate estimate of 22 primates who “have pronounced that they reject…”, giving my reasons for believing that number to be overstated, and why eighteen is the most that can be confirmed from internet sources.
I believe his estimate of provinces is also overstated, but it is very difficult to confirm the list, as few if any formal statements of provinces have been published on the web, and in any case the wording of them is not always clear.
Here is my provisional list of broken Communion provinces:
And here is a list of others who have issued statements whose wording seems to fall short of a formal breaking of communion:
And finally, here is a list of other provinces whose leaders have signed a statement personally, but for which no provincial statement appears to exist:
13. Central America
14. Indian Ocean
15. Papua New Guinea
18. Pakistan (united church)
19. South India (united church)
As I learn of any more internet links to formal provincial statements breaking communion I will add them to the list above. I welcome any additional information which will enable provinces to be confirmed, added, or on the other hand deleted, from this list.
The ACO website has now published material from the second meeting of the Lambeth (Eames) Commission, held in North Carolina from 14 to 18 June.
The new documents can all be found on this page.
Other background material is available here.
Today the Telegraph carries a report Gay bishop must go ‘or the church will split’ in which Jonathan Petre claims that the Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali may be one of the anonymous authors of a document which Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies submitted to the Lambeth Commission of which he is himself a member. (I am extremely doubtful of this claim.)
The story was reported in the Church of England Newspaper on 17 June under Robinson appointment ‘invalid’.
The document was one of two he submitted, both of which were published on the internet on 15 June. No authors are listed for either document, not even Drexel Gomez himself.
Petre writes in part:
Anglicanism’s first openly gay bishop was invalidly consecrated and must be stripped of his post if the worldwide Church is to avoid schism, a leading conservative demanded yesterday.
In an extraordinary twist in the civil war over homosexuality, the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, said Bishop Gene Robinson, of New Hampshire, must be replaced or the Church would split in two.
The ultimatum by Archbishop Gomez, a member of the Lambeth Commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury to broker peace between the warring factions, will outrage liberals and further polarise positions.
The number 22 has appeared twice recently in news reports about the Anglican Communion.
First it appeared on 29 May in Gregory Cameron’s speech to the Canadian General Synod when he said:
Within our own Communion, the leaders of twenty-two of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion, representing about forty-four million Anglicans, have pronounced …
And on 7 June it appeared in Jonathan Petre’s report of a statement allegedly issued by Gregory Venables after the Canadian synod:
In a statement on behalf of 22 Global South primates, Archbishop Gregory Venables, the Primate of the Southern Cone (South America), said:…
So far, the latter statement has not appeared anywhere on the internet, nor indeed has its existence been reported by any other source.
But the number 22 is new: previous claims related at most to eighteen and even then it was not possible to confirm that many names with certainty. Thirteen currrent primates signed their names to this statement.
The following seem to be the most likely further four names and the strongest evidence for them is in the links attached (many thanks to Karen B for her assistance in tracking these down):
The eighteenth name would probably be Justice Akrofi - West Africa whose status as primate is not yet confirmed.
But so far I can find no data at all to support claims of 22 primates doing anything. Again, I would welcome further information on this from anyone.
Last week’s reports are here.
First this week, a BBC radio interview with Stephen Bates on the events of last week, broadcast last Sunday morning. Listen here with Real Audio. The Sunday programme squib reads:
Homosexuality and Anglican Church of Canada
The Anglican Church of Canada came within a whisker of a potentially explosive vote on same sex blessings this week. At the last moment they changed their minds and the General Synod elected to put the decision off until their next meeting in 2007. Stephen Bates, the Religion Correspondent of the Guardian and who has a book on the whole area of homosexuality and the Church coming out shortly - was at the meeting in Ontario.
This report by Stephen in Saturday’s Guardian Evangelicals shatter ‘unity’ in gay debate lays the blame for disunity at the evangelicals’ door, which upset conservatives considerably.
Update see also Doug LeBlanc’s comments on this article here.
The same day, Saturday, the Telegraph carried Archbishops want church expelled but mentioned no numbers.
Yesterday, Monday, the Telegraph had Bishops call for Canada’s expulsion in gay crisis and mentioned the number 22.
So far - and this is now Tuesday - the text of this alleged statement, supposedly from 22 primates has still not been published anywhere on the web, much less a list of who the 22 primates that reportedly signed it actually are. Have we been around this loop before?
When Gregory Cameron spoke to the Canadian synod he said:
Within our own Communion, the leaders of twenty-two of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion, representing about forty-four million Anglicans, have pronounced that they reject the moves in New Hampshire and in New Westminster as incompatible with the Gospel and with the Christian fellowship of which they are part.
They have said that these developments tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level, and a state of broken communion now exists between ECUSA and some twelve to eighteen provinces of the Communion.
Answers to this numbers game are still earnestly sought.
While the General Synod of the Church of Canada is meeting, I will put reports relating to it on the Thinking Anglicans blog. The reports can be found from here.
Two items have been published by ENS which those watching the work of the Lambeth Commission will want to read.
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes concerning False concerns about Muslims
There are far fewer Muslims in Britain than you might think. Indeed, everything about religion in English daily life is quite different from our impressions. Or so a new Home Office study suggests.
Roderick Strange, writes in The Times about Pentecost, If we receive the Spirit, we can overcome the Darkness
I remember [the Canadian Jesuit, David] Stanley remarking in relation to Pentecost that there was no nostalgia in the New Testament. He referred to the way people, nowadays, will sometimes say how much they would like to have seen Jesus during His public ministry. They believe that it would have strengthened their faith if they knew what He had looked like, if they had heard the sound of His voice, if they had seen how He walked. They look back to the public ministry of the Christ as to a golden age. How unlucky are we to have missed it?
At first, the point may seem obvious, but, Stanley observed, it is a view which is utterly foreign to the New Testament. There is no trace of it there. Nobody is looking back. Thomas, it is true, wanted to be able to put his finger into the wounded hands and his hand into Jesus’s side, but that was not nostalgia. He wanted proof to conquer his doubt. So why was there no nostalgia?
It is because, Stanley explained, the public ministry of Jesus for the writers of the New Testament was not the golden age. For them that began with this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That was the start of the golden age. It runs from Pentecost to the Second Coming of Jesus. Why look back? This is the golden age. We are living in it now.
In the Guardian Tom Wright also writes about Pentecost: The spirit of the age
But also, Tom Wright is interviewed at length by John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter which you can read here (thanks Tim). All Lambeth Commission watchers should study the full text of this interview carefully. A few excerpts are also embedded in this column.
A followup to this item.
Justus Waimiri in Nairobi has sent an email to ECUSA HQ stating that only 10 primates were present in Nairobi. However, 5 other bishops also signed the statement.
The provinces thus represented were:
The Most Rev. Dr. Peter Akinola, Primate of
The Most Rev. Dr. Bernard Malango, Primate Central Africa
The Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev. Dirokpa Balufuga Fidele, Primate of Congo
The Most Rev. Joseph Bringi Marona, Primate of Sudan
The Most Rev. E. M Kolini, Primate of Rwanda
The Most Rev. Samuel Ndayisenga, Primate of Burundi
The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez Bahamas, Primate of West Indies
The Most Rev. Yong Chung, Primate of South East Asia
The Most Rev. Greg Venables, Primate of
Argentina Southern Cone
other bishops present
The Rt. Rev. Mouneer Anis, Bishop Diocese of Egypt (in Province of Jerusalem and Middle East)
The Rt. Rev. Dinis Sengulane, Representative Province of Southern Africa
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Nicodemus E. Okille, Representative Province of Uganda
The Rt. Rev. Jean Claude Andrianjafimanana, Dean, (Province of) Indian Ocean
The Rt. Rev. John Chew, Bishop of Singapore (in Province of South East Asia)
So it’s still not clear who the 18 primates actually are.
18 of them are reported to have signed the most recent statement. As is so often the case with this group, their names are not listed on this statement.
So I checked earlier statements.
This one was signed by 14, representing 13 provinces:
1. The Most Rev. Peter Akinola Nigeria
2. The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez West Indies
3. The Most Rev. Greg Venables Southern Cone
4. The Most Rev. Joseph Marona Sudan
5. The Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi Kenya
6. The Most Rev. Livingstone Nkoyoyo Uganda (outgoing)
7. The Most Rev. Henry Orombi Uganda (Incoming)
8. The Most Rev. Fidele Dirokpa Congo
9. The Most Rev. Donald Mtetemela Tanzania
10. The Most Rev. Bernard Malango Central Africa
11. The Most Rev. K.J. Samuel South India
12. The Most Rev. Alexander Malik Pakistan
13. The Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung South East Asia
14. The Most Rev. Ignacio Soliba Philippines
I suppose it’s safe to assume that all these except Nkoyoyo are among the 18.
So who are the additional five primates?
The most likely candidates appear to be among these seven:
The Church of Bangladesh
The Episcopal Church of Burundi
The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma)
L’Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda
The Church of North India (United)
The Church of Ceylon (Extra-Provincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury)
I welcome more definitive information on this.
Jonathan Petre, writing in the Telegraph today under the headline Liberals in church ‘pursuing gay agenda’ purports to quote Drexel Gomez:
The Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, said that last month’s appointment of Dr Jeffrey John as Dean of St Albans had seriously undermined pleas for the warring parties to show restraint.
What Drexel Gomez actually said can be read in full here and the relevant bit in context is:
There is no small feeling amongst conservative members of the Communion that they are being asked to show restraint whilst the liberal agenda moves ahead, with bishops in ECUSA taking action against conservative parishes; the Church of Canada proceeding to debate the blessing of same sex unions; dioceses in the Episcopal Church actually going forward with the authorisation of such rites, and the appointment of known advocates of same sex unions to senior office in the Church of England. This is only likely to create a situation where the playing field is perceived as skewed - conservative reaction is held back, whilst liberal viewpoints are allowed to claim too much territory. It creates the question in many minds, “Why should we wait, if others are not showing the same restraint?” I should be grateful therefore if some way could be found of addressing this question, and pointing out to our Communion that in the period of preparation of the work of the Lambeth Commission, restraint needs to be shown on all sides, and provocation to “precipitate action” avoided.
Note that the Telegraph’s headline phrase gay agenda in scare quotes does not exist anywhere in the letter which refers rather to “the liberal agenda” (whatever that might mean) and also no person is named anywhere by Gomez.
If the entire headline was in scare quotes, that would reflect the view that Gomez is claiming something that is not in fact the case. I suspect this is not the view of the Telegraph however.
Another rash of these.
First, Njongonkulu Ndungane has called for the understanding and patience of the Church community in Africa in the wake of criticism by the African Provinces of the ordination of openly gay persons.
Second, there is an exchange of letters between Drexel Gomez and Robin Eames. In this Archbishop Gomez complains that Robin Eames’ earlier letter was one-sided in its call for restraint.
And third, there is a Statement of the Global South Primates which is datelined Nairobi, Kenya, 16 April, but has only appeared on the web on 18 May. Although stated to be signed by 18 primates, their names are not listed: it is signed by Peter Akinola on their behalf. The content is somewhat more detailed in relation to ECUSA/New Westminster than the CAPA statement issued in Nairobi on the same day. They make detailed recommendations to the Lambeth Commission (on which some of them sit).
The Commission should include in its Report a specific call to ECUSA to repent; revoking and rescinding their decision and action regarding the election and consecration of Gene Robinson as a Bishop in the Church of God.
Should ECUSA fail to comply within three months, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates should then take appropriate disciplinary action, which should include the suspension and ultimate expulsion of ECUSA from fellowship and membership of the Anglican Communion.
Recognition and full Episcopal and pastoral oversight should be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to those dioceses, parishes and laity within ECUSA who continue to uphold the historic faith and order of the Anglican Communion.
Similar measures should be applied to the Bishop and Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada for their unilateral approval and implementation of rites for the blessing of same sex union.
We also request the Commission to give urgent consideration to the renewal of mutual accountability and the harmonization of constitutions and canons of the various Provinces in the Communion.
First, the Telegraph has a further trial balloon about what the Eames commission might propose: Written constitution plan to avoid Church split.
Then Robin Eames speech to the Irish General Synod is here and it contains a section on the work of the commission.
Rowan Williams preached at this synod and his sermon is here.
Meanwhile Jane Williams spoke to the Mothers’ Union and this was reported in the Times, Telegraph and Guardian. These three accounts of the same speech are interesting for their differences. Here is part of Ruth Gledhill’s report:
Mrs Williams, who has two children and is a theologian in her own right, teaching part-time at Trinity College, Bristol, was giving an address at the Mothers’ Union in Westminster to mark the International Year of the Family.
In the lecture, her first since Dr Rowan Williams became Archbishop last year, she said the “family” was near the top of the agenda for the churches and described a “generalised anxiety” about the family.
“We have a faint if not very well substantiated belief that families are more fragile than they have ever been before,” she said. “There is a tendency towards a kind of romantic nostalgia, as there is about the Church, a tendency to believe there was once a time when families worked, and it was probably at the time when everybody went to church.”
Describing the rising expectations of family life, she said: “Our Western society has put intolerable pressures on the family by assuming that it should be all-sufficient and that it should be the basic carrier of Christianity.”
But she said that the task of being, not just a Christian family but any kind of stable family, became much harder “if the things that make families work are not valued or demonstrated in the society in which real families live.”
Mrs Williams continued: “Families can be left with the feeling that the salvation of society rests on their shoulders and that, if only they can get it right, then all will be well. But families are as prone to mistakes as any other corporate body.”
While acknowledging that family-based churches, where everything revolves around children and young mothers, can be vital for mission, she added: “They can often be deeply alienating for those many in our world who are not part of functioning families.”
She continued: “If we value families, we need to build societies in which families can flourish. And that means not putting too much pressure on families to be perfect. Families cannot build our society. Our society needs to build families.”
Oh yes and a while back (thanks KH), Emily Winsett a journalism student at Columbia University published Gene Robinson’s Consecration Recalls the Debate on Women’s Ordination. Other stuff of hers can be found here.
Recently the Church Times published this report from Sydney by Humphrey Southern, The new Puritans down under.
This generated a number of letters claiming it was inaccurate, including one (published this week in the paper edition) by no less than Archbishop Jensen himself which I will link here when it is available electronically. Also, Mary Ann Sieghart wrote an article for The Times on 21 April which was based in part on this article, Anglicanism’s new holy warriors. Mary Ann said in part:
The fundamentalist Diocese of Sydney - and its outposts abroad - can now be seen as the Church of England’s militant tendency.
THINK OF SYDNEY and what springs to mind? A beautiful, cosmopolitan, liberal and laid-back city with a flourishing gay community? You would be only half-right. This wonderful Australian city now also plays host to the most narrow-minded, puritanical and zealous brand of Anglicanism, a new puritanism that is trying to establish itself over here.
Worried? You should be. These hardline fundamentalists are using all the tools of entryism familiar to students of the Labour Party in the 1980s. The diocese of Sydney - and its outposts abroad - can now be seen as the Church of England’s Militant Tendency.
Moore College has exported its New Testament lecturer, David Peterson, to become principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, which is now producing fundamentalist clergy clones for conservative evangelical churches here. For English conservative evangelicals, Jensen has talismanic status. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that it was Jensen’s people who managed eventually to block the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. If the Anglican Church were to split over homosexuality, the hardliners would follow him as leader of the conservative wing.
Sydney’s militant Anglicanism is as exclusive as its political counterpart. Jensenism sees no role for the Church in society; it is there only for its members. And any straying from scriptural orthodoxy is swiftly stamped upon. When Professor Horsburgh dared to defend homosexuality in a synod committee, his views were described as “heresy”, “apostasy” and “defection to the enemy”. When he stood up to speak on another subject in the synod itself, he was hissed. The Sydney synod is no longer, as it should be, a forum for debate but, as Professor Horsburgh puts it, “a rally for the Diocesan Mission”.
More recent real life events in Sydney generated all this in the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Lagos Vanguard reports Gay Controversy: Anglican Communion Vows to Resist Lobby which says in part:
DESPITE threat to the fabric of the Anglican Communion, the primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) has reiterated its resolve to uphold the traditional faith and practice of Anglicanism without compromising same under financial inducements from the West.
Speaking at the Bishop Vining Memorial Cathedral Church in Lagos, last week, CAPA president, Archbishop Peter Akinola who is the primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) confirmed that the African primates held a meeting in Kenya, at the end of which, they made recommendations to the Lambeth Commission on the way to resolve the logjam.
Archbishop Akinola who is also the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said the next step to the resolution of the crisis which has gravely polarised the Anglican Communion will be dependent on the response of ECUSA.
He also revealed that if there are no visible signs of repentance on the part of ECUSA, then CAPA will meet again to determine the next line of action, stressing that the African primates had resolved to reject future financial assistance from the unrepentant Episcopal Church.
“To hell with their money,” he said, adding “the Church in Nigeria gives financial assistance to several other churches without making much noise about it…because we believe it is Godly to support one another in the Body of Christ.”
The primate said: “Let them go to hell with their money. We do not need their money because we will not, on the altar of money mortgage our conscience, our faith and salvation.”
In another report from Nigeria, Newswatch reported what Ola Makinde, Methodist Archbishop of Lagos said on this:
Newswatch: What is your position on the issue of gay bishop?
Makinde: Well, the primate of Anglican Church, Archbishop Jasper Akinola had said the minds of all Nigerian Christians and all Christian’s leaders. Gay is never even discussed in African society. You don’t talk about it. Gay or Lesbianism, so it is a pervasion of Christianity and Christian culture. So it is in Nigeria or Africa, it is not acceptable. We were are waiting for a time we will go to World Council of Churches because we have World Council of Churches where all the Christians in the world will meet. Anytime, we see a self confessed Gay bishop or reverend we’ll withdraw. We will withdraw from World Council of Churches. It is incompatible with Christianity especially African Christianity and time has come now when we should go and re-christianise the white people. They brought Christianity here and they have perverted it. We must now go and re-christianise them. The leading church today is England, especially in London is established by a Nigerian. We must go there and re-christianise them.They need to be re-christianized. I am telling you. Christianity in Europe is gone and is secularised. It’s secularised more than you can think of and we cannot accept that. So the ordination of gay bishop or reverend is not even discussed in African culture. In Nigerian culture. It’s never mentioned and we don’t even want to. We are assuring you that we will never take it. We wouldn’t pervert Christianity at all.
This article also has sections on many other aspects of Nigerian church life.
The Belfast Telegraph has a report today Ulster & its Churches: How attitudes have been changing which is the first of two to summarise the findings of recent research undertaken by the Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive, known as ARK. The main source document is a pdf file available here.
Here is part two of the Telegraph feature.
Here is the part of the Telegraph article about Anglicans in Northern Ireland:
CHURCH OF IRELAND
AROUND 14%-18% of the population claim membership of the Church of Ireland but, in common with the other denominations, regular church attendance has dropped in recent years. While 35% of respondents said in 1989 that they attended church every week, this had fallen to 30% in 2002.
However, the proportions who never attended church have remained strikingly unchanged over the period at around 18%.
The report reveals that there has been some decrease in the proportion of members who pray frequently but no increase in those who never pray. When it comes to involvement in activities or organisations connected with the Church, however, there has been a significant drop - from 17% to 7% - in those who took part nearly every week or more frequently. Those who never take part in church activities have risen by 3% to 43%.
WHEN it comes to political allegiance Church of Ireland members have remained staunchly unionist at 69%-71% in the period 1989-2002. However their feelings of national identity have been less constant. In 1989, 65% considered themselves British but this had risen to 76% by 2002. This rise concealed several significant fluctuations.
In 1996, two years after the paramilitary ceasefires the proportion identifying themselves as British dropped to 58%. Three years later the figure had soared to 76%.
THERE has been a considerable liberalisation in Church of Ireland members’ views on mixed marriages over the years from 1989 to 2002. Figure 4 reveals that in 1989, 47% of Church of Ireland members said they would not mind a close relative marrying someone of a different religion. By 2002 this figure had increased to 66%. Correspondingly, the proportion who would mind a lot on this issue fell from 21% in 1989 to 13% in 2002.
The figures reveal that Church of Ireland members are more generally tolerant of mixed marriages than Presbyterians or the general Protestant population.
James Mehaffey, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe from 1980 until his retirement in 2002, says the figures reflect the reconciling work of the Church. “The Church of Ireland is widely held to be a reconciling Church and has worked over the years to promote better inter-Church relations and increased ecumenical activity.”
ATTITUDES to pre-marital sex have become much more liberal during the 1990s. In 1989, 46% of respondents felt sex before marriage was always, or mostly always, wrong. By 1998 this figure had fallen to 27%. However, the vast majority do not condone extra-marital sex. In 1998, 84% said it was always, or almost always wrong, just a slight fall from the figure of 90% in 1989.
Church members have also become more liberal in their attitudes towards homosexuality. In 1989, 82% thought that sex between people of the same gender was always, or almost always, wrong. Indeed 79% thought it was always wrong. By 1998, those thinking it was always, or almost always, wrong had fallen to 67%.
Homosexuality is a topic of much debate within the Anglican Church, especially in relation to the ordination of openly gay clergy.
Bishop Mehaffey says that in spite of the softening in attitudes towards homosexuality it is clear that such debates will continue.
And he added: “It must be noted that a more liberal attitude toward homosexuality in general does not necessarily imply an increased acceptance of the appointment of openly gay clergy”.
Robin Eames has issued a letter to the primates and moderators of the Anglican Communion about the work of what is now called The Lambeth Commission on Communion. This deserves a careful reading in full.
And there were two news stories in British papers about what the commission might recommend. One could spend too much time analysing these rumours. Better, I think, to ponder Dr Eames’ words.
The Times had Church may split into a federation over gay clergy
According to a source close to the Lambeth Commission, canon lawyers are preparing for its second meeting next month in Kanuga, North Carolina, by studying the set-up of the worldwide Lutheran church, which embraces wide degrees of theological and ecclesiological difference, to see if this model could be adapted to suit the Anglican Communion.
The source said: “The quality of the communion depends on how far the Western Church is willing to sacrifice its lesbian and gay members.” The source indicated: “The primates will be circulated with the recommendations late July.
“The sort of federation we can expect will probably mirror the Lutheran model, with full members, non-voters and observers, depending on what they?ve been up to.”
The Telegraph had Williams leads ‘star chamber’ to avert gay crisis
An all-powerful “star chamber”, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, is expected to be created under proposals to avert the collapse of worldwide Anglicanism over homosexuality.
As part of a blueprint drawn up by advisers, Dr Rowan Williams will be granted significant new powers, though not sufficient to transform him into an Anglican “pope”.
The archbishop would preside over a final court of appeal, allowing him to exercise the “judgment of Solomon” over warring factions in the 70-million strong Church.
This would be resisted by liberals keen to preserve the autonomy of their provinces, the 38 individual churches of the Anglican communion.
But it could help appease conservatives furious that liberals defied the will of the majority by endorsing Anglicanism’s first openly homosexual bishop in America.
Interviewer: But having come from such totally different position on homosexuality, doesn’t it suggest that you have had to compromise a lot? You said that you have had to work together to strengthen the position of the Church in Africa on the issue of human sexuality. Given the vast majority of Anglican leaders in Africa opposed to Gene Robinson election opposed Jeffrey John, that seems a turn around on your part?
Archbishop: No I think you have to got to put things in perspective, I think that our church has said quite clearly that we said “no” to same sex unions and I think that is where we find commonality on that one aspect of that resolution. But, we go further than that we in the church of Southern Africa, in the sense we take the cognizance of the report of sixty bishops who met and talked about this matter, together with the clauses of that resolution which call for on going discussion, and listening to the voice of gay and lesbian people. So in a sense we are being faithful to the resolution of Lambeth, and it is our hope that we can go at in that kind of way.
Interviewer: So you stand by your position, you spoke in favor of Jeffrey John last year. Therefore you welcome Jeffrey John’s appointment as Dean of St. Albans, would you?
Archbishop: Well definitely I think that we have got to recognize that we are a communion with autonomous provinces that each of our provinces have got standards, they have constitutions and they have got canons governing the running of their churches. And therefore Jeffrey John’s appointment of Dean of St. Albans is in accordance with the criterion that is set up by the Church of England and that we, as part of the Communion, must accept the integrity of processes.