Recently, some very striking demographic analysis has been undertaken into Irish population trends. To cut a long story (or perhaps, a rather intricate analysis) short, it has been suggested that by the year 2050 Ireland could have a population of 20 million (rather than the current 5 million or so), and that fewer than 6 million of these would then be indigenous Irish. If the trends on which this analysis is based continue, then Ireland would in just over one generation have been transformed from having the genetically most homogeneous population in Europe to having one of the most diverse. Indeed, the ‘old’ Irish would not even make up the biggest population group: that would be the Chinese.
This is interesting to me not least because, over the past year, I have visited China twice, and so this has caused me to muse how a ‘Chinese’ Ireland might appear in a few years time, and what it might mean — including what it might mean to organised religion. In China, things are changing faster than any of us could imagine in our own environment. Some of it is rampant materialism, but China is not a country without a hunger for something more profound. My guess is that a Chinese population in Ireland will be an innovative and tolerant and energetic population; those already here show all those signs.
So while I have been musing on this, the Anglican primates meeting in Ireland have been dealing with their own intercultural issues. They have had to confront the reality of a western liberal culture coming under attack, and in an elaborate ritual of trying to sit down somewhere more or less on top of the fence have, predictably, failed to be comfortable in this posture. Nobody could, with any confidence, try to predict what the Anglican family of the year 2050 will look like, based on this evidence from the prelates. But there are few signs that anyone is trying to construct a forward-looking vision of an intercultural Christian world.
My own instinct is to say that western liberalism — at least where it stresses the dignity of human lifestyles which do not hurt or oppress — is by now very well rooted in these soils, and will survive the new cultural mix, and possibly even thrive in it. Our new world is about releasing innovative energy, and not about trying to shoehorn all life and culture into a narrow selection of time capsules.
The church may turn out to be relevant to this, or it may turn out to be just a ghost. The time has come for us to assert the right of Christianity to be a signpost to the future, and not just a grim reminder of some of the less pleasant aspects of our past. We must celebrate diversity and renewal, not be frightened by it. It’s time to realise that the place for Christians is not on the fence.2 Comments
My own analysis of The Anglican Communion Primates’ Meeting Communiqué, February 2005
can be found on Anglicans Online at The Primates Meeting at Dromantine, February 2005.
Canon Michael Kennedy has sent us this full report on the service of Evensong which was held in Armagh Cathedral on Tuesday at the second day of the Primates’ Meeting:
A service of Choral Evensong was held in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Tuesday 22 February 2005 to mark the visit of the primates of the Anglican Communion at which the preacher was the Archbishop of Canterbury…2 Comments
Press coverage continues…
Associated Press Nigerians, Anglicans Clash Over Gays
Telegraph Clifford Longley It’s independence day – again
Observer Will Hutton A schism that threatens us all
The BBC World Service has an interview with Josiah Idowu-Fearon (about 27 minutes, starts about 30 seconds into the recording)
…In this week’s edition of The Interview, Owen Bennett-Jones goes to the heart of the matter in his conversation with Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop of Kaduna state in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Anglican church – one of the biggest communities in the communion – has led the criticism over the appointment of homosexual clergy. The row began in 2003 when the American Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop…
The BBC radio programme Sunday which has a larger audience than many Sunday newspapers sell copies carried this:
Primates Meeting listen here with Real Audio (14 minutes)
Was it a fudge, the beginning of the end, or a step back from the brink? I refer to the communique issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the end of their crisis meeting in Northern Ireland this week. One observer said “The Primates have handed the North Americans a pearl handled revolver”. The communique dealt almost exclusively with the split between the North American churches, which have consecrated as bishop someone who has a homosexual partner and which have blessed same sex marriages, and conservative Christians in the rest of the world who believe practising homosexuality is a sin, and who have called for the liberal North Americans to repent. Caught in the middle is the Archbishop of Canterbury. Roger hears from the conservative Archbishop of the West Indies, Drexel Gomez, and the Presiding Bishop of Ecusa, Frank Griswold, and then talks live to The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, from Lambeth Palace.
Press Association report on the above radio interview, Williams Admits Gay Row has Caused Serious “Fractures”
BBC report of the interview Williams admits church ‘fracture’
BBC World Service Divine division? listen here
Graham Kings and Stephen Bates interviewed about the Primates’ Meeting on BBC World Service World Update (hat tip KH)
Some other items not reported earlier:
BBC interview of a spokesman for Peter Akinola, on Saturday’s Today Programme: listen here (3.5 minutes)
Toronto Globe and Mail Top cleric faces rift among Anglicans
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Anglicans push U.S. church off key council
Two Church of Ireland press releases:
Irish Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) members comment on recent devlopments in the Anglican Communion
Bishop of Cork asks: “Has Anglican Primates’ Meeting exceeded its powers?”
Press coverage of the meeting continues.
Updated Saturday 9 a.m.
Church Times has updates to the paper edition:
Pat Ashworth Primates speak of ‘miraculous’ unanimity
and an editorial Fall-out from the Primates’ Meeting
(earlier report Let Christ unite you, Primates advised)
Ruth Gledhill Americans must admit gay error, says Church
THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, made it clear yesterday that the Anglican churches of the US and Canada will have to admit that they are in the wrong over homosexuality if the unity of the Anglican Church is to be preserved.
Dr Williams, speaking in Northern Ireland at the end of the week-long primates’ discussions of the crisis that has brought the Church to the brink of schism, said: “There is no painless solution.
“Any lasting solution will require people to say, somewhere along the line, that they were wrong, wrong about something. What, I do not know. That is for them to determine. It is perfectly possible to take a decision in good faith and afterwards to think, ‘I had not counted the cost’.” …
and an editorial article Come on all ye faithful
…Were God to focus on the question of elevating homosexuals to the Anglican episcopate, He would, presumably, distinguish at once between disagreement based on genuine respect for Scripture, and the contortion of Scripture in order to camouflage mere prejudice. There seems little doubt, however, that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada have undervalued unity in their precipitate and unilateral moves in favour of same-sex unions and gay bishops. Neither development is necessarily incompatible with Anglican harmony in the long term, but in the short term the suspension of both churches from the Anglican Consultative Council is wise. Time has been bought, and, God willing, sanity and sanctity will prevail.
Stephen Bates Church schism feared despite deal on gays
Owen Bowcott ‘Punishment is for doing what we are all meant to do’
Mark Lawson His only ‘ism’ is schism
and an editorial Divided they stand
Jonathan Petre Church remains at risk of schism on homosexuality, warns Williams
and an editorial Anglicans must fight to keep their Communion
No easy solution to Anglican split, says Williams
and an editorial (text below the fold).
Deal averts split over gay bishops
New York Times
Move to Halt Delegations Is Challenging Episcopalians
Episcopalians Affirm Pro-Gay View
Sydney Morning Herald
Anglican leaders split over gays
National Public Radio
Gay Issues Cause Dischord Within Anglican Union
Anglican Primates Meeting
Episcopal News Service has a page of material, including audio of the press conference and an interview with Frank Griswold:
Primates Meeting 2005 – News and Resources
The BBC has done a major write-through of the story at this URL now titled Lasting split looms for Anglicans which also includes links to a substantial video clip of the press conference and a BBC TV news report.10 Comments
updated Friday evening
ACNS picture of the press briefing here
Anglican rift grows over gay row (This story has now been updated to reflect the briefing)
Anglicans deny gay clergy split
Q&A: Anglican church split
Anglican Leaders Ask U.S. to Leave Council
and, later Archbishop: Anglicans Could Face Division
Archibishop acknowledges the Church may split
Should the Anglican Church split over homosexuals?
Lesbian and gay Anglicans deny schism
Gay issue widening Anglican divisions
Anglican Church Divisions Over Gays Widens
North American Anglicans Defend Gay Policies
In Anglican Report, There’s Something for Everyone, Once Again
Further American responses from ENS
A word from the Presiding Bishop
Anglican primates uphold unity in response to Windsor Report
Further Canadian response via Anglican Journal
Church sanctions could have been worse: primate
Reports filed before the briefing:
Press Association Church Warned over Stance on Homosexuality
Sydney Morning Herald Sex drives wedge in Anglican ranks
Associated Press Anglican Leaders Seek Split Over Gay Issue
Due to the early issuance of the Primates Meeting Communiqué the press briefing at Dromantine has been rescheduled to 2 30 pm.
ACO press release Explanatory note: The Anglican Consultative Council
The ACO website has (or will have) additional material relating to the primates’ Windsor Report discussions (these are mentioned in the footnotes to the communique itself):
PRESENTATION OF THE WINDSOR REPORT 2004 by Archbishop Robin Eames – this is 5 pages on the web
Reception Process Report Given by Primus Bruce Cameron at the Primates Meeting 2005 – this is 8 pages on the web and leads to Powerpoint slides and PDF files#0 Comments
British press coverage this morning:
Press Association Church Tells Pro-Gay Anglicans to ‘Consider Position’
Reuters Anglicans Face Temporary Split in Gay Row
Guardian Church faces schism today
The Times Anglicans ready to split over gay bishop
Independent Gay row forces split with North American Anglicans
Telegraph Anglicans give ultimatum to pro-gay liberals
Audio of first report on BBC Today Programme at 0632 listen here (3 minutes)
Second report at 0709 listen here (6 minutes) – interviews with Steven Charleston and Philip Giddings
Third report at 0810 listen here (6 minutes) interview with Peter Carnley
Anglican rift grows over gay row
BBC Analysis: Anglican schism nears reality
Can Anglican rift be resolved? invites comments from the public. Thinking Anglicans encourages you to comment to the BBC.
New York Times Anglican Leaders Seek Move to Avoid Schism
Los Angeles Times U.S., Canada Churches Urged to Leave Key Anglican Council
A Statement from the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
Anglican Journal Primates move to sanction North American churches
Primates’ Meeting Communiqué – From the Presiding Bishop:
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Frank Griswold, has issued this statement about the communiqué:
“The primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches have just completed their work on the attached communiqué which gives some sense of our meeting this week in Northern Ireland. These days have not been easy for any of us and the communiqué reflects a great deal of prayer and the strong desire to find a way forward as a Communion in the midst of deep differences which have been brought into sharp relief around the subject of homosexuality.
“Clearly, all parts of the communiqué will not please everyone. It is important to keep in mind that it was written with a view to making room for a wide variety of perspectives. I continue to have faith and confidence in the many ways in which the mystery of communion is lived among us, and am grateful that bonds of understanding and affection to bind us together and call us to an ever deeper and more costly living out of the reconciliation brought about by Jesus through the Cross. Again this week it was revealed that so much more unites us than divides us.”
“The Presiding Bishop will make a further comment tomorrow.”0 Comments
The Primates, meeting in Northern Ireland, have issued this communiqué
The main points seem to be:
The BBC referred this morning to the “Battle for the political heart of Anglicanism” being fought out at Armagh between the Anglican primates, over issues about same sex couples.
It is fascinating that this is seen as a particularly Anglican issue, when the same difficulties are found in other churches, as a Baptist observer said at the Church of England’s General Synod last week. The reason must lie in the history of the Anglican Church, the close founding link of Church and state, particularly in the way that relations were defined and described in Richard Hooker’s monumental Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity 400 years ago. Since that time, with bishops in the House of Lords, there has been a close correspondence between the laws of Church and State to the extent that it is often difficult to discover which is which. We’re reaping some of the problems associated with this in the upsets over the marriage plans of Prince Charles and Camilla, and it is fascinating to find that European Human Rights legislation needs to be invoked to say they can legally marry in an English register office outside the gates of Windsor Castle.
Whilst the Church of England was little more than a national church (leaving aside the Scottish Episcopal Church and its great legacy to the Episcopal Church of the USA) it might have seemed that laws of Church and State could be seen to correspond. But, with the growth of the British Empire and the exporting of the national church into other cultures, conflicts were bound to arise.
A particular problem was the prevailing polygamy found in of parts of Africa. Whilst Christianity did not allow polygamy, there was a certain tolerance of it for those who were not Christians, and often a blind eye was turned to the ancient droit de seigneur of local rulers to collect a large harem of young women. Things only came to a head when Mwanga, the ruler of Uganda in 1886, wanted boys, not girls, for his bed. The Christian pages began to refuse his advances, so he had them put to death. They included Catholics and Anglicans. On their way to the place of execution, these young Christians sang hymns in honour of the Lord and some were still singing when the flames surrounded them. Since then they have been regarded as founding martyrs of the Christian Church. It is salutary to think, however, that few people would have shed tears over maids in waiting, had the ruler preferred girls. Not surprisingly, the Church of Uganda, in honouring its founding martyrs, strongly opposes homosexual relationships today, as Britain did in the time when Oscar Wilde went to prison.
So long as the Empire continued, many local cultures were suppressed. Today, with the independence of nations which were once British, the differences emerge. Pakistan is a largely Muslim country, competent to make its own laws. In Muslim law it is legal for a man to take four wives. The Christian Church there, whilst holding different views, would never dare to advocate these for anyone outside their own flock. Equally, the Christians there know that the acceptance of homosexual relationships would lead to the burning of Christian churches and the persecution of Christians. The Church is not in a position to advocate different rules from those of the state.
In a worldwide Communion, Anglicans have to accept that we are not in the driving seat when it comes to making laws. There is in Pakistan, in Uganda, and in other places a complete abhorrence of homosexual activity.
Equally, in Europe, it is secular Human Rights law which is in the driving seat, not the laws of national churches. Today the British Navy asks the advice of gay rights groups about the best way to encourage recruitment of homosexual men and women. Gay rights are enshrined in the law of the land. They are seen as just as important as the rights of people of different races, or the rights of women, and all are protected by law.
In much of Europe, in the USA, and in Canada, discrimination against gay people is now being consigned to history, along with slavery and the lack of universal suffrage. It is only shameful that the Church, which was in the forefront of the campaign to free slaves, still treats women and gay people as being less than fully human, with impaired human rights. Speaking out and saying that a faith founded on the incarnation has to be a faith which respects the dignity of all people has required great courage. Fundamentalism still tries to steal the political heart of the Anglican Church. There is a rearguard action against the ordination of women to the episcopate.
In much of the USA, Canada, Britain and Southern Africa, the battle is over. National laws guarantee the rights of women, of gay people and different races. The Church is doing little more than catching up with what governments, nationally and internationally, have agreed.
At the same time it is totally impossible for Anglicans in many other parts of the world to uphold a viewpoint which is so much at odds with their own national culture and laws. Pakistan and Uganda will want to be different. But we need to be grown up enough to accept that.
The Anglican Communion was never intended to be, and cannot be monolithic. We have to accept (Article 34 in the Prayer Book) that there will be national differences. “It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies in all places be one, and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries.”
These articles were honed out of the bitter controversies of the Reformation, out of the martyrdom of John Fisher, Thomas More, Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer and the rest. And in the time of Elizabeth people realised that there had to be an end to blood letting. Christians had to learn to live together in peace, and respect differences of conscience and custom. We need to learn the lesson again.29 Comments
updated Thursday afternoon
News from Northern Ireland today is in fact non-existent, but tomorrow there will be a press conference at 5.30 pm
Primates Meeting Press Briefing
and The Living Church reports
Team to Prepare Final Statement of Primates
The BBC Radio 4 Today Programme has this report followed by a discussion with Peter Jensen and Colin Slee: listen here (Real Audio)
Toronto Globe and Mail Anglican churches battle over conflicting beliefs
The Church of England Newspaper has these reports, related to the Northern Ireland meeting:
Primates take first step to implement Windsor
Synod backs Windsor as liberals receive warning
Primates Meeting: the key players
Belfast Telegraph Gay row: Anglican leaders prepare update0 Comments
The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 received Royal Assent in July 2003. It is likely to come into effect towards the end of this year. There is a very good summary of both the current and new arrangements here on the Oxford diocesan website. Note however that the new measure does not apply to “matters involving doctrine, ritual or ceremonial”. These will continue to be governed by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963.
Before the new arrangements can come into effect, Rules (to carry into effect the provisions of the Measure) and a Code of Practice (providing guidance, explanation and best practice) need to be finalised by the Rule Committee and the Clergy Discipline Commission respectively, approved by Synod and, in the case of the Rules, laid before Parliament in the form of a Statutory Instrument under the ‘negative resolution’ procedure.
The Rule Committee and the Commission have drafted the Rules and the Code of Practice and they are now seeking comments. Full details of the consultation and how to make comments are here.
The measure and the drafts are online here:
The drafts are each about 3.5 MB and contain a total of 139 pages.
The intention is that the Rules and Code of Practice will be brought to General Synod for approval in July 2005. As a result the closing date for the consultation is midday on Tuesday 5 April 2005 and this deadline will be strictly observed.
The members of the Clergy Discipline Commission are listed here.1 Comment
Updated Wednesday afternoon
Morning reports from British journalists in Northern Ireland:
Ruth Gledhill in The Times
Church plea for unity over gays
Later reports3 Comments
This is the prepared text for the maiden speech given by Brian Lewis in the General Synod debate on the Windsor Report last Thursday. Brian is Rector of St Michael & All Angels, Little Ilford (Manor Park)in the Diocese of Chelmsford.
I felt very disappointed when I read the House of Bishops report on the Windsor Report. In his Advent Pastoral letter the Archbishop had written that one of the deepest challenges of the Windsor Report is about repentance. And in the Church we can never call on others to repent without ourselves acknowledging that we too in all sorts of ways are sinners in need of grace. We all need to be involved in this repentance, and it seems to me that this recognition that we all need to repent is missing from the Bishops’ report.
The current crisis in the Anglican Communion and the need for the Windsor report is apparently because of the different ways that different parts of the Communion approach the subject of homosexuality. For nearly thirty years now, successive Lambeth Conferences have addressed the question of homosexuality and called on us as the Anglican Communion to engage in a process of dialogue, study and listening. For nearly thirty years we have largely ignored that call, and we have totally ignored the way that other parts of the communion, specifically those parts of the Communion who have had most difficulty coming to terms with what has happened in New Hampshire, have refused to engage in that process. We do need to be repentant of how we have handled that. We have failed the wider communion when we have not used opportunities to share the dialogues we have been able to have in this country simply because it is legal to have those dialogues. You may have heard about a radio station in Nigeria broadcasting a programme which had three gay Nigerians talking about their lives. That programme was against the law. The radio station was fined for simply allowing gay people, in a secular context, to talk about their lives. We need to take account of how difficult it is for people to share their experiences in other parts of the communion and we might have done much more to help.
Working in East London odd opportunities arise. One Sunday morning, unannounced, five Kenyan priests arrived in church for the Sunday Eucharist – they were travelling through on the way back from a conference. It was just before the Archbishop’s enthronement, they had heard that he had ordained a gay man, so we talked about what that meant in our culture. About the place of gay people in our society, about what it means to be gay in our culture. I talked about my pastoral experience, about a bereavement visit where the widow quite naturally introduced her son and his partner as her second son. My visitors were astounded, it was a revelation to them that such a thing could happen. As I talked about the place gay people have in our culture, they talked about Kenyan society, about marriage and what it is to be unmarried in Kenyan culture. They learnt from me, and I learnt from them, we learnt from each other. An isolated story – but it needn’t have been, how often might we have learnt from each other if we had used, for example, link diocesan visits and exchanges to really learn what each others cultures are about and what it is to minister in them. Perhaps we need to repent of being too frightened, or just not caring enough, to talk about the difficult issues, the things we would disagree about.
You may have heard about a retired bishop in Uganda who has tried to begin the process of dialogue and pastoral support for gay Ugandan Christians. He faced tremendous opposition from his church. He was forbidden to preach and officiate, and even told at one point he would be refused a Christian burial. Perhaps we should have more visibly offered support and encouragement, after all he is doing what successive Lambeth conferences have been asking for. When he was suspended by the Ugandan church perhaps we should have been more overt and public in our support of him and our bishops might have intervened on his behalf. Calling one another to account is part of what the Archbishop was talking about in his pastoral letter when he spoke of living in the full interdependence of love.
The Bishop of Durham has spoken to us being in a desperate state of emergency, but that ignores the fact things are still happening, our communion is still functioning – things may not be as dire as he would have us believe. On the feast of Epiphany in the Diocese of Kajo Keji in the Sudan, there was a great occasion, an ordination of thirty-four deacons and three priests. Bishop Paul Marshall of ECUSA had been due to visit the diocese but in the light of the Windsor Report had offered to cancel his visit not wanting his presence to be a cause for embarrassment. But with the support of his Primate the Diocesan Bishop not only renewed his invitation, he rescheduled the ordinations so that Bishop Marshall could ordain the thirty-four deacons and with him the three priests. It also seems to me that we are too ready to hear the stories of broken relationships and not where the communion is strong.
And a story from me, I was born in New Zealand and ordained priest there twenty five years ago, and even longer ago than that I remember a debate in my diocesan synod on the subject of homosexuality. The synod resolved not to discriminate in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation. The debate was certainly about clergy and presumably that included bishops. The sky did not fall in, no African prelates imploded. It may have been because we were all concerned about something that seemed much more controversial – rugby. Should the Allblacks play the Springboks? We were engaged with supporting the Church in South Africa’s battle with apartheid. Throughout New Zealand society and the churches were deeply divided about the sporting boycott of South Africa. Rugby is what threatened to split the church not homosexuality. How have we come to this point today?
If the Anglican Communion falls apart in the next few months, might – just might – it not be because of something that happened in New Hampshire but because for twenty five years we have ignored the call of three Lambeth conferences to talk, to listen, to study, to learn.4 Comments
The Church of Ireland had a press release Church of Ireland welcomes Primates to Dromantine.
The Belfast Telegraph published St Patrick’s to welcome church heads.
The Episcopal News Service which earlier had Anglican Primates: An Overview, and Presiding Bishop preaches at Belfast Cathedral has also published the report of Cedric Pulford from Ecumenical News International Anglican leaders meet to debate division on gay bishop consecration.
Jane Lampman wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that Mainline churches struggle over gay policy.
A related story from Canada is Anglican position on same-sex marriage has not changed, Primate says which refers specifically to the internal position of the Anglican Church of Canada.1 Comment
Updated Monday afternoon
Monday’s editorial in The Times (extract reprinted below the fold) is headed
Faith and hope
The Anglican Church needs to be firm but not inflexible on homosexuality
Ruth Gledhill provides a related news report in Anglican world leaders face walk-out at summit on gays
The Telegraph has several stories by Jonathan Petre:
Separate Communions for primates in gay clergy row
Archbishop is facing lost cause as he tries to prevent split in world Church
Liberals want to interpret the Bible their way
BBC Northern Ireland has Anglican leaders meet in province
Toronto Globe and Mail has Anglicans grapple with rift over homosexuality
My own report for Anglicans Online can be read here:
The General Synod, the Windsor Report and the Primates Meeting
BBC Today Programme Real Audio segment: listen (4 minutes)
0744 The leaders of the world’s 38 Anglican churches begin a meeting today in Newry in which they’ll try to find a way of preventing a permanent split over homosexuality.
Belfast Telegraph Homosexuality top of the agenda at church conference14 Comments
First on the Sunday programme:
Meeting of the Anglican Primates
The meeting of the 38 provincial Primates of the Anglican Communion begins in Newry on Monday. It is a showdown between the majority, who are opposed to the ordination of actively gay bishops and clergy, and ECUSA, the Episcopal Church of the United States, and its supporters in Canada, who actively support and carry out such ordinations. Such is the impasse that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams asked the Communion’s chief fixer, Archbishop Robin Eames, to chair a commission to try and resolve the issue, which threatens to tear the Communion apart. It is that commission’s so called Windsor Report that is being discussed in Newry.
Listen (7m 04s)with Real Audio to interviews with Frank Griswold and Gregory Venables.
Lots of other items in today’s issue of Sunday are also of interest to Anglicans.
A piece from the Management pages of the Business section of the Observer by Simon Caulkin:
When the devil is in the details
How would you appraise a vicar’s performance? By the number, length and quality of sermons? Attendance at church? Out of wedlock births? Ratio of marriages to divorce? Doctrinal purity?
This intriguing question was raised by proposals put forward last week by the Church of England’s General Synod to make incompetent vicars easier to sack, and to subject them to the kind of performance measures that apply to other workers.
Don’t laugh: even our box may be less satirical than you think. In one study, a Norwegian hospital chaplain had performance measures that counted not only bedside visits, but also the number of last rites he performed. In fact, the church’s measurement problem illustrates with blinding clarity the tensions inherent in all performance management.
Read it all. But don’t take it too literally. The sidebar or “box” mentioned above is at the foot of the webpage. More about the real CofE proposals for ministerial review in a while.
The Sunday Times has a report by Christopher Morgan that says: Churchgoers ordered to pray for Camilla.
This refers to the wording of the BCP prayer for the Royal Family, which can be (and periodically is) altered by Royal Warrant (not by Parliament or the General Synod) to reflect births, marriages and deaths. According to Morgan the new wording will be:
“Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall.”
The original version of this is rather longer and can be read here. I recommend this longer version to understand more accurately what Kendall thinks about this. I noted particularly his last paragraph as originally written:
“There are… limits to diversity,” says the Windsor Report, and the Anglican Communion has reached them in the current crisis. “These limits are defined by truth and charity” (TWR 86) which together with courageous leadership can enable the honest facing of the depth of the problem with the awesome sacrifice needed by all to enable a solution. The future of the third largest Christian family in the world is at stake.
Theo Hobson has had two major articles published this week. Theo is author of Against Establishment: an Anglican polemic and Anarchy, Church and Utopia: Rowan Williams on Church (published next month); both published by Darton Longman and Todd.
The Times article included this:
[The Church of England] …desperately needs to interest people in its version of Christianity; but establishment is a major turn-off. Before 2002, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, would have agreed with this analysis. Being Welsh, he had never had to pledge allegiance to the Queen, and he looked upon the establishment of the Church of England with scepticism. In 2000 he said: “I think that the notion of the monarch as supreme governor has outlived its usefulness. I believe increasingly that the Church has to earn the right to be heard by the social world. Establishment is just one of those things that make it slightly harder.”In 2002, when he began to be talked about as a contender for Canterbury, these remarks were dug up, and he hastily issued a press release in an attempt to re-bury them. “This is a matter which is quite clearly not at the top of the agenda for the Church of England,” he assured us. It is a shame that Dr Williams has not been more open about his doubts. For they are longstanding, and central to his theology. As long ago as 1998 he gave warning against any idea of “the Church’s guardianship of the Christian character of a nation . . . which so easily becomes the Church’s endorsement of the de facto structures and constraints of the life of a sovereign state.”
Upon his appointment to Canterbury, he shoved his disestablishing sympathies into the closet. Surely he should reach out to those with similar feelings — young, confused Anglicans especially — and tell them it’s OK. It’s OK to feel slightly nauseated by grand occasions of state, to feel that royalist pageantry stifles the spirit of Jesus Christ; and the occasional republican fantasy is nothing to be ashamed of.
Instead, he seems to have taken fright at the weakness of the Church. Maybe one cannot afford to be too honest, when Christian values are so precarious in this culture. Maybe an honest discussion of establishment would make the institution look muddled, weak and inward-looking. Better to look tough and united. Better to keep one’s core constituency on board, and make pleasant noises about the rich national legacy of the Christian monarchy. If in doubt, play the holy heritage card — it will always please the millions of lukewarm, middle-class Anglicans.
And there is another reason to keep deferring the disestablishment debate. The argument about homosexual ordination has shown the Church to be a very shaky marriage between the poles of liberal Catholics and conservative Evangelicals. This frail coalition might collapse without establishment. So it is a genuinely dangerous topic in the present climate.
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about women’s ordination under the title Dressing up in clerical clothes.4 Comments
Three more answers, this group relating to discrimination on grounds of gender.
Q5 The Revd Canon Penny Driver (Ripon & Leeds) to ask the Secretary General:
In the House of Bishops’ paper HB(05)M1 (“Summary of Decisions”), item no.14 refers to the House giving its approval in principle to a way of amending the law to address a legal difficulty which would otherwise arise when a new EU directive comes into force in October. Please could we know what this amendment is, how it will be done and why?
Answer by the Secretary General [William Fittall]
In the next few weeks the Department for Trade and Industry will be publishing draft regulations to bring UK law into line with the amended Equal Treatment Directive adopted by the EC in 2002. One amendment to Westminster legislation would involve a consequential amendment to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 in relation to the law on discrimination. As a result the DTI has, under the normal constitutional convention, consulted the Church. The House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council have both given their approval to the Government’s proposed approach, which will enable the Church to maintain its present arrangements in a way consistent with European law.
I shall circulate a more detailed explanation to Synod members once the Government’s consultation document has been published.