Thinking Anglicans

civil partnerships: the unpublished news

According to various American websites, the London-based Sunday Times published a news report concerning the reaction of Archbishop Peter Akinola and others to the CofE statement.

The purported story, headlined AKINOLA: C of E Should be Suspended from Anglican Communion can be read here, for example. Update It has now also been published here.

But the newspaper did not publish this report. Instead it published this squib Church gay clergy row deepens which gives only the barest outline, with no names or other details.

If – or more likely when – any further information about this emerges, I will add a note here.
Update in the comments, Andrew Brown has confirmed that the story really was written as shown, and was cut from the newspaper only for reasons of space.


ecclesiastical exemption

A Church of England press release reports Way forward on the ‘ecclesiastical exemption’ from listed building control.

This relates to an announcement by the DCMS Places Of Worship Supported In Changing Times. This in turn refers to a report The Ecclesiastical Exemption: The Way Forward which is the outcome of the consultation conducted last year

The link at the foot of the CofE press release is, at present, broken, hence this level of detail here.


weekend reading

Three related items:
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph asks Who are the ummah?
Oliver McTernan in the Guardian discusses The textual analysis of terrorism
And from Fulcrum Graham Kings writes London Bombings:Warnings and Support

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes that The truth of Christian faith prevails in even our most faltering words

Also in The Times, an article by Nick Wyke on the Cammino di San Francesco (the URL within the article is wrongly spelled)



The CEN reports in New alliance of traditionalists threatens truce that a meeting was held in Nassau at which a body called Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean (CAPAC) was formed.

This body, despite its name, includes only two provinces of the Anglican Communion (West Indies, Southern Cone) but also includes the Diocese of Recife (in Brazil), The Anglican Communion Network (ACN) and The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).

It does not include Anglican provinces in Canada, the US, Mexico, Central America, any of the dioceses in the northern part of South America which are part of the Episcopal Church, or the Episcopal Church of Brazil.

The press releases about this event originate from Ekklesia:
A Statement from the Anglican Pan American Conference (scroll down for a Resolution on Recife)
Press Release from the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean
and the same website carries an article from the Christian Challenge:
Conservative Anglicans Envision Western Hemisphere Alliance

The NACDAP website carries Network joins Western Hemisphere Alliance which includes (scroll down) A Covenant of Understanding.

Other news reports about this:
TLC Nassau Covenant Signed and earlier Nassau Meeting Concludes
As TLC notes, this Nassau meeting was first mentioned by the Guardian in connection with the revelation of the Anglican Global Initiative, see here.


developments in Connecticut

Updated Sunday 31 July

Since the last report there have been some major developments.

The Living Church published a further report headlined Archbishop’s Panel Stays Out of Connecticut Dispute.

Then, a group of nine ECUSA diocesan bishops issued a public letter to Andrew Smith.

In response, the Bishop of Connecticut has published his reply (PDF copy) which is reproduced below the fold here.

Update Another letter, dated one day earlier, addressed to the members of the parish, has now also been published. PDF file here, full text below the fold (scroll down).

The Living Church has reported this here.
Earlier TLC had published this interview with Jack Iker one of the signatories to the 9 bishops letter.

The Associated Press reported Bishops plan to take Connecticut cleric to church court.
Reuters had US Episcopal clerics to sue bishop in church court
Bristol Press Bishop’s peers threaten charges
New London The Day Out-of-state Bishops Threaten Action



more reactions to CP statement

Earlier responses can be found here. New news reports and press releases will be added here as they become available.

Church of England Newspaper Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Church allows gay clergy to register partnerships

Guardian Giles Fraser
Love is the answer

Church Times
Rachel Harden Civil partnerships require sensitivity, say Bishops
Leader It’s still about not telling

Ecumenical News International via ENS
England’s Anglican clergy may register ‘chaste’ same-sex unions

1 Comment

Islam and violence

An item from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme:

0832 What is it that motivates a suicide bomber? Jane Little explores what Islam has to say about violence.

Listen here with Real Audio 4.5 minutes



Some small Parisian boys, back from their Saturday morning at the pictures almost half a century ago, were anxious to know the formula spoken by a cowboy holding a gun when he required someone to raise their hands in the air. The films had sub titles, rather than being dubbed, and the boys were convinced that there ought to be a definitive, universally understood expression. To their way of thinking, saying “Stigamup”, or something like it, usually guaranteed that in the lawless western frontiers of the USA, an unnecessary shooting was often avoided. Whilst the first application of this expression would be in their games, maybe they were thinking that, were they ever to travel to the wild west, they would need to recognise the one phrase which demanded instant obedience.



reactions to CP statement

Updated again Wednesday
News reports and press releases will be collected here as they appear.

The Times published this before the release of the statement
Gay clergy can ‘marry’ but no sex
and this onine (only?) afterwards (both Ruth Gledhill)
Catch 22 for gay clergy in new church sex code

LGCM issued this statement

Guardian Stephen Bates
Church struggles with the concept of celibacy in same-sex partnerships
and this column Stop the denial

The Church of England has announced that it will support civil partnerships for gay priests, as long as they don’t have sex for the rest of their lives. Here, Richard Haggis, a practising priest and homosexual, calls for his superiors to see the error of their ways

Letters in response to the above item

Telegraph Jonathan Petre
‘Marriages’ but no sex for gay clergy

Letters in response to this report

Eastern Daily Press (local paper in Norwich)
No blessings for gay marriages

Agence France-Presse
Church of England bans clergy from blessing gay civil partnerships

Church row over gay unions
(perhaps more a local reaction to this entirely separate Scottish story from the Herald Episcopal gay clergy row heads for tribunal hearings)

BBC Today radio programme
Two segments:

0724 Has the Church of England changed its policy towards recognising same-sex partnerships? Our Religious Affairs Correspondent Robert Pigott reports. Listen here (Real Audio – 3 minutes)

0856 Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, and Rev Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, discuss the Church of England’s stance on gay marriage. Listen here (Real Audio – 5 minutes)

Affirming Catholicism has Bishops’ statement on Civil Partnerships ‘deeply disappointing’

Ekklesia says Affirming Catholics challenge C of E on same-sex unions

Manchester Evening News
Church bans same-sex blessings

BBC Radio 4 News World at One:Interview with David Page, also short clip of Graham James Bp of Norwich, and comment from Ruth Gledhill.
This segment starts some 23 minutes into the 30 minute programme.
This link is no longer available.

InclusiveChurch has Bishops’ Pastoral Care Lacking

Anglican Mainstream has Need for clear teaching

Gay couples ‘will not be blessed’

The Times Ruth Gledhill comment column Bishops in the mire


Civil Partnerships statement

As expected the Church of England bishops issued their pastoral statement on civil partnerships this morning. You can read it here.
Another copy is here


The right, good old way

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Little Gidding. Not for the first time, and not, I hope, for the last, either. But it was the first time I had been in about five years, so it was good to be back.

A long time before, back in 1993, at the dawn of the popular internet, I wrote a piece about a visit to Little Gidding for an Anglican email list. (You can read a copy of that piece here.) At that time Little Gidding was the home of a small community, as well as a wider group of Friends, but in the intervening years the community disbanded and there was some dispute over the future ownership of the community buildings. But now the dispute has been settled, the Friends of Little Gidding have been reconstituted, new wardens installed in Ferrar House, and the ministry of hospitality continues.

So, on a lovely Sunday afternoon we headed up the A14, across the A1, turning off at Leighton Bromswold (to pay homage to George Herbert) and on to Little Gidding. The ‘dull facade’ looked almost beautiful in the late afternoon sun, the noticeboard (new since our last visit) slightly detracting from the composition. Inside, the sun shone brightly through the clear glass and the stained glass of the windows, and the old familiar place looked just the same. This is the place where the Ferrar family, led by Deacon Nicholas, came to say their prayers, morning and evening each day, the centre of their spiritual life. This is the place, hallowed by their community, where ‘prayer has been valid’, this is the place closest to us, now and in England.

Nicholas Ferrar lived in a time of increasing prosperity, with the foundations being laid for the later British commercial and imperial greatness. Ferrar himself came from a wealthy mercantile family, involved in foreign trade and the settlement of English colonies in North America.

It was also a time of religious turmoil in England. Just five years before his birth an attempted invasion by a foreign power aiming to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and her protestant government had been foiled by a combination of the heroics of Sir Francis Drake and the stormy weather. When Ferrar was 12 a conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament and to kill the king and his government was only narrowly averted, thanks to careful intelligence and leaks from the inside. And not long after his death England erupted into civil war.

Ferrar’s response to this, like that of his contemporary George Herbert, was to live a quiet and godly life. He abandoned the pursuit of worldly wealth and status for a life of prayer and contemplation, in a community of family and other associates. But this was not escapism. Rather, it was an engagement in real life, an engagement with ordinary people and their everyday concerns, as a teacher, as a healer (Ferrar had studied medicine at Cambridge, Padua and Leipzig), as a counsellor. He and his community were consulted by the poor, by the politically active, and by the great and the good — right up to the king himself.

Although Nicholas Ferrar died in his 40s on 4 December 1637 and his community survived only another decade before it was ransacked by the victorious Puritans, and dissolved a further decade later at the death of Nicholas’s eldest brother John, his example still shines as a beacon of sanity in a complex and sometimes frightening world. A life of caring for ordinary people, of ministering to their needs, physical, intellectual and spiritual, a life of quiet, undemonstrative prayer and study, is one that we would all do well to emulate. ‘It is the right, good old way you are in,’ Nicholas Ferrar said to his brother, shortly before he died; ‘keep in it.’

1 Comment

civil partnerships and the CofE

The Church of England bishops are about to issue their promised pastoral statement on civil partnerships. This is expected to occur tomorrow. Two excellent briefing items have appeared.

The BBC Sunday programme had this item:

Gay Anglicans
Tomorrow the Church of England will reveal how it will deal with clergy who are in same sex relationships and who want to register their partnerships.
Report by Christopher Landau.
Listen (4m 35s) (Real Audio)

Fulcrum has published a Fulcrum response to the Civil Partnerships Act by Andrew Goddard. This is a comprehensive analysis of the UK civil partnership legislation and its implications for the Church of England, and also indicates the potential for a positive way forward.


final amendments to ordinal

As this information is not yet available online elsewhere, the textual amendments contained in GS 1535C are reproduced below the fold.

UPDATE (26 July 2005)
This paper (which includes an explanation of the bishops’ actions) is now available on the CofE website.



weekend columns of opinion

From The Times
Christian conservatives find a common crusade by Gordon Urquhart
We must continue in joy and hope — astonishingly optimistic or not by John Wilkins

From the Guardian
Fundamentally speaking by Giles Fraser

From the Telegraph
Islam: cut out and keep by Christopher Howse

From Fulcrum
General Synod Reflections July 2005 by Francis Bridger

From the Church Times
Feelings, nothing more than feelings? by Giles Fraser

From the Tablet
Islam’s ‘heart of darkness’ by Abdal Hakim Murad


A martyr in Connecticut?


There has been intensive coverage elsewhere this week of the disciplinary action taken by the Bishop of Connecticut towards the Reverend Mark Hansen, one of the Connecticut Six about whom TA has reported in the past.

The official diocesan statement is here, together with links to several other documents that give more background, and ENS earlier included a similar report in this diocesan news roundup.
The report by The Living Church magazine is here and further information is in this report.

The New York Times carried Episcopal Priest Is Removed in Connecticut
and the Associated Press had Episcopal bishop suspends one of six embattled priests
while the Bristol Press reported that Bishop suspends Episcopal priest

The CEN has this week reported the story as Mediating Panel not wanted in US diocese.
The Church Times also has a report, not yet available on the web except to its paid subscribers, titled Dispute over support for gay Bishop worsens, which says in part:

The six asked to be released from their ordination vows of obedience to the Bishop, and for suspension of selected canons, and withdrew their parish share.

They refused the terms of the offer of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight approved by ECUSA’s House of Bishops last year, asking that the delegated rather than the diocesan bishop take responsibility for the future succession of clergy and future candidates for ordination in the diocese.

In March, the diocese determined that the six rectors had “abandoned communion” and recommended the inhibition of all six priests — the first step towards unfrocking. A meeting between Bishop Smith and the six in April reached an impasse, but the recommendation was not carried out (News, 22 April).

Mr Hansen has been on sabbatical leave since 10 April, having declared to his parishioners on 15 March that the day would be “my last Sunday as your priest”. Bishop Smith has declared his absence unauthorised.

The St John’s Church Vestry accused the Bishop on Sunday of violating canon, civil, and criminal law, and refused to accept the ministry as priest-in-charge of the Revd Susan McCone, the executive director of Affirming Catholicism.

Mr Hansen declared himself “personally devastated” by Bishop Smith’s action in inhibiting him on the grounds of abandonment of communion, and accused him of misrepresenting the facts. “The Bishop is fully aware that family circumstances necessitated a sabbatical leave. . . [He] has knowingly and wilfully endangered my family’s well-being and security,” he said.

Here is the website of the Connecticut Six which contains links to many who support them. They include the Moderator of NACDAP and the AAC and there is also this riveting eyewitness account of the events when the bishop came to the parish on Tuesday.

A comprehensive report from Fr Jake The Making of a Connecticut Martyr suggests that the facts are not as straightforward as the supporters of Fr Hansen have made out.

Kendall Harmon has expressed surprise more than once that so few people other than conservatives have criticised the bishop’s actions.

I do not think this is because there is widespread support for Smith, but rather that there is very little support for the position taken by the Connecticut Six in the first place.

See also this commentary from Alistair Highet in the Hartford Advocate.

And this criticism from AKMA.


General Synod: church press coverage

Church Times
Women bishops clear first hurdle in Synod
Women bishops: law to be tackled
Admitting children to communion is ‘gaining ground’
Euthanasia rejected as ‘bad medicine’
Southwell name
Ordinal passed after last-minute changes
presidential address
Synod hears of impatience for unity
‘Learn from good interfaith experience’ Synod told
Fund launched to fight poverty gets Synod backing
Code for clergy discipline agreed
standing orders
‘In God we trust – but everybody else we audit’
synod revue
Hind follow-up
parochial fees
2006 budget

Church of England Newspaper reports are below the fold.



General Synod papers

The official record of the business done at this month’s General Synod is now online here.


English bombers 1605-2005

The revelation that those who carried out the suicide bombings in London were British citizens is a shock. It would have been far easier to be able to regard the terrorists as people from out there, people who were totally different, people with whom we had nothing in common, and for whom were needed have no fellow feeling.

But we have been here before, and we need to learn from our history. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, possibly the most audacious acts of terrorism ever planned. It was planned by Englishmen. It was planned not by the poor or the dispossessed, but by people who largely were privileged and comfortable.

At the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England in 1603, those who wanted to worship as Catholics had hoped that the new king would be more sympathetic to them than Queen Elizabeth had been. At first James had appeared to favour them, but the Puritans objected to the new relaxed attitudes. James brought back the fines for those who would not worship as Anglicans, and expelled Catholic priests and Jesuits. This intolerance proved to be a breeding ground for extremism of the most audacious kind. And this was within the hearts of Englishmen who loved England. Like the men who successfully bombed London last week, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the population.

Today we have to learn from history. 400 years ago a religious war was beginning in England. The Puritans were determined to get the king to treat Catholics so harshly that they didn’t feel they had a future in England. The Gunpowder Plot led to more repression, partly to the Civil War, certainly to Cromwell’s hated campaigns in Ireland. In the city of Drogheda he ordered the death of every man in the garrison, describing this as “a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches”. In Wexford he slaughtered townspeople and garrison alike.

The legacy of the response to the gunpowder plot has been severe repression and hostility particularly in Ireland which has continued until our own day. It has set the native largely catholic population against the immigrant ruling protestant class for generation after generation. The two communities have been unable to trust each other, and the reason both catholic and protestant terrorists were able to function was that on both sides they knew no-one in their own community would betray them.

Today we stand at that same point in relation to the recent bombings in London as people stood on November 5th 1605. And today we have to reach out and acknowledge that people of Muslim faith have a legitimate and valuable part to play in British society today. We cannot afford to reject people of good will. We need them on our side if good is to triumph.

The Bush administration in the USA with its war on terror has been just as misguided as that of Oliver Cromwell. Its indiscriminate bombing, destruction of infrastructure and failure to establish a rule of law which could be trusted, its treatment of prisoners and detainees have all made things infinitely worse since 9-11.

Jesus tells a parable (Matthew 13.24-30,36-43) which is appropriate to today’s situation. An enemy comes by night and sows weeds in the field. The slaves of the household are up in arms, and want to rush into the field and gather up the weeds. But Jesus says “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.”

Our danger is that we could, as in the heavy handed and intolerant response to the gunpowder plot 400 years ago, rush in and make things infinitely worse, alienating good citizens of Muslim faith here, and breeding terrorists across the world. We have, fortunately, the good example of the dignified and appropriate response of Spain to the Madrid bombings as a much better example to follow.

The parable of the weeds sown in the crop has an important lesson. We are to live with those who are different. We do not know, and we do not decide which of us is ultimately the good seed which God will harvest at the end of the age. He sends his angels to do that. But we trample down those who are different at our peril, for in doing so, we spoil the good crop, we spoil even ourselves. We find our good intentions turned to hatred and our zeal to oppose what is wrong carries us away in a fury of righteous anger. And we become like an Oliver Cromwell, trampling on the whole of Ireland, turning people against each other for generation after generation.

Our task is to produce the good seed for the harvest, so that at the judgement we will be those whose response to God’s grace will find its fulfilment in his kingdom.


women bishops: more radio discussion

The BBC Sunday programme had this piece:

Women Bishops
On Monday, The Church of England took its most significant step yet towards enabling women to become Bishops. Its General Synod authorised the drafting of legislation to remove obstacles that prevent women being enthroned. But a significant minority remain adamantly opposed to such a move. They have long argued for the creation of a separate or third province of the church to be created for them, which would have only male bishops and priests. Now the Bishop who leads them has said that if their demands aren’t met, they will consider setting up a church of their own. Christopher Landau reports.

Listen here with Real Audio
(nearly 6 minutes)


godslots on Saturday

Tom Wright writes in the Guardian on a Reason to be cheerful. This is mainly about the General Synod debate on women bishops, and what was wrong with it.

…Much of our contemporary discourse – I sat through two days of general synod a week ago – has degenerated into a competition between the relative woundedness of people’s feelings. I am not saying that wounded feelings do not matter, only that saying “I’m more hurt than you are” cannot settle an argument on a point of principle. Unfortunately, since victimhood is the only high moral ground left after the collapse of reasoned discourse, speeches become harangues, name-calling replaces respectful engagement and party spirit trumps public wisdom.

Not for the first time, the Church of England has copied the surrounding culture, greatly to its disadvantage. True, “reason” is sometimes overemphasised. Like “clarity”, it needs something to work on; in Christian thinking, scripture and tradition. But you would have thought we could at least apply it to our own documents.

Last week’s debate about women bishops mostly consisted of people making passionate speeches on a question that was not on the order paper. The official question was about a way of proceeding, not about whether we approved of women bishops. If people had wanted to debate that, they should have amended the motion…

Roderick Strange writes in The Times, Pray within your own solitude – however noisy it is
Also in The Times Jonathan Romain writes about The silliness and brilliance of religion on the box.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Jews, Christians and Muslims.