ACNS has issued this Communiqué from the Panel of Reference.
Further information about the panel can be found on its own web page here
Other detailed pages include the Reference Procedure which is new.
Dr Brian Hanson has been appointed as an additional secretary to the panel.20 Comments
Some myths of course we haven’t believed for a long time. Few of us really thought that Britain was somehow exempt from terrorist attack. Nor did we seriously expect that on each and every occasion security forces would be able to prevent an atrocity before it happened. But the myth that many of us held until this week, and which we have now painfully had to relinquish, was that terrorists are radically different from you and me. As I write, the backgrounds of the four suicide bombers are beginning to become clear. From what we can tell at this stage these were ordinary young British men. Born and brought up in this country, educated here, from unremarkable law abiding families. Outwardly at least their interests were the same as those of many of their age and sex.
Chillingly, that closeness is not defined to their backgrounds. For those of us of religious conviction it is equally present in their motivations. Christianity is founded on the story of a man who gave up his life for the sake of others. Faith relativises death in two ways. Most religions declare it neither to be the end nor the most important factor to be considered. I guess that the bombers were like us too in wanting (and this is rightly especially prevalent among young adults) to feel that they were part of something huge – even the outworking of God’s plan itself. The motivations of the original crusaders (who detonated the first suicide bomb a thousand years ago) are not so different from those of these young men.
It’s only after having recognised our similarities that we should go on to focus on the differences. I am helped enormously by the comment of a brother bishop some years ago. He drew an illuminating distinction between “theologies of life” and “theologies of death”. Both are present in Christianity. Both have their place. And in any one of us both will be operating at the same time. One or other however will be the dominant.
Theologies of death focus on temptation, sin, the battle between the divine and the demonic. The central symbol is the cross with Jesus hanging bleeding on it. The world is the entity that nails him there.
Theologies of life by comparison focus on love, forgiveness, the rich abundance of God’s creation. The cross remains the central symbol but here it is empty. Christ is risen, gone before, leading his people. The world, and the rich diversity in it, is itself a pointer to God’s glory.
Those who detonate bombs killing themselves and innocent travellers are operating from within a theology of death. We are closer to them than is comfortable whenever we allow our faith to be more rooted or expressed in what we oppose than in what we affirm. As the scriptures reiterate again and again the mission of Jesus was to bring not death but life. If we are to seriously distinguish ourselves from terrorism it is a theology of life that must predominate, whatever the particular matters being debated.
Faith leaders are rarely to be found with rucksacks full of explosives strapped to their backs but when we propound theologies that place God’s creation under the control of the devil or we declare humanity to be utterly depraved and make that the lynchpin of our position we are ultimately providing the ideological underpinning for actions that in themselves we rightly abhor.12 Comments
The Kampala Mail and Guardian carried this report on 7 July, Ugandan Parliament deals blow to gay rights. This report is amplified in an article from Human Rights Watch Uganda: Same-Sex Marriage Ban Deepens Repression. Other news reports that mention this are in the Kampala Monitor and the Kampala New Vision.
The LGBT community in Uganda had made representations to Parliament for inclusion in the list of recognised minorities for which the proposed constitutional amendments offered further protection and recognition of their special needs.
The actions now taken in response to this request are more extensive than were recommended in the white paper on constitutional amendments which only asked for the first declaration – marriage is between a man and woman – the second part criminalising those who enter a partnership is an additional action now taken by the Ugandan parliament without previous discussion.
Back in February, the primates of the Anglican Communion said:
…We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship…
At the recent ACC meeting in Nottingham, Rowan Williams said:
…The Lambeth Resolution called for just this. It also condemned in clear terms, as did earlier Lambeth Conferences, the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dromantine statement, violent and bigoted language about homosexual people – and this cannot be repeated too often. It is possible to uphold Lambeth ’98 and to oppose the shocking persecution of homosexuals in some countries, to defend measures that guarantee their civil liberties…
And again this week, in his presidential address at the General Synod in York, Rowan Williams also said:
If the listening process set up by the ACC is to be of any use, it must have the same character all round. And the point has perfectly rightly been made that it will fail if it does not listen to the voices of homosexual people within the developing world, so often horrifyingly at risk of violence and persecution, just as much as it will fail if it does not listen to those churches in the developing world that are struggling with great difficulty to find a pastoral way forward that is true to their convictions and does not expose their people to real danger.
Will any Anglican primate now speak up on this concrete example of civil rights abuse?71 Comments
The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright has a letter to the editor of The Times published today in which he explains his position:
Bishops’ views on women
From the Bishop of Durham
Sir, Anthony Howard (T2, July 12; see also report, same day) describes my action in signing, with 16 other bishops, an open letter pleading for fuller debate on women bishops as a “defection”. This is a complete misunderstanding. I have for some years argued strongly in favour of women bishops, in public and private, in person and in print. I have not changed my mind.
The motion before us at the General Synod was not whether we were in favour of women bishops, but whether we favoured a particular way of proceeding towards that goal. I want the train to get to that destination not only as soon as it can, but with as many passengers as possible still on board. I therefore agreed with the other signatories not that we should have further delay for its own sake, but that we should have what synod had specifically asked for when commissioning the Rochester report on the subject, namely proper theological discussion before taking steps which presupposed such discussion.
The Church now copies the world in treating all issues in monochrome, with goodies, baddies and “defectors”. Like an examination candidate on a bad day, synod was determined to discuss the question it wanted to discuss rather than the question on the paper. I could not vote for the actual motion, but could not vote against the perceived one, and I therefore abstained.
That was not a “defection”. It was a silent vote for that reasoned discourse which, in company with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I still believe is the best hope as we move forward into uncharted territory.
Auckland Castle, Co Durham
On Saturday evening, the General Synod considered the subject of euthanasia, in the context of legislation recently before the UK Parliament. Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans opened the debate with this speech.
The synod briefing document is Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia (RTF format)
A press release from the Diocese of St Albans is here
Daily Mail Synod prays after rejecting bill
The Archbishop of Canterbury said he fears moves towards legalising voluntary euthanasia were being motivated by the need for cost-cutting in healthcare.
Dr Rowan Williams reaffirmed his opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide at a meeting of the the General Synod of the Church of England, in York.
The archbishop said: “This is not simply a debate about medical ethics, it’s also about economic ethics.
“In a climate where the pressure is all towards a functionalised, reduced style of healthcare provision, this (assisted dying) must be a very, very tempting option to save money and resources.
“We have to be honest about this but we have to recognise that this is also an economic question and therefore a question about power.”
Speaker after speaker at The Synod spoke against the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill which was introduced by Lord Joffe in the House of Lords last year and is likely to return to parliament later this year.
Many members gave moving personal accounts of the deaths of terminally ill relatives before The Synod voted resoundingly to continue The Church’s opposition.
In September last year, Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops issued a joint statement opposing Lord Joffe’s Bill which concluded: “It is deeply misguided to propose a law by which it would be legal for terminally ill people to be killed or assisted in suicide by those caring for them.”
The Synod voted by 293 votes to just one to support that stance.
Liverpool Daily Post Church leaders’ attack on voluntary euthanasia Bill19 Comments
The complete file of ACC-13 resolutions is now available on the ACO website at this address.0 Comments
Robert Bergner ACNS Archbishop asks synod to focus on respect
Matt Davies ENS Church of England moves closer to ordaining women bishops
TLC England’s General Synod Approves Women Bishops
Michael Brown Yorkshire Post
Women bishops a step nearer after Synod vote
Archbishop of canterbury warns against looking for scapegoats
Stephen Bates Guardian
Barriers to women bishops removed
Ruth Gledhill The Times
Church votes to prepare way for women bishops
Also in The Times Anthony Howard has this opinion column: The last overt sex barrier will stay until at least 2010
Radio 4 Today programme
The General Synod of the Church of England has voted to remove the legal blocks to the ordination of women bishops. News report by Robert Pigott. Listen here
Could a vote towards allowing women bishops split the Church of England? Christina Rees and David Houlding discuss. Listen here
The voting on the motion (as amended) was as follows:
Bishops: 41 in favour, 6 against
Clergy: 167 in favour, 46 against
Laity: 159 in favour, 75 against
The motion was therefore CARRIED.
The final text of the motion was:
That this Synod
(a) consider that the process for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate should now be set in train;
(b) invite the House of Bishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council, to complete by January 2006, and report to the Synod, the assessment which it is making of the various options for achieving the removal of the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate, and ask that it give specific attention to the issues of canonical obedience and the universal validity of orders throughout the Church of England as it would affect clergy and laity who cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate on theological grounds; and
(c) instruct the Business Committee to make sufficient time available in the February 2006 group of sessions for the Synod to debate the report, and in the light of the outcome to determine on what basis it wants the necessary legislation prepared and establish the necessary drafting group.’
Four amendments have been put down for debate. The text of these will be published here below the fold, in the order in which they are going to be considered. The original motion is here.
The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe formally moved his amendment. Voting FOR the amendment was effectively to vote AGAINST the original motion.
It was very clearly lost on a show of hands. There was more support for it, though, than I had expected.
The Archdeacon of Norwich’s amendment, similarly but very quickly, also lost.
It is now clear that the concept of delay has been rejected decisively by the synod.
The last two amendments were then debated.
The Archdeacon of Berkshire moved his amendment. After debate, it was PASSED by 233 votes to 216.
The fourth amendment by Dr Bridger was not resisted by the Bishop of Southwark and quickly passed on a show of hands.
The debate subsequently completed, and a vote by houses is taking place. It seems very likely now that this motion will pass.41 Comments
Monday morning reports:
Jonathan Petre Telegraph Hundreds of clergy ‘will leave church over women bishops’
Christina Odone The Times guest contributor Say a prayer for the C of E today (more a plug for tonight’s Channel 4 TV programme than anything else)
BBC Anglicans vote on women bishops
And a synod report that deals with something else:
Michael Brown Yorkshire Post Grace of God falls on victims, Synod told
Rowan Williams delivered his presidential address to the General Synod meeting at York. The full text of this is already available on his own website.
A substantial portion of it was devoted to the recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting.1 Comment
Christopher Landau reported on the latest developments in the wake of the 17 men bishops letter for the BBC Sunday radio programme:
A senior churchman has warned that hundreds of priests may leave the Church of England if women are ordained as bishops. Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet [one of the two PEVs for the Canterbury Province] told the Sunday Times that he would quit along with a possible eight hundred priests if proper provision is not made for them.
The Church is on the verge of a major vote on women bishops. Tomorrow, the general synod, meeting in York, will debate whether it’s the right time to start removing the legal obstacles which currently prevent women becoming bishops. It had been thought that the motion would pass easily – but that’s now in some doubt. A large group of bishops has written to the Church press arguing that it would be pre-emptive to act now, before the church has had sufficient time to debate the issue. Interview with reporter Christopher Landau in York.
Listen here with Real Audio (5.5 minutes)
Here is the Sunday Times report mentioned above:
Christopher Morgan Churchmen on brink of exodus over women bishops (this has an unrelated tidbit about Lord Carey at the end of the story).
And the BBC carried this story, Clergy warn against women bishops based on the above two items (and a few tidbits of synod news thrown in at the end). Later the BBC also published this, Women bishops have ‘vast support’.
Fulcrum has published a major article by Colin Craston, a former chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Women Bishops and the Anglican Communion Process which has links to many relevant ACC resolutions.
Church Society, not content with its earlier diatribe, has issued a further one, just in case you were not clear what CS thinks.
Equally unsurprisingly, Forward in Faith UK supports the bishops’ letter.5 Comments
Theo Hobson writes in the Guardian about A carnival of Christianity
The dominant trend of contemporary Christian theology might be called ecclesiastical fundamentalism. The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is the conceptual primacy of “church”. Postmodern theology explains that this religion is not an abstract system but a set of actual practices, performed (a crucial word) by various churches. Such is the current theological orthodoxy.
This evades the crisis at the heart of “church”. All forms of church define a Christian as one who belongs to this special society. In practice, that means accepting the authority of a particular institution. An institution must have rules; it must promote an orthodoxy and exclude people who want to think or behave differently. The problem is that Christianity is about a vision of total peace, of universal brother- and sisterhood. It is meant to oppose authoritarianism, legalism and exclusion. Was not the kingdom of God announced by Jesus betrayed by authoritarian institutions?…
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Pottering round old churches
Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times on the London bombings, Terrorism dishonours any cause which it claims to represent
Johann Hari wrote this, originally in the Independent but now available on his blog, The attacks on London – and the battles to come9 Comments
Mr Michael Chamberlain to reply as Chairman of the Finance Committee
Dr Susan Cooper (London) to ask the Chairman of the Finance Committee:
Q52 What are the financial implications for the Church of England of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdrawing from the meetings and committees of the Anglican Consultative Council for the period up to the next Lambeth Conference?
Financial implications would arise for the Church of England only if the Anglican Consultative Council were to approach us for an increase in our contribution. We have received no such approach. The budget which the Synod will be asked to approve on Monday incorporates a 3% increase in our contribution on 2006, the same as the increase between 2004 and 2005.
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
The Bishop of Peterborough to reply on behalf of the Chairman
The Revd Jonathan Baker (Oxford) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q14 What attempts has the House of Bishops so far made to seek the views of other episcopal churches about the proposal to admit women to the historic episcopate?
Mr Martin Dales (York) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q15 Have all our ecumenical friends been consulted and given sufficient time for their theological reflection on the report Women Bishops in the Church of England, only published last autumn?
Mrs Margaret Tilley (Canterbury) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q16 Why has the House of Bishops thought it appropriate to invite the Synod to take a decision of principle whether or not to ordain women as bishops before receiving any responses from our ecumenical partners?
Mr James Cheeseman (Rochester) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q17 What attempts has the House of Bishops so far made to seek the views of other episcopally led churches about the possibility of ordaining women to the historic episcopate?
Mrs Mary Nagel (Chichester) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q18 Has there been any correspondence on behalf of the House with the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity on the possible inclusion of women in the episcopate since the publication of the Rochester Report?
Mrs Maryon Jägers (Europe) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q19 Given that the Rochester Working Party recommended that the Anglican Communion be invited to make responses to its report, what steps have been taken to elicit those responses and with what results?
With permission, Madam Chairman, I should like to answer the questions from the Revd Jonathan Baker, Mr Dales, Mrs Tilley, Mr Cheeseman, Mrs Nagel, and Mrs Jägers together.
The House of Bishops proposed in February that the Synod should have the opportunity at this group of sessions to decide whether it wished to start down the legislative road to enable women to become bishops. In making that proposal, which the Synod accepted, the House had been mindful of the diocesan synod motions already passed on the subject. What decisions if any to take now will of course be for the Synod itself to determine on Monday.
As to ecumenical views, a Methodist and a Roman Catholic served on the Rochester Working Party. Our ecumenical partners and other Provinces of the Anglican Communion were indeed sent copies of the report Women Bishops in the Church of England? [GS1557] on its publication last year and were invited to submit a response. Some ecumenical partner churches have now done so (and copies are available for inspection at the Information Desk); other responses are awaited.4 Comments
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
The Bishop of Chelmsford to reply as Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ministry
Mrs Jane Pitts (Liverpool) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q10 In view of the harm the Church of England has inflicted on itself in its polarized arguments over the understanding of sexuality as a whole, would the House of Bishops consider not asking clerical candidates for any posts personal questions about their sexual orientation or attitudes to the same, with a view to respecting the individual’s conscience before God in this deeply felt issue?
As is clear from the Ordinal under discussion at this Group of Sessions, clergy make public undertakings to ‘fashion their life according to the way of Christ’. They also make an Oath of Canonical Obedience to their bishop. Bishops have a duty, in confidence, to explore with a priest all matters which are affected by the oaths and declarations which they make. All such conversations should be conducted with great sensitivity and respect.
The House of Bishops’ teaching as set out in Issues in Human Sexuality represents the position of the House. There is a proper expectation that clergy should hold to its discipline.14 Comments
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
The Bishop of Peterborough to reply as a member of the House’s Civil Partnerships sub-group
The Revd Paul Collier (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q11 Will the proposed Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships address the question of how a bishop should act if clergy such as myself exercise our right to enter a Civil Partnership, alongside a joyful celebration of a relationship of love, fidelity and commitment, and at the same time refuse to answer any questions about our private life, including whether the relationship is a sexual one or not?
The Revd Stephen Coles (London) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q12 Synod was told in February that a report was being prepared in good time for the first registration of civil partnerships this December. Can Synod be given an update on the progress of this Pastoral Statement as there have already been some suggestive reports in the media about its contents?
The Revd Canon Paul Brett (Chelmsford) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q13 Is it true, as reported in the Church Times on 3 June that, if Church of England clergy wish to register civil partnerships under the new legislation, they will be required to assure their bishops that their relationships are ‘not sexual’ and, if so, how will a bishop ascertain whether such a relationship is sexual or not?
With permission, Madam Chairman, I should like to answer the questions from the Revd Paul Collier, the Revd Stephen Coles and Canon Paul Brett together. The Bishop of Norwich, who chairs the House of Bishops’ sub-group of which I am a member, has been taking a funeral this afternoon and is sorry not to be here.
The House has now had two discussions of the implications of the new legislation that will come into force on 5 December. It has agreed to issue a Pastoral Statement and that is likely to be ready for issue within the next few weeks.
I do not intend to answer questions now based on press reporting of what the statement may or may not be going to say. Let me instead simply urge Synod to study the document calmly and prayerfully when it appears.0 Comments
The letter from 17 men bishops provoked the following two items in the Church of England Newspaper
Women clergy express anger at bishops’ Synod appeal
A debilitating delay? by Christina Rees which says in part:
Last week’s letter from the Bishop in Europe and other bishops bears closer inspection, not only because of its contents, but also because of its timing and signatories. Of the six diocesan bishops who signed the letter, three – the Bishops of Blackburn, Chichester and Europe – are known as being opposed women’s ordination. It is difficult to understand why they have asked for a longer period of discussion, when they have made it clear that they are opposed to ordaining women as priests or as bishops, now or at any time.
The Bishop in Europe was a member of the House of Bishops Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, which produced the Rochester Report. That Working Party spent over four years in study and discussion and considered over 700 written submissions and a number of face to face submissions.
The Bishop of Blackburn is currently a member of another working party set up earlier this year by the House of Bishops to explore some of the options outlined in the Rochester Report and to report to the House of Bishops in January. It seems particularly odd that these two bishops, both involved with the open processes of the General Synod and their own House of Bishops, should choose to sign a letter asking for that very process to be deflected and delayed.
On the other hand, for Church Society the 17 bishops didn’t go anyway near far enough, OPEN LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
Fulcrum had this fence-sitting Response to the General Synod Motion on Women Bishops July 2005 but also re-published this article by Judith Rose to complement this one from Tom Wright.8 Comments
Questions to be answered at this weekend’s General Synod are now online. The answers will be given tonight starting at 8.30pm.0 Comments
Updated twice Friday
The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this Statement on London Terrorist Attacks
Times Online carried this report by Ruth Gledhill Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders condemn attacks
Jonathan Petre Archbishop and the Pope condemn ‘evil’ attacks
Helen Saxbee Religious leaders condemn London bomb attacks
BBC Today radio programme
Andrew Hosken has been finding out how London is recovering this morning. The Rt Rev Rt Hon Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, joins us from St Paul’s.
Listen here with Real Audio (Bishop Chartres segment is about 6 minutes in and lasts about 3.5 minutes)9 Comments
As we await news of the G8’s deliberations, it was good to receive, as others must have done, letters from Tony Blair to all who had contacted him about the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign. It read like a ringing endorsement of our participation in the march around Edinburgh last Saturday.
As soon as we discovered that a cheap flight from Stansted would allow us to join the demonstaration, visit my sister in Edinburgh and get back in time for the Sunday services, we had to go. Initially the organisers had hoped for 100,000 people, double the number that had gone to make a human chain around Birmingham in 1998, appealing for the relief of debt as the jubilee year approached. Certainly our government had welcomed that human chain as a sign that the G8 needed a new agenda.
This time the numbers and the organisation proved far greater. Where Birmingham had a static human chain, Edinburgh the chain was a march which went on for hours. By the time we completed the circuit there were still so many people waiting to begin the march the whole queue was at a standstill, three hours after the first people had begun.
Initially the crowd met in the Meadows, where two stages with giant screens were set up. Images, speeches and music underlined the message of why we were there. Glorious sunshine, and colourful banners added to the enjoyment of the occasion. The rival attraction of watching the Bob Geldof concert either at home or on a large screen somewhere had obviously not diminished the crowds.
Compared with Birmingham, the police presence and the vast number of barricades, looked like complete overkill. On Princes Street, the main thoroughfare of the city, the width of the road filled with four rows of barricades was greater than the width afforded to the marchers. But why? The joyful crowds were adequately marshalled by a large contingent of trade unionists in yellow vests. Under their guidance we were held back at the start and then allowed through a fairly narrow gap, about ten abreast, for the march. Above us, across Edinburgh Castle on its crag, was a huge MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY banner.
One wag with a megaphone yelled out “Call this a march? It’s only an amble. Step it out as if you mean it!” He then turned on the megaphone to give a brief imitation of a police siren.
Amongst the sea of white clothing, a few anarchist troublemakers in black with hoods and faces covered stood out so much that they were easily rounded up by police before any problems could be caused.
The day before, preparations being made in the shopping centre were hugely varied. Some places remained open, and we were certainly grateful for the opportunity of a late lunch. Thousands more marchers must have appreciated the fact that most eating places were open. But apart from the demonstrators, Edinburgh was extremely quiet and many people must have gone on holiday. Some shops were closed, and had signs in the window saying “Closed — so that our staff can join the march”. Others were boarded up, some in order to remain open behind fortress like entrances, but the majority were closed. Perhaps Saturday, for the police and for those who boarded up their shops, was only a seen as a prelude to protests by violent protesters.
But for all who dressed in white and joined the march, it was a great and purposeful day, helping to set the world’s agenda in a way which meant that the poor could no longer be ignored, and that justice needed to be done. The city’s transport coped well, and there were no problems in making return journeys. Indeed, we were at home in time to see the conclusion of the Hyde Park concert.1 Comment