Thinking Anglicans

civil partnerships: some more considerations

First a couple of links:

I should have included this article by Simon Barrow earlier, but here it is: Civil Partnerships are a Blessing which links to a number of relevant earlier articles by him.

And the issue of Civil Partnerships and the CofE has now reached the Isle of Man.

The following CofE press office summary of the Pastoral Statement by the House of Bishops may be helpful in analysing the reactions of overseas primates and others, including those of Peter Akinola and also Bernard Malango and Drexel Gomez.

1. The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships, issued in July, does not change the Church of England’s position on same sex relationships.

2. It upholds the historic teaching of the Church that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life and is the proper context for sexual activity. Hence, sexual relationships outside marriage, whether heterosexual or same-sex, fall short of God’s purposes for human beings.

3. It remains the view of the House of Bishops that clergy are expected to live according to the Church’s teaching.

4. The Pastoral Statement was issued by the bishops to offer guidance to the Church of England in response to legislation passed by the British Government and coming into force in December.

5. The Church’s approach to civil partnerships reflects the fact that they will not be marriages, nor based on the presumption of sexual relations between the two people making the legal agreement.

There have been a number of comments about how a policy in this matter can be enforced. What is important to remember is that, because there has been no change in policy the following paragraph from Issues (1991) also still applies:

5.18 In the light of this judgement some may propose that bishops should be more rigorous in searching out and exposing clergy who may be in sexually active homophile relationships. We reject this approach for two reasons. First, there is a growing tendency today to regard any two people of the same sex who choose to make their home together as being in some form of erotic relationship. This is a grossly unfair assumption, which can give rise to much unhappiness, and the Church should do nothing that might seem to countenance or promote it. Secondly, it has always been the practice of the Church of England to trust its members, and not to carry out intrusive interrogations in order to make sure that they are behaving themselves. Any general inquisition into the conduct of the clergy would not only infringe their right to privacy but would manifest a distrust not consonant with the commission entrusted to them, and likely to undermine their confidence and morale. Although we must take steps to avoid public scandal and to protect the Church’s teaching, we shall continue, as we have done hitherto, to treat all clergy who give no occasion for scandal with trust and respect, and we expect all our fellow Christians to do the same.

(Thanks to a letter writer in last week’s Church Times for drawing attention to this point.)


Shakespeare and religion

The BBC Today programme had a segment this morning on the theories of Clare Asquith, listen here (Real Audio, 5.5 minutes) to her and to Professor Stanley Wells who is unconvinced.

On Sunday, the Observer had this story Shakespeare was a political rebel who wrote in code, claims author

This earlier article The Catholic Bard in Commonweal gives more detail of her views.

The Washington Post published this review: Papist Plots


General Synod reports

I wrote a report of the July 2005 General Synod for Anglicans Online a little while ago; you can read it here. I have done one of these for every Synod meeting for the last quinquennium; they are all linked from here (near the bottom of the page). There are also a few earlier ones here.


CAPAC again

This new organisation got relatively little attention in Britain, when reports of it first appeared, so maybe this further longer version of the article by Auburn Faber Traycik in the Christian Challenge will change that: Pan-American, Pan-Anglican.
Notice in particular the wording of A Covenant of Understanding which can be found here.


Black bishop attacks Church racism

The Telegraph has a report today by Jonathan Petre that Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop-designate of York, has used the foreword of a new book implicitly to criticise fellow Church leaders for failing to deal properly with discrimination in the organisation. See Black bishop attacks Church racism. An excerpt:

The book to which Dr Sentamu has contributed, Rejection, Resistance and Resurrection, Speaking out on racism in the Church, is a hard-hitting account of the rejection felt by many black Anglicans.

Written by Mukti Barton, the adviser on black and Asian ministries to the Bishop of Birmingham, Dr Sentamu’s present post, it describes racism as a “deadly poison” often unconsciously spread by white Christians.

It also claims that black people are significantly under represented in the clergy, even in the diocese of Birmingham.

Dr Sentamu, who is to launch the book in Birmingham cathedral next month, said in the foreword: “The stories in this book speak of the pain of what it is to undergo institutional racism.

“The cost is in terms of the lives of people who are hampered in their growth into the image of God created in them.”

However, the editors of the Telegraph know better than the bishop, and have published this leader The way to empty pews in which they say Dr Sentamu is wrong:

A useful litmus test can be applied to distinguish vibrant, fast-growing denominations from struggling or moribund ones. Those that are obsessed with accusing themselves of racism tend to be in a worse state of health than those that – while vigorously opposing racial prejudice, as the Gospel demands – have resisted the breast-beating and grievance-mongering of secular multiculturalists.

For the past 20 years, the race relations industry has exerted a formidable grip on the mainstream churches in Britain: Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Methodists have been falling over each other in their eagerness to send themselves on “racism awareness courses”.


synod elections

The quinquennial synod election season is upon us. This article provides links to national (not local diocesan) sites that contain information relevant to these elections. Provision of a link here does not imply endorsement of any campaigning group by Thinking Anglicans. If we have omitted a group that you think should be included, write a Comment.

Church of England: General Synod Election 2005
Note: deadline dates vary from diocese to diocese. Check your local diocesan website for details.

Open Synod Group
Affirming Catholicism
Forward in Faith


holiday weekend columns

(This is a bank holiday weekend in England.)

Christopher Howse writes his Telegraph column about the Pope in Cologne, The revolution of the Magi.

For another view of the TV documentary mentioned by Howse, see Simon Barrow REFLECTING ON ‘GOD’S ROTTWEILER?’

The Guardian godslot is by Fred Sedgwick and is about the Book of Common Prayer, Prayers for today while Natasha Walter questions “evangelical” schools in Divine and rule.

Stephen Plant writes in The Times about the recent British school exam results, The tide is turning in favour of theology and the study of religion while Jonathan Romain writes about Jewish/Muslim relations, Making friends in Abraham’s family.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times has another view on the school exam results in Why schools need to look for their lost sheep.

The Spectator has an article provocatively entitled America: not a Christian country (easier to read printer-friendly version here).

As it is also Greenbelt this weekend, I offer two thoughtful posts from Paul Roberts who recently visited South Barrington:
A Brit in South Barrington 1
A Brit in South Barrington 2
where as Maggi Dawn says: Paul has been joining in with a Willow Creek conference, and is asking intelligent questions… like what can we learn from this phenomenon, even if it’s not our cup of tea?


Lake Malawi: confirmation of election postponed

Updated Monday and Wednesday

A letter from Archbishop Bernard Malango to his provincial bishops about the election of Nicholas Henderson has been published. A copy is below the fold. (The confusing second headline was in the copy as received.)

Updated again The Living Church has published a report on this, Archbishop Malango Postpones Consecration of English Bishop-Elect which contains details of other correspondence between the archbishop and the bishop-elect. This other letter includes the following passage:

The documents such as the Nicene Creed and the Thirty-Nine Articles are not simply theological photographs snapped at a moment in history; they are foundation stones which must be affirmed. Are you willing to state clearly and without equivocation that you fully accept, believe and practice the faith described in the classic Anglican formularies including the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, and the Ordinal? To be clear, I am not asking if you affirm that they are part of our history. You should know that they represent a standard of ministry and theology which is the practice and the norm of this province. If you were to come here with a different faith, it would be not only difficult; it would be the cause of disastrous conflict in the diocese and the Province. Are you able to affirm and commit to the faith as described in them without exception?

Interestingly, although this other letter also contains detailed questions relating to human sexuality, it does not even mention Lambeth I.10 despite the reference to it in the text below.

Further update In addition to the earlier news reports of this matter I can now link to last week’s Church Times report by Pat Ashworth Malawi’s ‘modern churchman’ bishop. (This week’s Church Times report is available only to subscribers.)

Updated Monday
Ruth Gledhill in The Times had Questions about lodger confront a new bishop. In this, Bishop Pete Broadbent says:

“There is no witch to be hunted here. It is unfair for someone to be vilified in this way. As Nicholas’s bishop I understand he has given assurances on all the issues raised by Archbishop Malango. He has given assurances on the primary authority of Scripture, the Creeds and on the matter of his own life being consonant with the Gospel. It is a matter for Dr Malango as the consecrating Archbishop what he does about that.”

Updated Wednesday
Reuters has a report from Blantyre Malawians oppose bishop in Anglican gay split.
The references here to “Presbyterian” suggest the writer is not quite on top of his subject.



Connecticut Six file formal charges against bishop

The Living Church has published this news report: Formal Charges Lodged Against Connecticut Bishop which explains more about the process.

The Connecticut Six have now taken formal action under Episcopal canon law against their diocesan bishop, Andrew Smith, by filing charges against him in accordance with TITLE IV, CANON 3 (PDF file) of the Episcopal Church.

The full text of these charges can be found in a 1.2 Mb 22-page PDF file, available here.

A press release from the American Anglican Council is here.

The charges have been filed by a total of 19 persons, all of whom are it seems either clergy at, or communicants at, the six parishes who are already in dispute. Some of the names are hard to read from the PDF, but I expect a list will be published somewhere shortly.

The charges accuse the bishop of “undermining the structure of the Episcopal Church and denying canonical due process for the so-called ‘Connecticut Six’ clergy” and include “violating the Episcopal Church’s Constitution, national canons, diocesan canons, and the laws of the state of Connecticut”.

I will add further links here as other reports are published. But what happens next, it appears, is this:

Sec. 26. Any Charge against a Bishop shall be filed with the Presiding Bishop who shall promptly communicate the same to the Respondent. The Presiding Bishop shall forward the Charge to the Review Committee at such time as the Presiding Bishop shall determine or when requested in writing by the Complainant or Respondent after 90 days of receipt of the charge by the Presiding Bishop…

…Sec. 40. Within sixty days after receiving a Charge, the Review Committee shall convene to consider the Charge. If after such consideration the Review Committee determines that an Offense may have occurred if the facts alleged be true, the Review Committee shall prepare a written general statement of the Charge and the facts alleged to support the Charge and transmit the same to the Church Attorney.

The ECUSA website shows the Title IV Review Committee mandate and its current membership.

What is not at all clear is how this action will affect the earlier appeal made to the international Anglican Panel of Reference.


two more views on civil partnerships

Tim Jones, who is English although working in the USA, has written this comment about the bishops’ statement, Strangers in a Strange Land:

…To many outside the UK it seems bizarre that Christian bishops could vote for something that seems to them so, well, un-Christian. The powerful Anglican archbishop of Nigeria is furious, and reports are circulating that he is contemplating proposals for the Anglican Communion to discipline the Church of England, its historical ‘mother-church’. It is part of a wider debate about sexuality and church order that the Anglican Communion, the world’s third largest Christian denomination, may not survive intact…

And Pete Broadbent who is an English suffragan bishop, wrote about the statement in the Usenet newsgroup uk.religion.christian. His remarks are copied in full below the fold.



Malawi elects British bishop

ACNS reports:

The Revd Nicholas Henderson, currently Vicar of two west London parishes, All Saints, Ealing & St Martin’s West Acton, has been elected as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Lake Malawi.

Newspaper reports have been rather more forthcoming:

The Nation (Malawi) Anglicans reject bishop-elect by Bright Sonani

Church of England Newspaper Cleric’s bishop post riles African critics by George Conger and Jonathan Wynne-Jones

The Times Malawi in uproar over promotion of pro-gay churchman by Ruth Gledhill and Jonathan Wynne-Jones


ND articles on civil partnerships

In his recent New Directions article Michael Scott-Joynt referred to the previous articles of Nicholas Turner in that magazine. Here are the links to those articles which have reported on the progress of this legislation. It is clear that Mr Turner doesn’t like it:

June 2004 An Unholy Alliance
July 2004 Strange bedfellows
September2004 The confusion deepens
December 2004 Marital discord
February 2005 Deliberate confusion?

And yet, the official Forward in Faith response to the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement was less critical than most.


views from the papers

The Tablet has an appreciation of Brother Roger by Alain Woodrow A man of peace cut down.

In the Telegraph Charles Moore thinks that Westminster Abbey was right to reject Hollywood’s 30 pieces of silver, while Christopher Howse discusses government attitudes to religion in A game that the Romans played, and a leader column discusses The Pope’s duty.

Dwight Longenecker writes in The Times about Roman Catholics in the USA: Roman road leads South to a brighter future.

More interesting than today’s godslot on Bible translation was the Guardian’s report yesterday Call to end state’s link with church. More about this is at the Fabian Society’s website, and the full article is Religion and the British state: a new settlement. Earlier in the week, Giles Fraser had written The idolatry of holy books which explores the parallels between Islam and the Christian reformers. He concludes:

For there can be few more chilling examples of theocratic fascism than Calvin’s Geneva. In toppling the authority of the clergy, he made it the responsibility of the civil magistrates to enforce the word of God. Spon, in his History of Geneva, writes: “In the year 1560, a citizen [of Geneva], having been condemned to the lash by the small council, for the crime of adultery, appealed from its sentence to the Two Hundred. His case was reconsidered, and the council, knowing that he had before committed the offence, and been against caught therein, condemned him to death, to the great astonishment of the criminal.” Elsewhere, Picot observes, “There were children publicly scourged, and hung, for having called their mother she-devil and thief. When the child had not attained the age of reason, they hung him by the armpits, to manifest that he deserved death.” Quite clearly, the fear that western liberals have of sharia law can hardly be appeased with reference to a reformed polity.

Rushdie’s suggestion that a reformed Islam might find a way beyond the besetting sins of anti-semitism, sexism and homophobia is also, alas, unlikely. Luther himself was famously and virulently anti-semitic. The Reformation did little for women, and the place to find the most neanderthal religious homophobia in Britain today is in an organisation called Reform. Until the Reformation finishes its work and trains its powerful commitment to iconoclasm on the sources of its own prejudice it will hardly be a model to hold up for other religious traditions to follow.

One of the most interesting articles this week is in the Church of England Newspaper: The hidden Bible – Mark Ireland asks why evangelists are neglecting the Bible. This reveals that:

One of the strange rules of thumb I’ve discovered, visiting many churches in my role as a diocesan missioner, is that the more evangelical the church is, the fewer verses of the Bible you are likely to hear read in worship. When I go to a church in the central or liberal tradition, I will always encounter two Bible readings. When I go to one of the catholic parishes in the diocese, I will usually hear four pieces of Scripture read – Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel – with the words printed out on the service sheet for the people to follow. However, when I visit an evangelical parish, I will usually hear only one passage of the Bible.

And finally, the Financial Times reports on what happened when Jonathan Miller visited St Mary’s Primrose Hill: True disbeliever.


civil partnerships: Peter Selby

UPDATE The article is available on the Diocese of Worcester’s website.

The Church Times today carries an article by Peter Selby Bishop of Worcester. There is a report in the paper about the article by Rachel Boulding headlined Selby breaks bishops’ ranks which summarises the article well.
Sadly, the article itself is at present available only to paid subscribers. Update now available and linked. Meanwhile it has been quoted in part on titusonenine. That does not include the following excerpt:

It should be a source not of fear, but of delight, that many who do not aspire to matrimony, or to whose circumstances it is inappropriate, wish none the less to order their lives by means of as many of the aspects of the married state as are made available to them.

Is it not a vindication of all that has been revealed to us about the contribution of marriage to human flourishing that, often in the face of sustained public and ecclesiastical disapproval, and the presence of some very destructive lifestyles within the “gay scene”, many gay and lesbian people have aspired to order their lives in the kind of faithfulness and responsibility that civil partnerships involve.


More about Riga

Here are two additional documents:
First, the statement issued by the Diocese in Europe, and then – below the fold – the document from Latvia to which, it appears, Bishop Geoffrey Rowell was responding.


The Bishop in Europe returned from a visit to the United States to find the Latvian Church leaders’ Common Statement relating to the gay, lesbian and bisexual parade ‘Riga Pride 2005’, but because of his absence abroad that statement did not reach him until after the parade and the service had taken place.

St Saviour’s Riga had not requested any permission for such a service to take place and the bishop was concerned at reports of such a service occurring. He confirms that the Common Statement states the official position of the Anglican Church, which does not recommend the blessing and legitimising of same sex unions and teaches clearly that the proper context of sexual intercourse is within marriage as a lifelong commitment of a man and a woman. The Church of England honours close and celibate same sex friendships and has also committed itself of listening to the experience of gay and lesbian people.

Bishop Geoffrey believes it is inappropriate that, as churches wrestle with the proper pastoral care for those of homosexual orientation, a church service to be used in what would seem to be a lobbying and confrontational way and has made this clear to the Chaplain and Church Council. He will discuss the events with the Chaplain of St Saviour’s and the Church Council in due course.



What happened in Riga

Last week the Church of England Newspaper reported on an event that happened in Latvia, at the Anglican Chaplaincy of St Saviour’s Riga where the Chaplain is The Reverend Dr. Juris Cālītis who also is Dean of Theology at the University of Latvia.

The article as originally written appears below. (The version published by CEN was slightly shorter.) The author George Conger writes:

This isn’t a story about the issues that divide: blessings or ordinations, but about simple human decency on the part of a small Church of England parish in Riga, Latvia.

Picture here

The Bishop in Europe, the Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Rowell, has rebuked the chaplain and parish council of the Church of England parish in Riga for hosting a gay pride service following a violent street march through the old city of the Latvian capital.

Approximately 100 marchers celebrating “Riga Pride 2005” on July 23 were pelted with eggs and tomatoes and threatened with violence during the country’s first ‘gay pride’ march by several thousand onlookers. While neo-Nazi skinheads and Russian nationalists played a prominent role in peppering the marchers with abuse, the majority of the mob were Christians from Latvia’s mainline churches: Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Orthodox the Rev. Juris Calitas, Riga’s Anglican chaplain stated.

Controversy over the march began shortly after Riga’s city council granted permission for the march on July 8. MP’s from the Green and conservative parties as well as the heads of Latvia’s Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist and Orthodox Churches protested. Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis stated on July 20 a gay pride parade was “not acceptable” as “Latvia is a state based on Christian values”, prompting Riga’s mayor to cancel the parade.

An emergency appeal to an administrative court restored the permit and the parade took place under the protective police shield. The hour-long paradebegan and ended at St. Savior’s [Church of England] and was followed by an ecumenical Anglican-Lutheran worship service.

Parade participant, Maris Sants reports that to enter St Savior’s the marchers had to pass through a hostile jeering crowd, including one woman standing at the Church door holding an icon and crucifix. “While trying topress people to kiss” the relics, Mr. Sants stated, she “eventually gave slaps to some participants”.

A spokesman for the Bishop in Europe told The Church of England Newspaper, “St Saviour’s Riga had not requested any permission for such a service to take place and the bishop was concerned at reports of such a service occurring”.

“Bishop Geoffrey believes it is inappropriate that, as churches wrestle with the proper pastoral care for those of homosexual orientation, a church service to be used in what would seem to be a lobbying and confrontational way and has made this clear to the Chaplain and Church Council.”

Martin Reynolds of the Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement stated he was “amazed” at these remarks, writing to Bishop Rowell on Aug 8 “Your chaplain and congregation exhibited bravery and compassion”.

Dean of Theology at the University of Latvia, Dr. Calitis—-a priest of the Church of England and pastor of the Latvian Lutheran Church—-noted the mobs reminded him of the anti-Jewish pogroms of the war years. “It was scapegoating,” he stated. “It’s hard to understand how Christian people with the least understanding of their mandate can be involved in mobs like this.”


letter from Peru

I’m writing this piece some four weeks into a stay in the Diocese of Peru. It’s my first lengthy opportunity to spend time in a part of the Anglican Communion in the global south.

Part of coming here has been not only to see what a sister diocese is doing but also to gain some perspective on my own ministry and priorities, and to see the life of the Church of England from a different viewpoint. The reflections are obviously my own, and equally obviously carry all the naivety that goes with only a month’s exposure.

Being Anglican in this country that is neither English speaking nor a former part of the British Empire is about having a faith that has both the liveliness of some of the more recent Pentecostal missions (usually imported from North America) and the sacramental underpinning and liturgy of Catholicism. There is evidence that this wasn’t always the case. At some points in the past British missionaries have used South America as a place to export both very partial styles of churchmanship that were marginal positions at home and their personal disgruntlement with British Anglicanism too. Mercifully this is no longer prevalent.

To what feels now a very healthy mixture is added a real imperative to work among the poor in both the expanding metropolitan areas and the remote, highly underdeveloped, rural regions. A generation ago, in the time of Gustavo Guttierez, there was much impressive work done by the Roman Catholic Church in taking up the concerns of the marginalised in the urban “pueblos jovenes” or shanties. Sadly, this seems to have been lost through the consistent policy of the previous pope in imposing conservative bishops on the dioceses. Several of the Anglican clergy are themselves former RC priests.

After very difficult times in the period of the Shining Path guerrilla movement Peru has enjoyed more settled years of late. There is evidence all around of the economy growing. The Lima shanties that Henri Nouwen described twenty years ago are now graced by solid houses and tarmac roads. Further out onto the slopes of the mountains new developments of basic shacks repeat what he then described, but the evidence is of communities over time becoming established and gradually edging from grinding poverty to relative poverty. The pattern is similar elsewhere in the country.

This mixture of civil stability and growth is providing a solid foundation on which the church can expand. What a small body such as the Anglican diocese, with no more than a dozen or so churches and a handful of missions in development, can achieve is necessarily limited, but it is being done with real passion in schools, churches, children’s homes, medical clinics, employment training projects and canteens. New church missions are being planted in the most recent and poorest areas, whilst in more established ones existing work is being expanded. Priests and lay workers are being trained in the diocese, and a new seminary to open shortly in Lima (there is already a part time one in Arequipa) will at last allow potential clergy to be trained in a fully Anglican environment. Parish mission teams come from North America and beyond. They experience a week or so in the life of the church here, and help with the practical work of the missions. In many cases when they return home they continue to offer support to the ongoing work.

The church here knows how important it is to be a member of a wider communion. A very significant proportion of time and energy goes into welcoming visitors from other parts of the world. As a small and relatively recently established church it knows how much it benefits from being part of a communion that has many millions of adherents across the globe, and from the insights and experiences of Anglicanism that they bring. I’m sure that many Anglicans here are scarcely aware of what they have to offer in return, not least as a church that is discovering and delighting in an identity and pattern of mission that many of us elsewhere simply take for granted. Moreover, if being deeply, loyally Anglican mattered less then decisions taken by provinces in the global north could be more easily shrugged off.

To be human is to prioritise. There are only so many battles that can be fought at once and only so many areas in which the church can deepen its life. The priorities hare are pretty hard to argue with. They are to build the church, especially in the poorer areas, through good liturgy, lively worship, social action and Christian teaching. And to build it in ways that are coherent with indigenous culture and sustainable into the long term; avoiding overdependence on the particular gifts and preferences of the small number of overseas personnel that might be working here at any particular time. In Peru at least, the increasing role of women as sole providers for their families, and the presence of a small number of women deacons, suggests that the ground is being prepared for future debate about gender inequalities in the church and beyond. However any idea that the church here either could or should get itself into a position to open up a wider debate on sexuality issues is pretty far fetched.

Earlier this week I stood overlooking the Colca Canyon as a Peruvian Anglican priest pointed out the remote villages, with neither electricity nor roads, on the opposite side. It takes him several days to complete a circuit of them on foot. It took the pair of us six hours and one breakdown on a rickety bus to even reach this point. It took as long with two breakdowns to get back again. It’s a long way geographically from a diocese in Central England where I can be in any of 280 church buildings in less than an hour from home. And some of the pressing issues may seem very different too. But what I am experiencing here is both prayerfully thoughtful and essentially Anglican.


Saturday reading choices

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph on the Foundations of fundamentalism

… ‘Without saying as much in so many words, fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide.” Such a judgment would be unremarkable in the letters page of the Independent, perhaps. It is more surprising in a document for which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was responsible before he was elected as Pope Benedict XVI…

In The Times Roderick Strange writes that Our understanding of Mary no longer need divide the Christian creeds

Ian Bradley writes in the Guardian about the British TV programme Songs of Praise, Praise, my soul, the king of heaven

The Independent may no longer have a godslot, but Andrew Buncombe reports on a visit to Lakewood Church in Houston: Jesus Inc. Welcome to the world’s biggest church

Philip Crispin writes in the Tablet about Faith’s French revolution which will sound rather familiar to English Anglicans

With the number of priests in steep decline, the laity is keeping the Catholic church alive in rural France. It’s a dramatic transformation borne of necessity…

A week ago, the Church Times carried this article by Kenneth Leech, Beware the bureaucrats. Here’s how it starts:

NEARLY ten years ago, an article by the then Bishop of Chichester, Dr Eric Kemp, “Following the example of Mammon”, appeared in the Church Times (17 November 1995). It warned about the centralisation of power in the Church of England, and the danger that archbishops would come to be seen as managing directors.

The following day, Professor Richard Roberts, writing in The Independent, described Archbishop Carey as “the John Birt of the Church of England”, and the Church as a managed, product-driven organisation.

These words still haunt me. They seem to confirm my worst fears about the Church. I am not attacking central institutions, or even bureaucrats as such, but questioning where our priorities should lie.

And an earlier article in Christianity Today by Doug LeBlanc about Peter Akinola, entitled Out of Africa


church press reports

Pat Ashworth in the Church Times reports No Church can ignore the Bible – Akinola and his statement is reprinted in full.

The Church of England Newspaper has New Act will establish gay marriage critics warn (in the newspaper “marriage” is in quotes) which reports on what the Bishop of Winchester and Anglican Mainstream have said, while also clarifying the effect of some of the legal changes being made.

Earlier, I quoted a fragment from the Church Times press column, about the spiked Sunday Times report on Akinola. You can now read the whole of last week’s column.


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