Thinking Anglicans

Church Times news reports

Global South:
Williams heads for summit as South splits over Brazil by Pat Ashworth

Seceders cannot take buildings, court rules by Pat Ashworth


civil partnerships: HoB replies to AM

Anglican Mainstream leaders wrote this letter to the House of Bishops of the CofE. And another one, apparently on 3 October. Anyway, they got a reply from the secretary of the HoB, which they have published. It can be read here. It should be read in full, but does contain the following key paragraphs:

In relation to the church’s room for manoeuvre in relation to the law there were two separate issues. The first is whether it would have been legally possible for the Church to have made registering a civil partnership incompatible with being in Holy Orders. The second concerns the changes to various references to ‘spouse’ in church legislation (for example on pensions).

On the first, the answer is that there will no doubt be denominations or faith groups who will regard being in a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with membership of their ordained ministries. That is the position of the Roman Catholic Church. The law does not preclude that approach where the prohibition is based on doctrine or religious conviction. For the reasons set out above, however, civil partnerships do not necessarily involve activity contrary to the teaching of the Church of England (as contained, for example, in the 1987 Synod motion). The bishops did not, therefore think it warranted to seek to impose a prohibition.


Eames/Akinola update

Archbishop Eames has issued this statement:
(also available on ACNS)

Statement from Archbishop Eames regarding the current debate within the Anglican Communion

The Most Reverend Dr Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, issued the following statement this morning regarding the current debate within the Anglican Communion:

“The current debate within the Anglican Communion is a theological debate and I find myself very disturbed by any speculation around the role that money may play in determining outcomes. Such speculation makes genuine communication difficult. I feel that when money or assistance is raised in any part of the Anglican Communion and offered for use where it may extend Christ’s kingdom, it should be offered and accepted in those terms alone.

“I in no way question the sincerity and integrity of the leaders of the Global South. As they are well aware, I have personally endeavoured at all times to maintain and understand the integrity of their argument. I categorically state I have never believed that any financial offer was accepted by any of those who represent the Global South on any other than terms of Christian outreach. I have communicated this response to Archbishop Akinola this morning.”


Gene Robinson visits England

The Guardian carries a report by Stephen Bates concerning the forthcoming visit to England by the Bishop of New Hampshire: Williams may meet gay US bishop during London trip.

The visit details can be found here at the website of Changing Attitude which is observing its 10th anniversary on the weekend of 5/6 November.


Questions to Stephen Bates

Ekklesia is this week running a blog-type discussion with Stephen Bates of the Guardian answering questions from the public. You can see it all here.

The occasion for this is the publication of the paperback edition of A Church at War.


Nigerians criticise Akinola

A news story has appeared in the Daily Sun a Nigerian national newspaper:
Leader of gays and lesbians in Nigeria tackle primate of Anglican Church, Peter Akinola.

A press release about the news story is on the website of Changing Attitude:


Akinola responds to Eames

Updated Wednesday
The Living Church has published Archbishop Akinola Responds to Irish Primate which includes the following:

Archbishop Eames’ press officer, Janet Maxwell, explained the Archbishop Eames meant that “too much emphasis has been placed on the role of funding relative to theological perspective,” and he “in no way questioned the sincerity of theological conviction” of the leaders of the Global South nor was he “suggesting votes were purchased.”

Also, the Church of England Newspaper has this report from George Conger Irish Primate challenged to put up or shut up. He comments on this point as follows:

Allegations of vote buying and influence peddling by wealthy conservatives surfaced after the 1998 Lambeth Conference after liberals accused African and Asian bishops of supporting the conservative line in exchange for cash. The charges were investigated by Stephen Bates, the Guardian’s Religious Affairs correspondent, in his book A Church at War and found not to [be] true. Janet Maxwell, Archbishop Eames’ press officer told The Church of England Newspaper the Irish Primate’s remarks had been misconstrued. Archbishop Eames “in no way questioned the sincerity of theological conviction” of the Global South nor was he “suggesting votes were purchased”, Ms Maxwell stated. What he had said was that he “expressed concern that too much emphasis has been placed on the role of funding relative to theological perspective”, she told us, as requiring aid donors and recipients to share theological and political convictions was “not a moral way of looking at issues”.

An “open letter” from Archbishop Peter Akinola has been published by Anglican Mainstream and others:
Open letter to Abp. Robin Eames, Primate of All Ireland

This responds to the recent lectures by Abp Eames at Virginia and Yale and also a press interview in Washington DC.

Interestingly, it did not first appear on the Nigerian website, but on British and American ones.
Update Monday evening It now has appeared on the official Nigerian website, with yesterday’s date at the top.


Pittsburgh lawsuit settled

Updated Monday Tuesday Wednesday and Saturday

Two years ago, the Rector, Senior Warden and Vestry of Calvary Church filed suit against the Bishop and Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh, and various members of the Standing Committee and Board of Trustees of the Diocese. This past week, Joseph James, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County signed a court order, which rendered as binding an “amicable agreement” between the Defendants and the Plaintiffs…

Read the whole article in the Calvary parish magazine here
Read the court order here (PDF)
Read the press release of PEP here

There is as yet no now a mention of this matter at the Pittsburgh diocesan website.
Saturday The diocesan website now contains further interpretative commentary in Diocese Offers Perspective on Settlement

Nor from the NACDAP, which is also mentioned specifically in the settlement, see this quote from the PEP release:

The agreement also deals with an important point not raised in the original lawsuit. The diocese has agreed that parishes may decline membership in the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. The Network, headed by Bishop Duncan, is a small collection of dioceses and parishes scattered throughout the Episcopal Church that have isolated themselves from the more moderate elements of the church. Ten parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh have indicated their unwillingness to participate in the Network, and PEP hopes that this stipulation will encourage others to make similar declarations.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a report by Steve Levin which is headlined
Lawsuit settlement upholds canon law of Episcopal Church.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review has Diocese, parish settle suit.

The Living Church reports this also: Pittsburgh Property Case Settled.


weekend newspaper stories

Sex seems to be on several people’s minds.

Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times that Enjoy good sex on a Sunday, Church course recommends which may raise an eyebrow here and there.

The Guardian godslot has Colin Sedgwick saying that “sexual lust will never banish our yearning for love”.

To balance this, The Times also has Jonathan Sacks considering the earthquake in After even the worst disasters, we will hear the still voice of hope and in the Telegraph Christopher Howse considers Human sacrifice in London.

The Times further reports on a nightclub in Maidstone [sic] with a Church Army chaplain, see Who’s in the house? Enter a new kind of spirit.

Of course, there is plenty of critical comment on religion in the newspapers as well. Yesterday in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee wrote this diatribe against the bishops who spoke in the euthanasia debate: The bishops have no right to restrict our right to die.

More gently, Robert Winston trailed his new TV series and book in Why do we believe in God?

And earlier in the week, Magnus Linklater had written in The Times about Church, old, bankrupt, empty, seeks saviour to which George Carey responded with this letter today: Church progress.
(The original report of his lecture was by Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph Churches near last rites, says Carey.)


James Jones and Human Sexuality

Hidden away on the Liverpool Diocesan website is the Bishop of Liverpool’s presidential address to his diocesan synod last month. He writes about his current position on the issue of human sexuality. His conciliatory views may surprise some.


Ages of Synod members

The Church Times has published today the dates of birth of newly elected members of General Synod. From these data I have calculated some statistics for the elected diocesan representatives of the clergy and laity.

mean age
standard deviation

For comparison the mean ages in 2000 were 51 (clergy) and 53 (laity).

I have put a histogram of the age distributions here.

[Note: The laity figures exclude Bath & Wells (election postponed), Winchester (figures not available) and two members of unknown age.]


the precise wording of Windsor

Robin Eames has asserted recently that:

…both the bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada have in my opinion met the precise wording of Windsor…

Those who wonder if this is accurate, at least with respect to ECUSA, may find it helpful to peruse my earlier articles:

TA Monday, 10 January 2005 Windsor Report: the exact recommendations
TA Friday, 14 January 2005 WR: the exact responses
AO Sunday 27 February 2005 The Primates Meeting at Dromantine, February 2005


synod elections: church press reports

The Church Times carries almost the same election results as Thinking Anglicans, but their list (which reveals the ages of those elected) will not be available on the web until next week.

News report: New Synod looks liberal, but with firm minority voices by Pat Ashworth and Glyn Paflin
Columnist: Synod above politics? Don’t be Sentimental by Giles Fraser
Editorial: When the Synod works well

The Church of England Newspaper interpreted the same results differently:
News report: Synod elections serve up disappointment to liberals

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Eames at Yale

ENS reports:

The Most Rev. Dr. Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, delivered the 2005 Pitt Lecture at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale October 12, issuing a warning on the future of World Anglicanism.

The full text of his lecture Where now for World Anglicanism? can be found here.


bishops speeches in euthanasia debate

Hansard has published the full text of yesterday’s debate in the House of Lords. You can read it all, starting here
and, after a short unrelated business item, continuing here.

The speeches by bishops can be found as follows:
Bishop of St Albans
Bishop of Oxford
Lord Carey of Clifton
Bishop of London
Lord Habgood
and a short intervention by the Bishop of Winchester


euthanasia debate

Tomorrow there will be a House of Lords debate on euthanasia.

The churches issued this joint press release:
Nine leaders from six major British faith groups join together in unprecedented stand against assisted suicide and euthanasia

Richard Harries wrote this column in the Observer today: To be or not to be? It’s not our choice

The BBC Sunday programme lead with a related story:
Assisted Dying Listen here with Real Audio (8 minutes)

The House of Lords will debate a Select Committee report on assisted dying tomorrow. There is no doubt where the major faiths stand on the issue. They are opposed. On Friday nine leaders from six major British faith groups, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, warned against any changes in the present law on assisted dying and euthanasia. The difference between the two is that euthanasia occurs when an outsider takes action to end someone’s life for compassionate reasons, while in the case of assisted dying an individual is helped to take their own life.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday which you can read about
here (the actual article seems not to be online) and also here. There is however a report that Peer rethinks euthanasia Bill plans while the Independent reports ‘Do-it-yourself’ euthanasia clinic to open in Britain.

Earlier this year, the Bishop of St Albans spoke in the General Synod on this topic: you can read the full text of that speech here and the motion that was passed is here. The synod briefing paper can be downloaded (RTF) from here.

More recently, Bishop Herbert has criticised the British Medical Journal for publishing five articles (including an editorial) effectively in favour of euthanasia but only one article against it. See details here. An earlier article by the bishop on this topic can be found here.

He also wrote The chilling ‘therapeutic option’ for the Church Times in September.


columns for weekend reading

Before the Sentamu confirmation event, Stephen Bates wrote this piece for the Guardian: A pivotal moment which asks whether the Church of England’s first black archbishop can bring new impetus to a communion on the brink of schism…

After the service, Geoffrey Rowell wrote A new knot in the net that links communities in fellowship
for the Credo slot in The Times.

Ruth Gledhill reviews two books about Opus Dei in A wholesome reality shines beyond the dark conspiracy.

Earlier in the week Simon Jenkins had written in the Guardian that: London should keep its hands off the treasures of the north which deals mainly, but not exclusively, with the Zurbaran pictures at Auckland Castle. He says:

I am sure the Church of England would never think of selling its London treasures to meet its property losses. It would never part with the Westminster Abbey reredos, the Litlyngton Missal or the Charter of Offa. In St Paul’s Cathedral, works by Grinling Gibbons, Jean Tijou and Henry Moore are, we can assume, secure for the time being.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about A burglary in the Abbey but this turns out to have been in an earlier period.

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How General Synod is Elected

A new General Synod is elected every five years and meets two or three times a year. It comprises three Houses: Bishops, Clergy and Laity. The number of members given below is for the 2005-2010 Synod.

Members vote according to their own conscience; nobody can instruct them how to vote.

Members vote as individuals; there is no voting by diocese as in the USA. The results of votes are decided by counting the numbers of members voting for and against a motion. In most cases the count is of the whole Synod and a simple majority is required for a motion to be passed. Sometimes each House votes separately (and then each House must vote in favour) and in some of these cases a two-thirds majority is required in each House.

A simplified account of how Synod is elected follows below the fold.


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Eames at Virginia: more reports

Jim Naughton the Communications Director for the Diocese of Washington has published Archbishop Eames Speaks at Cathedral, VTS which contains an account of the questions asked at the public lectures, as well as from an interview with Eames. One quote:

During an interview at the college, Eames expressed concern over the role that wealthy conservative donors in the United States were playing in the current controversy. He said he was “quite certain” that many church leaders in the developing world had been offered financial inducements to distance themselves from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

“I think it is happening, I just don’t think it is moral,” Eames said. “Is it the might of finance that will influence a theological outlook, and then that outlook come to dominate he Communion?

“It raises a serious question for me: what is the real nature of their faith and their Anglicanism? It is certainly different from mine.”

Conservative leaders have said they are simply trying to help poor provinces that cannot in good conscience accept financial support from provinces that differ with them on the issue of homosexuality.

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, on the American TV network PBS has its Anglican Communion Update which also contains an interview with Eames. More detail of the interview with Kim Lawton is on this page.


General Synod elections

I’ve now collected most of the Synod election results. The missing results are

Armed Services
Bath and Wells (clergy)
Chester (Chester archdeaconry laity)
Ripon and Leeds (laity)
Salisbury (laity)
Sodor & Man
Winchester (laity)
Channel Islands
London University
Other Universities (Southern)
Other Universities (Northern)

If you have any of the missing results please email them to me here.

People will be trying to analyze the new Synod. Here is an attempt by Church Society to do this for the diocesan bishops and an analysis by their general secretary David Phillips.