Thinking Anglicans

civil partnerships: church legislation changes

The promised regulations altering church legislation have come into force as The Civil Partnership (Judicial Pensions and Church Pensions, etc.) Order 2005. Part 8 of this (scroll down a way) amends all of the following:

Church Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1960
Clergy Pensions Measure 1961
Clergy Pensions (Amendment) Measure 1972
Deaconesses and Lay Workers (Pensions) Measure 1980
Pastoral Measure 1983
Pensions Measure 1997
Church of England (Pensions) Measure 2003

An explanatory memorandum is available as a PDF file. See pages 18-20.


Sex Discrimination: new regulations

See my report of last March on Updating the Sex Discrimination Act reproducing GS Misc 777, which was sent to all General Synod members to inform them about the consultations being held with the government by both the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council and the reasons for needing to make these changes.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 has now been amended significantly, by publication of The Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2005.

This includes inter alia the new version of Section 19 of the 1975 Act. This is the section which enables religious groups to discriminate in certain circumstances. The full text of the new version is reproduced below the fold. It is almost identical to the earlier draft. Note also that it includes references to civil partners as well as to spouses (all of which was in the draft).

The official explanatory memorandum is available as a PDF file. It is a document of 51 pages. The discussion of Section 19 is on pages 26 and 27.
A further DTI explanatory document is available as a Word file. Again the relevant pages are 26 and 27.
The government’s response to the earlier consultation is also available as a Word file. This time the relevant pages are 25 and 26.


1 Comment

from the London papers

The Guardian has had several items of a religious nature this week:
St Andrews researcher questions belief in hell
Oliver Cromwell and the Jews: a correction
and today’s Face to Faith column by Malachi O’Doherty
But even more interesting was this from the Readers Editor, Ian Mayes:
Open door
The readers’ editor on … a charge that the paper is no longer secular.

Christopher Howse writes today in the Telegraph about Fashions in sexuality and Charles Moore writes about Rowan Williams’ visit to Pakistan in But, Archbishop, this is the bleak mid-winter for many Christians.

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times about Different freedoms, or why religion and politics should never mix. Michael Binyon writes on Bridge between the mosque and the synagogue.


more about the Lake Malawi election

A lot more information about the rejection of Nicholas Henderson’s election is found today in a report by Pat Ashworth in the Church Times: Elected bishop is vetoed as ‘unsound’, for example:

The decision was not conveyed to Mr Henderson until he phoned the Provincial Secretary. He discovered that he had been rejected by a majority vote by the bishops of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi. Five bishops are known to have supported Mr Henderson, who has had no contact with Archbishop Malango, despite repeated phone calls over five days.

The CEN has this report by George Conger: London vicar rebuffed as bishop in Central Africa.


Scottish Primus on civil partnerships

To all serving clergy

Civil Partnerships

As you will be aware, o­n 5th December 2005, the Civil Partnership Act came into force. As a result, two people of the same sex will be able to acquire a new legal status through registering a civil partnership. This will have very significant implications for their rights and responsibilities in respect of taxation, nationality, immigration, heritance, liability for maintenance and child support, tenancies, employment and pension benefits.

The Bishops recognise that there is a variety of views in the Church o­n the subject of civil partnerships. They also realise that there may be members within your congregations, or colleagues in ministry who may be considering entering into such partnerships now, or at some time in the future. This may raise pastoral issues for you which you would wish to discuss with your Bishop. This note is to confirm that, in every diocese, the Bishop is happy to make himself available to discuss any such pastoral issues should they arise.

It should be noted that the Act does not allow Church buildings to be used for registering civil partnerships and there is no authorised liturgy in the Scottish Episcopal Church for the blessing of such partnerships.

The Most Rev Bruce Cameron
Primus and Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney


Southwark ordinations analysed

Fulcrum has published a comprehensive analysis by Graham Kings of the recent irregular ordinations in Southwark diocese:
Judicious or Precipitate? Evangelicals and Order in the Church of England.

Also, this week, the CEN reports on this letter from the Southwark Diocesan Evangelical Union under the headline Southwark appeal for healing of division.


Simon Mayo interviews Rowan Williams

Updated Saturday

BBC Radio Five Live presenter Simon Mayo interviewed Rowan Williams for 35 minutes yesterday. You can hear the whole thing here (Real Audio).

Includes discussion of pretty much every current hot Anglican topic.

Update Ruth Gledhill has some more about this interview here.


Nigerian reports

Updated Monday

Changing Attitude has reported that: Changing Attitude Nigeria holds successful first General Meeting.
Some pictures are included (scroll down).

Several commenters on this site have questioned whether this event really occurred. Here are some Nigerian newspaper reports from the Vanguard which shed an interesting light on the matter:

Gays, lesbians unveil selves:
Ignore them—Archbishop Ademowo
Everybody must rise up against it —Rev. (Mrs) George

Here is a detailed report of the event from the Nigerian Sun
Amazing Nigerian gays and lesbians hold extraordinary meeting
and an interview as well:
We are set to take Nigeria by storm, says leader of the gay and lesbian movement


Welsh bishops statement on civil partnerships

Updated 12 December

The Bishops of the Church in Wales, at a recent meeting of the Bench of Bishops, agreed the following statement on Civil Partnerships:

In December 2005 the Civil Partnership Act comes into force. As a result, two people of the same sex will acquire a new legal status through registering a civil partnership. This will have very significant implications for their rights and responsibilities in respect of taxation, nationality and immigration, inheritance, liability for maintenance and child support, tenancies, employment and pension benefits. The Bishops of the Church in Wales cannot and would not wish to prevent what the law allows for Church members, both lay and clerical. The legislation leaves entirely open the nature of the commitment that members of a couple choose to make to each other when forming a civil partnership. It is not predicated on the intention to engage in a sexual relationship. The new legislation makes no change in the law in relation to marriage and the Government has stated that it has no intention of introducing same-sex ‘marriage’.

As a result, people in a variety of relationships will be able to register as civil partners. The Act does not allow church buildings to be used for registering civil partnerships, and the Bishops do not intend to produce an authorised public liturgy for such registrations.”

Copies of the statement have been distributed to members of the church’s Governing Body and to all clerics serving within the Church in Wales.

END 3rd December 2005

Update 12 December

Andrew Goddard has published a response to this statement here


Be Prepared

Two news stories have caught my attention in this first week of Advent, and provided contrasting commentaries on the theme of the season.

The first was the kidnap of Norman Kember and his fellow ‘peace activists’ in Iraq. The outline of the story, westerners abducted, lives threatened, is both familiar and shocking, as is so much news coming from that country. The details, as they emerged, tell a less common story. After years of commitment to peace and reconciliation – and a history of opposition to the invasion of Iraq – Norman Kember decided that demonstration, meetings, the Greenbelt peace tent, weren’t enough. ‘I’ve done a lot of writing and talking about peacemaking. I’ve demonstrated, you name it, I’ve been on it, but I feel that’s what I’d call cheap peacemaking.’ He presumably knew the risks he ran in going to Iraq as a westerner, a professing Christian, and operating outside the protective structures of the occupying forces. Prophetic wisdom, or wild folly?

The second story was the Adair Turner report on pensions, which has prompted discussions ranging well beyond the issue of state pension provision. Without doubt, the discussions are much needed, and any outcome will require wisdom and foresight in planning for a future which is sustainable, in which those in greatest need can be supported, in which skills and gifts are used for the common good, and a proper balance is found between rest and continuing productive economic engagement. Sadly, much of what has been said and written has focussed either on individuals or on a sense of unfairness which reminds me of my own childhood dissatisfaction that my brother had a Christmas stocking until he was 13, while for me the cut-off point was 10!

Both stories, for me, echo the Advent theme of preparedness. Norman Kember has left behind security, certainty, physical well-being, and stepped into a world where he must have been prepared for the worst to happen – and it has. The discussion over pensions is a search for the very opposite; it is about preparing for security, for assurance, for the certainty that each of us will be able to live in at least moderate prosperity for the later part of our lives.

I’m 99% sure that I shall be looking for a secure pension in a few years time, not abandoning all assurance in the pursuit of peace. But I found myself wondering whether the Advent call to readiness was really about investing in pension plans; I suspect Norman Kember’s attentiveness to the people of Iraq is closer to the watching and waiting required.


Saturday browsing

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes about Advent: Advent reminds us to stay watchful as we await the kingdom of God.
Also, Valerie Grove interviews Timothy Radcliffe ‘Christians should puzzle and intrigue people’.

Steve Parish raises questions about the link between church and state in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Christopher Howse writes about C. S. Lewis: The saint and the dinosaur in the Telegraph. There was also an interesting article earlier in the week about Anglicans in Baghdad: Reflections of a ‘cheap warmaker’ by Danny Kruger.


Malawi: Bishop Pete comments

Pete Broadbent writes:

The news that the election of Nicholas Henderson as Bishop of Lake Malawi has been blocked by the Court of Confirmation is perhaps not surprising in the current climate of relations between the northern and southern parts of the Anglican Communion. Yet, as Nick’s bishop, I could have hoped that he might have been treated with more justice and with attention to what he actually believes, rather than what he is alleged to believe. We need to keep Nick in our prayers at this difficult time.

He was rejected on the grounds that he had previously been Chair of the Modern Churchpeoples’ Union, and was therefore seen to be a liberal in theological standpoint and in putative support for the liberalisation of the Church’s stance on gay relationships. Allegations were also made about his private life. All this despite Nick’s strong declarations that he accepts the faith revealed in the scriptures and set forth in the creeds, that he holds to the teaching of the Church on sexual ethics, and that there never has been any question about the standards of his moral conduct. Nick has become a victim of the warfare between African traditionalism and Western liberalism. I find it deeply sad that, as someone who would find myself more obviously on the traditionalist side of things, my letters in support of Nick and his orthodoxy were quite simply ignored by those responsible for confirming his election. In stark terms, my references as his bishop and Nick’s own affirmations of faith were not believed.

There are several obvious lessons to be learned from this sad case.

First, that guilt by association is alive and well and living in the Anglican Communion. As an evangelical, I’m well used to this particular phenomenon. Some free church evangelicals seek to dignify it by giving it a theological category of “secondary separation” – I can’t be in communion with you if you are in communion with someone who holds views that are perceived as heterodox. In this case, whatever Nick Henderson’s own views (which I would still want to describe as traditionally Anglican), the very fact that he had been an organiser of the MCU was enough to make him unacceptable, because there were some in that organisation who were seen to hold to a revisionist viewpoint.

Secondly, the danger of the power of the internet as a means both of instant communication and instant condemnation. Those who were opposed to Nick Henderson’s election were immediately in action once his election had been announced, spreading defamatory and untrue allegations about him all over the place. This included the release of private correspondence between the consecrating bishop and the consecrand – stuff which, even in the leaky Church of England, we would never consider as public property. And, because journalism these days can become a fundamentally lazy occupation (you google someone’s name, read the stories about them, and retread the material so that it becomes common currency), those allegations spread round the world, but can all be sourced back to one particular American website, which despite their lack of any personal knowledge of the priest they were defaming, was quite prepared to condemn him out of hand.

A third issue is the way in which nuance and complexity are being ignored in these debates. I do not want the Anglican Communion to become a place where a revisionist liberal theology becomes the norm. But equally I do not want to see a witch hunt against liberalism, which at its best (and in the liberality of the classic Church of England ethos) continues to make a huge contribution towards shaping our theology and ethos. The MCU as an organisation is not one I would want to join, but the fundamentally conservative liberalism espoused by many of its members needs to be assimilated and understood by evangelicals, charismatics, conservatives and traditionalists. To insist that membership or leadership of such an organisation should be a ground for blocking a duly elected bishop smacks of McCarthyism. That’s not to say that there should not be grounds for suggesting that a person’s views and teaching might make them a person not suitable to be a bishop – here in the UK we had our own debate about that in respect of an appointment to the see of Reading, and I was one of those who advocated that the appointment should not be made. Some will think that I am now being hypocritical. I would argue that there is a difference between views definitely held and taught by an individual and views held and taught by others within an organisation of which that individual is a member. What is more obviously at stake here is the capacity for us to hold debates about the teachings of scripture and the Church which are not starkly polarised into “Who is not for us is against us” positions. Those charged with deciding whether Nick’s election should be confirmed clearly saw him as part of the liberal Western enemy, despite his long association with, and care for, the clergy and people of Lake Malawi through a mission partnership with his parishes. Many Malawi clergy had visited us here, and I had the privilege of meeting some of them. But all those relationships counted for naught, because complexity is not on the map.

We have so much to lose if our relationships with the vibrant and growing churches of the South are soured or severed. I am deeply saddened at how Nick has been treated. I am saddened that the African bishops could not hear what was being said to them about the nature of his belief and practice and the suitability of his candidature for the calling to be a bishop in the Church of God. But we need to recognise the depths of suspicion about ECUSA, Canada, and now the Church of England that have brought us to this position. Indeed, we need to voice more clearly between ourselves the stark differences between our different theologies. While I am prepared to defend MCU, I would find it much harder to defend some of the positions taken (for example) by various sections of ECUSA on theology, ethics and pastoral practice. We need also to find ways – through personal contact, partnership in the gospel, and the Windsor Report framework – to mend these relationships.

Pete Broadbent
Bishop of Willesden & Acting Archdeacon of Northolt


Malawi election is not confirmed

For earlier reports see here, here, and here.

The Court of Confirmation met on Tuesday 29 November, and it did not confirm the election.

News reports:
Nation Online Bishop elect’s fate today (before the meeting)and Anglicans reject bishop-elect
Reuters Malawi Anglicans reject pro-gay UK bishop
BBC Malawi rejects ‘pro-gay’ bishop
Mail and Guardian Anglicans reject bishop for supporting gay rights
Associated Press via Jamaica! Malawi rejects pro-gay British bishop


Global South: more disagreement

Pat Ashworth reports in the Church Times today that A fourth Primate disowns ‘hectoring’ letter.

…The Archbishop of Burundi, the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, was one of three Primates listed among the 17 signatories as “Present but had to leave before the final draft was circulated”. He has also confirmed that he did not sign.

He responded in a message to the Church Times on Tuesday: “I have read Archbishop Akinola’s letter. Without going into details of the content, I would like to make it clear that I was not present when that letter was written, so I did not take part in its conception. It is sad what is going on.”…

Also, the Southern African province reports on how their representative was treated:

Further light was shed by the Primate of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane. In a message to the Church Times, he writes that he was represented at the meeting in Egypt, where the letter was drafted, by the Bishop of Pretoria, Dr Johannes Seoka.

Bishop Seoka had “found himself excluded from meetings, including those at which the letter was discussed – despite the presence, it appeared, of others who were neither Primates nor, indeed, from the Global South”, the Archbishop writes.

The full text of Abp Ndungane’s remarks is available this week only to CT subscribers. I will link to it here when it is available.

Meanwhile there is also an article in the CT by Bishop Tom Wright which is summarised in Pat Ashworth’s article but again the full text is for subscribers only, until next week now available here. Meanwhile an extract is available here.

But he also is strongly critical of the Global South letter:

This kind of hectoring inevitably backfires, creating such distaste that people instinctively want to do the opposite of what is requested, or at least to declare loftily that one must do nothing at all rather than give in to such bullying.

Perhaps that is what some of these groups intend: to generate a situation where they can claim spurious justification for schism. Archbishop Akinola, and particularly his advisers and letter-drafters, need to be reminded of the Windsor report’s insistence on due process within an episcopal Communion.


David Edwards defends Europe

Last week the Church Times carried an open letter to the bishops of the Global South from David Edwards. It is now on the web at Europe is not a barren desert.

…the example of insensitivity or ignorance that I find most offensive is your description of Europe as a “spiritual desert”.


BBC world service discussion

BBC World Service broadcasts a daily radio programme Analysis. Wednesday’s edition was as follows:

The Anglican Church – ready to split? 30.11.2005

Listen here (13 minutes – Real Audio)

The Church of England today enthrones its first black archbishop.

The Right Reverend Dr John Sentamu, who was born in Uganda, is being enthroned as Archbishop of York, the second most powerful position in the Church of England, after the Archbishop of Canterbury.

His appointment comes at a difficult time for the Anglican communion, which is still deeply divided over the ordination two years ago in America of an openly homosexual bishop.

So is a break up of the church now inevitable?

Interviews with Stephen Bates, Cyril Okorocha, Colin Slee, Martyn Percy and Graham Kings.


Sentamu installation reports

It’s impossible to link to all the reports, but it made its way even to Whispers in the Loggia: The Archbishop Played Bongos

BBC coverage:
First black Archbishop enthroned
Inauguration of the Archbishop
In pictures: Archbishop enthroned
The York Gospels

Times Online has John Sentamu sworn in as Archbishop of York, which then appeared in the paper under the headline Archbishop opens English hearts to an African rhythm and Ruth Gledhill’s blog has Sentamu beats the drums of change

Telegraph Jonathan Petre Archbishop of York is enthroned to the sound of African drums

Guardian Stephen Bates Archbishop beats drums for change

Independent New archbishop beats the drum for the Church

Church of England press releases:
Sermon preached by the Archbishop of York at his Inauguration
Order of Service for the Inauguration of the Archbishop of York
Background information on the Inauguration of the Archbishop of York


British press views of Roman Catholic statement

The Guardian today carried three items:
A news report by Stephen Bates Vatican rules firmly against gay priests
A magazine article by Emily Wilson How gay is too gay?
A leader: Distinctly without prejudice
Update see also Thursday’s letters to the editor

The Independent had a report: Pope restates ban on gay priests and says homosexuality is ‘disordered’

The Times had this: Pope’s gay priest ruling is hailed by moderates by Ruth Gledhill and Richard Owen

And in the Telegraph Jonathan Petre reported under the headline Vatican call to weed out practising gays


Roman Catholic statement

Earlier this week, the Roman Catholic Church issued somebody in Rome leaked a long-expected document about homosexuality and the RC clergy, or to give it its official title:

Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education Concerning the Criteria of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to Seminaries and Orders

Original PDF in Italian released by the Italian news agency Adista
full web page copy of text in Italian

Unofficial translation from Italian into English by Robert Mickens of The Tablet

Update Official translation into English in PDF file as released by UCCB (hat tip to the Loggia again)

Article about it in The Tablet by Timothy Radcliffe Can gays be priests?

Article about it by John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter Vatican document bans most gays from priesthood and also this here.

Ruth Gledhill comments, Vatican bans gays from seminaries.


Welsh bishops statement

The Church in Wales: Bishops’ statement on homosexuality 2005
Official Press Release here

The Bishops of the Church in Wales recognise that its members hold a wide range of views on a variety of ethical, social and theological matters. One such issue is the Church’s approach to homosexuality.

For some time, we have recognised that there are honest and legitimate differences on this subject. The church needs to engage prayerfully in this debate with humility, generosity of spirit, reflection on biblical witness, mature thought and careful listening. The harsh and condemnatory tone, which at times has coloured this debate, is unacceptable.

We uphold the traditional Anglican emphasis on Scripture read in the light of reason and tradition. We recognise that the interpretation of Scripture is in itself an area of divergence among Christians. We are at pains to emphasise the need to respect one another and remind the Church that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God. Sexuality is only one aspect of a person’s humanity.

As with many issues there, exists a wide range of Scriptural interpretation within the Christian church. On same-sex relationships we acknowledge that the following fairly reflect the range of views held within the Church in Wales.

Some people, reading the Scriptures with integrity, reach the conclusion that the only proper context for sexual activity is marriage between a man and a woman in life­long union. Homosexual practice of any kind is therefore rejected.

Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, adopt a more sympathetic understanding of homosexuality, but would not at present wish the Church to sanction homosexual practice.

Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude that orientation and practice are to be distinguished and that the Church can welcome same sex relationships provided they are celibate.

Others again, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude that the Church cannot dismiss as intrinsically disordered permanent and committed same-sex relationships; they believe that through their internal mutuality and support, these bring creativity, generosity and love into the lives of those within them.

Others, reading the Scriptures with integrity, conclude, in the light of a developing understanding of the nature of humanity and sexuality, that the time has arrived for the Church to affirm committed homosexual relationships.

The challenge and call of our discipleship is to live, worship and work together in all our diversity. Rejecting all forms of stigmatisation we commit ourselves to listening to people whose sexual orientation may be different from our own.

25 November 2005