Thinking Anglicans

General Synod: CT on women bishops

Last week, the Church Times had extensive coverage of the report of the Women Bishops Group.
Guildford report proposes TEA and sympathy Glyn Paflin
Contemplating a woman at Canterbury (an extract from the report)
This is how the plans could work by Christopher Hill Bishop of Guildford
Surprise, surprise: a middle way editorial comment


Saturday reading

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell discusses The dangers of unbalancing the ‘broad church’ of Anglicanism.

Paul Oestreicher writes in the Guardian about how both sides committed atrocities in WW2: Face to Faith. Related to this is the piece in The Times by Rabbi William Wolff on Nazi sites in Germany, Germany must not neglect its terrible past. Rowan Williams issued this statement on Holocaust Day.

This week also saw a major Lambeth initiative:Inaugural meeting of the Christian-Muslim Forum.

Returning to Saturday newspapers, we have a few surprising items. The Telegraph has an article arguing that Intelligent design is not creationism and Christopher Howse discusses a new book about Rome in Pagan Rome’s son of God.
Addition for another article on Intelligent Design, see How to probe the science of creation by Keith Ward from last week’s Church Times.

The Guardian has this rather odd piece by John Crace Who’d be a vicar?

For those who want to read comment on this week’s papal encyclical, there is an editorial and another article in The Tablet and beliefnet has a useful overview here.


Nigeria: more coverage

The move by the Nigerian government which the Anglican Church there openly supports, to increase the criminal penalties for homosexuals and for their supporters, has received further coverage:

Church Times Giles Fraser Would you walk from a lynching?
The link on the CT websiteto the US State Department report on Nigerian human rights practices is incorrect at the time of writing and should really be this one.

Also both Mark Harris and Fr Jake have discussed this:
The Voice of Shame and the Shame of Silence:
Why Listen When We Can Beat, Defame and Incarcerate?

Mark has a broken link too, the Sun newspaper article to which he refers is this one.

Here’s a roundup of African comments from Sokari Ekine at Black Looks.


elections to Archbishops' Council

The results of the clergy elections for the Archbishops’ Council have been announced:

Archbishops’ Council: Clergy members elected.

This completes the current round of elections to the Council; a complete list of members can be found here.


Affirming Catholicism publishes CP booklet

Affirming Catholicism is publishing a booklet about Civil Partnerships. The press release is reproduced below. The full text of the Foreword to the booklet is below the fold.


Affirming Catholicism welcomes civil partnerships as pastoral opportunity for Church

The Anglican organisation Affirming Catholicism will publish today, 27 January 2006, a booklet calling on the Church to welcome civil partnerships as a pastoral opportunity and a means of listening to the experience of lesbian and gay Christians.

In a foreword to the booklet, the Very Rev’d Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, thanks God for the legislation which came into effect in England and Wales on 21 December 2005. He says that same-sex couples who commit their lives to each other ‘are expressing the deepest and most godlike instinct in human nature’. Acknowledging that many in the Church have yet to recognise this, he nonetheless believes that civil partnerships will help to change attitudes:

‘We know that the road to full and equal acceptance of gay relationships throughout the world will be long and hard, but we can rejoice that in this country the partnership law is a very big step along it.’

The booklet, written by the Rev’d Jonathan Sedgwick, an Anglican priest, argues that civil partnerships will provide a way out of the ‘catch 22’ which faces many gay Christians whose relationships are criticised for being unstable while – at the same time – the Church fails to offer any support which might help couples stay together. The argument is backed up by real-life case studies of lesbian and gay christian couples. Canon Nerissa Jones, MBE, the Chair of Trustees said:

‘The period of listening and reception to which Anglicans are committed can’t happen on a purely theoretical level. It must also be about the lived experience of lesbian and gay Christians who need to feel safe enough to tell their stories. We believe that civil partnership can help give that security and that local clergy should offer prayer and support for couples.’

The policy of the Church of England, as stated by the House of Bishops is that, while there could be no authorised liturgy to bless same-sex couples until there was consensus on Church teaching, parish priests should nonetheless respond sensitively and pastorally to gay couples seeking blessings.

The publication calls for an end to the double standard at the heart of current Church teaching which accepts gay relationships between lay people but bans sexually active homosexual women and men from the priesthood.

Copies of Civil Partnership: A Guide for Christians, by Jonathan Sedgwick, foreword by Jeffrey John, (Affirming Catholicism, London) are available by mail order: tel 020 7222 5166 or email priced £3.


Notes for editors

  • Dr Jeffrey John’s booklet ‘Permanent, Faithful, Stable: Christian Same-Sex partnerships’ was published by Affirming Catholicism in 1993 and updated in 2001. It placed biblical teaching on homosexuality in its historical context and called for contemporary Church practice to develop and accord loving, committed and sexually faithful same-sex relationships the same value and significance as Christian marriage.
  • For further information contact: The Rev’d Richard Jenkins Director Affirming Catholicism Tel 020 7233 0235 Mob 07725 341 025

Update See mention of this in Ruth Gledhill’s blog today



civil partnerships: Bishop of Bangor responds

The Bishop of Bangor, Anthony Crockett, has responded, in very strong terms, to the recent Fulcrum article by Andrew Goddard, The Bishops of the Church in Wales on Civil Partnerships: A Personal Response.

The bishop’s response is here. It starts out:

Your article The Bishops of the Church in Wales on Civil Partnerships: A Personal Response by Andrew Goddard in Fulcrum appears to be an interesting case of party zeal clouding judgement. It looks like yet another example of the inability of some either to listen to argument or to reject all forms of stigmatisation and to commit oneself to listen to people whose sexual orientation may be different from one’s own. I confess, too, to being puzzled by what seems – but surely cannot be – a lack of knowledge on Dr Goddard’s part of the history of the development of ethical teaching in the Christian Church.

The statements referred to in this exchange are:
The Bishops of the Church in Wales issue statement on homosexuality
The Bishops of the Church in Wales issue statement on Civil Partnerships


civil partnerships: Clifford Longley's view

Clifford Longley recently wrote a column in The Tablet which was headed with this pullquote:

Love is always good, said Cardinal Hume, including love of the same sex.

The column is about civil partnerships and how the church should deal with them.

Although Mr Longley is a Roman Catholic and is writing for a Roman Catholic journal, the article may be of interest to Anglican readers. The Tablet has kindly given TA permission to republish the article. The full text is below the fold.



Bishop of London's well-earned sabbatical

Updated Tuesday morning

The Sunday Times carried this report by Christopher Morgan yesterday: The bishop will be away this Easter…. The Times this morning carried a further report (not by their Religious Affairs correspondent) headlined Where will you find a bishop this Easter? A: In church B: On board a luxury liner.

The fact is that the bishop is having long overdue sabbatical leave, and for this reason would in any case have been absent this Easter. The text of his note today to London clergy appears below.

Stephen Bates in the Guardian reported this matter in a more balanced way in Clerics back bishop taking Easter cruise

Extract from Richard Chartres email to London clergy


You may have seen that the Sunday Times has very kindly advertised the fact of my sabbatical. This is the first in 33 years of ministry and ten years in London and I think I owe it to everyone else to retreat and go away for a while.

Unfortunately, because I am responsible for many things on the General Synod agenda, I cannot begin my sabbatical until February 13. I shall be away for just over two months, returning to duty on 24 April. I am very grateful to colleagues who will deputise for me during the period.

The Senior bishop, the Bishop of Kensington, will be officiating at the Easter Vigil in the Cathedral. I hope I have not left too much to burden very busy people excessively.

This week I am going to the Conference of European Churches in Rome with the Cardinal to participate in the planning of the third European Ecumenical Assembly. After the success of the great grassroots assemblies in Basle and Graz, the third is planned for Sibiu in September 2007. They happen about every ten years and give an opportunity for Christians of all confessions to pray together for Christian witness in Europe….

Tuesday Updates
Ruth Gledhill in The Times Holy sea: Richard Chartres
Tim de Lisle Guardian Vicars of the world, unite


reading for this weekend

From the Guardian’s Face to Faith column: Martyn Percy writes about Anglican diversity.

In The Times William Taylor of St Ethelburga’s Centre asks How do Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders work together to sort out hate crimes? in Honesty will help to prevent acts which bring shame on the community.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about psychoanalysis and religion in Sharing a couch with believers.

The Tablet has Keith Ward writing about the recent Richard Dawkins TV programmes in Faith, hype and a lack of clarity.

The Tablet also has a review by Owen Gingerich of Exploring Reality: the intertwining of science and religion by John Polkinghorne in Evolving, unfolding world.

1 Comment

Nigeria: government move against civil partnerships

The BBC reports that Nigeria to outlaw same-sex unions and illustrates the story with this picture. Update the picture has been changed to this one.

See also this earlier story which still uses the first picture (see George Conger’s comment below for why it is the wrong picture).

This is confirmed in a report from Nigeria in the Daily Champion previously found at FG moves to ban same-sex marriage which also says:

Besides, formation of association of homosexuals and lesbians as well as any form of protesting for rights recognition by the affected persons will be outlawed.

That web page has now changed so the full text of it is saved here, below the fold. Thanks to Tunde for providing the original link.

Update Voice of America reports that Anglican Church in Nigeria Welcomes Ban on Homosexuality thus:

…The spokesman for the Anglican church in Nigeria, Reverend Tunde Popoola, says the proposed ban is appropriate. The Anglican community in Nigeria has long waged a vigorous campaign against homosexuals, as Reverend Popoola explains.

“The Anglican church in Nigeria has been in the forefront of condemning the attitude because the church sees it as an aberration, in other words, we see it as against the norm. We see it as an abomination,” he said…

A VOA radio interview with Tunde Popoola can be heard here (Real Audio)

Updated Saturday – additional links

IRIN News NIGERIA: Government proposes law to ban same-sex marriage

Nigeria First via ‘Gay Marriage Will Be Punished in Nigeria’



civil partnerships: another bishop's view

For earlier bishops’ views see here.

Michael Nazir-Ali Bishop of Rochester has issued an Ad Clerum letter which is reproduced in full below the fold.

This was first reported on in the Church of England Newspaper (online yesterday, issue datelined Friday) by Jonathan Wynne-Jones in Civil partnership row erupts.

It is also reported today in The Times by Ruth Gledhill as Bishop attacks civil partnerships.

And in the Telegraph by Jonathan Petre and Jonathan Wynne-Jones as Gay weddings for priests ‘unbiblical’.

There has also been a Statement from Anglican Mainstream and the Church of England Evangelical Council and others in Support of Bishop Michael Nazir Ali’s Statement Ad Clerum. The signatories to this statement include Archbishop Peter Jensen, Sydney.



women in the priesthood : women as bishops

Some opposition to women priests appears to centre on the fact that Jesus was a man, and possibly also on the “Fatherhood” of God. The argument assumes that representing Christ at the Eucharist requires a male person. I doubt whether Jesus would have supported the line of reasoning. Matthew 22.23-33 has a story in which Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection ask, mockingly, about who will be married at the resurrection to a woman who has had seven husbands on earth. Jesus’ reply is “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

Artists have traditionally followed this guidance by depicting angelic beings without beards or breasts, with no (female) head covering and with clothing which does not denote the sex of the wearer. Depictions of cherubs, sometimes with all the sexuality of the Roman god Cupid, owe more to classical taste than to scripture. Portraying sexuality in angels is mistaken.

Thus Orthodox ikons of the Trinity, which illustrate the appearance of God to Abraham at the Oak of Mamre (Genesis 18) show three angels with wings. The angels look like triplets. They are beardless. The three persons are distinguished mainly by the green robe of the Holy Spirit, and the deacon’s stole on the shoulder of Christ, denoting that he “took the form of a servant”.

Western pictures by contrast might show an old man with a long beard, the young man on the cross, and a dove somewhere between them, with no discernable relationship between the three persons. No doubt it is this somewhat dysfunctional looking image which provides preachers with such a difficult task on Trinity Sunday.

The Orthodox show three beings in fellowship, and the relationship between the persons is devoid of any sexual expression. Christ sits behind a table which clearly also represents an altar on which the Eucharist is presented. He wears his humanity in the deacon’s stole over one shoulder, but the masculinity of Jesus during his life on earth has given way to a depiction in which he is “like the angels in heaven” who “neither marry nor are given in marriage.”

One might then argue that whilst the priest represents the humanity of Christ, what is represented is not just the Jesus of Nazareth who died on the Cross, who was male. Rather, the priest must also represent the risen Christ of the upper room, of Emmaus and of the shore of Galilee, who is “like the angels in heaven” and, mysteriously, difficult even for his closest followers to recognise.

The sex of the priest who represents Christ our great high priest at the Eucharist is then immaterial. The priestly function is not a sexual one, but, in representing Christ who is risen, “neither male nor female”.


press reports on General Synod

Today’s newspaper had further reports on the matter of women bishops, and also some stories about what else will occur at the February synod meeting.

Earlier women bishops stories are here.

Stephen Bates in the Guardian had Clerics open long path to female Archbishop of Canterbury together with lots of pictures.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph said Female Archbishop of Canterbury ‘a possibility’ and also had Church told to apologise for its part in slave trade.

In The Times Ruth Gledhill also had two items: Ordination of women bishops a step closer and Churches facing ‘apocalypse soon’


transcript of Walter Kasper interview

Updated Friday 20 Jan
The Tablet has today published a report of the conference: Amid the cold, signs of a thaw, and the Church Times has Unity is symphonic, says Cardinal.

The BBC Sunday programme has kindly made available to Thinking Anglicans a transcript of part of the item linked here earlier.



Changing Attitude on the Nigerian charges

Changing Attitude has today published a web page concerning Mr Davis MacIyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Network (Nigeria).

This page contains a number of photographs of Mr MacIyalla in earlier years at various church events, a photograph taken at the recent CAN meeting, and a detailed analysis of the many charges against Mr MacIyalla made by an official of the Church of Nigeria, including those contained in this press release.


Synod Papers

General Synod meets from 6 to 9 February 2006. Links to the online agenda follow together with a list of papers mentioned in the agenda. Links are made to available online copies. This list will be updated.

The Business Committee’s forecast of future business is copied below the fold.

The Church of England’s own list of papers is here and here is a press release on the agenda.

Monday 6 February
Tuesday 7 February
Wednesday 8 February
Thursday 9 February

GS 1596A Admission of Baptised Children to Holy Communion Regualtions
GS 1596Y Report by the House of Bishops (included in GS 1596A)
GS 1601 Mutual Expectations: The Church Of England And Church Colleges/Universities Report By The Board Of Education
GS 1603 Report By The Business Committee
GS 1604 Ethical Investment: Report By The Ethical Investment Advisory Group
GS 1605 House Of Bishops’ Women Bishops Group: Report To The General Synod From A Working Group Chaired By The Bishop Of Guildford.
GS 1605A Note by the Presidents
GS 1606 Seeds In Holy Ground: A Future For The Rural Church?
GS 1607 Into The New Quinquennium
GS 1609 Hospital And Health Care Chaplaincy
GS 1610 The Church’s Built Heritage Annex 1 Annex 3

GS Misc 801 Pushing At The Boundaries Of Unity: Anglicans And Baptists In Conversation
GS Misc 807 Ecumenical Responses To Women Bishops In The Church Of England?
GS Misc 808 Bicentenary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
GS Misc 812A Private Member’s Motion – Readers – A background note by Nigel Holmes
GS Misc 812B Background Paper from the Ministry Division Annex
GS Misc 813 The Human Genome: Background note from the Diocese of Guildford

Other papers circulated to Synod members

Summary decisions of the most recent meeting of the House of Bishops (January 2006)



Women Bishops – Guildford Report issued

The report of the House of Bishops’ Women Bishops Group (the Guildford Report) is released today and is online here. The report’s principal conclusions are copied below the fold.

This morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme carried an interview with Christina Rees and the Bishop of Fulham about the report. Listen to it with Real Audio (6m 03s)

The official press release on the Guildford Report is here. Note that this includes the introductory remarks made at the press conference (scroll down).

Important related document:
Note by the Presidents (GS 1605A) is here. An html copy is here.

More Updates – initial press reports
BBC partial transcript of the interview mentioned above
BBC Compromise plan on women bishops
BBC video report (2 minutes) Church compromise on women bishops
BBC Robert Pigott Anglicans get women bishops plan
Reuters Paul Majendie Anglicans could have woman spiritual head
Press Association Martha Linden Door opens for first female Archbishop of Canterbury
Guardian Stephen Bates Church seeks compromise over women bishops
The Times Ruth Gledhill ‘Tea time’ report on women bishops sets up Synod battle
Also, an earlier report by Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph that seems pretty accurate in the light of today’s press conference: ‘Robust’ meeting ends with bishops stalling at letting women join their ranks



Walter Kasper at Durham

The BBC’s Sunday radio programme reported on an international conference on Christian Unity held at Ushaw College, Durham.

The BBC report:

Cardinal Walter Kasper on Ecumenism
Last week one of the Vatican’s top Cardinals came to Durham to host an international conference on Christian Unity. Was Cardinal Walter Kasper wasting his time?
Report by Christopher Landau.
Listen with Real Audio(9m 9s)

Those interviewed also include Bp Tom Wright and Canon Nicholas Sagovsky. But the interview with Cardinal Kasper is particularly worth hearing.

For more backgound on the conference, see the Ushaw College press releases, all in .rtf format:
Press Release, Brief Listing of Participants, Conference Rationale and Schedule.


roundup of weekend reading

In The Times Rod Strange writes about gifts, Unearned, undeserved and sometimes unexpected, faith is a gift for life.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about A papal storm in a Santa hat.

Giles Fraser’s column in the Church Times asks Can war be moral?.

And in last week’s CT Robin Griffith-Jones finds presences and meaning in T. S. Eliot’s poem Journey of the Magi: ‘Eliot takes his readers far from Andrewes’s settled confidence’, Travelling to another death.

Late Addition
Face to faith from Saturday’s Guardian only arrived online today. Gilbert Márkus writes about Intelligent Design.


Church Times on Nigeria and CA

Last week the Church Times carried a report on this, but it only reached the public web today. Other press reports, contemporaneous with this one, are here.

The CT report by Pat Ashworth was headlined ‘Nigerian allegations are false’.

Today’s paper contains nothing further on this.