Thinking Anglicans

Nigeria: church comments on the proposed law

The Living Church has published a report on what Bishop Chane said, Washington Bishop Condemns Proposed Nigerian Law, Primate’s Role. The article contains two separate further pieces of information:

What Rowan Williams said about this in Brazil:

…Speaking to delegates at the World Council of Churches on Feb. 17, the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to defend or condemn the proposed Nigerian legislation, saying “there is a difference between what might be said theologically about patterns [of behavior] and what is said about human and civil rights.”

It is a “real challenge” to “give effect to the listening process in situations where gay people are actively persecuted,” the Most Rev. Williams said. However, “the primates have said, more than once, that they deplore such activities, corporately.”

The “question is whether their churches” can find “ways of acting on that recognition on the wrongness of persecution,” he said…

What Canon Popoola said about this to TLC:

…A spokesman for the Church of Nigeria, Canon Akintunde Popoola, disputed this characterization, arguing Bishop Chane misconstrued the text of the bill and Archbishop Akinola’s role in the legislative process. “Archbishop Peter to my knowledge is yet to comment [publicly] on the bill. I have said we welcome it because we view homosexuality as ‘against the norm’.”

While banning ‘gay clubs’ in “institutions from secondary to the tertiary level or other institutions in particular” and “generally, by government agencies,” the proposed law is silent as to the status of private gay clubs.

The proposed law should also be seen in light of the wider conflict between civil law and Shariah law in Nigeria, Canon Popoola said. Under existing “Islamic law” in effect in “some parts of the country,” the acts covered by the proposed law currently “stipulate the death penalty,” he said.


Calvin, usury and civil partnerships

Last December, TA reported briefly on the Welsh bishops statement on civil partnerships, and on Andrew Goddard’s response to it.

Then in January, TA reported on the Bishop of Bangor’s forthright response to Andrew Goddard.

Since then, Andrew Goddard responded by republishing an earlier essay entitled Semper Reformanda in a Changing World: Calvin, Usury and Evangelical Moral Theology.

Now, the bishop, Anthony Crockett, has published this further article. It’s quite long, but does come back eventually to the original topic:

…The Welsh Bishops, to get back to my original paper, tried in their statements on homosexuality and civil partnerships to indicate their perception of where Christians who read the Bible with integrity are, like Calvin in his day. Some of the views they mentioned are undoubtedly revisionist, in terms of the biblical and traditional material – as revisionist, but not more so, as Calvin’s in relation to usury – and on the same grounds, namely the principle of equity and the application of the Golden Rule ‘on which hang the law and the prophets’. The Bishops might have taken the trouble to produce ‘a form of moral argumentation and an appeal to Scripture’, to say nothing of tradition, social change and the ‘way in which our current situation is different from that of the biblical writers’. But those arguments are already much in the public domain. The Bishops appreciated the need, felt by some, to reconceptualise the phenomenon of homosexuality (cf Calvin’s identical argument on p12), and now Dr Goddard, in posting his paper on the Fulcrum website, has done them the favour of reproducing that argumentation for all to see, and to make up their minds. The Bishops will welcome his willingness to apply Calvin’s method based on equity and the Golden Rule, for like Calvin, they do not want to ‘turn (their) back on Scripture. Rather (they want to) let Scripture shape (their) thinking at the level of moral and theological principles’ (p10).

Perhaps Dr Goddard would agree that it would have been better if he had applied his analysis of Calvin’s hermeneutical method to our Statements, before he reached for his pen. Then his precipitate response and unhelpful tone might have been avoided. But all’s well that ends well. We should be glad that his lucid presentation of Calvin’s rationale for his revision of the consistent, unwavering, ‘clear’ biblical and traditional veto on usury is now in the public domain. I should like to suggest that we should all apply it consistently and conscientiously to the issue of same-sex relationships, refusing to confuse the issue with that of promiscuity, as Gagnon – he of the unpleasant tone – does. Instead of condemnation, we should admit that when homosexual people talk of permanent, loving, same-sex relationships, they are speaking of something which ‘is in fact significantly different in practice from Scriptural concerns and so cannot simply be subsumed in the standard moral descriptions and condemnations’, as Dr Goddard himself recognises could be the case (p12). Who knows, we might even consent to listen ‘to homosexual people, welcoming them into our homes and sitting down to eat with them’, as Stephen Fowl (p6) recommends.


Rowan Williams at the WCC in Brazil

The Living Church has published another article, which summarises what the archbishop said at a meeting of Anglican delegates to the Assembly:

Archbishop Williams Urges Shared Sacrifice, Continued Dialogue

This gives a lot more detail than was in the earlier ACNS report linked previously here. Read it all, please. The concluding paragraphs are:

The “challenge to every single member of the Communion” therefore is “together [to] rediscover a sense that we are all under the judgment of God; that we are all called to holiness; that we are all called to sacrifice.”

It will not do to present the problem “as a matter in which one side would win and the other lose” as “we need each other desperately. And that is my deepest conviction about the Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Williams said.

“We need therefore to go on meeting and listening,” he said, “where people listen and look, not in great political assemblies, but in fellowship between parishes, dioceses, and projects.”

That is the way forward to an “Anglican future that is not completely polarized, that is not completely divided culturally, ideologically, theologically. Where we can share with one another patterns of obedience of Christ without expecting them to be always the same everywhere, but at least trying to be recognizable to each other.”


Affirming Catholicism holds conference on women bishops

Press Release: Anglican and Roman Catholics argue for women bishops

The Anglican organisation Affirming Catholicism is to hold a day conference on Saturday 11 March promoting the ordination of women as bishops. The ‘symposium’, to be held in St Matthew’s Church, Westminster, will see leading Oxford theologians Dr Jane Shaw, Dr Charlotte Methuen and Dr Mark Chapman setting out the case for women’s Episcopal ordination from a catholic point of view. They will be joined by Roman Catholic proponent of women’s ordination, John Wijngaards.

‘There is a mistaken perception that most Anglican catholics oppose the ordination of women,’ says the Rev’d Richard Jenkins, Director of Affirming Catholicism. ‘That simply isn’t the case. We want to celebrate the ministry of ordained women and to demonstrate that the full inclusion of women in the apostolic ministry enhances its symbolic and effective witness.’

Participants will also grapple with the theological and practical issue of how and to what extent the Church of England can accommodate those who disagree with the ordination of women. Members of the public can take part in the symposium by contacting Lisa Martell on 020 7222 5166 or by email, (Cost, including lunch, £10, £5 concessions).

Papers delivered on the day will be published by Affirming Catholicism as a contribution to the Church of England’s ongoing debate about the consecration of women. The General Synod of the Church of England will next debate the issue in its July group of sessions when it will decide how to proceed with legislation to create women bishops.

Dr Mark Chapman is vice-Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon; Dr Charlotte Methuen is Departmental Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History at Keble College, Oxford; Dr Jane Shaw is Chaplain of New College, Oxford. John Wijngaards is theological adviser to the Roman Catholic movement ‘women priests’.

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civil partnerships and the Scottish RC bishops

Recently, the Scottish RC bishops issued a Pastoral Letter on Family Law. This is a response to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

That letter was discussed in an article by Aidan O’Neill originally published under the title Ties that bind. This article first appeared on 11 February 2006 in The Tablet, the Catholic weekly., and is reproduced here with permission.

Aidan O’Neill is a QC based in Scotland.

The article will I believe be of interest to Anglicans.



Nigerian bishops speak out

From the Church of Nigeria official website:

Anglican Leaders seek end to religious crisis

Ibadan, Feb. 24, 2006- The carnage of violence that has besieged the nation this past week has led many religious leaders to ask the reason behind the avoidable mayhem.

In separate interviews, Anglican Bishops, whose areas of jurisdiction witnessed religious riots, called for an immediate cessation to further killings.

They also want government to address the issue of religious intolerance. …

Bishop of Gombe, the Rt. Rev Henry Ndukuba, Bishop on the Niger in Anambra state the Rt. Rev Ken Okeke, In Niger Delta, Bishop Edafe Emamezi of the Missionary Diocese of Western Izon, are all quoted.


BBC radio items on Nigeria, Sudan

From the Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4

Religious riots in Nigeria

Religious riots in Nigeria have claimed more than 100 lives this week.

Nigeria’s 120 million people are roughly equally divided between northern Muslims, and Christians and animists in the south.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in communal violence since 1999. For the latest news Roger Bolton was joined by the BBC’s Alex Last in the Niger Delta. – Nigeria country profile
Listen (3m 51s) (Real Audio)



Washington bishop criticises Akinola

Updated Saturday 4 March

The Washington Post carries this article by John Chane Bishop of Washington, A Gospel of Intolerance, which will appear in the Sunday edition of the newspaper. It is strongly critical of Archbishop Akinola:

…Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria’s government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions…

… Surprisingly, few voices — Anglican or otherwise — have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?…

Update Saturday 4 March
Martyn Minns has responded to this article.


map of Nigerian violence

Christianity Today’s weblog has comprehensive reporting of the Nigerian disturbances, and that includes a link to this annotated map showing where each reported event has occurred.
Hat Tip to GetReligion for this.


weekend godslots

Traditional religious values are emphasized in this week’s contributions.

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes Lent is a good time to celebrate the old-fashioned virtue of courtesy.

Alison Leonard writes for Face to Faith in the Guardian that the Quaker approach of open dialogue could help to improve the relationship between faiths.

And the Telegraph’s Christopher Howse writes about The view from Wittenham Clumps.

The Times also carries an extract from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2006: Forgiveness in a culture stripped of grace by Miroslav Volf director of the Yale Centre for Faith and Culture.


Malawi story continues

Updated Saturday morning

Since my previous report, dated 13 February, these further reports have been posted:

10 February The Nation Editorial Opinion It’s Intolerance

24 February The Nation Anglicans hold archbishop under hostage

24 February Daily Times Cracks in Anglican Church over bishop-elect worsen

Update Saturday morning
The Guardian has African rebels hail English vicar by Rory Carroll


violence in Nigeria

Updated Saturday morning

The latest reports of religious strife in Nigeria are very disturbing:

New York Times Lydia Polgreen Nigeria Counts 100 Deaths Over Danish Caricatures
BBC Bodies pile up after Nigeria riot
Guardian Revenge attacks kill 20 Nigerian Muslims
Independent Five days of violence by Nigerian Christians and Muslims kill 150
IRIN via Reuters At least 123 killed as anger over cartoons fuels existing tensions
Update here is a link to the latest reports from this source.
Telegraph Sectarian killings strain the fragile unity of Nigeria

Ecumenical News International Anglican leader warns of reprisals over torching of Nigeria churches
Church Times Rachel Harden Muslim mobs murder African Christians
NB scroll down for Bishop’s wife in hospital after attack which is about the wife of the Bishop of Jos. See also CEN Mob attacks Bishops family. And also, see this letter from the bishop.

The statement made by Archbishop Akinola, in his role as President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, can be found in full on the Church of Nigeria website. That statement was criticised yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

Nigeria is suffering inter-faith violence as a result of the row over the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Nearly a hundred people have been killed in the last few days. Bishop Cyril Okorocha of the Owerri Diocese in south-east Nigeria, joins the programme.

Listen with Real Audio (4 minutes).


More on Caterpillar in the Church Times

The Church Times has a leader this week about the synod vote: Caterpillar vote leaves its tracks.

In the same issue, Rachel Harden reports on the Paul Oestreicher article: Canon attacks Zionist moral blackmail’ and Giles Fraser explains that I’m not anti-Semitic, and neither is the Synod.

In last week’s issue there were several letters to the editor.

Two weeks ago, on 10 February, the debate was reported as Synod rounds on Caterpillar Inc and Bulldozer motion ‘based on ignorance’.

Back on 23 September 2005, the following report was made: Caterpillar holdings kept for time being.


Williams on the moratorium

Updated Friday evening

The Living Church carries a report from the WCC Assembly in Brazil in which Rowan Williams is quoted as saying, in response to a question about the moratorium on consecrating non-celibate homosexual bishops:

“I believe if there is ever to be a change in the discipline and teaching of the Anglican Communion on this matter it should not be the decision of one Church alone,”

Read the full story with further quotes: Archbishop Williams: Episcopal Church Should Maintain Consecration Moratorium .

He made this statement on Friday, 17 February.

On Monday, 20 February, the Diocese of California announced the names of five candidates for its election of a diocesan (scheduled for May). The Church of England Newspaper reports on this matter under the headline New row brewing as USA considers another gay bishop. The final paragraph reads (emphasis added):

Dr Williams stressed his opposition to the move. “If there is ever to be a change on the discipline and teaching of the Anglican Communion [on homosexuality] it should not be the decision of one Church alone. “The Church must have the highest degree of consensus for such a radical change,” he argued, adding he was very uneasy about the way in which change has gone forward in the American Church over this issue.

That first sentence is misleading insofar as the California announcement had not yet been made.

Update A further report on Rowan Williams’ WCC attendance has been published by ACNS: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams addresses WCC General Assembly. Part of this report:

Archbishop Williams began the day with an open discussion for Anglicans attending the Assembly, where he talked about the life of the Anglican Communion generally, and laid out his vision for the way that we can move forward together as a world-wide group of Christians. He described how, in his view, neither of the two polarised positions taken by some in the Communion represent a good way forward, and described this by saying: ‘I would be very sad to see Anglicanism becoming either the Church of a western liberal elite or the Church of anti-intellectual post-missionary society. I am putting it very bluntly here, and I think the dangers that we face in the Communion very serious.’

He concluded by saying: ‘who knows what God has in store for the Anglican Communion? When I try to look into the future of the Anglican Communion eighteen months forward, I have no idea what might happen. But if God has a purpose for us in the Communion, then we can relax. I do not mean to say we can stop, and do nothing. I mean we can stop at least being so desperately and bitterly anxious. So often our Anglican world gives off in the media a sense of bitterness and anxiety. Well that is the last thing we want to share with the world. We need to be honest. We need to work. We need to recognise there are no short answers. We need to do all that because we believe God has something to say to us, and with us, in the context of the World Church, which is why we are here in this Assembly. That is, because we believe God is faithful to his calling and his promise.’


Sentamu on Guantanamo Bay

Recently, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu was reported in the Independent as saying:

The Americans are breaking international law it is a society heading towards Animal Farm.

There is a report on this also in the CEN Archbishop attacks Guantanamo camp.

There is also a report in the Church Times Guantanamo is Animal Farm, Sentamu says.

On Thursday, he issued a further press statement, which is reproduced below the fold.

Update Friday’s Times newspaper carries this:
Blair condones Amin-style tactics against terrorism, says Archbishop



Divestment: more discussion

Yesterday the Guardian carried a major comment article by Paul Oestreicher entitled Israel’s policies are feeding the cancer of anti-semitism.
There was an accompanying news story by Stephen Bates Leading Anglican hits back in ‘anti-Israel’ row. Today there are lots of letters to the editor.

Elsewhere the Jerusalem Post carried a comment article entitled Remembering William Temple and from Porto Alegre came this Associated Press report from the WCC Assembly Campaign for pro-Palestinian divestment seeks momentum at world church gathering.

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women bishops: further information on TEA

First, what is a possible timetable for the process?

The General Synod papers included a note which was an Annex to GS 1605A. The text of this is given below the fold.

Second, what are the views on TEA of those entirely opposed to women bishops?

FiF reacts to General Synod debate on Guildford Report

Andrew Burnham Bishop of Ebbsfleet wrote a pastoral letter about it in January, and has since prepared a leaflet: Explaining T.E.A. in Parishes.

The February issue of New Directions has several articles on TEA from opponents, including Paul Benfield, Bishop Lindsay Urwin, and John Hunwicke, who apparently objects to being in communion with any [male] bishop who has one or more women priests in his diocese.

The conservative evangelical view is put forward by Bishop Wallace Benn and others in A Way Forward.



More about the Chief Rabbi and the CofE

Jerusalem Post UK top rabbi takes on Anglican Church by George Conger

BBC Bishop defends Church Israel move and listen (Real Audio – 5 mins) to Bishop of Hulme and Chief Rabbi from the Sunday radio programme (programme features The Right Reverend Stephen Lowe and Rabbi Alan Plancey, who covers Jewish-Christian Relations for the Chief Rabbi’s Cabinet)

New York Times Alan Cowell Divestiture Dispute in Britain Raises Jewish-Christian Tensions

Associated Press Churches Debate Pro-Palestinian Divestment (from the WCC meeting in Brazil)


articles of interest

First of all, Rowan Williams gave an address yesterday to the World Council of Churches meeting, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The archbishop’s website has the full text.

For more background on this meeting, see the ACNS report, and also the WCC assembly website itself. Earlier Lambeth Palace press release here. Subsequent WCC press release here. And see also this. Update And this WCC press release.

Back in England, the newspapers offer:

Guardian David Monkton Methodist chaplain to Nottingham police, writes about his work in Face to Faith.

The Times Tony Bayfield thinks that Believers are at home in a secular society and Lavinia Byrne says The internet is new ground for the Gospels — some stony, some good.

In the Tablet Robert Mickens has an interesting piece on Indulgences, He who holds the keys to the kingdom.


Caterpillar: the EIAG statement

Statement by the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group

issued 8 February 2006

We welcome the General Synod’s debate on the work of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The EIAG will of course reflect on the message Synod has sent, as we continue an active process of engagement and monitoring. The resolution passed by Synod on Monday is, however, an advisory one only; a resolution cannot take away from each investment body of the Church its own legal responsibility to take decisions on these matters (see

Reports that ‘the Church of England has decided to disinvest from Caterpillar’ – let alone to boycott Israel, as some e-mails from the USA allege – are wholly untrue.

John Reynolds
Chairman, EIAG

Notes: continued below the fold.