Thinking Anglicans

View from Fleet Street

This View from Fleet Street column by Stephen Bates of the Guardian appeared in the CEN on Friday 3 March. It is republished by permission of the Church of England Newspaper.

“There is always something new coming out of Africa,” wrote Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago and he didn’t mean new in a nice way. To him it meant strange and undesirable.

I hope more than a few Anglicans would agree with him at the moment. Scarcely a week seems to pass without some new scandal, some outrageous statement or appalling behaviour coming out not of sundry regimes, militias, or armed factions, but from an institution that is fast becoming equally corrupt, the Anglican Church itself.



ethical investment: a roundup

Updated Tuesday

Below is the text of an article by Stephen Bates which appeared under the title A Question of Judgement in The Tablet dated 25 February. It is reproduced here by kind permission of The Tablet.

In the same issue, The Tablet also published a related article, Capital concerns by Brian Griffiths who is vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs and a member of the Church of England.

On Sunday, this profile of John Reynolds chairman of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), appeared in the Observer: Confessions of ethics man.

Last week, the Church Commissioners announced:

Grainger GenInvest and The Church Commissioners have exchanged contracts for the freeholds of 976 predominantly residential properties in Waterloo, Winchester Park, Vauxhall, Pimlico and Walworth. Completion of the sale is expected within the next few weeks.

Thus the sale of the Octavia Hill Estates, which got rather overshadowed by the Caterpillar issue, has now been concluded, whereas nothing at all has happened, and indeed may never happen, about the Caterpillar shares held by church bodies.

Item added Tuesday
Caterpillar: Ethical Investment Advisory Group confirms earlier decision

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, after careful consideration at a specially convened meeting to discuss Caterpillar Inc – the US-based manufacturer of construction and mining equipment – has unanimously reaffirmed its previous decision, taken in September 2005.

The decision involved: not recommending disinvestment from Caterpillar; continuing its programme of engagement with Caterpillar; and making clear its intention of revisiting this decision if there are new sales of Caterpillar equipment to the Israeli defence forces for use in the demolition of Palestinian houses…


1 Comment

RW interview: more press coverage

Further Update
The archbishop’s own website now also carries a transcript of the TV programme as transmitted.

Ruth Gledhill’s blog now carries the full transcript of this interview. Read Archbishop’s interview with Sir David Frost. This is the full, unedited version.

Telegraph coverage of yesterday’s television interview is comprehensive:
Archbishop warns gay issue may ‘rupture’ Church and Williams: Cuba camp is setting a dangerous precedent America both by Jonathan Petre and
Missed chance to speak out on Darfur’s bloody conflict speaks volumes by David Blair, Africa Correspondent

Guardian Stephen Bates Archbishop warns of split over gay bishops

The Times Ruth Gledhill Archbishop attacks Guantanamo

Ekklesia Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Guantanamo Bay camp includes useful back links to earlier Christian protests about this.


Nigeria: two more views

First, Martyn Minns has responded to last weekend’s Washington Post article by Bishop John Chane. His response is in a Word document on his own parish website, but an html copy can be seen here. As you would expect, he is strongly critical of Bishop Chane.

Second, Andrew Carey has interviewed the Archbishop of Kaduna, Josiah Idowu-Fearon about the violence in Nigeria, in this week’s Church of England Newspaper, Why should a cartoon bring us to civil war? His views are very interesting.


Lake Malawi: a provincial press release

Update Tuesday
Malawi Daily Times Anglican bishop’s offices still closed

The Province of Central Africa issued a press release on 25 February. This can be found on the Anglican Mainstream site, where it was posted on 2 March. The press release starts out:

The office of the Church of the Province of Central Africa would like to categorically refute some of the information masqueraded as facts that appeared in both The Nation and The Daily Times newspapers of Friday’s edition which is not only incorrect but misleading…

Those reports are linked from this TA news article of 24 February.

The pastoral letter mentioned further on in the press release was linked here.

Nevertheless the Church of England Newspaper published this further report on 3 March, Archbishop forced to flee following Malawi protest.


Rowan Williams interview on TV

The BBC TV programme The Heaven and Earth Show this morning carried an interview of Rowan Williams which had been conducted in Khartoum by David Frost.

The full video interview (nearly 20 minutes) is now on the web, here.

At present the programme’s website carries only a brief note about it. However, the interview was also discussed on the BBC Sunday radio programme. The website for that programme, which used to be updated within hours of the live transmission, has now announced that it will not be updated until Monday morning. So I cannot at present give a link to the individual item. There is a link to the audio of the entire (45 minute) programme here (Real Audio). The discussion – Ed Stourton talked to Ruth Gledhill – of the Rowan Williams interview, which includes audio clips, starts about 30.5 minutes in and lasts about six minutes.

Update the programme details page has now been updated. The direct link to the 6 minute audio item is here.

Other reports of this interview:
BBC Archbishop fears Church ‘rupture’ NB story has been rewritten and now headlined Williams attacks Guantanamo camp
Telegraph Archbishop fears gay ‘rupture’ of Anglican church
Reuters Anglican leader criticises Guantanamo, terrorism
Press Association Archbishop condemns Guantanamo camp
Associated Press Guantanamo Worries England’s Archbishop


columns for the week

Giles Fraser got Lent off to a good start with his Thought for the Day on Thursday on the BBC.

Some newspaper columns look at recent events in various lights. The Times has Jonathan Sacks writing about One thing a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian and a humanist can agree on. The Guardian has Ian Bradley comparing the recent Lib Dem leadership contest to contemporary British Christianity in Face to Faith. Earlier this week, the Guardian had an interesting column by Madeleine Bunting on British multiculturalism, It takes more than tea and biscuits to overcome indifference and fear.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph reviews a book: Can hope save you from hell?

More substantial is this article from the Economist by Matthew Bishop The business of giving.


American Questionnaire

The members of the US House of Bishops have each been sent a questionnaire. Absolutely everything that is known about this questionnaire can be seen in the photo scans of the document that I have uploaded:

First page
Second page
(you might need to click on each picture to get it full-size and easily legible, depending on what browser you use)


women bishops – an MP intervenes

Ruth Gledhill has a report on her blog today, Church-State war looms over women bishops.

She reports that Chris Bryant, who is a Labour MP for a Welsh constituency, has tabled a private member’s bill which will have its First Reading on 21 March. The official confirmation of this fact can be found here:

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 so as to remove the bar on the consecration of women as bishops; and for connected purposes.

The text of his bill will not be published until 21 March, but it is safe to assume that it would amend Clause 1 of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 (No. 2) along the following lines:

1.—(1) It shall be lawful for the General Synod to make provision by Canon for enabling a woman to be ordained to the office of priest or to consecrate a woman as bishop if she otherwise satisfies the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who may be ordained as priests.

(2) Nothing in this Measure shall make it lawful for a woman to be consecrated to the office of bishop.

This is likely to upset quite a lot of church people, but on the other hand, as Ruth notes, it might well get significant support from parliamentarians, not all of whom are sympathetic to the Church of England’s self-perception.

See also this report from Ekklesia Bill to pave way for women bishops


Nigerian bishops write about same-sex unions

Updated again Tuesday 14 March

Updated Friday evening

The Church of Nigeria’s official website has published an article, titled The Absurdity Of Same Sex Union. The article is written by The Rt. Rev. David Onuoha, M.A. (Bishop of Okigwe South).

I think it is reasonable to assume that the views expressed in this article are shared by other Nigerian Anglican leaders.

A long article has appeared in the Vanguard, dated Saturday, which is titled WAR AGAINST GAYS, LESBIANS: We must use all we have to chase ‘em away, say clerics. This contains quotes from many religious leaders in Nigeria. Scroll down to the end for the comments by the Anglican Bishop of Lagos, Dr. Ephraim Adebola Ademowo under the heading Judiciary must ensure there’s no breach:

It is crazy, abnormal and is not promoted by any religion known to man. Islam condemns it, Christianity loathes it and there is no known religion that accommodates the practice. If you are asking the position of my church, I think it is very well known all over the world and we have not changed.

As a matter of fact, we commend the Federal Government for the bold step it has taken thus far on the issue and we hope it will go the whole hog to make the National Assembly complete the process by enacting it into law which will be completed to the letter.

It is an unhealthy practice and every normal human being will boldly tell you it is not part of the traditional African culture. But above all, the Bible is very clear on the issue. It described it as an abberation and should not be seen among men who are called of by the name of God.

So, we totally commend the Federal Government for its initiatives and we will continue to pray that the National Assembly will enact the law and the judiciary will follow suit to interprete the laws when the time comes in order to forestall any breach of the law.

Update 14 March
A response to the first item above has been published by Changing Attitude Nigeria and can be read at The Truth of same-sex unions in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).


Another open letter about Nigeria

The Church Times has an exclusive news report this morning. In Dr Williams asked to censure Akinola over riot reaction Rachel Harden reports that:

A COALITION of volunteers in Nigeria has written an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to denounce last week’s “irresponsible” statement by the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, on the current Christian-Muslim riots…

…The volunteers say this “aggressive and inflammatory rhetoric” will incite further violence…

…The writers, a group of mixed nationalities and religions, all believed that the statement issued by the Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria, which appealed for calm, was far more effective…

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria website has two reports related to this: a statement here and this earlier one.

UPDATE 10 March


InclusiveChurch open letter to archbishop

InclusiveChurch calls on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support lesbian and gay Anglicans in Nigeria and Uganda

Press Release

InclusiveChurch and its Partner Organisations have called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support lesbian and gay Christians in Nigeria and Uganda and asked him to encourage the Anglican Churches in Nigeria and Uganda to desist from denigrating them and denying their existence as committed and active Anglicans.

InclusiveChurch welcomes the establishment of Changing Attitude Nigeria and Integrity Uganda as legitimate voices of gay and lesbian Africans within our Anglican Communion. InclusiveChurch believes that the dire situation of lesbian and gay Anglicans in these countries is exacerbated by the actions of our own church.

In their joint letter to the Archbishop, the Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, President of InclusiveChurch and the Rev. Giles Goddard, Chair say, ‘We are deeply concerned that in Nigeria in particular the Anglican Church appears to be encouraging the State to engage in active persecution of gay people and those who speak for them.’

Successive Lambeth Conferences have called on the Anglican Communion to engage in dialogue with gay Christians and to listen to their experiences. Integrity Uganda and Changing Attitude Nigeria provide ways of responding to this call. InclusiveChurch believes that all Anglicans should welcome the establishment of these groups and seek to assist them in their difficult and dangerous situations. To deny them a legitimate place in the life of the church is reject the call of the Lambeth Conference resolutions.

InclusiveChurch believes that the full inclusion, without conditions, of women, lesbian and gay people, people from all ethnic backgrounds and people with disabilities at all levels of the church is essential as a sign of the universal love of God.

InclusiveChurch is a campaigning organisation which is committed to celebrating and maintaining the Anglican tradition of inclusion and diversity. More information at

For further information contact The Rev. Giles Goddard at 07762 373 674

The full text of the open letter appears below the fold.



Lake Malawi: a provincial pastoral letter

The website of the Diocese of Lake Malawi has not been updated since last July. But today the following appeared on the blog of the American Anglican Council:
Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of the Province to the Diocese of Lake Malawi.
The letter is dated 15 February.


church pensions in the news

On the one hand, the American Church Pension Group has announced plans to make significant increases in USA clergy pensions that they pay out.
ENS Pension benefit formula to get adjustment
TLC Pension Group Enhances Benefits

A detailed announcement will be made soon, but Sullivan said the change means a “meaningful across-the-board increases” in benefits. Clergy with a history of very low compensation will see the biggest increases, averaging 18 percent. Those with the highest earning history will have an average 12 percent increase.

Sullivan said the decision is one of many the pension fund has made in recent months in response to its excellent financial picture. As of the end of 2005, Sullivan said, the fund had an all-time high of $7.6 billion available for pension benefits plus sizable additional reserves.

This bottom line is unlike that of the top 100 pension funds in the United States. Most of those funds have liabilities that far outstrip their assets and the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation says the U.S. faces a $450 billion such gap, Sullivan said.

On the other hand, the Church of England today made this announcement:
Church launches consultation on pensions policy

In common with private companies and public bodies, the Church of England is to review its pensions policy.

Like other defined benefit pension schemes, the Church’s pension schemes are under pressure because of the long-term reduction in returns from stock exchange investments, and the increasing life expectancy of members.

Recent government moves designed to make pension schemes more secure for their members are also likely to have an adverse impact on the cost of the Church’s pension schemes.

…Taken together, the impact of the new regulations could prompt an increase in the contribution rate paid into the Clergy Pensions scheme from the present 33.8 per cent of the pensionable stipend to between 46 per cent and 57 per cent.

It seems ECUSA has got something right 🙂

Full text of the CofE report is here (RTF). Annex is here (contains key facts).