Thinking Anglicans

General Synod: debates on women bishops: 2

Having voted in favour of the principle of having women bishops on Saturday, Synod today spent all morning debating the process for bringing this about. Several amendments, three of which were accepted, were proposed to the original motion. The motion refers to Canon A4, and the text of this is given below the motion and result of the final vote. Details of the original motion and the amendments are below the fold.

The motion as put to Synod (with text added by amendments shown in bold) was.

That this Synod, endorsing Resolution 111.2 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 “that those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans” and believing that the implications of admitting women to the episcopate will best be discerned by continuing to explore in detail the practical and legislative arrangements:

(a) invite dioceses, deaneries and parishes to continue serious debate and reflection on the theological, practical, ecumenical and missiological aspects of the issue;

(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council, in consultation with the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the Appointments Committee, to secure the early appointment of a legislative drafting group, which will aim to include a significant representation of women in the spirit of Resolution 13/31 of the Anglican Consultative Council passed in July 2005, charged with:

(i) preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop;

(ii) preparing a draft of possible additional legal provision consistent with Canon A4 to establish arrangements that would seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops;

(iii) submitting the results of its work to the House of Bishops for consideration and submission to Synod; and

(c) instruct the Business Committee to make time available, before first consideration of the draft legislation, for the Synod to consider, in the light of any views expressed by the House of Bishops, the arrangements proposed in the drafting group’s report.

The motion, as amended, was carried on a show of hands.

Canon A4

A 4 Of the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons

The Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, annexed to The Book of Common Prayer and commonly known as the Ordinal, is not repugnant to the Word of God; and those who are so made, ordained, or consecrated bishops, priests, or deacons, according to the said Ordinal, are lawfully made, ordained, or consecrated, and ought to be accounted, both by themselves and others, to be truly bishops, priests, or deacons.



bishops oppose Trident

A letter appears in the Independent newspaper this morning. You can read it here, but the format makes it difficult. The text is therefore reproduced below. The newspaper does not list all the signatories, so they are listed in full below.

Sir: We write to add our voice to the public debate on the issue of the maintenance and renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme demanded by the House of Commons Defence Committee. We urge MPs seriously to consider our views when they come to a formal debate in the House and take part in any subsequent vote.

Whatever our various views on conventional warfare, we all agree that Just War arguments rule out the use of nuclear weapons and such weapons challenge the very core of Judeo-Christian Faith where humanity is given responsibility for the stewardship of God’s creation. But there are also practical, moral and economic objections to the basic concept of having a deterrent.

Practical because a deterrent is only effective if a potential enemy knows for certain it will be used. But the use of nuclear weapons would not be an option for us, as that would be nothing less than the mass murder of thousands if not tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The resultant fall-out from a tactical or battlefield weapon could not be confined to a particular area.

Moral because it is morally corrupting to threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction even when there is no real intention of using them.

Economic because the use of limited resources on WMDs diverts those resources from education, health and aid to those who are the poorest and most in need.

Humanity has the power to make or mar this planet. Current concern over global warming and the environment, as well as poverty and debt among the world’s most vulnerable people, demonstrate the need to re-engage with the task of caring for the world and its people.

Human dignity and freedom are foundation values for all people. Humanity has a right to live in dignity and freedom without fear. Trident and other nuclear arsenals threaten long-term and fatal damage to the global environment and its peoples. As such their end is evil and both possession and use profoundly anti-God acts.

Nuclear weapons are a direct denial of the Christian concept of peace and reconciliation, which are social and economic as well as physical and spiritual. The Christian Gospel is one of hope, enabling humanity to live in harmony with itself and nature and leading to prosperity and community life marked by joy.

At the Gleneagles summit a year ago the G8 pledged to “Make Poverty History” and to end the debt burden on the world’s poorest countries. The costs involved in the maintenance and replacement of Trident could be used to address pressing environmental concerns, the causes of terrorism, poverty and debt, and enable humanity and dignity to be the right of all, and would go a long way towards helping Make Poverty History.


The suffragans are:
Stephen Lowe, Hulme
Stephen Cottrell, Reading
David Hawkins, Barking
Peter Broadbent, Willesden
James Langstaff, Lynn
David Rossdale, Grimsby
Ian Brackley, Dorking
James Bell, Knaresborough
Michael Lewis, Middleton
Graham Cray, Maidstone
Nicholas Baines, Croydon
Richard Inwood, Bedford


synod press coverage Monday morning

Michael Brown in the Yorkshire Post has Synod vote paves way for women bishops.

Stephen Bates in the Guardian reported that Terrorists are blasphemous, says archbishop.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph has Church accused of £100m asset stripping.

Robert Pigott at the BBC says Challenges continue over women bishops


General Synod business: Sunday afternoon

The official report is here.

Ruth Gledhill’s blog entry is here.


Rowan Williams' sermon

General Synod members are invited to the Sung Eucharist at York Minster on the Sunday morning of its meeting at York, and most go. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon at the service this morning.


BBC report on the Archbishop’s sermon

1 Comment

Sunday press reports

Sunday Times Christopher Morgan Church rebels plan £1bn property grab

TRADITIONALISTS in the Church of England are preparing for a possible breakaway over women bishops by taking legal advice on whether they could claim property worth more than £1 billion…

Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones Women can be bishops, Synod rules

Observer Jamie Doward Synod backs plans for women bishops and Peter Stanford Women on a mission to storm the gates of Rome

Independent Women bishops could be here by 2012, says C of E

Update BBC Sunday radio programme has a report by Trevor Barnes from General Synod. Go here and then go 5 minutes forward. Various synod personalities are interviewed about the state of the Anglican Communion, as well as women bishops in England (about 7 minutes).


Sentamu's presidential address

The presidential address given to the General Synod yesterday by the Archbishop of York has been published by Episcopal News Service.

Read the full text here.

Sunday afternoon UPDATE The text is now also online at the Church of England website.


General Synod business: Saturday afternoon

The official report of the afternoon and evening’s business can be found here.


synod press coverage Saturday afternoon

Reuters Church of England votes to make women bishops

Press Association Synod ‘backs idea’ of women bishops and also Fight bombers with love: Archbishop (this refers to part of the Presidential Address by Archbishop Sentamu)

BBC Church backs female bishops move and Head to head: Women bishops

And also Call for love to fight terrorism

Paul Roberts has written up this morning’s events on his blog here. Ruth Gledhill has General Synod Day Two.

ENS has Sentamu calls for ‘gracious magnanimity,’ comments on Convention and also Women bishops approved in principle at Church of England’s Synod and Synod’s structures contrast with Convention’s. And later, Synod affirms women bishops; debate draws mixed reactions.

Associated Press Church of England: appointing women bishops ‘theologically justified’


the week's opinions

Theo Hobson has written Sowing the seeds of change on commentisfree.

Michael Bordeaux writes in The Times about The religious maelstrom of modern Russia.

Also Jonathan Sacks writes that Bonds of friendship will prevail over those who seek to divide us.

Richard Frith writes in the Guardian about the Mission to Seafarers.


General Synod business: Saturday morning

Information about and audio files of Saturday morning’s business can be found on the Church of England website: General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Saturday 8th July am.


General Synod: debates on women bishops: 1

Synod had the first of its two debates on Women in the Episcopate today (Saturday) morning. The Archbishop of York proposed the motion:

‘That this Synod welcome and affirm the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate in the Church of England is consonant with the faith of the Church as the Church of England has received it and would be a proper development in proclaiming afresh in this generation the grace and truth of Christ.’

The two amendments below were proposed to the motion but both were clearly defeated on a show of hands.

Leave out the words “welcome and affirm” and insert the word “note”.

At the end insert the words “and note the possible ecumenical implications of such a development in light of the contributions of the representatives of other Churches who took part in the presentation at the February 2006 group of sessions”.

A vote by houses was taken on the main motion. Whilst the motion was very clearly carried in each house, the majority in the House of Laity was a little short of the two-thirds that will be required at final approval of the measure that will actually allow women to become bishops.

Here are the detailed voting figures.

for against
bishops 31 9
clergy 134 42
laity 123 68

synod press coverage Saturday morning

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph has Call for enclave of male clergy in the Church and also reports on Prison service axes Christian course. (On that matter, see also Charles Moore here.)

Ruth Gledhill in The Times has Church decides if it is ready for women bishops. She also has her blog entry about Day One.

There is also coverage of the archbishop’s statement in the Living Church and an ENS report on the synod from
Matthew Davies.

The BBC has Church to discuss female bishops.

The Yorkshire Post has Michael Brown writing that: Church tiptoes up to the issue of women.


General Synod business: Friday

Information about Friday’s business can be found on the Church of England website: General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Friday 7th July pm. Audio files of all today’s sessions are now available.


Rowan Williams: Developments in the Anglican Communion

Archbishop’s address to General Synod on the Anglican Communion ACNS copy here and Audio here

I am glad to have the opportunity of offering in these few minutes a very brief update on the current situation in the Anglican Communion, particularly in the light of the recent session of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention – which was, of course, attended by my brother Archbishop, who made an outstanding contribution to its discussions. The first thing to say is that the complex processes of Convention produced – perhaps predictably – a less than completely clear result. The final resolution relating to the consecration of practising gay persons as bishops owed a great deal to some last-minute work by the Presiding Bishop, who invoked his personal authority in a way that was obviously costly for him in order to make sure that there was some degree of recognisable response to the recommendations of the Windsor Report in this regard. I think that he – and his successor-elect – deserve credit and gratitude for taking the risk of focusing the debate and its implications so sharply.

However, as has become plain, the resolutions of Convention overall leave a number of unanswered questions, and there needs to be some careful disentangling of what they say and what they don’t say. This work is to be carried forward by a small group already appointed before Convention by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC. And I have also written directly to every Primate to ask for a preliminary reaction from their province. The next Primates’ Meeting in February next year will digest what emerges from all this.

You will be aware of a number of developments in the public arena in the last couple of weeks, notably the request from several US dioceses for some sort of direct primatial oversight from outside the US, preferably from Canterbury. This raises very large questions indeed; various consultations are going forward to clarify what is being asked and to reflect on possible implications. There has also been an announcement from Nigeria of the election by the Nigerian House of Bishops of an American cleric as a bishop to serve the Convocation of Nigerian Anglican congregations in the US. I have publicly stated my concern about this and some other cross-provincial activities.

A working party is also being established in consultation with the Anglican Communion Office and others to look more fully at the question of what sort of ‘Covenant’ could be constructed to fulfil another significant recommendation of the Windsor Report.

Mention of this leads me to say a word about my own published reflections in the wake of General Convention. In spite of some interesting reporting and some slightly intemperate reaction, this contained no directives (I do not have authority to dictate policy to the provinces of the Communion) and no foreclosing of the character and content of such a covenant. Were any such arrangement to be proposed, it would of course have to be owned by the constitutional bodies governing Provinces. The proposal has already been dismissed in some quarters as a capitulation to fundamentalism and in others as a cunning plan to entrench total doctrinal indifferentism.

Both characterisations are nonsense. Perhaps you will allow me a word or two of clarification and further thought on all this. When I said, as I did in my reflections, that the Communion cannot remain as it is, I was drawing attention to some unavoidable choices. Many have said, with increasing force of late, that we must contemplate or even encourage the breakup of the Communion into national churches whose autonomy is unqualified and which relate only in some sort of loose and informal federation. This has obvious attractions for some. The problem is that it is unlikely to bear any relation to reality. Many provinces are internally fragile; we cannot assume that what will naturally happen is a neat pattern of local consensus. There are already international alliances, formal and informal, between Provinces and between groups within different Provinces. There are lines of possible fracture that have nothing to do with provincial boundaries. The disappearance of an international structure – as, again, I have observed in recent months – leaves us with the possibility of much less than a federation, indeed, of competing and fragmenting ecclesial bodies in many contexts across the world.

A straw in the wind: in Sudan, there is a breakaway and very aggressive Anglican body that has had support, in the past, from government in Khartoum. Among the varied grounds advanced for its separation is the ludicrous assertion that the Episcopal Church of Sudan is unorthodox in its teaching on sexual ethics. Some mischievous forces are quite capable of using the debates over sexuality as an alibi for divisive action whose roots are in other conflicts. And churches in disadvantaged or conflict-ridden settings cannot afford such distractions – I speak with feeling in the light of what I and others here in Synod know of Sudan. It helps, to put it no more strongly, that there is a global organisation which can declare such a separatist body illegitimate and insist to a local government that certain groups are not recognised internationally.

So I don’t think we can be complacent about what the complete breakup of the Communion might mean – not the blooming of a thousand flowers, but a situation in which vulnerable churches suffer further. And vulnerable churches are not restricted to Africa… But if this prospect is not one we want to choose, what then? Historic links to Canterbury have no canonical force, and we do not have (and I hope we don’t develop) an international executive. We depend upon consent. My argument was and is that such consent may now need a more tangible form than it has hitherto had; hence the Covenant idea in Windsor.

But if there is such a structure, and if we do depend on consent, the logical implication is that particular churches are free to say yes or no; and a no has consequences, not as ‘punishment’ but simply as a statement of what can and cannot be taken for granted in a relationship between two particular churches. When I spoke as I did of ‘churches in association’, I was trying to envisage what such a relation might be if it was less than full eucharistic communion and more than mutual repudiation. It was not an attempt to muddy the waters but to offer a vocabulary for thinking about how levels of seriously impaired or interrupted communion could be understood.

In other words, I can envisage – though I don’t in the least want to see – a situation in which there may be more divisions than at present within the churches that claim an Anglican heritage. But I want there to be some rationale for this other than pure localism or arbitrary and ad hoc definitions of who and what is acceptable. The real agenda – and it bears on other matters we have to discuss at this Synod – is what our doctrine of the Church really is in relation to the whole deposit of our faith. Christian history gives us examples of theologies of the Church based upon local congregational integrity, with little or no superstructure – Baptist and Congregationalist theologies; and of theologies of the national Church, working in symbiosis with culture and government – as in some Lutheran settings. We have often come near the second in theory and the first in practice. But that is not where we have seen our true centre and character. We have claimed to be Catholic, to have a ministry that is capable of being universally recognised (even where in practice it does not have that recognition) because of its theological and institutional continuity; to hold a faith that is not locally determined but shared through time and space with the fellowship of the baptised; to celebrate sacraments that express the reality of a community which is more than the people present at any one moment with any one set of concerns. So at the very least we must recognise that Anglicanism as we have experienced it has never been just a loose grouping of people who care to describe themselves as Anglicans but enjoy unconfined local liberties. Argue for this if you will, but recognise that it represents something other than the tradition we have received and been nourished by in God’s providence. And only if we can articulate some coherent core for this tradition in present practice can we continue to engage plausibly in any kind of ecumenical endeavour, local or international.

I make no secret of the fact that my commitment and conviction are given to the ideal of the Church Catholic. I know that its embodiment in Anglicanism has always been debated, yet I believe that the vision of Catholic sacramental unity without centralisation or coercion is one that we have witnessed to at our best and still need to work at. That is why a concern for unity – for unity (I must repeat this yet again) as a means to living in the truth – is not about placing the survival of an institution above the demands of conscience. God forbid. It is a question of how we work out, faithfully, attentively, obediently what we need to do and say in order to remain within sight and sound of each other in the fellowship to which Christ has called us. It has never been easy and it isn’t now. But it is the call that matters, and that sustains us together in the task.

© Rowan Williams 2006


CT reports on Communion events

Today’s Church Times has several reports (and others not on the web until next week):

Nigerians set to write off Lambeth by Pat Ashworth

Requests for alternative Primatial oversight leave ECUSA guessing by Douglas LeBlanc

Leader: Is the Communion too much bother?

Columnist: A new way to silence prophecy? by Giles Fraser


York General Synod starts tomorrow

Margaret Duggan recently previewed the forthcoming group of sessions at York in the Church Times What’s on for Synod in York.

And the Church Times also had Bishops’ stalemate presents C of E with quandary and Why the House has lost confidence in the power of TEA.

There was also this leader: Women bishops — a collision course?

Update Friday
Bill Bowder has this report: Pension task-force asks clergy to tighten belts. The latest pension report can be found here as an RTF file.


Is Nigeria in communion with Virginia?

The Living Church has questioned the canonical status of the “election” of Canon Martyn Minns as a bishop by the Church of Nigeria. See Canon Minns Election Appears to Violate Nigerian Canons:

The election of an Episcopal priest as a missionary bishop to the United States by the Anglican Church of Nigeria appears to be in violation of a Nigerian canon which stipulates that eligible persons to the episcopate must belong either to the Church of Nigeria or a diocese in communion with it. The Church of Nigeria broke communion with The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia after the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson was consecrated Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire in 2003.


CEN reports on Communion events

The Church of England Newspaper has four articles this week relating to the major news stories of the Anglican Communion:

Mixed response to call for two-tier Communion
by George Conger

Six dioceses appeal

Caution as US priest is made Nigerian bishop
. This includes the following claim:

Four bishops affiliated with the Network voted for Bishop Schori with the express purpose of “bringing down the house of cards”. The four swung the close election to Bishop Schori, prompting a charge the three retired and one sitting diocesan bishops had behaved badly, and had acted with “unmitigated evil”.

Rival Lambeth warning
by George Conger


two responses to GC2006 and RW's Reflection

Fulcrum published this response to General Convention and Canterbury’s Reflections.

LGCM published this response, which is titled Retrograde General Convention: Episcopal Church Fails To Challenge Homophobia By Embracing Windsor Report, but scroll down for the full text, the latter part of which is a response to the Reflection.

Ekklesia had more to say in its helpful roundup.