Thinking Anglicans

John Humphrys interviews Rowan Williams

Updated Sunday

Humphrys in Search of God is a series of three half-hour radio programmes being broadcast on BBC Radio 4 over the next three weeks. The BBC blurb reads:

John Humphrys as you’ve never heard him before – talking with religious leaders about his unfulfilled desire to believe in God.

How is faith possible in a world of suffering, much of it arguably caused by religion or religious extremism and to which God seems to turn a blind eye? Is there a place for religion in an age dominated by science?

His guests are the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams; Professor Tariq Ramadan, Muslim academic and author; and Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi.

The first interview, with Rowan Williams, was broadcast today. The 29 minute programme as broadcast can be heard here (Real audio).

The BBC website also has an extended 54 minute version of it, which you can listen to here.

Readers from outside the UK who may not be familiar with John Humphrys will find his biography here.

Update here is a transcript of the shorter version.


Canadian bishops move on St Michael report

The following is excerpted from a Report from the House of Bishops, Oct. 23 – 26 by Vianney (Sam) Carriere

St. Michael Report

Bishop Victoria Matthews reviewed the work of the Primate’s Theological Commission leading up to the St. Michael Report that concluded that same-sex blessings is a matter of doctrine, but not of core doctrine. She also described the process whereby dioceses of the church were encouraged to consider the report and to comment on it. The question she asked bishops to consider in small groups was whether or not they “buy” the report’s central conclusion. All of the table groups reported back that they agreed with the report’s finding that the issue is doctrinal, but not one of core doctrine. “I won’t guess where that takes us,” Bishop Matthews concluded, “but I think it is important that we know this about ourselves.”



more on what RW said about veils

Last Saturday’s opinions linked here included Rowan Williams writing in The Times that A society that does not allow crosses or veils in public is a dangerous one.

On Sunday, he was interviewed by Roger Bolton on the radio. You can listen here (7m 21s Real Audio).

When Dr Rowan Williams returned to the UK after his visit to China, he said he felt he had stepped into the middle of what felt like a general panic about the role of religion in society. He wrote in the Times that “The proverbial visitor from Mars might have imagined that the greatest immediate threat to British society was religious war, fomented by “faith schools”, cheered on by thousands of veiled women and the Bishops benches in the House of Lords”. …Roger asked him whether it really felt like that.

Yesterday, Andrew Brown wrote about the article on Commentisfree. Read Respect underwritten by fear.

Ruth Gledhill wrote about this also, see Loving religion, til China and Europe meet.

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Zimbabwe: church leaders speak out

There is no mention of explicit Anglican involvement in any of the following news reports from Zimbabwe. Nevertheless the event described seems worth reporting.

Reuters Mugabe rejects church calls for a new constitution
Voice of America Zimbabwe Churchmen Present ‘National Vision’ To President Mugabe
The Herald Harare via Zimbabwe: Churches Present Draft Document to President
Associated Press via the International Herald-Tribune Church leaders ask for forgiveness, call for reconciliation to heal Zimbabwe

Hat Tip Magic Statistics.


Nigerian news

First, a report on the Nigerian provincial website, about plans for growth and how these depend in part on finance. Read OVER 20 NEW DIOCESES TO BE INAUGURATED IN 2007.

Second, a report from Changing Attitude on Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) plans for Lambeth Conference. This suggests that quite a lot of money is available.

Update Tuesday
Mark Harris notes some editorial problems with the Nigerian provincial constitution in Revisiting The Church of Nigeria’s Constitution: An exercise in (mild) frustration.


Pittsburgh and APO

Updated Tuesday

While Dallas has withdrawn its request, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is proceeding full speed ahead in this matter of primatial oversight. The diocesan convention will be held next weekend (while the installation of the new PB takes place in Washington DC) and will be asked to vote on this resolution. The key paragraph reads:

RESOLVED, that the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in good faith hereby join with the other dioceses of the Episcopal Church who are appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Panel of Reference for immediate alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care so that a unifying solution might be found to preserve an authentic Anglican community of witness within the United States of America and provide pastoral and apostolic care to biblically orthodox Anglicans in this country regardless of geographical location; and

The diocesan website has, incidentally, amended its notice concerning the text of the appeal:

…It explains why the dioceses involved believe that a different form of oversight is necessary (see editor’s note) and what that oversight might look like…

…Editor’s Note: Mary Francis Schjonberg of ENS helpfully pointed out here that “APO” was not used to describe the appeal by all those who ultimately signed the combined request that is linked above. I replaced “APO” with “A different form of oversight” in the text above to allow for the various terms used by bishops and diocesan bodies in their initial individual appeals. – Peter Frank, director of communications.

To get the full flavour of what the leadership of the Pittsburgh diocese thinks, you really need to read in full the address delivered by Bishop Duncan when he received an honorary doctorate from Nashotah House.

Update Tuesday
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has published briefing papers in response to this resolution, you can read them here, here, and here.


Lords reform and the Bishops

The Sunday Times reported in Life peers face axe in Lords overhaul on a draft document which is available in full here. The section dealing specifically with religious representation is reproduced here below the fold.

Today, in the Church Times Bill Bowder reports on this with Lords plan would keep bishops out of their dioceses.



opinions at the weekend

Rowan Williams wrote in The Times earlier this week that A society that does not allow crosses or veils in public is a dangerous one.

Charles Moore writing in the Telegraph today, disagrees with him: Church schools kerfuffle is just the veil wagging the dog.

Stephen Plant writes in The Times today about The political race between the Evangelical God and the ‘ordinary one’.

Theo Hobson writes in the Guardian’s Face to faith column that Secular Christianity can reconnect religion to our world.

Christopher Howse uses his Telegraph column to write about Michael Mayne in A song that went on to the end.


APO developments

First, the Living Church reported that four Global South primates were expecting to meet with Network dioceses requesting APO, see Four Primates Offer to Meet With Dioceses Requesting APO.

Second, ENS reported that Dallas really has withdrawn its request for APO. Or claims it never made one. Whatever, see Dallas Bishop clarifies request for ‘alternative primatial oversight‘.The full statement from Bishop Stanton is now added below the fold here. (hat tip SDB). Update Saturday morning: the statement is now also on the front page of the Dallas diocesan website, but you have to scroll down to find it.

Third, the Living Church reported that

The dioceses which appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternate primatial oversight (APO) last summer have modified their petition and no longer seek an “alternative primate” to exercise metropolitan oversight. Instead they have asked Archbishop Rowan Williams for a “commissary” from Canterbury…

See Dioceses’ Appeal for APO Modified.



Bishop Katharine visits Rowan Williams

Updated Monday morning

As previously reported by the Living Church, today the Presiding Bishop-elect of The Episcopal Church visited Archbishop Rowan Williams at Lambeth.

Episcopal News Service and the Anglican Communion News Service both carry reports and photographs.

Archbishop welcomes Presiding Bishop, Presiding Bishop-elect to Lambeth Palace

The Presiding Bishop elect meets with the Archbishop of Canterbury

Update The Living Church has a further report, Archbishop Williams Meets With Presiding Bishop-elect Jefferts Schori

Her installation as Presiding Bishop will take place at the Washington Cathedral on Saturday 4 November. Details of the arrangements are described here.

For an earlier video interview with CBS News, go here.

For two videos from the General Convention go here.

Her remarks at a recent conference for ordained women are summarised here.

Update Monday
In his sermon at St John’s Notting Hill yesterday, Frank Griswold said:

My reason for being here in London has been to introduce Bishop Katharine to his Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury. While I have known Archbishop Rowan for many years – our friendship dating back to his days as a professor at Oxford – my successor had yet to meet him. It was an immensely positive and fruitful exchange. During our meeting we were able to share mutual concerns and hopes for the future of our Communion and its ministry of service to our broken and needy world.

The Anglican Communion, through its international consultative council, has committed itself to gender equity in all of its representative and consultative bodies. The election of Bishop Katharine to serve as 26th Presiding Bishop, and therefore Primate, is a first step toward bringing gender balance to what until now has been an all male preserve.

There are those who have indicated that they will not sit at the same table with her. I do hope that once they meet her as a person, rather than as a fabrication of the Internet, they will be able to sense the depth and authenticity of her faith, and to recognize her as a sister in Christ and a fellow bishop.


Is Dallas seeking any other primatial oversight?

Updated again Friday evening
Dallas Bishop clarifies request for ‘alternative primatial oversight’

The Diocese of Dallas has apparently withdrawn its application for alternative primatial oversight. That is what it says on the Diocese of Pittsburgh website. Confused? I am, but read it yourself here:

…the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the full text of the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight (APO). The appeal, which lays out the request of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, South Carolina and Springfield, was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 20. It explains why the dioceses involved believe that APO is necessary and what that oversight might look like. Since July, Dallas has withdrawn its request, but Quincy has joined the other appellants.

On the Dallas diocesan website, you find still present the following, dated 3 July:

To this end, we call upon the bishop to appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship with him for the purpose of mission, pastoral support, and accountability.

The Diocese of Dallas just completed its annual convention. All kinds of details about this meeting can be found on the website of the Bishop of Dallas and now on the diocesan site also. But there is no mention there of this matter that I could see. And I am told that the topic was never mentioned during the convention proceedings. This in itself seems very strange.

According to ENS in Convention refuses to sever relationship with the Episcopal Church:

The Diocese of Dallas’s 111th diocesan convention, meeting October 20-21 at the Southfork Ranch Event and Conference Center, refused proposals to remove all reference to the Episcopal Church and General Convention from its constitution, place the diocese specifically in relationship with the Anglican Communion, allow a parish to break from the diocese “upon concurrence of its Rector and at least two-thirds of its Vestry” and allow breakaway parishes to retain title to their property.

“Separation is never a strategy,” Dallas Bishop James Stanton said in a convention speech, according to an October 22 report in the Dallas Morning News.

“Those who depart the church are not, I think, fulfilling Christ’s call but are fulfilling the expectations the world has about the church, that we cannot really get along,” he said. The diocese’s website does not yet have a copy of Stanton’s address.

After the convention, Stanton told the Dallas newspaper that his call for church unity would apply to the denomination only if it follows “the teachings of the apostles.”

The Dallas Morning News reported Diocese says no, for now, to Episcopal split.

Update Thursday evening
This page from the Church of the Ascension in Dallas may shed some further light on the issue:

…At the end of the meeting Bishop Stanton stated that he, and in his opinion 80% of those he has met with, disapproved of the way Convention was run and/or disagreed with some of the outcomes. He then stated that, despite reports in the press to the contrary, he has not rejected the authority of the Presiding Bishop or anyone else. He shared with us his concerns that he feels we will loose some parishes maybe even prior to the convention. The uncertainty many of us felt about the role our Bishop would play in the ‘disassociation movement’ was diminished by his announcement that he was not going to leave the Episcopal Church whatever the outcome of the Diocesan convention in October, and that he was bound by our Canons and Constitution. Bishop Stanton further said that he acknowledges and accepts that Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori is the duly elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Further, he has not and will not ask the Archbishop of Canterbury for oversight from an Anglican leader instead of being under the umbrella of the American church.

Jim Naughton has also said he is confused about this, see Significant or merely curious?

Update Friday morning
The footnote 2 to this speech by Bishop Robert Duncan reads:

2 Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield have appealed for Alternative Primatial Oversight or Relationship. The Bishop of Dallas has withdrawn from the request, but the Bishops of Albany are considering joining the request.

The addition of Quincy was reported earlier. The possible addition of Albany is news. It is interesting that the references are to bishops rather than to dioceses.

Further research reminds me that what Bishop Stanton said (scroll down for his pastoral letter) on 5 July was this:

2. They [Standing Committee] ask me to “appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship …” Several dioceses have called for “alternative primatial oversight,” as you well know through news reports. I will discuss a direct relationship with the archbishop. This will be for the pastoral support of our mission, and assurance of our place in the Communion. I must emphasize that this relationship will be consistent with our constitution and canons, both of the diocese and of the General Church.

And yet, according to the Living Church:

Overseen by the Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, the 14-page petition for relief was sent to Lambeth Palace last month after Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams requested the dioceses to consolidate their requests for assistance.


South Carolina election consents

The episcopal election in South Carolina of Mark Lawrence has to be approved by a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of the diocesan standing committees of ECUSA. (This was the election where one of the losing candidates announced shortly thereafter that he was going to work instead for the Anglican Mission in America, a separate ecclesial body, not part of the Anglican Communion, though with ties to the Province of Rwanda.)

Episcopal News Service reported: Via Media group asks bishops, standing committees to refuse consent to South Carolina bishop-elect.

The Via Media letters can be read here:
To Bishops
To Standing Committees

There is also a major article by Lionel Deimel here: No Consents.

And another article by Wake Up is here: There Is An Impediment. For more about this group, see here.


Burundi update

Earlier, I mentioned a report from Burundi. Another report from Burundi was released after that: STATEMENT from the ANGLICAN CHURCH OF BURUNDI on the Anglican Communion.

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Cohabitation: the CofE statement

Two weeks ago, the Archbishops’ Council issued a response to the Law Commission’s consultation Cohabitation: the Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown. The consultation closed on 30 September, but the documents are still available here. Main PDF document (warning: is 2.6 Mbytes).

The CofE press release about it is here. The full text of the Church of England response is here (PDF).


Weekend opinion

The Guardian’s “Face to faith” column is by Colin Sedgwick who writes that Self-harm has no place in the Christian discipline.

Christopher Howse’s regular “Credo” column in the Telegraph is Kindness amid persecution.

In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes Danger ahead – there are good reasons why God created atheists.

Giles Fraser also writes about atheists (and Richard Dawkins) in his Church Times column Atheists’ delusions about God.

Patrick Noonan writes in The Tablet about the modern missionary – From soul catcher to adventurer.

Saturday evening Addition

David Goodhart writes about God’s big comeback in the Guardian’s Comment is free.

Sunday Addition

Cristina Odone in The Observer It’s my cross and I’m proud to bare it.


church attendance

As we reported recently the latest annual official CofE attendance (and other) statistics were published on 15 September.

The 22 September issue of the Church Times carried some major articles related to this and some separate national research. Here are the links to those articles:

Faint signs of hope in church census results

The ‘regulars’ who come only once a year by Peter Brierley

Jesus and the 5000-ish by David Thomas

Breaking free from parish bounds by Sue Johns


more responses to Kigali and to the Panel report

There was an article in last week’s Church Times by Colin Slee which has already appeared on two other websites, Why the Kigali declaration is wrong. A response to it was already made by Archbishop Yong Ping Chung, the retired Archbishop of South East Asia, and published by Anglican Mainstream. This exchange is further discussed by Jim Naughton, who notes that:

AM, a British-based group, received $12,000 in funding last year from the American Anglican Council. (That’s according to the AAC’s IRS Form 990 for 2005.) So, an organization sustained in part by conservative American donors is downplaying the influence of conservative American donors.

This updates the information reported earlier about British use of such money.

And the Church of Burundi has issued a statement which appears to distance it from the Kigali report. Mark Harris comments on this in And then there were the Kigali Seventeen.

Turning to the Panel report, this has provoked a number of further responses.

One from LGCM is reproduced here below the fold. Update It is now also available here.

Another from Mark Harris says that Archbishop Gomez Should Step Down.

And, though written slightly earlier, this speech by Katie Sherrod is well worth reading.



Getting Equal: not yet

Updated Monday

Today’s Observer has a front-page lead story by Gaby Hinsliff, political editor, entitled Cabinet split over new rights for gays.

According to the Observer:

The cabinet is in open warfare over new gay rights legislation after Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, who is a devout Catholic, blocked the plans following protests from religious organisations.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, was so angry with the move that he wrote a letter to Kelly three weeks ago, telling her that the new rights should not be watered down.

The battle between what is being dubbed the government’s ‘Catholic tendency’ and their more liberal colleagues centres on proposals to stop schools, companies and other agencies refusing services to people purely because of their sexuality…

This confirms what I said last June in my Church Times article:

It is hard to see how the differences might be resolved, when the [Archbishops’] Council is asking for a wholesale exemption, and the Government is seeking to limit the Church’s protection from the law.

For more background links, see also here.

What the Observer article does not make clear is that the delay applies to two separate sets of regulations. Not only has the government delayed the publication of any proposed regulations relating to sexual orientation, envisaged in Part 3 of the Equality Act 2006, but it has also delayed bringing into effect the regulations relating to discrimination on the basis of religion or belief that were contained in Part 2 of the same act, have therefore already been approved by Parliament, and which were due to come into force this month. The official CofE position was broadly that the new regulations should parallel the wording used in Part 2.

Some of the more extreme religious groups, opposed even to the concept of such regulations, have restarted their campaign against them. See here for details. And also here. This campaign has been endorsed by Anglican Mainstream.

There was a recent comment article in the Daily Telegraph and this letter was published last Friday in response to it. The signatories include the Archdeacon of Hampstead and the Vice Chairman of the House of Laity of the General Synod.

Today’s Guardian carries a report by Tania Branigan that Lib Dems urge Kelly to drop equalities brief. Toby Helm has a similar report in the Telegraph.


opinion collection

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes this week’s “Credo” column about Egyptian desert monasticism: Amid the discipline and spirituality of the desert a saint was discovered.

Christopher Howse in his regular Saturday Telegraph column says that Prayer is what anyone can do.

The Guardian’s Face to Faith column is written by Trevor Dennis, and is about The Song of Songs.

Elsewhere, Theo Hobson wrote Anglicans, reform yourselves at commentisfree.

Christina Rees wrote about Women as Bishops for New Directions. See Unfolding Adventure.

And the Yorkshire Post interviewed Simon Lindley about hymns in Church music master hopes for chorus of approval.


Panel of Reference reports on New Westminster

Updated again Saturday evening

ACNS Digest reports:

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s PANEL OF REFERENCE (POR) for the Anglican Communion report on the Diocese of New Westminster is now available at the following link on the Anglican Communion Website:

The entire report is here presented in 32 paragraphs with 4 recommendations.

The Panel of Reference is chaired by the Most Revd Peter Carnley and staffed through the Anglican Communion Office, London, by the Revd Canon Gregory Cameron. The panel first met in July 2005.
The functions of the Panel include :

[at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury] “to enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements which may be needed to provide for parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities;

With [his] consent to make recommendations to the Primates, dioceses and provincial and diocesan authorities concerned, and to report to [him] on their response;

At the request of any Primate to provide a facility for mediation and to assist in the implementation of any such scheme in his own province.”

That PDF document does not allow extraction of the text, either in part or in whole, so we cannot at present easily quote it for you here.

Update we have now received a plain text version: here are the recommendations in full:


1. The Panel of Reference cannot recommend the proposals of the applicants for transfer of jurisdiction either to the ANiC or to CAPAC. The Diocese of New Westminster is part of the Anglican Communion within the Anglican Church of Canada, which is due to debate both Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and the St Michael Report at its General Synod in June 2007. The most desirable outcome, as stated in TWR (see s.6 above) is for the theological dispute to be resolved and for reconciliation to be effected within the Anglican Church of Canada.

2. In the present temporary situation, the Panel recognises that an agreed scheme of extended episcopal ministry needs to be offered to a number of clergy and parishes within the Diocese of New Westminster, which will both provide for their spiritual needs and offer assurance of continuity for their distinctive theological tradition.

3. Such a scheme should be achieved within the Anglican Church in Canada itself, at national or provincial level. The bishop of a diocese is subject to the general ecclesiastical law of the church or province concerned, and one would look to the Anglican Church of Canada for action to be taken in the first instance. The provision of a scheme of Shared Episcopal Ministry [SEM] by the Canadian House of Bishops in 2004 offers a model which we believe to be appropriate, with some additional safeguards designed to take account of the special circumstances prevailing in this case, given the protracted and deep divisions which exist.

4. In order to command the confidence of the parishes and Diocese concerned, we consider it reasonable that any arrangements made for extended episcopal ministry should address certain key issues:

a. The two congregations which are not recognised as parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster (Holy Cross, Abbotsford and the Church of the Resurrection, Hope) should be offered a context by which they may formalise their relationship with the Diocese, within the provisions of local canon law.

b. A bishop should be appointed to provide extended episcopal ministry, whose name should be agreed jointly by the diocese and the applicants, for an initial (but renewable) period of three years, in the manner described by SEM, from the list maintained by the local province; or if that can not be agreed, at a national level as described by SEM. The visiting bishop should receive delegated authority to conduct Visitations and Confirmations on behalf of the Diocese of New Westminster within the parishes which have opted to receive SEM.

c. The bishop who provides extended episcopal ministry should be involved at all stages of the process in appointing new clergy and in the ordination process in respect of candidates from and for the parishes which seek this extended episcopal ministry, in consultation with representatives of the congregations. The licence of newly appointed or ordained clergy should be signed by the visiting bishop in addition to the diocesan bishop.

d. The Diocese of New Westminster should indicate formally that any previous disciplinary action against any clergy concerned is now at an end and that any record of this has been deleted from personal records.

e. A written assurance should be provided to the four parishes concerned that the Diocese has no intention of pursuing civil legal action against them or their officers or trustees on the basis of the dispute which began in June 2002, and does not intend to use Canon 15 in respect of church properties during the agreed period of temporary episcopal ministry provided by SEM.

f. Equally the congregations concerned should be willing to regularise their connections with the diocese, in matters such as diocesan synod attendance and the payment of diocesan assessments, in the course of the period of shared episcopal ministry.

The Diocese of New Westminster has published this response: Diocese welcomes report by Panel of Reference. The Anglican Church of Canada has issued Primate welcomes Panel of Reference Report.

Statements have also been published by Archbishop Drexel Gomez and Archbishop Gregory Venables. Both can be read at Stand Firm. Or at Global South Anglican: DG here, and GV here.

Further analysis of the report can be found at:
Fr Jake: Panel of Reference’s Report on New Westminster
Tobias Haller: Panel of Reference: Still In Communion
Jim Naughton: Panel of Reference speaks

The Living Church has two reports: Panel Rejects Jurisdiction for Parishes Seeking Alternative Oversight and Panel of Reference Report Called Inadequate.

The Anglican Network in Canada has issued this open letter in response.