Thinking Anglicans

APO: reactions to Primatial Vicar proposal

Updated again Friday evening
The Anglican Communion Network issued a press release at 3.30 pm (EST assumed?) which was headlined National Church “Response” Falls Short and subtitled From the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The same release is also available here.

The Episcopal News Service today released a proposal responding to the request by seven Episcopal dioceses for Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO). It suggests that a “primatial vicar” be appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to serve as her “designated pastor in such dioceses.” The “primatial vicar” would be accountable to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and perform those functions she chooses to delegate, such as episcopal ordinations.

“We are heartened that the national leadership of The Episcopal Church has realized the time has come for structural change. We will study this proposal,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the Anglican Communion Network. “However, at first glance what is proposed is neither primatial, nor oversight, nor is it an alternative to the spiritual authority of one who, by both teaching and action, has expressly rejected the Windsor Report and its recommendations. This is obviously not what was asked for.” Bishop Duncan also observed that what is proposed is in fact less than what was offered and rejected at the first meeting held in New York during September.

Bishop Duncan reiterated his commitment to find a mediated solution to the crisis in The Episcopal Church. “We really do want to talk about all the issues. We want to protect everyone who is unable to travel down the path the majority of The Episcopal Church has clearly chosen, not just those in dioceses that have requested APO. We want to have this conversation and find a way forward that allows all of us to get on with our mission. We are committed to remaining in the mainstream of the Anglican Communion as we proclaim the faith once delivered to the saints,” he said.

Press reports:
The Living Church had Bishops Propose Primatial Vicar for Petitioning Dioceses, and then Network Bishops Reject ‘Primatial Vicar’ Offer; Recommit to Mediated Solution.

Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopalians Reach Out to Conservatives
Update successive versions of this story have caused some confusion. Please read this possible explanation.

Both Jim Naughton and Sarah Dylan Breuer have commented on their blogs. SDB also here. And Mark Harris.

Stand Firm has published an email sent by Bishop Jack Iker to his Fort Worth clergy, and also a comment by David Anderson of the American Anglican Council.

Integrity responded here.



Sentamu dismisses newspaper claims

Speaking on a local radio station in York, the Archbishop of York has dismissed newspaper gossip that he wants to take over as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Archbishop denies Canterbury tale

What is he talking about? See here, and also here.


APO: Primatial Vicar proposed

Episcopal News Service and Anglican Communion News Service have both released Bishops develop proposal responding to ‘Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury’.

A group of bishops, including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has developed a proposal responding to “An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury” addressing what other petitioning bishops and dioceses have termed “alternative primatial oversight” or “alternative primatial relationship.” Full texts of the group’s response and accompanying statement follow here.

A Response to “An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury”

Some bishops and dioceses of the Episcopal Church have requested that the Archbishop of Canterbury provide what they have variously called “alternative primatial oversight” or an “alternative primatial relationship.” In consultation with the Presiding Bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that a number of bishops from the Episcopal Church meet to explore a way forward. A first meeting took place in September, and a second meeting in November developed the following proposal that seeks to address the concerns of those parishes and dioceses which for serious theological reasons feel a need for space, and to encourage them to remain within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

1. Taking seriously the concerns of the petitioning bishops and dioceses, the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, will appoint a Primatial Vicar in episcopal orders to serve as the Presiding Bishop’s designated pastor in such dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could preside at consecrations of bishops in these dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could also serve the dioceses involved on any other appropriate matters either at the initiative of the Presiding Bishop or at the request of the petitioning dioceses.

2. The Primatial Vicar would be accountable to the Presiding Bishop and would report to an Advisory Panel that would consist of the designee of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop’s designee, a bishop of The Episcopal Church selected by the petitioning dioceses, and the President of the House of Deputies (or designee).

3. This arrangement for a Primatial Vicar does not affect the administrative or other canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop except to the degree that the Presiding Bishop may wish to delegate, when appropriate, some of those duties to the Primatial Vicar. The Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

4. Individual congregations who dissent from the decisions of their diocesan leadership are reminded of the availability of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight and its process of appeal.

5. This arrangement is provisional in nature, in effect for three years, beginning January 1, 2007. During that time, the Presiding Bishop is asked to monitor its efficacy and to consult with the House of Bishops and the Executive Council regarding this arrangement and possible future developments.



APO: Bishop Schofield replies to PB

The Bishop of San Joaquin has published his reply to the earlier letter from the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA. You can read it in full on his diocesan website or there is a PDF here which looks more likely to endure as a URL.


church leaders attack equality regulations

Despite the extensive scope of the “religious exemption” provided in the Northern Ireland regulations, attacks on this legislation, and on the presumed extension of it into the mainland UK, continue from the Daily Mail, from the usual conservative Christian lobby groups, but also from various Christian leaders.

The paid advertisement in The Times yesterday can be seen in full here (PDF file). The group that sponsored this is Coherent and Cohesive Voice. This is an alliance of Black church leaders (“a network of hundreds of Christian leaders in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of voters”) including many names which can be found here.

Complaints about this advertisement can be made to the Advertising Standards Authority.

This group also issued a Briefing Paper last July which can be read here. Both documents contain statements about the effect of these regulations which are just not true.

Tomorrow’s Times carries several letters to the Editor about this matter. One of them is from the Minister for Equality, Meg Munn:

Sir, The Government is seeking to strike a balance between protecting the rights of religious groups and preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

This is a Government, and country, that has a proud record of tackling discrimination wherever it exists. But it is also a country that has a proud record of respecting people from all faiths and none.

No one is proposing that schools will have to promote homosexuality or that a priest will have to bless same-sex couples. But at the same time, it is wrong for gay teenagers to be refused emergency accommodation after being thrown out of their family home on the ground that they had chosen to tell their parents about their sexuality, or for lesbian and bisexual people to be denied access to essential healthcare.

Deputy Minister for
Women and Equalities

And in an interview, Meg Munn said:

“It is right that there should be a public debate on these complex and difficult issues, but that debate should be conducted in a calm and measured way rather than through inaccurate and wild speculation.”


Getting Equal: RC reaction

There is an Anglican angle too: Daily Mail Steve Doughty Anglican bishop threatens to close youth clubs in protest at gay rights. And sidebar Seven out of 10 say beliefs should not be abandoned over gay rights
The bishop is Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester.

There are several reports of what RC archbishop Vincent Nichols has been saying about what he perceives as the government’s intentions in bringing in the proposed new regulations discussed here previously.

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Don’t impose your morality: Catholic Archbishop attacks gay rights bill and editorial comment Blair and the moral backlash
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Archbishop warns of gay rights backlash
Universe Church Fires Broadside Over Government’s Moral Neutrality
Catholic Herald Gay rights law threatens Catholic adoption agencies

It’s rather difficult to see what justification exists for most of these concerns. The Northern Ireland regulations are clear in providing religious bodies with an exemption from almost all the requirements placed on everybody else. The effect is that discimination by a religious organisation, in respect of sexual orientation. is permitted:

(a) if it is necessary to comply with the doctrine of the organisation; or

(b) so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religions followers.

which should be easy for the Roman Catholic church to meet. Charitable bodies, whether or not religious, are also exempted, provided their actions are taken by reason of or in pursuance of their charitable instrument.

The two principles from which there is no exemption provided in Northern Ireland are:

  • The requirement to refrain from harassment (see here for what this means)
  • The requirement that nobody providing education or social services at public expense will be allowed to discriminate in the provision of those services.

Postscript: there was a full page advertisement in The Times today placed by a group called Coherent and Cohesive Voice, self-described as “a network of hundreds of Christian leaders in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of voters”. Follow this link to read the text of the advertisement. Several claims made in the advertisement are quite false.


APO: open letter to Canterbury

An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury Regarding requests for “alternative primatial oversight” has been posted here. Signatures from within ECUSA are invited.

The covering notice says:

The following letter originated from The Consultation Steering Committee, a network which includes representatives from the following organizations in The Episcopal Church: Integrity, Episcopal Urban Caucus, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Episcopal Women’s Caucus, Union of Black Episcopalians, Episcopal Ecological Network, National Episcopal AIDS Coalition, Province VIII Indigenous Ministries, Episcopal Church Publishing Company, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Advocates, and Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission.

A further note concerning the provenance of this letter can be found here. Also:

An advance copy of the letter was sent in early November to Archbishop Williams, with copies to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies. The Consultation Steering Committee will send a formal letter with signatures to the Archbishop of Canterbury after it has been available online for signatures.


APO: further developments

First, a letter has just been released by the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth: this copy is on the NACDAP site; another copy is on the Pittsburgh site. Fort Worth has a PDF showing the original letterhead.

Bishops Decline Invitation to Second Summit

Released by The Diocese of Fort Worth on November 27, 2006:

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, have declined an invitation from the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of Virginia, to attend a second Summit Meeting of bishops requesting Alternate Primatial Oversight with the Presiding Bishop and two co-conveners, Bishop Lee and the Rt. Rev. John Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida. In fact, none of the bishops of those dioceses that have requested APO will be attending. The proposed meeting was scheduled to begin today. The first Summit, convened at the request of the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, was held in September at the offices of the Church Pension Group in New York City. Bishop Iker enumerated the reasons for the decision in a reply he sent to Bishop Lee on Tuesday, Nov. 21, on behalf of Bishop Duncan and himself.

Full text of the letter is here.

Second, there are reports at Fr Jake of Bp. Schofield’s Deanery Presentations. An extract:

Regarding the meeting of the Windsor bishops, Bp. Schofield claims they received a message from Archbishop Rowan Williams containing these words; ” I believe the Windsor bishops are the hope of the future of the American church. I want to encourage you and I pray that your numbers will grow.”

Regarding the recent meeting with the Steering Committee of the Global South Primates, Bp. Schofield offers us some new information. Abps. Gomez (West Indies), Venables (Southern Cone), Akinola (Nigeria), Chew (South East Asia), Nzimbi (Kenya) and Akrofi (West Africa) were present. Those representing the Network that were mentioned by name included Bps. Schofield, Salmon and Duncan and Bill Thompson of All Saints, Long Beach.

The Primates were asking for specific things of the Network;
1. Unity
2. A single spokesman (Bp. Duncan was selected)
3. Signatures on a document which will be submitted to the Primates (all present signed, although the contents of the document were not revealed.)

Bp. Schofield announced that he had received a message from Bp. Duncan stating that the Primates (apparently the 6 listed above) said that they endorsed what was being proposed in San Joaquin, encouraged them to go forward with their plan to make the changes in their constitution (which eliminates all references to The Episcopal Church), but then the Primates said not to have an immediate second reading. They do not want San Joaquin to get ahead of the other dioceses. (The constitutional changes do not technically go into effect until the second reading).

According to Bp. Schofield, the Primates want to see a new Network Province set up, but not just with San Joaquin as a member. They want a number of dioceses represented. The Primates want to see San Joaquin unified with other dioceses, and willing to take direction from them. From this point on, the Primates would call the shots. San Joaquin was to go forward with the first reading and then await further instructions from the Global South Primates.

Third, Lionel Deimel has written this analysis: Unqualified Accession which deals with the question How might a diocese rationalize a right to abrogate its accession to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church?

And for your convenience the Chapman memo is here.


the figleaf of "reception"

The penetrating analysis of the Catholic Herald interview, and its spinoffs in the Telegraph and The Times, that appeared in the Church Times, is now on public view: Press: What Dr Williams didn’t mean by Andrew Brown.

Everyone who has followed the story of women priests knows that every archbishop has to pretend that there is a chance that the decision to ordain women might be reversed. That is the figleaf of “reception”, which allows Forward in Faith and Reform, in their turn, to pretend to be part of the Church of England.

You may think that this is a silly bargain, but it is the one that the Synod and the Church as a whole have signed up to. This is well understood by all the journalists who, despite that, wrote last week’s story as if it were significantly true: Ruth Gledhill, Jonathan Petre, and its originator, Damian Thompson. They all covered the vote in 1992. Ruth, on her blog, and Jonathan, in the course of his story, made it quite clear that they saw no truth in their own headlines.

Much of the Catholic Herald material has rotated off its website. But you can still find the interview itself here (third URL since inception).

And also, there was this article by Damian Thompson which appeared in the Guardian No wonder the Archbishop of Canterbury chose to speak to us. For background on another Catholic Herald columnist go here.


animal ethics

Another item from the BBC Sunday radio programme:

New think tank for animal rights opens
What rights, if any, do animals have? What’s described as the world’s first academy, to enhance the ethical status of animals, opens in Britain tomorrow. The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics will act as an international think tank with its own online course, research initiatives and publications. It’s focusing in particular on the relationship between animal abuse and human violence. More than 100 academics from ten countries have agreed to become advisers in an attempt to put animals on the intellectual agenda. But, with many conflicting views on such issues as experimentation and organic farming, how effective will the centre be? Mike Ford reports from Oxfordshire.
Listen (6m 9s)

BBC Religion & Ethics – Animal ethics

The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics

Evening Standard Think tank aims to spark animal ethics debate
There is also a Church Times report about this which I will link when it becomes public.


some recent Telegraph articles

Earlier in the week, there was this Daily Telegraph news story by Andrew Pierce Williams may quit over ‘criticism from Carey’ and this comment piece by Damian Thompson The archbishop’s days are numbered.

This article appeared in the Sunday Telegraph today:
I support Rowan: we are working together by George Carey.


another CEN article

The November Fulcrum newsletter has also appeared this week in the Church of England Newspaper. It is titled
Splitters United or Patient Pressure? by Graham Kings.

The Splitters reference is to Truro Church and The Falls Church. Fulcrum thinks they and anyone else should stay and participate in the making of an Anglican covenant.

1 Comment

research on women priests

Several reports today of new academic research:

BBC Church ‘in need of women priests’
Reuters Women priests given “dregs” in Church of England
Press Association Women priests ‘could save Church’
Economic & Social Research Council press release Women priests will ‘save church from sinking’


RW interviewed on BBC

The BBC radio programme Sunday starts with an interview of Rowan Williams conducted by David Willey in Rome. Listen to it here. (Real Audio, about 6 minutes). This includes quite a bit about the Catholic Herald interview as well as about the visit to the Pope.


Getting Equal: more from Northern Ireland

The government consultation on this legislation in Northern Ireland was based on this document (PDF – warning very large document, 2.6 Mb), and this questionnaire. It generated 373 responses, some of which can be found here, and this analysis of the responses (PDF – very small). The analysis is well worth reading.

The Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, issued this press release on 23 November:

Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland (EANI) today responded to new equality legislation designed to outlaw discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, services and facilities.

Responding to the new regulations Stephen Cave, General Secretary, said, ‘During this ‘Anti-homophobia Week’ Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland recognises that unfortunately homophobia can and does occur within faith based communities. We renounce any homophobia which manifests itself in terms of victimisation and abusive, demeaning or other violent attitudes and behaviour.’

Commenting on the details of the legislation he went on to say, ‘There are serious questions which must be addressed about the rushed nature of the consultation process and quick implementation of the regulations. However EANI acknowledges the work done by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in listening to the concerns of religious organisations and subsequently providing exemptions to ensure that core doctrinal beliefs are not undermined.

We also note the introduction to the legislation of a harassment clause offering those of different sexual orientation protection against violation of dignity or the creation of an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. In keeping with the spirit of laws against discrimination we would caution against any potential use of this legislation which would curb freedom of speech or curtail religious liberty in Northern Ireland. We would also hope that it will not be long until the same protection against harassment is afforded to people of faith across the community.’

The harassment clause mentioned, which as the analysis explains was requested by many who responded, reads as follows:

(3) A person (“A”) subjects another person (“B”) to harassment in any circumstances relevant for the purposes of any provision referred to in these Regulations where, on the ground of sexual orientation, A engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of —

(a) violating B’s dignity; or

(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B

This needs to be read in conjunction with:

(4) Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) or paragraph (1) only if, having regard to all the circumstances, including, in particular, the perception of B, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.

Religious Exemption: for a comparison between the wording of these NI regulations and the text of the Equality Act part 2 relating to Religion and Belief, see this page.


opposing equality

The TA item below about the new Northern Ireland regulations prompted quite a few reader comments about “evangelical” opposition to this legislation.

Stephen Bates wrote about just this last month in the Church of England Newspaper.

View from Fleet Street
article for CEN, 27.10.06
By Stephen Bates

Next March I am sure we shall all be commemorating what is arguably the greatest and most progressive social and moral reform ever achieved by Englishmen motivated by Evangelical zeal: it will be the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Men such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp – Evangelical Anglicans all – will be remembered for their determination to right a grievous wrong, as will those who inspired them, John Newton, the former slave ship captain who eventually repented and Olaudah Equiano whose autobiography opened English eyes to the horrors of the trade.

In preparation for this last week I attended a conference at Methodist Central Hall arranged by the Set All Free group, an umbrella body of Churches Together in England, which is coordinating the religious side of the commemoration. They – we –congratulated ourselves that England had pioneered the abolition movement, recollected that there is still more to be done – an estimated 12 million people around the world are still in one sort of indentured slavery or another – and adjourned for lunch.

As we did so, I was approached by a smartly dressed black man from the Evangelical Alliance who introduced himself and politely invited me to another press conference, this time one that the EA would be arranging, to launch its campaign to persuade the Government to exempt Evangelical Christians who run hotels and boarding houses from having to accept homosexual guests.



more about Bishop Katharine

Earlier this month, the Witness published a lengthy article about the new American Presiding Bishop.
Katharine Jefferts Schori Takes Office on a Wing and a Prayer.

Sarah Dylan Breuer draws from an interview with the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori as well as experience of serving alongside her in two church bodies for an in-depth profile of the 26th Presiding Bishop and some personal predictions of what the church might expect in her tenure.

More recently, the New York Times Magazine published an interview with her headlined State of the Church. Some of this drew criticism, but as Fr Jake explained both here and here, her replies are factually correct.


columns to think about

The Times has an excerpt from Doing Theology in Altab Ali Park a new book by Kenneth Leech, A street theologian outside the city gates.

The Times also has: Fearless in the face of tyranny by Simon Caldwell about Abp Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, and Time to stand up for our beliefs by Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

The Guardian has Mark Vernon writing about Thomas Aquinas in Face to Faith.

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse reminds us that Church of England bishops once banned the English Hymnal.

And from the USA, this column in USA Today When religion loses its credibility by Oliver “Buzz” Thomas.


British Airways to review policy

Updated twice Saturday

More on the British Airways affair.

Earlier today, both Giles Fraser and Stephen Bates expressed opinions:
Christians urgently need to offer a better account of the cross than simply that it’s a badge of identity
A cross BA has to bear.

News reports of developments in the story flowed all day:
BBC Bishop condemns BA’s cross policy,

Evening Standard 13 bishops join the chorus against BA’s ban on cross.

This afternoon, the CofE issued Archbishop of Canterbury comments on British Airways.

This was quickly picked up in the media, e.g. Reuters Anglicans review ties to British Airways over cross.

And then, British Airways announced: British Airways to review uniform policy.

Saturday reports
The Times BA responds to backlash by lifting ban on small crosses
Guardian How the archbishop took on the world’s favourite airline – and won
Telegraph BA will review uniform policy after crucifix row (Note to Damian T: please tell your headline writers the difference between a cross and a crucifix)

Update The Daily Mail reported crucial additional information:

Archbishop Peter Akinola, Anglican leader in Nigeria, said: ‘As far as we are concerned the decision to ban the cross by BA has religious undercurrents.

‘The trend in your country is to devalue its religious heritage. If BA says no to the cross, we shall start using another airline. I shall do everything I can to urge Christian leaders to boycott BA.’


reports from Rome

First published Tuesday; updated each day since

Tuesday items

BBC Archbishop begins Vatican visit
Reuters Anglican leader: Don’t panic about immigrants
The Times Ruth Gledhill Archbishop – terrorism down to poverty and ABC in Rome: Let’s all live under Benedict’s Rule

Wednesday additions

Lambeth Palace press release Archbishop- St Benedict challenges modern civilisation to ask itself what it is for and full text of Tuesday’s Speech given at St Anselmo in Rome – ‘Benedict and the future of Europe’

ACNS Archbishop and Cardinal Pray in the Sistine Chapel

Vatican Radio interview with Bill Franklin and another one with Fred Bliss.

Thursday additions

More, including some video, from Ruth Gledhill here.

Lambeth Palace press release Archbishop and Pope share worship: ‘our churches share witness and service’
Archbishop’s greeting to Pope Benedict (full text)
ACNS copy of the press release with several pictures and additional material
Vatican copy of the Common Declaration
Vatican copy of the Pope’s statement

Reuters Pope, Anglican leader discuss obstacles to unity
Associated Press Pope and archbishop of Canterbury acknowledge serious obstacles to closer ties
BBC Archbishop and Pope admit strains

And also…
In an apparent competition for unlikely headlines, this morning we had:
The Times Vatican may relax rules on condoms
Telegraph Pope questions his infallibility

Friday additions

Church Times Williams warns of inhumane future by Rupert Shortt
Telegraph ‘Serious obstacles’ in talks of unity by Jonathan Petre
The Times Church leaders vow to combat terrorism by Ruth Gledhill
Guardian Pope and archbishop seek to shift emphasis from divisive issues by John Hooper and Stephen Bates
Ruth Gledhill’s latest blog entry here.
New York Times Catholic and Anglican Leaders Vow United Effort by Ian Fisher

Saturday additions
‘Secularism, Faith and Freedom’ Archbishop’s lecture given at the pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Rome and associated press release.