Fulcrum has published an article entitled Human Rights, Homosexuality and the Anglican Communion: Reflections in Light of Nigeria by Ephraim Radner and Andrew Goddard.
(Dr Radner is an American colleague of Andrew’s in the Anglican Communion Institute).
The article is lengthy and needs to be read carefully. It contains, early on, this summary of its conclusion:
…It will seem repugnant to some, of course, that we might even raise a question about the conclusion regarding gay rights at this point in history. It needs, therefore, to be said here that the conclusion of this paper is that the Church ought to work to protect a range of civil liberties for gay people, and that the Nigerian Church’s support of its nation’s anti-gay legislation is wrong. However, the conclusion is not obvious in advance of a chain of arguments. These arguments have not been generally rehearsed in present debates and, even here, will be pursued only sketchily. Hence, the conclusion cannot be assumed at all, and does in fact need justification. Bishop Chane’s “line”, the “crossing” of which marks the passage from a legitimately contested approval of same-sex unions into the abuse of human rights is not at all well-defined and established.
Or is it?
Read the whole article.13 Comments
More recently, I reported on 15 October, that action had been delayed until next April.
My earlier Church Times article is unfortunately not available at present from the CT archive, so is reproduced below the fold.
This week, the government has taken action earlier than that, but in Northern Ireland. See this report in the Telegraph Gay rights law ‘being forced through’.
Today, there is a further report in the Daily Mail Vicars could be sued for refusing to bless gay weddings, fears Church which claim may well be unjustified.
Anglican Mainstream and The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship have become even more hysterical than usual about this, and the latter’s public policy website, Christian Concern for our Nation contains yet another plea for its supporters to deluge politicians to stop all this action.
The proposed regulations for Northern Ireland, which have been published by the Northern Ireland Office, can be read here: The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006. The document is described as follows:
Made 8th November 2006
To be laid before Parliament under paragraph 7(3) of the Schedule to the Northern Ireland Act 2000
Coming into operation 1st January 2007
The wording of these regulations contains some material that is specific to Northern Ireland, but is presumably broadly consistent with the government’s intentions for the whole UK. Watch out for further analysis of this soon.52 Comments
Anglican-catholics call on Archbishop to tell the whole truth in Rome is the title of a press release issued by Affirming Catholicism:
The progressive Anglican organisation Affirming Catholicism marked the Vatican visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev’d Rowan Williams, beginning today, by calling on Dr Williams to tell the whole truth about the Anglican Communion when he meets Pope Benedict XVI this week. The Chair of Trustees, the Rev’d Canon Nerissa Jones MBE said today.
The word catholic comes from the greek for wholeness, which means that the Church should lovingly speak the whole truth about humanity and about God. For Rowan Williams this week, that means working with the Pope to concentrate on the really big issues facing humanity at large and not just a narrow Church agenda. We share a common concern for humanity and the world and tackling together issues such as poverty, the environmental crisis and the need for dialogue between races and religions will help hasten the unity for which Christ prayed.
Addressing the internal divisions in and between the Churches, the Director of Affirming Catholicism, the Rev’d Richard Jenkins said:
As well as discussing conflicts in the Church, we hope that the Archbishop will also bear witness to the real gifts Anglicans bring to the Universal Church such as the joyful reception of women’s ordination in many provinces. Even our honest struggling with the demands of unity and local diversity can help a world where division can easily spill over into violence and hatred. We have much to receive from the Roman Catholic Church, but we have much to offer too.
The organisation Affirming Catholicism celebrates its 15th anniversary at the beginning of December. Since its inception it has grown to encompass 1500 national members, local groups in nearly every English diocese, a one hundred strong presence on General Synod as well as groups in other Anglican provinces and a range of publications which include Rowan Williams himself as an author. The progressive organisation has stated that its sees Anglicanism as a reforming movement in the wider universal Church, seeking to show that Christianity is not essentially patriarchal and calling on the Church to become more inclusive and focussed on serving the needs of common humanity.
The organisation celebrates its 15th Anniversary on 2 December at 11.30 am with a celebratory Eucharist at St Mary le Bow, Cheapside, London. The Rt Rev’d David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury and President of the movement, will celebrate and the Rev’d Angela Tilby will preach.5 Comments
Yesterday and today, the BBC Thought for the Day radio programme had speakers who referred to this visit.
Monday – Clifford Longley – At times in our lives we can lose our way and theology can help us find our path again – read it here.
Tuesday – Tom Butler – Women priests aren’t a problem they’re a blessing – read it here.
David Willey of the BBC wrote this analysis: Churches remain divided on issues.2 Comments
The Archbishop of York has issued this press release: ARCHBISHOP DERIDES ”FLAWED REASONING” OF BA CROSS DECISION.
This responds to the decision announced today concerning a British Airways employee, see for example, BBC Woman loses fight to wear cross.
Some other press reports:
Press Association BA criticised in cross row
Associated Press British Airways employee loses appeal to wear cross necklace at work
Reuters BA worker loses appeal over right to wear crucifix
BBC Archbishop attacks BA cross rules
The Times BA worker loses appeal in row over cross
Telegraph Archbishop blasts BA as employee loses cross appeal
Guardian BA woman loses appeal against ban on wearing a cross at work
The official British Airways response is not on the web, but a copy of it that was emailed to me is below the fold.33 Comments
The Living Church has a report Bishop Sauls: Not All APO Requests Violate Canons that tells us something about what the House of Bishops’ Task Force on Property Disputes thinks.
…Despite the fact that both Central Florida and South Carolina have appealed for alternative oversight, Bishop Sauls said neither diocese is under scrutiny.
“Appeals for alternative primatial oversight are not in and of themselves a problematic action,” Bishop Sauls said, “It doesn’t rise to the same level. We see no evidence that the leadership in either diocese is attempting to change its name or take property held in trust for the national church…”
An earlier Living Church report is here: Bishops’ Task Force Identifies ‘Problem’ Dioceses which lists them as:
…Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, Rio Grande,
San Diego, San Joaquin, and Springfield.
This topic is also covered in an earlier report from ENS.2 Comments
Updated Tuesday afternoon
The Presiding Bishop of ECUSA has made public a letter she has sent to the Bishop of San Joaquin. You can read it in full on Episcopal News Service.
The wording of this letter is blunt. Here is an extract:
I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to “uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care.
I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the “doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.” If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity…
The letter still has not appeared on the diocesan website. Here however is a local Bakersfield Californian news report of last Friday: Area diocese plans split with church.
The Living Church has reported: Presiding Bishop Urges San Joaquin Bishop to Reverse Course.61 Comments
Judith Maltby writes in Comment is free about the Catholic Herald interview: A tall order.
The BBC radio programme Sunday had coverage of it too. Christina Rees and Lucy Winkett are interviewed. Listen here (Real Audio, about 3.5 minutes). It’s also discussed later in the programme, in connection with the forthcoming visit of Rowan Williams to the Pope, in an interview with Stephen Bates. That item can be heard here (3.5 minutes).
In the Sunday Telegraph June Osborne writes, What we really need are women bishops.
In the Independent Peter Stanford The Sunday Profile: Rowan Williams3 Comments
Updated again Monday
The Diocese of South Carolina held its annual convention last Thursday and Friday. A report is on the diocesan website. This includes the information that a resolution was passed confirming the request for an “Alternative Primatial Relationship”:
“Be it resolved that this 216th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina endorse the action of the Standing Committee, taken June 28, 2006 in requesting from the Archbishop of Canterbury an Alternative Primatial Relationship.
And be it further resolved that this Convention authorize the Diocesan Bishop (with Bishop Salmon acting in his stead until the consecration of Fr. Lawrence), together with the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council, to implement the details of this request, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, his Panel of Reference, the Primates of the Communion, and the leadership and bishops of the Anglican Communion Network.”
#1 upholding the appeal made by the Standing Committee for APO
Clergy 51 in favor. 12 opposed. 80% in favor.
Lay 102 in favor. 21 opposed. 82% in favor.
The official Fort Worth diocesan report is now here.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported it this way: Appeal for new leader is affirmed and also Secede: the only option?
Update 27 November See here for a letter by Katie Sherrod responding to the previous item (scroll down for last letter)
Monday The Episcopal News Service has published a full report by Suzanne Gill FORT WORTH: Diocese withdraws from Province VII, adopts procedure for parishes to leave Anglican Communion Network.6 Comments
In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes of An imperative call to Christian unity as Archbishop meets Pope.
In The Tablet there is a very valuable article by R William Franklin When Rowan goes to Rome.
The opinions of Rowan Williams on all this are in the Church Times.
There is also a leader column in The Tablet, related to the recent joint CofE-RC bishops meeting, Danger of Growing Paranoia.
In connection with all these see also the opinion of the editors of the Catholic Herald whose leader column is titled: An archbishop with whom we can do business.
The Church Times has a column by Giles Fraser When the believers are the rebels. Another piece by Giles Fraser was his Thought for the Day on Friday on the BBC: Fundamentalism proposes a God built from layers of human insecurity.71 Comments
The Diocese of Virginia has published the following:
Text of Special Committee Report (PDF format)0 Comments
Paul Handley talked to Rowan Williams.13 Comments
Anyone who was wondering who the Catholic Herald interviewer was can find out
a bit more here link now broken, text copied below the fold here. The wording of this piece, as that of the leader column linked below, is quite revealing of the mindset of the Catholic Herald.
The Catholic Herald’s own front page news report, headlined Anglicans could ‘think again’ on women priests, says Williams. The Catholic Herald also has a leader column on the subject: An archbishop with whom we can do business.
The BBC’s Robert Pigott has a further article, A misunderstanding on women priests? and the BBC changed the headline on its news article yet again, this time to ‘No doubts’ over ordaining women (this URL was previously headlined Williams mulls women’s ordination and even earlier had been Archbishop cool on female priests).
The Living Church has a report by George Conger Archbishop Williams: ‘Full Support’ for Women’s Ordination
Meanwhile, the Church Times which has its own major interview with Rowan Williams in today’s paper edition, reports Primate will commend women priests to the Pope.
Ekklesia has also reported, Idea of me questioning women priests is nonsense, says Dr Williams14 Comments
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has a report today headlined Diocese delegates consider alternate leader
Delegates in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth this weekend will consider whether to affirm Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker’s appeal to give local Episcopal churches separate leadership from Katharine Jefferts Schori, who became the denomination’s national leader this month…
The resolutions mentioned in the article can all be found on the diocesan website:
UPDATED Lambeth Palace has issued a press release Archbishop – newspaper reports ‘wilful misinterpretation’. Both ACNS and the CofE website have also published it.
… “I made it clear in the interview with the Catholic Herald and will continue to do so that I see no theological justification for any revisiting of this question and indicated in the interview three times that I had no wish to reopen it, whatever technical possibilities might theoretically exist.”
“The presentation of this to mean anything else is wilful misinterpretation. My convictions mean that I feel nothing less than full support for the decision the Church of England made in 1992 and appreciation of the priesthood exercised ”
spelling errors corrected
Meanwhile, the Telegraph has huge coverage:
Jonathan Petre Church could think again over women, says Williams and this page is linked to an audio interview with Telegraph comment writer Damian Thompson who is also the editor in chief of the Catholic Herald (you may need to use Internet Explorer to hear this).
Also, ‘Much bitterness has gone’ and The bishops debate.
And there is a leader column: Praise her, praise her!
BBC Archbishop cool on female priests
(headline later changed to Williams mulls women’s ordination)
And after the Lambeth Palace press release:
Associated Press Archbishop of Canterbury affirms support for women priests; says interview misinterpreted
Two large conservative parishes in the Diocese of Virginia, The Falls Church and Truro Church have moved towards secession from ECUSA and stated that they intend to join CANA.
The Falls Church vestry has voted to recommend this. In a letter to parishioners, John Yates the Rector of that parish said:
…The decision of the vestry, as we met last night, was to recommend to the congregation that The Falls Church disaffiliate with The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of Virginia churches who are joining together to realign traditional Anglicans in Virginia. The district is part of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America), a branch of the Anglican Communion within the Church of Nigeria that has The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as its Bishop. The vote was 15 aye, 2 nay, and 1 abstention.
The Vestry and I will be providing you with as much information as we can about the Anglican District of Virginia and CANA in the next few weeks. We will have two congregational informational meetings to explain and discuss these matters, as well as to go over the resolution and ballot, which we expect to use in the congregation-wide vote on this matter.
The first meeting will be next Monday Nov. 20 at 7:30 pm in the Main Sanctuary. The next will be on December 3rd, when the 9:00 am & 11:00 am services will be shortened to have a meeting after each of those services. Please plan to attend! I may also be sending out additional information via email.
The congregation will decide this matter at a meeting that begins Sunday morning Dec. 10. Please do make plans to vote; I am sure you can appreciate how important that vote – and your individual vote! – will be. This is likely the most important vote that this congregation will take in any of our lifetimes, perhaps ever. The voting times will be stretched over a week to enable those who may be traveling on Sunday to vote. The polls will be open from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday, December 10th, as well as a couple of hours Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon, and mid-day on Saturday the 16th. The results will be announced on Sunday, December 17.
We have informed the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, of the vestry’s decision. As a congregation, we are following a protocol, approved by the Diocese, that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church…
Truro Church vestry has made a similar recommendation. A joint press release reads as follows:
Fairfax, VA, Nov. 15 – In a congregational meeting Sunday afternoon, Nov 12, the Vestry of Truro Church, Fairfax, announced to their parish that they unanimously recommend that Truro should sever its ties to The Episcopal Church (TEC) and remain as full members of the Anglican Communion by joining the Anglican District of Virginia Anglicans in the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA).
On the following Monday, Nov. 13, the Vestry of The Falls Church, Falls Church, also voted to recommend that they sever their ties to the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican District of Virginia, CANA.
Both congregations will review the recommendations and vote on the final Vestry resolutions, starting on December 10.
The congregations are following a protocol, approved by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.
“The meeting of the Truro vestry was prayerful and somber,” said Jim Oakes, Senior Warden Truro. “We shared prayers and tears as we voted to recommend to the Truro parish this course of action. It was an extraordinary meeting.”
The Falls Church Senior Warden Tom Wilson agreed. “With great sadness and yet firm conviction we took this initial step toward our respective votes,” he said.
This action comes following a discernment period by two of the largest and oldest parishes in the Diocese of Virginia. “In that time we studied, reflected, prayed, and engaged in deep and significant conversations not only in the Vestry, but also with the congregation and with the diocese,” Mr. Oakes said. “It became clear to us that this was the best direction for us to recommend to the parish.”
“We have witnessed firsthand how the Episcopal Church has separated itself from the historic Christian faith of the Anglican Communion over the last few decades,” said Mr. Wilson. “Both Truro and The Falls Church have had to come to grips with the direction TEC is moving. We are at an historic crossroads.”
Other Episcopal congregations are also preparing to vote, as the crisis in the Anglican Communion – precipitated by the recent actions of the TEC General Conventions in 2003 and 2006 – continues to deepen and divide. “It is clear that there is a division in the Episcopal Church,” said Mr. Oakes. “Our next step is for our congregations to pray and reflect on the Vestries’ recommendations as we continue to move forward.”
The congregational voting begins December 10.
A letter to Truro parishioners is posted here.
The Diocese of Virginia has also issued a press release: Two Vestries Vote to Recommend Separating from The Episcopal Church. This release contradicts some of the points in the letter above.
The Vestries of Truro Church, Fairfax and The Falls Church, Falls Church, two Episcopal congregations in The Diocese of Virginia, voted Monday night to recommend to their congregations that they sever ties to The Episcopal Church. The vestry decisions follow the conclusion of a period of “40 Days of Discernment” in each congregation.
“We are very, very sad that the vestries are going to recommend to the congregations that they sever ties to The Episcopal Church,” said Bishop Lee.
In a letter to his congregation communicating the decision, the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, asserted that the congregation is following a protocol approved by the Diocese that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.
“There is no approved protocol,” explained Patrick Getlein, Secretary of the Diocese.
At a meeting of the Executive Board and Standing Committee last Thursday in Burke, members of those bodies received and considered the report of the Special Committee set up by Bishop Lee in late 2005 to help those congregations continuing in conflict over the decisions of the 75th General Convention in 2003 to get on with their mission in as close a union as possible with the Diocese of Virginia. The report contains a section entitled Protocol for Departing Congregations.
“The Executive Board and Standing Committee both voted to receive the report but it is inaccurate to say it was endorsed or approved,” explained Mr. Getlein.
“There is no protocol,” said Col. Jean Reed, president of the Standing Committee. “The Standing Committee intends to meet with those churches proposing to separate from The Episcopal Church and review their situations on a case by case basis.”
The Living Church has a report: Falls Church, Truro Vestries Recommend Disaffiliation. It includes this:
With a combined membership of more than 5,200 and average Sunday attendance of 3,200, Truro and Falls Church are among the largest and wealthiest congregations in The Episcopal Church. In 2005 the combined reported pledge and plate income for the parishes was in excess of $7 million.
Episcopal News Service has this report: VIRGINIA: Bishop saddened by vestry recommendation to leave Episcopal Church
The two parishes have issued a further press release in response to the one from the diocese, read it here.
News stories about the Nuffield Council report on Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: ethical issues mentioned earlier are beginning to come in. The Nuffield website has not yet published the report itself but has issued this press release: Independent ethics body proposes week-by-week guidelines on treating premature babies.
Joint comment by Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, and Most Rev Peter Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff, on behalf of the Church of England House of Bishops and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on the publication of the Nuffield Council’s report Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: Ethical issues:
We warmly welcome the clear recommendation from the Nuffield Council today that “the active ending of life of newborn babies should not be allowed, no matter how serious their condition.” This reaffirms the validity of existing law prohibiting euthanasia, and upholds the vital and fundamental moral principle that the deliberate taking of innocent human life is always gravely wrong.
There is a clear distinction between interventions which are deliberately aimed at killing, and decisions to withhold or withdraw medical treatment when it is judged to be futile or unduly burdensome. In our joint submission in 2004 to the Select Committee of the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill the Church of England House of Bishops and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said:
“Doctors do not have an overriding obligation to prolong life by all available means. Treatment for a dying patient should be ‘proportionate’ to the therapeutic effect to be expected, and should not be disproportionately painful, intrusive, risky, or costly, in the circumstances. Treatment may therefore be withheld or withdrawn, though such decisions should be guided by the principle that a pattern of care should never be adopted with the intention, purpose or aim of terminating the life or bringing about the death of a patient. Death, if it ensues, will have resulted from the underlying condition which required medical intervention, not as a direct consequence of the decision to withhold or withdraw treatment. ” (para 18)
In applying this principle we believe that every case should be judged on its merits and like the British Medical Association, we would have concerns about any blanket recommendation regarding the treatment of babies born before 22 weeks. Decisions regarding treatment should always be made on an individual basis having regard to all the circumstances of the case.
We will wish to study the detail of the Nuffield Council’s report but welcome the extremely important recommendation opposing any action aimed at the active ending of life of newborn babies.
British Medical Association has issued this press release.
Some press reports:
Reuters Pre-22-week babies “should not have intensive care”
Guardian Extremely premature babies should be left to die, says report
BBC ‘Do not revive’ earliest babies
Telegraph Ethics experts set out controversial guidelines for doctors and parents
The Times When to let a baby die: experts set the guidelines
Updated Wednesday evening
The Living Church has two recent reports about the forthcoming diocesan convention in San Joaquin in California:
Bishop Sees San Joaquin Vote as Referendum on Separation and San Joaquin Bylaw Changes Carry Risks, Opportunities.
The full text of the message from the diocesan bishop mentioned above has not yet appeared on the diocesan website, but can be found on the Daily Episcopalian blog here.
Here is one paragraph of it:
Is Our Place In The Anglican Communion Assured? Yes. First, we have a commitment from the Southern Cone (Archbishop Greg Venebles) that the bishops of his dioceses are open to our joining their Province. Second, the Global South, representing 80 percent of the Anglican Communion, issued a public statement known as “The Kigali Communique” in which it pledged to “take initial steps toward the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA.” Diocesan representatives have been invited to meet with Primates of the Global South November 15-17, 2006, to begin work on this plan. The Diocese could be the vanguard of a new 39th Anglican Province in North America. At present, there are seven or more dioceses lined up behind us waiting to follow our leadership example.
Further comment on this by Fr Jake in Bishop of San Joaquin Announces Plans to Leave TEC8 Comments
Ruth Gledhill wrote an article about something else which mentions this. The BBC also reported it.
Tom Butler talked about this on the radio this morning. In this piece he also said (but do read it all to see the context):
So the question, “Do Anglicans on the East coast of America have to adopt the same norms and practices of Anglicans in rural Nigeria and vice versa?”, has been around in different forms since the start of the Church, and the best we can hope for is a cobbling together of some common sense solution which recognizes that Christian practice might show up in different ways in different cultures whilst being loyal to its core truths.
Under the headline Church of England’s ‘parliament’ holds virtual question time the Church of England claimed today that:
The Church of England’s General Synod has held its first virtual question time. Twenty-five questions from Members, asked by e-mail, are answered on the Church’s website today.
The answers, along with the questions were published officially only in the form of an RTF file.
An html copy of the content of that file can be found here.4 Comments