Thinking Anglicans

Connecticut: Bishop cleared of charges

Episcopal News Service has published Charges dropped against Connecticut bishop.

See also, the Connecticut diocesan statement Ecclesiastical charges against the Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith dropped by Episcopal Church review committee.

The full report of the Title IV Review Committee can be downloaded here (PDF, 4.5 Mbytes).

There is another report by the Living Church: Investigation Clears Bishop of Connecticut. It includes this:

At several points in the decision the review committee made comparisons of the actions of the six clergy to recommendations made in the so-called “Chapman Memo,” an unofficial strategy report leaked to the press that called for widespread canonical disobedience with the objective being the replacement of The Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion.

“The AAC [American Anglican Council] had advised dissenting priests and congregations to plan and prepare to separate themselves from their dioceses but not to say that they were ‘out of communion’ with the dioceses, precisely in order to avoid proceedings under Canon IV.10,” the decision stated. “While it may seem surprising and even ironic that priests could be found to have abandoned the communion of the Church while protesting that they were not leaving the Church and are in fact trying to preserve the Church’s communion with Anglicans worldwide, the canons do not preclude addressing the acts of the six priests described above through Title IV, Canon 10.”

Fr. Hansen was removed from priestly ministry within The Episcopal Church, but the other five continue to serve as rectors of their respective parishes. Based on the review committee decision it would appear there is no impediment to prevent Bishop Smith from immediately removing the other five, but Karin Hamilton, the director of communication for the diocese, said she is unaware of any such plans by Bishop Smith.

Hartford Courant Review Panel Clears Episcopal Leader and this earlier report from Associated Press Church Dismisses Religious Charges Against Episcopal Bishop.
New Haven Register Charges against Episcopal bishop dropped

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ACI disassociates itself from Grace Church

The Anglican Communion Institute has issued a statement, Announcement Concerning the Anglican Communion Institute via Stand Firm and titusonenine which can be read in full here, or alternatively here, and which concludes:

…In consequence of the legal and ecclesiastical struggles Grace Church and Fr Armstrong are now engaged with, we judge it proper to dissolve our relationship with the web-site and all activities of Grace Church (CANA or TEC), so that the charges of the Presentment and other matters of public trust and ecclesial jurisdiction might be resolved without interference.

We will continue to work on matters related to the Anglican Communion in the same way as previously.

Christopher Seitz, President
Philip Turner, Vice-President
Ephraim Radner, Senior Fellow

Understandably, this statement has not yet appeared on the ACI website operated on behalf of the ACI from Colorado Springs. There are some further comments of interest on titusonenine.


comment columns

In The Times Luis Rodriguez who is an Anglican priest writes that the Church will find a special place for its scapegoats — again.

In the Daily Telegraph Christopher Howse asks How did the death of Jesus save us?

In the Guardian Nicholas Buxton, an ordinand at Stephen’s House, writes the Face to Faith column.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about The great thanksgiving at sunrise.

There is an excellent article in The New Yorker by Jane Kramer on The Pope and Islam.


More from Ephraim Radner

Over in Pueblo, Colorado, Dr Ephraim Radner Rector of Church of the Ascension has written another article, titled The March Statement by the House of Bishops: Confusing the Flock which criticises the statement issued by the meeting of the House of Bishops which he himself had earlier addressed.

Many, including those opposing its content, have praised the recent House of Bishops Statement for its “clarity”. In what follows, I want to dispute that evaluation. The Statement is unclear in numerous important respects, except one, viz. its animus against the Anglican Communion’s Primates’ Meeting. The reasons for that animus, however, are hardly spelled out, are often contradictory, and are lodged within a tissue of assertions that are without stated rationale. This is not clarity at all. And in the context of the current agonized and conflicted debate within TEC and the Communion, the Statement amounts to an act of pastoral and theological irresponsibility of the highest order….

Warning: there are over 8000 words in the article.


Colorado Springs: update

The Colorado Springs Gazette on Friday published this letter from nineteen former vestry members from Grace and St. Stephens Episcopal Church, under the headline Pastor must answer important questions. It begins:

We are 19 former vestry members from Grace and St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Between us, we served almost every year when Father Don Armstrong was rector. Though we represent a variety of views on the moral issues facing our church, those issues are not in question here.

At issue is the commandment: Thou shalt not steal. Armstrong is exploiting theological divisions within the Episcopal Church to avoid a canonical investigation about his alleged financial wrongdoing. He has defied church and civil law by occupying and taking property from the church he and his allies left. We cannot keep silent.

Armstrong dismisses inquiries into his financial activities. He cries “religious persecution.” Consider the facts and ask: Is Armstrong trustworthy? Is he guilty of financial wrongdoing? Do he and his followers have a lawful basis for taking church property?

The background to this was explained Thursday by Paul Asay on his blog in Breaking Ranks:

Tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette will contain a letter from 19 ex-vestry members of Grace who, in essence, are publicly questioning their former rector’s honesty.

“(The Rev. Donald) Armstrong is exploiting theological divisions within the Episcopal Church to avoid a canonical investigation about his alleged financial wrongdoing,” the letter says. “He has defied church and civil law by occupying and taking property from the church he and his allies left. We cannot keep silent.”

I talked with one of these former vestry members a few days ago. Timothy Fuller served on the vestry only a year, and resigned in January after learning, he says, that the vestry was secretly talking with Armstrong (which violated Armstrong’s suspension) and was plotting to break away from The Episcopal Church…

In another Thursday blog entry More Grace Info … Paul Asay writes:

This Saturday, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, longtime rector of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish, will try to explain away allegations that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his church.

One of the main issues he’ll likely address is how he allegedly used the Anglican Communion Institute, a conservative theological think-tank operated as a ministry of Grace. Armstrong is still listed on its Web site as its executive director.

Timothy Fuller, a former vestry member of Grace, said he served on the ACI’s board for three years. Not once in those three years, Fuller said, did the board formally meet.

In October 2006, according to Fuller, Armstrong told the vestry that the ACI had borrowed about $170,000 from Grace over several years, and the vestry resolved the Institute would pay it back in $10,000 yearly installments, beginning this year.The vestry meeting was the first time Fuller had heard of the $170,000 the ACI allegedly borrowed. He resigned from the Institute’s board two months later.

According to the Rev. Christopher Seitz, president of the ACI and a professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, the ACI shouldn’t have been very expensive.

“The only cost of running the Institute is our time, which we give away, and a Web site, which involves nominal costs,” Seitz said in an e-mail. “Travel reimbursements were handled by the executive director, or we paid for these costs ourselves. There are no employees, no overhead in a formal sense, no hard-copy publications and no programs to fund.”

The presentment alleges that Armstrong caused the church to pay $146,316 beginning in March 2003 as “outreach expenses” to the Institute — money it never received. According to the presentment, the checks in question were made payable to “Donald Armstrong College Fund” or “College Fund.”

Armstrong says the ACI actually funded several projects, and acknowledged his children’s education was one of them…


The Mystery of Salvation

The Church Times reports in Dean stands by Radio 4 talk on cross by Pat Ashworth that:

Dr John writes in his letter that the teaching of his talk was exactly in line with the guidance given by the Church of England’s Doctrine Commission in its 1995 report The Mystery of Salvation. He quotes the report: “The notion of propitiation as the placating by man of an angry God is definitely unchristian.”

What he said in full on this point was :

The most recent statement by the Church of England on the meaning of the Cross is the Doctrine Commission’s report The Mystery of Salvation (1995).

It restates the view of the 1938 Commission that “the notion of propitiation as the placating by man of an angry God is definitely unchristian” (p. 213). It also observes that “the traditional vocabulary of atonement with its central themes of law, wrath, guilt, punishment and acquittal, leave many Christians cold and signally fail to move many people, young and old, who wish to take steps towards faith. These images do not correspond to the spiritual search of many people today and therefore hamper the Church’s mission.”

Instead, it recommends that the Cross should be presented “as revealing the heart of a fellow-suffering God” (p. 113).

The Church Times also reports that:

The Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, reportedly also criticised the BBC for allowing such a prominent slot to be given to such a “provocative argument”.

The Sunday Telegraph report quoted him as saying: “[Dr John] is denying the way in which we understand Christ’s sacrifice. It is right to stress that he is a God of love, but he is ignoring that this means he must also be angry at everything that distorts human life.”

But it doesn’t mention that Dr Wright was himself a member of the Doctrine Commission.

The full text of the letter is at the bottom of the news report linked above.


Tom Butler speaks about the primates

Here is a part of the Presidential Address delivered by the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, to his Diocesan Synod on 10 March 2007:

…The same might be said of the Primates Meeting in Tanzania. None of us were there but in a letter to Primates last week Archbishop Rowan observed that the meeting was far from being an easy few days but he believed that it had been a productive gathering with a great deal of honesty. The product of the meeting was a communiqué containing a set of demands to which the American Church must respond by the end of September, and a draft covenant to which provinces are to respond and their bishops are to discuss further at next year’s Lambeth Conference.

We’ll look a little more closely at both covenant and communiqué a little later in our agenda, but now I’d like to reflect upon what might be a flaw at the heart of this approach to our difficulties…

…I may be getting this wrong, but I believe that the Primates have ignored or underestimated the strength and depth of these values in church as well as state in the United States. The church was the creation of popular democracy after the revolution. Church congregations in each state voted as to whether they wished for bishops to be appointed. Still today, bishops in America have no authority to veto decisions of their diocesan councils. African bishops might in some places be in a position to hire and fire their clergy at will; American bishops have no such authority and would regard it as being un-American.

Whatever the issue, then, for primates to instruct or request American bishops to take actions which appear to them to be undemocratic, or exceeding their powers, is to ask something that they are not in a position to deliver without denying their church polity, culture and history, however loyal they wish to be to the Communion.

And here I believe lies the fundamental flaw. The Primates have misunderstood the nature of our communion. From the consecration of the first overseas Anglican bishops there was no intention of creating a kind of Soviet bloc Communion where each province had to march in step with one another.

Listen to this letter of the English Bishops to the Philadelphia Convention in 1786 when they had been requested to consecrate an American priest as bishop. They wrote: ‘We cannot but be extremely cautious, lest we should be the instruments of establishing an ecclesiastical system which will be called a branch of the Church of England, but afterwards may possibly appear to have departed from it essentially, either in doctrine or discipline.’

There was no intention then of creating a branch of the Church of England in America, or an Anglican satellite, and the English bishops were ultimately satisfied in their negotiations with the General Convention and America had their bishops but in way far more accountable to local church democracy than we have ever seen here.

Of course most of the Anglican Churches in the Communion were established in countries which were part of the British Empire, with bishops initially sent out to serve from England. But that was not universally so, and just as the nations achieved independence with their own constitutions, so we see autonomous local Anglican provinces with their own constitutions and systems of canon law.

And just as many of these nations, with others, have voluntarily become members of the Commonwealth symbolically focussed on the Queen, but with no pretence of having authority in one another’s nations, so the Anglican provinces find the focus of their unity in the archbishop of Canterbury, but up until now there has been no sense of having authority in one another’s provinces. That is not the post-Tanzanian meeting climate. We will see later in the year whether the American bishops can find the form of words demanded of them. I could offer them one or two priests from the Diocese of Southwark who are skilled in drafting words which take us to the brink but not quite over it. It might be possible and we might yet all show up at the Lambeth Conference next year.

But whether we do or not, I would like us to return to our roots and ask ourselves, is it our calling to be a Communion where we must march in step, and if one province departs from the others in doctrine or discipline, they must depart the Communion because otherwise the others feel compromised? Or is it our calling to be a Commonwealth of Anglican provinces, uncompromised by the beliefs and behaviour of other provinces, trusting that they know what is best for the Church and world in their particular culture with their particular history and tradition. I don’t hear that argument being made. Perhaps it should be…


North American travel notes

Citing “Scheduling conflicts with the Easter season and summer vacations” the Living Church reports ‘Windsor Bishops’ Unlikely to Meet Before August. When they do meet it will be in Navasota, Texas.

Meanwhile, Episcopal News Service reports that:

An Executive Council work group, appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, has begun considering the role, responsibilities and potential response of the Executive Council to the issues raised by the recent communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

See Executive Council group begins communiqué work, which mentions that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church will meet in Parsippany, New Jersey 11-14 June. Also, see Draft Response to Primates’ Communique Reviewed in the Living Church.

The Anglican Church of Canada will hold its triennal General Synod in Winnipeg, Manitoba from 19-25 June.

Before that the Canadian House of Bishops will hold its Spring meeting at Niagara Falls, Ontario from 16 to 20 April. The Archbishop of Canterbury will join them to lead a one-day retreat on Tuesday 17 April. See Anglican Journal report Canterbury comes to Canada.

Prior to that on Monday 16 April he will hold a press conference at 10:45 am, at the Anglican Church of Canada’s National Office in Toronto, Ontario. I daresay he will be asked questions about the report by Jonathan Petre in the Daily Telegraph Primate says Williams is indecisive leader (see also Living Church Canadian Primate: Communion Headed Toward Schism.)

In today’s Guardian Stephen Bates reports as follows:

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is still hesitating about whether to accept an invitation from American bishops to meet them to discuss the gay crisis in the Anglican communion, even though it turns out that he is spending part of the summer in the US. The American Episcopalians are threatened with expulsion from the worldwide church after September because of their welcoming attitude towards gays and, following a meeting last month, their bishops asked to meet Dr Williams to explain their point of view. You might think that the archbishop would want to meet them, not least since they provide much of the money which keeps the Anglican mission going. His answer instead is that he is planning to spend much of the next three months on sabbatical and holiday, so won’t be available. What the Church of England hasn’t said is that he’ll be in the US. Asked yesterday whether he might offer them a little time, Williams’s spokesman said: “No, that’s off limits.”


Colorado: presentment issued

Since the previous report here on CANA in Colorado there has been extensive local newspaper coverage of developments at Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish. You can find links to most of those stories via epiScope.

One recent story is Grace asks court to protect property from state diocese by Paul Assay in the Colorado Springs Gazette. This links to a PDF file (650K) of the presentment issued against The Reverend Donald Armstrong by the Diocese of Colorado.

Yesterday, the same reporter wrote Date set for Grace parishioners to vote on vestry’s severed ties. This includes:


The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado released a copy of its charges against the Rev. Donald Armstrong on Friday, providing far greater detail of the Colorado Springs priest’s alleged misuse of funds.

Armstrong, longtime rector for Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish, was suspended in December while the diocese investigated whether he misapplied church money. The document released Friday — a presentment to the diocese’s ecclesiastical court — is a summary of what the investigation found. The presentment alleges:

– Armstrong used a scholarship fund, whose committee hasn’t met since 1992, to fund his own children’s education, provide an $8,800 grant for a former associate and for other unknown uses. Alleged theft: $115,387.

– The “outreach expenses” on the books that Grace Church made to the Anglican Communion Institute, Grace’s conservative think tank, never reached the institute. Instead, those payments were made to accounts called “Donald Armstrong — College Fund” or “College Fund.” Alleged theft: $146,316.

– The church paid for cell phones, personal computers and car expenses for his wife and children. Alleged theft: $130,707.

– Armstrong caused the church to underreport hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and benefits, including $261,703 for his children’s college-related expenses, $110,920 in personal expenses and $81,589 in unpaid, no-interest “loans” the church gave Armstrong. Alleged unreported income: $548,097.

– Armstrong received 14 loans from the church over 10 to 12 years, even though state law says corporations (Grace Church) can’t loan money to directors or officers. Total value of the alleged loans: $122,479.

The presentment, issued by the Diocesan Review Committee, also alleges that Armstrong misused the church’s discretionary fund account, broke the terms of his suspension, and encumbered the church with $4.5 million in debt without diocesan permission.

Jim Naughton has drawn attention to the part of the presentment (page 5) which says:

…the Anglican Communion Institute (“ACI”) is a ministry of Grace Church. While ACI is not a legal entity, it has its own checking account. The operating accounts of Grace Church and ACI were used interchangeably to pay for the operating expenses of the other….

Christopher Seitz has made this comment about the above:

This is confusing to us at ACI. ACI was formed at the January 2004 conference in Charleston, with the dissolving of SEAD, so as to assist several Primates and the work of the AC. Prior to this, there was an ‘Anglican Institute’ at Grace Church. Many of the dates in the Presentment pre-date ACI but could pertain to AI. It is unclear where the confusion is being introduced. Then again, in one newspaper account, it is made to appear that ACI was a victim of this ‘bad book-keeping.’ So until there is more public airing, things remain unclear. The way this has unfolded, the potential for confusion and hurt is maximised in a way that is tragic. C Seitz, President, ACI


more Easter columns

Judith Maltby wrote Easter: finding God on Comment is free.

Richard Harries wrote Why the church must ease the pain of Rowan’s Passion in Sunday’s Observer.

Stephen Bates wrote Easter: a cross to bear on Comment is free.

The Sunday Times published this Leader: Misplaced sympathy in response to a news report by Christopher Morgan Bishop praises Iran.
Update Monday- Libby Purves has more comment on this matter in Religion: it makes bishops go bonkers.

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Idris Jones wrote this Easter Message.

The Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan wrote this Easter Message.

The Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper wrote another Easter Message.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote New life out of death: a message for Easter.


Easter Day sermons

Archbishop of Canterbury: human failure is overcome by God’s love

Archbishop of York: Victory and Peace of the Resurrection


two radio items

The BBC radio programme Sunday had segments on both the Hereford case and the Radio talk.

Penal substitution. Start here and go forward here 24.5 minutes. Lasts about 7 minutes. No bishops.

Employment discrimination. Same file, immediately after the above. Or go forward from the beginning 31.5 minutes.Also lasts about 7 minutes. Still no bishops.

Better URLs later in the week.


Easter weekend columns

The Times
Geoffrey Rowell On Easter morning a new order broke into the world
And Pete Wilcox Don’t be afraid of the winged messengers

Tom Wright Easter’s message of resurrection is a powerful one
And Giles Fraser Embrace freedom

Daily Telegraph
Christopher Howse Ancient Easters caught in stone
And Leader The flesh and blood hopes of Easter

Church Times
Leader Called to be witnesses
And Giles Fraser Why liberals believe the resurrection


Hereford case: Thursday report

Today, Thursday, John Reaney gave evidence to the tribunal, see this report from the Press Association Bishop ‘embarrassed’ gay job applicant:

…At the meeting on July 19, Bishop Priddis wanted to ask Mr Reaney, who currently works for the Weston Spirit charity, the reasons why he had left his youth worker post in the Diocese of Chester in 2002 after 16 months.

Mr Reaney told the tribunal today he resigned after being asked to choose between his partner and his job.

Around four months prior to the meeting with Bishop Priddis, Mr Reaney said this five-year relationship had come to an end.

During a two-hour meeting at The Palace in Hereford, which was also attended by John Chapman, the chairman of the Hereford Diocesan Board of Education, Mr Reaney claims the Bishop first asked him about his relationship history.

“I said I was not in a sexual relationship and was not looking for one and that I was able to exercise self control,” said Mr Reaney.

“The Bishop put it to me that this situation could change. I made it very clear to the Bishop that I was not seeking a relationship and would adhere to his wishes if I were under his authority.

“I would communicate with him if I was struggling. He asked me ’what would you do if you met someone?’

“I told that if I felt a relationship might develop in the future, I would discuss it with him.

“However, I reiterated to him that I was not in a sexual relationship and I did intend to remain that way and I explicitly told him that I was certainly happy to remain celibate for the duration of the post.”

He added: “When the Bishop asked me if I thought it was appropriate for a Youth Officer to have such a homosexual relationship, I turned to the Bishop and said ’before we go any further what is your stance?’

“His words to me were ’whilst many of our colleagues are becoming more liberal on the issue, I find myself becoming more conservative.’

“At this point my heart sank. That was the turning point in the conversation for me.”

Mr Reaney said he was left “very embarrassed and extremely upset” following the meeting…

BBC Bishop ‘upset’ gay lay applicant


newspaper reports on BBC talk

Updated Friday evening

The Times Marcus Leroux Crucifixion ‘makes God into a psychopath’.

Telegraph Jonathan Petre Crucifixion makes God seem like a psychopath, says cleric.

The Guardian’s correspondent Stephen Bates wrote a piece for the newspaper which didn’t get printed. You can read it below. Maybe TA readers would like to suggest what headline the newspaper should have used…
Update Friday evening A revised version of this article has now been published at Comment is Free under the title To forgive is divine.

And Damian Thompson of the Telegraph has blogged The sound bite that sunk its teeth in.

Update Friday morning
William Crawley has helpfully linked to the two-page BBC Religion discussion of Theories of the Atonement.



bishops attack a talk they have not read

The BBC Radio 4 series Lent Talks has had six well-known figures reflect on the story of Jesus’ ministry and Passion from the perspective of their own personal and professional experience. The BBC web page, with all the audio and text files is here.

Tonight, the talk by Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans “rejects the idea of a God of wrath” to quote the BBC blurb.

The full text of the talk can now be read here.

This talk has been the subject of a surprising amount of pre-publicity, starting with a report in the Sunday Telegraph with a ridiculously misleading headline, Easter message: Christ did not die for sin.

Giles Fraser writing today on Comment is Free in an article titled Cross purposes says:

Easter is a time for stringing up the innocent. And this year, once again, the sacrificial victim is the dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John. Of course, we all know the reason why he’s hated by conservatives in the church. No, not because he is gay, but because he’s honest. And it’s this same honesty that has got him in trouble again. For, once again, what he has been saying is nothing other than a truth known by most people in the pews: that the idea of God murdering his son for the salvation of the world is barbaric and morally indefensible. It turns Christianity into “cosmic child abuse”.

The technical theological term for this nasty perversion of the Easter story is penal substitution

The topic was also discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning:

0735 A senior clergymen is afraid that some Christian teaching suggests God is a psychopath.

Ekklesia had Evangelical Bishops attack Jeffrey John talk (without reading it):

Two junior evangelical bishops have attacked a Lent talk to be given tonight on BBC’s Radio 4 by Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans cathedral, without reading it.

In a statement released today from the evangelical Spring Harvest event, the Rt Revd Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes and the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willsden, said Jeffrey John had “got it wrong”.

However, both bishops later told Ekklesia that they had yet to read the 2,200 word transcript of the talk.

However, apparently contradicting several of the claims made by the bishops, in the transcript obtained by Ekklesia in advance of the broadcast tonight, Jeffrey John states: “On the cross Jesus dies for our sins; the price of our sin is paid.”

When asked whether the bishops would issue a correction Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willsden declined. He said: “As the BBC have not made a transcript available, we have had to comment on the material that is available.”

He said that he had read an article in the Sunday Telegraph about it, and listened to a discussion on Radio 4 this morning about it…


Hereford case: diocese issues statement

Updated Thursday morning

Statement from the Diocese of Hereford April 03rd 2007

“The Bishop of Hereford denies any unlawful discrimination and has acted in accordance with Church teaching in applying a standard of sexual practice that applied equally to heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and transsexual people and not on the orientation of any particular group. We expect the same sexual standards of behaviour from support ministers, or lay ministers, as we do of clergy. We will not comment further whilst the Employment Tribunal proceedings are continuing.”

Anni Holden, Director of Communications
The Diocesan Office, The Palace, Hereford HR4 9BL
Tel: 01432 373342 mobile 07889 186316

Wednesday morning press reports:
Press Association Bishop accused of discrimination

Wednesday afternoon press reports:
Press Association Bishop denies discrimination
Hereford Times Bishop gives evidence
BBC Bishop faces gay claim tribunal

PA reports:

Bishop Priddis said at a staff meeting on July 19 last year, following the interview process for the youth worker position, he learnt that Mr Reaney had indicated on his application form that he was gay.

He said he subsequently decided to call Mr Reaney in for a discussion during which it emerged that he had not long come out of a five-year homosexual relationship.

The Bishop said he concluded that Mr Reaney was not emotionally in a position to be making promises about his behaviour for the future. “Such sexuality in itself was not an issue but Mr Reaney’s lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese.,” said Bishop Priddis.

He said he made it quite clear to Mr Reaney that a person in a committed sexual relationship outside of marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would also be turned down for the job, which he said was a key appointment within the diocese.

The Bishop said this view on sex outside of marriage was reinforced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, and the Lambeth Conference, which is a meeting of the archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion every ten years.

The tribunal heard the job was not offered to anyone else after Bishop Priddis vetoed the appointment.

After highlighting the limited finances of his diocese, Bishop Priddis said: “Even had Mr Reaney been appointed last summer, there would have been the possibility of him being made redundant and that could have happened sooner rather than later.”

Under cross-examination from Mr Reaney’s barrister, Sandhya Drew, Bishop Priddis denied he had breached the equal opportunity policy of his own diocese.

He said: “The Church’s teachings draws distinction between sexual orientation and practice and lifestyle.

“We didn’t discriminate against Mr Reaney on the grounds of sexuality. Had we done so we wouldn’t have called him for an interview.”

Wednesday evening:
BBC Bishop denies gay discrimination
Daily Mail/Evening Standard Why I barred gay worker, by the bishop:

… Mr Reaney said he had recently ended a five-year homosexual relationship and gave an undertaking that he would not have another.

But, said the bishop, giving evidence: “I had my misgivings. If he had remained celibate it would have satisfied this issue. The question was, did I have good reason for believing that was his position, and my conclusion was: no.”

Thursday morning
Church Times Bill Bowder (written before the hearing yesterday) Tribunal case after bishop blocks job for youth worker

…Mr Reaney was an experienced youth worker when he applied for the post. The Norwich diocese had employed him as a youth officer for four years. He left to go to the diocese of Chester in 2001 with good references, a diocesan spokeswoman said.

A Chester diocesan spokesman said that Mr Reaney had spent a year as a youth officer in the diocese and that his work had been “successful”. Asked whether Mr Reaney’s sexuality had been discussed in any public fora, the spokesman said: “That was not an issue with us.” It was an issue arising in another diocese, he said.

Peter Ball, the Church of England’s national youth officer, who wrote a reference for Mr Reaney for the Hereford post, said on Monday that he had written it “on the basis of his capability to do the job. He is a good person to do the job.” Mr Ball would make no further comment, as he was directly involved in the tribunal proceedings, which he was due to attend on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Sue Johns, a General Synod representative for the Norwich diocese, said that she was also attending as a witness for Mr Reaney. “I had experience of his ministry in Norwich diocese, which was quite amazing,” she said.

“He was immensely gifted with young people and he brought many young people to faith. He engaged them, enlivened them, and energised them. He set up a diocesan youth synod in the 1990s. He left because he came from the north of England, and he saw a job in Chester diocese, which was closer to home.”

The Times David Sanderson Gay man’s lifestyle made him unfit for post, insists bishop


AffCath: Church must practice respect it teaches

Affirming Catholicism press release 3 April, 2007

Lesbian and gay Christians: Church must practice respect it teaches

Affirming Catholicism, the progressive Anglican Organisation, has welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent statement on the place of lesbian and gay people in the Anglican Church and called on him to champion the cause of gay people inside the Church as well as arguing for their fair treatment in civil society. Dr Williams statement came after the publication of a report on the ‘listening process’ which Anglican Churches world-wide pledged themselves to engage in since at least 1978 when the Lambeth Conference – the 10 yearly gathering of Anglican Bishops – called for a ‘deep and dispassionate study’ of homosexuality. In his response the Archbishop says that Anglicans are ‘to manifest a credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people.’ As well as condemning repressive legislation and hate crimes he calls for the Church to be a ‘safe space where people may be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected.’ The Chair of the Executive Committee of Affirming Catholicism, the Rev’d Dr Barry Norris said:

We’re delighted that the Archbishop has so unequivocally affirmed the place of lesbian and gay people in society and in the Church. However there are still parts of the Communion which have not yet openly acknowledged the presence of homosexual people, still less made a safe and welcoming place for them. At the same time North American Churches are being censured for engaging in precisely the sort of process the Archbishop and successive Lambeth Conferences have called for. We very much hope that the Archbishop will build on this statement over the coming months by challenging prejudice inside and outside the Church, and helping lesbian and gay voices to be heard.

Affirming Catholicism has for a long time backed moves to include lesbian and gay Christians fully into the life of the Church, including the ordained ministry. The organisation has also maintained that different understandings of what the Bible says on the issue need not divide the Church and has commended respectful dialogue with those who continue to hold a conservative position. The Rev’d Nerissa Jones, Chair of Trustees of the organisation said:

The listening process demands great respect, courtesy and patience from all of us who are trying to build bridges and learn to take account of others’ points of view. This sort of approach is core to the way Affirming Catholicism’s approach. Even if we have made mistakes, we will continue to engage as individuals and as a group, and we will play our part in creating safe and respectful places of encounter and dialogue.

Affirming Catholicism’s next national conference is due to take place in Canterbury in July next year and will consider in detail how Christians can understand the bible in contemporary society. The final report of the Communion’s listening process is due to be made a few weeks later at the next Lambeth Conference also in July in Canterbury.


Bishop Chane interviewed

The BBC radio programme Sunday carried an item concerning the Anglican Communion and the American church.

Better link now available:

Holding the Anglican Communion together
Ever since the gay Bishop Gene Robinson was consecrated in America, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has being trying to find a formula to keep the Anglican Communion together.

At a meeting of the Primates in Tanzania, the Americans were asked to accept and implement the Lambeth resolutions (the traditional teachings on sexuality) and to agree a new system of pastoral oversight for some conservatives in the American church who won’t accept the authority of Bishops with a more liberal line on sexuality. The Bishops of the Episcopal Church have refused these two recommendations.

One of those Bishops, John Chane of Washington, explained why he found the recommendations offensive and disrespectful. Damian Thompson, leader writer for the Daily Telegraph who thinks “it’s all over for the Archbishop”, and Martyn Percy, Principal of Ripon Theological College, also joined Sunday.
Listen (10m 29s)


English bishop to appear at tribunal

Updated Monday

The Bishop of Hereford, Anthony Priddis is to appear before an employment tribunal in Cardiff on Wednesday, in a case involving the Employment Equality Regulations (Sexual Orientation) 2003.

Reports today in both the Observer Bishop blocks gay youth worker’s job by Anushka Asthana and in the Sunday Telegraph Gay youth worker accuses bishop of discrimination after failing to get job by Jonathan Wynne-Jones.

The BBC is now also carrying this story: Gay man takes bishop to tribunal.

Update Monday
The Mail on Sunday had Bishop accused of blocking gay man’s job will face a tribunal by Tom Kelly.